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[99] the Pilgrims, was the first of the great occasional addresses which gave so much fame to Webster as an orator, wholly apart from that which he achieved in Congress or in the courts. It was evidently prepared with extreme care and has less of the effect of words actually spoken than his later work of the same character. The perfect combination of the literary quality with the spoken word, to which he afterwards attained, has not yet been reached. The Plymouth Discourse shows his wide knowledge of history, and the historical illustrations are given with an easy mastery of his subject and with a conciseness that saves him from the rambling digression which is at once the temptation and the danger of the historical parallel. There are also many passages which contain, in the manner of Burke, philosophical considerations of the science of government and which deal with the general principles affecting social and political problems. The history and philosophy are all eminently appropriate to his subject and to an address of that character. They give it weight, seriousness, and the permanence which lasts far beyond the moment of speech. The manner in which they are used and introduced is distinctly literary. But we also find in this address something more, the purely literary quality in the style and in the thought.

It is this literary quality which concerns us here, and to appreciate it we must mark the distinction, often a very narrow one, between the rhetorical and the literary. Rhetoric is of course in its place a branch of literature, but it may be of the utmost excellence and yet lack the highest literary quality. Rhetoric is out of place in purely literary work which is not dramatic in character. Yet curiously enough it is not misplaced in poetry. Rhetorical verse, although not the highest kind of poetry, may yet be in its own sphere very admirable indeed.

You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet,
Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
The nobler and the manlier one?
You have the letters Cadmus gave—
Think ye he meant them for a slave?

That is rhetorical poetry and it is very fine of its kind, very splendid even. Byron was a great master of rhetorical verse,

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