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SIR WILFRID LAURIER (1841

THE GREAT LIBERAL REFORMER

T

HE Dominion of Canada, as is well known, has a population

made up of two distinct races, the French and the British,

representing to-day the successive ownership of that great area. Though these are amalgamated to a considerable extent, their original diversity has by no means disappeared, the French stratum of the population retaining its old language and many of its old ideas. In 1896 the Canadian French became more intimately affiliated with the Government than ever before, when Wilfrid Laurier, a statesman of their race, was appointed to the high dignity of Premier of the Dominion, the first of his people to hold that position. He was invested with the honor of knighthood in the following year. For many years the Conservative party had been predominant in Canada. With Laurier the Liberals came into power, after a long interregnum. They could not have done so under an abler leader than Sir Wilfrid, who is considered by many as the ablest orator Canada has ever known, and is distinguished“ not more by the finished grace of his oratory than by the boldness and authority with which he handled the deepest political problems” in the Dominion House of Commons. He designates himself “A Liberal of the English school, a pupil of Charles James Fox, Daniel O'Connell, and William Ewart Gladstone."

GLADSTONE'S ELEMENTS OF GREATNESS (Laurier's political orations are numerous, and many of them evince great ability. We append from these an example of his powers as a political orator, but we give in precedence his eulogy of Gladstone, as one of the most appreciative, striking and brilliant estimates of the character of the great English statesman.]

The last half century in which we live has produced many able and strong men, who, in different walks of life, have attracted the attention

SIR WILFRID LAURIER

245

of the world at large; but of the men who have illustrated this age,

it seems to me that in the eyes of posterity four will outlive and outshine all others—Cavour, Lincoln, Bismarck, and Gladstone. If we look simply at the magnitude of the results obtained, compared with the exiguity of the resources at command; if we remember that out of the small king. dom of Sardinia grew United Italy, we must come to the conclusion that Count Cavour was undoubtedly a statesman of marvelous skill and prescience. Abraham Lincoln, unknown to fame when he was elected to the presidency, exhibited a power for the government of men which has scarcely been surpassed in any age. He saved the American Union, he enfranchised the black race, and for the task he had perform he was endowed in some respects almost miraculously. No man ever displayed a greater insight into the motives, the complex motives, which shape the public opinion of a free country, and he possessed almost to the degree of an instinct the supreme quality in a statesman of taking the right decision, taking it at the right moment, and expressing it in language of incomparable felicity. Prince Bisinarck was the embodiment of resolute common sense, unflinching determination, relentless strength, moving onward to his end, and crushing. everything in his way as unconcernedly as fate itself. Mr. Gladstone undoubtedly excelled every one of these men. He had in his person a combination of varied powers of the human intellect rarely to be found in one single individual. He had the imaginative fancy, the poetic conception of things, in which Count Cavour was deficient. He had the aptitude for business, the financial ability, which Lincoln never exhibited. He had the lofty impulses, the generous inspirations, which Prince Bismarck always discarded, even if he did not treat them with scorn. He was at once an orator, a statesman, a poet, and a man of business.

As an orator he stands certainly in the very front rank of orators of his country or any country, of his age or any age. I remember when Louis Blanc was in England, in the days of the Second Empire, he used to write to the press of Paris, and in one of his letters to Le Temps he stated that Mr. Gladstone would undoubtedly have been the foremost orator of England if it were not for the existence of Mr. Bright. It may be admitted, and I think it is admitted generally, that on some occasions Mr. Bright reached heights of grandeur and pathos which even Mr. Gladstone did not attain. But Mr. Gladstone had an ability, a vigor, a fluency which no man in his age, or any age, ever rivaled, or even approached. That is not all. To his marvelous mental powers he added no less marvelous physical gifts. He had the eye of a god ; the voice of a silver bell ; and the very fire of his eye, the very music of his voice, swept the

BOOK VI.

The Famous Pulpit Orators of America

A

MONG the many fields for oratorical display,

none has been nearly so prolific as the pulpit,

in which weekly thousands of sermons are delivered by men trained to the fullest and most effective powers of expression in this art. In this multitude of cultivated orators it would be strange, indeed, if there were not many of superior powers. And their subject, the salvation of man, is one that lends itself to fervid and vehement examples of oratory. The pulpit orator who is thoroughly in earnest has a theme not surpassed in its inspiring force by the most revolutionary and exciting of political conditions. As a rule, however, the incessant repetition of pulpit orations is apt to quench the fire of eloquence in the most earnest of speakers, and leave a tameness from which few escape in the end. Their efforts become forced. They are not due to single stirring occasions, of passing moment, but to permanent conditions against which it is not easy to maintain an inspiring indignation. And the sermon, to be fully interesting, needs to be heard; with all the aids of solemn surroundings, elevation of sentiment, and the grace and power of spoken words. When read, its fine aroma is apt to disappear. In offering selections from the leading pulpit orators, therefore, it seems best to take them, as a rule, from the secular efforts of these eloquent men.

The moral force and the trained oratory remain, and with these is associated a living interest in the subject which does not always inhere in that of the printed sermon.

THEODORE PARKER (1810-1860)

THE FERVENT ORATOR OF EMANCIPATION

S

IDE by side with Phillips and Garrison in opposition to African

slavery should be placed Theodore Parker, to whom the

Southern system appeared a tissue of abominations, and who gave all the great powers of his ardent and emotional mind to the advocacy of emancipation of the slaves. A heretic to the prevailing sentiment in this respect, he was equally heretical in his religious views, and aroused much acrimonious criticism by his rationalistic teachings. A native of Lexington, Massachusetts, the place of origin of the Revolutionary War, his whole life was a warfare against prevailing views and institutions. Entering the Unitarian ministry, he began to preach in 1836. But his studies of German rationalism caused important changes in his theological belief, changes which he made no effort to conceal, and he was soon vigorously opposed by many of his Unitarian brethren. His unusual ability as an orator and thinker, however, brought him an abundant audience, and in 1846 he was regularly installed at the Melodeon, in Boston, where he continued to disseminate what many criticised as plain heresy for the remainder of his life. While performing his duties as a minister, he was a deep student and for years a highly popular lecturer. But the subject to which he gave the most attention was the iniquity of human slavery, against which for years he fought with all his great powers of mind, and died on the verge of the success of his opinions.

THE GREATNESS AND THE WEAKNESS OF DANIEL WEBSTER

[The public life and private character of Webster has never been so set forth, alike in its greatness and its weakness, as in the memorable attack made by Parker on the mighty orator after he had passed away. Webster's course of action in regard to slavery the ardent abolitionist could not forgive, and while giving him full credit for

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his wonderful powers of mind and body, he dissected and laid bare the defects of his character and attainments in a remarkably effective manner. It would be difficult to point to a more complete analysis of a human character in a brief space than in the selection here given from Parker's address. ]

Do men mourn for him, the great man eloquent? I put on sackcloth long ago.

I mourned for him when he wrote the Creole letter which surprised Ashburton, Briton that he was. I mourned when he spoke the speech of the seventh of March. I mourned when the Fugitive Slave Bill passed Congress, and the same cannon that have fired “minute guns” for hinı fired also one hundred rounds of joy for the forging of a new fetter for the fugitive's foot. I mourned for him when the kidnappers first came to Boston-hated then-now respectable men,

the companions of princes, enlarging their testimony in the Court. I mourned when my own parishioners fled from the “stripes” of New England to the stars of Old England. I mourned when Ellen Craft fled to my house for shelter and for succor; and for the first time in all my life, I armed this hand. I mourned when the courthouse was hung in chains; when Thomas Sims, from his dungeon, sent out his petition for prayers and the churches did not dare to pray. I mourned when I married William and Ellen Craft, and gave them a Bible for their soul, and a sword to keep that soul living and in a living frame. I mourned when the poor outcast in yonder dungeon sent for me to visit him, and when I took him by the hand that Daniel Webster was chaining in that house. I mourned for Webster when we prayed our prayer and sung our song on Long Wharf in the morning's gray. I mourned then; I shall not cease to mourn. The flags will be removed from the streets, the cannon will sound their other notes of joy; but for me I shall go mourning all my days. I shall refuse to be comforted, and at last I shall lay down my gray hairs with weeping and with sorrow in the grave. Oh, Webster! Webster! would God that I had died for thee !

He was a great man, a man of the largest mold, a great body and a great brain ; he seemed made to last a hundred years. Since Socrates, there has seldom been a head so massive, so huge—seldom such a face since the stormy features of Michael Angelo :

“The hand that rounded Peter's dome,

And groined the aisles of Christian Rome”she who sculptured Day and Night into such beautiful forms,-he looked

them in his face before he chiseled them into stone. Dupuytren and Cuvier are said to be the only men in our day that have had a brain so vast. Since Charlemagne I think there has not been such a grand figure in all Christendom. A large man, decorous in dress, dignified in deportment

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