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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion and is based on the systematic analysis of natural or non-artistic eloquence. Eighteenth-century rhetoric is characterized above all by its urge to observe the natural sources of eloquence, to describe the phenomenon of untaught excellence in speaking and writing. A philosophical rhetoric is one that identifies the general causes of eloquence. This chapter shows that the development of critical commentary on the art of eloquence during the eighteenth century can be seen most clearly in terms of national context. English, Irish, and Scottish approaches to the subject diverge because of variations in constitutional context; because of conflicting local allegiances to earlier thinkers; and because academic institutions had traditions of approaching the subject in contrasting ways. Divergent philosophical traditions also helped distinguish the characters of rhetorical thought in the three nations.

Keywords: eloquence, sublime, rhetoric, decorum, perspicuity, imagination, elocution, John Locke, William Warburton, George Berkeley, Edmund Burke, Joseph Priestley, Thomas Campbell, Hugh Blair, Adam Smith

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