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respondents; it is marked with fome fimilar expreffions and fentiments. But as argu→ ments of this kind are always more impofing than folid, I recommend it to you as a piece, concerning the author of which, nothing fatisfactory can be collected. This I may one day or other, perhaps, attempt to prove in form, as I have amused myfelf with giving it an English dress. In the mean time I have enclosed my translation in this packet; not only with a view to your fentiments, but in return to your favor. I was perfuaded I could not make you a better acknowledgment for the pleasure of that converfation I lately participated through your means, than by introduceing you to one, which (if my copy is not extremely injurious to its original) I am fure, you cannot attend to without equal entertainment and advantage. Adieu.
A DIALOGUE a concerning
TO FABIU S.
FOU have frequently, my friend, required me to affign a reason whence it has happened, that the Oratorical character, which fpread fuch a glorious luftre upon former ages, is now fo totally extinct amongst us, as fearce to preserve even its name. It is the antients alone, you observed, whom we diftinguish with that appellation; while the Eloquent of the prefent times are ftyled only pleaders, patrons, advocates, or any thing, in fhort, but Orators.
HARDLY, I believe, fhould I have attempted a folution of your difficulty, or ventured upon the examination of a queftion wherein the genius of the moderns, if they cannot, or their judgment, if they
* It is neceffary to inform those readers of the following dialogue who may be difpofed to compare it with the original, that the edition of Heumannus, printed at Gottingen, 1719, has been generally followed.
will not, rife to the fame heights, muft ne ceffarily be given up; had I nothing of greater authority to offer upon the fubject, than my own particular fentiments. But having been present, in the very early part of my life, at a conversation between fome perfons of great eloquence, confidering the age in which they lived, who difcuffed this very point; my memory, and not my judgment, will be concerned, whilst I endeavor, in their own style and manner, and according to the regular courfe of their debate, to lay before you the feveral reasonings of those celebrated geniufes: each of them, indeed, agreably to the peculiar turn and character of the speaker alledging different, tho probable caufes of the fame fact; but all of them fupporting their respective opinions with ingenuity and good fenfe. Nor were the orators of the present age without an advocate in this debate: for one of the company took the opposite fide, and treating the antients with much feverity and contempt, declared in favor of modern eloquence.
MARCUS APER and Julius Secundus, two diftinguished geniufes of our forum, made
made a visit to Maternus the day after he had publicly recited his tragedy of Cato: a piece, which gave, it seems, great offence to those in power, and was much canvaffed in all converfations. Maternus, indeed, feemed throughout that whole performance to have confidered only what was suitable to the character of his hero, without paying a proper regard to thofe prudential restraints, which were neceffary for his own fecurity. I was at that time a warm admirer and conftant follower of those great men; infomuch that I not only attended them when they were engaged in the courts of judicature; but, from my fond attachment to the arts of eloquence and with a certain ardency peculiar to youth, I joined in all their parties, and was present at their most private converfations. Their great abilities, however, could not fecure them from the critics, who alledged, that Secundus had by no means an eafy elocution; whilft Aper, they pretended, owed his reputation as an orator, more to nature than to art. It is certain, nevertheless, that their ob jections were without foundation. The fpeeches of the former were always delivered B b 3 with
with fufficient fluency; as his expreffion was clear, tho concife; and the latter had, most undoubtedly, a general tincture of literature. The truth is, one could not fo properly fay, that Aper was without, as above the affiftance of learning. He ima gined, perhaps, the powers and application of his genius would be fo much the more admired, as it should not appear to derive any of its luftre from the acquired arts.
We found Maternus, when we entered his apartment, with the tragedy in his hand which he had recited the day before. Are you then (faid Secundus, addreffing himfelf to him) fo little difcouraged with the malicious infinuations of these ill-natured cenfurers, as ftill to cherish this obnoxious tragedy of yours? Or perhaps, you are revifing it, in order to expunge the exceptionable paffages; and purpose to send your Cato into the world, I will not fay with superior charms, but, at least, with greater fecurity, than in its original form. You may peruse it (returned he) if you please; you will find it remains just in the same fituation as when you heard it red. I intend however, that Thyeftes shall supply