Page:Modern Parliamentary Eloquence.djvu/44

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Modern Parliamentary Eloquence

of gibes and flouts and sneers," the bitter speaker, whose "invective lacked finish," into the mellowed and majestic statesman, cautious in his policy, philosophic in his mental outlook, imposing in his reserve. In the course of this transition, the faculty of epigram, which was too deeply rooted in him to be seriously modified, and which made his private conversation a perpetual delight, expended itself in the "blazing indiscretions" for which he attained a notoriety that amused no one more than himself. These were entirely unpremeditated; and I remember being with him for a Birmingham demonstration, before which he declared that on this occasion at least he would not offend, only to perpetrate a few hours later one of his most characteristic indiscretions.

Duke of Devonshire.A speaker who was equally deficient in the arts of oratory, and even more indifferent to applause, but who attained a position of scarcely inferior influence in the State was the late Duke of Devonshire. When he was first made an Under Secretary in 1863, the appointment was looked upon as a Whig job, and almost an affront to the House of Commons. That a speaker so ungainly in manner, so unready of speech, and so casual in temperament, should also be the eldest son of a Duke, was thought to aggravate the crime. And yet this leisure-loving man, who always preferred Newmarket to the House of Commons, who hated making a speech, and regarded politics as a disagreeable necessity of his order, rose by his robust and steadfast common sense, his incorruptible honesty, and the splendid tenacity with which he defended and expounded his convictions, to be one of the most powerful and persuasive speakers in either House of Parliament. In the Debate upon the Introduction of the first Home Rule Bill in 1886, to which I have before referred, by far the best speech, greatly transcending that of the trained orator Mr. Gladstone, was delivered by Lord Hartington. No hesitation or drowsiness marred the utterance of the man who felt his most sacred convictions outraged and betrayed. Sincerity and a sæva indignatio endowed him with a