Nor was this all, but he would make his interviews, conversations, and business with those outside, the foundation and starting point for eager toil. For as soon as he parted from his associates, he would go down into his study, and there would go over his transactions with them in due order, and the arguments used in defence of each course.
And still further, whatever speeches he chanced to hear delivered he would take up by himself and reduce to propositions and periods, and he would introduce all sorts of corrections and changes of expression into the speeches made by others against himself, or, contrariwise, by himself against others. Consequently it was thought that he was not a man of good natural parts, but that his ability and power were the product of toil.
And there would seem to be strong proof of this in the fact that Demosthenes was rarely heard to speak on the spur of the moment, but though the people often called upon him by name as he sat in the assembly, he would not come forward unless he had given thought to the question and was prepared to speak upon it. For this, many of the popular leaders used to rail at him, and Pytheas, in particular, once told him scoffingly that his arguments smelt of lamp wicks.
To him, then, Demosthenes made a sharp answer.
‘Indeed,’ said he,
‘thy lamp and mine, O Pytheas, are not privy to the same pursuits.’ To the rest, however, he made no denial at all, but confessed that his speeches were neither altogether unwritten, nor yet fully written out. Moreover, he used to declare that he who rehearsed his speeches was a true man of the people: for such preparation was a mark of deference to the people, whereas heedlessness of what the multitude will think of his speech marks a man of oligarchical spirit, and one who relies on force rather than on persuasion.
Another circumstance, too, is made a proof of his lack of courage for an emergency, namely, that when he was interrupted by the clamours of the people, Demades often rose and spoke off-hand in his support, but he never rendered such a service to Demades.