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deep, clear, mellifuous voice, whose tones were perfectly suited to invective, de. scriptive, pathetic, or impassioned declamation; a singularly piercing eye; an animated and impressive countenance; a fiery and dauntless spirit that never faltered before an antagonist, and a manner altogether striking, admirable, and impressive. His gestures were performed with grace, dignity, and force. His attention to theatrical performances doubtless contributed to render him a complete master of that which Demosthenes declared to be the first, and second, and third requisites in eloquence. Much of the power of his oratory lay in his admirable delivery. In this way he triumphed over the passions of his auditors, and fascinated them at his pleasure. By a stroke of the pathetic, he could, apparently without much effort, move his hearers to tears, and by the sallies of wit and fun, as easily set them into roars of laughter.
Of all great speakers of a day fertile in oratory, Sheridan had the most conspicuous natural gifts. His figure, at his first introduction into the House, was manly and striking; his countenance singularly expressive, when excited in debate; his eye, large, black, and intellectual; and his voice one of the richest, most flexible, and most sonorous that ever came from human lips. Pitt's was powerful, but monotonous; and its measured tone often wearied the ear. Fox's was all confusion in the commencement of his speech; and it required some tension of ear throughout to catch his words. Burke's was loud and bold, butunmusical; and his contempt for order in his sentences, and the abruptness of his grand and swelling conceptions, that seemed to roll through his mind like billows before a gale, often made the defects of his delivery more striking.
But Sheridan, in manner, gesture, and voice, had every quality that could give effect to eloquence. Pitt and Fox were listened to with profound respect, and in silence, broken only by occasional cheers; but from the moment of Sheridan's rising there was an expectation of pleasure, which, to his last days, was seldom disappointed. A low murmur of eagerness ran round the House; every word was watched for, and his first pleasantry set the whole assemblage in a roar. Sheridan was aware of this, and has been heard to say, « that if a jester would never be an orator, yet no speaker could expect to be popular in a full house without a jest; and that he always made the experiment, good or bad, as a laugh gave him the country gentlemen to a man.)
No English speaker used the keen and brilliant weapon of wit so long, so often, or so effectively, as Mr. Canning. He gained more triumphs, and incurred more enmity by it than by any other. Those whose importance depends much on birth and fortune are impatient of seeing their own artificial dignity, or that of their order, broken down by derision; and perhaps few men heartily forgive a successful jest against themselves, but those who are conscious of being unhurt by it. Mr. Canning often used this talent imprudently. In sudden Aashes of wit and in the playful description of men or things, he was often distinguished by that natural felicity which is the charm of pleasantry, to which the air of art and labor is more fatal than to any other talent. The exuberance of fancy and wit lessened the gravity of his general manner, and, perhaps, also indisposed the audience to feel his earnestness where it clearly showed itself. In that important quality he was inferior to Mr. Pitt,
(Deep on whose front engraven,
Deliberation sat, and public care; » and no less inferior to Mr. Fox, whose fervid eloquence flowed from the love of his country, the scorn of baseness, and the hatred of cruelty, which were the ruling passions of his nature.
From “Eminent Orators and Statesmen.)
PATRICK HENRY'S DELIVERY
is delivery was perfectly natural and well-timed. It has, indeed, been said
that, on his first rising, there was a species of sub-cantus very observable
by a stranger, and rather disagreeable to him; but that in a very few moments even this itself became agreeable, and seemed, indeed, indispensable to the full effect of his peculiar diction and conceptions. In point of time he was very happy; there was no slow and heavy dragging, no quaint and measured drawling, with equidistant pace, no stumbling and foundering among the fractured members of deranged and broken periods, po undignified hurry and trepidation, no recalling and recasting of sentences as he went along, no retraction of one word and substitution of another not better, and none of those affected bursts of almost inarticulate impetuosity, which betray the rhetorician rather than display the orator. On the contrary, ever self-collected, deliberate, and dignified, he seemed to have looked through the whole period before he commenced its delivery; and hence his delivery was smooth, and firm, and well-accented; slow enough to take along with him the dullest hearer, and yet so commanding that the quick had neither the power nor the disposition to get the start of him. Thus he gave to every thought its full and appropriate force, and to every image all its radiance and beauty.
No speaker ever understood better than Mr. Henry the true use and power of the pause; and no one ever practiced it with happier effect. His pauses were never resorted to for the purpose of investing an insignificant thought with false importance much less were they ever resorted to as a finesse to gain time for thinking. The hearer was never disposed to ask, “why that pause ?» por to measure its duration by a reference to his watch. On the contrary, it always came at the very moment when he would himself have wished it, in order to weigh the striking and important thought which had just been uttered; and the interval was always filled by the speaker with a matchless energy of look which drove the thought home through the mind and through the heart.
His gesture and this varying play of his features and voice were so excellent, so exquisite, that many have referred his power as an orator principally to that cause; yet this was all his own, and his gesture, particularly, of so peculiar a cast that it is said it would have become no other man, I do not learn that it was very abundant, for there was no trash about it; none of those false motions to which undisciplined speakers are so generally addicted; no chopping nor sawing of the air; no thumping of the bar to express an earnestness which was much more powerfully as well as more elegantly expressed by his eye and countenance. Whenever he moved his arm, or his hand, or even his finger, or changed the position of his body, it was always to some purpose; nothing was inefficient; everything told; every gesture, every attitude, every look, was emphatic; all was animation, energy, and dignity. Its great advantage consisted in this: that various, bold, and original as it was, it never appeared to be studied, affected, or theatrical, or “to overstep,” in the smallest degree, «the modesty of nature); for he never made a gesture, or assumed an attitude, which did not seem imperiously demanded by the occasion. Every look, every motion, every pause, every start was pletely filled and dilated by the thought which he was uttering, and seemed, indeed, to form a part of the thought itself. His action, however strong, was never vehement. He was never seen rushing forward, shoulder foremost, fury in his countenance, and frenzy in his voice, as if to overturn the bar, and charge his audience sword in hand. His judgment was too manly and too solid, and his taste too
true to permit him to indulge in any such extravagance. His good sense and his self-possession never deserted him. In the loudest storm of declamation, in the fiercest blaze of passion, there was a dignity and temperance which gave it seeming. He had the rare faculty of imparting to his bearers all the excess of his own feelings, and all the violence and tumult of his emotions; all the dauntless spirit of his resolution, and all the energy of his soul without any sacrifice of his own personal dignity, and without treating his hearers otherwise than as rational beings. He was not the orator of a day; and, therefore, sought not to build his fame on the sandy basis of a false taste fostered, if not created, by himself. He spoke for immortality; and, therefore, raised the pillars of his glory on the only solid foundation, the rock of nature.
His feelings were strong, yet completely under his command; they rose up to the occasion, but were never suffered to overflow it; his language was often careless, sometimes incorrect; yet upon the whole it was pure and perspicuous, giving out his thoughts in full and clear proportion; free from affectation, and frequently beautiful; strong without effort, and adapted to the occasion ; nervous in argument, burning in passion, and capable of matching the loftiest flights of his genius.
Mr. Henry, however indolent in his general life, was never so in debate, where the occasion called for exertion. He rose against the pressure, with the most unconquerable perseverance. He held his subject up in every light in which it could be placed; yet always with so much power, and so much beauty, as never to weary his audience, but on the contrary to delight them. He had more art than Colonel Innis; he appealed to every motive of interest ; urged every argument that could convince; pressed every theme of persuasion; awakened every feeling, and roused every passion to his aid. He had more variety, too, in his manner; sometimes he was very little above the tone of conversation; at others in the highest strain of epic sublimity. His course was of loager continuance ; his Aights better sustained, and more diversified, both in their direction and velocity. He rose like the thunder-bearer of Jove, when he mounts on strong and untiring wing, to sport in fearless majesty over the troubled deep ; now sweeping in immense and rapid circles; then suddenly arresting his grand career, and hovering aloft in tremulous and terrible suspense; at one instant, plunged amid the foaming waves; at the next, reascending on high, to play undaunted among the lightnings of heaven, or soar toward the sun.
He differed, too, from those orators of Great Britain with whom he had become acquainted by their printed speeches. He had not the close method and high polish of those of England; nor the exuberant imagery which distinguishes those of Ireland. On the contrary, he was loose, irregular, desultory,- sometimes rough and abrupt, - careless in connecting the parts of his discourse, but grasping whatever he touched with gigantic strength. In short, he was the orator of nature; and such a one as nature might not blush to avow.
If the reader shall still demand how he acquired those wonderful powers of speaking which have been assigned to him, we can only answer with Gray, that they were the gift of heaven, — the birthright of genius:-
«« Thine, too, these keys, immortal boy!
It has been said of Mr. Henry, by Mr. John Randolph of Roanoke, with in imitable felicity, that he was Shakespeare and Garrick combined!» Let the reader, then, imagine the wonderful talents of those two men united in the same
individual, and transferred from scenes of fiction to the business of real life, and he will have formed some conception of the eloquence of Patrick Henry. word, he was one of those perfect prodigies of nature, of whom very few have been produced since the foundations of the earth were laid; and of him may it be said, as truly as of anyone that ever existed:
«He was a man, take him for all in all,
We ne'er shall look upon his like again.”
From « Eminent Orators and Statesmen."
WEBSTER, CALHOUN, AND EVERETT
WHOSE who have heard Mr. Webster, are well aware that he owes a portion of
his power to personal advantages. The lofty brow, the dark and cavernous
eye, and the heavy, deep-toned voice, might alone enchant a gazing auditory. These might impart to his calmer and ordinary discourse a serious earnestness, and a senatorial dignity; but in moments of high excitement, by no means of frequent occurrence, they seem like the blackness, and fire, and rolling peals of the o'ercharged and bursting cloud.
His style is remarkable for its simplicity. To utter thoughts of the highest order, in language perfectly simple; by lucid arrangement and apt words, to make abstract reasoning, and the most recondite principles of commerce, politics, and law, plain to the humblest capacity, is a privilege and power in which Mr. Webster is equaled, probably, by no living man. This simplicity, which is thought so easy of attainment, is, nevertheless, in this as in most cases, undoubtedly the result of
Like the great Athenian orator, Mr. Webster is always full of his subject. Like him, too, he can adorn where ornament is appropriate, and kindle, when occasion calls, into the most touching pathos, or loftiest sublimity.
As a public man, Mr. Webster is eminently American. His speeches breathe the purest spirit of a broad and generous patriotism. The institutions of learning and liberty which nurtured him to greatness, it has been his filial pride to cherish, his manly privilege to defend, if not to save.
In no emergency, on no occasion where he has yet been tried, have the high expectations formed of his abilities, been doomed to disappointment. The timehonored Rock of the Pilgrims, Bunker's glorious mound, and old Faneuil Hall, have been rendered even more illustrious by his eloquent voice. Armed at all points, and ready alike for attack and defense, he has been found equally great, whether wrestling with champions of the law, before its most august tribunal, or contending on the broader field, and in the hotter conflicts of congressional warfare.
The oratory of Webster will go down to posterity with applause. In the monumental column of the world's eloquence, formed by the contributions to the iilustrious of all ages, the name of the Massachusetts senator will appear with those of Demosthenes, and Cicero, and Burke, and Fox, and Patrick Henry, and Clay; and if any stones in the column have a brighter polish, or more external beauty, not Grecian marble itself will attract more eyes than the enduring granite, inscribed with Webster,
As a public speaker and debater, Mr. Calhoun was energetic and impressive to the highest degree. Without having much of the action of an orator, yet his compressed lip; his erect and stern attitudes; his iron countenance and flashing eye, all made him, at times, eloquent in the full sense of the word.
No man could hear him without feeling. His power was in clear analysis, suppressed passion, and lofty earnestness.
Another distinguishing quality of Mr. Calhoun's eloquence was the impetuosity and boldness with which his language was uttered. His words came from his lips like a rapid, swelling, sparkling stream. They often rushed with such rapidity that he « seemed obliged to clip them off to make room.” He was never at a loss for ideas or words to express them. He had great copiousness of language; and he was bold in the utterance of his glowing thoughts. The fearless tone with which he expressed his lofty sentiments inspired one with awe. Every hearer, swayed by a commanding eloquence, felt that he was in the presence of a mighty mind. The speaker's words came forth with a power that captivated and melted the heart. When he became fully aroused on some great topic his voice was elevated to a high pitch, and its loud, shrill tones pierced through the whole frame.
Mr. Calhoun was actuated by a genial enthusiasm. This was an element of great power in his oratory. On all important occasions, he put his whole soul into his subject, and poured forth a stream of eloquence which it was impossible to withstand. His enthusiasm bore him upward and onward. He often soared into the regions of the beautiful and sublime. Stimulated by the loftiest impulse, he could not but touch the sensibilities and sway the judgment of his hearers. « His mighty mind, when aroused in debate, was quick with the thunder thought and lightning will, rendering it as impossible for ordinary antagonists to avert or resist his influence, as for an oak to clasp in its arms the tempest that beats
upon it. »
As a metaphysical reasoner, Mr. Calhoun, perhaps, towers above every other senatorial orator of ancient and modern times. Where do we read of a statesman that could analyze with such minute discrimination a complex and intricate subject ?
On this point, read the following statement of one who knew him well. It was made while the orator was living.
«In one faculty of the mind, Mr. Calhoun surpasses any public man of the age, and that is in analysis. His power to examine a complex idea, and exhibit to you the simple ideas of which it is composed, is wonderful. Hence it is that he generalizes with such great rapidity, that ordinary minds suppose, at first, he is theoretical; whereas, he has only reached a point at a single bound, to which it would require long hours of sober reflection for them to attain. It is a mistake to suppose that he jumps at his conclusions without due care and consideration. No man examines with more care, or with more intense labor, every question upon which his mind is called to act. The difference between him and others is, that he thinks constantly, with little or no relaxation. Hence the restless activity and energy of his mind always place him far in advance of those around him. He has reached the summit, while they have just commenced to ascend, and cannot readily discover the path which has led him to his lofty and extensive view.)
The style of Mr. Calhoun is worthy of great commendation. It is distinguished for its simplicity, purity, clearness, point, and vigor. There is in it that which constantly reminds one of Demosthenes. He seems to have chosen the Athenian as his model,- to have studied his orations with great care. His words are well chosen; his sentences are admirably constructed; like those of Demosthenes, they are remarkable for their brevity. His style affords clear evidence of early and severe intellectual training in the literature of ancient Greece.
The eloquence of Mr. Everett is of the Ciceronean order, - copious, graceful, harmonious, correct, and Aowing. He also resembles the great Roman orator in