Page:Lord Chatham as an Orator.djvu/8

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LORD CHATHAM AS AN ORATOR


I

In Him Demosthenes was heard again,
Liberty taught him her Athenian strain;
She clothed him with authority and awe,
Spoke from his lips, and in his looks gave law;
His speech, his form, his action, full of grace,
And all his Country beaming in his face.

W. Cowper, Table Talk.


Mr. Vice-Chancellor,

When, Sir, you first honoured and almost appalled me by proposing that I should deliver the Romanes Lecture of this year, I was sorely perplexed to find any subject on which I could presume to address such an audience as this. After some days of pondering I was rash enough to propose to you a subject the range of which I had culpably failed to measure.

Having been interested all my life in English Parliamentary Oratory, I at first fancied it possible to sketch its history and its influence during roughly speaking a century and a half, from the time of Chatham to the time of Gladstone, both of them by the by Oxford men. But second thoughts told me that I had made a grave blunder. 'Second thoughts' have had their eulogists and their assailants. Euripides,[1] now so dear at Oxford to both sexes, has pronounced in immortal words that 'second thoughts are somehow the wiser'.

  1. Αἱ δεύτεραί πως φροντίδες σοφώτεραι, Hippol. 436.