Persuasion Without Cicero

Laurence Stern, Tristram Shandy 1.XIX:

“I never knew a man able to answer this argument.—But, indeed, to speak of my father as he was;—he was certainly irresistible;—both in his orations and disputations;—he was born an orator;— Theodidaktos —Persuasion hung upon his lips, and the elements of Logick and Rhetorick were so blended up in him,—and, withal, he had so shrewd a guess at the weaknesses and passions of his respondent,—that Nature might have stood up and said,—’This man is eloquent.’—In short, whether he was on the weak or the strong side of the question, ’twas hazardous in either case to attack him.—And yet, ’tis strange, he had never read Cicero, nor Quintilian de Oratore, nor Isocrates, nor Aristotle, nor Longinus, amongst the antients;—nor Vossius, nor Skioppius, nor Ramus, nor Farnaby, amongst the moderns;—and what is more astonishing, he had never in his whole life the least light or spark of subtilty struck into his mind, by one single lecture upon Crackenthorp or Burgersdicius or any Dutch logician or commentator;—he knew not so much as in what the difference of an argument ad ignorantiam, and an argument ad hominem consisted; so that I well remember, when he went up along with me to enter my name at Jesus College in…,—it was a matter of just wonder with my worthy tutor, and two or three fellows of that learned society,—that a man who knew not so much as the names of his tools, should be able to work after that fashion with them.”

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