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Full text of "Modern parliamentary eloquence; the Rede lecture, delivered before the University of Cambridge, November 6, 1913"

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NOVEMBER 6, 1913 


Chancellor of the University of Oxford 











First Edition, 1913. 
Reprinted, 1914. 

ONLY a small portion of this Lecture was delivered at 
Cambridge, owing to limitations of time. The whole is 
now published, as a more comprehensive study of the 
question than could be inferred from the condensed 
reports that appeared in the Press. 


A YEAR and a half ago the Master of the most famous 
College in this illustrious University, your own Dr. Butler, 
himself a speaker of unsurpassed grace and felicity, came 
over to my University of Oxford to deliver the Romanes 
Lecture on Lord Chatham as an Orator. He confessed in 
his opening remarks that it had at first been his intention 
to deal with the history and influence of British Oratory 
during the century and a half from Chatham to Gladstone, 
but that second thoughts had induced him to curtail the 
range of his ambition and to confine himself to a single 
exemplar, though perhaps the noblest of all. There were 
many who regretted the self-restraint of the lecturer, and 
who felt that a unique opportunity had been lost of hearing 
judgment passed on one of the foremost of arts by one of 
its most gifted exponents. 

In accepting the invitation of your Vice-Chancellor to 

come to Cambridge and deliver to you the Rede Lecture 

this afternoon, I do not presume to handle 

Scope of t he b ow f rom w hich even Dr. Butler shrunk. 


But I take up the ' subject at the other or 

modern end, and I shall endeavour to present to you some 
analysis, however imperfect, of contemporary British 
eloquence as it has appeared to one whose public life, 
though by no means long, has yet enabled him to hear 
all the greatest speakers from Gladstone, Disraeli, Bright, 
to the present day, and to whom the comparison between 
the public speaking of the past and present has always 
appealed as a subject of more than ephemeral interest. 
By Modern Parliamentary Eloquence I mean the eloquence 
of the past fifty years the speaking which men still 
living can remember to have heard. It will be my en- 
deavour to examine the conditions under which this phase 

2 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

of the art if art I may still presume to call it has been 
produced ; to consider its titles to honour, and to contrast 
it with the Parliamentary eloquence of earlier times. 

In the title of my address I have designedly used the 
word Eloquence in preference to Oratory, for two reasons. 

First, because the phrase Oratory seems to 
Meaning connote a very high and superlative degree 

of excellence, to which speakers under modern 
conditions only rarely attain so that, if my theme were 
confined to modern Orators, I should very soon be at the 
end of my rope ; secondly, because, while Eloquence, 
irrespective of age or clime, is a part of the continuous 
though rare endowment of man, Oratory in the classical 
sense of the term, as an art taught, studied, and pursued, 
has practically ceased to exist, and has almost become the 
traditional subject of a gibe or a sneer. 

Far, indeed, have we gone from the days, when as the 
classical studies, in which this University still retains, and I 

hope may long preserve, its old pre-eminence, 

Classical have taught us Oratory, or Rhetoric as it 

conception . , , . 

of Rhetoric. was called by the ancients, was regarded 

as the first of the arts, equal, if not superior, 
to poetry and painting, to sculpture and the drama ; an 
art that in the Commonwealths of Greece and Rome 
was the supreme accomplishment of the educated man. 
As Disraeli put it, in " The Young Duke," " oratory was 
their most efficient mode of communicating thought ; it 
was their substitute for printing." 1 

It would be wide of my present purpose to pursue 
the development of this art as it was expounded in 
the master-treatise of Aristotle ; as it was practised by 
the great Athenian orators ; and as it passed from the 
Academies of Greece to those of Rome. Happily your 
own great scholar, Richard Jebb, a speaker himself of 
exquisite refinement and unusual command of form, has 
relieved us of the task in the introductory chapter 
of his famous work on the Attic Orators. In passing, 
however, let me take note of the fact, to which I 

1 Part v. cap vi. 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 3 

shall again revert, in the contrast that it indicates with 
more modern conceptions, that the oratory of the Greeks 
and Romans was essentially the oratory of art, and 
therefore of preparation. Though it is on record that 
Demosthenes was an effective extemporaneous speaker, 
yet neither he nor any other of the ancient masters of the 
art improvised if they could possibly avoid it. It was 
inconsistent with the conception of their art, an infringe- 
ment of its canons, a blot upon its perfection, to do so. 
Had they been told that the best speaker in later times 
would be regarded as the man who could extemporise 
most readily, or most adroitly conceal the degree of his 
preparation, they would have been shocked at so grave an 
affront to Rhetoric. They wrote their speeches with as 
solemn a deliberation as Milton, in imitation of them, 
wrote his famous discourse on freedom of speech ; they 
sometimes wrote speeches which were never delivered at 
all, but which were published by their authors, without a 
vestige of self-consciousness, as artistic masterpieces to be 
studied and admired ; they wrote speeches to be delivered 
by other people; and, indeed, when the actual texts of 
their orations were not forthcoming, other people re-wrote 
their speeches for them. 1 It cannot, I imagine, be doubted 
that the celebrated Funeral Oration of Pericles was the 
work far more of Thucydides, re-composing the speech 
from the ideas of Pericles and from such data as survived, 
than it was of Pericles himself. 

The Greek and Roman conception of Oratory as an art 
to be studied reappeared in the Universities of the Middle 

Ages, both in England and on the Continent, 
Modern where rhetorical exercises and disputations 
practice. were a part of the prescribed curriculum. They 

have long since vanished from an academic 
world which offers annual prizes to its students for futile 
declamations in Latin and erudite compositions in 
Greek, but which never dreams of teaching them how to 

1 A variation on this method was that of the French orator 
Mirabeau, who used to deliver speeches composed for him by friends. 
They saved him the trouble by composing the text, and he turned 
the dull metal into gold by his own genius and individuality. 

B 2 

4 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

make a speech in their native tongue. Upon such an iron 
time has the art fallen. Truly would the Attic or Roman 
orator think that we live in a mad world if his spirit, 
reincarnated for a brief hour, could flit from the banks of 
the Ilissus or the Tiber to those of the Isis or the Cam. 

But bidding good-bye to this conception of an oratory 

that has passed away, and reverting to our own more 

modest claims, the question may still be 

Meaning asked : " What, for the purposes of this address, 

Eloquence. * s the scope and meaning to be attached to 
the title that I have taken ? " When I use the 
word " Eloquence," let me say, then, that I do not allude to 
the talent of mere facility or glibness of speech, or even 
of rhetoric in its later application the talent to which a 
speaker refers when he says, " After the eloquent remarks to 
which we have just listened, there is nothing for me to add." 
No, by Eloquence I here mean the highest manifestation 
of the power of speech, of which in an age where oratory 
is no longer recognised or practised as an art public 
speakers are still capable. For it will be a part of my 
argument paradoxical as it may appear that while 
oratory, strictly so-called, has passed under a cloud, and 
the orator, if haply he does emerge, is almost regarded as 
suspect yet never was eloquence, i.e. the power of moving 
men by speech, more potent than now ; though it has never 
been less studied as an art, yet never was it more useful, 
or I may add, more admired as an accomplishment. 

While, therefore, I have no new definition of oratory or 
eloquence to offer for the secret of the finest speaking is 
in itself undefinable I shall yet be describing that which 
all men understand when I say that such and such a man 
was a real orator, or that such and such a speech was an 
example of true eloquence. We refer when we use such 
phrases to no ordinary or commonplace gift. We mean 
that upon the head of such a man tongues as of fire 
have descended from heaven ; that the silver of ordinary 
speech is turned into gold on his lips ; that he strikes a 
chord in our heart which thrills as though it had been 
touched by celestial fingers. And in forming this opinion 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 5 

I shall judge we can only judge by the impression pro- 
duced upon those who hear him. Oratory, for our purposes, 
is the vehicle of persuasion, not of prophecy or instruction 
or even of truth. 1 

Scott, in Marmion, sings of the happy time : 

" 'Twixt boy and youth 
When thought is speech, and speech is truth." 

Parliamentary eloquence lives and breathes in no such 
age of innocence. It ought always to spring 

The Art of f rom thought, but it has no necessary con- 
persuaston. . .<.. 

nection with truth. As early as the fifth 

century B.C. Isocrates defined rhetoric as the Science (a 
very curious word, typical of the Greek attitude) of 
persuasion. Aristotle only so far varied this definition as 
to lay down that the function of rhetoric was not to 
persuade, but to discover the available means of persuasion. 
Neither of them contended that it was an instrument for 
the propagation of truth. 

In the same light and as a vehicle of persuasion must 

we still regard it. Of the three audiences whom the 

speaker has to face the hearers of the 

Effect on the moment, the readers of the morrow, and a 

is the test, remote posterity the first are those in whose 
hands his fame as an orator really lies. It 
may be that the highest form of eloquence is the eloquence 
that can be read with as much pleasure as it was originally 
heard, and that the greatest masterpieces are those which live 
again as prose. Burke, indeed, who is commonly regarded 
as the foremost of our literary orators, was actually heard 
with much less enjoyment than that with which he was 
afterwards read. But while the orator who is to enjoy an 
enduring fame must subscribe to the double test, as did 
Pitt and Daniel Webster and Macaulay and Bright, he is 
not necessarily less an orator because he fails, for whatever 
reason, to satisfy the second requirement We have not 

1 Machiavelli said of the speaking of Savonarola : " The secret of 
oratory lies, not in saying new things, but in saying things with a 
certain power that moves the hearers." 

6 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

a single authentic sentence of Bolingbroke : we have only 
scattered fragments of Chatham, the majority of whose re- 
corded speeches were later compilations. But the title of 
these two men to be considered as almost, if not quite, 
the supreme orators of the British race none will dispute. 
Perhaps their speeches would have read well : I cannot 
but believe it. But, if they did not, that would not have 
detracted at all from their fame as orators. Fox, indeed, 
who cared a great deal about immediate effect and very 
little for literature, went so far as to say that if a speech 

read well it must have been a d d bad speech. That 

of course is a paradox. Mr. Gladstone, however, would 
have given great satisfaction to Fox. It is doubtful if 
posterity will preserve with reverence or read with enjoy- 
ment any but a few passages in a few of his almost 
countless harangues. And yet who that heard him would 
deny to him the gift of oratory in the highest degree? 
As Mr. Balfour well said in his eulogium of that statesman 
delivered in the House of Commons after the latter's death 
(May 20, 1898): 

" Mr. Gladstone's speeches are of a kind that make it impossible for 
those who read them in any sense to judge of their excellence. Posterity 
must take it from us, who heard with our own ears the extraordinary 
gifts of pathos, humour, invective, detailed exposition, of holding the 
audience and interesting them in the most intricate and dry matters 
of administrative and financial detail that they had all these qualities. 
If you go and take down a volume of his speeches and read them, you 
will not believe what I tell you ; but I am telling you the truth. It is 
not the speeches which read best which are the greatest speeches. 
Posterity cannot possibly judge of their merit by a mere study of the 
words used. They must see the man, feel the magnetism of his pre- 
sence, see his gestures, the flash of his eyes. . . . The test of a 
speaker is the audience he addresses. There is no other judge ; from 
that Court there is no appeal." 

Ben Jonson said of Bacon that " the fear of every man 
that heard him was that he should make an end." If so 
Bacon also was among the first of orators : it is only Mr. 
Balfour's proposition stated in another form. Lord Morley 
is reported once to have said : " Three things matter in a 
speech who says it, how he says it, and what he says, and 
of the three the last matters the least." The gay cynicism 
of this remark may be forgiven for its underlying truth. 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 7 

Let me take another and renowned illustration. Sheridan's 
famous speech on the Begums of Oude on the motion for 
the impeachment of Warren Hastings in the House of 
Commons in February, 1787, was described by Byron as 
" the very best oration ever conceived or heard in this 
country." This might be set down as the pardonable 
exaggeration of a poet an exaggeration not unfamiliar to 
ourselves, for how often have we not heard men say, even 
in these degenerate days, that such and such a speech was 
the finest that they had ever heard were it not that 
Byron's verdict was re-echoed by Burke and Pitt, by 
Wilberforce and Fox, who all heard the speech. Upon 
their judgment it is impossible to deny to Sheridan the 
distinction of having made a speech of superlative merit 
(and he made two others nearly as good), or to exclude 
him from the inner circle of the foremost orators. But the 
speech itself we cannot judge either as literature or as art, 
for Sheridan, with an admirable discretion, refused, even 
for an offer of 1000, to publish it, and the reporting in 
those days was so bad that the text was to all intents and 
purposes lost. 

In dealing with the Parliamentary speakers of our time 
I shall, accordingly, confine myself to those whom I have 
myself heard, or for whom I can quote the testimony of 
others who heard them ; and I shall not regard them as 
prose writers or literary men, still less as purveyors of 
instruction to their own or to future generations, but as 
men who produced, by the exercise of certain talents of 
speech, a definite impression upon contemporary audiences, 
and whose reputation for eloquence must be judged by 
that test, and that test alone. 

But perhaps, before I come to individuals, I may en- 
deavour to summarise the main conditions under which 
modern Parliamentary eloquence is produced, 
Conditions an( j to s ^ ow ^ ow materially they differ 
of modern . , 

eloquence. from those which prevailed in what is 

generally regarded as the golden age of 
British oratory, viz., the second half of the eighteenth 
century. In this difference lies a complete and sufficient 

8 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

explanation of the apparent decline of British eloquence. 
The reason is not that a particular fountain of human 
genius has been dried at its source, never again to be 
revived, but that it flows into new channels, and irrigates 
a fresh soil. Or, if the metaphor may be varied, men's 
souls are still capable of being set on fire by the spoken 
word ; but the spark is otherwise kindled, and it lights a 
less radiant and consuming flame. 

If we study the oratory of the great speakers of the 

Georgian epoch, from Chatham down to Canning for 

with the latter the tradition may be said to 

Oratory of the have expired we shall at once see that it 

century was *^ e ar * f an aristocratic society, practised 
under aristocratic conditions, in an aristo- 
cratic age. The great speakers were drawn from a few 
families, frequently connected by ties of intermarriage. 
They had received the same public school and University 
education, deliberately framed to qualify them, not merely 
for participation in public life, but for proficiency in public 
speech. The elder Pitt insisted on the younger making a 
special study of Thucydides when he went up to Cambridge. 
The son gladly responded to the father's admonitions, and 
read and translated the celebrated orators of the ancient 
world. Virgil, Horace, Cicero, Juvenal, even the later 
Roman poets, 1 were more familiar to them than are 
Tennyson and Browning to us. They quoted their favourite 
authors, they capped each other's efforts and, above all, 
they understood (i.e., the few who counted, understood) 
each other's quotations. When they went down to the 
House of Parliament a similar dignity characterised their 
dress and deportment, regularised their hours of leisurely 
labour, and pervaded the debates. The House met early 
in the afternoon, and usually finished its proceedings on 
the same day. They did not mind sitting up late at night 
that was a part of the social habit of the time and we 
read of many of the finest orations having been delivered 
in the early hours of the morning, even long after the 

1 Burke, in his famous speech on Fox's East India Bill, quoted 
Silius Italicus. Another orator quoted Claudian. 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 9 

dawn. The speakers wore breeches and silk stockings ; 
their heads were powdered or wigged ; the blue riband of 
the Garter crossed their breasts. A sitting of the House 
partook almost of the nature of a Court ceremonial. 1 No 
reverberations from the democracy (which did not exist) 
penetrated the comparatively small and secluded chamber, 
no importunities from constituents, no calls to public 
platforms, no engagements in Committee rooms or on the 
Terrace, no sharp reminders from caucuses or agents, dis- 
turbed the stately equanimity of their proceedings. They 
spoke as they dressed, and moved, and I may add, drank, 
with a fine profusion, and in the grand style. In fact, 
apart from political differences, which, in days of universal 
place-hunting and corruption, were probably more acri- 
monious than at the present time, the governing class 
in both Houses of Parliament constituted a social caste, 
banded together by ties of common interest and mutual 
admiration. They dissected, criticised, and applauded 
each other's speeches. The leisure hours of those who 
possessed literary qualifications were often devoted to 
writing about each other's attainments. The dramatic dis- 
plays of the great protagonists were always assured of a rapt 
audience and a befitting arena, for the simple reason that 
the number of those who could speak was limited, and that 
the remainder were content to furnish an inarticulate 
claque in the background. Lord John Russell used to say 
that there were a dozen men in the days of Fox and Pitt 
who could make a better speech than anyone living in his 
time, but that there was not another man in the House 
who could even understand what they were talking about. 

1 There is an interesting passage in " Endymion," cap. 76, in which 
Sir Fraunceys Scoope believed to have been drawn from Sir Francis 
Burdett describes to the young M.P. (circ. 1842) the conditions of 
the House of Commons as they were in the days of Pitt and Fox. 
There was rarely a regular debate, and never a party division up till 
Easter, and very few people came up. After Easter there was always 
one great party fight, which was talked of for weeks in advance. 
After this, for the rest of the Session, the House was a mere club, to 
which members came down in evening dress. So late as the time of 
Canning they appeared in silk stockings and knee breeches or 

io Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

This cynical reflection somewhat exaggerates the gap 
between the players and the pit, but it presents a not 
unfaithful picture of a number of highly-gifted actors 
performing serenely to a compact and deferential crowd. 
Add to the influence of these surroundings the fact that 
great events wars on the Continent, the rebellion of the 
American Colonies, the Government of India, the revolu- 
tion in France occupied the attention and inspired the 
eloquence of the leading statesmen creating an atmo- 
sphere favourable to great emotions and to rhetorical 
display. It is not surprising in these circumstances that 
Parliamentary eloquence should have blossomed into an 
exuberant growth, that the models of the ancient world 
should have been diligently emulated, and almost repro- 
duced or that oratory for more than half a century 
reappeared in England in the garb of an exclusive and 
fashionable art. 

Contrast with this mise-en-scene the picture] of Parlia- 
mentary life, as it has been gradually evolved in the 
interval between the passing of the Great 

Modern R e f orm Bill and the present day, i.e. in the 
conditions. . . 

time during which the constitution in its 

practical working has been converted from an aristocratic 
oligarchy into a democracy ever gaining in strength until it 
is now supreme. We may trace the change as it has affected 
the speaker as an individual, Parliament as an institution, 
the audiences to whom speeches are delivered, and the 
temper of the time. 

The member of Parliament in the present day is no 
longer exclusively drawn from what used to be called the 

upper classes. The bulk of the House are 
The modern p ro bably contributed by what would a century 

ago have been termed the upper middle 
classes. No obstacles exist to the entry of the labouring 
classes, who are certain, as time passes, to increase their 
representation. Thus it has come about that while the 
types and standards of education that are represented in 
the House are many and various, the one type which 
is in the minority is that which was once supreme, viz., 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 1 1 

that which is based on the continuous study and knowledge 
of the Greek and Roman classics. How many men are 
there in the House of Commons who have ever read an 
oration of Demosthenes, or could translate a speech of 
Cicero ? Thus one class of model has altogether vanished. 
And if it be said that there is no need to go back to the 
ancients, and that it is open to anyone to study the 
oratorical masterpieces of our own country, may it not 
again be asked, " Where and by whom are they now 
taught ? Is there a single candidate for Parliament who 
has ever, except of his own initiative, read a speech of Pitt 
or analysed the methods of Grattan or Canning?" Thus 
the link of a common education in accepted models has 
vanished, and the power of speech that a man takes to the 
House when he enters it is that which has been developed 
in the college debating society, or on the platform, but 
not in the study of the past. He need not for that reason 
be an ineffective speaker very often quite the reverse ; 
but in so far as knowledge and education can make a man 
an orator, he is without that resource. 

We see this decline of oratorical furniture in the rapid 

diminution of quotation and literary allusion in the speeches 

of the day. More than a century ago Fox 

Decline of j s sa j,j J-Q have advised as to quotations " No 
classical ~ . . T . ... . 

quotations. Greek as much Latin as you like, and never 

French under any circumstances ; no English 
poet unless he has completed his century." In my own 
time I can only recall two Greek quotations in the House 
of Commons : one was from a scholar of Balliol, the 
present Prime Minister, the other from another Balliol 
man, the late Lord Percy, who once repeated a line from 
Euripides. 1 Mr. Gladstone not infrequently quoted 

1 Disraeli, in an address to the students of Glasgow University in 
1872, quoted a passage from Sophocles and then added : "In the per- 
plexities of life I have sometimes found these lines a solace and a 
satisfaction ; and I now deliver them to you to guide your consciences 
and to guard your lives." The students cheered sympathetically, but 
I have been told by one who knew the facts that Mr. Disraeli only 
acquired the quotation from an academic friend a little while before 
the meeting, and that a somewhat limited knowledge of Greek 
probably left him quite in the dark as to its meaning. The story 

12 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

Latin, 1 but since his day it may be almost said, except in 
the case of popular tags, to have passed into the limbo 
of the unknown. 2 Our own poets, even Shakespeare, cut 
no great figure. There is too much reason to fear that 
quotation, except from an opponent's speeches, is a mori- 
bund accomplishment. And yet it is one of the most 
hallowed and effective implements of oratory. 

The same argument applies to imagery, metaphor, 
antithesis, alliteration, trope all the once popular 

adjuncts of the rhetorical art. When heard 
Adornment ^ ey are re g ar< ^ e d with a mixture of suspicion 

and amused surprise. I sometimes wonder 
what sort of a reception would be given by the present 
House of Commons to the famous image of the junction 
of the Rhone and Saone (a far from rhetorical passage) 
employed by the elder Pitt to describe the coalition of Fox 
and Newcastle in 1754: 

"At Lyons I was taken to the place where the two rivers meet ; the 
one gentle, feeble, languid, and though languid, of no great depth ; 
the other a boisterous and impetuous torrent. But different as they 
are, they meet at last." 

So simple is the language, so natural is the beauty of 
this simile, that I am inclined to think it would pass 
muster even now. But I am not so sure of the more 
daring image applied by the younger Pitt to the later 
coalition between Fox and North in 1783, when he 
denounced the inauspicious union, and in the name of his 

recalls to me another which was told me by Sir William Harcourt. 
That statesman, who had a great admiration for Lord Beaconsfield, 
visited him in his declining years at Hughenden. His host showed 
him round the library, and pointing with pride to one set of shelves 
said that they contained the two branches of literature from which he 
had derived throughout life the greatest consolation, namely, 
Theology and the Classics ! 

1 The most famous case in his later years was the quotation from 
Lucretius (ii. 646) which appeared in the noble speech on the 
Affirmation Bill (the Bradlaugh case) on April 26th, 1883. It is 
reproduced in Morley"s Life. 

* Bright's one attempt at a Latin phrase was a notorious fiasco. 
In a debate in July, 1869, he spoke of Disraeli as entering the House 
crinis (vice crinibus) disjectis. Mr. Gladstone almost bounded from 
his seat with horror. 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 13 

country forbade the banns. That is rhetoric though of 
a high order and would, I fear, only provoke a smile. 

But the change in Parliament is far greater and far more 
prejudicial to the cultivation of oratory than any change 
in the individual member. In the first place 
Partianumt ^ e House of Commons is much more con- 
cerned with legislation and much less with 
administration than a century ago. In those days there 
were but few bills, and the main business of the House 
was to keep an eye on Ministers, to question their policy 
particularly their foreign policy to check their expen- 
diture, and, for the party in opposition, to expose with as 
much vituperation as possible their alleged misdeeds. All 
these undertakings afforded natural material for oratory, 
and still more for invective. Now Parliament is immersed 
in the harassing details of legislation ; it has become a 
gigantic workshop, in which the hum of the machinery is 
always ringing, and the dust from the spindles is flying 
thickly, in the air. A good deal of time is spent on 
interrogating Ministers ; four-fifths of the remainder in the 
Committee Stage of Bills or the conversational discussion 
of the Estimates. The residuum that is left for full-dress 
debate is very small. 

Secondly, the House no longer has the first claim on its 
members ; for the greater part of the sitting, its benches 
are relatively empty and are occupied in the main by 
those who want to catch the Speaker's eye and who retreat 
as soon as they have accomplished their object ; the 
multiplicity of business takes them to the libraries, the 
writing-rooms, the lobbies anywhere but the chamber 
itself. A man may have the gift of the winged word, but 
he cannot be eloquent to empty benches. 

Thirdly, the power of the Whips and the tyranny of the 
party machine have grown so immensely that there is little 
opening left for independence the natural seed-ground 
of oratory and but rare opportunities of turning votes by 
eloquence. Speeches therefore tend to become standard- 
ised, and conform to a conventional and commonplace 

14 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

But by far the greatest change that has been wrought 

in Parliamentary conditions, as they affect speaking, has 

been the result of verbatim reporting in the 

Effect of p resSt At the time when Chatham thundered 

and Pitt lightened, reporting was treated as 

a gross breach of privilege by the House of Commons a 
law which was constantly reasserted, and only evaded by 
surreptitious note-takers skulking in the galleries and 
reconstructing the speeches afterwards from such aids as 
their imperfect notes or memory might afford. In these 
circumstances the speaker, unconscious of Hansard and 
undeterred by the fear of the morrow's Times, could give 
the free rein to his imagination ; could amplify, repeat, 
embellish, and adorn with impunity. But now that every 
word is taken down and that the speaker, particularly the 
prominent or Front Bench speaker, knows that he is 
addressing, not a private club, but a gathering that may 
embrace the whole nation, and in the case of Foreign 
Office debates a much wider audience still, he must walk 
delicately and measure his paces ; he cannot frisk and 
frolic in the flowery meads of rhetoric ; he dare not " let 
himself go " as Chatham or Fox could afford to do. As 
Lord Rosebery has epigrammatically remarked, "eloquence 
and stenography are not of congenial growth," and " as 
reporting improves eloquence declines." 1 

These changes in the House have been the reflex of 
corresponding and even greater movements outside. The 
prodigious expansion of the Press and the 
Effect of the un j versa i empire of the telegraph have ren- 
dered the populace indifferent to Parlia- 
mentary debates. When they can get their politics served 
up hot and steaming along with the morning teacup in 
the leader of their favourite organ, why bother about 
Parliament? Why read the finest speech even of an 
orator or of a leader when the descriptive paragraph 

1 There is perhaps something to be said on the other side. James 
Grant, who was a Parliamentary reporter, and wrote a book entitled 
The Newspaper Press, said that the temporary absence of reporters 
from the House of Commons in 1833, when they were excluded by 
the action of O'Connell, had a most deplorable effect on the eloquence 
of members, whose speeches became short, spiritless, and dull. 
Possibly, however, this was a Press Gallery point of view. 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 15 

condenses it all into a few high-flavoured sentences, with 
the personal element and the mise-en-scene thrown in as 
well ? x 

Still more has the growth of platform speaking detracted 

from the vogue of Parliamentary eloquence. While it is 

the latter that still unlocks the door to Minis- 

Effectofthe ter j a j o ffi ce ft j s the platform which makes or 

unmakes leaders, and decides the fortunes of 

parties. No Parliamentary reputation, however great, will 
avail in the future to secure for a statesman the confidence 
of his party or the support of the nation unless it is con- 
firmed by the verdict of the platform. It is there that the 
shrillest war-cries are uttered ; there that the gauge of 
oratorical combat is thrown down. Lord Randolph 
Churchill would never have become leader of the House 
of Commons but for his platform triumphs. Mr. Lloyd 
George reserves the master-pieces of his peculiar style for 
Limehouse, Newcastle, and Swindon. 

It may be retorted that while these conditions operate 

to the depreciation of Parliamentary eloquence, they at the 

same time create a new standard and type of 

Nature of oratory, viz., that of the public meeting. This 

platform . 11,11.1. j ,1. r 

oratory. 1S undoubtedly the case, and the waning of 

one form of the art is accompanied, if it is 
not counterbalanced, by the growth of another. But that 
it is a different type, obeying different laws, and appealing 
to different emotions, is abunda'ntly clear, if only because 
some of the most accomplished exponents of one style fail 
miserably in the other. Consider the main points of 
difference. On the platform the orator is addressing, as a 
rule and in the main, the members of his own political 
party : they have come to hear him perform, he is the star 
figure of the scene ; he is free from interruption save such 
as springs from the often useful interjections of scattered 
opponents, or the undiscriminating enthusiasm of friends. 

1 This is an entirely modern creation. The sentiments of our fore- 
fathers towards the sketch-writer may be inferred from the speech of 
the courtly Windham in December, 1798. " What," he asked, " was to 
become of the dignity of the House, if the manners and gestures and 
tone and action of each member were to be subject to the licence, 
the abuse, the ribaldry of newspapers ? " 

1 6 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

No one can refute him or say him nay. The speech is 
delivered in the electric atmosphere of great and crowded 
halls, where the contagion of a multitude, expectant and 
sympathetic, acts like wine both upon speaker and audience. 
The latter is commonly neither profound in its knowledge 
nor fastidious in its taste. A broad humour, a little chaff, 
some claptrap, a spice of invective, and a resounding perora- 
tion are passports to the heart of the crowd. So it has been 
with the mobs and the mob orators of all countries and all 

How different is the atmosphere of a Chamber where 
rules of debate and a measure of decorum have to be 
observed, where the audience, so far from clamouring for 
the speaker, is often surfeited with speeches and requires to 
be coaxed back to the meal, where an appeal has to be 
made to the understanding rather than to the emotions, 
where an emptying House may chill the courage of the 
boldest orator, and where the entire effect of his eloquence 
may be wiped out by a brilliant reply. Obviously we are 
speaking of two entirely different modes of expression, 
which call for separate gifts. The one represents a more 
cultured and exacting, the other an easier and broader, style. 
It is not denied that sometimes the gifts of the platform 
and the Parliamentary orator are combined in the same 

person in an extraordinary degree, and, in a 

Speakers who f ew rare caseS) that the performer so gifted has 

both styles, been able to maintain as high a standard at 

the mass meeting as in the House. Daniel 
O'Connell appears to me to have been the greatest mob 
orator that we have ever had in this country, and he also 
excelled in Parliament. Mirabeau, in France, possessed 
very similar gifts. Lamartine, at the Hotel de Ville, in 
Paris, in 1848, produced an instantaneous effect that few 
orators have surpassed. Mr. Gladstone was scarcely, if at 
all, inferior to O'Connell ; Mr. Bright was a third. But in 
the two latter cases what appealed to the crowd would 
seem to have been not so much the rolling sentences, 
or the majestic mien of the orator, as the spectacle of 
righteous fervour, invoking the moral sense of the com- 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 17 

munity to storm some citadel of ancestral privilege or to 
redress an unexpiated wrong. 

Another difference between the modern fashion and that 

of our forefathers, and still more that of the ancient world, 

is the estimation in which extempore, as 

Extempore distinct from prepared, oratory is now held. 
speaking. . .- . . 

I doubt if in reality the modern speaker 

prepares less, in fact the conditions of modern oratory, with 
the sleuth-hounds of the Press hanging upon the track of 
the speaker, and the electric telegraph waiting to convey his 
smallest lapse from sense or discretion to the world, almost 
compel him, if he is a leader, to prepare more ; at least 
they compel him to be more careful about the ipsissima 
verba of his utterances. But the difference lies in this, 
that whereas the classic orator gloried in his preparation, 
and would have thought it a slur upon his art in any way 
to abate it, the modern speaker, with a false sense of 
shame, adopts every manner of artifice for hiding his 
studies, and seeks to convey the illusion of extempor- 
aneous effort even where his subterfuge is belied by the 
obvious evidence of facts. We are familiar with the 
speaker who compresses his MS. or his notes into a small 
space in the palm of his hand, or as Mr. Bright was said 
to have done, even conceals them in his hat. We have all of 
us witnessed the ignominious breakdown of the speaker 
who has learned off his effort by heart, but whose memory 
fails him at the pinch. I have even heard a speaker 
commence a quotation which he said had occurred to him 
while on his feet, and only complete it with the aid of a 
slip of paper confusedly extracted from his pocket. In so 
far as these are the devices of unskilled practitioners they 
hardly call for attention here. But they are of importance 
in so far as they represent a mental attitude towards 
speaking which undoubtedly differs from that of former 
times. Mr. Balfour, for instance, represents the modern 
standpoint when he once said in an address : 

" No impromptu speech can have the finish, polish, or conscious 
arrangement which is the result of study. But the man who writes 
his speech, and then learns it, and then declaims it so that every man 
knows he has written it that man will never succeed as a speaker." 


1 8 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

A good deal, of course, turns upon the exact application 
of the proviso which I have underlined. But even allowing 
for that, Mr. Balfour's dictum is conspicuously at variance 
with both the rules and the practice of the ancient world. 
All the greatest speeches of antiquity were prepared and 
learned off by heart, and the audience were perfectly con- 
scious of the fact. The same is true of many at any rate 
of the masterpieces of post-classical oratory. Does anyone 
imagine that Abraham Lincoln improvised his Gettysburg 
oration I happen to know that it was written out on a 
slip of paper in advance or his second Inaugural Address ? 
Many of the greatest efforts of the British eighteenth 
century orators were similarly committed to memory. 
Brougham wrote : 

" The highest reaches of the art can only be attained by him who 
well considers and maturely prepares and oftentimes sedulously 
corrects and refines his oration." 

The fact is that both methods are entirely legitimate, 
and each is capable of being the highest art. The choice lies 
in the occasion and the theme. The Parliamentary orator 
who has to deliver a panegyric upon a departed statesman 
would be foolish if he did not diligently and scrupulously 
prepare it. But the party leader who has to follow a rival 
leader in debate would be still more foolish, he would be 
grossly incompetent, if he relied upon preparation or trusted 
to memory. 

If we look back at the golden age of English eloquence 
we shall see the two streams flowing side by side, the one 
impetuous and uncontrolled, the other smooth 
eolden a-e anc * snmm g- Chatham at his best in extem- 
poraneous outpouring his panegyric on 
Wolfe universally condemned as a failure ; Fox the same, 
weak in opening, ineffective in eulogy (for instance, his speech 
on the Duke of Bedford) but incomparable in reply ; Pitt 
with an even and majestic flow that depended little upon 
notes ; Burke capable of speaking grandly, though not to the 
enjoyment of his audience, without preparation, but devot- 
ing to his highest flights the most laborious toil ; Windham 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 19 

exquisite when unpremeditated, but leaving when he died the 
manuscript of an undelivered speech written out entirely in 
his own hand ; Grattan, marvellous in both styles. Sheridan, 
on the other hand, preparing and learning everything, even 
his jokes ; * Macaulay, writing out his great speeches, and 
repeating them such was his almost miraculous memory 
without the omission of a word ; Brougham, redolent 
of the lamp ; Canning always suggesting the actor and the 
rhetorician. Later on we shall see which method has been 
favoured by the great speakers of our time. But enough 
has been said to show that no distinction in merit can be 
laid down, while if it were, it would be at once discounted 
by the fact that the same speakers practise and excel in 

That extemporaneous speaking, however, is now thought 
to be a higher form of the art appears to be certain from 
the plaudits that are lavished' upon the 
vc H successful rejoinder as compared with the 
most polished introduction, and from the 
attempts that are made to simulate it even by expert per- 
formers. Why this should be so, it is not altogether easy 
to say. Professor Jebb, in a bold generalisation, attributed 
it to the Hebraic basis of education in modern Christendom, 
which identifies the supreme afflatus with inspiration from 
above. I am inclined to think that the explanation is both 
more simple and less flattering. The number of those 
who can extemporise with power and brilliancy is always 
greatly inferior to the number of those who can compose 
and prepare ; and men rate more highly the rarer attain- 
ment. Secondly, for the purpose of modern politics, the 
one is a much more serviceable asset than the other. The 
occasions of speech in our public life have so enormously 
multiplied, parliamentary business lies so much more in 
debate than in exposition, there is so little leisure on the 
part, either of speaker or of audience, for sustained display, 
that the speaker who can improvise has a great advantage 

1 When he died his note-books were found with the carefully 
prepared jokes in them which he intended to fire off (and in many 
cases had fired off) when the moment and the victim came. 

C 2 

2O Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

over the speaker who requires notice. Perhaps also the 
one gift appears to connote sincerity, while the other 
suggests artifice. Nevertheless, behind all this lurks the 
solid and incontrovertible fact that on great occasions 
men still prepare and write out at length, and trust largely 
either to memory or to notes. 

I have now summarised the principal characteristics 
that seem to me to differentiate the modern practice of 
public speech in this country from that of an earlier date. 
I have shown that the condition of the House of Commons, 
the education and life of members, the exigencies of the 
party system, the requirements of the constituencies, all tend 
insensibly to a lowering of the old standards and to the 
disparagement of speaking as an art. Perhaps there is in 
this state of affairs no more than an inevitable reflex of 
what is sometimes called the spirit of the age. It is a 
temper quick, impatient, practical, business-like, distrustful 
of periphrasis, scornful of superfluous embellishment, eager 
to arrive at the goal. Speed and directness have ousted 
leisure and circumambulation. Just as the steamer has 
superseded the sailing ship, the railway the stage-coach, 
the taxicab the hansom, and the motor the cart, so must 
the speaker get more quickly to his destination ; he may 
not halt to drink at Pierian fountains or to wreathe his head 
with Delphian bay. 

I am not sure that a similar decline is not observable 

in the two other great fields of British eloquence, the 

pulpit and the bar. It would take me far 

Forensic and ^fe\& were I to attempt to investigate these 
ecclesiastical ,. . r 

eloquence, phenomena this evening. But I suspect that 

the same causes, mutatis mutandis, are pro- 
ducing similar effects, and that the eloquence of a Mans- 
field or an Erskine, an Atterbury or a Wilberforce will be 
less and less likely to be evolved from the conditions of 
the future. 

And yet, while admitting this decline in the highest 

General level level and anticipating its continuance, there 

of speaking, are two opposing considerations which it 

is fair to name. The first is this, that while the highest 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 21 

standard is lower than it was, the ordinary standard 
is higher. It cannot, I think, be doubted that though 
fewer speakers speak with the voice of angels than 
of yore, more speakers speak like intelligent men. In the 
House of Commons the general level of speech is certainly 
higher than it was fifty years ago the direct consequence 
of the practice acquired on the platform and in the hard 
mill of contested elections. It is scarcely to be conceived 
that so wretched a speaker as Castlereagh could ever again 
lead the House of Commons that he should have been 
preferred to the brilliant Canning is to this hour one of 
the puzzles of history. I doubt even whether the Duke 
of Wellington, who had no pretensions to be an orator, 
could be called either by the favour of the Sovereign 
or the confidence of the country to the presidency of an 
administration. The gift of speech in political leaders 
has become a greater necessity it is really a condition of 

The second consideration is this, that though oratory 
may be shorn of much of its ancient reverence, the power 

of speech is in no wise dethroned. It still 
Influence of s j ts a i o f t anc j holds the keys of fortune in its 
eloquence. l a P- ^ ma y be that " fragments of the mighty 

voice" less often "come rolling on the wind"; 
but, with a humbler and less sonorous utterance, eloquence 
still sways the hearts of men. and opens the doors to 
influence and power. The man who aspires to a seat on 
the Front Bench of the House of Commons will find his 
best passport in speech. A Cabinet Minister must be 
able to expound his policy and defend his department. 
The man who would lead the people and control the State 
may not perhaps succeed without character ; but he will 
undoubtedly fail if he has not the gift of tongues. On the 
lower rungs of the political ladder it is in the debating 
society, at the street corner, in clubs, and on platforms 
that the ambitious artisan acquires the training which takes 
him from the secretaryship of his Union to the Town 
Council, from the latter to the House of Commons, and 
from the back benches to the front. Never was there a 

22 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

time when power of speech was more sure of its reward. 
It might indeed be argued that it is a disproportionate 
reward, when we see the back places crowded by the often 
superior but unserviceable talents of the dumb. 

I should also like to dispel the popular illusion that elo- 
quence, even in the decline of the art, no longer affects 
votes in Parliament. It is certainly the case 
that ' in the tightening of party bonds, it 
becomes increasingly difficult for a man to 
vote against his side, still more to be persuaded by the 
speech of a political opponent to do so ; and the classical 
instances of a division turned by the speech of a Wilberforce 
(on the Melville case in 1806), a Plunket (on Catholic Eman- 
cipation in 1807) or a Macaulay (on the Copyright Bill in 
1842, and again on the proposal to make the Master of 
the Rolls incapable of sitting in the House of Commons in 
1853), are perhaps unlikely to be repeated. But in the 
House of Commons I have constantly seen votes affected by 
speeches, in this sense, that a policy which was regarded with 
grave doubt or suspicion has been acclaimed, either with or 
without a division, owing to the adroit or powerful defence 
of a Minister ; that a successful attack on a policy or a 
plan has led to its abandonment, sooner than face the risks 
of the division lobby ; or even, as in the case of the well- 
known speech of the late Lord Wolverhampton, then 
Mr. Fowler, in 1895, tna t anticipated defeat has been 
converted into overwhelming victory. Perhaps the most 
remarkable instance of such an oratorical triumph in 
modern times was the speech of Mr. Gladstone, when 
moving a vote of credit in the Russo-Afghan crisis of 1885. 
I trust, therefore, that no aspirant to a Parliamentary 
career, and no mourner over the bier of old-world elo- 
quence, will be disheartened by the idea that we live in 
times when speech is merely a casual accomplishment, like 
the hitting of a golf ball, or a stroke at cricket, worthy, 
perhaps, of admiration, but destitute either of real merit 
or of authority. Such would be an absurd and misleading 

Rather do 1 look forward to a revival in the country of 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 23 

eloquence in other and more popular shapes adjusted to 
the requirements of the times. Just as the 
Possible oratory of the Georgian era was attuned to an 
eloquence in aristocratic age, and that of the mid-Victorian 
a democracy, epoch to middle-class ascendancy, so does it 
seem to me likely that the democracy will 
produce an eloquence, perhaps even an oratory, of its own. 
Should a man arise from the ranks of the people, as did 
Abraham Lincoln from the backwoods of America, a man 
gifted with real oratorical power and with commanding 
genius, I can see no reason why he should not renew in 
England the glories of a Chatham or a Grattan. His tri- 
umphs might be less in the Senate than in the arena : his 
style might not be that of the classics of the past. But he 
might by reason of his gifts climb to the topmost place 
where he would sway the destinies of the State and affect 
the fortunes of an Empire. Symptoms of such a power 
and style are sometimes visible in the declamations of 
Mr. Lloyd George, who, to a student of 
Mr. Lloyd history, is a curious compound of the brothers 
Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, with a strong 
flavour of the Athenian demagogue thrown in, and 
when emotionally aroused, either by the misdeeds of his 
opponents or the sufferings of the poor, has a great com- 
mand of dramatic or melodramatic effect. But this style 
of speech requires to be purified of much dross before it 
can be certified as fine gold. In the House of Commons 
some of the Labour Members are eloquent speakers, 
notably Mr. Philip Snowden and Mr. Ramsay Macdonald. 
From these general considerations I will pass on to con- 
sider the individual speakers of renown who 
Individual have been produced under the conditions 
speakers, which I have described, and of whose oratorical 
abilities I will attempt to give some estimate. 
By far the greatest orator whom I personally heard in 
the House of Commons indeed almost the 

only orator was Mr. Gladstone. I sat in 
Gladstone. J .,,./. 

Parliament with him for eight years. I had 

the honour of preceding him, and the still greater honour 

24 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

of being followed by him, in debate. Before I obtained a 
seat in the House I had frequently listened to him from the 
Gallery. Although he had nearly reached the age of 
seventy years at the time of which I speak, and was almost 
the sole survivor of a generation of giants that had passed 
away, his strength was not abated nor his eloquence 
dimmed. I heard him introduce the first Home Rule Bill 
in a speech three-and-a-half hours in length, I heard all his 
great speeches on both Home Rule Bills, and every con- 
siderable speech during the last decade of his Parliamentary 
life. I even heard him propose a toast at a wedding 

While this great and famous figure was in the House of 
Commons the House had eyes for no other person. His 
movements on the bench, restless and eager, his demeanour 
when on his legs, whether engaged in answering a simple 
question, expounding an intricate Bill, or thundering in 
vehement declamation, his dramatic gestures, his deep and 
rolling voice with its wide compass and marked northern 
accent, his flashing eye, his almost incredible command of 
ideas and words, made a combination of irresistible 
fascination and power. We who sat opposite him in his 
later years saw in him the likeness, now of an old eagle, 
fearless in his gaze and still exultant in his strength, now 
of some winged creature of prey, swooping down upon a 
defenceless victim, now of a tiger, suddenly aroused from 
his lair and stalking abroad in his anger. Mr. Gladstone 
seemed to me to be master of every art of eloquence and 
rhetoric. He could be passionate or calm, solemn or 
volatile, lucid or involved, grave or humorous (with a heavy 
sort of banter), persuasive or denunciatory, pathetic or 
scornful, at will. It is true that his copiousness was 
sometimes overpowering and his subtlety at moments 
almost Satanic. 1 

1 Mr. Gladstone's extreme subtlety was the source of a popular joke 
at his expense during the visit of Garibaldi to London in 1864. The 
marked attentions of a noble widow to Garibaldi having suggested 
that she had matrimonial intentions, it was objected that the Italian 
patriot was already married, whereupon the ready answer was made, 
"Oh, he must get Gladstone to explain her away." 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 25 

It was then that one understood Disraeli's bitter phrase 
about the "sophistical rhetorician inebriated with the 
exuberance of his own verbosity," or Mr. Forster's sardonic 
remark, " The right hon. gentleman can persuade other 
people of almost anything, he can persuade himself of 
absolutely anything." I recall a phrase of that incorrig- 
ible cynic Labouchere, alluding to Mr. Gladstone's frequent 
appeals to a higher power, that he did not object to the 
old man always having a card up his sleeve, but he did 
object to his insinuating that the Almighty had placed it 
there. I remember, too, how sensitive he was to attack, how 
easily drawn, how lacking in proportion in his treatment of 
smaller men and things. These were the foibles of a great 
intellect, the antithesis to transcendant powers. But they 
did not obscure the general impression of a noble person- 
ality, aglow with ardour, and magnificent in courage. 

Among the earlier speeches of Mr. Gladstone, long 

before my day, I have always thought one of the finest 

was that delivered on the second reading of 

His greatest the a b or tive Reform Bill of 1866, when he 


quoted from the ALneid, as to his reception 
by the Liberal Party, and concluded with the words : 

" The banner which we now carry in this fight, though perhaps at 
some moment it may droop over our sinking heads, soon again will 
float in the eye of heaven, and will be borne by the firm hands of the 
united people of the three kingdoms, perhaps not to an easy, but to a 
certain and a not far distant victory." 

But according to Mr. Balfour and other authorities cited 
by Lord Morley, the peroration of the speech about 
Montenegro and Bulgaria in May, 1877, must have been 
a not inferior deliverance. In the latter part of Mr 
Gladstone's life the speech to which all who heard it gave 
the palm was the speech on April 26th, 1880, on the 
Affirmation Bill, introduced to deal with the case of Mr. 
Bradlaugh. In this speech occurred the famous quotation 
from Lucretius to which I have before referred ; but the 
passage in which it was enshrined was one that no other 
living Parliamentarian could have spoken, and that touched 
the highest point of exalted sentiment and intellectual 
reasoning. Few of those who heard it could follow the 

26 Moaern Parliamentary Eloquence 

argument ; fewer still understood the Latin. But there 
was a silence as in a church, and a feeling as though the 
air was fanned by invisible wings. In the Home Rule 
Debate of 1886, I recall especially the speech in which Mr. 
Gladstone concluded the debate on introducing the Bill, 
and which contained the celebrated phrase about " a double 
dose of original sin," and the speech which immediately 
preceded the defeat of the Government on the second 
reading, culminating in a marvellous peroration. 

That Mr. Gladstone was a supreme orator there can, I 
think, be no doubt. There was no resource of oratory 
intellectual, emotional or external, that was not at his 
command. But that he was an orator to be heard, rather 
than to be read, is a commonplace. If we take up now 
the two volumes of the Midlothian Speeches in 1879 an d 
1880, we feel, in Tom Moore's words 

"like one 

Who treads alone 
Some banquet hall deserted, 

Whose lights are fled, 

Whose garlands dead, 
And all but he departed." 

So difficult is it to believe that these interminable and 
involved harangues were the spell that stirred the heart 
of an entire nation, upset a powerful minister, and carried 
the speaker to the pinnacle of power. 

And yet that Mr. Gladstone was no less great as a plat- 
form orator than he was in the House of Commons is 
evident from this as from innumerable other experiences. 
But his triumph on the platform, which appears to have 
become greater as he advanced in years, was the triumph 
of a moral force quite as much as of an eloquent tongue. 

It seems to be supposed, from Mr. Gladstone's incom- 
parable fertility of utterance and readiness in reply, that 
he never prepared his speeches in advance. 
methods. This is a mistake. Like all great orators, he 
made careful preparation when this was due 
to the occasion. 1 He wrote down and he even learned off 

1 The notes of many scores of his speeches are preserved at 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 27 

his perorations ; and from my place in the Gallery of the 
House, in April, 1886, I could distinctly see the MS., in 
his own handwriting, of the entire concluding sentences 
of his speech in introducing the first Home Rule Bill. 

1 recall some other personal characteristics of this great 
orator. In earlier days he was described as standing while 

speaking, with his hands clasped behind his 
gestures back. I never saw him in this position. His 

gestures in speech were astonishing in their 
variety and freedom. He would lean on the table with his 
right elbow, and point his finger in scorn at the object of 
his invective or attack. He would smite his right hand on 
the open palm of his left hand with resounding blows. He 
would bang the table and the box on it with his clenched 
fist. On one occasion I saw his hand descend heavily 
upon the gilded mace. He had a habit of swinging right 
round and appealing to his supporters, while all that we 
who were opposite could see was his bald cranium and 
streaming white hair. Another extraordinary and probably 
unconscious trick, while he was unfolding an argument, 
was that of scratching the top of his scalp with the 
extended thumb of his right hand. On the other hand, the 
enormous collars with which Punch insisted on investing 
him were nothing more than the conventional dress of 
the mid-Victorian epoch. On great occasions he always 
appeared with a flower in his button-hole ; and if a long 
speech were in prospect we all of us knew the little 
pomatum-bottle with its mixture of beaten egg and sherry, 
which was half hidden behind the brass-bound box. 1 Such 
are a few fugitive recollections of the greatest man who 
sat in the House of Commons in my time, and of the 
foremost orator of the last half-century. 

His great rival Disraeli I saw in both Houses of 

Parliament. Though he was a master of 
B. Disraeli, picturesque and incisive phraseology, though 

many passages in his long-sustained vendetta 
with Peel in the years 1845-6, which can be read in the 

1 He explained its virtues to Lord Morley in these terms : " It 
stimulates, it lubricates." 

28 Modern Parliamentary Eloqwnce 

second volume of Monypenny's Life, are almost unequalled 
in the annals of Parliamentary invective, and though a few, 
like the comparison of the Liberal Government at Man- 
chester in April, 1872, to a range of exhausted volcanoes 
on the South American coast, belong to English literature, 
I always heard from those who remembered Disraeli even 
in his prime that he was not an orator either by nature or 
art. Many of his speeches, particularly in earlier times, 
were bombastic and dreary ; and he did not, except in 
later years, when wrapped in the prestige of his triumphant 
career, easily place himself in touch with his audience. 
But there was an air of expectancy whenever he spoke : 
men were on the look-out for the jewelled phrase, the 
exquisite epigram, the stinging sneer. He was like the 
conjurer on a platform, whose audience with open mouths 
awaited the next trick. Now and then he soared to 
genuine eloquence, as when, in April, 1865, in an atmosphere 
of breathless silence, he passed a eulogium of unusual 
simplicity on Mr. Cobden, and described him as one of 
those members of Parliament " who, though not present in 
the body, are still members of this House, independent of 
dissolutions, of the caprice of constituencies, even of the 
course of time." 

In both Chambers Mr. Disraeli's characteristic pose was 
that of a statuesque and Sphinx-like immobility on the 
bench. I have seen him sitting hour after hour while 
Mr. Gladstone or some other opponent was thundering at 
him, motionless, with his arms crossed, his eyes apparently 
closed, and not a flicker of emotion on his pallid 
countenance. Sometimes he would murmur a word to 
Lord John Manners or an old friend. An illustration of 
his sardonic and disconcerting method was told me by 
my uncle, Sir Wilfrid Lawson ; it was the occasion when, 
Mr. Gladstone having more than once repeated the phrase 
" The Right Hon. Gentleman and his satellites," and 
having then paused or momentarily lost the thread of his 
argument, Disraeli rose and amid a hushed House re- 
marked in dulcet tones, " the last word was satellites ! " 

I heard his speech in the House of Lords on the Afghan 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 29 

War in December, 1878, and I recall the peroration in 
which, raising his hollow voice and waving his hand, he 
called upon his hearers to brand the Peace at any Price 
doctrines " these dogmas, these deleterious dogmas, with 
the reprobation of the Peers of England." When he 
left the House for the division the Peers waited while he 
walked out alone at the head of his party. He also came 
back alone at the head of the procession and took his 
solitary place on the bench ; and, when a young and 
frisky Peer who had dined somewhat too well went up in 
a genial mood to have a word with his leader, and almost 
sat down on the top of him, from the steps of the throne 
I could hear the startled statesman emit, with what he 
himself once styled a superb groan, the sepulchral ejaculation 
" My dear Lord ! " 

It is evident that Disraeli's phrases were carefully 
prepared and committed to memory, whether delivered 

from the platform or in the House. He was 
His phrases. . *..!. ^ ^ 

m truth a rhetorician rather than an orator, an 

actor in the guise of a politician. It was as a phrasemonger 
that his greatest rhetorical triumphs were won : organised 
hypocrisy ; plundering and blundering ; England does not 
love coalitions ; tea-kettle precedents ; sanitas sanitatum ; 
juvenile and curly ; mass in masquerade ; on the side 
of the angels ; Batavian grace ; peace with honour ; 
imperium et libertas ; the key of India is London. All 
of these are taken from his speeches ; his novels contain a 
thousand other illustrations. 

In earlier days Disraeli wore the fanciful dress of the 
dandy of the period, and his gestures were in harmony 
with his costume. He would pull down his 
wa i stcoat > P ut his hands in his pockets and 
hook his fingers in his armholes, while 
speaking. I once as a boy saw him in the House of 
Commons dressed in a black velvet coat and check 
trousers, an almost incredible garb for a modern Prime 
Minister. It was in a black velvet shooting coat and a 
wide-awake hat that he strolled into the Sheldonian 
Theatre at Oxford in 1874 and informed the astonished 

3O Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

parsons of the Oxford Diocese that he was " on the side of 
the angels." But in the House of Lords he always wore a 
frock coat buttoned'across his chest, and a black tie. He 
indulged in little gesticulation, but at critical moments, 
when leading up to a phrase or a peroration, he would 
extract a handkerchief from his coat-tails and wave it with 
a slight flourish in the air. In those later days his once 
ambrosial locks had lost their curl : a single twist alone 
adorned his brow ; his thinning hair was protected by the 
art of the dyer from the final ravages of time. As an 
Oxford undergraduate I attended his funeral at Hughenden. 
I recall the profound and unfavourable impression created 
by the absence of Mr. Gladstone, but this omission was 
more than rectified by the magnanimous tribute paid to 
his memory a few days later by his great survivor in the 
House of Commons. 

I was a member of the Lower House for a short time 
with Mr. Bright, but I only once heard him speak, and 
that in a commonplace manner. That he was 
jl- f l t a great orator in the class of those who care- 
fully prepare their choicest sentences and 
regard a speech as a work of art, is certain. In fact he was 
the most conspicuous violation of Mr. Balfour's canon 
which I have before quoted ; for every one knew that 
his beautiful passages were learned in advance, and he 
made no secret of it himself; and yet, whether at a 
popular gathering or in the House, he was unquestion- 
ably one of the few of whom it might be said, in 
Mr. Gladstone's splendid phrase, that what he received 
from his audiences in vapour he poured back upon them 
in flood. 

One of the secrets of Mr. Bright's eloquence was his 
unique command of happy and almost colloquial simile, 
the apposite stories that he told, and his ready wit. Nature 
had assisted him with a good presence, action simple and 
unaffected (his biographer says that he had no gesture 
beyond the raising of his hand), and a melodious voice. 

But the real clue to his power lay in the personality and 
moral attributes of the man, and in the nature of the causes 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 31 

for which he pleaded. Though it is no part of the business 
of an orator to mount a pulpit, John Bright preached to 
his countrymen with the fervour of a Savonarola and the 
simplicity of a Wesley. Many of his illustrations (e.g. the 
Shunammite woman and the cave of Adullam) were drawn 
from the Bible, which he was said to know better than any 
other book. In general literature he was not deeply versed, 
nor did he give any evidence of a wide knowledge or pro- 
found reasoning. There can never have been any speaker 
who more successfully practised the maxim Ars est celare 
artem. Though he was known to shut himself up for days 
before he delivered a great speech, when he was inaccessible 
even to his family, though his purple passages, as they would 
now be called, were committed to memory 1 and his per- 
orations written down, neither his manner nor his diction 
suggested artifice, while his high character and patent 
sincerity opened the door of every heart. I will not repeat 
here the well-known passages from his most famous ora- 
tions, but I will give one extract only from the speech that 
he made at a public breakfast given to William Lloyd 
Garrison, the American abolitionist, in June, 1867 a 
speech that was thought by many of his friends to have 
been the highest achievement of his art. 

"Then came the outbreak which had been so often foretold, so 
often menaced : and the ground reeled under the nation during four 
years of agony, until at last, after the smoke of the battlefield had 
cleared away, the horrid shape which had cast its shadow over a 
whole Continent had vanished, and was gone for ever. An ancient 
and renowned poet has said 

' Unholy is the voice 

Of loud thanksgiving over slaughtered men.' 

It becomes us not to rejoice, but to be humbled, that a chastisement 
so terrible should have fallen upon any of our race ; but we may be 
thankful for this that this chastisement at least was not sent in vain. 
The great triumph in the field was not all ; there came after it another 
great triumph, a triumph over passion ; and there came up before 
the world the spectacle, not of armies or military commanders, but 
of the magnanimity and mercy of a powerful and victorious nation." 

1 He told Mr. George Russell that his method of constructing a 
speech was to divide his subject into compartments, to each of which 
he supplied what he called an island, i.e. a carefully prepared key 
sentence. Then he would swim from island to island, until he landed 
on the best island of all, which was, of course, the peroration. 

32 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

By the side of this may be placed the passage, tremendous 
in its dramatic simplicity, in one of John Bright's Crimean 
War speeches, in December, 1854, in which referring to a 
fellow M.P., an officer, whom he had met at Hyde Park 
Corner and who had remarked that it was no light matter 
for a man with a wife and five little children to be ordered 
off to the war he suddenly added : " The stormy Euxine 
is his grave, his wife is a widow, his children fatherless." 

I recall another contemporary and colleague of Mr. 

Gladstone who also deserved the name of orator. This 

was the Duke of Argyll, father of the present 

D " ke f holder of the title. Mr. Gladstone once told 

me that the finest speaker he had ever heard 

in the House of Lords was Lord Ellenborough, that ill- 
balanced and tempestuous person, who was both Governor- 
General of India and President of the Board of Control. 
But at other times he appears to have said the same thing 
of the Duke of Argyll. Lord Ellenborough was before my 
day, but I frequently heard the Duke. He spoke with 
perfect ease, with grace of gesture, with felicity of diction, 
and with intellectual power. Though short of stature, he 
had an almost leonine appearance : and his hair stood up 
from his lofty forehead like the plume in a Highlander's 
bonnet. A somewhat haughty manner, combined with 
this appearance, and a rather didactic tone, caused Bishop 
Wilberforce to christen him Cocculus Indicus. 1 But 
though his oratorical talents were obscured by an omni- 
science that is the greatest disability from which a public 
man can suffer, and were for the most part confined for 
their exercise to the Upper Chamber, there can be no 
doubt that the Duke possessed many of the attributes of 
the real orator. His methods, as his son has informed me, 
were these : he always carefully put down the heads of 
his speech in due order in columns on a sheet of note- 
paper but nothing more. He never wrote out passages, 
nor did he quote or declaim them after delivery. His 
voice was one of singular beauty. There is a general con- 
sensus that the finest speech, or at least the finest passage 
1 He was Secretary of State for India. 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 33 

in a speech, made by him was in the debate on the second 
reading of the Home Rule Bill of 1893, when he had 
finally severed himself from his former chief. Answering 
Mr. Gladstone's argument that the Bill was inevitable, he 
thus addressed the Lords (September 6th, 1893): 

" Inevitable ! Why I have been spending the last few weeks in a 
part of Scotland where we look down on the hills of Antrim. We can 
see the colour of their fields, and in the sunset we can see the glancing 
of the light upon the windows of the cabins of the people. This is the 
country, I thought the other day, when I looked on the scene this is 
the country which the greatest English statesman tells us must be 
governed as we govern the Antipodes. Was there ever such folly ? " 

Sir William Harcourt, as a speaker, was in some respects 
the survival of an earlier day. It may be suspected that 

he also took Disraeli, for whom he had a 
Sir William , . ,. , , f ,, 

Harcourt. g reat admiration, as a model : for there was 

the same elaborate preparation and polished 
sarcasm in the efforts of both. Harcourt had many 
advantages as a speaker : a commanding presence, a 
classical style, a caustic humour, considerable erudition, 
and a wide knowledge of affairs. I heard him make 
many powerful speeches, but he was not naturally 
eloquent. I doubt if he ever moved an audience either to 
deep feeling or to tears which might serve as a defin- 
ition of oratory; 1 and he failed to convince his hearers of 
sincerity or conviction an impression which was en- 
couraged by some of the circumstances of his political 
career. In satire, raillery, and 'scorn, not always highly 
refined, he was proficient. I remember calling upon him 
once in his rooms at Cambridge, where he was Professor 
of International Law, in 1879. He handed me a copy of 
a speech in this vein which he had just delivered at 
Southport in Lancashire a place I was later to represent 
in Parliament with the remark : " That speech will make 
me Home Secretary in the next Administration " and so 
it did. Though he was very effective in improvised retort, 
more so I think than when prepared he became in 

1 It may be recalled that Alcibiades said of Socrates that Pericles 
and the other great Attic orators were not to be compared with him, 
because "the voice of Socrates made his heart leap within him as that of 
a Corybantian reveller, and his eyes rain tears." PLATO, Sympos. 215. 


34 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

later years so much a slave to his MS., that he lost all 
appearance of spontaneity. His speech would lie on the 
box in front of him, page piled on page, and when he 
visited the country for platform orations, a special desk 
was sent down in advance to accommodate his voluminous 
MS. His literary knowledge gave a fine flavour to his 
speeches, and he made by far the best adaptation of a 
quotation that I heard in the House of Commons. 
This was on an occasion when a splendid and courtly 
country gentleman of the old school Sir R. Knightley 
had been making a speech, in which he touched on his 
own long and distinguished ancestry. In replying, Har- 
court parodied the well-known verse of Addison about the 
moon : 

" And (K)nightly to the listening earth 
Repeats the story of his birth." 

On the other hand he was exceedingly angry on another 
occasion when some rival wit applied to him Pope's 
famous line about the Monument of London, which 

" Like a tall bully rears its head and lies." 

The speaker halted when he came to the last word of the 
quotation, which was drowned amid the uproarious cheers 
of the House. 

I pass from these historic figures of bygone Liberalism 

to consider some of the foremost men on the opposite side. 

Lord Salisbury was at all times in his 

Marquis of re markable career a speaker of outstanding 

Salisbury. . ,. , 

importance ; outstanding because of his 

powerful and penetrating intellect, his mordant humour, 
and his literary skill. That a man could possess and 
exercise so unusual a literary gift without incurring the 
faintest suspicion of being a rhetorician is a proof of his 
supreme indifference to the orator's arts. For these he had 
neither the equipment nor the inclination. He cared 
nothing for the platform ; he made no conscious effort to 
attract or to conciliate his hearers ; he was invariably think- 
ing of his subject rather than of them. In most of the 
attributes that we have hitherto associated with the orator 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 35 

he was wholly wanting. And yet he was one of the most 
fascinating, and in his later days one of the most 
impressive, speakers to whom it was possible to listen. 
Whether in the House of Lords, or at a Lord Mayor's 
banquet, or at a public meeting, he appeared to suggest 
embodied wisdom ; he was the philosopher meditating 
aloud. It seemed a mere accident that the reflection was 
conducted audibly and in public rather than in the recesses 
of the library at Hatfield. His massive head, bowed 
upon his chest, his precise and measured tones, his total 
absence of gesture, his grave but subtle irony, sustained 
the illusion. It was only when the epigrams flashed forth, 
and the extraordinary felicity of diction overcame the 
barriers of reserve, that the cheers rattled along the 
absorbed and silent benches. 

No powerful speaker was ever less dependent on aids to 
memory or indeed on preparation. Before a great harangue 
he would arrange his thoughts in the solitude of his study 
or during a walk in the open air. But he neither made nor 
required notes. I was with him as one of his Private 
Secretaries on the occasion of his visit to Newport in 
November, 1885, to deliver the battle cry in the impending 
electoral campaign. He spoke for one-and-three-quarter 
hours in a vast hall without a single note but an extract 
from a speech by Mr. Chamberlain, written on a card in his 

The evolution of the statesman is as interesting a study 

as that of the great painter. We can usually trace Period I, 

Period II, and Period III, according to the 

Evolution of i n fl uences under which he has passed or the 
hts character. 

natural development of his own powers of 

character and mind. Thus we pass in the case of Mr. 
Gladstone from the hope of the stern and unbending Tories 
through intervening phases to the darling of democratic 
Liberalism ; in the case of Disraeli from the dandified 
political adventurer to the awe-inspiring voice of an Empire. 
No such change or evolution of political opinion marked 
the career of Lord Salisbury. But the change of temper 
and tone was not less remarkable, converting the " master 

D 2 

36 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

of gibes and flouts and sneers," the bitter speaker, whose 
" invective lacked finish," into the mellowed and majestic 
statesman, cautious in his policy, philosophic in his 
mental outlook, imposing in his reserve. In the course of 
this transition, the faculty of epigram, which was too 
deeply rooted in him to be seriously modified, and which 
made his private conversation a perpetual delight, expended 
itself in the " blazing indiscretions " for which he attained a 
notoriety that amused no one more than himself. These 
were entirely unpremeditated ; and I remember being with 
him for a Birmingham demonstration, before which he 
declared that on this occasion at least he would not offend, 
only to perpetrate a few hours later one of his most 
characteristic indiscretions. 

A speaker who was equally deficient in the arts of 

oratory, and even more indifferent to applause, but who 

attained a position of scarcely inferior in- 

Duke of fl u ence in the State was the late Duke of 

Devonshire. When he was first made an 

Under Secretary in 1863, the appointment was looked 
upon as a Whig job, and almost an affront to the House 
of Commons. That a speaker so ungainly in manner, so 
unready of speech, and so casual in temperament, should 
also be the eldest son of a Duke, was thought to aggravate 
the crime. And yet this leisure-loving man, who always 
preferred Newmarket to the House of Commons, who 
hated making a speech, and regarded politics as a disagree- 
able necessity of his order, rose by his robust and stead- 
fast common sense, his incorruptible honesty, and the 
splendid tenacity with which he defended and expounded his 
convictions, to be one of the most powerful and persuasive 
speakers in either House of Parliament. In the Debate 
upon the Introduction of the first Home Rule Bill in 
1886, to which I have before referred, by far the best 
speech, greatly transcending that of the trained orator Mr. 
Gladstone, was delivered by Lord Hartington. No hesi- 
tation or drowsiness marred the utterance of the man who 
felt his most sacred convictions outraged and betrayed. 
Sincerity and a s&va indignatio endowed him with a 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 37 

noble eloquence, and when he resumed his seat, I recall that 
members stood up and waved their hats in the air. In a 
subsequent career of singular unselfishness and inflexible 
courage he was called upon to make similar pronouncements 
on many occasions. He thus became the recognised 
mouthpiece of the sober sense of the community, 
and his speeches were more widely read than those 
of any other public man ; for they both formed and 
expressed public opinion. The British Parliament has 
probably never contained a statesman who with fewer 
of the orator's gifts was more successful in producing 
the effect which even the orator sometimes fails to 

One of the remarkable features of the speaking of this 
upright man was his extreme nervousness. I have seen 
his sheet of notes shaking in his hands as he spoke, and I 
recall that when I was sworn in to the Privy Council at 
Windsor, and the Duke, as President of the Council, had 
to read out the names to Queen Victoria from a big sheet 
of paper or parchment, his hands trembled so violently 
that he all but dropped the list. 

And now I pass to two very opposite figures, who both 

attained to high fame by their proficiency in the combined 

arts of Parliamentary and democratic elo- 

Ckurchill i uence - I speak of Lord Randolph Churchill 
and Mr. Chamberlain. Churchill's meteoric 
career and tragic ending call for no mention here. It is 
as a speaker alone that I propose to consider him. I can 
speak from personal recollection of his performances both 
in Parliament and in the country. I heard many of the 
personal attacks upon Mr. Gladstone and the Liberal 
Government, and, perhaps, scarcely less upon the respectable 
persons who then led the Conservative party, by means of 
which he hewed his way to fame. The tomahawk was 
always in his hand. It is impossible to describe the glee- 
ful ferocity with which he swept off the scalps of friend 
and foe. Some of these speeches contained the grossest 
errors of taste, and nearly all were marked by a vein of 
almost burlesque exaggeration. In later times, however, 

38 Modern Parliamentary Eloqitence 

he led the House of Commons for a few weeks with 
unquestionable brilliance, and some of his speeches showed 
a rapidly-growing sense of responsibility and great con- 
structive power. His manner, like his speeches, revelled in 
contrast, alternating from extreme insolence to sweet 
reasonableness and an engaging courtesy. Like Disraeli, 
on whom he clearly modelled himself, he oscillated 
between the adventurer and the statesman. He spoke 
with a voice resonant, but not musical, from copious notes, 
and often committed large portions of his speech to 
memory. He gesticulated much with his hands ; the fierce 
twirling of his moustache and his protruding eye were 
favourite themes with the political caricaturist. Seated 
behind him in the House when he delivered the speech in 
which he explained his fatal resignation, in the winter of 
1886, I could observe the extreme nervousness betrayed 
by his restless movements and twitching fingers. 

It was as a mob-orator that Randolph Churchill excelled ; 

no speaker of our day was for a few years such a popular 

hero. The effrontery with which he assailed 

As a mob- acce pt e d idols, his mastery of a rather coarse 
orator. . J 

but pungent humour, his racy sallies, his use 

of large-sounding phrases in the Disraelian manner, and 
the belief that he was the prophet of a new political creed, 
which was permanently to attach the democracy to the 
Tory Party, combined to make him the darling of the 
crowd. I remember asking one of his Birmingham 
supporters the reason of his amazing popularity. " We 
like our liquors neat," was the reply, "and Randolph 

gives 'em us d d neat." The speech at Blackpool in 

January, 1884, which contained the picture of Mr. Gladstone 
as the feller of trees, culminating in the immortal sentence 
" The forest laments that Mr. Gladstone may perspire," 
and followed by the not too happy political apologue about 
Chips, is perhaps the best specimen of his platform manner. 
It is interesting to know that the majority of these 
speeches were written out in advance, quickly learned 
(for Randolph Churchill included among his gifts a 
marvellous memory), and even sent before delivery to the 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 39 

Morning Post, which to the end remained faithful to his 

What would have become of Churchill's power of 
speech is as difficult to conjecture as what would have 
happened to his career. The fluidity of his principles and 
his love for bold experiments and dramatic conceptions 
might have landed him ultimately in any camp, or in none. 
But that his oratorical gifts though he was not in any 
sense an orator might have grown into a weapon of 
enormous efficacy and power in the State, is no extrava- 
gant hypothesis. 

Mr. Chamberlain is another illustration of great talents, 

equally effective in the Senate and on the platform. In the 

House of Commons he never aimed at oratory, 

Joseph k e mac j e no soaring flights of imagination or 
Chamberlain. . .... . 

rhetoric ; he neither received nor transmitted 

the divine spark. But for mastery of all the arts of debate, 
clearness, conciseness, humour, invective, ridicule, cogent 
and relentless reasoning, he was unsurpassed. And on the 
platform his strokes went straight to the mark, whether in 
the hearts of his audience or on the weak spot of the 
enemy. It is hard to say whether he was more effective 
as a demagogue, waging fierce war against privilege and 
monopoly, or as the patriot preaching with burning 
enthusiasm the gospel of Empire. The gift which im- 
pressed me most in his speaking was his imperturbable 
self-possession. An incident occurred in the introduc- 
tory debate on the first Home Rule Bill in 1886, when 
Mr. Chamberlain, in the midst of a powerful declamation, 
was suddenly interrupted by Mr. Gladstone and forbidden 
to disclose a Cabinet secret. Where the composure and 
the argument of any ordinary man would have been fatally 
shattered by the suddenness of the blow, Mr. Chamberlain 
recovered himself in a moment, shifted the ground of his 
argument, and proceeded with the unerring precision of a 
machine. His best speeches gave evidence of careful 
preparation, and were assisted by neatly arranged notes. 
He only indulged sparingly in gesture, but his crisp and 

40 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

penetrating intonation was an equally admirable vehicle 
for close reasoning or for withering scorn. 

John Morley, the present Lord Morley of Blackburn, 

should be mentioned here, not as an orator, for he would 

make no such claim, but as the last or almost 

John tne j ast ex p Onen t; o f (- ne classical literary 

style. Just as his great Biography of Mr. 
Gladstone teems with splendid phrases, original without 
being extravagant, imaginative without being ornate, so 
in some of his platform speeches, delivered in the days 
when he addressed great popular audiences, the prin- 
ciples of his political creed were expounded in a garb that 
reminds one of the school of literary orators that ended 
with Canning and Macaulay. It was not rhetoric, because 
the sense was never sacrificed to the form, but it was an 
inspired form of spoken prose. Sometimes but less often 
in the House of Commons he performed a similar feat. 
I quote one passage only, as a model of fine phrasing, from 
a speech delivered on the South African War in May, 
1901. A striking passage in the earlier part of this speech 
about " a hateful war, a war insensate and infatuated, a 
war of uncompensated mischief and irreparable wrong," 
was followed by this peroration : 

" The master-key of the prosperity and strength of the realm is 
peace. Peace means low taxes, reduced rent, advancement in the 
comfort and well-being of the people of these islands, and, what I do 
not, will not, disregard it means the goodwill of the world. If our 
aim is the extension of our territorial dominion, the transformation of 
our ancient realm, which has aided civilisation for generation after 
generation, into a boastful military Empire, to be supported, I 
suppose, by conscription and a Customs Union thrown in, which will 
lose us our best markets for the sake of the worst, then, I say, financial 
ruin undoubtedly awaits us. I quote a sentence from a great divine 
which I have used before : ' Things are what they are, and their 
consequences will be what they will be. Why, then, shall we seek to 
deceive ourselves ? J Wear out your coal, pile up your debts, multiply 
and magnify your responsibilities in every part of the globe, starve 
social reforms among your people at home ; and then, indeed, you will 
have a Little England, a dilapidated heritage to hand on to your 
children and your children's children." 

I pass to the three living statesmen who have been 
Prime Ministers, We may be sure, from what has been 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 41 

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 

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 

Earl of diction with which, on great occasions, he 
Rosebery. . 

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 ten- 
dency may be traced in some speeches to exaggeration of 

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 
^ at P er ^ oc ^ m tne 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, bio- 
graphical, 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 

42 Modern Parliamentary Eloqiience 

whole community. It was with a cry of universal dismay 
that the nation heard the other day the surely unpardon- 
able threat that it is perhaps to be deprived in the future 
of this gratuitous and unalloyed enjoyment. 

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 

Passages w idely popular and admired which he has 
quoted. . J 

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 

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 sum- 
mer, 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 tempta- 
tions, 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 remem- 
ber 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 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 43 

the taint and reproach incidental to all human work, but constructed 
on the whole with pure and splendid purpose. Human, and not wholly 
human, for the most heedless and the most cynical must see the finger 
of the Divine. Growing as trees grow, while others slept ; fed by the 
faults of others as well as by the character of our fathers ; reaching 
with the ripple of a resistless tide over tracts and islands and continents, 
until our little Britain woke up to find herself the foster-mother of 
nations and the source of united empires. Do we not hail in this less 
the energy and fortune of a race than the supreme direction of the 
Almighty ? Shall we not, while we adore the blessing, acknowledge 
the responsibility ? And while we see, far away in the rich horizons, 
growing generations fulfilling the promise, do we not own with reso- 
lution mingled with awe the honourable duty incumbent on ourselves ? 
Shall we then falter or fail ? The answer is not doubtful. We will 
rather pray that strength may be given us, adequate and abundant, to 
shrink from no sacrifice in the fulfilment of our mission ; that we may 
be true to the high tradition of our forefathers ; and that we may 
transmit their bequest to our children, aye, and please God, to their 
remote descendants, enriched and undefiled, this blessed and splendid 

Both these passages were doubtless written ; for all I 
know they may have been read ; but whether they were 
written, or read, or declaimed, they seem to me worthy to 
be ranked with the greatest masterpieces of British 

Mr. Balfour would be greatly shocked if any such claim 
were put forward on his behalf as I have made for some of 
the statesmen whom I have been discussing. 
A. /. Balfour. Indeed, I expect that he would disagree with 
much of what I have written about oratory 
and eloquence ; for there has probably never been a states- 
man of the first rank in England who was so indifferent 
to either, or so distrustful of their influence in public life. 
Not that Mr. Balfour would be slow to recognise the 
supreme gifts either of Mr. Gladstone or Lord Rosebery 
he has testified to the one, and I think to both but his 
own idea of the best speech-making, I expect, would 
be that the thought is all important, and that the form, 
which is accidental, temperamental, and secondary, may be 
left to look after itself. I am confident that he has 
never consciously cultivated a single rhetorical art, and it 
can only have been by mistake if he has ever strayed into 
a peroration. 

Mr. Balfour can perhaps afford to take this line, for 

44 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

intellect has supplied him with that which a natural 
aptitude or conscious training has given to 

. ; , s .. a . others. His is probably the acutest mind 
dialectician. \. .. . , 

that has been dedicated to politics during the 

past century. As a parliamentary dialectician he has 
never had a superior ; and his facility is such that in any 
field where his rare elevation of thought finds natural 
scope, he runs the risk of becoming eloquent in spite of 
himself. I recall his first speeches as Irish Secretary twenty- 
six years ago. They were both ineffective and hesita- 
ting. Even now he sometimes finds difficulty in getting 
under way, and his indifference to precision or detail is 
apt to be a source of embarrassment. But if any issue 
arises which requires to be resolved into broad principles, 
and to be handled by the thinker rather than the politician, 
the statesman rather than the party man, the House of 
Commons may look to him with confidence to express its 
highest ideals. No parliamentary speaker has ever had 
greater charm of manner or courtesy of address, and the 
way in which, in 1906-7, he won back the confidence of a 
new House of Commons, overpoweringly hostile to his 
political opinions, and distrustful of his dialectical methods, 
was a triumph without a parallel. 

Mr. Balfour is probably more independent of prepara- 
tion than any man who has ever led the House of Commons, 

When he spoke of placing his views on the 
His methods. u ir u r 

Fiscal Question on half a sheet of note paper, 

he described that which is his normal practice. The notes 
for all the speeches that he has made in a political career 
of forty years would, in all likelihood, not equal the MS. 
of a single Budget speech of Mr. Gladstone. But from 
these few pencilled words he will evolve either the subtlest 
metaphysical analysis or the loftiest and broadest general- 
isations. He is too indifferent to the arts of oratory to 
have enjoyed a platform success at all comparable to his 
Parliamentary position. But even at mass meetings his 
logic, his play of humour, his immense resourcefulness, and 
his felicitous diction, have often won a conspicuous triumph. 
I could not pay a higher tribute to Mr. Balfour's versa- 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 45 

tility than by selecting for quotation a passage from the 
class of speech from which a priori he would most naturally 
shrink, but in which his intellectual ascendency and width 
of outlook have more than once enabled him to excel. 
This is what he said in January, 1910, upon the death of 
Queen Victoria : 

" Perhaps less known was the life of continuous labour which her 
position as Queen threw upon her. Short as was the interval between 
the last trembling signature affixed to a public document and the final 
and perfect rest, it was yet long enough to clog and hamper the 
wheels of administration ; and when I saw the accumulating mass of 
untouched documents which awaited the attention of the Sovereign, I 
marvelled at the unostentatious patience which for sixty-three years, 
through sorrow, through suffering, in moments of weariness, in moments 
of despondency, had enabled her to carry on without break or pause her 
share in the government of this great Empire. For her there was no 
holiday, to her there was no intermission of toil. Domestic sorrow, 
domestic sickness, made no difference in her labours ; and they were 
continued from the hour at which she became our Sovereign to within 
a few days I had almost said a few hours of her death. It is easy 
to chronicle the growth of empire, the course of discovery, the progress 
of trade, the triumphs of war, all the events that make history interest- 
ing or exciting. But who is there that will dare to weigh in the 
balance the effect which such an example, continued over sixty-three 
years, has produced on the higher life of her people ? " 

The present Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith, represents a 
type of public speaking carried to higher perfection than 

by anyone else in modern times. Possessed 
H. H. Asquith. of a copious vocabulary, an extraordinary 

and effortless command of the right word, a 
remarkable gift of lucidity and compression, and a resonant 
voice, he produces an overpowering effect of Parliamentary 
and forensic strength. Whether in exposition or declama- 
tion, in opening or in reply, on a great subject or a small, 
he never falls below a certain stately level, even though 
he never soars above it into passion or kindles an audience 
into flame. Whenever I have heard him on a first-rate 
occasion, there rises in my mind the image of some great 
military parade. The words, the arguments, the points, 
follow each other with the steady tramp of regiments 
across the field ; each unit is in its place, the whole march- 
ing in rhythmical order ; the sunlight glints on the bayonets, 
and ever and anon is heard the roll of the drums. 

46 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

The same characteristics are visible when he speaks 
from a platform. Where another speaker would stretch 
himself out over an hour and a quarter, Mr. Asquith has 
said all that is to be said in fifty minutes. It is a miracle 
of succinctness, the apotheosis of business-like efficiency. 
There is no gesticulation, no self-abandonment, no flash or 
glow, but the case is stated, illustrated, argued, and proven 
with a force that is almost stunning. Further, the Prime 
Minister is the master of one incomparable art the result, 
I imagine, of early practice at the Bar. He can represent 
the weakest of cases as though it were of overwhelming 
strength, the most startling of innovations as though it were 
an everyday procedure, the most disputable of propositions 
as though it were an axiom of universal acceptance. This 
combination of gifts, intellectual, personal, rhetorical, renders 
Mr. Asquith a Parliamentary workman of the highest order. 
Never are these talents of concise and flawless expres- 
sion better shown than on the occasion of his tributes to 
the illustrious dead. Of these I think that I 

His memorial s h ou ld have selected for mention his eulogium 

upon King Edward, were it not that it has 

since been surpassed by his tribute to Alfred Lyttelton, an 
echo of the Virgilian cry that has rung down the ages : 
" Sunt lacrymae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt." He 
spoke as follows : 

" Perhaps of all men of this generation Alfred Lyttelton came 
nearest to the mould and ideal of manhood which every English 
father would like to see his son aspire to and, if possible, attain. 
The bounty of nature, enriched and developed not only by early 
training, but by constant self-discipline through life, blended in him 
gifts and graces which taken alone are rare, and in such attractive 
union are rarer still. Body, mind, and character the schoolroom, 
the cricket field, the Bar, the House of Commons each made its 
separate contribution to the faculty and the experience of a many- 
sided and harmonious whole. But what he was he gave gave with 
such ease and exuberance that I think it maybe said without exaggera- 
tion that wherever he moved he seemed to radiate vitality and charm. 
He was, as we here know, a strenuous fighter. He has left behind 
him no resentments and no enmity : nothing but a gracious memory 
for a manly and winning personality the memory of one who served 
with an unstinted measure of devotion his generation and his country. 
He has been snatched away in what we thought was the full tide of 
buoyant life still full of promise and of hope. What more can we 
say ? We can only bow once again before the decrees of the Supreme 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 47 

Wisdom. Those who loved him and they are many, in all schools of 
opinion, in all ranks and walks of life when they think of him, will 
say to themselves : 

'This is the happy warrior, this is he 
Whom every man in arms should wish to be.' " 

Many good speakers there are or have been in the 
House of Commons in my time with whom it is impossible 
to deal here at any length. The present 
leader of the Unionist Party in that House, 
Mr. Bonar Law, would not have been chosen 
to succeed Mr. Balfour but for his powers of speech, which 
had given him a high reputation, though not as yet Cabinet 
office. The exercise of these powers in a field of authority, 
added to fearless courage, transparent sincerity, and an 
uncommon faculty for going straight to the heart of 
things, has justified that choice. What Mr. Bonar Law's 
future as a statesman may be, the gods hold in their lap. 
As a Parliamentary and public speaker, he possesses a 
gift unseen since the late Lord Salisbury that of delivering 
a sustained and closely reasoned argument or attack for 
an hour without a single note. In part the result of an 
astonishing memory, in part of great intellectual quickness, 
this faculty as it is developed by practice, cannot fail to 
place him in the front rank of British Parliamentary 

One of the few prominent speakers in the House of 

Commons who still cultivates, I will not say the classical, 

but the literary style, and at times practises 

Churchm. it: with S reat abilit 7> is Mr - Winston Churchill. 
Like most talented speakers he is able to 
adapt himself to the need of the moment, but it may be 
conjectured that the form of speech which he prefers, and 
in which also he excels, is that in which structure, diction, 
and form not perhaps unflavoured by invective have 
been pressed into the service of an artistic whole. On the 
platform he adopts a double style. The exigencies of 
modern democracy seem indeed to require from its 
favourites a twofold gift at one time the utterance of the 
statesman whose dignified periods allay apprehension and 
will one day take their place in an anthology of British 

48 Modern Parliamentary Eloqiience 

Eloquence, at another the " patter " of the music-hall artist 
who must tickle the taste of the " gods " in a transpontine 
" gallery." 

In the Unionist party at the present time are two men, 

the one, alas ! silent, the other in the prime of his activity 

and powers, to whom true eloquence cannot 

Z>. Plunket. be denied. These are Lord Rathmore, better 

known when in the Lower House as Mr. 

David Plunket, and Lord Hugh Cecil, the youngest son 

of the late Lord Salisbury. 

Mr. Plunket started with an inherited talent for oratory, 
for he was the grandson of one of Ireland's most famous 
orators, Lord Plunket. A fine presence, an easy manner, 
a musical voice (from which, as soon as he had cast loose, 
a stammer that somewhat impedes his utterance in or- 
dinary conversation, entirely disappeared), and a command 
of picturesque and stately language, made him for over 
twenty years one of the favourites of the House of Commons. 
His best speeches were probably those on the Extension 
of the Household Franchise in Ireland in 1885, and on the 
Welsh Church Bill in 1895. But Mr. Plunket had not 
only the gifts but also the sensitive temperament of the 
orator. It was always an effort and anguish to him to 
speak, and, withdrawn into the sepulchral shades of the 
Upper Chamber in 1895, ne relapsed into a silence which 
has never since been broken. 

Fortunately Lord Hugh Cecil suffers from no such 

self-imposed repression. His earnest swaying figure, his 

eager, high-pitched voice, are seen and heard 

Lord H"gh in every important debate, and on many 
provincial platforms. His speaking is al- 
ways intellectual, much of it is hard hitting and fierce. 
But from time to time the fire of eloquence is ignited on 
his lips, and the House is hushed to silence as it listens to 
words that combine the charm of music with the rapture 
of the seer. I will quote three such passages. The first 
was in a debate on the Resolutions preliminary to the 
Parliament Bill on March soth, 1910: 

" I look upon our Constitution with something much more than the 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 49 

reverence with which a man of good taste would look upon an ancient 
and beautiful building. I look upon it as a temple of the twin deities 
of Liberty and Order which Englishmen have so long worshipped to 
the glory of their country. Let us then go into the temple, con over 
its stones, and saturate ourselves with its atmosphere, and then, 
continuing its traditions, let us adorn and embellish it. So we too 
shall partake of something of its renown, our figures will, perhaps, 
be found in it, and our names be graven on its stones. In this way 
we shall attain to a measure of its immortality, and high on the 
eminence of its glory our fame will stand secure, safe from the waters 
of oblivion, safe from the tide of time." 

The second passage was in a debate on the Education 
Bill, on May i6th, 1902, when the speaker alluded to the 
school of thought " who may be described as adopting the 
position of Christianity in everything except its theology } 
who possess the morality of Christianity, its sense of right 
and wrong, its delicate sensitiveness of conscience, though 
they are unable to accept its theological basis," and 
went on : 

" These men, it may be said, erect in the mansions of their hearts a 
splendid throne-room, in which they place objects revered and beauti- 
ful. There are laid the sceptre of righteousness and the swords of 
justice and mercy. There is the purple robe that speaks of the unity 
of love and power, and there is the throne that teaches the supreme 
moral governance of the world. And that room is decorated by all 
that is most beautiful in art or literature. It is gemmed by all the 
jewels of imagination and knowledge. Yet that noble chamber, with 
all its beauty, its glorious regalia, its solitary throne, is still an empty 

Lastly, speaking on the Welsh Church Bill, on January 
, 1913, he said : 

" Though it is a fine thing to give education, there is something that 
comes closer, sooner or later, to the human heart. It is a comforting 
thing that the poor man should receive relief, adequate care and help 
in sickness. But there are two great crises one that comes to every 
man, and one that comes to many when these things appear com- 
paratively small. In the presence of some great moral upheaval, 
some great spiritual crisis, in that agony of mind which alone such a 
crisis brings, it is not in education, medicine, or alms, that relief is to 
be found. There comes to every one that last great day when 
medicine has done its best, when all relief possible has been given, 
when the soul stands naked and trembling, face to face with all the 
horrors and wonders of Eternity. Then there is one light alone to 
lighten the darkness, then it is only in the Gospel, in which all the 
denominations alike believe, that hope and happiness and comfort 
are to be found." 


50 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

These passages are prepared and studied eloquence ; but 
they are eloquence of a high order, and they suggest that 
combination of spiritual fervour with a glowing imagination 
that was characteristic of some of the greatest orators of 
the past. 

It would be surprising if Ireland, the land of Curran, 
Grattan, O'Connell, and Plunket, had not 

Irish made a contribution to the eloquence of the 
Eloquence. -..._.... 

British Parliament during the past half 

century that should be worthy of its ancient renown. 

I sat opposite the Nationalist Party in the House of 
Commons during the twelve years in which they were 

forcing the Home Rule question from the 
C. S. Parnell. obscurity of a local fad to the rank of the first 

political issue of the day the years of political 
and agrarian crimes in Ireland, and tumult in Parliament 
the years in which Parnell flared into a sudden and sombre 
prominence and as suddenly disappeared. Parnell was not 
eloquent, much less an orator. Possessed of singularly 
handsome features, he was slovenly in dress and untidy in 
appearance. He used to speak with one of his hands buried 
deeply in a front pocket of his trousers. He had no great 
command of language. But as he hissed out his sentences 
of concentrated passion and scorn, scattering his notes as 
he proceeded upon the seat behind him, he gave an im- 
pression of almost daemonic self-control and illimitable 
strength. When he spoke for his party, in the tremendous 
moments of the crisis, Mr. Gladstone would move to the 
end of the front bench, and with his hand held behind his 
ear, listen to the freezing but impressive display with rapt 
attention. Either in the House or outside of it, Parnell 
appeared an isolated figure ; " remote, unfriended, melan- 
choly, slow," he came in and out without exchanging 
a word with anyone : the utmost concession that he 
appeared to make to companionship was when he would 
be met tramping the lobbies in earnest conversation 
with one of the few associates whom he deigned to 

One of Parnell's principal lieutenants, Mr. Sexton, had 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 51 

very considerable oratorical gifts, and I remember Mr. 

Balfour publicly thanking him for the valuable 
T. Sexton, assistance that he had rendered in debate in 

the shaping of one of the Irish Land Bills 
of that time. But the nickname with which Punch 
christened him, " Windbag Sexton," gave an unfair im- 
pression of his abilities, which were great, although the air 
of self-satisfaction with which his inexhaustible periods 
flowed from his lips was sometimes a source of irritation 
to his opponents. 

At that time Mr. Redmond had not developed the powers 
either of speech or command which have since maintained 

him for over twenty years in the troubled 
/. Redmond, but uncontested leadership of his party, and, 

as some allege, the dictatorship of British 
politics. One of the main sources of his success has been 
a power of speech, consistently verging upon eloquence, 
and sometimes tinged with genuine emotion. I have 
heard him described as the " Master of Parliamentary 

The most talented member of the Irish party, with an 
unsurpassed gift of corrosive humour and almost diabolical 

irony was, and is, Mr. Timothy Healy. His 
Timothy Healy. witty sallies were a great delight to a jaded 

House. Some of the best were perpetuated 
at the expense of the late Sir Richard Temple, whom 
Providence had not blessed with great natural beauty. 
" The Burmese idol nods " was one interjection as 
Temple's head fell forward with a series of somnolent 
jerks upon his chest. On another occasion Temple had 
interjected a " No, no ! " while Healy was speaking, 
only to be met by the irrepressible humorist with the 
rejoinder, " The hon. member is very great with his Noes 
(nose)." Though he now intervenes less frequently in debate, 
Mr. Healy always struck me for sheer cleverness as one of the 
best speakers I ever heard in the House of Commons, and 
on rare occasions I recall one passage about the Catholic 
Church he was lifted above himself and became inspired. 
The contemplation of speakers still with us has almost 

E 2 

52 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

tempted me to forget a number of figures who have now 
passed away, but who graced the boards and won the 
plaudits of their time. These seem to me to fall into three 
categories, according to the nature of their powers and 
influence the statesmen, the rhetoricians, and the 
humorists. I will devote a few words to each class. 

The great Lord Derby, three times Prime Minister, was 
before my day. But he just came within the half century 
which I have attempted to cover, having died 
Fourteenth in 1869. He was 
Earl of Derby. The brilliant chief> i rreg ularly great, 

Frank, haughty, rash the Rupert of debate " 

depicted by Lord Lytton in the New Timon. That he 
excelled in every talent of the orator, in debate no less 
than in declamation, is established by the universal con- 
sensus of his contemporaries. But he may be said to 
belong to an earlier period, the records of which can be 
better traced elsewhere. 

I recall very clearly his son, the fifteenth Earl of Derby 
Foreign Ministerin Disraeli's second administration. Hewas 
a frigid and monotonous but powerful speaker 
Fifteenth wno seemed the embodiment of intellectual 
Earl of Derby, common-sense. His speeches were com- 
mitted to memory, but the speaker somewhat 
marred their effect by a rather pompous and " mouthing " 

Mr. Cobden also belonged to an earlier generation. 
But in a review of Parliamentary Eloquence, it is im- 
possible altogether to omit the man whose 
Cobden P owers of luminous exposition acted as a foil 
to the fervid oratory of John Bright on a 
hundred platforms, and of whom so great a judge as Sir 
Robert Peel could say that his " eloquence was the more 
to be admired because it was unaffected and unadorned." 
A figure, unknown to the present generation, but very 
prominent in his day, was Mr. Gathorne 
G Hard" e Hard y> afterwards the first Earl of Cran- 
brook. He was one of Disraeli's most capable 
and trusted lieutenants, and certainly one of the ablest 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 53 

speakers on the Front Bench in the House of Commons. 
He had a fine presence, great ease in delivery, excellent 
debating powers, and a refreshing vigour. At one time 
he was thought likely to reach the highest place in the 
ranks of his party. 

I heard some of Mr. Forster's most effective speeches at 
the time when he was denouncing Parnellism in the House 
of Commons. Rugged, shaggy, volcanic, 
P' j forceful, totally destitute of grace or imagina- 
tion, he was seriously considered at one time, 
as we know, for the leadership of his party, and was a 
notable and potent figure in debate. 

There was no finer debater than Mr. (afterwards Lord) 
Goschen. His short sight, compelling him to hold his 
papers almost under his eyes, his harsh and 
G.J. Goschen, rasping voice and his lack of grace in pose 
and action, were serious handicaps to any 
speaker. But he had intellect, courage, conviction, and 
fire. No man could state a case more finely for his party, 
or deliver a more comprehensive and crushing reply ; and 
on one occasion, at the famous meeting at His Majesty's 
Theatre in April, 1886, to inaugurate the anti-Home Rule 
Campaign, in rebutting the argument that assassination 
might have to be faced, he uttered the immortal phrase 
" we will make our wills and do our duty." 

I cannot refrain from mentioning here one man who, 

though prevented by the circumstances of his office from 

attaining a high position as a speaker or a 

Arthur W. Parliamentarian, was nevertheless one of the 


most imposing figures whom I remember in 
public life. This was Arthur Peel, afterwards Lord Peel, 
and for eleven years Speaker of the House of Commons. A 
more majestic presence in the Chair it was impossible to 
conceive. His pointed beard and heavy official wig caused 
him closely to resemble the picture of a Pharaoh on his 
throne ; and his demeanour, when censuring an unruly 
member, rebuking an offender at the Bar, or composing a 
tumult in the House, was the quintessence of dignified 
grandeur. At such a moment I forget to whom the 

54 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

description was originally applied " thunder clothed his 
brow," and the House listened in hushed awe. When he 
did make a speech on being elected or re-elected to the 
Chair, it was evident that he might have greatly excelled 
in the classical style of an earlier generation. 

His elder brother, the second Sir Robert Peel, though 
he made no mark in public life, had also inherited no 
mean rhetorical and dramatic attainments. 
Standing up to speak, as I saw him, on the 
benches below the gangway on the Con- 
servative side, his almost foreign appearance, rich voice, 
animated gestures, and humour that seldom erred on the 
side of refinement, suggested great gifts which, if con- 
trolled and directed, might have led to influence and 

In the 'seventies the Conservative party produced and 

were led for five years in the Upper House by a great 

lawyer who was also a statesman, a fine 

Earl Cairns, speaker, almost at moments an orator. This 

was the first Lord Cairns. An intellectual 

countenance, a distinguished and weighty manner, and a 

cultured diction, enabled him to overcome the drawbacks 

from which lawyers in Parliament are generally, though 

perhaps unfairly, believed to suffer. I heard his powerful 

speech on the evacuation of the Transvaal in the House of 

Lords in 1880, which he concluded with the apposite 

quotation from Abraham Cowley : 

" We grieved, we sighed, we wept we never blushed before." 
At this point he rose to genuine eloquence. More com- 
monly he was self-restrained, passionless, and cold. 

Perhaps I should not omit to mention a Parliamentary 
figure of a very different type. This was Charles Brad- 
laugh, with whom I sat in the House of 
Charles Commons for some years. Known as the 
' " boy orator " of secular and atheistic circles 
in his youth, trained in the rough school of public 
disputation, a professional agitator of the most accom- 
plished type, he created an extraordinary effect by the 
speech which he made when called to the bar of the House 
in June, 1880 a speech described by Mr. Gladstone in his 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 55 

letter to the Queen as " the address of a consummate 
speaker." Later, when he obtained an uncontested entrance 
into the House, he impressed it greatly with his courage, 
sincerity, and oratorical power. Traces of his early career 
flashed out in his complete disregard of the aspirate when 
excited, and he had a peculiar trick of standing with his 
right leg raised upon the bench and his elbow resting upon 
it as he addressed the House. His towering bulk and 
resounding voice (which almost equalled the thunder of 
Mr. John Burns) added to the impression of weight and 
power, and I can well believe that had he pursued less 
violent lines of agitation or been identified with more 
popular causes, he might have obtained an influence with 
the democracy second only to that of Daniel O'Connell. 

I pass from the class of politicians who were speakers, 
to another class, the speakers who were politicians. I 
speak of a number of persons celebrated in 

The their day, but now well-nigh forgotten, and 
rhetoricians. , , . , f , 

of a class of speech which is not oratory but 

rhetoric, though the exaggeration of contemporaries some- 
times mistakes it for the authentic article. These men 
were of very different order of merit, all had great abilities, 
and some attained to high office ; but the glitter and sparkle 
of their ornate art has left no permanent mark upon the 
history of their time. I seem to trace a lineal descent in 
these exponents of a style in which Canning, and to a less 
extent Macaulay, were acknowledged masters, but which in 
inferior hands could only achieve an ephemeral reputation. 
They are Richard Lalor Sheil, George Smythe (afterwards 
Lord Strangford), Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Robert 
Lowe, Patrick Smyth, and Joseph Cowen. Since the last 
named died the stock has become extinct and seems 
unlikely to be renewed. 

Of these Sheil carried his art to the highest pitch of 
artificial elaboration. He was an essentially histrionic 
speaker, both in action and voice. " Did not 
Sheil scream?" some one asked of Mr. 
Gladstone. " He was all scream " is said to have been 
the reply. Professor Jebb seems to have thought that 
Sheil's famous apostrophe about the aliens in the House 

56 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

of Commons in February, 1837, was an unmeditated effort 
produced by the sight of Lord Lyndhurst, who had 
applied the expression to Irishmen, seated under the 
gallery as he was making his speech. I cannot believe 
that this was the case. It is difficult to credit the un- 
studied and spontaneous origin of the references to the 
"steeps and moats of Badajos," or the catalogue of 
victories Vimiera, Salamanca, Albuera, Toulouse, Water- 
loo, or the peroration : 

" When the chill morning dawned, their dead lay cold and stark 
together, in the same deep pit their bodies were deposited, the green 
corn of spring is now breaking from their commingled dust, the dew 
falls from heaven upon their union in the grave." 

And if I wanted a confirmation for this view I should find 
it in the even more amazing example of the same style by 
the same speaker in his denunciation of the dying Duke 
of York in 1827, when he followed, so to speak, the corpse 
of the still living object of his invective from the death 
chamber to the funeral vault in St. George's a gruesome 
and incredible example of perverted art. 

I have only dwelt upon Sheil, who died in 1851, 

because he was the most accomplished professor of this 

academy. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, the 

Sir E. Bulwer nove ii s t w ho was Secretary for the Colonies 
Lytton. * . 

in 1857, for a short time excited a wonderful 

sensation by similar displays. Men crowded to the House 
of Commons to hear the latest performance of " the orator 
of the century." Epigrams, antithesis, alliteration all the 
conscious tricks of the trade were packed into his ornate 
harangues, which no one now remembers. 

A little later there appeared a far more accomplished 
exponent of the same art. This was Mr. Robert Lowe, 

afterwards Lord Sherbrooke, who, in the 
Robert Lowe, Session of 1 866, rose to real fame by the 

burnished and scathing brilliance of his 
attacks upon the Reform Bill of that year. Scholarship, 
irony, paradox, wit, studied elaboration of form, all were 
weapons in the hands of the man who had the supreme 
advantage of attacking his party with the sympathy of the 
greater portion of the House behind him. 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 57 

Disraeli's friend, George Smythe, the hero of Coningsby, 

and the orator of the Young England Party, was one of 

the pathetic failures of English politics. But 

George j j-j ave a speech by him delivered at Man- 
Smythe. 3 

Chester in the company of Disraeli in 1844, 

which, I was told by one who remembered it, had caused a 
greater sensation than any oration of that time. 

Patrick Smyth, the bearer of a similar name, was an 

Irishman who, after an adventurous career, entered 

Parliament as a Nationalist member, and 

Patrick delivered there a series of elaborate speeches 

which earned for him a passing renown. 

The last of the school was Joseph Cowen, Radical mem- 
ber for Newcastle, who, siding with Disraeli in his foreign 
policy, came out as a rhetorical exponent of 
Joseph Cowen. Imperialism, in a series of speeches delivered 
partly in the House of Commons, partly on 
the platform, which caused an immense sensation, and 
were even thought by some to be masterpieces of the 
orator's art They seem to be very full of grandiloquent 
platitudes and 'missfire epigrams now. Every word was 
committed by the speaker to memory, and recited in a 
strong Northumbrian accent that was almost unintelligible 
outside of Newcastle. John Bright cruelly said of Cowen, 
" he was a fine speaker if you did not listen to what he 
said." With Cowen this school of rhetoric came to an 
end, and in an age the temper and spirit of which I 
described in the opening pages of this address, it seems im- 
possible that it should be revived. 

Perhaps I ought to devote a word in passing to the 

humourists of the House during the period of which I have 

been speaking. Not that any of them were 

Parliamentary orators, although humour is a useful adjunct 

humourists : o f oratory. But they did what oratory often 
Sir W. Lawson, r ... . , . . ' 

C l fails to do : they pleased their hearers and 

Saunderson, relieved the dulness of Parliamentary life 

iiiSSSS* Sir Wilfrid Lawson was a j ker of the S P- 

A. Birrell. taneous and rollicking type, who combined 

a power of telling good stories and depicting 

grotesque situations with great charm of personality and an 

58 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

ardent Radicalism. Col. Saunderson, an Irish Unionist 
member, gifted with a terrific brogue, which he had im- 
proved by practice, gave so genial and good-natured a 
display of Irish humour that he was loved by the Parnellite 
party whom he derided and exposed. Dr. Robert Wallace, 
an Edinburgh minister, professor, and journalist, clothed a 
biting wit in a literary garb so artistic that he kept the 
House, in which, by the way, he had a seizure and died, 
alternately hushed with expectancy and convulsed with 
laughter. Labouchere was the incurable cynic who mocked, 
at everybody, including himself. Mr. Birrell, the present 
Irish Secretary, has an instinctive gift of humour which 
does not desert him even on serious occasions, and is aided 
by irreproachable literary form. Bernal Osborne belongs 
to a rather earlier day ; but in his prepared epigrams 
almost always lurked a poisoned dart, intended to pierce 
the bosom impartially of friend and foe. 

Another class of speakers in the House of Commons 

that has added to its intellectual distinction, and not 

infrequently to its eloquence, has been that 

The Professors of the p ro f essO rs. I heard, I think, all of 
tn Parliament. . 

them in recent years, with the exception of 

John Stuart Mill, whose great literary reputation was 
perhaps not sustained by his rhetorical performances. As 
he delivered his maiden speech, Disraeli, fixing him with 
his eye-glass, is said to have murmured, " Oh, the finishing 
governess " ; and this impression, encouraged by a weak 
voice and nervous manner, was never quite removed by 
the intellectual quality of the highly finished essays which 
this learned philosopher recited to the House. The blind 
Professor Fawcett was a sincere and powerful speaker ; 
and so, in different ways, were the present Lord Courtney, 
Professor Jebb, who had a delicate gift of speech, Professor 
S. H. Butcher, a very able Parliamentarian, as well as 
a most accomplished man, and Professor Lecky. The 
figure of the latter, swaying to and fro, with not too grace- 
ful undulations, as he delivered the most admirable 
argument in a high and rather querulous treble voice, is 
a picture not easily forgotten. In some of these cases and 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 59 

in others that I could mention, it was difficult not to think 
of the lecturer at his desk, addressing an audience of 
inferior mental calibre to the speaker ; and when even the 
most famous of physicians advanced to the table, one 
almost expected to see him open the brass-bound box and 
extract a chemical retort from its recesses for purposes of 

The bench of Bishops has in its time contributed much 
to the eloquence, as well as to the appearance and dignity 
of the Upper House. During the last half 
The Episcopal cen t urv its most noted orator was Samuel 
Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford and Win- 
chester, whose eloquence was of a very high order and, 
like his character, suggested the great ecclesiastical states- 
man rather than the divine. He leaped into fame by a 
speech on the Corn Laws in June, 1846, of which his 
biographer says that it ought to have been heard rather 
than read. I never had the good fortune to listen to 
Dr. Wilberforce. But I recall the terse and powerful 
speaking of Bishop Magee, who combined reasoning with 
sarcasm, and scholarship with humour, and whose best 
speech was delivered on the second reading of the Bill for 
the Disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1869. Bishop 
Creighton of London a most ingenious and witty speaker 
at a dinner-table might, had he lived, have become a 
power in debate. The present Archbishop of York 
(Dr. Lang) is the master of a scholarly and impressive 
style. But the ecclesiastic who, of all others, seemed to 
me in his speeches and person to embody most effectively 
the grave persuasiveness, the august authority, and the spiri- 
tual elevation of the Episcopal Bench, was Archbishop Tait. 

In studying the records of the speakers of the time, I 

find a phrase in constant use which excites a legitimate 

curiosity. It is said of So-and-so that he had 

,. The the Parliamentary manner. This is an 

manner. attribute that would appear to be quite 

independent of oratory or even of considerable 
powers of speech, because it is frequently applied to men 
who had neither ; although on the other hand it may 

60 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

coexist with both. The two most conspicuous illustrations 
of this gift, which is sometimes otherwise expressed as 
the being a great House of Commons man, appear to have 
been Walpole in the eighteenth century and Sir Robert 
Peel in the nineteenth century. Disraeli said at different 
times of Peel that he was "the greatest member of 
Parliament that ever lived," and that he " played on the 
House like an old fiddle." Someone else said of him that 
he was " the greatest member of Parliament since Walpole." 
Mr. Gladstone seems to have meant much the same thing 
when he declared that " Peel was the best man of business 
who was ever Prime Minister." The compliment clearly 
cannot relate to charm of manner any more than to gift 
of speech, because Peel was notoriously stiff, cold, 
and even repellent in manner. Both men were 
accomplished and versatile speakers, but neither was an 
orator. It can only relate, as it seems, to a power of 
managing the House of Commons, correctly understanding 
its temper, humouring its idiosyncrasies and piloting its 
wayward inclinations. In other words it is a form of tact, 
which in the case of a leader is perhaps the first condition 
of successful leadership. It is the particular tact that 
enables a man to make the House feel that he is of like 
temper with itself, playing the same game and observing 
its rules ; not trying selfishly to coruscate or excel, but 
putting his own contribution of talent or eloquence into 
'the common stock. Disraeli may have had this in mind 
when he wrote that "to make others feel we must feel 
ourselves, and to feel ourselves we must be natural." We 
may recall that Mr. Gladstone, who was a good judge, said 
that in the present generation Sir Edward Grey, who is 
a most impressive speaker, was the man with the real 
Parliamentary manner. 

It is a remarkable thing, possessing no necessary con- 
nection, either with the Parliamentary manner or with 

efficiency as a speaker, that so few of the 
Naders g reat Parliamentary leaders would appear to 

have been popular with their followers at the 
time. In reading the memoirs or diaries of the past we 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 61 

come across a stream of disparaging and frequently 
denunciatory criticism. Pitt was reserved and stand-off 
in manner. He never invited approach or encouraged 
acquaintance. Lord Rosebery wittily remarked that he 
turned up his nose at all mankind. Lord John Russell 
was shy and distant. He sought popularity neither with 
friend nor foe, and was accused it is a strong word of an 
offensive hauteur. Disraeli, though he paid more than one 
magnanimous tribute to Peel, and uttered the panegyric 
upon his Parliamentary abilities which I have quoted, de- 
scribed his manner as alternately haughtily stiff and exuber- 
antly bland, adding that he made no attempt to conciliate the 
rank and file, and was supposed to regard them with con- 
tempt. Disraeli himself was profoundly distrusted, not 
merely by his opponents, but by his own party, throughout 
the greater part of his career, and remained a solitary and 
shrouded figure to the end. His final popularity was 
quite independent of any intimacy of relations between his 
followers and himself. Mr. Gladstone, in his mid-career, 
was regarded as an arrogant and domineering person, and 
even in my time I often heard him accused of marching 
through the lobbies without a sign of recognition of his 
expectant and obsequious friends. On the other hand, to 
those who addressed him, or whom he addressed, he 
appeared a model of old-world courtesy. Randolph 
Churchill was a mixture of rather elaborate civility and 
an outspoken rudeness that was at times brutal. He 
could be charming and he could be outrageous. I have heard 
him consign an able and worthy follower to the nether 
regions at the top of his voice while walking through the 
Division lobby. Lord Salisbury was wrapped in a cloak 
of aloofness, and seemed to move in another world, though 
I recall his unconcealed pleasure when on one occasion a 
working man pointed to him as he was walking down Pall 
Mall and whispered audibly to his mate, " There goes the 
Old Buffer ! " I have heard analogous stories told of the 
brusqueness or indifference of leaders in more recent times. 
Almost the only Parliamentary leader against whom such 
charges were never brought were Melbourne and Palmerston. 

62 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

Both were light-hearted and rather cynical men of the 
world, and Palmerston's long ascendency was due quite as 
much to his good humour and jokes and banter as it was 
to more intellectual qualities. 

The above reflections might seem to justify the theory 
that personal charm is no part of the equipment of a 
political leader, and that if he plays his part well it does 
not matter much with what grace or acceptability he plays 
it. May we not rather seek an explanation in the foibles, 
not so much of the leader as of the led ? May he not be 
preoccupied or shy where he is thought to be proud or in- 
different ? May they not be sensitive and over-exacting ? 
After all, the popularity of a leader is usually in the same 
ratio as his success. Disraeli, who was once the suspect, 
became the idol of his party. Mr. Gladstone, from being 
taunted with arrogance, blossomed into the eventide splen- 
dour of the Grand Old Man. Popularity, in fact, comes to 
the leaders who wait long enough and do their work 
sufficiently well. 

Our retrospect will, I think, have shown us that while 

there is no reason to deplore or to apprehend a cessation 

in the vogue of fine speaking in this country, 

Modern its practice has in the passage of time taken 

audiences, on different and less ambitious forms in con- 
sonance with the more practical spirit of the 
age. Perhaps our best criterion will be to imagine the 
effect of certain of the acknowledged masterpieces of the 
past if delivered before a modern audience. Could Burke, if 
he were now living, deliver either in the House of Commons 
or before a judicial tribunal his wonderful passage about the 
descent of Hyder AH on the Carnatic ? Could a modern 
orator, if he were receiving the freedom of the borough of 
Plymouth, point to the men-of-war lying in the harbour 
and say, as Canning did, in language of almost sublime 
grandeur : 

"You well know, gentlemen, how soon one of these stupendous 
masses, now reposing on those shadows in perfect stillness how soon 
upon any call of patriotism or necessity, it would assume the likeness 
of an animated thing, instinct with life and motion ; how soon it 
would ruffle, as it were, its swelling plumage, how quickly would it put 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 63 

forth all its beauty and its bravery, collect its scattered elements of 
strength and awaken its dormant thunder." 

If it be said that a Burke or a Canning could do it, the 
answer must be that we have neither a Burke nor a 
Canning, and that one shudders to think of any inferior 
professor attempting the task. In America it would be 
undertaken with confidence, even if it were not achieved 
with ease. But there the rhetoric assumes a more glowing 
guise ; and though we are told that Mr. Bryan obtained the 
Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the U.S. in 
1896 by the sentence, in relation to the free coinage of 
silver : 

" You shall not press down on the brow of labour this crown of 
thorns ; you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold " 

to us the triumph is inexplicable, and we feel somehow 
that the arrow has glanced off the mark. 

In one respect modern speaking has undoubtedly gained 
as compared with that of an earlier time. Complaints are 

frequently made that speeches are too long 
of anc j t ^at ^g worst offenders are the occupants 

of the Front Benches. They seldom speak 
for less than one hour and often longer. The conventional 
speech of the star orator on a public platform is never less 
than an hour in length. I will not presume to say whether 
the same result could be better attained in forty-five or in 
fifty minutes ; that is as it may be. What I do wish to 
make clear is that the present length is modesty itself 
compared with the performances of our ancestors. Chatham 
is usually said to have started the fashion of two to three 
hours' speeches. The practice was continued by his son and 
by the great champions of that day. Perhaps an excuse for 
it may be found in the fact that the great speakers were so 
few, the majority of the House of Commons being inarticu- 
late, and consequently there were not enough speeches 
to go round. Fox and Pitt were very much in the position 
of two expert billiard players engaged in an exhibition 
match of so much " up." If one player made a break of 
five hundred, the other was expected to retaliate with at 

64 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

least an equivalent score ; and the audience were there to 
applaud and to bet on the result. 

Anyhow the tradition grew up that length and eloquence 
were inseparable, and we find that the majority of the great 
speeches of the late Georgian and even the early Victorian 
epochs were from three to four hours in duration. Sheridan's 
speech on the Begums of Oude was five hours and forty 
minutes in length ; Burke frequently spoke for between 
three and four hours. Brougham's speech on Law Reform 
in the House of Commons in February, 1828, lasted for 
six hours ; and it was of the well-known occasion when he 
sank on his knees in the House of Lords and implored the 
Peers to pass the Reform Bill of 1831 that Lord Campbell 
sarcastically remarked : 

"The peroration was partly inspired by draughts of mulled port, 
imbibed by him very copiously towards the conclusion of the four 
hours during which he was on his legs or on his knees." 

Mr. Gladstone, in introducing the Budget of 1853, spoke 
for five hours. Lord Palmerston's celebrated Don Pacifico 
speech in June, 1850, spoken, as Mr. Gladstone somewhat 
hyperbolically remarked, " from the dusk of one day to the 
dawn of the next," and delivered without the aid of a note 
assuredly one of the most astonishing feats in the 
history of the British Parliament occupied four hours and 
forty minutes. Some of Mr. Lowe's Reform Bill speeches 
were from two to three hours in duration. 

Have we not, therefore, amid many symptoms of 
decline, one ground for honest congratulation in our 
increasing self-restraint ? Cobden and Bright once sup- 
ported a resolution that no one should speak for more 
than an hour. Latter-day reformers have attempted to 
fix the limit at twenty minutes. The two Front Benches 
are fellow conspirators in resisting any such reform. But 
the movement towards greater conciseness that has already 
set in spontaneously may be expected to make progress 
even if the House of Commons declines to accelerate it by 
arbitrary restrictions. 

Many of the orators whom we have discussed had 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 65 

seats successively in the two Houses of Parliament ; and it 
Influence of seems to be widely thought that the House 
House of Lords of Lords has had a chilling and deteriorating 
on oratory. j n fl uence U p O n eloquence that glowed and 
flourished in the more stimulating atmosphere of the 
Lower Chamber. Chatham, it has been said, lost his 
power by going to the House of Lords ; Walpole spoke 
there infrequently and with reluctance ; Brougham de- 
clined in influence after he attained the Woolsack ; 
Macaulay never spoke at all after becoming a Peer. 
The inference, which is probably in any case fallacious, 
does not seem to be borne out by the experience of 
our time. Lord Derby, the Prime Minister, lost nothing 
by going to the House of Lords. Indeed he was called up 
to it with his own consent seven years before he succeeded 
to the*^arldom. The late Lord Salisbury's peculiar gifts 
of speech, which might have been thought especially suited 
to the Commons, were equally effective in the Lords. The 
Duke of Argyll deliberately preferred that House to any 
other audience. Certain well-known speakers in our own 
day, I may instance Lords St. Aldwyn, Loreburn, and 
Haldane, have spoken even better in the Upper Chamber 
than they did in the House of Commons. It is impossible 
to say what Lord Rosebery's eloquence might have 
achieved in the Lower House, where it was never heard. 
But no one can say that in the Upper House it has been 
deprived either of a worthy stage, or an admiring audience. 
The House of Commons could hardly have made a better 
or more finished debater of the present Lord Lansdowne. 
It is true that to a man accustomed to the electric atmos- 
phere of the Lower Chamber, with its cheering and 
counter-cheering and all the excitement of a popular 
assembly, the still and motionless firrflament of the Upper 
House, with its austere silences and its rare murmurs 
of Olympian applause, is like exchanging the temperature 
of a stokehole for that of a refrigerating chamber. But 
the freedom from interruption, the perfect fairness of the 
audience, and the hushed serenity of the scene, are com- 
pensations by no means to be despised. On the whole, 


66 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

while granting that in a democratic age a seat in one 
chamber may mean power and in the other comparative 
extinction, there seems to be no reason for believing that 
eloquence itself need be affected by the translation. 
Though the range of influence may be restricted, the 
quality of the art need not decline. 

Disraeli in an enigmatic passage in the " Young Duke," 
said that there were two distinct styles of speaking 

required by the two Chambers. " I intend," 
The two styles, he added, " in the course of my career, if I 

have time, to give a specimen of both. In 
the Lower House ' Don Juan ' may perhaps be our model, 
in the Upper House ' Paradise Lost.' " His own House 
of Commons speeches had certainly much of the licence 
of the former parallel. But greatly as I respect the House 
of Peers, I have never heard anything in it, even from Lord 
Beaconsfield, that remotely resembled " Paradise Lost." 

It would be interesting to pursue the study of the rival 
methods of eloquence in Parliament and at the Bar, and to 

inquire how far forensic triumph has been 

Parliamentary t h e prelude to Parliamentary success. With 
career of , . , . 

lawyers. every election more and more lawyers enter 

the House of Commons ; as someone said, 
they are usually birds of passage there, on their way to 
some more permanent resting-place ; but they are very 
much to the fore in debate; important and lucrative offices 
are open exclusively to them, and, as the careers of 
Mr. Asquith and Sir E. Carson have shown, the prizes of 
political leadership are within their grasp. There seems 
to be a general impression that lawyers are not generally 
successful or popular in the House of Commons, and that 
the abilities which may have won fame in cross-examining 
witnesses or winning verdicts from juries are not those 
suited to Parliamentary debate. This is a generalisation 
which instances might be found to support. Erskine, who 
was incomparable in the Law Courts, was a compara- 
tive failure in the House of Commons. In our own 
days Sir Charles Russell never achieved in the House 
anything approaching the triumphs which rarely failed 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 67 

him at the Bar. The same might be said of Sir Francis 
Lockvvood, of Sir Horace (afterwards Lord) Davey, of 
Mr. Henry Matthews (afterwards Lord Llandaff), and 
of other cases even more recent. If there be such a law 
or even tendency, the explanation may perhaps lie partly 
in the fact that lawyers only come down to the House 
when their day's work is over and they are relatively 
tired. But it also lies in the different nature of the 
problems they approach, and the audiences they address. 
The House of Commons dislikes that which is didactic, and 
recoils from that which is dull. It never quite forgave hair- 
splitting, even when it was Mr. Gladstone's foible. It will 
not accept it as the armoury of smaller men. Possibly also 
the House is a little suspicious of professions other than its 
own. These, however, may be fanciful suggestions, and 
recent experiences seem to point to an extension of the 
influence achieved by lawyers in the House of Commons. 
Moreover, I recall that one of the most remarkable speeches 
made in the House of Commons in my time was that 
in which Sir E. Clarke, following immediately after Mr. 
Gladstone's speech in introducing the Home Rule Bill 
of 1893, dissected and answered it point by point with 
astonishing brilliancy and force. Sir E. Clarke was said to 
have been equally prepared for any one of two or three 
other alternative schemes that Mr. Gladstone might have 
produced. But in any case it was a wonderful performance. 
The Upper House is that in which forensic abilities have 
as a rule found a more congenial field, and the Woolsack 
has been occupied by many great lawyers who were also 
great speakers. Among these during the past century may 
be mentioned the names of Eldon, Brougham, Lyndhurst, 
and Cairns. 

A number of questions have been suggested by our 

inquiry to which I may endeavour to give an answer. 

Are great speakers generally nervous, and if 

Nervousness so does their nervousness detract from their 
of speakers. 

speaking ? I nave mentioned one or two 

cases in the course of this narrative. Mr. Gladstone, in 
answer to the same query, once said that he was frequently 

F 2 

68 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

nervous in opening, but never in reply. John Bright was 
intensely nervous at starting. Bishop Wilberforce confessed 
to being nervous even in the pulpit. I doubt if any good 
speaker can plead immunity from nerves, or has any clear 
idea, before he begins, whether he is going to make a good 
speech, a bad speech, or an indifferent speech. This 
applies, of course, much more to Parliament than to the 
platform, where the conditions are more stable, and can be 
more safely predicted. In Parliament so much turns on 
the accident of the moment, the temper of the House, 
the number present, the speeches that have preceded. The 
nervousness of the inexperienced speaker who is waiting 
to begin is visible in his manner and movements, but even 
the " old hand " is often some time before he warms to his 
task. A speaker who has no nerves will probably never 
attain to the first rank of Parliamentary orators which 
perhaps may explain why the hero of the platform is so often 
a failure in the House. On the other hand, I doubt if any 
considerable speaker is nervous when he has once gained 
the ear of his audience, while the expert debater, so far 
from feeling apprehensive, looks forward with eager ex- 
pectancy to his reply. 

Another question may be put : Is an orator greatly 
assisted by grace of manner, voice, and action, and is he 
correspondingly handicapped by an uncomely 
Appearance Qr jg nOD i e appearance, harsh accents, inelegant 
gestures, or unconscious tricks ? A priori there 
can be but one answer to these questions ; and, in the art of 
great orators like Chatham, Gladstone, Daniel O'Connell, 
or Bright, it is clear that a large part was played by the 
splendour or harmony of their physical endowment. On 
the other hand genius is beyond and above the law ; 
and far more common than the spectacle of eloquence 
reinforced by grace of manner or dignity of person, is 
that of the orator triumphing over physical obstacles or 
mannerisms that might be thought fatal to success. Burke 
was angular and awkward in his gestures ; Mirabeau was 
ugly almost beyond words. Pitt used to saw the air with 
his arms like a windmill ; Abraham Lincoln was gaunt 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 69 

and dishevelled, and, until excited, spoke with a shrill and 
piping voice ; Grattan indulged in very violent gestures 
and swayed his body to and fro, till " at last his genius 
carried all before it, and, as in the oracles of old, the con- 
tortions vanished as the inspiration became manifest." 
Peel, though gifted with a very handsome presence, had 
a trick of putting his hands under his coat tails while 
speaking which somewhat detracted from his dignity. 
Lord Macaulay went off at the speed of an express train, 
his action was ungainly, and his voice loud and without 
modulation. Sheil not only screamed, but did it in almost 
unintelligible accents. Lord John Russell was notoriously 

Two things are clear. With the decline of oratory, all 
attempts to make a study of action, manner, or even 
delivery, have been abandoned. Secondly, as speaking 
becomes less dramatic and more business-like, even un- 
studied action falls every day into greater disuse. The 
foreigner who is accustomed to see a French or Italian orator 
declaiming in the tribune, rushing up and down, waving his 
arms, beating the desk, and throwing his body into violent 
postures, is astonished at the spectacle of the English 
Parliamentarian standing almost motionless at the table, 
his hands clinging to the lapels of his coat, or perhaps 
toying with a pince-nez, his most violent action being in 
all probability a mild castigation of the brass-bound box 
in front of him. As to what would happen if a British 
orator indulged in the supplosio pedis, or stamping of the 
feet, which was one of the most restrained of the gestures 
prescribed in the Greek school of rhetoric, I shudder to 

The answer then appears to be that orators make their 
own gestures ; that gesture of any sort is dying out ; and 
that while a great orator is doubtless aided by a handsome 
exterior and graceful action, it does not matter very much 
even if he happens to be ugly and awkward. Anyone who 
saw or heard the late Bishop Magee would realise how 
little dependent upon physical accessories it is possible for 
successful orators to be. 

70 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

It almost goes without saying from what has passed that 
the peroration, in the sense of the rhetorical summing-up 
of a speech, with peculiar attention to thought, 
Perorations, diction, and form, is dying also. Or rather 
for speakers must end somehow, and it is 
well to round off a speech with a sentence that has some 
regard both to euphony and grammar the short staccato 
peroration is taking the place of the long and rolling 
periods of our ancestors which followed each other to the 
finale, like Atlantic breakers breaking in foam and thunder 
on the beach. In those days the audience looked eagerly 
for the premonitory signs of the peroration, because there 
the orator would crystallise his argument, allow his fancy 
to take final wing, and appeal to the spiritual part of his 
hearers. Now it is to be feared that they are, as a rule, 
awaited as a timely signal of the approaching end. I do 
not know a single living speaker, with the possible excep- 
tion of Lord Hugh Cecil, who perorates in Parliament as 
did Gladstone and Bright. The platform peroration of a sort 
still lingers in the mouths of those who conclude by adjuring 
their hearers to hand down undiminished to posterity this 
great Empire, etc., etc. But with this exception, which is 
purely conventional, the peroration is almost obsolete, and 
as it is, or was, the last part of a speech to be delivered, so 
does it appear to be the last feature of the art of rhetoric 
that is likely to be revived. Dr. Hornby, Headmaster of 
Eton in my day, who was one of the most finished after- 
dinner speakers that I ever heard, and who always left his 
audience in doubt as to how far his art was impromptu or 
prepared, said to a friend of mine, " Above all things, take 
special pains about your peroration you never know how 
soon you may require it." But I suspect that in this witty 
remark he was providing a prescription for sitting down 
with dignity rather than for finishing with eloquence. 

In common with perorations, and other literary graces, 

I cannot help thinking that phrase-making 

Phrase-making. the art in which Disraeli excelled and 

the faculty of repartee, have also declined. 

The former, which is rarely spontaneous, is no doubt dis- 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 71 

appearing along with other symptoms of prepared effort. 
Randolph Churchill pursued this branch of the art in rather 
a vulgar style. " Vineries and pineries," and " an old man in 
a hurry," were characteristic specimens. Lord Salisbury 
dropped naturally into literary epigram or alliteration, as 
when he spoke of the " dreary drip of dilatory declama- 
tion." But this was not high art. Mr. Gladstone's phrases 
"dim and distant future," "a strategical movement to the 
rear," " Political Economy banished to Saturn," " the re- 
sources of civilisation not exhausted," etc., were destitute of 
literary merit, and were, as a rule, political weapons forged 
by himself but turned against him by his opponents. John 
Morley's " mending or ending " was a useful jingle, but 
hardly a phrase. We have fallen, in later times, to the 
level of " terminological inexactitude " and " rare and 
refreshing fruit," which are not literary nuggets but political 
tags. The Parliamentary or platform speaking of the last 
twenty-five years has, I believe, not thrown up a single 
phrase that is destined to survive. I was myself the author 
of one when I described the function of the Foreign Press 
correspondent as " the intelligent anticipation of events 
before they occur." But, though I see it frequently quoted, 
I can detect no merit in the saying. 

I have searched my memory to think if in the same 
period there have been any notable illustrations of that which 

is the most useful subsidiary adjunct of Par- 
Repartee. liamentary eloquence, viz., retort and repartee- 

Mr. Gladstone once said that the finest 
repartee that he had ever heard in the House of Commons 
was the reply of Lord John Russell to Sir Francis Burdett, 
who, after turning Tory and joining the Carlton Club, had 
sneered at the cant of patriotism. " I quite agree," replied 
Lord John, " that the cant of patriotism is a bad thing. 
But I can tell him a worse, namely, the recant of patriotism." 
To my mind one of the readiest and at the same time 
most finished examples of Parliamentary repartee that 
were ever heard in the House of Commons, was the retort 
of Sir Robert Peel in 1848 to Feargus O'Connor, who, 
charged with being a Republican, had denied it, and said 

72 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

that he did not care whether the Queen or the Devil was 
on the throne. Peel replied : 

"When the Hon. Member sees the Sovereign of his choice on the 
throne of these realms, I hope he will enjoy, as I am sure he will 
deserve, the confidence of the Crown." 

No such gem as this can be discovered in the Parlia- 
mentary diggings of the past quarter of a century, and I 
am driven to wonder whether the art has perished or 
whether we are merely degenerate men. 

Irr Parliamentary memoirs frequent reference is made to 
the maiden speeches of orators who afterwards became 

famous, and the diarist is apt to read into his 
speeches. own recollection an anticipation of the fame 

that was to be. I have heard a great many 
maiden speeches, and I once made one. Nothing can 
exceed the generosity of the two Houses on such an 
occasion. Men hurry in to cheer the performance of the 
youthful novice, or even of the man who has entered the 
House in middle life. Any symptoms of promise are 
eagerly welcomed and generously exaggerated, and the 
speaker, if successful, finds a warm welcome on his next 
appearance. But the conditions under which the maiden 
speech is delivered are such as to deprive it of any real 
value as a test of ability or merit, and most of the stories, 
whether of success or failure (and this applies even to the 
famous case of Disraeli), should be subject to a very con- 
siderable discount. Occasionally, a maiden speech turns 
out to be an epitome of qualities or talents that designate 
the speaker to impending fame. In recent years, the most 
conspicuous case of this was the maiden speech of Mr. 
F. E. Smith, the prelude to many subsequent triumphs 
both in the House and on the platform. 

In this long review of the Parliamentary achievements of 
the past, the question may be asked whether any speech or 

speeches appear to stand out as the best and 
mastertitces most P er ^ ect examples of the art whose many 

phases I have examined. It is as impossible 
to say with confidence of any speech that it was the best 
ever made, or made in a particular period or country, as to 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 73 

say that any one day was the finest day in the year, or 

any piece of scenery the finest in this or that continent. 

Three speeches, however, in the English language have 

always appeared to me to emerge with a superiority which, 

if not indisputable, will perhaps not be seriously disputed 

much in the same way as the Funeral Oration of Pericles 

was generally allowed to be the masterpiece of the ancient 

world. Two of them just fall within the period that we 

have passed in review, but were not made in England or 

by an Englishman. The third was made or is said to 

have been made (because there is some doubt as to the 

actual words) by an Englishman half a century earlier. 

Ten weeks before Pitt died, his health was drunk at the 

Lord Mayor's Dinner, after the victory of 

William x ra f a ig ar) as the Saviour of Europe. The 

dying man responded in these memorable 

and immortal terms : 

" I return you many thanks for the honour you have done me. But 
Europe is not to be saved by any single man. England has saved 
herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her 

Abraham Lincoln was the author of both the other 

speeches. Everyone knows them, they are part of the 

intellectual patrimony of the English-speaking 

Abraham race -g ut ^ Q y ma y Qnce a g a j n ac j m it o f 

repetition here, as a model and an inspiration. 
At the Gettysburg Cemetery on November iQth, 1863, he 
thus spoke : 

" Fellow countrymen Four score and seven years ago, our fathers 
brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, 
and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

" Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that 
nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 
We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to 
dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who 
here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fit 
and proper that we should do this. 

" But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, 
we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who 
struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add 
or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we 
say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the 
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they 
who fought here have thus so far nobly advanced. It is rather for us 

74 Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 

to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us ; that from 
these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for 
which they gave the last full measure of devotion ; that we here highly 
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ; that this nation, 
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom ; and that government 
of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the 
earth." 1 

Pitt's speech occupied only a few seconds in delivery, 
Lincoln's less than three minutes : and yet where are the 
world-famed pages, the crowded hours of rhetoric, com- 
pared with these? At Gettysburg, Edward Everett, the 
orator, had been set down to make the great oration, and 
he made it ; Lincoln was merely introduced for " a few 
remarks " at the close of the proceedings. But the oration 
is forgotten and the remarks will live for ever. 

The Second Inaugural Address of the same speaker, 
delivered at Washington on March 4th, 1865, a month 
before his assassination, contained this famous passage 
about the causes and issue of the Civil War : 

" If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offences 
which in the Providence of God must needs come, but which, having 
continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and 
that he gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe 
due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern there any 
departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living 
God always ascribe to him ? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we 
pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if 
God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's 
250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of 
blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn by the 
sword, then, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said that 
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." 2 

1 The story has often been told that these words were hastily 
scribbled by Lincoln on a sheet of paper as he went in a tramcar to 
the cemetery. I was assured by his son that the story is without 
foundation. The speech was composed at the White House before 
Lincoln started from Washington, and committed to memory. The 
published version was written out after he returned. 

2 Lincoln was equally good at improvised invective and retort. 
Replying at a mass meeting to a speaker who had changed his 
politics and been rewarded with a post, for the discharge of the duties 
of which he had acquired a fine house and set up a lightning con- 
ductor on the roof, Lincoln, whom the turncoat had taunted with his 
youth, said, " I am not so young in years as I am in the tricks and 
trade of the politician. But whether I live long or die young, I would 
rather die now than change my politics for an office worth $3,000 a 
year, and have to erect a lightning rod over my house to protect my 
conscience from an offended God." 

Modern Parliamentary Eloquence 75 

Neither of these passages was extemporaneous. Both 
were written in advance ; one was recited and the other 
read. They violate the canons, therefore, of those who 
apply the test of improvisation to oratory. I quote them 
here because they seem to me to represent better 
than any explanation or definition could do that which is 
not rhetoric nor declamation, nor even sermonising, but the 
purest gold of human eloquence, nay, of eloquence almost 
divine. Either could be delivered, if a man capable of 
composing and delivering them were to exist, in any 
assemblage, before any audience, at any time of the 
modern world's history, without a suggestion of artifice or 
incongruity, with an effect inexorably sure and eternally 
true. They were uttered by a man who had been a 
country farmer and a district lawyer before he became a 
statesman. But they are among the glories and the 
treasures of mankind. I escape the task of deciding which 
is the masterpiece of modern English eloquence by award- 
ing the prize to an American. 


ADDISON quoted, 34 

Alcibiades, 33 

Aldwyn, Viscount, 65 

Argyll, Duke of, 32-33, 65 

Aristotle, 2, 5 

Asquith, H. H., n, 45-47, 66 

Atterbury, Bishop, 20 

BACON, Francis, 6 

Balfour, A. J., 6, 17, 25, 30, 43-45, 


Birrell, A., 58 
Bolingbroke, Viscount, 6 
Bradlaugh, Charles, 25, 54-55 
Bright, John, 5, 12, 16, 17, 18, 30- 

32, 52, 57, 64, 68, 70 
Brougham, Lord, 18, 19, 64, 65, 67 
Bryan, R. J., 63 
Burdett, Sir F., 9, 71 
Burke, Edmund, 5, 7, 8, 62, 64, 68 
Burns, John, 55 
Butcher, S. H., 58 
Butler, Dr. H. M., I 
Byron, Lord, quoted, 7 

CAIRNS, Earl, 54, 67 
Campbell, Lord, quoted, 64 
Canning, George, 8, 9, n, 19, 21, 

40, 62, 63 
Carson, Sir E., 66 
Castlereagh, Viscount, 21 
Cecil, Lord Hugh, 48-50, 70 
Chamberlain, Joseph, 35, 37, 39-40 
Chatham, Earl of (W. Pitt), 6, 8, 12, 

14, 18, 23, 63, 65, 68 
Churchill, Lord Randolph, 15, 37-38, 

61, 71 

Churchill, Winston, 47-48 
Cicero, 8, I r 
Clarke, Sir E., 67 
Classics, study of, 8, 1 1 
Cobden, Richard, 28, 52, 64 
Courtney, Lord, 58 
Cowen, Joseph, 57 
Cowley, Abraham, quoted, 54 

Creighton, Bishop, 59 
Curran, T. B., 50 

DAVKY, Sir H. (Lord Davey), 67 
Democracy, Eloquence in a, 23 
Demosthenes, II 
Derby, I4th Earl of, 52, 65 
Derby, I5th Earl of, 52 
Devonshire, Duke of, 36-37 
Disraeli, B. (Earl of Beaconsfield), 
11, 12, 27-30, 33, 35, 38, 56, 60, 
70, 72 ; quoted, 2, 9, 25, 58, 60, 
61, 62, 66 

EIGHTEENTH Century oratory, 8-14 
Eldon, Earl of, 67 
Ellenborough, Lord, 32 
Eloquence, conditions of modern, 8, 


Eloquence, meaning of, 2-4 
Empire, British, Lord Rosebery on, 


Erskine, Lord, 20, 66 
Everett, Edward, 74 
Extempore speaking, 17-20, 44 

FAWCETT, Professor, 58 

Forensic eloquence, 20 

Forster, W. E., 25, 53 

Fowler, H. E. (Viscount Wolver- 

hampton), 22 
Fox, Charles James, 6, 7, 9, II, 12, 

14, 18, 63 

Garrison, W. Lloyd, 31 
George, D. Lloyd, 15, 23 
Gesture in speaking, 68-69 
Gladstone, W. E., 6, II, 12, 16, 
22, 23-27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 

37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 5, 54, 55, 60, 
61, 62, 64, 67, 70, 71 
Goschen, G. J. (Viscount Goschen), 

Grattan, Henry, n, 19, 23, 50, 69 


Greek oratory, 2, 3, 69 
Grey, Sir Edward, 60 

HALDANE, Viscount, 65 
Harcourt, Sir W., 12, 33-34 
Hardy, Gathorne (Earl of Cranbrook), 


Hastings, Warren, 7 
Healy, Timothy, 51 
Horace, 8 

Hornby, Dr. H., 70 
House of Commons, character of, 9, 

II, 13, 16 
House of Lords, eloquence in, 65 

IRISH eloquence, 49-51 
Isocrates, 5 

JEBB, Professor R. C., 2, 19, 55, 


Jonson, Ben, 6 
Juvenal, 8 

KNIGHTLKY, Sir R., 34 

LABOUCHERE, Henry, 25, 58 

Lamartine, 16 

Lansdowne, Marquis of, 65 

Lang, Archbishop, 59 

Law, A. Bonar, 47 

Lawson, Sir Wilfrid, 28, 57 

Lecky, W. H., 58 

Lincoln, Abraham, 18, 23, 68, 73- 


Lock wood, Sir F., 67 

Loreburn, Earl, 65 

Lowe, Robert (Viscount Sherbrooke), 

56, 64 

Lyndhurst, Lord, 56, 67 
Lyttelton, Alfred, 46 
Lytton, Sir E. Bulwer, 51, 56 

MACAU LAY, T. B (Lord Macaulay), 

5, 19, 22, 40, 65, 69 
Macdonald, Ramsay, 23 
Machiavelli quoted, 5 
Magee, Bishop, 59, 69 
Maiden speeches, 72 
Manners, Lord John, 28 
Manners, Parliamentary, 60-6 1 
Mansfield, Lord, 20 
Matthews, H enry( Viscount Llandaff), 


Melbourne, Viscount, 61 
Mill, John Stuart, 58 
Milton, John, 3 
Mirabeau, 3, 16, 68 
Moore, T. , quoted, 26 

Morley, John (Viscount), 6, 25, 40, 

NERVOUSNESS in speaking, 67-68 
North, Lord, 12 

O'CoNNELL, Daniel, 14, 16, 50, 55, 


O'Connor, Feargus, 71 
Oratory, meaning of, 2, 4, 5 
Osborne, Bernal, 58 

PALMERSTON, Viscount, 61, 64 
Parliamentary manner, the, 59 
Parnell, C. S., 50 
Peel, Arthur W. (Viscount Peel), 53- 


Peel, Sir Robert, 27, 53, 60, 71, 72 
Peel, Sir Robert (junior), 54, 72 
Percy, Earl, II 
Pericles, 3, 33, 73 
Perorations, 70 
Phrases in oratory, 29, 70 
Pitt, William, 5, 7, 8, 9, II, 12, 14, 

18, 61, 63, 68, 73, 74 
Platform oratory, 15-16, 23, 38, 54 
Plunket, David (Lord Rathmore), 


Plunket, Lord, 22, 50 
Pope quoted, 34 
Press, influence of, 14 
Professors in Parliament, 58-59 

QUOTATIONS, Classical, 8, n, 12, 

REDMOND, John, 51 

Repartee, 71-72 

Reporting, effect of, 14 

Rhetoric, 2 

Rhetoricians, the, 55~57 

Rosebery, Earl of, 41-43, 65 ; quoted, 

14, 61 
Russell, Sir Charles (Lord Russell), 

66, 71 

Russell, G. W., 31 
Russell, Lord John (Earl), 9, 61, 69, 

ST. ALDWYN, Viscount, 6c 
Salisbury, Marquis of, 34-36, 47 6l, 

65, 7i 

Saunderson, Col., 58 
Savonarola, 5, 30 
Scott, Sir W., quoted, 5 
Sexton, Thomas, 50-51 
Shakespeare, 12 
Shell, R. L., 55-56, 69 



Sheridan, R. B., 7, 19, 64 

Smith, F. E., 72 

Smyth, P. J., 57 

Smythe, George (Viscount Strang- 

ford), 57 
Snowden, P., 23 
Socrates, 33 
Sophocles, ii 

TAIT, Archbishop, 59 
Temple, Sir R., 51 

Thucydides, 3, 8 

WALLACE, Dr. R., 58 
Walpole, Sir Robert, 60, 65 
Webster, Daniel, 5 
Wellington, Duke of, 21 
Wilberforce, Bishop S., 59, 68 
Wilberforce, W., 7, 20, 22 
Windham, W., 15, 18 




Curzon PR 

Modern parliamentary eloquence ,C8