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This system of depreciation thus powerfully wielded, even to the date of the present publication, failed not in its energy, though it has in its object; nay more, it has succeeded in procuring for him the beneficial results of a multiplying reaction. To borrow the expression of an eminent classic, “the rays of their indignation collected upon him, served to illumine, but could not consume;" and doubtless, this hostility may have promoted this fact, that the materials of this volume are at this moment read in all the languages of Europe ; and whatever be the proportion of their merits to their faults, they are unlikely to escape the attention of posterity.
The independent reader, whom this book may introduce to a first or more correct acquaintance with his eloquence, will therefore be disposed to protect his mind against these illiberal prepossessions thus actively diffused, on the double consideration that some defects are essential to such and so much labour, and that some detraction may justly be accounted for by the motives of the system whose vices he exposed. The same reader, if he had not the opportunity of hearing these speeches delivered by the author, will make in his favour another deduction for a different reason.
The great father of ancient eloquence was accustomed to say, that action was the first, and
second, and last quality of an orator. This was the dictum of a supreme authority; it was an exaggeration notwithstanding ; but the observation must contain much truth to permit such exaggeration; and whilst we allow that delivery is not every thing, it will be allowed that it is much of the effect of oratory
Nature has been bountiful to the subject of these remarks in the useful accident of a prepossessing exterior; an interesting figure, an animated countenance, and a demeanour devoid of affectation, and distinguished by a modest self-possession, give him the favourable opinion of his audience, even before he has addressed them. His eager, lively, and sparkling eye melts or kindles in pathos or indignation; his voice, by its compass, sweetness, and variety, ever audible and seldom loud, never hurried, inarticulate, or indistinct, secures to his audience every word that he utters, and
preserves him from the painful appearance of effort.
His memory is not less faithful in the conveyance of his meaning, than his voice : unlike Fox in this respect, he never wants a word; unlike Bushe, he never pretends to want one; and unlike Grattan, he never either wants or recalls one.
His delivery is freed from every thing fantastic is simple and elegant, impressive and sincere ; and if we add the circumstance of his youth to his
other external qualifications, none of his contemporaries in this vocation can pretend to an equal combination of these accidental advantages.
If, then, action be a great part of the effect of oratory, the reader who has not heard him is excluded from that consideration, so important to a right opinion, and on which his excellence is un. questioned.
The ablest and severest of all the critics who have assailed him, (we allude, of course, to the Edinburgh Review,) in their criticism on Guthrie and Sterne, have paid him an involuntary and unprecedented compliment.
compliment. He is the only individual in these countries to whom this literary work has devoted an entire article on a single speech; and when it is recollected that the basis of this criticism was an unauthorized and incorrect publication of a single forensic exertion in the ordinary routine of professional business, it is very questionable whether such a publication afforded a just and proportionate ground work for so much general criticism, or a fair criterion of the alleged speaker's general merits. This criticism sums up its objections, and concludes its remarks, by the following commending observation, -that a more strict control over his fancy would constitute a remedy for his defects.
Exuberance of fancy is certainly a defect, but it is evidence of an attribute essential to an orator.
There are few men without some judgment, but there are many men without any imagination: the latter class never did, and never can produce an orator. Without imagination, the speaker sinks to the mere dry arguer, the matter-of-fact man, the calculator, or syllogist, or sophist; the dealer in figures; the compiler of facts; the mason, but not the architect of the pile : for the dictate of the imagination is the inspiration of oratory, which imparts to matter animation and soul. Oratory is the great art of persuasion; its
purpose is to give, in a particular instance, a certain direction to human action. The faculties of the orator are judgment and imagination; and reason and eloquence, the product of these faculties, must work on the judgment and feelings of his audience for the attainment of bis end. The speaker who addresses the judgment alone
argumentative, but never can be eloquent; for argument instructs without interesting, and eloquence interests without convincing: but oratory is neither ; it is the compound of both; it conjoins the feelings and opinions of men; it speaks to the passions through the mind, and to the mind through the passions; and leads its audience to its just purpose by the combined and powerful agency of human reason and human feeling. The components of this combination will
vary, of course, in proportion to the number and sagacity of the auditory which
the speaker addresses. With judges it is to be hoped that the passions will be weak: with public assemblies it is to be hoped that reasoning will be strong; but although the imagination may, in the first case, be unemployed, in the second it cannot be dispensed with; for if the advocate of virtue avoids to address the feelings of a mixed assembly, whether it be a jury or a political meeting, he has no security that their feeling, and their bad feelings, may not be brought into action against him: he surrenders to his enemy the strongest of his weapons, and by a species of irrational generosity contrives to ensure his own defeat in the conflict. To juries and public assemblies alone the following speeches have been addressed; and it is by ascertaining their effect on these assemblies or juries, that the merit of the exertion should in justice be measured.
But there seems a general and prevalent mistake among our critics on this judgment. They seem to think that the taste of the individual is the standard by which the value of oratory should be decided. We do not consider oratory a mere inatter of taste : it is a giyen means for the procurement of a given end; and the fitness of its means to the attainment of its end should be in chief the measure of its merit-of this fitness success ought to be evidence. The preacher who