Page:Modern Parliamentary Eloquence.djvu/49

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Modern Parliamentary Eloquence

said, that none of them could have attained to or have held that office without exceptional powers of speech, although it would be impossible to name a trio of men who represented greater varieties of equipment and style.

Earl of Rosebery.Lord Rosebery is frequently and not inaptly described as our only Orator, and as the Orator of Empire, the latter a tribute to the rich imagination and stately diction with which, on great occasions, he speaks for the nation, or expounds an imperial theme. There is hardly a gift predicable of the orator with which nature or study has not endowed Lord Rosebery; a voice flexible and resonant rather than melodious, gestures, bold and dramatic, perhaps even at times histrionic, a diction both chaste and resplendent, an exhaustive knowledge of all that is pertinent in literature or history, an exuberant fancy, great natural wit, a gift of persiflage, sometimes almost too generously indulged. I speak with less confidence as to passion and pathos, since it is an oratory that produces every sensation of admiration, amusement, and delight, without as a rule appealing either to profound emotion or to tears. A tendency may be traced in some speeches to exaggeration of effect.

Range of his eloquence.If the range of Lord Rosebery's eloquence during the last forty years be examined, it will be found, I think, that he has exceeded any public man during that period in the number of speeches that he has delivered, which may claim to be both oratory from the effect produced on their audiences at the time, and literature, to judge by the enjoyment with which they may be read afterwards. His eloquence has poured over the ordinary boundaries of the political arena, has filled innumerable channels of historical, biographical, social, or literary interest, and has fertilised many and diverse fields. Whatever subject he touches is raised at once out of the commonplace: it is gilded with happy phrases, it sparkles with effervescence and laughter, and it becomes a part of the intellectual capital of the