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[100] often too much so for his own good, but none the less the rhetoric is not out of place. On the other hand, to put rhetoric, except in dramatic passages, into literary prose is almost as bad as to write metred prose, of which Dickens was guilty in the description of the death of Little Nell. But when we come to giving the literary touch to rhetoric the exact reverse is the case. The rhetoric is at once lifted up and illuminated. The only objection is that the art is as rare as it is difficult, to be found in only a few great masters of speech in human history. It was precisely in this rare and difficult art that Webster excelled. His rhetoric was always unimpeachable, but his peculiar power lay in the fact that he was able to give to it with ever-increasing ease the imperishable literary quality.

We detect the first gleams of this beautiful art in the Plymouth oration. It is not necessary to take as an example the celebrated passage about the slave trade, where the rhetoric predominates; less familiar sentences prove the point. He is speaking of Rome:

Although the time might come, when darkness should settle on all her hills; when foreign or domestic violence should overturn her altars and her temples; when ignorance and despotism should fill the places where Laws, and Arts and Liberty had flourished; when the feet of barbarism should trample on the tombs of her consuls and the walls of her Senate-house and forum echo only to the voice of savage triumph.

A little farther on, speaking of the human love of home and birth-place, a well-worn theme, he says:
When the heart has laid down what it loved most, then it is desirous of laying itself down. No sculptured marble, no enduring monument, no honourable inscription, no ever burning taper that would drive away the darkness of the tomb, can soften our sense of the reality of death, and hallow to our feelings the ground which is to cover us, like the consciousness that we shall sleep, dust to dust, with the objects of our affections.

The thought in these passages is simple, oft-recurrent, entirely familiar, expressed by many other orators with great effect and received by genuinely moved audiences with much applause. The first time one looks upon them, if one could

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