David J. (David Josiah) Brewer.

Crowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 6) online

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From a Copy of the Koran in the Library of Berlin, Mss. Ldbg. 822.

HIS beautiful arabesque illustrates the Sura of M-ercy, with the
superscription: "In the name of God, the IMerciful, the Mercy-
giver; he taught the Koran; he created man."

Victoria Edition

Crowneb /llbastcrpieces




As Collected in

dbe Morlt)'0 36c9t ©ratione

From the Earliest Period
to the Present Time

With Special Introductions by






llnternatfonal XTlniversit^ Society



Registered at Stationers' Hall
london, england
All Rights Reserved

Copyright 1910



H. K. JUDD & CO., Ltd.


London, E. C.






Erskine, Thomas Lord 1750-1823 ii

Against Paine's 'The Age of Reason'

"Dominion Founded on Violence and Terror"

Homicidal Insanity

In Defense of Thomas Hardy

Free Speech and Fundamental Rights

EvARTs, WiivUAM Maxwell 1818-1901 56

The Weakest Spot of the American System

Everett, Edward 1794- 1865 63

The History of Liberty

The Moral Forces which Make American Progress

On Universal and Uncoerced Co-operation

Falkland, Lucius, Lord 1610-1643 94

Ship-Money — Impeaching Lord Keeper Finch

Farrar, Frederick William i 831 -1903 100

Funeral Oration on General Grant

Fenelon, Francois de Salignac de la Mothe 1651-1715 108

Simplicity and Greatness
Nature as a Revelation

Field, David Dudley 1805-1894 119

In Re Milligan — Martial Law as Lawlessness
In the Case of McCardle — Necessity as an

Excuse for Tyranny
The Cost of "Blood and Iron"




KiNCH, Sir Heneage



Opening the Prosecution for Regicide under

Charles II.

Fisher, John

1459 (?) -1535


The Jeopardy of Daily Life

Flaxman, John



Physical and Intellectual Beauty

Feechier, Esprit



The Death of Turenne

Fox, Charles James

I 749- I 806


On the Character of the Duke of Bedford
On the East India Bill
Against Warren Hastings

Franklin, Benjamin 1706-1790 169

Disapproving and Accepting the Constitution
Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy

Frelinghuysen, Frederick Theodore 1817-1885 175

In Favor of Universal Suffrage

Gallatin, Albert i 761 -1849 180

Constitutional Liberty and Executive Despotism

Gambetta, Leon 1838-1882 189

France After the German Conquest

Gareield, James Abram 1831-1881 198

Revolution and the Logic of Coercion
The Conflict of Ideas in America

Garrison, William Lloyd 1804-1879 208

"Beginning a Revolution"

On the Death of John Brown

The Union and Slavery

Speech at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1865

Gaudet, Marguerite Elie 1755-1794 216

Reply to Robespierre




George V, R. et I.

1865- •


The Priceless Gift of Printing

Gibbons, James, Cardinal 1834- 224

Address to the ParHament of Religions

GiDDiNGS, Joshua Reed 1795- 1864 234

Slavery and the Annexation of Cuba

Gladstone, William Ewart 1809- 1898 240

The Fundamental Error of English Colonial

Home Rule and "Autonomy"
The Commercial Value of Artistic Excellence
Destiny and Individual Aspiration
- ^'"' The Use of Books

On Lord Beaconsfield

GoTTHEiL, Richard 1863- 269

The Jews as a Race and as a Nation

Grady, Henry W. 1851-1889 273

The New South and the Race Problem

Grattan, Henry 1746- 1820 278

Against English Imperialism
Invective Against Corry
Unsurrendering Fidelity to Country

Gregory oe Nazianzus c. 325-390 300

Eulogy on Basil of Caesarea

Gri M stone. Sir Harbottle 1603- 1685 304

"Projecting Canker Worms and Caterpillars"

GuizoT, Francois Pierre Guillaume 1787- 1874 308

Civilization and the Individual Man

GuNSAULUS, Frank W. 1856- 317

Healthy Heresies




Hale, Edward Everett

1822- I 909


Boston's Place in History

Hamilton, Alexander 1757- 1804 324

The Coercion of Delinquent States

Hamilton, Andrew 1676-1741 335

In the Case of Zenger — For Free Speech in

Hampden, John 1594- 1643 349

A Patriot's Duty Defined

Hancock, John i737-i793 353

Moving the Adoption of the Constitution
The Boston Massacre

Hare, Julius Charles

The Children of Light

Harrison, Benjamin

Inaugural Address

Harrison, Thomas

His Speech on the Scaffold

Harper, Robert Goodloe

Defending Judge Chase

Hayes, Ruthereord B.

Inaugural Address

Hayne, Robert Young

On Foot's Resolution

Hazlitt, William

On Wit and Humor

Hecker, Frederick Karl Franz

Liberty In the New Atlantis

Helmholtz, Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von 1821-1894
The Mystery of Creation





I 606- I 660


1765- 1825


1822- I 893




1 778- 1 830









Facsimile from the Koran (Arabesque in Colors) Frontispiece

The Plaintiff's Appeal at the First Trial by Jury

(Photogravure) ii

The Last Moments of John Brown (Photogravure) 208

Rouget de L'Isle Singing the Marseillaise (Photogravure) 216

The Supreme Court of the United States 389



Photogravure after the Original iy Cope.

CHARLES West Cope (1811-1890) was one of the famous members
of the English Royal Academy during the nineteenth century.
In this idealization of the trial by jury (said to have been his
'■first cartoon") he shows the open-air court which belonged to Anglo-
Saxon custom as it did to that of old Norsemen and Goths. The "next of
kin" of the slain man' appeared as prosecutor, claiming "bloodgelt" or the
death of the murderer. If the murderer reached the "thing" or the "althing"
as the open-air courts of the old sagas were called, he had his trial by his
peers. If he was overtaken and killed before trial, it was usuallj-^ thought of
as a very satisfactorj^ conclusion, while if he did not appear before the
open-air court at all, he became an outlaw "with a wolf's head," whom it was
the duty of the murdered man's kindred to hunt down.



Ihen Erskine appeared in his first case (that of King versus
Baillie), he himself was probably the only man in England
who thought his talents as a lawyer worth considering.
When he left the court room, however, where he had spoken as the
junior of five counsel, he was already near the head of the Eng-
lish bar, and it is said he received thirty retainers before he was out
of the building. Compared to his more mature efforts, this speech
would hardly be worth notice, did it not illustrate both the spirit
and the method which made him the greatest forensic orator of his
day. At a time when it was a highly dangerous offense to ** scan-
dalize the great, '^ it was the rule to find humble scapegoats to bear
the odium of the sins of power. Neither the King nor his ministers
were to be mentioned except with the usual ^^ Far be it from me ^* —
But Erskine, reviewing the question presented by the pamphlet in
which Captain Baillie had charged Lord Sandwich, first lord of the
admiralty, with responsibility for abuses at Greenwich hospital, made
an attack on Sandwich so bold that he at once compelled attention
to himself as the central figure of the trial. From this beginning,
Erskine was concerned in one after another of those great causes,
through which the right of the people to sit in judgment on the
acts of all who exercise their delegated power was asserted and at
last vindicated. Under the Georges, prosecution for << seditious libeP'
took the place of what might have been arrests for treasan under
the Stuarts. In such cases as in that of Hardy and others for treason
itself, Erskine was moved by the Uberrima indignatio of the man who
feels as his own every wrong with which power threatens weakness.
This intensity gave him his power and his celebrity. In such cases
as that of Lord George Gordon, where he is forcible to the last de-
gree, he does not compel any other interest than that which attaches
to the subject itself. This is true of some others of his orations in
what were great political trials, but his peroration in the case of
Stockdale is made sublime by the strength of his protest against the
injustice of holding Warren Hastings as worse than the policy he
was sent to India to enforce. His speech prosecuting the publisher
of Thomas Paine's <The Age of Reason,^ which he himself considered
his masterpiece, is, undoubtedly, very eloquent, and, from his stand-



point, not inconsistent with his defense of ^ The Rights of Man.*
The speech against <The Age of Reason^ was published and circu-
lated in immense numbers by the Society for the Suppression of
Vice, — << which gave me the greatest satisfaction, >> Erskine writes, ^<as
I would rather that all my other speeches were committed to the
flames, or in any manner buried in oblivion, than that this single
speech should be lost.^>

Erskine had no such mastery of metaphor as Curran showed in
comparing the smile of a man he detested to <Hhe shine of a coffin
plate,* but few orators rise more strongly than he to a climax, and
few other speeches in English are so well sustained as his.

He was born at Edinburgh, January 21st, 1750. His father, the
Earl of Buchan, whose youngest son he was, was practically bankrupt,
and could not give him a university education. After service first in
the navy and then in the army, Erskine went to London, and in 1775
began to fit himself for the bar by entering as a student at Lincoln's
Inn and a little later by entering himself as a gentleman commoner
at Trinity College, Cambridge. He suffered considerable hardship
during this period of his career, but it is said that in four years after
his admission to the bar, he had paid all his debts and cleared nine
thousand pounds. In 1783, he was elected to Parliament from Ports-
mouth, but his first speech was a failure, and he never succeeded as
a parliamentary orator. His success at the bar was so brilliant that
he was made Attorney- General to the Prince of Wales — an office from
which he was removed for defending Thomas Paine. He was raised
to the peerage as Baron Erskine, however, and under Lord Grenville,
became Chancellor of England. His decisions in that capacity have
been called ^^the Apocrypha* by those who deny that he was a
great lawyer. While his legal attainments have not lacked eulogists,
his strongest characteristic was not so much deep learning in the
detail of law as deep sympathy with its underlying principles of jus-
tice and liberty. This made him a greater force for after times than
Mansfield or Ellenborough. He died November 17th, 1823.


(Delivered on the Prosecution of the Publisher of <The Age of Reason > for
Blasphemy — Ranked by Erskine Himself as His Best Speech)

Gentlemeti of the Jury : —

THE charge of blasphemy, which is put upon the record against
the publisher of this publication, is not an accusation of the
servants of the Crown, but comes before you sanctioned by
the oaths of a grand jury of the country. It stood for trial upon


a former day; but it happening, as it frequently does, without
any imputation upon the gentlemen named in the panel, that a
sufficient number did not appear to constitute a full special jury,
I thought it my duty to withdraw the cause from trial, till I
could have the opportunity of addressing myself to you, who
were originally appointed to try it.

I pursued this course, from no jealousy of the common juries
appointed by the laws for the ordinary service of the court, — since
my whole life has been one continued experience of their virtues, —
but because I thought it of great importance that those who
were to decide upon a cause so very momentous to the public
should have the highest possible qualifications for the decision;
that they should not only be men capable from their educations
of forming an enlightened judgment, but that their situations
should be such as to bring them within the full view of their
country, to which, in character and in estimation, they were in
their own turns to be responsible.

Not having the honor, gentlemen, to be sworn for the King as
one of his counsel, it has fallen much oftener to my lot to defend
indictments for libels than to assist in the prosecution of them ;
but I feel no embarrassment from that recollection. I shall not
be found to-day to express a sentiment, or to utter an expression,
inconsistent with those invaluable principles for which I have
uniformly contended in the defense of others. Nothing that I
have ever said, either professionally or personally, for the liberty
of the press, do I mean to-day to contradict or counteract. On
the contrary, I desire to preface the very short discourse I have
to make to you, with reminding you that it is your most solemn
duty to take care that it suffers no injury in your hands. A free
and unlicensed press, in the just and legal sense of the expres-
sion, has led to all the blessings, both of religion and govern-
ment, which Great Britain or any part of the world at this
moment enjoys, and it is calculated to advance mankind to still
higher degrees of civilization and happiness. But this freedom,
like every other, must be limited to be enjoyed, and, like every
human advantage, may be defeated by its abuse.

Gentlemen, the defendant stands indicted for having published
this book, which I have only read from the obligations of profes-
sional duty, and which I rose from the reading of with astonish-
ment and disgust. Standing here with all the privileges belonging
to the highest counsel for the Crown, I shall be entitled to reply


to any defense that shall be made for the publication. I shall
wait with patience till I hear it.

Indeed, if I were to anticipate the defense which I hear and
read of, it would be defaming by anticipation the learned coun-
sel who is to make it; since, if I am to collect it, from a formal
notice given to the prosecutors in the course of the proceedings,
I have to expect that, instead of a defense conducted according
to the rules and principles of English law, the foundation of all
our laws, and the sanctions of all justice, are to be struck at and
insulted. What gives the court its jurisdiction ? What but the
oath which his lordship, as well as yourselves, have sworn upon
the Gospel to fulfill ? Yet in the King's court, where his Maj-
esty is himself also sworn to administer the justice of England
— in the King's court — who receives his high authority under a
solemn oath to maintain the Christian religion, as it is promul-
gated by God in the Holy Scriptures, I am nevertheless called
upon as counsel for the prosecution to "produce a certain book
described in the Indictment to be the Holy Bible.'* No man de-
serves to be upon the rolls who has dared, as an attorney, to put
his name to such a notice. It is an insult to the authority and
dignity of the court of which he is an officer, since it calls in
question the very foundations of its jurisdiction. If this is to be
the spirit and temper of the defense, — if, as I collect from that
array of books which are spread upon the benches behind me,
this publication is to be vindicated by an attack of all the truths
which the Christian religion promulgates to mankind, let it be
remembered that such an argument was neither suggested nor
justified by anything said by me on the part of the prosecution.

In this stage of the proceedings, I shall call for reference to
the Sacred Scriptures, not from their merits, unbounded as they
are, but from their authority in a Christian country, — not from
the obligations of conscience, but from the rules of law. For my
own part, gentlemen, I have been ever deeply devoted to the
truths of Christianity; and my firm belief in the Holy Gospel is
by no means owing to the prejudices of education (though I was
religiously educated by the best of parents), but has arisen from
the fullest and most continued reflections of my riper years and
understanding. It forms at this moment the great consolation of
a life, which, as a shadow, passes away; and without it I should
consider my long course of health and prosperity (too long, per-
haps, and too uninterrupted, to be good for any man) only as the


dust which the wind scatters, and rather as a snare than as a

Much, however, as I wish to support the authority of Script-
ure from a reasoned consideration of it, I shall repress that
subject for the present. But if the defense, as I have suspected,
shall bring it at all into argument or question, I must then ful-
fill a duty which I owe, not only to the court, as counsel for
the prosecution, but to the public and to the world — to state
what I feel and know concerning the evidences of that religion,
which- is denied without being examined, and reviled without
being understood.

I am well aware that, by the communications of a free press,
all the errors of mankind, from age to age, have been dissipated
and dispelled; and I recollect that the world, under the banners
of reformed Christianity, has struggled through persecution to
the noble eminence on which it stands at this moment, — shed-
ding the blessings of humanity and science upon the nations of
the earth.

It may be asked, then, by what means the Reformation would
have been effected, if the books of the Reformers had been sup-
pressed, and the errors of now exploded superstitions had been
supported by the terrors of an unreformed state ? or how, upon
such principles, any reformation, civil or religious, can in future
be effected ? The solution is easy : Let us examine what are the
genuine principles of the liberty of the press, as they regard
writings upon general subjects, unconnected with the personal
reputations of private men, which are wholly foreign to the pres-
ent inquiry. They are full of simplicity, and are brought as
near perfection by the law of England, as, perhaps, is attainable
by any of the frail institutions of mankind.

Although every community must establish supreme author-
ities, founded upon fixed principles, and must give high powers
to magistrates to administer laws for the preservation of govern-
ment, and for the security of those who are to be protected by
it, yet, as infallibility and perfection belong neither to human in-
dividuals nor to human establishments, it ought to be the policy
of all free nations, as it is most peculiarly the principle of our
own, to permit the most unbounded freedom of discussion, even
to the detection of errors in the constitution of the very govern-
ment itself; so as that common decorum is observed, which every
State must exact from its subject, and which imposes no restraint


upon any intellectual composition, fairly, honestly, and decently
addressed to the consciences and understandings of men. Upon
this principle I have an unquestionable right — a right which the
best subjects have exercised — to examine the principles and
structure of the Constitution, and by fair, manly reasoning to
question the practice of its administrators. I have a right to
consider and to point out errors in the one or in the other; and
not merely to reason upon their existence, but to consider the
means of their reformation.

By such free, well-intentioned, modest, and dignified commu-
nication of sentiments and opinions, all nations have been grad-
ually improved, and milder laws and purer religions have been
established. The same principles, which vindicate civil contro-
versies, honestly directed, extend their protection to the sharpest
contentions on the subject of religious faiths. This rational and
legal course of improvement was recognized and ratified by Lord
Kenyon as the law of England, in a late trial at Guildhall,
where he looked back with gratitude to the labors of the Re-
formers, as the fountains of our religious erriancipation, and of
the civil blessings that followed in their train. The English
Constitution, indeed, does not stop short in the toleration of re-
ligious opinions, but liberally extends it to practice. It permits
every man, even publicly, to worship God according to his own
conscience, though in marked dissent from the national establish-
ment, — so as he professes the general faith which is the sanction
of all our moral duties, and the only pledge of our submission
to the system which constitutes the state.

Is not this freedom of controversy and freedom of worship
sufficient for all the purposes of human happiness and improve-
ment ? Can it be necessary for either, that the law should hold
out indemnity to those who wholly abjure and revile the gov-
ernment of their country or the religion on which it rests for
its foundation ? I expect to hear, in answer to what I am now
saying, much that will offend me. My learned friend, from the
difficulties of his situation, which I know, from experience, how
to feel for very sincerely, may be driven to advance propositions
which it may be my duty, with much freedom, to reply to, — and
the law will sanction that freedom. But will not the ends of
justice be completely answered by my exercise of that right, in
terms that are decent and calculated to expose its defects ? Or
will my argument suffer, or will public justice be impeded, be-


cause neither private honor and justice, nor public decorum,
would endure my telling my very learned friend, because I dif-
fer from him in opinion, that he is a fool, — a liar, — and a
scoundrel, in the face of the court ? This is just the distinction
between a book of free legal controversy and the book which I
am arraigning before you. Every man has a right to investigate,
with decency, controversial points of the Christian religion; but
no man, consistently with a law which only exists under its sanc-
tions, has a right to deny its very existence and to pour forth
such shocking and insulting invectives as the lowest establish-
ments in the gradations of civil authority ought not to be sub-
jected to, and which soon would be borne down by insolence and
disobedience, if they were.

The same principle pervades the whole system of the law, not
merely in its abstract theory, but in its daily and most applauded
practice. The intercourse between the sexes, which, properly
regulated, not only continues, but humanizes and adorns our nat-
ures, is the foundation of all the thousand romances, plays, and
novels, which are in the hands of everybody. Some of them lead
to the confirmation of every virtuous principle; others, though
with the same profession, address the imagination in a manner
to lead the passions into dangerous excesses; but though the
law does not nicely discriminate the various shades which dis-
tinguish these works from one another, so as to suffer many to
pass, through its liberal spirit, that upon principle ought to be
suppressed, would it, or does it tolerate, or does any decent man
contend that it ought to pass by unpunished, libels of the most
shameless obscenity, manifestly pointed to debauch innocence,
and to blast and poison the morals of the rising generation ? This
is only another illustration to demonstrate the obvious distinction
between the work of an author, who fairly exercises the powers
of his mind, in investigating the religion or government of any
country, and him who attacks the rational existence of every re-
ligion or government, and brands with absurdity and folly the
state which sanctions, and the obedient tools who cherish the de-
lusion. But this publication appears to me to be as cruel and
mischievous in its effects as it is manifestly illegal in its princi-
ples; because it strikes at the best — sometimes, alas! the only
refuge and consolation amidst the distresses and afflictions of the
world. The poor and humble, whom it affects to pity, may be

Online LibraryDavid J. (David Josiah) BrewerCrowned masterpieces of eloquence, representing the advance of civilization, as collected in The world's best orations, from the earliest period to the present time (Volume 6) → online text (page 1 of 42)