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William Eustis Russell (search for this): chapter 13
me with a strong wish that I could conscientiously vote against him. I remember also one eminent clergyman and popular orator who spoke with me before a very rough audience at Jersey City, and who so lowered himself by his tone on the platform, making allusions and repartees so coarse, that I hoped I might never have to speak beside him again. Of all the speakers with whom I have ever occupied the platform, the one with whom I found it pleasantest to be associated was the late Governor William Eustis Russell of Massachusetts. Carrying his election three successive times in a state where his party was distinctly in the minority, he yet had, among all political speakers whom I have ever heard, the greatest simplicity and directness of statement, the most entire absence of trick, of claptrap, or of anything which would have lowered him. Striking directly at the main line of his argument, always well fortified, making his points uniformly clear, dealing sparingly in joke or anecdote,
Frederick Douglass (search for this): chapter 13
ssing upon heart and conscience, for the speaking to be otherwise than alive. It carried men away as with a flood. Fame is never wide or retentive enough to preserve the names of more than two or three leaders: Bright and Cobden in the anticorn-law movement; Clarkson and Wilberforce in that which carried West India Emancipation; Garrison, Phillips, and John Brown in the great American agitation. But there were constantly to be heard in anti-slavery meetings such minor speakers as Parker, Douglass, William Henry Channing, Burleigh, Foster, May, Remond, Pillsbury, Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelley,--each one holding the audience, each one making converts. How could eloquence not be present there, when we had not time to think of eloquence?--as Clarkson under similar circumstances said that he had not time to think of the welfare of his soul. I know that my own teachers were the slave women who came shyly before the audience, women perhaps as white as my own sisters,--Ellen Craft was quite
Edward Gibbon (search for this): chapter 13
luous; as the ship in launching glides from the ways, and scatters cradletimbers and wedges upon the waters that are henceforth to be her home. The moral of my whole tale is that while no man who is appointed by nature to literary service should forsake it for public life, yet the experience of the platform, and even of direct political service, will be most valuable to him up to a certain point. That neither of these avenues leads surely to fame or wealth is a wholly secondary matter. Gibbon says of himself that in circumstances more indigent or more wealthy he should never have accomplished the task or acquired the fame of an historian. For myself, I have always been very grateful, first for not being rich, since wealth is a condition giving not merely new temptations, but new cares and responsibilities, such as a student should not be called upon to undertake; and secondly, for having always had the health and habits which enabled me to earn an honest living by literature, an
B. F. Butler (search for this): chapter 13
o indeed encounter this prejudice, but it comes almost wholly from other educated men who think that they can make a point against rivals by appealing to some such feeling. Nobody used this weapon more freely, for instance, than the late General B. F. Butler, who was himself a college graduate. He was always ready to deride Governor John D. Long for having translated Virgil; while his audiences, if let alone, would have thought it a creditable performance. As a rule, it may be assumed that a audience is always with the party attacked, and nothing pleases the spectators better, especially in the court-room, then to have a witness turn the tables on the lawyer. It is much the same in legislative bodies, and nothing aided the late General Butler more than the ready wit with which he would baffle the whole weight of argument by a retort. The same quality belonged to the best rough-and-ready fighter in the Massachusetts legislature of 1881,--a man to whom I have already referred as l
William Henry Channing (search for this): chapter 13
and conscience, for the speaking to be otherwise than alive. It carried men away as with a flood. Fame is never wide or retentive enough to preserve the names of more than two or three leaders: Bright and Cobden in the anticorn-law movement; Clarkson and Wilberforce in that which carried West India Emancipation; Garrison, Phillips, and John Brown in the great American agitation. But there were constantly to be heard in anti-slavery meetings such minor speakers as Parker, Douglass, William Henry Channing, Burleigh, Foster, May, Remond, Pillsbury, Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelley,--each one holding the audience, each one making converts. How could eloquence not be present there, when we had not time to think of eloquence?--as Clarkson under similar circumstances said that he had not time to think of the welfare of his soul. I know that my own teachers were the slave women who came shyly before the audience, women perhaps as white as my own sisters,--Ellen Craft was quite as white,--women
William Wordsworth (search for this): chapter 13
gain, during my service in the legislature, when some member had been sent there by his town, mainly to get one thing done,--a boundary changed or a local railway chartered,--he has come to me with an urgent request to make his speech for him; and I have tried to convince him of the universal truth that a single-speech man who has never before opened his lips, but who understands his question through and through, will be to other members a welcome relief from a voice they hear too often. Wordsworth says:--I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds With coldness still returning; Alas I the gratitude of men Hath oftener left me mourning. I have much oftener been saddened by the too great deference of men who were my superiors in everything but a diploma than I have been amazed by their jealousy or distrust. It is my firm conviction that there never was an honester body of men, on the whole, than the two Massachusetts legislatures with which I served in 1880 and 188 . If there has been
Harriet Tubman (search for this): chapter 13
arkson under similar circumstances said that he had not time to think of the welfare of his soul. I know that my own teachers were the slave women who came shyly before the audience, women perhaps as white as my own sisters,--Ellen Craft was quite as white,--women who had been stripped and whipped and handled with insolent hands and sold to the highest bidder as unhesitatingly as the little girl whom I had seen in the St. Louis slave-market; or women who, having once escaped, had, like Harriet Tubman, gone back again and again into the land of bondage to bring away their kindred and friends. My teachers were men whom I saw first walking clumsily across the platform, just arrived from the South, as if they still bore a hundred pounds weight of plantation soil on each ankle, and whom I saw develop in the course of years into the dignity of freedom. What were the tricks of oratory in the face of men and women like these? We learned to speak because their presence made silence impossi
Thomas Carlyle (search for this): chapter 13
rakemen, and passengers all kept recurring to the subject; everybody was going. As we drew near the end, the conductor singled me out as the only stranger and the probable lecturer, and burst into eager explanation. The president of the lyceum, he said, is absent from the village, and the vice-president, who will present you to the audience, is the engineer of this very train. So it turned out: the engineer introduced me with dignity and propriety; he proved to be a reader of Emerson and Carlyle, and he gave me a ride homeward on his locomotive the next morning. There was something pleasant, also, in the knowledge that the lecturer himself met the people as man to man; that he stood upon the platform to be judged and weighed. From the talk of his fellow travelers in the train, beforehand, he could know what they expected of him; and from the talk next morning, how he had stood the test. Wendell Phillips especially dreaded this last ordeal, and always went home after lecturing
Ralph Waldo Emerson (search for this): chapter 13
On the anti-slavery platform, where I was reared, I cannot remember one really poor speaker; as Emerson said, eloquence was dog-cheap there. The cause was too real, too vital, too immediately pressi twenty miles for their entertainments, a dance might be combined with the lecture,--tickets to Emerson and ball, one dollar. I have still a handbill, printed in some village in Indiana in 1867, whe turned out: the engineer introduced me with dignity and propriety; he proved to be a reader of Emerson and Carlyle, and he gave me a ride homeward on his locomotive the next morning. There was soo be the prey of what are called cranks, but especially the first of these, which gathered what Emerson once called the soul of the soldiery of dissent. There were men and women who haunted the Statt to a man who has, or even thinks he has, a higher aim. No single sentence, except a few of Emerson's, ever moved me so much in youth as did a passage translated in Mrs. Austen's German prose wri
C. C. Tacitus (search for this): chapter 13
f needful, rather than to forego his appointed work, as Spinoza certainly did not. If I am glad of anything, it is that I learned in time, though not without some early stumblings, to adjust life to its actual conditions, and to find it richly worth living. After all, no modern writer can state the relative position of author and orator, or the ultimate aims of each, better than it was done eighteen centuries ago in that fine dialogue which has been variously attributed to Quintilian and Tacitus, in which the representatives of the two vocations compare their experience. Both agree that the satisfaction of exercising the gift and of knowing its usefulness to others provides better rewards than all office, all wealth. Aper, the representative orator, says that when he is called on to plead for the oppressed or for any good cause, he rises above all places of high preferment, and can afford to look down on them all. ( mihi supra tribunatus et praeturas et consulatus ascendere vide
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