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The purpose of this book is to furnish a collection of oratorical and argumentative masterpieces, suitable for students in the schools and for general readers. In making the selection the following considerations have had determining weight: 1. That every speech included should be in itself memorable a great utterance upon a great subject, attaining its distinction through the essential qualities of nobility and force of ideas, rather than through accidents of occasion, of feeling, or of rhetorical display; 2. That each should be in topic so related to the great thoughts, memories, or problems of our own time, as to have for us still an inherent and vital interest; 3. That the collection as a whole should include material enough to permit of a varied selection for the use of successive classes in the schools.

The speeches thus chosen have been printed from the best available texts, without change, save that the spelling has been made uniform throughout, and that three of the speeches — those of Webster, Calhoun, and Seward -- have been shortened somewhat by the omission of matters of merely temporal or local interest. Yet even the omitted portions have been summarized for the reader, whenever they have seemed to bear upon the main argument.

In the preparation of the notes, it has been the aim to furnish the reader with whatever help seems necessary to the proper understanding and appreciation of the speeches; to avoid bewildering him with mere subtleties and display of erudition; and to encourage in him the habit of selfhelp and the familiarity with sources of information, which

mark the scholar. A special feature of this part of the work is a sketch of the English Constitution and Government, intended as a general introduction to the English speeches.

It has not been thought best to propound any set scheme for instruction. To enter into the high thought of such speeches as these, to appreciate the masterly forging of argument, to realize the far-reaching force and application of ideas, to feel the uplift of noble emotions these are the ends to be reached ; and competent teachers will reach them best by their own methods.

I desire to acknowledge in general my indebtedness to earlier works in this field, particularly to Professor Goodrich's British Eloquence, and to E. J. Payne's Burke : Select Works. But wherever I have availed myself of more than mere suggestion or clew, I have endeavored to make due acknowledgment in the Notes.

First in the list of those to whom I am personally indebted for assistance rendered, I would name Mr. George A. Bacon and Mr. John Allyn, my publishers. From them came the original suggestion of the work; and to their wise counsel and untiring interest it owes far more than its excellence of outward form. To Prof. Charles Mills Gayley, my colleague in the English Department, I am indebted for valuable suggestion in selecting the speeches, and for criticism of portions of my manuscript Notes. In this last acknowledgment must be included also Prof. Carl C. Plehn and Prof. William Carey Jones, who have generously given me the benefit of their criticism on number of historical and political points encountered in my study. Nor must I forget the kind service rendered me by my nephew, Mr. Evander B. McGilvary, in reading throughout the proof of the Notes.


November 30, 1894.


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