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"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue.
Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to the action ; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature.”HAMLET TO THE PLAYERS.
“ Eloquence, in this empire, is power. Give a man nerve, a presence, sway over languges, and, above all, enthusiasm, or the skill to simulate it; start him in the public arena with these requisites, and ere many years, perhaps many months, have passed, you will either see him in high station, or in a fair way of rising to it.
Unless you have the art of clothing your ideas in clear and captivating diction, of identifying yourself with the feelings of your hearers, and utlering them in languages more forcible, or terse, or brilliant, than they can themselves command; or unless you have the power—still more rare-of originating, of commanding their intellects, their hearts, of drawing them in your train of the irresistible magic of sympathy-of making their thoughts your thoughts, or your thoughts theirs,
never hope to rule your fellow-men in these modern days.”—G. H. FRANCIS IN “ORATORS OF THE AGE.”
“ To be a great orator does not require the highest faculties of the human mind, but it requires the highest exertion of the common faculties of our nature. He has no occasion to dive into the depths of science, or to soar aloft on angels' wings. He keeps upon the surface, he stands firm upon the ground, but his form is majestic, and his eye sees far and near; he moves among his fellows, but he moves among them as a giant among common men. He has no need to read the heavens, to unfold the system of the universe, or create new worlds for the delighted fancy to dwell in; it is enough that he sees things as they are; that he knows and feels and remembers the common circumstances and daily transactions that are passing in the world around him. He is not raised above others by being superior to the common interests, prejudices, and passions of mankind, but by feeling them in a more intense degree than they do."—WILLIAM HAZLITT.
AMONGST the multitude of speeches, sermons, and addresses annually delivered in the United Kingdom, only a few are permanently preserved. As Charles Dickens once remarked, "No sooner do the leaves begin to fall from the trees than pearls of great price begin to fall from the lips of the wise men of the east, and north, and west, and south; and anybody may have them by the bushel for the picking up.” That many of these pearls are worth picking up and re-setting no one will doubt. The curtain of oblivion will fall soon enough over the remainder. But when utterances are given by men who express the mind of the time, lend a stimulus to every good and great enterprise, speak in language generally understood and clothed with grace and truthfulness, we have here one plea for their preservation.
Some may hear a great orator and find both stimulus and refreshment in his words; but he serves a much higher purpose than this. The impartial student, when he has read and mastered the history of his own country as written by the ordinary historian, may yet be very far from any direct illumination as to the ordinary life of the people, and the hidden springs and motives which led to a certain national or individual course of action. In many cases he has been dealing with but the outer life of the time, and with generalities. He requires something which will give life and reality to his knowledge, and this he may find in a correct acquaintance with the life of a particular period, as found in its eloquence, or in its statute-books. It is here that the utterances of the divines and statesmen will commend themselves to the mind of the student. They have had their share in moulding the national life. They are now exponents to us through the printed page, as they were face to face with the men of their own age—of the common passions and tendencies of their times, and as such their utterances are of high historical value. The reader may here glean some of the important facts of history, and the mind of the time, not as these appeared to some remote historian who unconsciously carries into his work many prejudices and preconceived notions. Here also he finds the very words of the men who were actors in, and who helped to make the history of the country. Their words found, and may still find, an echo in the life of the nation; they were thrilled through and through with the forces and vitalities of their age; and by their words they helped to mould the destinies of coming generations. As they were true to the realities of religion, of the national and individual life, so will the force and permanence of their speaking be. Read in this light we are not in a position to despise the orators of our country. In this way, perhaps, Carlyle has termed his biography of Oliver Cromwell “The Letters and Specches of Oliver Cromwell."
Although correct parliamentary reporting, as a system, was not fully organised until after 1815, yet we have many notable speeches preserved to us of a much earlier date. In the time of Sir John Eliot (1590-1632), and much later, it was common for speakers in Parliament to impart their speeches to their friends, who caused them to be transcribed. In this way parliamentary intelligence was circulated in MS. to certain parts of the kingdom where otherwise it might never have reached. Lord Macaulay tells us that in 1685 the newspaper, for the most part, consisted of perhaps a royal proclamation, two or three formal addresses or notices of promotion, a description of a highwayman, of a cock-fight, or an advertisement regarding a strayed dog. The most important parlia'mentary debates and State trials were passed over in profound silence. In the way already mentioned private notes were kept of Queen Elizabeth's Parliaments, of those of James I. and II., and of the Long Parlia