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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two, hy CHAUNCEY A. GooDRICH,
in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of the District of Connecticut
MR. HUME has somewhere remarked, that “he who would teach eloquence must do it chiefly by examples.” The author of this volume was forcibly struck with this remark in early life; and in entering on the office of Professor of Rhetoric in Yale College, more than thirty years ago, besides the ordinary instructions in that department, he took Demosthenes' Oration for the Crown as a text-book in the Senior Class, making it the basis of a course of informal lectures on the principles of oratory. Modern eloquence came next, and he endeavored, in a distinct course, to show the leading characteristics of the great orators of our own language, and the best mode of studying them to advantage. His object in both courses was, not only to awaken in the minds of the class that love of genuine eloquence which is the surest pledge of success, but to aid them in catching the spirit of the authors read, and, by analyzing passages selected for the purpose, to initiate the pupil in those higher principles which (whether they were conscious of it or not) have always guided the great masters of the art, till he should learn the unwritten rules of oratory, which operate by a kind of instinct upon the mind, and are far more important than any that are found in the books. Such is the origin of this volume, which contains the matter of the second course of lectures mentioned above, cast into another form, in connection with the speeches of the great British orators of the first and second class. A distinct volume would be necessary for American eloquence, if the lectures on that subject should ever be published. The speeches selected are those which, by the general suffrage of the English public, are regarded as the master-pieces of their respective authors. They are in almost every instance given entire, because the object is to have each of them studied as a complete system of thought. Detached passages of extraordinary force and beauty may be useful as exercises in elocution; but, if dwelt upon exclusively as models of style, they are sure to vitiate the taste. It is like taking all one's nutriment from highly-seasoned food and stimulating drinks. * As to the orators chosen, CHATHAM, BURKE, Fox, and Pr'T stand, by uni, versal consent, at the head of our eloquence, and to these ERSKINE may be added as the greatest of our forensic orators. Every tolerably reported speech from Lord CHATHAM is of interest to the student in oratory, and all that I thought such are here inserted, including eight never before published in this country. All of BURRE's speeches which he prepared for the press have also found a place, except that on Economical Reform, which, relating to mere matters of English finance, has less interest for an American. In room of this, the reader will find the most striking passages in his works on the French Revolution, so that this volume contains nearly every thing which most persons can have any desire to study in the pages of Mr. Burke. Six of Fox's great speeches are next given, and three of PITT's, with copious extracts from the early efforts of the latter; together with nine of ERSKINE’s ablest arguments, being those on which his reputation mainly rests. Among the orators of the second class, the reader will find in this volume four speeches of Lord MANSFIELD, two of Mr. GRATTAN's, with his invectives against Flood and Corry; Mr. SHERIDAN's celebrated speech against Hast. * : * ~ * ~ *
ings; three of Mr. CURRAN's; Sir JAMES MACKINTosh's famous speech for Peltier; four of Mr. CANNING's; and five of Lord BRoUGHAM's, including his instructive discourse on the study of eloquence in the Greek orators. Some of the most finished letters of JUNIUs are given in their proper place, with remarks on his style as an admirable model of condensation, elegance, and force. In the first fifty pages will be found nearly all the celebrated speeches before the days of Lord Chatham, from Sir RoBERT WALPoLE, Lord CHESTER. FIELD, Mr. PULTENEY, Lord BELHAVEN, Sir JoHN DIGBY, the Earl of STRAFFoRD, and Sir JoHN ELIOT. The selections in this volume extend through a period of two hundred years, and embrace a very large proportion of the most powerful eloquence of Great Britain. The following are the aids afforded for the study of these speeches: (1.) A memoir of each orator, designed to show his early training in eloquence, the leading events of his public life, the peculiar cast of his genius, and the distinctive characteristics of his oratory. It ought to be said, in justice to the author, that these sketches were completed in every essential particular, long before the publication of Lord Brougham's work upon British Statesmen. (2.) A historical introduction to each of the speeches, explaining minutely the circumstances of the case, the state of parties, and the exact point at issue, being intended to place the reader in the midst of the scene as an actual spectator of the contest. These introductions, with the memoirs just mentioned, form a slight but continuous thread of political history, embracing the most important topics discussed in the British Parliament for more than a century. (3.) An analysis of the longer speeches in side-notes, giving the divisions and subdivisions of thought, and thus enabling the reader to perceive at once the connection and bearing of the several parts. (4.) A large body of explanatory notes, bringing out minuter facts. A few of these, on CHATHAM's early speeches, are from the Modern Orator, and also some definitions of law terms in two of ERSKINE’s, p. 637-83. (5.) Critical notes, as specimens of the kind of analysis which the author has been accustomed to apply to the several parts of an oration, and which every student in oratory should be continually making out for himself. (6.) Translations of the passages quoted from the ancient and foreign languages, with the poetry rendered into English verse. The passages are usually traced to their sources, and the train of thought given as it £ in the original, without a knowledge of which most quotations have but little force or beauty. For the same reason, the classical and other allusions are traced out and explained. (7.) A concluding statement of the way in which the question was decided, with occasional remarks upon its merits, or the results produced by the decision. Great compression has been used in preparing this volume, that all who are interested in the study of eloquence may be able to possess it. Each page contains the matter of three ordinary octavo pages in Pica type; and the whole work has in it one sixth more than Chapman's Select Speeches, or Willison's American Eloquence, in five octavo volumes each. In conclusion, the author may be permitted to say, that while he has aimed to produce a volume worthy of lying at all times on the table of ev. ery Dne engaged in speaking or writing for the public, he has hoped it might prove peculiarly useful to men of his own profession; since nothing is more desirable, at the present day, than a larger infusion into our sacred eloquence of the freedom, boldness, and strength which distinguish our secula 2 y. Sept. 1st. 1852.