Page:Lord Chatham as an Orator.djvu/14

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Lord Chatham as an Orator

failures. The elaborate panegyric which he pronounced on General Wolfe was considered as the very worst of all his performances.'

This is borrowed from Horace Walpole.

Macaulay, like others, dwells on his outward advantages, 'his figure strikingly graceful and commanding, his features high and noble, his eye full of fire.... His action was described by a very malignant observer as equal to that of Garrick.... On the stage he would have been the finest Brutus or Coriolanus ever known.... His play of countenance was wonderful.... Every tone, from the impassioned cry to the thrilling aside, was perfectly at his command. His speeches abounded with lively illustrations, well-told anecdotes, happy allusions, passionate appeals. His invective and sarcasm were terrific. Perhaps no English orator was ever so much feared.'

Few of our critics have shown more sympathetic insight than Lord Rosebery in the closing chapter of his recent Memoir. He quotes Lord Chesterfield as saying that 'Mr. Pitt carried with him unpremeditated the strength of thunder and the splendour of lightning'. Lord Rosebery, with a skill and grace of his own, gives us an imaginary picture of Pitt rising in a House, 'which subsides at once into silence and eager attention.' He follows him from 'a solemn and impressive opening' through a perpetually varied entertainment of reminiscence, of anecdote, of ridicule, of sublime appeal, of menacing whisper, of lofty declamation. 'All through the speech men sit as though paralysed, though many are heated with wine.' He ends this part of his criticism by saying, and I believe with truth: 'In the century which followed Chatham's death there was an illustrious succession of orators and debaters; and yet none of these eminent men, with all their accurately reported