Parrhesia, is a forme of speech by which the Orator speaking before those whom he feareth, or ought to reverence, & having somewhat to say that may either touch themselves, or those whom they favour, preventeth the displeasure and offence that might be taken, as by craving pardon afore hand, and by shewing the necessitie of free speech in that behalfe, or by some other like forme of humble submission and modest insinuation.
An example of Cicero: I speake with great peril, I feare judges after what sort you may take my words, but for my continuall desire that I have to maintaine and augment you dignitie, I pray and beseech you, that if my speech be either bitter or incredible unto you at the first hearing, yet that you would accept it without offence spoken of Marcus Cicero: Neither that you will reject it before I have plainlie declared the whole unto you.
By this example of Cicero, we may see how this figure ought to be used, by which he made an apt enterance, and ready pathway to his purpose; which was boldly to blame the Senate, & sharply to rebuke their unconstancie, for that they were now about to joyne in peace with Anthony, who a little before was adjudged and taken for their utter and extreme enemy: and now having changed their minds, were purposed to make him their friend. In the beginning he useth a defence or mittigation, saying that hee speaketh with peril, & feareth in what sort or part his words may be taken, notwithstanding he prounuseth that, that which he hath to say, shalbe for the maintenance & honour of the Senate, by which wise & lowly preparation, he obtained their favour to heare him: then next he praieth them not to reject his wordes before he hath declared the whole, how so ever displeasant they may seeme at the first. And finally, that it might please them to take in good part, whatsoever he should expresse and utter, promising that al should be for their profit and advancement, and also protesting that it should proceed from good will and entire affection.
An example of Elihu: “I regard no maner of person, no man will I spare, for if I should go about to please men, I know not how soone my maker will take me away.” Job.32.
Here Elihu declareth his purpose of free speech, and addeth his reason, but he made his insinuation before.
Another of the Apostle Paul: “Preach I mans doctrine, or Gods? Or go I about to please men? for if I should, I were not the servant of Christ.” Gal.1.10.
The use of this figure.
This figure serveth to insinuate, admonish, and reprehend, and may fitly be called the Herald or Ambassador of speech, which is the onely forms that boldly delivereth to great dignities and
most high degrees of men, the message of justice and equitie, sparing neither magistrates that pervert lawes, nor Princes that
do abuse their kingdomes.
This figure doth best beseeme a man of wisedome and gravitie,
1. A man of wisdom and gravitie.
who is best able to moderate the forme of his speech, and to restrain it from that rude boldnesse which doth more hurt then
good, from whence there oft springeth a malice in the hearer against the speaker: a contempt of his doctrine, and sometimes a
3. Displeasure and the effects.
punishment of his person, for now and then a rude Vae vobis, doth cause a Coram nobis. As for the Prophets they were extraordinary
men, and therefore their examples in this respect are not to be imitated.
5. Prophets no presidents of this figure.