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FODD BOOK STORE,
A BRIEF outline of the principal part of the following Work was sketched out several years ago for the private use of some young friends ; and from that MS. chiefly, the Article“ Rhetoric” in the Encyclopædia Metropolitana was afterwards drawn up. I was induced to believe that it might be more useful if published in a separate form; and I have accordingly, with the assistance of some friends, revised the treatise, and made a few additions and other alterations which suggested themselves ; besides dividing it in a manner more convenient for reference.
The title of “Rhetoric,” I have thought it best on the whole to retain, being that by which the Article in the Encyclopædia is designated; as I should be unwilling to lay myself open to the suspicion of wishing to pass off as new, on the strength of a new
name, what had been already before the Public. But the title is in some respects open to objection. Besides that it is rather the more commonly employed in reference to public Speaking alone, it is also apt to suggest to many minds an associated idea of empty declamation, or of dishonest artifice.
The subject indeed stands perhaps but a few degrees above Logic in popular estimation ; the one being generally regarded by the vulgar as the Art of bewildering the learned by frivolous subtleties; the other, that of deluding the multitude by specious falsehood. And if a treatise on composition be itself more favourably received than the work of a Logician, the Author of it must yet labour under still greater disadvantages. He may be thought to challenge criticism; and his own performances may be condemned by a reference to his own precepts; or, on the other hand, his precepts may be undervalued, through his own failures in their application. Should this take place in the present instance, I have only to urge, with Horace in his Art of Poetry, that a whetstone, though itself incapable of cutting, is yet useful in sharpening steel. No system of instruction will completely equalize natural powers; and yet it may be of service towards their improvement. A youthful Achilles may acquire skill in hurling the javelin under the instruction of a Chiron, though the master may not be able to compete with the pupil in vigour of arm. . As for any display of florid eloquence and oratorical ornament, my deficiency in which is likely to be remarked, it may be sufficient to observe, that if I had intended to practise any arts of this kind, I should have been the less likely to treat of them. To develop and explain the principles of any kind of trick, would be a most unwise procedure in any one who purposes to employ it; though perfectly consistent for one whose object is to put others on their guard against it. The juggler is the last person that would let the spectators into his own secret.
It may perhaps be hardly necessary to observe, that the following pages are designed principally for the instruction of unpractised writers. Of such as have long been in the habit of writing or speaking, those whose procedure has been conformable to the rules I have laid down, will of course have anticipated