B. Carey's British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: PDF

By B. Carey

Carey argues that contributors within the overdue eighteenth-century slavery debate built a unique sentimental rhetoric, utilizing the language of the center to robust impact. reading poetry, novels, journalism, and political writing, Carey indicates that slave-owners and abolitionists alike made strategic use of the rhetoric of sensibility within the wish of influencing a examining public completely immersed within the "cult of feeling."

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Example text

In court, for example, a smoking gun would fit into the first category while the deductions of a Sherlock Holmes or a tearful protestation of innocence would fit into the second. ‘Artificial’ proof had three subdivisions: ethos (ethical proof), logos (logical proof), and pathos (emotional proof). Ethos concerned itself with the speaker or subject’s personality and standing, logos was particularly concerned with deductive reasoning, while pathos was concerned with appeals to the audience’s emotions.

8 Holmes’s textbook is a good eighteenth-century example, but handbooks of rhetoric in English had been popular from the sixteenth century, each adapting classical rhetoric for the English market. 9 These rules were often thought sufficient to provide a complete system of rhetoric for the instruction of any student and, for the elite, proficiency in the art of persuasion was seen as an essential requirement for a career in politics, in the law, or in the pulpit. This system, usually referred to as either Ciceronian or classical rhetoric, was primarily understood as being the study of correct public speaking.

More’s compendious definition of true sensibility is followed by a long passage outlining the self-serving, and self-deluding nature of false sensibility, personified in her portrait of a novel-reading, play-going woman who neglects both her social and her domestic duties while boasting of her superior sensibility: She does not feel thy pow’r who boasts thy flame, And rounds her every period with thy name; Nor she who vents her disproportion’d sighs With pining Lesbia, when her sparrow dies; Nor she who melts when hapless Shore expires, While real mis’ry unreliev’d retires!

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