Page:Modern Parliamentary Eloquence.djvu/50
Modern Parliamentary Eloquence
whole community. It was with a cry of universal dismay that the nation heard the other day the surely unpardonable threat that it is perhaps to be deprived in the future of this gratuitous and unalloyed enjoyment.
Passages quoted.There are at least a score of Lord Rosebery's speeches from which I might find quotations worthy to take their place in any company. The most widely popular and admired which he has delivered in recent years was his welcome to the members of the Imperial Press Conference in London, in June, 1909, in which occurred that exquisite passage about English scenery: "the little villages clustered, as they have clustered for centuries, about the heaven-directed spires."
But I prefer to select passages from two speeches, both delivered in St. Andrew's Hall at Glasgow, a place and a city for which Lord Rosebery has reserved some of his choicest gifts.
The first is his peroration, in July, 1896, on the frailties of Robert Burns:
"Man, after all, is not ripened by virtue alone. Were it so, this world were a paradise of angels. No. Like the growth of the earth, he is the fruit of all seasons, the accident of a thousand accidents, a living mystery moving through the seen to the unseen; he is sown in dishonour; he is matured under all the varieties of heat and cold; in mists and water, in snow and vapours, in the melancholy of autumn, in the torpor of winter, as well as in the rapture and fragrance of summer, or the balmy affluence of spring, its breath, its sunshine; at the end he is reaped, the produce not of one climate, but of all, not of good alone, but of sorrow, perhaps mellowed and ripened, perhaps stricken and withered and sour. How then shall we judge anyone how, at any rate, shall we judge a giant, great in gifts and great in temptations, great in strength and great in weakness? Let us glory in his strength and be comforted in his weakness, and when we thank Heaven for the inestimable gift of Burns, we do not need to remember wherein he was imperfect, we cannot bring ourselves to regret that he was made of the same clay as ourselves."
The second passage is the peroration of his Rectorial Address at Glasgow University in 1900, on the British Empire:
" How marvellous it all is! Built not by saints and angels, but the work of men's hands; cemented with men's honest blood and with a world of tears; welded by the best brains of centuries past; not without