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hope, been not unprofitably employed in dilating upon the necessity of industry, and in reading to you varied, though necessarily brief, specimens of the choicest eloquence.
For several years I enjoyed the honor and privilege of being intimately acquainted with the lamented D'Arcy McGee. The subject of oratory was one about which he delighted to converse, and on which he was well qualified to discourse with authority. Though a ready speaker himself, both from natural genius and from long practice he was like Demosthenes jr Pericles of old, by no means an advocate of strictly extemporaneous oratory. He held, with a wise living critic, that the ease with which a half-formed idea, swimming on the mind's surface, is clothed in equivocal words and illustrated with vague images, is the “fatal facility which produces mediocrity of thought. It was for this reason that never, if he could help it, did he deliver even a tenminutes' speech in public without careful premeditation and the use of the pen. He deemed
He deemed it a want of respect, or rather an insult to an intelligent audience, that any ordinary man, relying on mere fluent elocution, should presume to advise or instruct them without having maturely reflected on the topic of discussion, and shaped his thoughts into order and consistency.
Hence, his few remarks on the murder of President Lincoln, and his brief address on the ter-centenary of Shakespeare, are favorable specimens of thoughtful eloquence. It is no secret to many of us that, during the latter years of his life in Montreal, when he so frequently spoke in the evening at the gatherings of national societies, he invariably wrote beforehand a comprehensive abridgment of his intended speech, and sent it to one of the papers for publication next morning. This circumstance will account for the fact that
the reports of the speeches to which I allude will be found, on comparison, to differ considerably in the versions of our two morning journals. The one recorded the substance, and often the very language of what actually was said: and the other printed an elaborate abstract of what the orator had designed to say. Mr. McGee told me more than once that he hoped some day to publish an annotated edition of all the speeches in Milton's "Paradise Lost," as he considered them almost faultless models of the rhetorical art. He regretted also the want of some cheap school book, which should contain select specimens of British oratory, with an introduction, and critical notes accompanying each extract.
But I must leave these recollections and hasten to a close. In his Inaugural Discourse delivered fifty years ago at the University of Glasgow, Lord Brougham seems to have said all that is essential on the subject of public speaking. “I should,” says he, “lay it down as å rule admitting of no exception that a man will speak well in proportion as he has written much; and that, with equal talents, he will be the first extempore speaker who has prepared himself the most sedulously when he had an opportunity of delivering a premeditated speech. . All the exceptions which I have heard cited to this principle are apparent ones only proving nothing more than that some few men of rare genius have become great speakers without preparation, but in nowise showing that with preparation they would not have reached a much higher pitch of excellence.”
Few of us will refuse credit to these convictions of Lord Brougham, for, surely, we have all experienced that the tongue's most powerful auxiliary is the pen. “Nulla res," writės Cicero, “ tantum ad disendum proficit quantum bcriptio; ” and again: “Caput est quod minime facimus:
est enim magni laboris quod fugimus, quam plurimum scribere.” Once more:
Once more: “Stylus optimus et præstantissimus dicendi effector et magister," that is to say, writing is the best and most excellent modeller and teacher of oratory; and to use his own beautiful simile, the habit of writing the higher passages in a speech will communicate force to the extemporaneous portions, as a boat retains her onward way from the impulse previously given, even when the strokes of the oar have ceased.
It is by no means advisable, in any case, that the whole of a speech should be committed to writing, and then committed to memory. Unless a man be an actor like Shiel — "the Kean of orators," as Lord Lytton called him - he will not be able to speak with real freedom, point or vigor, if he adopts the memoriter method. The strain upon the memory is apt to be too severe, and a collapse has not infrequently occurred from a speaker's having degraded himself to be the mere slave of his recollection.
Partial preparation is allowable — nay, advisable in the greatest orators. Exordiums and perorations, and the general sketch of the speech may well be arranged and shaped beforehand; but some scope should be left for the impulse of the moment. The greatest thoughts are often those struck out by the mind when at a glow, and in debate they are caught up by other minds in a congenial state. Had Macaulay not composed beforehand, and carefully committed to memory the whole of his speeches, he would probably have been considered the finest orator in the world. As it was, when he was called up suddenly, under circumstances which precluded the possibility of verbatim preparation, he produced more striking effects than usual, and attained that inspiring fervor which comes direct from the heart, and finds
at once a kindred response. Such, at any rate, is the verdict of those who listened most often to his oratory.
Nevertheless, the habit of composition will suggest to the speaker at all times the best word and the best sentence, and, according to universal experience, will be of invaluable assistance when the necessity arises for unpremeditated reply. Familiarity with writing and practice in speaking act and react advantageously upon one another. On this point I cannot resist an apposite quotation from Quintilian (Book x, chap. 7): “Both exercises are reciprocally beneficial since it is found that by writing we speak with great accuracy, and by speaking we write with greater ease.”
“Reading,” said Bacon, “makes a full man; speaking, a ready man; and writing, a correct man. The perfection of public speaking consists in the union of the three qualities fulness, readiness, and correctness."
EBULON BAIRD VANCE, an American congressman, was born in Bun.
combe County, North Carolina, May 13, 1830, and educated in Washington College, Tennessee, and the University of North Carolina. After studying law and being admitted to the bar in 1853 he settled in Asheville, in his native State, and entered the North Carolina legislature the next year. He was elected to Congress in 1858, at which time he was opposed to the secession of his State, nevertheless after the outbreak of the Civil War he entered the Confederate army as a captain in 1861. He was elected governor of North Carolina in 1862 and re-elected in 1864. In 1863 he urged President Davis to undertake negotiations with the United States to bring about a cessation of hostilities, and did much to mitigate the discomforts of the Union soldiers imprisoned within his jurisdiction. After the occupation of North Carolina by the Federal troops he was imprisoned for some weeks in Washington. In 1870 he was elected to the United States Senate, but being refused admission resigned in 1872 and practised law at Charlotte till his election to the governorship of his State for the third time in 1876. His political disabilities having now been removed by Congress he was again chosen to the national Senate in 1879, of which he continued a member until his death at Washington, April 14, 1894. He was chairman of many congressional committees and was one of the most popular members of the Senate. Vance was an eloquent speaker and earnestly advocated the cause of free silver and of tarifi reform.
THE SLAVERY QUESTION
FROM SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
MARCH 16, 1860
HE scheme of removing and colonizing four million
people is so utterly absurd in practice that it needs
only to be suggested to exhibit its entire impracticability. Amalgamation is so odious that even the mind of a fanatic recoils in disgust and loathing from the prospect of intermingling the quick and jealous blood of the European with the putrid stream of African barbarism.
What, then, is best and right to be done with our slaves? Plainly and unequivocally, common sense says, keep the alave where he is now - in servitude. The interest of the