Irvah Lester Winter
Part 2 out of 7
verses by "reading them ill-favoredly." He will know the value of words
that have been so far sought, and may not slur over them; he may feel
the sound of a line formed to suggest a sound in nature. He will know
that a meter has been carefully worked out, and that, in the reading,
that meter is of the spirit of the poem; it is not to be disregarded.
Likewise he will appreciate the place of rhyme, and may not try so to
cover it up as entirely to lose its effect. In humorous verse,
especially, rhyme plays an effective part; and in all verse,
alliteration, variations in melody, the lighter and the heavier touch,
acceleration and retard in movement, the caesura, or pause in the line,
and the happy effect of the occasional cadence, are features which one
can come to appreciate and respect only with reading one's favorite
poems many times, with spirit warm, with faculties alert.
THE MAKING OF THE SPEECH
Although the use of selected speeches is best for effective drill in
delivery, yet a student's training for public speaking is of course not
complete until he has had experience in applying his acquired skill to
the presenting of his own thought. Thinking and speaking should be made
one operation. The principles of composition for the public speech
belong to a separate work. A few hints only can be given here, and
these will be concerned with the informal, offhand speech rather than
with the formal address.
The usual directions regarding the choosing of the subject, the
collecting of material, and the arranging of it in the most effective
order, with exceptions and variations, hold in all forms of the speech.
The subject chosen should be one of special interest to the speaker,
one on which it is known he can speak with some degree of authority,
because of his personal study of it, or because of his having had
exceptional personal relations with it. It must also be, because of the
nature of it, or because of some special treatment, of particular
interest to the audience to be addressed. Either new, out-of-the-way
subjects, or new, fresh phases of old subjects are usually interesting.
The subject must be limited in its comprehensiveness to suit the time
allowed for speaking, and the title of the speech should be so phrased
as to indicate exactly what the subject, or the part of a subject, is
to be. To this carefully limited and defined subject, the speaker
should rigidly adhere.
How to find a subject is generally a topic on which students are
advised. Though it is often a necessity to hunt for a suitable special
topic on which to speak, the student should know that when he gets
outside the classroom, he will find that he will not be invited to
speak because he is ready at finding subjects and clever in speech. It
is not strange, in view of the many advertisements that reach young
men, offering methods of home training, or promising sure success from
this or that special method of schooling, that they may come to believe
that any one has only to learn to stand up boldly on a platform, and
with voice and gesture exercise some mysterious sort of magical control
over an audience, and his success as an orator is secure. They will
find that their time and money have been wasted, so far as public
speaking is concerned, unless, having at the start some native ability,
they have secured, in addition, a kind of training that is fundamental.
A man is wanted as a speaker primarily because he stands for something;
because he has done some noteworthy work. His subjects for discussion
arise out of his personal interests, and, to a large extent, his method
of treatment will be determined by his relation to these subjects. A
young man may well be advised, then, not simply how to choose and how
to present a subject, but first to secure a good mental training, and
then to find for himself an all-absorbing work to do. The wisdom that
comes from a concentrated intellectual activity, and an interest in
men's affairs, both directed to some unselfish end, is the essential
qualification of the speaker.
In considering the arrangement of a speech, the student will do well to
ask himself first, not what is to be the beginning of it, but what is
to be the end of it; what is the purpose of it; and what shall be the
central idea; what impression, or what principal thought or thoughts,
shall be left with the audience. When this is determined, then a way of
working out this central idea or of working up to it--in a short
speech, by a few points only--must be carefully and thoroughly planned.
Extemporaneous speaking is putting spontaneously into words what has
previously been well thought out and well arranged. Without this state
of preparation, the way of wisdom is silence.
The language of a speech is largely determined by the man's habit of
mind, the nature of his subject, and the character of his audience.
Students often err in one of two directions, either by being too
bookish in language or by allowing the other extreme of looseness, weak
colloquialism in words, and formless monotony of sentence, with the
endless repetition of the connective "and." Language should be fresh,
vital, varied. It should have some dignity. Much reading, writing, and
speaking are necessary to secure an adequate vocabulary, and a
readiness in putting in firm form a variety of sentences. Concreteness
of expression and occasional illustration are more needed in speech
than in writing, and the brief anecdote or story is welcome and useful
if there is room for it, and if it comes unbidden, by virtue of its
fitness and spontaneity, and is not drawn in by the ears for half-
hearted service. The inevitable story at the opening of an after-dinner
speech might often be spared. Although a good story is in itself
enjoyable, yet when a speaker feels that he must make one fit into the
speech, whether or no, by applying it to himself or his subject or the
occasion, the effect is often very unhappy. A man is best guided in
these things simply by being true, by being sincere rather than artful.
On this same principle, a student may need some advice with regard to
his spirit and manner in giving expression to his own ideas before an
audience. He need not, as students often seem to think they must,
appear to have full knowledge or final judgment on the largest of
subjects. It is more fitting that he should speak as a student, an
inquirer, not as an authority. If his statements are guarded and
qualified; if he speaks as one only inclined to an opinion when
finality of judgment is obviously beyond his reach; if he directly
refers, and defers, to opinions that must be better than his can be,
his speech will have much more weight, and he will grow in strength of
character by always being true to himself. It is a question whether
students are not too often inspired to be bold and absolute, for the
sake of apparent strength in speaking, rather than modest and judicious
and sensible, for the sake of being strong as men.
In the form of delivering one's thought to an audience, it is of the
first importance that one should speak and not declaim. There is, of
course, a way of talking on the platform that is merely negatively
good, a way that is fitting enough in general style, but weak. There
should be breadth, and strength, and reach. But this does not mean any
necessity of sending forth pointless successive sentences over the
heads of an audience. A college president recently said, "Our boys
declaim a good deal, though they're not so bad as they used to be. It
seems to me," he added, "that the idea is to say something to your
audience." That is what a teacher must be continually insisting on,
that the student say something to somebody, not chant or declaim into
space. And the student should be continually testing himself on this
point, whether he is looking into the faces of his hearers and
speaking, though on a larger scale, yet in the usual way of
It is not desirable that men should become overready speakers. Methods
of training in extemporaneous discussion that require speaking without
thought, on anything or nothing that can be at the moment invented, are
likely to be mischievous. Thought suggests expression, and exact
thought will find fit form. Sound thinking is the main thing. Practice
for mere fluency tends to the habit of superficial thinking, and
produces the wearisome, endless talker. In this connection emphasis may
be laid upon the point of ending a speech when its purpose is
accomplished, and that as soon as can be. Many speeches are spoiled by
the last third or quarter of them, when a point well made has lost its
effect by being overenforced or obscured by a wordy conclusion. Let the
student study for rare thought and economy of speech.
Books on speaking have repeatedly insisted that after all has been
said, the public speaker's word will be taken for what he is known to
be worth as a man; that his utterances will have effect according as
they are given out with soul-felt earnestness. This has already been
touched upon here, and it is well that it should be often repeated. It
may be well, however, also to consider quite carefully what part is
played in men's efforts by the element of skill. Of two equally worthy
and equally earnest men, the man of the superior skill, acquired by
persistent training in method, will be the stronger man, the man who
will be of more service to his fellows. More than this, inasmuch as
public men can seldom be perfectly known or judged as to character, and
may often, for a time at least, deceive, it is quite possible that the
unscrupulous man with great skill will, at some moment of crisis, make
the worse appear to be the better cause. Equally skilled men are
therefore wanted to contend for the side of right. The man whose
service to men depends largely upon his power of speech--in the pulpit,
at the bar, or in non-professional capacity--must have, either from
gift or from training, the speaker's full equipment, for matching
himself against opposing strength.
For convenience of practice, a few pages of brief exercises,
exemplifying the foregoing principles, are given at the end of the
book. By using each day one example in each group, and changing from
time to time, the student will have sufficient variety to serve
indefinitely. This vocal practice may be made a healthful and
pleasurable daily exercise.
ESTABLISHING THE TONE
From "The Cotter's Saturday Night"
BY ROBERT BURNS
O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
And oh! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
From luxury's contagion, weak and vile!
Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent,
A virtuous populace may rise the while,
And stand a wall of fire around their much-loved isle.
O Thou! who poured the patriotic tide,
That streamed through Wallace's undaunted heart,
Who dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride,
Or nobly die, the second glorious part,
(The patriot's God, peculiarly Thou art,
His friend, inspirer, guardian and reward!)
Oh never, never, Scotia's realm desert;
But still the patriot, and the patriot bard,
In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!
O ROME! MY COUNTRY!
From "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
BY LORD BYRON
O Rome! my country! city of the soul!
The orphans of the heart must turn to thee,
Lone mother of dead empires! and control
In their shut breasts, their petty misery.
What are our woes and sufferance?--Come and see
The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way
O'er steps of broken thrones and temples, Ye!
Whose agonies are evils of a day:--
A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.
The Niobe of nations! there she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe;
An empty urn within her withered hands,
Whose holy dust was scattered long ago;--
The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now;
The very sepulchers lie tenantless
Of their heroic dwellers:--dost thou flow,
Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness?
Rise, with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress!
RING OUT, WILD BELLS!
From "In Memoriam"
BY ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
ROLL ON, THOU DEEP!
From "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
BY LORD BYRON
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin--his control
Stops with the shore: upon the watery plain,
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.
The armaments, which thunderstrike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals;
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war;
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike th' Armada's pride or spoils of Trafalgar.
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee:
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage,--what are they?
Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts: not so thou;
Unchangeable, save to thy wild waves play,
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow;
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
I wanton'd with thy breakers--they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror--'twas a pleasing fear.
THOU, TOO, SAIL ON!
From "The Building of the Ship," by permission of, and by special
Arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers
of this author's works.
BY HENRY W. LONGFELLOW
Sail forth into the sea, O ship!
Through wind and wave, right onward steer!
The moistened eye, the trembling lip,
Are not the signs of doubt or fear.
Sail forth into the sea of life,
O gentle, loving, trusting wife,
And safe from all adversity
Upon the bosom of that sea
Thy comings and thy goings be!
For gentleness and love and trust
Prevail o'er angry wave and gust;
And in the wreck of noble lives
Something immortal still survives!
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee,--are all with thee!
O TIBER, FATHER TIBER!
BY LORD MACAULAY
"O Tiber, Father Tiber!
To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
Take thou in charge this day!"
So he spake, and, speaking, sheathed
The good sword by his side,
And, with his harness on his back,
Plunged headlong in the tide.
No sound of joy or sorrow
Was heard from either bank,
But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
With parted lips and straining eyes,
Stood gazing where he sank;
And when above the surges
They saw his crest appear,
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany
Could scarce forbear to cheer.
But fiercely ran the current,
Swollen high by months of rain,
And fast his blood was flowing,
And he was sore in pain,
And heavy with his armor,
And spent with changing blows;
And oft they thought him sinking,
But still again he rose.
And now he feels the bottom;--
Now on dry earth he stands;
Now round him throng the Fathers
To press his gory hands.
And now, with shouts and clapping,
And noise of weeping loud,
He enters through the River Gate,
Borne by the joyous crowd.
MARULLUS TO THE ROMAN CITIZENS
From "Julius Cæsar"
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
_Flavius_. Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?
_Second Citizen_. Indeed, sir, we make holiday, to see
Cæsar, and to rejoice in his triumph.
_Marullus_. Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home?
What tributaries follow him to Rome,
To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
The live-long day, with patient expectation
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome;
And when you saw his chariot but appear,
Have you not made an universal shout,
That Tiber trembled underneath her banks,
To hear the replication of your sounds,
Made in her concave shores?
And do you now put on your best attire?
And do you now cull out a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.
From "Collected Verse," with the permission of A. P. Watt and Son,
London, and Doubleday, Page and Company, New York, publishers
BY RUDYARD KIPLING
God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle-line--
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget.
The tumult and the shouting dies--
The captains and the kings depart--
Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget.
Far-called our navies melt away--
On dune and headland sinks the fire,
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre.
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget.
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe--
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the Law--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget--lest we forget.
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard--
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord.
THE CRADLE OF LIBERTY
From Webster's Reply to Hayne, in the United States Senate. Little,
Brown and Company, Boston, publishers of "The Great Speeches and
Orations of Daniel Webster"
BY DANIEL WEBSTER
Mr. President, I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she
needs none. There she is. Behold her, and judge for yourselves. There
is her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is
secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill;
and there they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, fallen in
the great struggle for independence, now lie mingled with the soil of
every State from New England to Georgia; and there they will lie
forever. And, sir, where American liberty raised its first voice, and
where its youth was nurtured and sustained, there it still lives in the
strength of its manhood and full of its original spirit. If discord and
disunion shall wound it; if party strife and blind ambition shall hawk
at and tear it; if folly and madness, if uneasiness under salutary and
necessary restraint, shall succeed in separating it from that Union by
which alone its existence is made sure,--it will stand, in the end, by
the side of that cradle in which its infancy was rocked; it will
stretch forth its arm with whatever of vigor it may still retain over
the friends who gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it
must, amidst the proudest monuments of its own glory, and on the very
spot of its origin.
THE IMPEACHMENT OF WARREN HASTINGS
Delivered in the House of Lords, February 13, 1788
BY EDMUND BURKE
My Lords, I do not mean to go further than just to remind your
Lordships of this,--that Mr. Hastings's government was one whole system
of oppression, of robbery of individuals, of spoliation of the public,
and of suppression of the whole system of the English government, in
order to vest in the worst of the natives all the power that could
possibly exist in any government; in order to defeat the ends which all
governments ought, in common, to have in view. In the name of the
Commons of England, I charge all this villainy upon Warren Hastings, in
this last moment of my application to you.
Therefore, it is with confidence that, ordered by the Commons of Great
Britain, I impeach Warren Hastings of high crimes and misdemeanors.
I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament
assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has abused.
I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain, whose
national character he has dishonored.
I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights,
and liberties he has subverted.
I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose property he has
destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate.
I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly
outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes. And I impeach him in
the name and by the virtue of those eternal laws of justice, which
ought equally to pervade every age, condition, rank, and situation, in
From the oration at the laying of the corner stone of the monument,
June 17, 1825. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, publishers of "The
Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster"
By DANIEL WEBSTER
This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling
which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing
with sympathy and joy, and from the impulses of a common gratitude
turned reverently to heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament,
proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling
have made a deep impression on our hearts.
If, indeed, there be anything in local association fit to affect the
mind of man, we need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate
us here. We are among the sepulchers of our fathers. We are on ground
distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of
their blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals,
nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble
purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born,
the 17th of June, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent
history would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a
point of attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are
Americans. We live in what may be called the early age of this great
continent; and we know that our posterity, through all time, are here
to enjoy and suffer the allotments of humanity. We see before us a
probable train of great events; we know that our own fortunes have been
happily cast, and it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved by
the contemplation of occurrences which have guided our destiny before
many of us were born, and settled the condition in which we should pass
that portion of our existence which God allows to man on earth.
THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS
In dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa., Nov. 19,
BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Fourscore 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 fitting 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 far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be
here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these
honored 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.
CÆSAR, THE FIGHTER
From "The Courtship of Miles Standish," by permission of, and by
Special arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized
publishers of this author's works
BY HENRY W. LONGFELLOW
"A wonderful man was this Cæsar!
You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow
Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skillful!"
Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the youthful:
"Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and his weapons.
Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dictate
Seven letters at once, at the same time writing his memoirs."
"Truly," continued the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other,
"Truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Cæsar!
Better be first, he said, in a little Iberian village,
Than be second in Rome, and I think he was right when he said it.
Twice was he married before he was twenty, and many times after;
Battles five hundred he fought, and a thousand cities he conquered;
He, too, fought in Flanders, as he himself has recorded;
Finally he was stabbed by his friend, the orator Brutus!
Now, do you know what he did on a certain occasion in Flanders,
When the rear-guard of his army retreated, the front giving way too,
And the immortal Twelfth Legion was crowded so closely together
There was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield from a
Put himself straight at the head of his troops, and commanded the
Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns;
Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their weapons;
So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other.
That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well done,
You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"
BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT
I want to talk to you of the attitude that should properly be observed
by legislators, by executive officers, toward wealth, and the attitude
that should be observed in return by men of means, and especially by
corporations, toward the body politic and toward their fellow citizens.
I utterly distrust the man of whom it is continually said: "Oh, he's a
good fellow, but, of course, in politics, he plays politics" It is
about as bad for a man to profess, and for those that listen to him by
their plaudits to insist upon his professing something which they know
he cannot live up to, as it is for him to go below what he ought to do,
because if he gets into the habit of lying to himself and to his
audience as to what he intends to do, it is certain to eat away his
He won't be able then to stand up to what he knows ought to be done.
The temptation of the average politician is to promise everything to
the reformers and then to do everything for the organization. I think I
can say that, whatever I have promised on the stump or off the stump,
either expressly or impliedly, to either organization or reformers, I
have kept my promise; and I should keep it just as much if the
A public man is bound to represent his constituents, but he is no less
bound to cease to represent them when, on a great moral question, he
feels that they are taking the wrong side. Let him go out of politics
rather than stay in at the cost of doing what his own conscience
forbids him to do.
LOOK WELL TO YOUR SPEECH
From "Self-Cultivation in English," with the permission of the author,
and of Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, publishers
BY GEORGE HERBERT PALMER
First, then, "Look well to your speech." It is commonly supposed that
when a man seeks literary power he goes to his room and plans an
article for the press. But this is to begin literary culture at the
wrong end. We speak a hundred times for every once we write. The
busiest writer produces little more than a volume a year, not so much
as his talk would amount to in a week. Consequently through speech it
is usually decided whether a man is to have command of his language or
not. If he is slovenly in his ninety-nine cases of talking, he can
seldom pull himself up to strength and exactitude in the hundredth case
of writing. A person is made in one piece, and the same being runs
through a multitude of performances. Whether words are uttered on paper
or to the air, the effect on the utterer is the same. Vigor or
feebleness results according as energy or slackness has been in
command. I know that certain adaptations to a new field are often
necessary. A good speaker may find awkwardnesses in himself when he
comes to write, a good writer when he speaks. And certainly cases occur
where a man exhibits distinct strength in one of the two, speaking or
writing, and not in the other. But such cases are rare. As a rule,
language once within our control can be employed for oral or for
written purposes. And since the opportunities for oral practice
enormously outbalance those for written, it is the oral which are
chiefly significant in the development of literary power. We rightly
say of the accomplished writer that he shows a mastery of his own
Fortunate it is, then, that self-cultivation in the use of English must
chiefly come through speech; because we are always speaking, whatever
else we do. In opportunities for acquiring a mastery of language, the
poorest and busiest are at no large disadvantage as compared with the
leisured rich. It is true the strong impulse which comes from the
suggestion and approval of society may in some cases be absent; but
this can be compensated by the sturdy purpose of the learner. A
recognition of the beauty of well-ordered words, a strong desire,
patience under discouragements, and promptness in counting every
occasion as of consequence,--these are the simple agencies which sweep
one on to power. Watch your speech, then.
HAMLET TO THE PLAYERS
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
_Hamlet_. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it as many of your players
do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very
torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must
acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a
passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings,
who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-
shows and noise. I could have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing
Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.
_I Player_. I warrant your honor.
_Hamlet_. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be
your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with
this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature;
for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end,
both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror
up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and
the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this
overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh,
cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must
in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theater of others. O, there be
players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that
highly, not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of
Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted
and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made
men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
From "The Merchant of Venice"
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
_Duke_. This letter from Bellario doth commend A young and learned
doctor to our court. Where is he?
_Nerissa_. He attendeth here hard by, To know your answer, whether
you'll admit him.
_Duke_. With all my heart. Some three or four of you Go give him
courteous conduct to this place. Meantime the court shall hear
_Clerk_ (reads). "Your grace shall understand that at the receipt
of your letter I am very sick; but in the instant that your messenger
came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his name
is Balthasar. I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between
the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we turned o'er many books together:
he is furnished with my opinion; which, bettered with his own learning,
the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend, comes with him, at my
importunity, to fill up your grace's request in my stead. I beseech
you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend
estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so old a head. I
leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish
CASCA, SPEAKING OF CÆSAR
From "Julius Cæsar"
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
_Casca_. You pull'd me by the cloak; would you speak with me?
_Brutus_. Ay, Casca; tell us what hath chanc'd to-day, That Cæsar
looks so sad.
_Casca_. Why, you were with him, were you not?
_Brutus_. I should not, then, ask Casca what had chanc'd.
_Casca_. Why, there was a crown offered him; and being offered him, he
put it by with the back of his hand, thus; and then the people fell
_Brutus_. What was the second noise for?
_Casca_. Why, for that too.
_Cassius_. They shouted thrice: what was the last cry for?
_Casca_. Why, for that too.
_Brutus_. Was the crown offered him thrice?
_Casca_. Ay, marry, was't, and he put it by thrice, every time
gentler than other; and at every putting-by mine honest neighbors
_Cassius_. Who offered him the crown?
_Casca_. Why, Antony.
_Brutus_. Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca.
_Casca_. I can as well be hanged as tell the manner of it: it was
mere foolery; I did not mark it. I saw Mark Antony offer him a
crown;--yet 'twas not a crown neither, 'twas one of these coronets;--
and, as I told you, he put it by once: but, for all that, to my
thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him again;
then he put it by again: but, to my thinking, he was very loth to lay
his fingers off it. And then he offered it the third time; he put it
the third time by: and still as he refused it, the rabblement shouted,
and clapped their chopped hands, and threw up their sweaty nightcaps,
and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Cæsar refused the
crown, that it had almost choked Cæsar; for he swooned, and fell down
at it: and for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of opening my
lips, and receiving the bad air.
SQUANDERING OF THE VOICE
From "Lectures on Oratory" BY HENRY WARD BEECHER
How much squandering there is of the voice! How little there is of the
advantage that may come from conversational tones! How seldom does a
man dare to acquit himself with pathos and fervor! And the men are
themselves mechanical and methodical in the bad way who are most afraid
of the artificial training that is given in the schools, and who so
often show by the fruit of their labor that the want of oratory is the
want of education.
How remarkable is the sweetness of voice in the mother, in the father,
in the household! The music of no chorded instruments brought together
is, for sweetness, like the music of familiar affection when spoken by
brother and sister, or by father and mother.
Conversation itself belongs to oratory. How many men there are who are
weighty in argument, who have abundant resources, and who are almost
boundless in their power at other times and in other places, but who,
when in company among their kind, are exceedingly unapt in their
methods. Having none of the secret instruments by which the elements of
nature may be touched, having no skill and no power in this direction,
they stand as machines before living, sensitive men. A man may be a
master before an instrument; only the instrument is dead; and he has
the living hand; and out of that dead instrument what wondrous harmony
springs forth at his touch! And if you can electrify an audience by the
power of a living man on dead things, how much more should that
audience be electrified when the chords are living and the man is
alive, and he knows how to touch them with divine inspiration!
THE TRAINING OF THE GENTLEMAN
From "Personal Power," by permission of, and by special arrangement
with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of this author's
BY WILLIAM J. TUCKER
In this talk about the part which the college may take in the training
of a gentleman, I have not dwelt, as you have noticed, upon forms or
conventionalities. Every gentleman respects form. Respect for form can
be taught, or at least inculcated, but not form itself. One comes to be
at ease in society by going into society. Manners come by observation.
We imitate, we follow the better fashion of society, the better
behavior of men. Good breeding consists first in the attention of
others in our behalf to certain necessary details, then in our
attention to them. We come in time to draw close and nice distinctions.
This little thing is right, that is not quite right. So we grow into
the formal habits of a gentleman. "Good manners are made up of constant
and petty sacrifices," says Emerson. It is well to keep this saying in
mind as a qualification of another of his more familiar sayings: "Give
me a thought, and my hands and legs and voice and face will all go
right. It is only when mind and character slumber that the dress can be
I like to see the well-bred man, to whom the details of social life
have become a second nature. I like also to see the play of that first
healthy instinct in a true man which scorns a mean act, which will not
allow him to take part in the making of a mean custom, which for
example, if he be a college fellow, will not suffer him to treat
another fellow as a fag. I am entirely sure that that man is a
So then it is, in this world of books, of companionship, of sport, of
struggle with some of us, of temptation also, and yet more of high
incentives, we are all set to the task of coming out, and of helping
one another to come out, as gentlemen. Do not miss, I beseech you, the
greatness of the task. Do not miss its constancy. It is more than the
incidental work of a college to train the efficient, the honorable, the
unselfish man. A college-bred man must be able to show at all times and
on all occasions the quality of his distinction.
MAKING THE POINT
BRUTUS TO THE ROMAN CITIZENS
From "Julius Cæsar"
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Be patient till the last.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause, and be silent,
that you may hear: believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine
honor, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your
senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this
assembly, any dear friend of Cæsar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love
to Cæsar was no less than his. If, then, that friend demand why Brutus
rose against Cæsar, this is my answer,--Not that I loved Cæsar less,
but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Cæsar were living, and die
all slaves, than that Cæsar were dead, to live all free men? As Cæsar
loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate I rejoice at it; as he
was valiant, I honor him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There
is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honor for his valor; and
death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If
any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not
be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile
that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
I have done no more to Cæsar than you shall do to Brutus. The question
of his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated,
wherein he was worthy; nor his offenses enforced, for which he suffered
death. Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony: who, though he had
no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place
in the commonwealth; as which of you shall not? With this I depart,--
that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same
dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
THE PRECEPTS OF POLONIUS
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for. There; my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous, chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!
THE HIGH STANDARD
From the Lord Rector's address, University of Edinburgh, 1882
BY LORD ROSEBERY
Let us win in the competition of international well-being and
prosperity. Let us have a finer, better educated, better lodged, and
better nourished race than exists elsewhere; better schools, better
universities, better tribunals, ay, and better churches. In one phrase,
let our standard be higher, not in the jargon of the Education
Department, but in the acknowledgment of mankind. The standard of
mankind is not so exalted but that a nobler can be imagined and
attained. The dream of him who loved Scotland best would lie not so
much in the direction of antiquarian revival, as in the hope that his
country might be pointed out as one that in spite of rocks, and rigor,
and poverty, could yet teach the world by precept and example, could
lead the van and point the moral, where greater nations and fairer
states had failed. Those who believe the Scots to be so eminently vain
a race, will say that already we are in our opinion the tenth legion of
civilization. Well, vanity is a centipede with corns on every foot: I
will not tread where the ground is most dangerous. But if we are not
foremost, we may at any rate become so. Our fathers have declared unto
us what was done in their days and in the old time before them: we know
that we come of a strenuous stock. Do you remember the words that young
Carlyle wrote to his brother nine years after he had left this
University as a student, forty-three years before he returned as its
"I say, Jack, thou and I must never falter. Work, my boy, work
unweariedly. I swear that all the thousand miseries of this hard fight,
and ill-health, the most terrific of them all, shall never chain us
down. By the river Styx it shall not! Two fellows from a nameless spot
in Annandale shall yet show the world the pluck that is in Carlyles."
Let that be your spirit to-day. You are citizens of no mean city,
members of no common state, heirs of no supine empire. You will many of
you exercise influence over your fellow men: some will study and
interpret our laws, and so become a power; others will again be in a
position to solace and exalt, as destined to be doctors and clergymen,
and so the physical and spiritual comforters of mankind. Make the best
of these opportunities. Raise your country, raise your University,
ON TAXING THE COLONIES
Delivered in the House of Commons, March, 1775
BY EDMUND BURKE
Reflect, sirs, that when you have fixed a quota of taxation for every
colony, you have not provided for prompt and punctual payment. You must
make new Boston Port Bills, new restraining laws, new acts for dragging
men to England for trial. You must send out new fleets, new armies. All
is to begin again. From this day forward the empire is never to know an
hour's tranquillity. An intestine fire will be kept alive in the bowels
of the colonies, which one time or other must consume this whole
Instead of a standing revenue, you will therefore have a perpetual
quarrel. Indeed, the noble lord who proposed this project seems himself
to be of that opinion. His project was rather designed for breaking the
union of the colonies than for establishing a revenue. But whatever his
views may be, as I propose the peace and union of the colonies as the
very foundation of my plan, it cannot accord with one whose foundation
is perpetual discord.
Compare the two. This I offer to give you is plain and simple; the
other full of perplexed and intricate mazes. This is mild; that harsh.
This is found by experience effectual for its purposes; the other is a
new project. This is universal; the other calculated for certain
colonies only. This is immediate in its conciliatory operation; the
other remote, contingent, full of hazard. Mine is what becomes the
dignity of a ruling people--gratuitous, unconditional, and not held out
as a matter of bargain and sale. I have done my duty in proposing it to
you. I have indeed tried you by a long discourse; but this is the
misfortune of those to whose influence nothing will be conceded, and
who must win every inch of their ground by argument. You have heard me
with goodness. May you decide with wisdom!
JUSTIFYING THE PRESIDENT
From a speech in the Senate, 1900
By JOHN C. SPOONER
Some one asked the other day why the President did not bring about a
cessation of hostilities. Upon what basis could he have brought about a
cessation of hostilities? Should he have asked Aguinaldo for an
armistice? If so, upon what basis should he have requested it? What
should he say to him? "Please stop this fighting"? "What for,"
Aguinaldo would say; "do you propose to retire?" "No." "Do you propose
to grant us independence?" "No, not now." "Well, why, then, an
armistice?" The President would doubtless be expected to reply: "Some
distinguished gentlemen in the United States, members of the United
States Senate, and others, have discovered a doubt about our right to
be here at all, some question whether we have acquired the Philippines,
some question as to whether we have correctly read the Declaration of
Independence; and I want an armistice until we can consult and
determine finally whether we have acquired the Philippines or not,
whether we are violating the Declaration of Independence or not,
whether we are trampling upon the Constitution or not." That is
practically the proposition.
No, Mr. President, men may say in criticism of the President what they
choose. He has been grossly insulted in this chamber, and it appears
upon the record. He has gone his way patiently, exercising the utmost
forbearance, all his acts characterized by a desire to do precisely
what the Congress had placed upon him by its ratification of the treaty
and its increase of the army. He has done it in a way to impress upon
the Filipinos, so far as language and action could do it, his desire,
and the desire of our people, to do them good, to give them the largest
possible measure of liberty.
BRITAIN AND AMERICA
From an address in the House of Commons, March, 1865
BY JOHN BRIGHT
Why should we fear a great nation on the American Continent? Some
people fear that, should America become a great nation, she will be
arrogant and aggressive. But that does not follow. The character of a
nation does not depend altogether upon its size, but upon the
intelligence, instruction, and morals of its people. You fancy the
supremacy of the sea will pass away from you; and the noble lord, who
has had much experience, and is supposed to be wiser on the subject
than any other man in the House, will say that "Rule Britannia," that
noble old song, may become obsolete. Well, inasmuch as the supremacy of
the seas means arrogance and the assumption of dictatorial power on the
part of this country, the sooner that becomes obsolete the better. I do
not believe that it is for the advantage of this country, or of any
country in the world, that any one nation should pride itself upon what
is termed the supremacy of the sea; and I hope the time is coming--I
believe the hour is hastening--when we shall find that law and justice
will guide the councils and will direct the policy of the Christian
nations of the world. Nature will not be baffled because we are jealous
of the United States--the decrees of Providence will not be overthrown
by aught we can do.
The population of the United States is now not less than 35,000,000.
When the next Parliament of England has lived to the age which this has
lived to, that population will be 40,000,000, and you may calculate the
increase at the rate of rather more than 1,000,000 of persons per year.
Who is to gainsay it? Will constant snarling at a great republic alter
this state of things, or swell us up in these islands to 40,000,000 or
50,000,000, or bring them down to our 30,000,000? Honorable members and
the country at large should consider these facts, and learn from them
that it is the interest of the nations to be at one--and for us to be
in perfect courtesy and amity with the great English nation on the
other side of the Atlantic.
VALUES AND TRANSITIONS
KING ROBERT OF SICILY
From "King Robert of Sicily," by permission of, and by special
arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of
this author's works.
BY HENRY W. LONGFELLOW
Days came and went; and now returned again
To Sicily the old Saturnian reign;
Under the Angel's governance benign
The happy island danced with corn and wine.
Meanwhile King Robert yielded to his fate,
Sullen and silent and disconsolate.
Dressed in the motley garb that Jesters wear,
With look bewildered and a vacant stare,
Close shaven above the ears, as monks are shorn,
By courtiers mocked, by pages laughed to scorn,
His only friend the ape, his only food
What others left,--he still was unsubdued.
And when the Angel met him on his way,
And half in earnest, half in jest, would say,
Sternly, though tenderly, that he might feel
The velvet scabbard held a sword of steel,
"Art thou the King?" the passion of his woe
Burst from him in resistless overflow,
And, lifting high his forehead, he would fling
The haughty answer back, "I am, I am the King!"
Almost three years were ended; when there came
Ambassadors of great repute and name
From Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine,
Unto King Robert, saying that Pope Urbane
By letter summoned them forthwith to come
On Holy Thursday to his city of Rome.
And lo! among the menials, in mock state,
Upon a piebald steed, with shambling gait,
His cloak of fox-tails flapping in the wind,
The solemn ape demurely perched behind,
King Robert rode, making huge merriment
In all the country towns through which they went.
The Pope received them with great pomp and blare
Of bannered trumpets, on Saint Peter's square,
Giving his benediction and embrace
Fervent and full of apostolic grace.
While with congratulations and with prayers
He entertained the Angel unawares,
Robert, the Jester, bursting through the crowd,
Into their presence rushed, and cried aloud:
"I am the King! Look, and behold in me
Robert, your brother, King of Sicily!
This man who wears my semblance to your eyes,
Is an imposter in a king's disguise.
Do you not know me? does no voice within
Answer my cry, and say we are akin?"
The Pope in silence, but with troubled mien,
Gazed at the Angel's countenance serene;
The Emperor, laughing, said, "It is strange sport
To keep a madman for thy Fool at court!"
And the poor, baffled Jester in disgrace
Was hustled back among the populace.
LAYING THE ATLANTIC CABLE
An extract from "Masters of the Situation," a lecture
BY JAMES T. FIELDS
When I talk across an ocean of 3000 miles, with my friends on the other
side of it, and feel that I may know any hour of the day if all goes
well with them, I think with gratitude of the immense energy and
perseverance of that one man, Cyrus W. Field, who spent so many years
of his life in perfecting a communication second only in importance to
the discovery of this country. Think what that enthusiast accomplished
by his untiring energy. He made fifty voyages across the Atlantic.
Eight years more he encountered the odium of failure, but still kept
plowing across the Atlantic, flying from city to city, soliciting
capital, holding meetings and forcing down this most colossal
discouragement. At last day dawned again, and another cable was paid
out--this time from the deck of the "Great Eastern." Twelve hundred
miles of it were laid down, and the ship was just lifting her head to a
stiff breeze then springing up, when, without a moment's warning, the
cable suddenly snapped short off, and plunged into the sea. Nine days
and nights they dragged the bottom of the sea for this lost treasure,
and though they grappled it three times, they could not bring it to the
surface. In five months another cable was shipped on board the "Great
Eastern," and this time, by the blessing of heaven, the wires were
stretched unharmed from continent to continent. Then came that never-
to-be-forgotten search, in four ships, for the lost cable. In the bow
of one of these vessels stood Cyrus Field, day and night, in storm and
fog, squall and calm, intensely watching the quiver of the grapnel that
was dragging two miles down on the bottom of the deep.
At length on the last night of August, a little before midnight, the
spirit of this great man was rewarded. I shall here quote his own
words, as none others could possibly convey so well the thrilling
interest of that hour. He says: "All felt as if life and death hung on
the issue. It was only when the cable was brought over the bow and onto
the deck that men dared to breathe. Even then they hardly believed
their eyes. Some crept toward it to feel of it to be sure it was there.
Then we carried it along to the electricians' room, to see if our long-
sought treasure was dead or alive. A few minutes of suspense and a
flash told of the lightning current again set free. Then the feeling
long pent up burst forth. Some turned away their heads and wept. Others
broke into cheers, and the cry ran from man to man, and was heard down
in the engine rooms, deck below deck, and from the boats on the water,
and the other ships, while the rockets lighted up the darkness of the
sea. Then, with thankful hearts, we turned our faces again to the West.
But soon the wind rose, and for thirty-six hours we were exposed to all
the dangers of a storm on the Atlantic. Yet, in the very height and
fury of the gale, as I sat in the electricians' room, a flash of light
came up from the deep, which, having crossed to Ireland, came back to
me in mid-ocean, telling me that those so dear to me, whom I had left
on the banks of the Hudson, were well, and following us with their
wishes and their prayers. This was like a whisper of God from the sea,
bidding me keep heart and hope."
And now, after all those thirteen years of almost superhuman struggle
and that one moment of almost superhuman victory, I think we may safely
include Cyrus Field among the masters of the situation.
O'CONNELL, THE ORATOR
From "Speeches and Lectures," with the permission of Lothrop, Lee and
Shepard, Boston, publishers.
BY WENDELL PHILLIPS
Broadly considered, O'Connell's eloquence has never been equaled in
modern times, certainly not in English speech. Do you think I am
partial? I will vouch John Randolph of Roanoke, the Virginia
slaveholder, who hated an Irishman almost as much as he hated a Yankee,
himself an orator of no mean level. Hearing O'Connell, he exclaimed,
"This is the man, these are the lips, the most eloquent that speak the
English tongue in my day!" I think he was right. I remember the
solemnity of Webster, the grace of Everett, the rhetoric of Choate; I
know the eloquence that lay hid in the iron logic of Calhoun; I have
melted beneath the magnetism of Sergeant S. Prentiss of Mississippi,
who wielded a power few men ever had; it has been my fortune to sit at
the feet of the great speakers of the English tongue on the other side
of the ocean; but I think all of them together never surpassed, and no
one of them ever equaled O'Connell.
Nature intended him for our Demosthenes. Never, since the great Greek,
has she sent forth one so lavishly gifted for his work as a tribune of
the people. In the first place, he had a magnificent presence,
impressive in bearing, massive, like that of Jupiter. Webster himself
hardly outdid him in the majesty of his proportions. To be sure, he had
not Webster's craggy face, and precipice of brow, not his eyes glowing
like anthracite coal. Nor had he the lion roar of Mirabeau. But his
presence filled the eye. A small O'Connell would hardly have been an
O'Connell at all. These physical advantages are half the battle.
I remember Russell Lowell telling us that Mr. Webster came home from
Washington at the time the Whig party thought of dissolution, a year or
two before his death, and went down to Faneuil Hall to protest; drawing
himself up to his loftiest proportion, his brow clothed with thunder,
before the listening thousands, he said, "Well, gentlemen, I am a Whig,
a Massachusetts Whig, a Faneuil-Hall Whig, a revolutionary Whig, a
constitutional Whig. If you break the Whig party, sir, where am I to
go?" And says Lowell, "We held our breath, thinking where he
_could_ go. If he had been five feet three, we should have said,
'Who cares where you go?'" So it was with O'Connell. There was
something majestic in his presence before he spoke; and he added to it
what Webster had not, what Clay might have lent--infinite grace, that
magnetism that melts all hearts into one. I saw him at over sixty-six
years of age; every attitude was beauty, every gesture grace. You could
only think of a greyhound as you looked at him; it would have been
delightful to watch him, if he had not spoken a word. Then he had a
voice that covered the gamut. The majesty of his indignation, fitly
uttered in tones of superhuman power, made him able to "indict" a
nation. Carlyle says, "He is God's own anointed king whose single word
melts all wills into his." This describes O'Connell. Emerson says,
"There is no true eloquence unless there is a man behind the speech."
Daniel O'Connell was listened to because all England and all Ireland
knew that there was a man behind the speech.
I heard him once say, "I send my voice across the Atlantic, careering
like the thunderstorm against the breeze, to remind the bondman that
the dawn of his redemption is already breaking." You seemed to hear the
tones come echoing back to London from the Rocky Mountains. Then, with
the slightest possible Irish brogue, he would tell a story, while all
Exeter Hall shook with laughter. The next moment, tears in his voice
like a Scotch song, five thousand men wept. And all the while no
effort. He seemed only breathing.
"As effortless as woodland nooks
Send violets up, and paint them blue."
JUSTIFICATION FOR IMPEACHMENT
Against Warren Hastings, House of Lords, February, 1788
BY EDMUND BURKE
In the name of the Commons of England, I charge all this villainy upon
Warren Hastings, in this last moment of my application to you.
My Lords, what is it that we want here to a great act of national
justice? Do we want a cause, my Lords? You have the cause of oppressed
princes, of undone women of the first rank, of desolated provinces, and
of wasted kingdoms.
Do you want a criminal, my Lords? When was there so much iniquity ever
laid to the charge of any one? No, my Lords, you must not look to
punish any other such delinquent from India. Warren Hastings has not
left substance enough in India to nourish such another delinquent.
My Lords, is it a prosecutor you want? You have before you the Commons
of Great Britain as prosecutors; and I believe, my Lords, that the sun,
in his beneficent progress round the world, does not behold a more
glorious sight than that of men, separated from a remote people by the
material bounds and barriers of nature, united by the bonds of a social
and moral community--all the Commons of England resenting, as their
own, the indignities and cruelties that are offered to all the people
Do we want a tribunal? My Lords, no example of antiquity, nothing in
the modern world, nothing in the range of human imagination, can supply
us with a tribunal like this. My Lords, here we see virtually, in the
mind's eye, that sacred majesty of the Crown, under whose authority you
sit and whose power you exercise.
We have here all the branches of the royal family, in a situation
between majesty and subjection, between the sovereign and the subject--
offering a pledge, in that situation, for the support of the rights of
the Crown and the liberties of the people, both of which extremities
WENDELL PHILLIPS, THE ORATOR
From "The Orations and Addresses of George William Curtis," Vol. III.
Copyright, 1894, by Harper and Brothers.
BY GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS
It was not until Lovejoy fell, while defending his press at Alton, in
November, 1837, that an American citizen was killed by a raging mob for
declaring, in a free State, the right of innocent men and women to
their personal liberty. This tragedy, like the deadly blow at Charles
Sumner in the Senate Chamber, twenty years afterward, awed the whole
country with a sense of vast and momentous peril. Never since the
people of Boston thronged Faneuil Hall on the day after the massacre in
State Street, had that ancient hall seen a more solemn and significant
assembly. It was the more solemn, the more significant, because the
excited multitude was no longer, as in the Revolutionary day, inspired
by one unanimous and overwhelming purpose to assert and maintain
liberty of speech as the bulwark of all other liberty. It was an
unwonted and foreboding scene. An evil spirit was in the air.
When the seemly protest against the monstrous crime had been spoken,
and the proper duty of the day was done, a voice was heard,--the voice
of the high officer solemnly sworn to prosecute, in the name of
Massachusetts, every violation of law, declaring, in Faneuil Hall,
sixty years after the battle of Bunker Hill, and amid a howling storm
of applause, that an American citizen who was put to death by a mad
crowd of his fellow citizens for defending his right of free speech,
died as the fool dieth. Boston has seen dark days, but never a moment
so dark as that. Seven years before, Webster had said, in the famous
words that Massachusetts binds as frontlets between her eyes, "There
are Boston and Concord, and Lexington and Bunker Hill, and there they
will remain forever." Had they already vanished? Was the spirit of the
Revolution quite extinct? In the very Cradle of Liberty did no son
survive to awake its slumbering echoes? By the grace of God such a son
there was. He had come with the multitude, and he had heard with
sympathy and approval the speeches that condemned the wrong; but when
the cruel voice justified the murderers of Lovejoy, the heart of the
young man burned within him. This speech, he said to himself, must be
answered. As the malign strain proceeded, the Boston boy, all on fire,
with Concord and Lexington tugging at his heart, unconsciously
murmured, "Such a speech in Faneuil Hall must be answered in Faneuil
Hall." "Why not answer it yourself?" whispered a neighbor, who
overheard him. "Help me to the platform and I will,"--and pushing and
struggling through the dense and threatening crowd, the young man
reached the platform, was lifted upon it, and, advancing to speak, was
greeted with a roar of hostile cries. But riding the whirlwind
undismayed, as for many a year afterward he directed the same wild
storm, he stood upon the platform in all the beauty and grace of
imperial youth,--the Greeks would have said a god descended,--and in
words that touched the mind and heart and conscience of that vast
multitude, as with fire from heaven, recalling Boston to herself, he
saved his native city and her Cradle of Liberty from the damning
disgrace of stoning the first martyr in the great struggle for personal
freedom. "Mr. Chairman," he said, "when I heard the gentleman lay down
principles which placed the rioters, incendiaries, and murderers of
Alton, side by side with Otis and Hancock, and Quincy and Adams, I
thought those pictured lips would have broken into voice to rebuke the
recreant American--the slanderer of the dead." And even as he spoke
the vision was fulfilled. Once more its native music rang through
Faneuil Hall. In the orator's own burning words, those pictured lips
did break into immortal rebuke. In Wendell Phillips, glowing with holy
indignation at the insult to America and to man, John Adams and James
Otis, Josiah Quincy and Samuel Adams, though dead, yet spake.
In the annals of American speech there had been no such scene since
Patrick Henry's electrical warning to George the Third. It was that
greatest of oratorical triumphs when a supreme emotion, a sentiment
which is to mold a people anew, lifted the orator to adequate
expression. Three such scenes are illustrious in our history: that of
the speech of Patrick Henry at Williamsburg, of Wendell Phillips in
Faneuil Hall, of Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg,--three, and there is no
ON THE DISPOSAL OF PUBLIC LANDS
From reports of the Webster-Hayne debate in the United States Senate,
BY ROBERT Y. HAYNE
In 1825 the gentleman told the world that the public lands "ought not
to be treated as a treasure." He now tells us that "they must be
treated as so much treasure." What the deliberate opinion of the
gentleman on this subject may be, belongs not to me to determine; but I
do not think he can, with the shadow of justice or propriety, impugn my
sentiments, while his own recorded opinions are identical with my own.
When the gentleman refers to the conditions of the grants under which
the United States have acquired these lands, and insists that, as they
are declared to be "for the common benefit of all the States," they can
only be treated as so much treasure, I think he has applied a rule of
construction too narrow for the case. If, in the deeds of cession, it
has been declared that the grants were intended "for the common benefit
of all the States," it is clear, from other provisions, that they were
not intended merely as so much property; for it is expressly declared
that the object of the grants is the erection of new States; and the
United States, in accepting this trust, bind themselves to facilitate
the foundation of those States, to be admitted into the Union with all
the rights and privileges of the original States.
This, sir, was the great end to which all parties looked, and it is by
the fulfillment of this high trust that "the common benefit of all the
States" is to be best promoted. Sir, let me tell the gentleman that, in
the part of the country in which I live, we do not measure political
benefits by the money standard. We consider as more valuable than gold,
liberty, principle, and justice. But, sir, if we are bound to act on
the narrow principles contended for by the gentleman, I am wholly at a
loss to conceive how he can reconcile his principles with his own
practice. The lands are, it seems, to be treated "as so much treasure,"
and must be applied to the "common benefit of all the States." Now, if
this be so, whence does he derive the right to appropriate them for
partial and local objects? How can the gentleman consent to vote away
immense bodies of these lands for canals in Indiana and Illinois, to
the Louisville and Portland Canal, to Kenyon College in Ohio, to
schools for the deaf and dumb, and other objects of a similar
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
From "Speeches and Presidential Addresses," Current Literature
Publishing Company, New York.
BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN
I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing in this place,
where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion
to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live.
You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task of
restoring peace to our distracted country. I can say in return, sir,
that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far
as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated
in, and were given to the world from, this hall. I have never had a
feeling, politically, that did not spring from the sentiments embodied
in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the
dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and framed
and adopted that Declaration. I have pondered over the toils that were
endured by the officers and soldiers of the army who achieved that
independence. I have often inquired of myself what great principle or
idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the
mere matter of separation of the colonies from the motherland, but that
sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty not
alone to the people of this country, but hope to all the world, for all
future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the
weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all
should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in the
Declaration of Independence. Now, my friends, can this country be saved
on that basis? If it can, I shall consider myself one of the happiest
men in the world if I can help to save it. If it cannot be saved upon
that principle, it will be truly awful. But if this country cannot be
saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would
rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it. Now, in my view
of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and
war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course;
and I may say in advance that there will be no bloodshed unless it is
forced upon the government. The government will not use force, unless
force is used against it.
My friends, this is wholly an unprepared speech. I did not expect to be
called on to say a word when I came here. I supposed I was merely to do
something toward raising a flag. I may, therefore, have said something
indiscreet. But I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by,
and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, to die by.
EXPRESSING THE FEELING
NORTHERN GREETING TO SOUTHERN VETERANS
From "Speeches and Addresses," with the permission of the author and of
Houghton Mifflin Company, publishers.
BY HENRY CABOT LODGE
I was a boy ten years old when the troops marched away to defend
Washington. I saw the troops, month after month, pour through the
streets of Boston. I saw Shaw go forth at the head of his black
regiment, and Bartlett, shattered in body, but dauntless in soul, ride
by to carry what was left of him once more to the battlefields of the
Republic. I saw Andrew, standing bareheaded on the steps of the State
House, bid the men godspeed. I cannot remember the words he said, but I
can never forget the fervid eloquence which brought tears to the eyes
and fire to the hearts of all who listened. To my boyish mind one thing
alone was clear, that the soldiers, as they marched past, were all, in
that supreme hour, heroes and patriots. Other feelings have, in the
progress of time, altered much, but amid many changes that simple
belief of boyhood has never altered.
And you, brave men who wore the gray, would be the first to hold me or
any other son of the North in just contempt if I should say that now it
was all over I thought the North was wrong and the result of the war a
mistake. To the men who fought the battles of the Confederacy we hold
out our hands freely, frankly, and gladly. We have no bitter memories
to revive, no reproaches to utter. Differ in politics and in a thousand
other ways we must and shall in all good nature, but never let us
differ with each other on sectional or state lines, by race or creed.
We welcome you, soldiers of Virginia, as others more eloquent than I
have said, to New England. We welcome you to old Massachusetts. We
welcome you to Boston and to Faneuil Hall. In your presence here, and
at the sound of your voices beneath this historic roof, the years roll
back, and we see the figure and hear again the ringing tones of your
great orator, Patrick Henry, declaring to the first Continental
Congress, "The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New
Yorkers, and New Englanders are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an
A distinguished Frenchman, as he stood among the graves of Arlington,
said: "Only a great people is capable of a great civil war." Let us add
with thankful hearts that only a great people is capable of a great
reconciliation. Side by side Virginia and Massachusetts led the
colonies into the War for Independence. Side by side they founded the
government of the United States. Morgan and Greene, Lee and Knox,
Moultrie and Prescott, men of the South and men of the North, fought
shoulder to shoulder, and wore the same uniform of buff and blue,--the
uniform of Washington.
Mere sentiment all this, some may say. But it is sentiment, true
sentiment, that has moved the world. Sentiment fought the war, and
sentiment has reunited us.
So I say that the sentiment manifested by your presence here, brethren
of Virginia, sitting side by side with those who wore the blue, tells
us that if war should break again upon the country the sons of Virginia
and Massachusetts would, as in the olden days, stand once more shoulder
to shoulder, with no distinction in the colors that they wear. It is
fraught with tidings of peace on earth, and you may read its meaning in
the words on yonder picture, "Liberty and union, now and forever, one
MATCHES AND OVERMATCHES
From Webster's reply to Hayne in the United States Senate, January,
1830, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, publishers.
BY DANIEL WEBSTER
If, sir, the honorable member, _modestia gratia_, had chosen thus
to defer to his friend and to pay him a compliment without intentional
disparagement to others, it would have been quite according to the
friendly courtesies of debate, and not at all ungrateful to my own
feelings. I am not one of those, sir, who esteem any tribute of regard,
whether light and occasional or more serious and deliberate, which may
be bestowed on others, as so much unjustly withholden from themselves.
But the tone and manner of the gentleman's question forbid me thus to
interpret it, I am not at liberty to consider it as nothing more than a
civility to his friend. It had an air of taunt and disparagement,
something of the loftiness of asserted superiority, which does not
allow me to pass it over without notice. It was put as a question for
me to answer, and so put as if it were difficult for me to answer,
whether I deemed the member from Missouri an overmatch for myself in
debate here. It seems to me, sir, that this is extraordinary language
and an extraordinary tone for the discussions of this body.
Matches and overmatches! Those terms are more applicable elsewhere than
here, and fitter for other assemblies than this. Sir, the gentleman
seems to forget where and what we are. This is a senate, a senate of
equals, of men of individual honor and personal character and of
absolute independence. We know no masters, we acknowledge no dictators.
This is a hall for mutual consultation and discussion; not an arena for
the exhibitions of champions. I offer myself, sir, as a match for no
man; I throw the challenge of debate at no man's feet. But then, sir,
since the honorable member has put the question in a manner that calls
for an answer, I will give him an answer; and tell him that, holding
myself to be the humblest of the members here, I yet know nothing in
the arm of his friend from Missouri, either alone or when aided by the
arm of _his_ friend from South Carolina, that need deter even me
from espousing whatever opinions I may choose to espouse, from debating
whenever I may choose to debate, or from speaking whatever I may see
fit to say on the floor of the Senate.
From the reply to Hayne
"The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster," Little, Brown
and Company, Boston, publishers.
BY DANIEL WEBSTER
Sir, I shall not allow myself, on this occasion, I hope on no occasion,
to betray myself into any loss of temper; but if provoked, as I trust I
never shall be, into crimination and recrimination, the honorable
member may perhaps find that, in that contest, there will be blows to
take as well as to give; that others can state comparisons as
significant, at least, as his own, and that his impunity may possibly
demand of him whatever powers of taunt and sarcasm he may possess. I
commend him to a prudent husbandry of his resources.
But, sir, the Coalition! The Coalition! Aye, "the murdered Coalition!"
The gentleman asks if I were led or frighted into this debate by the
specter of the Coalition. "Was it the ghost of the murdered Coalition,"
he exclaims, "which haunted the member from Massachusetts; and which,
like the ghost of Banquo, would never down?" "The murdered Coalition!"
Sir, this charge of a coalition, in reference to the late
administration, is not original with the honorable member. It did not
spring up in the Senate. Whether as a fact, as an argument, or as an
embellishment, it is all borrowed. He adopts it, indeed, from a very
low origin, and a still lower present condition. It is one of the
thousand calumnies with which the press teemed during an excited
political canvass. It was a charge of which there was not only no proof
or probability, but which was in itself wholly impossible to be true.
No man of common information ever believed a syllable of it. Yet it was
of that class of falsehoods which, by continued repetition, through all
the organs of detraction and abuse, are capable of misleading those who
are already far misled, and of further fanning passion already kindling
into flame. Doubtless it served in its day, and in greater or less
degree, the end designed by it. Having done that, it has sunk into the
general mass of stale and loathed calumnies. It is the very cast-off
slough of a polluted and shameless press. Incapable of further
mischief, it lies in the sewer, lifeless and despised. It is not now,
sir, in the power of the honorable member to give it dignity or decency
by attempting to elevate it and to introduce it into the Senate. He
cannot change it from what it is, an object of general disgust and
scorn. On the contrary, the contact, if he choose to touch it, is more
likely to drag him down, down to the place where it lies itself.
IN HIS OWN DEFENSE
BY ROBERT EMMET
I am asked what I have to say why sentence of death should not be
pronounced on me, according to law.
I am charged with being an emissary of France. An emissary of France!
and for what end? It is alleged that I wish to sell the independence of
my country; and for what end? Was this the object of my ambition? And
is this the mode by which a tribunal of justice reconciles
contradictions? No; I am no emissary; and my ambition was to hold a
place among the deliverers of my country, not in power nor in profit,
but in the glory of the achievement. Sell my country's independence to
France! and for what? Was it for a change of masters? No, but for
ambition. O my country! was it personal ambition that could influence
me? Had it been the soul of my actions, could I not by my education and
fortune, by the rank and consideration of my family, have placed myself
amongst the proudest of your oppressors? My country was my idol! To it
I sacrificed every selfish, every endearing sentiment; and for it I now
offer up my life.
My lords, you are impatient for the sacrifice. Be yet patient! I have
but a few more words to say--I am going to my cold and silent grave--my
lamp of life is nearly extinguished--my race is run--the grave opens to
receive me, and I sink into its bosom. I have but one request to ask at
my departure from this world: it is--the charity of its silence. Let no
man write my epitaph; for, as no man who knows my motives dares now
vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them
and me rest in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed,
until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my
country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not
till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.
ON RESISTANCE TO GREAT BRITAIN
From a speech in the Provincial Convention, Virginia, March, 1775
BY PATRICK HENRY
I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be
not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible
motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the
world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir,
she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other.
They are sent over to bind and to rivet upon us those chains which the
British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose
them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last
ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We
have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it
has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble
supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already
exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.
Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm
which is now coming on. We have petitioned, we have remonstrated, we
have supplicated, we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and
have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the
ministry and parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our
remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our
supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with
contempt from the foot of the throne. In vain, after all these things,
may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no
longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve
inviolate these inestimable privileges for which we have been so long
contending; if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in
which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves
never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be
obtained, we must fight; I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to
arms, and to the God of Hosts, is all that is left us!
INVECTIVE AGAINST LOUIS BONAPARTE
From a reprint in "A Modern Reader and Speaker," by George Ridde,
Duffield and Company, New York, publishers.
BY VICTOR HUGO
I have entered the lists with the actual ruler of Europe, for it is
well for the world that I should exhibit the picture. Louis Bonaparte
is the intoxication of triumph. He is the incarnation of merry yet
savage despotism. He is the mad plenitude of power seeking for limits,
but finding them not, neither in men nor facts. Louis Bonaparte holds
France; and he who holds France holds the world. He is master of the
votes, master of consciences, master of the people; he names his
successor, does away with eternity, and places the future in a sealed
envelope. Thirty eager newspaper correspondents inform the world that
he has frowned, and every electric wire quivers if he raises his little
finger. Around him is heard the clanking of the saber and the roll of
the drum. He is seated in the shadow of the eagles, begirt by ramparts
and bayonets. Free people tremble and conceal their liberty lest he
should rob them of it. The great American Republic even hesitates
before him, and dares not withdraw her ambassador.
Europe awaits his invasion. He is able to do as he wishes, and he
dreams of impossibilities. Well, this master, this triumphant
conqueror, this vanquisher, this dictator, this emperor, this all-
powerful man, one lonely man, robbed and ruined, dares to rise up and
Yes, I attack Louis Napoleon; I attack him openly, before all the
world. I attack him before God and man. I attack him boldly and
recklessly for love of the people and for love of France. He is going
to be an emperor. Let him be one; but let him remember that, though you
may secure an empire, you cannot secure an easy conscience!
This is the man by whom France is governed! Governed, do I say?--
possessed in supreme and sovereign sway! And every day, and every
morning, by his decrees, by his messages, by all the incredible drivel
which he parades in the "Moniteur," this emigrant, who knows not
France, teaches France her lesson! and this ruffian tells France he has
saved her! And from whom? From herself! Before him, Providence
committed only follies; God was waiting for him to reduce everything to
order; at last he has come!
For thirty-six years there had been in France all sorts of pernicious
things,--the tribune, a vociferous thing; the press, an obstreperous
thing; thought, an insolent thing, and liberty, the most crying abuse
of all. But he came, and for the tribune he has substituted the Senate;
for the press, the censorship; for thought, imbecility; and for
liberty, the saber; and by the saber and the Senate, by imbecility and
censorship, France is saved. Saved, bravo! And from whom, I repeat?
From herself. For what was this France of ours, if you please? A horde
of marauders and thieves, of anarchists, assassins, and demagogues. She
had to be manacled, had this mad woman, France; and it is Monsieur
Louis Bonaparte who puts the handcuffs on her. Now she is in a dungeon,
on a diet of bread and water, punished, humiliated, garotted, safely
cared for. Be not disturbed; Monsieur Bonaparte, a policeman stationed
at the Élysée, is answerable for her to Europe. He makes it his
business to be so; this wretched France is in the straitjacket, and if
she stirs--Ah, what is this spectacle before our eyes? Is it a dream?
Is it a nightmare? On one side a nation, the first of nations, and on
the other, a man, the last of men; and this is what this man does to
this nation. What! he tramples her under his feet, he laughs in her
face, he mocks and taunts her, he disowns, insults, and flouts her!
What! he says, "I alone am worthy of consideration!" What! in this land
of France where none would dare to slap the face of his fellow, this
man can slap the face of the nation? Oh, the abominable shame of it
all! Every time that Monsieur Bonaparte spits, every face must be
wiped! And this can last! and you tell me it will last! No! No! by
every drop in every vein, no! It shall not last! Ah, if this did last,
it would be in very truth because there would no longer be a God in
heaven, nor a France on earth!
SHOWING THE PICTURE
MOUNT, THE DOGE OF VENICE!
From the play, "Foscari"
BY MARY RUSSELL MITFORD
_Doge_. What! didst thou never hear
Of the old prediction that was verified
When I became the Doge?
_Zeno_. An old prediction!
_Doge_. Some seventy years ago--it seems to me
As fresh as yesterday--being then a lad
No higher than my hand, idle as an heir,
And all made up of gay and truant sports,
I flew a kite, unmatched in shape or size,
Over the river--we were at our house
Upon the Brenta then; it soared aloft,
Driven by light vigorous breezes from the sea
Soared buoyantly, till the diminished toy
Grew smaller than the falcon when she stoops
To dart upon her prey. I sent for cord,
Servant on servant hurrying, till the kite
Shrank to the size of a beetle: still I called
For cord, and sent to summon father, mother,
My little sisters, my old halting nurse,--
I would have had the whole world to survey
Me and my wondrous kite. It still soared on,
And I stood bending back in ecstasy,
My eyes on that small point, clapping my hands,
And shouting, and half envying it the flight
That made it a companion of the stars,
When close beside me a deep voice exclaimed--
Aye, mount! mount! mount!--I started back, and saw
A tall and aged woman, one of the wild
Peculiar people whom wild Hungary sends
Roving through every land. She drew her cloak
About her, turned her black eyes up to Heaven,
And thus pursued: Aye, like his fortunes, mount,
The future Doge of Venice! And before
For very wonder any one could speak
_Zeno_. Strange! Hast thou never seen
That woman since?
_Doge_. I never saw her more.
From "Tennyson's Poetical Works," published by Houghton Mifflin
BY ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
"Shall we fight or shall we fly?
Good Sir Richard, tell us now,
For to fight is but to die!
There'll be little of us left by the time this sun be set."
And Sir Richard said again: "We be all good Englishmen.
Let us bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the devil,
For I never turned my back upon don or devil yet."
Sir Richard spoke and he laughed, and we roar'd a hurrah, and so
The little _Revenge_ ran on sheer into the heart of the foe,
With her hundred fighters on deck, and her ninety sick below;
For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen.
And the little _Revenge_ ran on thro' the long sea lane between.
And while now the great _San Philip_ hung above us like a cloud
Whence the thunderbolt will fall
Long and loud,
Four galleons drew away
From the Spanish fleet that day,
And two upon the larboard and two upon the starboard lay,
And the battle-thunder broke from them all.
And the sun went down, and the stars came out, far over the summer sea,
But never a moment ceased the fight of the one and the fifty-three.
Ship after ship, the whole night long, their high-built galleons came,
Ship after ship, the whole night long, with her battle-thunder and
Ship after ship, the whole night long, drew back with her dead and her
For some were sunk, and many were shatter'd, and so could fight us no
God of battles, was ever a battle like this in the world before?
For he said: "Fight on! fight on!"
Tho' his vessel was all but a wreck;
And it chanced that, when half of the summer night was gone,
With a grisly wound to be dressed, he had left the deck,
But a bullet struck him that was dressing it suddenly dead,
And himself he was wounded again, in the side and the head,
And he said: "Fight on! Fight on!"
And the night went down, and the sun smiled out far over the summer
And the Spanish fleet with broken sides lay round us all in a ring;
But they dared not touch us again, for they feared that we still could
So they watched what the end would be.
And we had not fought them in vain,
But in perilous plight were we,
Seeing forty of our poor hundred were slain
and half of the rest of us maimed for life
Back to Full Books