Page:Lord Chatham as an Orator.djvu/12

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Lord Chatham as an Orator

respectable in every other on the globe'; the man of whom William Cowper[1] wrote:

England, with all thy faults, I love thee still.


Time was when it was pride and boast enough
In every clime, and travel where we might,
That we were born her children. Praise enough
To fill th' ambition of a private man,
That Chatham's language was his native tongue
And Wolfe's great name compatriot with his own.

The speeches of the first Pitt have, as is well known, reached us only in fragments, especially those which he delivered in the House of Commons in the days of his prime. He left that House in 1766, when he was fifty-seven years of age, grievously broken by constant and acute attacks of gout. It was not till 1770 that he became active in the House of Lords. Of his speeches delivered there in the course of eight years about fourteen have been fairly reported.

What, then, was the special mark or note of his oratory? Was he like or unlike other famous speakers, ancient or modern?

Cowper, indeed, has told us in lines that suggest a Statue:

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.

It would not be difficult to find points of resemblance between the great Athenian and the great Englishman. Each was a mighty master of invective. Each was an impassioned patriot. But I hope it is no irreverence towards either of them or towards that excellent poet Cowper which prompts me to confess that I have always