Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

FAMOUS EUROPEAN ORATORS AND STATESMEN This Assembly of the greatest men of Europe, met at Berlin in 1878. Among them are represented the greatest orators and statesmen of Europe, including Disraeli of England, Bismarck of Germany and representatives of Italy, France, Holland and Russia.

[blocks in formation]

struggle of his life, that for the rights of Ireland, he was one of the most effective popular leaders of modern times. As examples of his bitterness in epithet may be given his comparison of the smile of Sir Robert Peel to the shine of a silver plate on a coffin, and his designation of Disraeli as “heir-at-law of the blasphemous thief who died upon the cross.”

THE CHARMS OF KILDARE [The following extract is from a speech of O'Connell at Mullaghmast, County Kildare, in September, 1843, during the campaign of agitation for Repeal of the Union.]

I wish to live long enough to have perfect justice administered to Ireland and liberty proclaimed throughout the land. It will take me some time to prepare my plan for the formation of the new Irish House of Commons; that plan which we will yet submit to her Majesty for her approval, when she gets rid of her present paltry Administration and has one which I can support . You may be sure of this,-and I say it in the presence of Him who will judge me,—that I never will willfully deceive you.

I have but one wish under heaven, and that is for the liberty and prosperity of Ireland. I am for leaving England to the English, Scotland to the Scotch, but we must have Ireland for the Irish. I will not be content until I see not a single man in any office, from the lowest constable to the lord chancellor, but Irishmen. This is our land, and we must have it. We will be obedient to the Queen, joined to England by the golden link of the crown, but we must have our own parliament, our own bench, our own magistrates, and we will give some of the shoneens who now occupy the bench leave to retire, such as those lately appointed by Sugden. He is a pretty boy, sent here from England; but I ask, did you ever hear such a name as he has got? I remember, in Wexford, a man told me he had a pig at home which he was so fond of that he would call it Sugden.

No; we will get judicial independence for Ireland. It is for this purpose we are assembled here to-day, as every countenance I see around me testifies. If there is any one here who is not for the Union let him say so.

Is there anybody here for the repeal ? [Cries of “All, all !”] Yes, my friends, the Union was begot in iniquity, it was perpetuated in fraud and cruelty. It was no compact, no bargain, but it was an act of the most decided tyranny and corruption that was ever yet perpetrated. Trial by jury was suspended ; the right of personal protection was at an end; courts-martial sat throughout the land, and the county of Kildare, among others, flowed with blood. Oh, my friends, listen now to the man of peace, who will never expose you to the power of your enemies. In

BENJAMIN DISRAELI (1805-1881)

GLADSTONE'S RIVAL IN ORATORY AND OFFICE

I

N speaking of Disraeli as a rival of Gladstone in oratory, it is

meant only to indicate that these distinguished men came fre

quently into conflict in speech-making, not that there was any equality or resemblance between them as orators. As one writer says of Disraeli, “In almost every thing he was the very opposite of his great adversary, Mr. Gladstone. He was a master of epigram, a splenJid debater, rather than an orator; he possessed that first-rate requisite of statecraft, lack of zeal." His maiden speech was not wanting in cleverness, yet was so lame in delivery that it was greeted in Parliament with shouts of laughter. He cried out in response, “I have begun several things many times, and have often succeeded at last; ay, and though I sit down now, the time will come when you will hear me." The time indeed came. Before many years he was a prominent debater in the House of Commons, and the leading Conservative orator in the Corn Law agitation, while by his talent as a speaker and his spirit and persistency under defeat he compelled the admiration of his opponents. From 1868 onward he was the rival of Gladstone for the highest office under the British · Government. In that year he became Prime Minister, and alternated with Gladstone in this post of honor and power till his death, his terms of Premiership being 1868 to 1869, and from 1874 to 1880. Many of the great questions of public policy and the management of the Empire were before parliament and in their discussions Disraeli shone as a speaker of rare powers. In 1875 he conferred on the Queen the title of Empress of India, and was himself rewarded by the rank of Earl of Beaconsfield. In addition to his parliamentary labors, he found time to devote himself somewhat to literature, writing several novels which attracted much

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE (1809-1898)

ENGLAND'S PEERLESS NINETEENTH CENTURY ORATOR

T

HE history of Gladstone falls little short of being the history of

England in the nineteenth century. From 1830 onward to

near the end of the century no public question arose on which he had not something of weight and moment to say, and from the middle of the century to his death he was a controlling power in very much of the important legislation that took place. It was his unrivalled power as an ora cor, his superb statesmanship, and his earnest labors for the best interests of the British people that gave him this supremacy; while in the closing years of his life Ireland hailed him as her champion in the long-sought-for cause of Home Rule.

Gladstone was a man of immense mental activity. The intervals between his rarely ending parliamentary labors were filled with busy authorship. But his fame will rest on his record as statesman and orator, and especially his work for moral progress and practical reform. It would be impossible to name any other British minister with so long and successful a record in practical and progressive legislation. As a parliamentary debater he never had a superior—it is doubtful if he ever had an equal—in his country's history. Gifted with an exquisite voice-sweet, powerful, penetrating, vibrating to every emotionhis long training in the House of Commons developed his natural gifts to the fullest extent. His fluency was great-almost too exuberant, since his eloquence often carried him to too great lengths— but his hearers never seemed to tire of listening. He takes rank, indeed, as one of the greatest orators, and we may say distinctively the greatest debater that the British Parliament has ever known.

As respects Gladstone's deep sympathy with all mankind, we may instance his passionate arraignment in 1851, of the shameful

WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE

551

—at least, we ought to be for the downfall of every form of error ; and determined we ought to be that nothing shall be done by us to give countenance to its revival, but that we will endeavor to assist those less fortunate than ourselves in emancipating themselves from the like delusions. I need not say that as respects our colonies, they have ceased to be—I would almost venture to say a possible—at any rate, they have ceased to be a probable cause of war, for now we believe that greatnees of our country is best promoted in its relations with our colonies by allowing them freely and largely to enjoy every privilege that we possess ourselves; and so far from grudging it, if we find that there are plenty of American ships trading with Calcutta, we rejoice in it; because it contributes to the wealth and prosperity of our Indian empire, and we are perfectly assured that the more that wealth and prosperity are promoted, the larger will be the share of it accruing to ourselves through the legitimate operation of the principles of trade.

HOME RULE FOR IRELAND [The final great effort of Gladstone's career was to restore to Ireland that principle of Home Rnle,-the privilege of making its own laws by its own Parliament,which it had lost in 1800. was this he undertook when he returned to the premiership in 1886, and which he succeeded in carrying through the House of Commons in 1893, just before his final retirement. The following selection is from a speech made in Parliament in February, 1888.]

We have evidence before us to show that as regards the great objects which the Government have had in view, of putting down the National League and the Plan of Campaign, their efforts have resulted in total failure. Such is the retrospect. What is the prospect? There are many things said by the Government in debate; but I never heard them express a confidence that they will be able to establish a permanent resistance to the policy of Home Rule. You are happily free, at this moment, from the slightest shade of foreign complications. You have, at this moment, the constitutional assent of Ireland, pledged in the most solemn form, for the efficacy of the policy which I am considering. But the day may come when your condition may not be so happy. I do not expect, any more than I desire, these foreign complications, but still it is not wise to shut them wholly out.

What I fear is rather this, that if resistance to the national voice of Ireland be pushed too far, those who now guide the mind of that nation may gradually lose their power, and may be supplanted and displaced by ruder and more dangerous spirits. For seven hundred years, with Ireland practically unrepresented, with Ireland prostrate, with the forces of this

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »