Page:Modern Parliamentary Eloquence.djvu/45
Modern Parliamentary Eloquence
noble eloquence, and when he resumed his seat, I recall that members stood up and waved their hats in the air. In a subsequent career of singular unselfishness and inflexible courage he was called upon to make similar pronouncements on many occasions. He thus became the recognised mouthpiece of the sober sense of the community, and his speeches were more widely read than those of any other public man; for they both formed and expressed public opinion. The British Parliament has probably never contained a statesman who with fewer of the orator's gifts was more successful in producing the effect which even the orator sometimes fails to attain.
One of the remarkable features of the speaking of this upright man was his extreme nervousness. I have seen his sheet of notes shaking in his hands as he spoke, and I recall that when I was sworn in to the Privy Council at Windsor, and the Duke, as President of the Council, had to read out the names to Queen Victoria from a big sheet of paper or parchment, his hands trembled so violently that he all but dropped the list.
Lord Randolph Churchill.And now I pass to two very opposite figures, who both attained to high fame by their proficiency in the combined arts of Parliamentary and democratic eloquence - I speak of Lord Randolph Churchill and Mr. Chamberlain. Churchill's meteoric career and tragic ending call for no mention here. It is as a speaker alone that I propose to consider him. I can speak from personal recollection of his performances both in Parliament and in the country. I heard many of the personal attacks upon Mr. Gladstone and the Liberal Government, and, perhaps, scarcely less upon the respectable persons who then led the Conservative party, by means of which he hewed his way to fame. The tomahawk was always in his hand. It is impossible to describe the gleeful ferocity with which he swept off the scalps of friend and foe. Some of these speeches contained the grossest errors of taste, and nearly all were marked by a vein of almost burlesque exaggeration. In later times, however,