The orator: a compendium of English eloquence, containing selections from the most celebrated speeches of the past & present online

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Everything administered as remedy to the
public complaint, if it did not produce, was at
least followed by, a heightening of the dis-
It-nqvr; until, by a variety of experiments,
that important country has been brought into
her present situation ; a situation which I will
not miscall ; which I dare not name ; which I
scarcely know how to comprehend in the terms
of any description.

# * * *

The capital leading questions on which you
must this day decide are tkese two : First,
whether you ought to concede; and secondly,
what your concession ought to be. On the
first of these questions we have gained some
ground. But I am sensible that a good deal
more is still to be done. Indeed, sir, to
enable us to determine both on the one and
the other of these great questions with a firm
and precise judgment, I think it may be neces-
sary to consider distinctly the true nature and
the peculiar circumstances of the object which
we have before us. Because, after all our
struggle, whether we will or not, we must
govern America according to that nature, and
to those circumstances, and not according to
our own imagination ; not according to abstract
ideas of right ; by no means according to mere
general theories of government, the resort to
which appears to me, in our present situation,
no better than arrant trifling. I shall therefore
endeavour, with your leave, to lay before you
some pf the most material of these circumstances
in as full and as clear a manner as I am able
to state them.

The first thing that we have to consider with
regard to the nature of the object is the

number of people in the colonies. I have taken
for some years a good deal of pains on that
point. I can by no calculation justify myself
in placing the number below two millions of
inhabitants of our own European blood and
colour; besides at least 500,000 others, who
form no inconsiderable part of the strength and
opulence of the whole. This, sir, is, I believe,
about the true number. There is no occasion
to exaggerate, where plain truth is of so much
weight and importance. But whether I put
the present numbers too high or too low, is a
matter of little moment. Such is the strength
with which population shoots in that part of
the world, that state the numbers as high as
we will, whilst the dispute continues, the
exaggeration ends. Whilst we are discussing
any given magnitude, they are grown to it.
Whilst we spend our time in deliberating on
the mode of governing two millions, we shall
find we have millions more to manage. Your
children do not grow faster from infancy to
manhood, than they spread from families to
communities, and from villages to nations.

I put this consideration of the present and
the growing numbers in the front of our delibe-
ration, because, sir, this consideration will make
it evident to a blunter discernment than yours,
that no partial, narrow, contracted, pinched,
occasional system will be at all suitable to such
an object. It will show you, that it is not to
be considered as one of those minima which are
out of the eye and consideration of the law ;
not a paltry excrescence of the State ; not a
mean dependent, who may be neglected with
little damage, and provoked with little danger.
It will prove that some degree of care and
caution is required in the handling such an
object ; it will show that you ought not, in
reason, to trifle with so large a mass of the
interests and feelings of the human race. You
could at no time do so without guilt ; and be
assured you will not be able to do it long with

But the population of this country, the great
and growing population, though a very import-
ant consideration, will lose much of its weight,
if not combined with other circumstances. The
commerce of your colonies is out of all propor-
tion beyond the numbers of the people. This
ground of their commerce, indeed, has been trod
some days ago, and with great ability, by a
distinguished person,* at your bar. This
gentleman, after thirty -five years it is so long
since he first appeared at the same place to
plead for the commerce of Great Britain, has
come again before you to plead the same cause,
without any other effect of time, than, that to
the fire of imagination and extent of erudition,
which even then marked him as one of the

* Mr. Glover.



first literary characters of his age, he has added
a consummate knowledge in the commercial
interest of his country, formed by a long course
of enlightened and discriminating experience.

Then, after reviewing our commercial rela-
tions with America, Mr. Burke proceeded :

The trade with America alone is now within
less than 500,000 of being equal to what this
great commercial nation, England, carried on
at the beginning of this century with the whole
world ! If I had taken the largest year of those
on your table, it would rather have exceeded.
But, it will be said, is not this American trade
an unnatural protuberance, that has drawn the
juices from the rest of the body ? The reverse.
It is the very food that has nourished every
other part into its present magnitude. Our
general trade has been greatly augmented, and
augmented more or less in almost every part
to which it ever extended ; but with this material
difference, that of the six millions which in the
beginning of the century constituted the whole
mass of our export commerce, the colony trade
was but one-twelfth part ; it is now (as a part of
sixteen millions) considerably more than a third
of the whole. This is the relative proportion
of the importance of the colonies at these two
periods ; and all reasoning concerning our mode
of treating them must have this proportion as
its basis, or it is a reasoning, weak, rotten, and

Mr. Speaker, I cannot prevail on myself to
hurry over this great consideration. It is good
for us to be here. We stand where we have an
immense view of what is, and what is past.
Clouds, indeed, and darkness, rest upon the
future. Let us, however, before we descend
from this noble eminence, reflect that this growth
of our national prosperity has happened within
the short period of the life of man. It has hap-
pened within sixty-eight years. There are those
alive whose memory might touch the two extre-
mities. For instance, my Lord Bathurst might
remember all the stages of the progress. He vrics
in 1704 of an age at least to be made to com-
prehend such things. He was then old enough,
ada parentmn jam legcre, et quce sit potcrit
cognoscere virtus suppose, sir, that the angel
of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the many
virtues which made him one of the most amiable,
as he is one of the most fortunate men of his
age, had opened to him in vision, that, when, in
the fourth generation, the third prince of the
house of Brunswick had sat twelve years on the
throne of that nation, which (by the happy
issue of moderate and healing councils) was to
be made Great Britain, he should see his son,
Lord Chancellor of England, turn back the
current of hereditary dignity to its fountain,
and raise him to a higher rank of peerage,
whilst he enriched the family with a new one


if amidst these bright and happy scenes of
domestic honour and prosperity, that angel
should have drawn np the curtain, and unfolded
the rising glories of his country, and whilst he
was gazing with admiration on the then com-
mercial grandeur of England, the genius should
point out to him a little speck, scarce visible in
the mass of the national interest, a small seminal
principle rather than a formed body, and should
tell him "Young man, there is America
which at this day serves for little more than to
amuse you with stories of savage men, and
uncouth manners ; yet shall, before you taste
of death, show itself equal to the whole of that
commerce which now attracts the envy of the
world. Whatever England has been growing
to by a progressive increase of improvement,
brought in by varieties of people, by succession
of civilizing conquests and civilizing settlements
in a series of seventeen hundred years, you
shall see as much added to her by America
in the course of a single life ! " If this state of
his country had been foretold to him, would it
not require all the sanguine credulity of youth,
and all the fervid glow of enthusiasm, to make
him believe it ? Fortunate man, he has lived to
see it ! Fortunate indeed, if he lives to see
nothing that shall vary the prospect, and cloud
the setting of his day !


[KossuTH, in his speech to the New York Militia,
December 16th, 1S51, pays the following graceful tri-
bute to the eloquence of Garibaldi.]


DO you know, gentlemen, what is the finest'
speech I ever heard or read ? It is the
address of Garibaldi to his Roman soldiers in
the last war, when he told them : " Soldier?,
what I have to offer you is fatigue, danger,
struggling, and death the chill of the cold
night, the open air, and the burning sun no
lodgings, no munitions, no provisions, but
forced marches, dangerous watchposts, and
continued struggling with bayonets against
batteries. Let those who love freedom and
their country, follow me." That is the most.
glorious speech I ever heard in my life.


Jlorn 1794. Living.

[THE name of Mr. Everett is not unknown or un-
honoured in this countiy. As a statesman and orator,
he has been associated with the political history of
America for more than thirty years past, and as a
Minister of the United States for some time resident in
England, is well and familiarly known to the great
leaders of opinion amongst us. His "Mount Vernon
Papers," a collection of sketches, relating, as their

B 2 .




name would suggest, to Washington and other great
American themes, were published in this country a few
years since, and met with, no small success. Otherwise,
his writings and speeches are probably not very gene-
rally known to the mass of the reading community, and
therefore it has been thought desirable to offer several
specimens of his eloquence throughout the course of the
present work ; and, as examples of a lofty and impas-
sioned type of oratory, they will well bear very careful
study and imitation. The following extract is from an
oration on one of the brightest and purest names in
American history the memory of the good and brave
La Fayette being amongst the richest heritages of the
great Republic.]


nnHERE have been those who have denied to
JL La Fayette the name of a great man. What
is gresatness ? Does goodness belong to great-
'jiess and /nake an essential part of it? Is
there yet enough of virtue left in the world,
to echo the sentiment, that

" 'Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great ? "

If there is, who, I would ask, of all the pro-
minent names in history, has ran through such
a career, with so little reproach, justly or un-
justly, bestowed ? Are military courage and
conduct the measure of greatness ? La Fayette
was intrusted by Washington with all kinds of
service ; the laborious and complicated, which
required skill and patience; the perilous, that
demanded nerve ; and we see him keeping up
a pursuit, effecting a retreat, out-manceuvering
a wary adversary with a superior force, harmo-
nizing the action of French regular troops and
American militia, commanding an assault at
the point of the bayonet ; and all with entire
^ucecss and brilliant reputation. Is the readi-
tfcss to meet vast responsibility a proof of
greatness ? The memoirs of Mr. Jefferson show
u, that there was a moment in 1789, when
Ea Fayette took upon himself, as the head of
the military force, the entire responsibility of
laying down the basis of the revolution. Is
the cool and brave administration of gigantic
power a mark of greatness ? In all the whirl-
wind of the revolution, and when, as commander-
'-in-chief of the National Guard, an organized
T /' force of three millions of men, who, for any
popular purpose, needed but a word, a look,
put them in motion, and he their idol,
we behold him ever calm, collected, disinterested ;
ae free from affectation as selfishness, clothed
not less with humility than with power. Is .the
fortitude required to resist the multitude press-
ing onward their leader to glorious crime, a
part of greatness ? Behold him the fugitive
and the victim, when he might have been the
chief of the revolution. Is the solitary and
unaided opposition of a good citizen to the
pretensions of an absolute ruler, whose power
was as boundless as his ambition, an effort of
greatness ? Read the letter of La Fayette to
Napoleon Bonaparte, refusing to vote for him
as consul for life. Is the voluntary return, in

advancing years, to the direction of affairs, at
a moment like that, when in 1815 the ponderous
machinery of the French empire was flying
asunder, stunning, rending, crushing thousands
on every side, a mark of greatness ? Con-
template La Fayette at the tribune, in Paris,
when allied Europe was thundering at its gates,
and Napoleon yet stood in his desperation and
at bay. Are dignity, propriety, cheerfulness,
unerring discretion in new and conspicuous
stations of extraordinary delicacy, a sign of
greatness ? Watch his progress in this country,
in 1824 and 1825 ; hear him say the right word
at the right time, in a series of interviews,
public and private, crowding on each other
every day, for a twelvemonth, throughout the
Union, with every description of persons, with-
out ever wounding for a moment the self-love
of others, or forgetting the dignity of his own
position. Lastly, is it any proof of greatness
to be able, at the age of seventy -three, to take
the lead in a successful and bloodless revolu-
tion ; to change the dynasty, to organize,
exercise, and abdicate a military command of
three and a half millions of men ; to take up,
to perform, and lay down the most momentous,
delicate, and perilous duties, without passion,
without hurry, without selfishness ? Is it great
to disregard the bribes of title, office, money ;
to live, to labour, and suffer for great public
ends alone ; to adhere to principle under all
circumstances; to stand before Europe and
America conspicuous for sixty years, in the
most responsible stations, the acknowledged
admiration of all good men ?

I think I understand the proposition, that
La Fayette was not a great man. It comes
from the same school which also denies great-
ness to Washington, and which accords it to
Alexander and Ca3sar, to Napoleon and to his
conqueror. When I analyze the greatness of
these distinguished men, as contrasted with that
of La Fayette and Washington, I find either
one idea omitted, which is essential to true
greatness, or one included as essential, which
belongs only to the lowest conception of great-
ness. The moral, disinterested, and purely
patriotic qualities are wholly wanting in the
greatness of Czesar and Napoleon ; and, on the
other hand, it is a certain splendour of success,
a brilliancy of result, which, with the majority
of mankind, marks them out as the great men
of our race. But not only are a high morality
and a true patriotism essential to greatness ;
but they must first be renounced, before a
ruthless career of selfish conquest can begin. I
profess to be no judge of military combinations ;
but, with the best reflection I have been able to
give the subject, I perceive no reason to doubt,
that, had La Fayette, like Napoleon, been by
principle capable of hovering on the edges of
ultra-revolutionism ; never halting enough to be



denounced ; never plunging too far to retreat ;
but with a cold and well-balanced selfishness,
sustaining himself at the head of affairs, under
each new phase of the revolution, by the com-
pliances sufficient to satisfy its deiuands, had
his principles allowed him to play this game, he
might have anticipated the career of Napoleon.
At three different periods, he had it in his
power, without usurpation, to take the govern-
ment into his own hands. He was invited
urged to do so. Had he done it, and made
use of the military means at his command, to
maintain and perpetuate his power, he would
then, at the sacrifice of all his just claims to
the name of great and good, have reached that
which vulgar admiration alone worships, the
greatness of high station and brilliant success.

But it was of the greatness of La Fayette,
that he looked down on greatness of the false
kind. He learned his lesson in the school of
Washington, and took his first practice in
victories over himself. Let it be questioned by
the venal apologists of time-honoured abuses,
let it be sneered at by national prejudice and
party detraction ; let it be denied by the admi-
rers of war and conquest ; by the idolaters of
success ; but let it be gratefully acknowledged
by good men ; by Americans, by every man,
who has sense to distinguish character from
events ; who has a heart to beat in concert with
the pure enthusiasm of virtue.

But it is more than time, fellow-citizens, that
I commit this great and good man to your un-
prompted contemplation. On his arrival among
you, ten years ago, when your civil fathers,
your military, your children, your whole popula-
tion poured itself out, as one throng, to salute
him, when your cannons proclaimed his advent
with joyous salvos, and your acclamations were
responded from steeple to steeple, by the voice
of festal bells, with what delight did you not
listen to his cordial and affectionate words;
" I beg of you all, beloved citizens of Boston, to
accept the respectful and warm thanks of a
heart, which has for nearly half a century been
devoted to your illustrious city ! " That noble
heart, to which, if any object on earth was
dear, that object was the country of his early
choice, of his adoption, and his more than
regal triumph, that noble heart will beat no
more for your welfare. Cold and motionless, it
is already mingling with the dust. While he
lived, you thronged with delight to his presence,
you gazed with admiration on his placid
features and venerable form, not wholly unshaken
by the rude storms of his career ; and now that
he is departed, you have assembled in this
cradle of the liberties, for which, with your
fathers, he risked his life, to pay the last
honours to his memory. You have thrown
open these consecrated portals to admit the
lengthened train which has come to discharge

the last public offices of respect to his name.
You have hung these venerable arches, for the
second time since their erection, with the sable
badges of sorrow. You have thus associated the
memory of La Fayette in those distinguished
honours, which but a few years since you paid
to your Adams and Jefferson ; and could your
wishes and mine have prevailed, my lips would
this day have been mute, and the same illustrious
voice, which gave utterance to your filial emotions
over their honoured graves, would have spoken
also, for you, over him who shared their earthly
labours, enjoyed their friendship, and has now
gone to share their last repose, and their im-
perishable remembrance. ' ..-

There is not, throughout the world, a friend
of liberty, who has not dropped his head when
he has heard that La Fayette is no more.
Poland, Italy, Greece, Spain, Ireland, the South
American republics, every country where man "
is struggling to recover his birthright, has lost a
benefactor a patron in La Fayette, But you,
young men, at whose command I speak, for you
a bright and particular loadstar is henceforward
fixed in the front of heaven. What young man
that reflects on the history of La Fayette,
that sees him in the morning of his days the
associate of sages, the friend of Washington,
but will start with new vigour on the path of
duty and renown ?

And what was it, fellow-citizens, which gave-
to our La Fayette his spotless fame ? The love
of liberty. What has consecrated his memory
in hearts of good men ? The love of liberty.,. ':
What nerved his youthful arm with strength^
and inspired him in the morning of his days
with sagacity and counsel ? The living lore of
liberty. To what did he sacrifice power, and
rank, and country, and freedom itself? To the
horror of licentiousness ; to the sanctity of
plighted faith ; to the love of liberty protected
by law. Thus the great principle of your revo-
lutionary fathers, of your pilgrim sires, the great
principle of the age, was the rule of his life :-
The love of liberty protected by law.

Yoii have now assembled within these to^
nowned walls, to perform the last duties- of ;i
respect and love, on the birth-day of your
benefactor, beneath that roof which has re-
sounded of old with the master-voices of Ame-
rican renown. The spirit of the departed is in
high communion with the spirit of the place ;'
the temple worthy of the new name, which
we now behold inscribed on its walls. Listen,
Americans, to the lesson, which seems borne to
us on the very air we breathe, while we perform
these dutiful rites. Ye Winds, that wafted the
pilgrims to the land of promise, fan, in their
children's hearts, the love of freedom ; Blood,
which our fathers shed, cry from the ground ;
Echoing Arches of this renowned hall, whisper
back the voices of other days ; Glorious Wash-

: -^



ington, break the long silence of that votive
canvass ; Speak, speak, marble lips : teach us



Born 1810.

[THE following extracts are from a speech of Mr.
Bright, delivered in the Town Hall, Birmingham, on
December 18, 18(32. As will be seen from allusions in
the speech itself, Mr. Bright had occasion to differ very
materially from Mr. Scholefield, his colleague, on
several topics then under discussion ; but the general
bearing of his discourse seems to have been received by
his constituents with enthusiastic applause. The robust
and manly eloquence of Mr. Bright has seldom been
exhibited to better advantage than at the close of this
speech his righteous indignation at that slavery sys-
tem which has been declared to be " the corner-stone of
the Confederacy," being thoroughly in keeping with all
his- former utterances on the same subject. Much of
the speech, in which he supports his views by statistical
and other minute argument, has been necessarily
omitted to bring our quotations within the compass of
the present work.]


C\ ENTLEMEN, I am afraid that there was a
\JT little excitement during a part of my hon-
ourable colleague's speech, which was hardly
favourable to that impartial consideration of
great questions to which he appealed. He
began by referring to a question or, I might
say, to two questions, for it was one great
question in two parts which at this moment
occupies the mind, and, I think, must affect
the heart, of every thoughtful man in this
country the calamity which has fallen upon
the county from which I come, and the strife
which is astonishing the world, on the other
aide of the Atlantic. I shall not enter into
details with regard to that calamity, because
you hare had already, I believe, meetings in
tnis town, many details have been published,
contributions of a generous character have been
made, and you are doing and especially, if I
am rightly informed, are your artizans doing
their duty with regard to the unfortunate con-
dition of the population amongst which I live.
But this I may state in a sentence, that the
greatest, probably the most prosperous, manu-
facturing industry that this country or the
world has ever seen, has been suddenly and
unexpectedly stricken down, but by a blow
wliich has not been unforeseen or unforetold.
Nearly 500,000 persons men, women, and
children at this moment are saved from the
utmost extremes of famine, not a few of them
from death, by the contributions which they
are receiving from all parts of the country. I
will not attempt here an elaborate eulogy of
the generosity of the givers, nor will I endea-
vour to paint the patience and the gratitude of
those who suffer and receive ; but I believe the
conduct of the country, with regard to this

great misfortune, is an honour to all classes and
to every section of this people. Some have
remarked that there is perfect order where there
has been so much anxiety and suffering; I
believe there is scarcely a thoughtful man in
Lancashire who will not admit that one great
cause of the patience and good conduct of the
people, besides the fact that they know so much

Online LibraryBarristerThe orator: a compendium of English eloquence, containing selections from the most celebrated speeches of the past & present → online text (page 3 of 67)