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ous Greek, and if Demosthenes and Cice- ers gave the law to their eloquence. They ro found elaborate preparation essential framed their speeches upon the model of to success, it is no wonder that lesser men sermons, divided them into heads, and should not be speakers before they have deadened inflammatory sentiments by a studied how to speak. Lord Chesterfield didactic style. The famous orations of declares that he succeeded in Parliament Mr. Pym are read in our day with such simply by resolving to succeed. He early intolerable weariness, that we wonder saw the importance of eloquence, and neg. they could ever have been listened to lected nothing which could assist him to with patience by any assembly, ignorant become a proficient in it. He conned care- or educated. They are able no doubt, fully all the fine passages he met with in but cumbersome and dreary, and never his reading; he translated from various before or since did enthusiasm find vent languages into English; he attended to in such inanimate language. Though Lord his style in the freest conversations and Strafford spoke at his trial with genuine most familiar letters; he never allowed a eloquence, it is almost a solitary speciword to fall from his lips which was not men, and nobody dreams of reverting to the best he could command! By these the debates of that exciting time for grand means he arrived at such an habitual ac- sentiments expressed in burning words, curacy that at last he said the pains would or for maxims stamped in the mint which have been necessary to express himself in- gives a perpetual currency to ideas. The elegantly. A rapid review of the small style of speaking changed at the Restoraband of preöminent speakers who have tion. The cavaliers were men of the adorned our senate, which has been the world, who talked the language of the chief school of eloquence, the bar produc-world. They flung aside that heavy ing far fewer orators than might have scholastic garb which stifled sentiments been expected, will lead to the conclu- instead of adorning them, and made a sion, that however varied in detail may closer approximation to simplicity and have been the methods by which men nature. In the reign of Queen Anne learned to clothe ready conceptions in parliamentary eloquence took much the ready language, laborious study has been same shape that it retains at present, as common to them all. From Demosthe- we can infer from casual specimens, and nes downwards no one has become an the descriptions of men in the next geneadept in the art without a special adapta- ration who had listened to it in their tion of means to the end. Nothing more youth. Very little, however, has been is wanting to enable the enlightened part preserved, and nearly the whole of that of the community to bring their minds little is garbled and abridged. An iminto closer contact with the uninstructed, perfect abstract of the discussions in the and thus to elevate the lower orders by a Lords and Commons was commenced in potent influence which hitherto has been 1711, in a publication called the “Politiimperfectly exerted, than that they should cal State of Great Britain ;" but these bave the self-confidence to believe that the epitomes merely aim at stating the opineducation which formed the Chesterfields ions of the speakers, and make no prewill not be thrown away upon themselves. tense of preserving their language. Even Nature has not destined every one to be of the opinions they were an untrustwora Chatham or a Burke, but there are few thy indication, for they were compiled persons of fair abilities who might not at- from the information of the door-keepers tain to the power of expressing good and subordinate officers of the Houses of sense, and useful knowledge, in clear, Parliament. In 1736 Cave commenced a flowing, and agreeable language. more elaborate system in the Gentleman's
The old oratory, unlike the old litera- Magazine. He employed persons to take ture of England, is effete and out of date. notes by stealth, which were handed over It was pedantic in the reigns of Elizabeth to some author who used them as raw maand James. In the great Rebellion, when terials from which to manufacture finished the passions were roused to the utmost speeches. Guthrie discharged the task till pitch, and it was employed to move the November, 1740, when it passed into the multitude as well as the senate, it might more powerful hands of Johnson. He rehave been expected to assume a more linquished it in February, 1743, and was modern and popular air. But the theo- succeeded by Hawkesworth, who carried logical studies of the parliamentary lead. I on the process for near twenty years.
Whatever the debates may have gained posterity when his subjects are obsolete, by this method in importance, they lost and appear as cold and repelling as the in accuracy. The memoranda were mere- ashes of a fire which has burnt out. Notly used as heads upon which to enlarge, withstanding that Pitt desired to have a and we must look in the printed reports speech of Lord Bolingbroke in preference for the characteristics of Guthrie, John- to the most precious lost works of the son, and Hawkesworth, and not of Pulte- ancients, we venture to think that after it ney, Pitt, and Chesterfield,
had been glanced at from curiosity, it The reason why Cave employed authors would be flung aside from disappointment. to compose debates instead of short-hand Lord Chesterfield, who had been among writers to report them, was the refusal of his auditors, applauds the “force and the legislature to permit the public to be charm of his eloquence,” and says that, a party to its proceedings. No notes “ like Belial in Milton, he made the could be taken openly, and Cave was worse appear the better cause;" but then quickly warned by the Speaker of the the same authority bestows still stronger House of Commons to desist from print- praise upon his writings, where we can ing the discussions at all. He evaded form an estimate of the degree of justice the injunction by inserting them under in the panegyric. He considers that Cicefictitious names, and by various devices ro alone could compete with him in comcontrived to furnish his readers with a position; and he asserts of the “Letters key. The interest which was felt in this on Patriotism” that they are adorned with portion of his magazine showed that the all the beauties of oratory, and that until curiosity of the country was awakened. he read them he“ did not know the exThe debaters on their part were many of tent and powers of the English language.” them eager for a larger audience, and Burke, in the preface to his earliest work, speeches were often conveyed underhand the “ Vindication of Natural Society,” in to Cave by the authors themselves. The which he imitated the style of Lord growing desire of those without to hear, Bolingbroke, and ironically maintained and of those within to be heard, at last his principles for the purpose of exposing threw open the doors of both houses; them, is little less complimentary, and the style of reporting became more and allows that his books were justly admired more exact, and though it was long in for the rich variety of their imagery and attaining to the habitual completeness the rapid torrent of an impetuous and which prevails at present, many of the overbearing eloquence."* It may be greater efforts of the principal speakers doubted whether Burke would have rewere recorded towards the close of the peated this eulogy in maturer years, when last century with perfect precision. he called him “a presumptuous and super
The orators of the unreported parlia- ficial writer,” and said that his works ments were at very little disadvantage. had not left any permanent impression on The reputation of a debater is made much his mind.” Nothing at any rate can be more by his hearers than by his readers. less rapid and impetuous than the manThe politician who spells the newspaper ner of Lord Bolingbroke, which is in over his breakfast reaches the conclusion a singular degree slow and fatiguing, nor of passages which drew forth “loud does any one revert to him now as a cheers" without experiencing the slight- model of eloquence" from which to learn est emotion, and sarcasms which elicited the extent of the English tongue. He " loud laughter" without being lured into tediously unfolds his thinly scattered the faintest smile. There are instances at ideas in a long array of sounding senthis moment, as there always have been tences, and, though the diction is pare instances, of persons who are held in con- and harmonious, it is neither pointed nor siderable estimation in both Houses, who have scarce any name with the country, and those who only know the efforts even Lord Bolingbroke, and
said that his " Remarks on
* Lord Chatham was another great admirer of of the most celebrated speakers through the History of England" should " almost be got by the medium of the printing-press are apt heart for the inimitable beauty of the style." Lord to wonder at their fame. If this is the Grenville, in commenting upon this opinion, states case among contemporaries to whom the that the style of the “Remarks' is " declamatory, topics are matter of absorbing interest, diffusive, and involved, and deficient both in elegance how much more must the orator lose with and precision."
brilliant. His treatises have been consign- well-aimed shot rips up the ranks of the ed to a practical oblivion, because they adversary, or blows up the magazine. are found to be nearly unreadable, and The effect under these circumstances of a what Lord Chesterfield considered the damaging reply arises as much from the most splendid eloquence," appears in our state of mind of the auditors, as from the age to be very little better than empty vigor of the retort. It is because the rhetoric. Since his speeches greatly re- powder lights upon a heated surface that sembled the productions of his pen, and an explosion is produced, though, unless were not considered to be the least supe- the powder was itself inflammable, the rerior by an admirable judge who was sult could not ensue, and therefore the dust familiar with both, we may conclude that which is thrown by minor speakers falls their preservation would have contributed feeble and harmless. The mere presence little to our pleasure, and added nothing of numbers aids the impression even to the reputation of Bolingbroke. What- where the assembly is not split into parever were his merits, he is an example on ties, and no especial interest has been the side of Lord Stanhope's doctrine, for roused in advance on the question discusshe told Lord Chesterfield that the whole ed. The speech which would be listened secret of his style was the constant atten- to calmly by half a dozen people will stir tion he paid to it in his youth. Declama a multitude, and an observation will raise tion less polished than his, language less a laugh in public, which would not pass copious, and metaphors less appropriate, for a joke in private. But perhaps the when set forth by a fine figure, voice, and most influential element of all is the deelocution, would be highly imposing in light which is derived from the real or delivery, and would call forth rapturous apparently spontaneous production of cheers. But his was the eloquence which appropriate thoughts in well-chosen lanis born of the occasion, and dies with the guage--in the exhibition of the feat of occasion, and this is the ordinary rule. pouring out off-hand elaborate composition, There is not one of the great debaters and a connected series of apt ideas. The who reached their zenith in the last cen- art is so remote from the common practury, with the exception of Burke, whose tice of mankind, that however often regrandest displays appear to the reader peated it always excites the pleasure of our day to warrant their renown. The which arises from the manifestation of politician may revert to the harangues of unusual power. Every great orator writes Pitt, Sheridan, and Fox. The speeches of passages which he commits to memory, Burke alone have become incorporated but it is a part of his science to blend the with the literature of our country. There extemporaneous and the prepared portions is a system of compensation in fame as into an indistinguishable whole, and were in greater things. If the oratory of each he by his clumsiness to betray the joints generation is neglected by succeeding he would destroy the charm. The times, there is no species of intellectual readers of a debate are no longer under excellence which produces such an imme- the spell of this seeming facility. The diate return. While the speaker is in language does not flow living to them the very act of forming his sentences his from the lips of the speaker, and they triumph is reflected from the countenances judge it exactly as they would estimate of the auditors, and is sounded from their the same quantity of printed matter by lips. He proceeds, animated at every step whatever means produced. In many cases by the full chorus of applause, which only in addition to the figure, the voice, the comes to other men in feeble echoes long manner of the man contribute largely to delayed, and which are more often lost give force and animation to his words. before they can reach the ear of him who The famous saying of Demosthenes that is the subject of the praise.
action, which includes delivery, was the The causes of the prodigious success of first, second, and third great requisite of oratory spoken over oratory read are easy an orator, is repeated and confirmed by to be distinguished. When the contend. Cicero, who calls it the principal accoming forces are drawn out face to face in plishment in speaking. He affirms that hostile array there is the excitement of a the highest excellence is nothing without battle, and every blow which tells against it, and that with it mediocrity can often the enemy is received with the same sort surpass the most gifted. In modern times of exultation that soldiers feel when a preeminent powers have enabled a few to
dispense with it. The assertion that it of delivery is turned to a defect when a sets off feeble matter is as true as ever. speech is printed. What before was imIn every age there are speakers who owe pressive seems now to be verbose, and nearly the whole of their success to their the effect is diminished in much the same delivery.
proportion that it was originally increasAnother predominant cause of the dif- ed. It was for some such reason that ferent impression which a speech produces Fox asserted that if a speech read well it in the closet from what it does when was not a good speech. heard is to be found in the nature of the Though the force and splendor of oraoratorical style. When Dr. Johnson fur-tory is only limited by the powers of the nished Boswell with materials for an human mind, and though some of its disaddress to a Committee of the House of plays rival any thing which exists under Commons on an election petition_he any other form, less intrinsic excellence added : “ This you must enlarge on. You is required upon the whole to secure famo must not argue there, as if you were argu- than in the productions of the pen. The ing in the schools. You must say the balance is made up by the difficulty of same thing over and over again, in differ- pouring forth composition off-hand, which ent words. If you say it but once, they shall at least impose or sparkle at the miss it in a moment of inattention.” The moment. This facility is therefore the masters of eloquence have enforced the first requisite of the speaker, and in whatrule. Fox advised Sir Samuel Romilly, ever qualities he is deficient, a want of when about to sum up the evidence in readiness must not be one of them. Lord Melville's trial, “not to be afraid of Essays written and learnt by heart, howrepeating observations which were mate ever brilliant, have never of themselves rial, since it were better that some of the procured much reputation for any debater audience should observe it than that any in modern times. Until he has proved should not understand.” Though he him that he is equal to extempore efforts he is self was censured for the practice, he de- rather sneered at than applauded. The clared it to be his conviction, from long first Mr. Pitt, the earliest, since the time experience, that the system was right. of Queen Anne, of the great orators of Pitt urged a similar defense for the am- whom we have specimens sufficient to plification which was thought by some to enable us to judge of his style, had been be a defect in his style. “Every person,” at small pains to qualify himself for his he said, “who addressed a public assem- part in other particulars, but a perennial bly, and was anxious to make an impres- flow of parliamentary eloquence can no sion upon particular points, must either more exist without prompt language than be copious upon those points or repeat without a tongue, and he had taken espethem, and that he preferred copiousness cial care to furnish his memory with a to repetition.” Lord Brougham gives copious vocabulary. Lord Chesterfield his testimony on the same side. The asserts that he had very little political orator, he remarks, often feels that he knowledge, that his matter was generally could add strength to his composition by flimsy, and his arguments often weak. compression, but his hearers would then This is confirmed by Dr. King, who be unable to keep pace with him, and he states that he was devoid of learning, unis compelled to sacrifice conciseness to less it was a slight acquaintance with the clearness. The Greeks appeared to shun Latin classics, and his sister, Mrs. Anne every species of prolixity, which Lord Pitt, used to declare sarcastically-for Brougham justly considers to be an indi-being of the same haughty temperament cation that they condensed their ha- they agreed, as Horace Walpole says, rangues when they committed them to like two drops of fire-that the only book writing. Burke shared the conviction he had read was Spenser's“ Fairy Queen,” that not even an Athenian audience could which drew from Burke the remark that have followed the orations of Demos- whoever was master of Spenser “had a thenes, if he had uttered them in the con- strong hold of the English language.” centrated form in which they have come But he had not trusted to the bright and down to us, and Cicero objects to the romantic fancy of Spenser alone to supply Greeks that they sometimes carried bre- him with the materials for contests so unvity to the point of obscurity. The ex- like the source from whence he fetched pansion which is a merit at the moment his aid. He studied the famous divines of
our Church, and especially Barrow, with statesman, a thinker, or an orator, was the same view. Not only did he attain without an equal. Pitt and Fox were to a readiness which never failed him, and great, but Burke belongs to another order in the consciousness of power delighted of beings, and ranks with the Shakto avail himself of any opportunity to speares, the Bacons, and the Newtons. reply, but according to Lord Chesterfield He was what he called Charles Townsevery word he employed was the most hend—“a prodigy"--and the conclusion expressive that could be used. What of Moore, after reading the debates of remains of his eloquence would not bear the time, that his speeches, when comout this last eulogium, but the reports are pared with those of his ablest contempomeager, and can not be trusted for more raries, were “almost superhuman,” must than an occasional fragment of which the be shared by every one who adopts the vigor proves the accuracy. Neverthe same means of forming a judgment. less it is certain from contemporary ac- Johnson said “he did not grudge his counts that, like all men who speak much, being the first man in the House of Comand trust to the inspiration of the hour, mons, for he was the first man every he sometimes made bad speeches, and where;" but the House of Commons was would often interpose between his bright- not composed of Johnsons, and when the er sallies long passages of common-place novelty had worn off, they grew tired of rhetoric. A bold, brief, and pointed mode his magnificent harangues. His manner of expressing daring truths, sometimes by was against him. Grattan, who heard metaphor and sometimes by antithesis, is him shortly after he had entered Parliathe characteristic of his most stirring ment, and while he was yet listened to appeals. He put what he had to say into “ with profound attention,” and received the strongest words the English tongue the homage due to “acknowledged supewould afford, and, possessing a spirit as riority,” states that there was a total dauntless as his language, the attempt to want of energy in his delivery, and of check him invariably drew from him an grace in his action. Later he was noted indignant and defiant repetition of the of. for frequent outbreaks of impetuosity fense. Hence he was a terrible antago- bordering upon passion, but they rather nist, who awed his opponents by the conveyed the idea of irritability of temper fierceness and courage of his invectives, than earnestness of feeling, and were and on popular questions roused enthusi- thought no improvement upon the frigid asm by the short and vehement sentences tone of his early displays. His voice, in which he embodied the feverish pas- which he never attempted to discipline, sions of his hearers. It required the was harsh when he was calm, and when utmost energy of style to sustain the he was excited he often became so hoarse commanding tone he assumed, and he as to be hardly intelligible. But the main would have been ridiculous if he had not cause of the weariness he produced arose been sublime. Of his manner we can from his mode of treating his subject. with difficulty form an idea from the Every man who has any opinions derived descriptions which have come down to from deliberate investigation, unfolds them us, but all are agreed that every art of in the manner in which he himself arrived elocution and action aided his imposing at them, and enforces the arguments figure and his eagle eye. So consummate which have carried conviction to his own was his gesture and delivery, that Horace understanding. Burke drew his concluWalpole often calls him “Old Garrick.” sions from a wide survey of history and This, as much as his command of language human nature--from enlarged principles, must have been the result of study, and which looked far beyond the petty expewell deserved it for the effect which it dients and fitful passions of the hour. produced.
Upon this grand basis he founded his In 1766 Johnson announced to Langton views of present policy. His bearers, on that Burke, who had recently obtained a the contrary, were absorbed in the busiseat in Parliament, “had made two ness of the moment, and were impatient speeches in the House for repealing the of a process so circuitous, and so out of Stamp Act, which were publicly com- harmony with their own habits of thought. mended by Mr. Pitt, and had filled the Whatever had not an immediate and obtown with wonder.” This was the appro- vious bearing upon the question beforo priate start of a man who, whether as a them, seemed foreign to the matter, and