BLTC Press Titles

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The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Dialogues concerning eloquence in general

by François de Salignac de La Mothe- Fénelon


To qualify his orator for proving, or establishing any truth, he would have him a philosopher; who knows how to enlighten the understanding, while he moves the passions;


and to act at once upon all the powers of the mind; not only by placing the truth in so clear a light as to gain attention and assent; but likewise by moving all the secret springs of the soul, to make it love that truth it is convinced of. In one word, our author would have his orator's mind filled with bright, useful truths, and the most exalted views.

That he may be able to paint, or describe well, he should have a poetic kind of enthusiasm; and know how to employ beautiful figures, lively images, and bold touches, when the subject requires them. But this art ought to be entirely concealed: or, if it must appear, it should seem to be a just copy of nature. Wherefore our author rejects all such false ornaments as serve only to please the ear, with harmonious sounds; and the imagination, with ideas that are more gay and sparkling, than just and solid.

To move the passions he would have an orator set every truth in its proper place; and so connect them that the first may make way for the second; and the next support the former: so that the discourse shall gradually advance in strength and clearness, till the hear

crs perceive the whole weight and force of the truth. And then he ought to display it in the liveliest images; and both in his words and gesture use all those affecting movements that are proper to express the passions he would excite.

It is by reading the ancients that we must form our taste, and learn the art of eloquence in all its extent. But seeing that some of the ancients themselves have their defects, we must read them with caution and judgment. Our learned author distinguishes the genuine beauties of the purest antiquity, from the false ornaments used in after ages; he points out what is excellent, and what is faulty, both in sacred and profane authors; and shews us that the eloquence of the Holy Scripture, in many places, surpasses that of the Greeks and Romans, in native simplicity, liveliness, grandeur, and in every thing that can recommend truth to our assent and admiration.




A. WELL, Sir, I suppose you have been hearing the sermon to which you would have carried me. I have but very little curiosity that way, and am content with our parish minister.

B. I was charmed with my preacher. You had a great loss, Sir, in not hearing him. I have hired a pew, that I may not miss one of his Lent sermons. O! he is a wonderful man. If you did but once hear him, you could never bear any. other.

A. If it be so, I am resolved never to hear him. I would not have any one preacher give me a distaste of all others; on the contrary, I should choose one that will give me a relish and respect for the word of God, as may dispose me the more to hear it preached every where. But since I have lost so much by not hearing this fine discourse you are so pleased with, you may make up part of that loss, if you will be so kind as to communicate to us what you remember of it.

B. I should only mangle the sermon, byendeavouring to repeat any part of it. There were an hundred beauties in k that one cannot recollect, and which none but the preacher himself could display.

A. Well; but let us at least know something of his design, his proofs, his doctrine, and the chief truths he enlarged on. Do you remember nothing? Was you unattentive?

B. Far from it: I never listened with more attention and pleasure.

C. What is the matter then, do you want to be entreated?

B. No: but the preacher's thoughts were so refined, and depended so much on the turn and delicacy of his expressions, that though they charmed me while I heard them, they cannot be easily recollected; and though one could remember them, if they be expressed in other words, they would not seem to be the same thoughts; but lose all their grace and force.

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