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Lord Chatham as an Orator

lean severity of King George III to the gentler and more subtle sophistications of Euripides.

Our present subject is of narrower dimensions than its still-born predecessor, though amply wide enough for a single lecture—'Lord Chatham as an Orator.'

It will be my endeavour to bring before you this great man not directly as a Statesman, who during some unforgotten years held the destinies of Great Britain in his powerful grasp, but as an Orator, who, in Mr. Lecky's not too inflated words, 'must rank with the very greatest who have ever lived.'[1]

As we speak of him, we shall be thinking of Oratory partly as an art, partly as a branch of literature, partly as a power of making history.

But here it strikes me as more than possible that something of a misgiving may haunt us—I confess that it does haunt myself—whether such a subject is not a little obsolete, and even a little second-rate; whether Oratory is still either a power to be reckoned with, or even an art to be studied and honoured.

So far as I can judge, there is distinctly less interest in it than in the days that I remember, sixty, fifty, years ago. It is less talked of. It is less read about. It is less taught in Schools. A hundred years ago, and fifty years ago, the training of the young English gentry in the difficult art of elocution was the avowed aim of Speech days. Less than fifty-five years have passed since on one Speech day, one which I cannot quite forget, a fine speech was delivered by a dear and highly gifted pupil, Frank Jeune, soon to be a Scholar of Balliol and afterwards to be known, though but for a few short months, as Lord St. Helier. As the young speaker sat down, old Lord Brougham was heard to murmur, 'Perfect Oratory.'