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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 dicum of a ''preme authority; it was an exaggeration notwithstanding; but the observation lain much truth o permit such exaggeration ; and whilst we allow that delivery 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 € Useful accident of a prepossessing exterior ; an interesting figure, an animated countenarite, and a demeanour devoid of affectation, and distinguished by a modest seif-possession, give him the favourable opinion of his audience, even before he has addressed them. His eager, lively, and sparkling eye mells or kindles in pathos or indignation ; his voice, by its compass, sweeiness, and variety, ever audible and seldom loud, never hurried, inarticulate, or indistinci, 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 unquestioned.
The ablest and severest of all the critics who have assailed him, (we allude of course to the Edinburgh Review,) in their criticisin on Guthrie and Sterne, have paid him an involuntary and unprecedented compliment. He is the only individual in these coun. tries 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 a 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 calcu. lalur, or syllogist, or sophist; the dealer in figures; the compiler of facts; tho 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 imagina. tion: and reason and eloquence, the product of these faculties, must work on the judge ment and feelings of his audience, for the attainment of his end. The speaker who addresses the judgment alone, may be 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, ihrough 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 piraportion to the number and sagacity of the auditory which the speaker addresses. With julges 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 insure his own defeat in the conflict. To juries and public assemblies alone, the following speeches have been addressed; and it is hy 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 matter of taste; it is a given 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 the evidence. The preacher who can melt his congregation into tears, and excel others in his struggle to convert the superfluities of the opulent into a treasury for the wretched ;--the advocate who procures the largest compensation from juries on their cains for injusies which they try ;--the man who, like Mr. Phillips, can be accused (if ever any man was so accused except himsell) by grave lawyers and before grave judges, of having procured a verdict from twelve sagacious and most respectable special jurors, by fascination ; of having, by the fascination of lis eloquence, blinded them to that duty which they were sworn to observe :-the man who can be accused of this on oath, and the fascination of whose speaking is made a ground work, though an unsuccessful one for setting aside a verdict ;-he may be wrong and ignorant in his study and practice of oratory; but with all his errors and ignorance, it must be admitted, that he has in some manner stumbled on the shortest way for attaining the end of oratory—that is, giving the most forceful direction to human action and determination in particular instances flis eloquence may be a novelty, but it is beyond example successful; and its success and noveliy may be another explanation for the hostility that assails. It may be matter of taste, but it certainly would not be matter of judgment or prudence in Mr. Phillips to depart from a course which has proved most successful, and which has procured for him within the last year a larger number of readers through the world, than ever in the same time resorted to the productions of any man of these countries. His youth carries with it not only much excuse, but much promise of future improvement; and doubtless he will not neglect to apply the fruits of study and the lights of experience to cach-succeeding exertion. But his manner is his own, and every man's own manner is his best manner; and so long as it works with this unexampled success, he should be slow to adopt the suggestions of his enemies, although he should be sedulous in adopting all legitimate improvement. To that very exuberance of imagination, we do not hesitate to ascribe much of his success; whilst, therefore, he consents to control it, let him be care. ful lest he clip his wings: nor is the strength of this facully an argument, although it has been made an argument, against the strength of his reasoning powers; for let ns strip these speeches of every thing, whose derivation could be by any construction, assigned to his fancy; let us apply this rule lo his judicial and political exertions for instance to the speech on Guthrie and Sterne, and the late one to the gentlemen of Liverpool-let their topics be translated into plain, dull language, and then we would ask, what collec. tion of topics could be more judicious, better arranged, or classed in a more lucid and consecutive oriler by the most tiresome wisdom of the sagest arguer at the bar? Is there not abundance to satisfy the judgment, even if there were nothing to sway the feelings, or gratify the imagination? How preposterous, then, the futile endeavour to undervalue the solidity of the ground-work, by withdrawing attention to the beauty of the ornament; or to maintain the deficiency of strength in the base, merely because there appears so much splendour in the structure.
Unaided by the advantages of fortune or alliance, under the frown of political power, and the interested detraction of professional jealousy, confining the exercise of that talent which he derives from his God to the honour, and succour, and protection of his creatures -this interesting and highly gifted young man runs his course like a giant, prospering and to prosper ;-in the court as a flaming sword, leading and lighting the injured to their own; and in the public assembly exposing her wrongs-exacting her rights-conquering envy-trampling on corruption—beloved by his country-esteemed by a world-enjoying and deserving an unexampled fame—and actively employing the summer of his iife in gathering honours for his name, and garlands for his grave!
DELIVERED AT A PUBLIC DINNER GIVEN
TO MR. FINLAY
BY TIIE ROMAN CATHOLICS OF THE TOWN AND COUNTY OF SLIGO.
I think, Sir, you will agree with me, that the most experienced speaker might justly tremble in addressing you, after the display you have just witnessed. What, then, must I feel, who never before addressed a public audience? However, it would be but an unworthy affectation in me, were I to conceal from you, the emotions with which I am agitated by this kindness.
exaggerated estimate which other countries have made of the few services so young a man could render, has, I hope, inspired me with the sentiments it ought; but here, I do confess to you, I feel no ordinary sensation—here, where every object springs some new association, and the loveliest objects, mellowed as they are by time, rise painted on the eye of memory-here, where the light of heaven first blessed my infant view, and nature breathed into my infant heart, that ardour for my country which nothing but death can chill—here, where the scenes of my childhood remind me how innocent I was, and the grave of my fathers admonish me, how pure I should continue—here, standing as I do amongst my fairest, fondest, earliest sympathies—such a welcome, operating, not merely as an affectionate tribute, but as a moral testimony, does indeed quite oppress and overwhelm me.
Oh! believe me, warm is the heart that feels, and willing is the tonguc that speaks; and still, I cannot, by shaping it to my rudely inexpressive phrase, shock the sensibility of a gratitude too full to be suppressed, and yet (how far!) too eloquent for language.
If any circumstance could add to the pleasure of this day, it is that which I feel in introducing to the friends of my youth, the
friend of my adoption; though perhaps I am committing one of our imputed blunders, when I speak of introducing one whose patriotism has already rendered him familiar to every heart in Ireland; a man, who, conquering every disadvantage, and spurning every difficulty, has poured around our misfortunes the splendour of an intellect, that at once irradiates and consumes them. For the services he has rendered to his country, from my heart I thank him; and, for myself, I offer him a personal, it may be a selfish, tribute for saving me, by his presence this night, from an impotentattempt athis panegyric. Indeed, gentlemen, you can have little idca of what he has to endure, who in these times, advocates your cause. Every calumny which the venal and the vulgar, and the vile, are lavishing upon you, is visited with exaggeration upon us. We are called traitors, because we would rally round the crown an unanimous people. We are called apostates, because we will not persecute Christianity. We are branded as separatists, because of our endeavours to annihilate the fetters that, instead of binding, clog the connection. To these may be added, the frowns of power, the envy of dulness, the mean malice of exposed self-interest, and, it may be, in despite of all natural affection, even the discountenance of kindred ! -Well be it so,
For thee, fair Freedom, welcome all the past,
For thee, my country, welcome, even the last ! I am not ashamed to confess to you, that there was a day when I was bigotted as the blackest; but I thank the Being who gifted me with a mind not quite impervious to conviction, and I thank you, who afforded such convincing testimonies of my error. I saw you enduring with patience the most unmerited assaults, bowing before the insults of revived anniversaries; in private lise, exemplary ; in public, unoffending; in the hour of peace, asserting your loyalty; in the hour of danger, proving it. Even when an invading enemy victoriously penetrated into the very heart of our country, I saw the banner of your allegiance beaming refu. tation on your slanderers; was it a wonder then, that I seized my prejudices, and with a blush burned them on the altar of my country!
The great question of Catholic, shall I not rather say, of Irish cmancipation, has now assumed that national aspect which im. periously challenges the scrutiny of every one.
While it was