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A studied discourse would not be listened to in parliament, where weighty discussions only are
ots? No; the speeches are celebrated at first, and while, they answer a temporary purpose. They are like vegetables of the night, or insects of a day. They have seldom that solidity of merit which can render the ore valuable . when the stamp is effaced, and the occasion of it almost • forgotten and quite disregarded ; which can preserve the • plate still saleable after the fashion is antiquidated.'Knox's Essays, No. 152.
Dr. BLAIR joins in the same general observation : “ It seems surprising that Great-Britain should not have made Pa more conspicuous figure in Eloquence than it has hi• therto attained; when we consider the enlightened, and
the free and bold genius of the country. It must be con• fessed, that, in most parts of Eloquence, we are undoubt• edly inferior, not only to the Greeks and Romans, by many • degrees, but also to the French. We have philosophers, • historians, and poets of the greatest name; but of Orators 'or public Speakers, how little have we to boast ? And · where are the monuments of their genius to be found ?BLAIR's Lectures, vol. ii. p. 38–39.
From the unpromising aspect of British Eloquence, açcording to the statement of such able writers, a motive may be adduced to the young public speaker to signalize
himself by successful exertions in Oratory, since the field • lies so open before him, and has hitherto been so seldom trodden.
* In the House of Commons, it is easy,' says Mr. Knox, to produce many splendid examples of modern Eloquence,' Supported by such an authority, the translator feels rather disposed to demur at the unqualified condemnation of M. Maury, when he says, that Great-Britain hath not as yet one single Orator who can do honour to his country in Europe
expected, without the artifice of a premeditated style. You will discover much more of the re
The Eloquence of the late Earl of CHATHAM hath left an indelible impression on the minds of many who still exist, and will, doubtless, remain for ages, a glorious monument of the triumph of this art. • Nations shook at the thunder
of his voice. Language can scarcely supply terms to ex'press the weight of his authority, the magnitude of his
mind and his character, and the efficacy with which he • thought, decided, spoke, and acted?
It is, indeed, a subject of regret, that the speeches of this great man, and of other eminent Orators, have not been more carefully preserved as models for youth, as well as for the instruction of posterity at large. Some information on this subject may, however, be obtained from a late publication, entitled, Anecdotes of the Life of the Earl of Chatham, including his speeches, in 2 vols. 4to.
In the present day, the names of such public speakers as those of Pitt, Fox, SHERIDAN, and BURKE, stand preeminent. Of Mr. Burke it may be remarked, that, perhaps there are few, if any, members of parliament, whose printed speeches will bear a comparison with that which this Orator addressed to the people of Bristol, on the occasion of a general election. We find in it that beautiful panegyric of the late Mr. Howard, referred to p. 99. The conclusion of this celebrated speech has been much admired, when he said, “And now, Gentlemen, on this serious day, when I
come, as it were, to make up my account with you ; let me 'take to myself some degree of honest pride on the nature
of the charges brought against me. I do not here stand • accused of venality, or neglect of duty. It is not said, “that, in the long period of my service, I have, in a single • instance, sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my • ambition, or to my fortune. It is not alleged, that, to gra• tify any anger or revenge of my own, or of my party, I have
mains of Roman Eloquence in the Diets of Poland, than in the debates of Westminster.
. had a share in wronging or oppressing any one man of any • description : No; the charges against me are all of one • kind, that I have pushed the general principles of general `justice and benevolence too far; farther than a cautious policy would warrant, and farther than the opinions of 'many would go with me. In every accident which may ' happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in depression, and • distress, I will think of this accusation, and be comforted.'
But perhaps, though the last, yet not the least of these several Orators, of whom our nation may be proud, may be ranked the venerable Earl MANSFIELD, now, like the setting sun, ready to disappear from our view.
His eloquence as a pleader, his uprightness as a judge, his conduct as a man, and as a peer, will embalm his memory to the latest posterity.
Upon this great character, Dr. Fordyce passes this just eulogium : 'Lord Mansfield jons to the most engaging man
ner of speaking, the art of presenting his subject in a light 6 and language so clear and flowing, and at the same time
so striking and spirited, that if his eloquence or pleadings have not produced effects equal to those recorded of Cicero or Demosthenes, it may be accounted for by reflecting on 'the circumstances of the different ages in which they lived. • He is so filled with his subject that he seems often to be
at a loss to determine which of his ideas ought to be pre• ferred, and which omitted in his pleadings. None of the 'masters of Eloquence that we know or read of possessed • this peculiar talent but Demosthenes.' FORDYCE on thie Action proper for the Pulpit, p. 237.
Whoever wishes to see a specimen of his Parliamentary speeches may read with pleasure, that excellant one he de. livered on occasion of the appeal of the city of London against Mr. Evans for refusing to fine for the office of sheriff,
Sublime ideas are uttered by every man, whose mind is warmed; but it is a progressive method, it is a well supported elocution, it is a sound judgment, it is an excellent and varied diction ; in fine, it is the perfection of language, united to the sublimity of thought, which distinguishes Eloquence.
The Boor of the Danube as hath been already remarked by many critics, ought not to be reckoned amongst Orators, although his conversation may be cited as a pattern of energy and vehe
There is nothing of this sort, which may be denominated the Eloquence of a stroke, more worthy of admiration, than the answer of the fugitive Marius, when a Lictor came to command him, by the authority of the Roman Prætor, to depart from Africa. This great man, fired with indignation to find himself ungratefully treated in adversity, by a magistrate who abused his authority, said to the slave who made known to him this cruel order, Go, tell thy master, that thou • hast seen Caius Marius banished from his coun
try, and sitting upon the ruins of Carthage ;'--• as if,' says the Abbé Vertot,' by the compari
in which the rights of conscience, and of religious toleration and liberty, are ably vindicated. It is to be found ir Dr. FURNEAUX's Letters to Fudge Blackstone, 2d ed.
son of his personal disgraces with the fall of the
powerful Carthagenian empire, Marius had in(tended to teach the Roman Prætor the instability of the highest condition*.'
The English can boast of some strokes of this kind, although far inferior to the answer of Marius.
When the parliament of Great Britain intended to pass a bill, which denied to persons accused on a criminal account the privilege of defending themselves by the help of council, Lord BOLLINGBROKE, who was against this intended law, attempted to oppose it ; but intimidated by the assembly before which he was speaking, he could not articulate a syllable, and the words he attempted to utter were at every breath dying away on his lips ; when making an extraordinary effort, he cried out, . You wish, Gentlemen, that 6 the accused should
you in order • to defend themselves. If your presence hath imposed silence upon me, judge of the impréssion which it would produce upon the unfortunate, who should behold in you judges ready . to send them to the scaffold.' This single reflection, unquestionably more eloquent than all the arguments which Lord Bollingbroke could have alleged, caused the rejection of this new design.
* VERTOT's Revolutions of Rome, liv. 10. See also Univ. Hist. vol. xiii. p. 56.