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idea they hate in their hearts. The brave spirits are those who welcome the truth as they see it, and fight it out. The fool often lives and dies in his own errors. The wise man investigates and rejects them. As none are perfect in life, so all should aspire to be perfect in the Christian virtue of toleration.
[March 26, 1871.)
LISTENING to Mr. Dougherty's brilliant lecture, at the Philadelphia Academy of Music, on the evening of March 13, memory carried me back many years. He was right when he said that the days of oratory were over, and that the men fittest för declamation generally prefer the plainest and most practical way of expressing their sentiments. I am disposed to think the change for the better, inasmuch as the most thoughtful men are not always the best speakers, and the best speakers are not always the most thoughtful men. A calm, conversational style necessitates logic or an attempt in that direction, and leaves reason a clearer, because less exciting, field to combat with
High art seems to have given way to exact science. Words weigh little. Adjectives are accepted as confessions of weakness. Fact so rules the world that even the novelist can not be successful unless he weaves the very best likeness of it into his fictions. A great and wise man said to me lately, after reading one of Charles Reade's wonderful creations, “This book reminds me keenly of the singular adage, that many a romance is history without the proper names, just as many a history is romance with the proper names.”
How well I remember some of the orators of other daysthe men of the generation succeeding Andrew Jackson! The South always predominated in fascinating and plausible rhet
ORATORS OF THE SOUTH.
oric. Winter Davis, of Maryland, was at once a logician and a declaimer. His sharp tenor voice, his incisive sentences and ready wit, his fine figure, were admirably re-enforced by acute reasoning powers and admirable legal training. A rare specimen of the same qualities was Judah P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, now a practitioner in the various law-courts in London. His handsome Jewish face, his liquid tones, and easy enunciation, contrasted well with his skill as a debater and his accuracy as a student. Pierre Soulé, a Senator from the same State, was a different, yet as peculiar a type. His swarthy complexion, black, flashing eyes, and Frenchified dress and speech, made him one of the attractions of the Senate. He is now in his grave, after a strangely eventful and novel career.
He was an artificial man-brilliant in repartee, yet subject to fits of melancholy; impetuous, yet reserved; proud, but polite-in one word, such a contradiction as Victor Hugo, with a vast fund of knowledge, and a deposit of vanity which was never exhausted. He was a ready-made Secessionist when the rebellion came, and yet his light shone feebly in that dark conspiracy. Virginia always had a supply of good speakers. Thomas H. Bayley, with his gold spectacles and ambrosial locks, and his Southern idiom, a compound of the negro and the scholar; Charles James Faulkner, with his pleasant smile, dandy dress, and flowing phrases; James M. Mason, with his Dombey diction and pompous pretense ; R. M. T. Hunter, with his quiet and careful conservatism ; Roger A. Pryor, with his impetuous and dazzling temperament — these were all first-class speakers, though as distinct as their own faces. The noisiest man in the immediate ante-war Congress was George S. Houston, of Alabama; the most quarrelsome was Keitt, of South Carolina ; the best-tempered, Orr, of the same State ; the most acrid, George W. Jones, of Tennessee; the jolliest, Senator Jere Clemens, of Alabama; the most supercilious, Senator Slidell, of Louisiana ; the most genial, Senator Anthony Kennedy, of
Maryland; and the boldest and coarsest, Wigfall, of Texas. Breckinridge was, in many respects, a true orator, and seemed to copy much from Clay and Crittenden. Jefferson Davis was always a capital dialectician, not strong in argument, but always stern in convictions. Hammond, of South Carolina, had a good presence and a persuasive tone, but was not a great man. Toombs, of Georgia, was the stormy petrel, often grand as a declaimer, and always intolerant, dogmatic, and extreme. was as violent in 1850, when he was a Unionist, as he was in 1860, when he became a Secessionist.
Two scenes are deeply imprinted on my memory. They exhibit the two schools of oratory, West and South. One was the remarkable appeal of Hon. James McDowell, of Virginia, in the House of Representatives, on the 3d of September, 1850. That was the initiative period—the porch, so to speak, which introduced us to the arena of civil war; and McDowell, like other patriots, stood upon its steps and predicted the dark future if we did not harmonize. He was then in his fifty-fifth year, not in good health, but full of genuine love of liberty. He had won high honors as a popular speaker in Virginia. Born in that State, and educated at Princeton College, New Jersey, he was profoundly attached to the Union. He was filled with apprehensions of dismemberment in 1850. The extremists demanded that California should not be admitted as a free State without an equivalent in the extension of slave territory—an exaction indignantly resisted by the North. The agitation was intense- the peril imminent. At this moment Mr. McDowell rose to address the House. His tall form, graceful gestures, and commanding voice revived the expectations created by his fame as a Virginia orator, and his sustained and splendid appeal confirmed them. When he proclaimed these noble words the House broke forth into involuntary applause, which could not be restrained by Speaker Cobb:
“From the empire of Nebuchadnezzar to that of Napoleon, JAMES MCDOWELL, OF VIRGINIA.
how immense the distance, how stupendous the revolutions that have intervened, how intense the fiery contests which have burned over continents and ages, changing their theatre and their instruments, and leaving upon the whole surface of the globe scarce a spot unstained by their desolating and bloody track; and yet no national offspring has sprung from them all so fitted as our own United America to redeem for the world the agonies they have cost it. Whatever, in that long period, other nations may have risen up to be, and however truly and illustriously a few of them may have prolonged their day and advanced the civilization and the wisdom of themselves and the world, still none of them has ever embodied such an aggregate of rational happiness or political truth as our own Republic, and none like it has ever fulfilled the ultimate problem of all government, that, namely, of making the utmost freedom of the citizen and the utmost power of the State the co-existing and the upholding conditions of one another. With a freedom only inferior to that of Rome in the worst qualities of hers, those of aggression and conquest, and superior to that of Greece in its best, those of civilization and defense; with nothing but this freedom, its story and its triumphs, our Republic has become confederate alike with the liberty sentiment of the world and with the majestic power of human sympathy to propagate itself, and hence its flag is destined to wave not only over an empire of illimitable means but over the illimitable empires of re-born and self-governing man. And now that this Republic of freedom, happiness, and power is a heritage of ours, who that has shared, as we have done, in the countless blessings that belong to it—who that knows it, as we do, to be the heritage of every good which human nature can enjoy or human government secure--who, so situated, could make it or could see it the sport of violent, selfish, or parricidal passions? Who of us, without putting forth every faculty of soul and body to prevent it, would see it go down, down under some monstrous struggle of brother with brother, an external crush upon ourselves, an external example for the shuddering, the admonition, the horror, and the curse of universal man? There have been those who, impelled only by their own noble and generous nature, have rushed forward on the field of battle and given their own bosom to the blow of death, that thereby some loved comrade or commander might be spared, or some patriotic purpose vindicated and secured; there have been those who have gone into the dungeons of misfortune and of guilt, and worn out the days and years of their own lives that they might alleviate the disease or the despair of their wretched inmates, and, at least, kindle up for another world the aspirations and hopes which were extinguished for this. And there have been others, too, who have companioned with the pestilence, and have walked, day by day, in its silent and horrid footsteps, that they might learn in what way to encounter its power, and so be enabled, reverently, to lift up from crushed and anguished communities the too heavy pressing of the hand of the Almighty. And are we, who hold the sublimest political trust ever committed to the hands of any other people—are we alone to be incapable of any and every dedication of ourselves which that trust requires ? Can we stand calmly, helplessly, and faithlessly by, and allow it to be wrecked and lost?
“In this hour of danger—this eventful hour of the age—this hour which is all in all to us and to millions besides, those oppressed millions of other lands who are ruled by irresponsible power, and who, as they lie upon the earth, overwhelmed and crushed by the weight of altars or of thrones, still look to us for hope, and pour out their hearts in sobbings and in prayer to Heaven that ours may be the radiant and the steady light which shall never bewilder or betray; in this hour, so full of interest, our mother country comes into our very midst, and taking each by the hand, says to each: "Son, give me, give me thy heart.' And will we not, can we not do it? Can we not give it freely,