Page images
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]

Famous Orators of the World
And Their Best Orations

The Lives of the Greatest Orators and their
Best Orations from Earliest Times to Present
Day with an Account of Place and Time of
Delivery of Each Oration and Explanatory
Notes on Obscure Passages.


By Charles Morris, LL.D.

Author of “Manual of Classical Literature" “Half-Hours with Best American
Authors," "History and Triumphs of the Nineteenth Century," Etc., Etc., Etc.

Profusely Illustrated with Great Historic Scenes and

Portraits of Brilliant Orators.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]





[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

which may

[ocr errors]


RATORY is, in its essential elements, the oldest of the

arts, for it is one that requires, for its ordinary exercise,

no other equipment than fluency of speech and some degree of self-confidence on the part of the speaker. It has, therefore, been practiced for ages past, as well among savage and barbarous tribes as among civilized peoples, in evidence of

be mentioned the striking examples of native oratory attributed to the American Indians. This being the case, it might naturally be conceived that the literature of civilization would be overflowing with oratorical productions of high merit. Yet such a conclusion would be by no means a safe

When we come to consider the abundant examples of oratory on record, it is to find the pure gold of eloquence often sadly alloyed. The orations of supreme merit, those which have won a position in the world's best literature, are few in number, and the list of world-famed orators is less extended than in almost any other field of human art.

From this fact we can but conclude that the necessary equipment for the higher type of oratory demands far more than mere readiness in speech, grace in gesture, and fluent command of language. Back of these accomplishments must rest superior powers of thought, logical consistency in reasoning, quickness and brilliancy of conception, control of rhetorical expedients, and much of what is known as personal magnetism,



the ability to sway the feelings of hearers by sympathetic warmth of utterance. To these there must be added, for eminent success upon the rostrum, rich and full powers of voice, large training in the effective use of language, graceful and commanding attitudes and gestures, and all those personal qualities which give a living force to spoken words. The orator should have the art of the poet as well as the force of the reasoner, be capable of clothing his thoughts in a brilliant cloak of words and phrases, of controlling the feelings as well as appealing to the judgment of his hearers, in short, of employing all the expedients of which language is susceptible, all the attraction of which the voice and person are capable, and all the powers of thought with which the intellect is furnished.


An oration, to be fully appreciated, must be heard, not read. Much of what gave it force and effect is lost when it is committed to print. The living personality is gone—the flashing eye, the vibrating voice, the impetuous gesture, the passionate declamation, the swaying and sweeping energy of eloquence which at times gives to meaningless words a controlling force. Much is lost, but by no means all. The real flesh and blood of the oration is left-its logic, its truth, its quality as a product of the intellect. When thus read, apart from the personal influence of the orator and with cool and judicial mind, the sophistry, the emptiness, of many showy orations become pitifully evident, while the true merit of the really great effort grows doubly apparent. No longer taken captive by the speaker's manner and the external aids to eloquence, the reader can calmly measure and weigh words and thoughts, with competence to reject the vapid example of speech-making and give its just pre-eminence to the truly great oration.

From what is above said it should be evident that the powers of the orator are not alone those of pure reasoning, of logic reduced to its finest elements. No example of oratory

« PreviousContinue »