Twenty-eight years ago, in 1863, Wendell Phillips
yielded to the solicitations of his friends, and revised for publication a selection of his Speeches, Lectures, and Letters.
The moment was well chosen.
On the one hand public interest in the Antislavery question, the constant burden of the orator's utterance, had widened and deepened with the progress of the war, and had reached its height when the Emancipation Proclamation
appeared; and on the other hand, the personal popularity of Mr. Phillips
was steadily rising throughout the North
and the West
Both these changes account in part for the welcome the volume at once received.
But its permanent place among the records of American eloquence is due to deeper and intrinsic reasons.
The classic is always contemporary.
If the immediate occasion and subject of the speaker pass, the truth and conviction which inspire his appeal are not lost; and while the charm of voice and action may die with the moment, or survive only as a tradition, there is a deeper grace of form which makes the speech, as well as the poem, an eternal