LORD CHATHAM AS AN ORATOR
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.
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, now so dear at Oxford to both sexes, has pronounced in immortal words that 'second thoughts are somehow the wiser'.
- Αἱ δεύτεραί πως φροντίδες σοφώτεραι, Hippol. 436.