The Rhetoric of Sensibility in Eighteenth-Century Culture by Paul Goring

By Paul Goring

Paul Goring demonstrates how eighteenth-century writers and performers, together with Samuel Richardson, David Garrick and Laurence Sterne, have been interested by the development of cutting edge bourgeois beliefs of soft eloquence not like extra patrician, classical physically modes. Spanning oratory, theatre and the unconventional, Goring charts the starting to be hyperlinks among physically eloquence and the broader formalities of politeness to bare a cultural contest in regards to the acceptable different types of actual expression.

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Bond, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), vol. I, p. 484. 19 Sheridan certainly prioritised delivery as the key to gaining the attention of an audience. The ‘church service’, he argued, ‘according as it is either well or ill administered, must excite great emotions, or set people to sleep’ (BE, p. 92), and his work and that of other elocutionary writers was spurred by a drive to prevent the latter and to introduce into British culture a mode of performance which would inspire great emotions and would consequently inspire in the British people a sense of religion, national duty, and sound civic practice.

The Tatler 70 (20 September 1709), in The Tatler, ed. Donald F. Bond, 3 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), vol. I, p. 484. 19 Sheridan certainly prioritised delivery as the key to gaining the attention of an audience. The ‘church service’, he argued, ‘according as it is either well or ill administered, must excite great emotions, or set people to sleep’ (BE, p. 92), and his work and that of other elocutionary writers was spurred by a drive to prevent the latter and to introduce into British culture a mode of performance which would inspire great emotions and would consequently inspire in the British people a sense of religion, national duty, and sound civic practice.

34 The Rhetoric of Sensibility of Sheridan’s proposed reforms, which in order to increase the speaker’s persuasive power were directed towards both pronunciation and the management of the eloquent body as a whole. But Sheridan also stressed that the orator, from his influential position at the centre of attention at regular events in public life, could equally be the agent of more widely diffused cultural changes. The public speaker’s example, Sheridan insisted, could set a standard of politeness for the conversational transactions of all Britons.

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