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Revolutionary Eloquence-Hamilton-Henry-Otis-Ames-

Randolph- Pinkney-Wirt Everett - Corwin- Prentiss




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RATORY is the parent of liberty. By the constitution of things it was ordained that eloquence should be the last stay and support of liberty, and that with her she is ever destined to live, flourish, and to die. It is to the interest of tyrants to cripple and debilitate every species of eloquence. They have no other safety. It is, then, the duty of free states to foster oratory.

The importance of oratory is attested by the belief, according to the fables of Greece and Egypt, that the art of eloquence was of celestial origin, ascribed to the invention of a god, who, from the possession of this art, was supposed to be the messenger and interpreter of Olympus. It is also witnessed by the care with which the art was cultivated at a period of the remotest antiquity.

With the first glimpse of historical truth which burst from the regions of mythology, in that dubious twilight which scarcely descries the distinction between the fictions of pagan superstition and the narrative of real events, a school of oratory, established in the Peloponnesus, dawns upon our view.

After the lapse of a thousand years from that time, Pausanius, a Grecian geographer and historian, says that he had read a treatise upon the art composed by the founder of this school, a contemporary and relative of Theseus in the age preceding that of the Trojan war.

As is stated elsewhere, the poems of Homer abound with still more decisive proofs of the estimation in which the powers of oratory were held, and of the attention with


which it was honoured as an object of instruction in the education of youth.

From that time, through the long series of Greek and Roman history, down to the dark and forbidding period in which the glories of the Roman republic expired, the splendour and the triumphs of oratory are multiplied and conspicuous. Then it was that the practice of the art attained a perfection which has not since been rivalled.

Oratory was power, in the flourishing periods of Athens and Rome. Eloquence was the key to the highest dignities, the passport to the supreme dominion of the state. The voice of oratory was the thunder of Jupiter; the rod of Hermes was the sceptre of the empire. In proportion to the wonders she achieved, was the eagerness to acquire the art. Eloquence was taught as the occupation of a life. The course of instruction commenced with the infant in the cradle, and continued to manhood. It was one of the chief objects of education, and every other part of instruction for childhood was compelled to yield to it. Letters, the sciences, arts, were to be mastered, upon the theory that an orator must be a man of universal knowledge. Moral duties were taught, for the reason that none but a good man could be an orator.

Learning, wisdom, even virtue herself, were estimated by their subserviency to the purpose of eloquence, and the chief duty of man consisted in making himself a master of eloquence.

With the dissolution of Roman liberty, and the decline of Roman taste, oratory fell into decay.

In the United States, any one who knows the least of our system of government may perceive that every law that is passed must be submitted to the people in their representative or collective capacity, and there is no man, no matter how humble his station in life, who may not be called upon to serve as a legislator, or as a member of some body in which the art of speaking and the art of reasoning become absolutely necessary.

In political meetings which are held so often in our

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