It shows, though in rather a diffuse and declamatory form, that application of wide historical knowledge, keen philosophical perception, and genuine eloquence to a practical purpose which was the great characteristic of Mirabeau, both as a political thinker and as a statesman.
He was educated at the seminary of Quebec, where he developed the gift of declamatory and persuasive oratory.
His prose Avis au peuple francais (August 24, 1790) was followed by the rhetorical Jeu de paume, a somewhat declamatory moral ode addressed "a Louis David, peintre."
On first coming to live at Montaigne he edited the works of his deceased friend Etienne de la Boetie, who had been the comrade of his youth, who died early, and who, with poems of real promise, had composed a declamatory and school-boyish theme on republicanism, entitled the Contr' un, which is one of the most over-estimated books in literature.
Though vigorous in thought and in some passages clear and eloquent, the style of the Systeme is diffuse and declamatory, and asserts rather than proves its statements.
After a dedicatory epistle to Alexander (chap. I) the opening of the treatise itself (chap. 2) is as follows: - " There are three genera of political speeches; one deliberative, one declamatory, one forensic: their species are seven; hortative, dissuasive, laudatory, vituperative, accusatory, defensive, critical."
7, I), by separating the declamatory (E7rt6ELKTLK011) from the deliberative (bjwjyoptcOv, av,u ovXEVTLKOV) and judicial (SLKavtKOV); whereas his rival Isocrates had considered that laudation and vituperation, which Aristotle elevated into species of declamation, run through every kind (Quintilian iv.
In order, however, to impute the whole work to Anaximenes, Spengel took one of the most inexcusable steps ever taken in the history of scholarship. Without any manuscript authority he altered the very first words " three genera " (T pia -yin) into " two genera " (Suo -ybni), and omitted the words " one declamatory " (rO SE E7rLSEtKrucOv).
But the author of this rhetoric most certainly recognized three genera (T pia 'y v71), since, besides the deliberative and judicial, the declamatory genus constantly appears in the work (chaps.
Its style, though in the main rather unnatural and declamatory, is at its best spontaneous, dignified and rhythmical; the book is valuable for occasional facts and for its picture of the times, and it did much to make Mather the most eminent American writer of his day.
In the tenth, the theme of the " vanity of human wishes " is illustrated by great historic instances, rather than by pictures of the men and manners of the age; and, though the declamatory vigour and power of expression in it are occasionally as great as in the earlier satires, and although touches of Juvenal's saturnine humour, and especially of his misogyny, appear in all the satires of this book, yet their general tone shows that the white heat of his indignation is abated; and the lines of the eleventh, already referred to (201 seq.), " Spectent juvenes quos clamor et audax Sponsio, quos cultae decet assedisse puellae: Nostra bibat vernum contracta cuticula solem," leave no doubt that he was well advanced in years when they were written.
The best-known specimen of Pitt's eloquence, his reply to the sneers of Horatio Walpole at his youth and declamatory manner,which has found a place in somanyhandbooks of elocution, is evidently, in form at least, the work, not of Pitt, but of Dr Johnson, who furnished the report to the Gentleman's Magazine.