‘  are the checks of the Constitution to us? A fig for the Constitution! When the scorpion's sting is probing us to the quick, shall we stop to chop logic? Shall we get some learned and cunning clerk to say whether the power to do this is to be found in the Constitution, and then, if he, from whatever motive, shall maintain the affirmative, shall we, like the animal whose fleece forms so material a portion of this bill [tariff, 1824], quietly lie down and be shorn?’Randolph's idiosyncrasies have been variously accounted for. He said himself that his unprosperous life was the fruit of an ungovernable temper; but his temper and his violent vagaries were such evidences of a morbid mind that there is temptation simply to consider him mentally unbalanced if not insane. His very maddening skill with words recalls the adage about children and edged tools, for it seems a pity that one so unsedate should have had such weapons of offence in his arsenal. From scarcely any point of view can the orations of Henry Clay (1777-1852) be classed as literature of the same grade and importance as those of Webster and Calhoun. And yet just why one should say this is not quite clear even to oneself. The conclusion, if it be just, rests on the fact that today his speeches seem unprofitable and to be wanting in carrying power and effect. If in order to be classed as literature orations must either be marked by beauty of language and peculiar felicity of word and phrase, or contain, though without distinction of language, a profound and philosophic discussion of matters of lasting human interest, then Clay's speeches can scarcely deserve a high place in literature. But if Clay's words do not now move us deeply, they did move and captivate the men to whom he spoke, and that is the aim of oratory. He was more nearly the great popular orator of his time than was any other; in power over a general audience and in ability to touch the chord of human sympathy, no one was quite his equal, at least in the field of politics. This is much to say of an orator in a generation of free oratory, when men were not hesitant in the use of burning words or hindered by sophisticated self-restraint. No one else had the gracious manner, the voice and the presence, or those nameless qualities of personal charm, which are powerful and dominant in all the relations of life. If he
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