Page images




geant. When urged against hazarding his life on that day, he re

plied enthusiastically, — " Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."
cv. WILLIAM Pitt, the younger, was born on the 28th of May, 1759,

and was the second son of Lord Chatham. He was educated at
Cambridge University, where be continued nearly seven years,
devoting his attention mainly to three things; namely, the classics,
mathematics, and the logic of Aristotle applied to the purposes of
debate. In early life his whole soul seems to have been absorbed
by one idea
that of becoming a distinguished orator.

66 Multum
haud multa," was his motto in most of his studies for life. This
language gave direction to most of his reading in English Litera-
ture; he had the finest parts of Shakspeare by heart; he read the
best historians with great care; he entered Parliament in 1781, and
at a single bound, when only twenty-two years of age, he placed
himself in the foremost rank of English statesmen and orators, at
the proudest era of English eloquence. He was made Prime Minis-
ter at the age of twenty-four, and he continued to fill the first
place in the councils of his country, during most of the remaining
period of his life, which terminated on the 23d of January, 1806, in
the 47th year of his age. As a debater in the House, his speeches
were logical and argumentative. The strength of his oratory was
intrinsic, and his speeches were stamped with the inimitable marks
of originality.
This extract was taken from a speech on the abolition of the slave-
trade, in the House of Commons, 1792, which is regarded as one

of the most brilliant displays of his eloquence. CVI. HORACE MANN was born at Franklin, Mass., May, 1796, and gradu

ated at Brown University, in 1819, with the highest honors. After a successful career as a politician, having served in both branches of the Legislature, on the organization of the Board of Education in Massachusetts, on the 29th of June, 1837, Mr. Mann was elected its Secretary, which office he continued to fill with great ability, for twelve years. His twelve Annual Reports to the Board of Education probably constitute the most readable and instructive series of educational documents which has been produced by one mind in any language. On his retirement from the Secretaryship, he was elected Representative to Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John Quincy Adams. Having served in Congress two terms, he again returned to the educational field by accepting the Presidency of Antioch College, at Yellow Springs, Ohio, where

he died, Aug. 2, 1859. OVII. DANIEL WEBSTER was born at Salisbury, N. H., on the 18th of

January, 1782, and graduated at Dartmouth College, in 1801. His college life was distinguished by assiduous and various studies. He was admitted to the bar in 1805, and commenced the practice of law in his native town, but soon after removed to Portsmouth. He removed to Boston in 1816, and died at Marshfield, Mass., October, 1852. He was the first orator, the first jurist, and the first statesman of his generation, in America. His most famous forensic performance, was his argument in the Dartmouth College case. His



Page No.

greatest parliamentary effort was his second speech on Foote's reso lution; and his most important diplomatic service was his negotiation of the treaty of Washington, in 1842. His speeches and orations have been published in six volumes, with an admirable

memoir, by Mr. Everett. 157. cxvi. This Will: of STEPHEN GIRARD, of Philadelphia, providing for the

founding of a college for orphans. 160. CXVIII. This selection is the peroration to Mr. Webster's second speech on

Foote's resolution. 165. cxxi. This extract is taken from the address delivered by Mr. Webster on

the occasion of laying the corner-stone of the extension of the

National Capitol. 168. cxxiv. From the address on the laying of the correr-stone of Bunker Hill

Monument, at Charlestown, Mass., the 17th of June, 1825. 170. cxxv. WILLIAM Pitt, first Earl of Chatham, was born at London, on the

15th of November, 1708. He became a member of Parliament in 1735, at the age of twenty-six, and was made Secretary of State in December, 1756, which office he continued to hold, with a brief interval, until October, 1761. He was appointed to the office of Lord Privy Seal in 1766, and elevated to the peerage with the title of Earl Chatham. He died at Hayes, in Kent, on the 11th of May, 1778, in the seventieth year of his age. His devotion to the interest of the great body, especially the middling classes, of the English nation, won for him the title of “the Great Commoner.” He consecrated his great talents and commanding eloquence to the defence of the popular part of the Constitution. In the latter part of his life, though suffering much from bodily infirmities, he was the champion of the American cause, standing forth, in presence of the whole British empire, to arraign, as a breach of the Constitution, every attempt to tax a people who had no representative in Parliament. This was the era of his noblest efforts in oratory. He has been generally regarded as the most powerful orator of modern times. His success, no doubt, was owing in part to his extraordinary personal advantages. In his best days before he was crippled by the gout, his figure was tall and erect; his attitude imposing; his gestures energetic even to vehemence, yet tempered with dignity and grace. His voice was full and clear; his loudest whisper was distinctly heard; his middle notes were sweet and beautifully varied; and, when he elevated his voice to its highest pitch, the House was completely filled with the volume of sound. The effect was awful, except when he wished to cheer or animate; then he had spiritstirring notes which were perfectly irresistible. But although gifted by nature with a fine voice and person, he spared no effort to add

everything that art could confer, for his improvement as an orator. 174.cxxvII. HENRY CLAY was born in Virginia, April 12, 1777, and died at

Washington, June 29, 1852. In early life his advantages of education were limited. He commenced the practice of the law in 1797. His political career began in 1803, and ended in 1852. He was twice Speaker of the National House of Representatives. In 1814, he was one of the commissioners to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent

[ocr errors]

Page No.

He represented the State of Kentucky in the United States Senate
at various periods from 1806 till 1852. He was Secretary of State
during the administration of John Quincy Adams, and he was
three times the unsuccessful Whig candidate for the Presidency.
He was a man of the warmest sympathies, and he captivated the
hearts of all who came in contact with him. He was a patriot, and
willingly sacrificed private preference to public good. He said
truly in his valedictory address to the Senate, -"In all my public
acts, I have had a single eye directed, and a warm and devoted
heart dedicated to what, in my best judgment, I believed the true
interest, the honor, the union, and the happiness of my country
required." He was a consummate orator. In his manner he
united the gentleness of woman with the pride and dignity of the
haughtiest manhood. His style was full, flowing, and manly; and

his voice was sonorous, sweet, and powerful.
183. cxxxvi. ELIPHALET Nott was born in Connecticut, in 1773, and died in

Schenectady, N. Y., in 1866. He occupied the office of President
of Union College for about sixty years.
The eloquent discourse on the death of Hamilton was delivered at

Albany, in 1804.
190. CXL. John Hancock, President of the American Congress in 1776, and

Signer of the Declaration, was born in Massachusetts, in 1739,
and died in 1793.
This extract is from an oration delivered March 5th, on the anni-
versary of the massacre of Boston citizens by British soldiers,

which took place four years before.
191. OXLI. EDMUND BURKE, who was preëminently the great philosophical

orator of our language, was born at Dublin, January 1, 1730, and
died at Beaconsfield, near London, July 9th, 1797. His political
career commenced in the House of Commons, of which body he
was a member during the greater part of his subsequent life. He
wrote out six of his great speeches, the last of which was that on
the Nabob of Arcot's debts. He was strenuously opposed to the
American war, and two of his greatest speeches, that on the
Stamp Act, and that on Conciliation with America, supported the
cause of the colonies. Of the latter, Mr. Everett says,
less than a month before the commencement of hostilities, that
Burke pronounced that truly divine oration on 'Conciliation with
America,' which, in my poor judgment, excels everything, in the
form eloquence, that has come down to us from Greece or
Rome." And he said further, - “Certainly, no compositions in the
English tongue can take precedence of those of Burke, in depth
of thought, reach of forecast, or magnificence of style. In
political disquisition elaborated in the closet, the palm must per-

haps be awarded to Burke over all others, ancient or modern."
203. CL. Platæa, (pla-te'-a): Artemisium, (ar-te-me'-ze-um).
220. CLXII. SIR WALTER Scott was born at Edinburgh, Scotland, August 15,

1771, and died at Abbotsford, his country seat, on the banks of
the Tweed, September 21, 1832. He passed through the High
School and University of his native city, without attaining any

" It was


But, “

Pago No

marked distinction as a scholar. He made some proficiency in Latin, ethics, and history, but he had no taste for Greek. He acquired a general, though not a critical knowledge, of the German, French, Italian, and Spanish languages. But from early youth he was an insatiable reader, and he stored his mind with a vast fund of miscellaneous knowledge. Romances were among his chief favorites, and he had great facility in inventing and telling stories. He became greatly distinguished as a poet before he commenced his career as a novelist. His first great poem, the Lay of the Last Minstrel, published in 1805, was received with enthusiastic admiration, and at once stamped him as a poetical genius. The appearance of Marmion, in 1808, greatly enhanced his reputation as a poet, and the Lady of the Lake, which came out two years later, was still more popular. Here he touched his highest point in poetical com

His subsequent poems certainly added nothing to his reputation, if, indeed, they sustained it.

as the old mine gave symptoms of exhaustion," says Bulwer, the new mine, ten times more affluent, at least in the precious metals, was discovered. In 1814 he commenced that long and magnificent series of prose fictions, which, for seventeen years were poured out with an unprecedented prodigality, and which can only be compared with the dramas of Shakspeare, as presenting an endless variety of original characters, scenes, historical situations and adventures. In 1926, he became bankrupt, in consequence of a partnership with a printer and publisher, and, although fifty-five years old, he undertook the heroic task of discharging his heavy pecuniary liabilities by the productions of his pen. In six years of intense literary labor, he nearly accomplished his noble object, but before he reached the goal, he sunk exhausted on the course. the portion of his life, from his bankruptcy to his death," says Mr. Hillard, “Scott's character shines with a moral grandeur far above

mere literary fame." 222. CLXIV. From the poem Marmion.

Tantallon's towers: the ruins of Tantallon Castle occupy a high rock projecting into the German Ocean, about two miles east of

North Berwick, in the southeastern part of Scotland. 223. Douglas, ARCHIBALD, Earl of Angus, a man remarkable for

strength of body and mind, who died broken-hearted at calamities

which befell his house and country at Flodden. 224. clxv. Pibroch, (pi-brok). In Scotland, a Highland air played on the

bagpipe before the Highlanders when they go out to battle.

Doneuil Dhu, (donnil du): MacDonald the Black. 230 clxix. Par hasius, (par-rā'-zhius): Prometheus, (pro-me'-thuse): Caucasus,

(caw'-că-săs): lame Lemnian : Vulcan, the artisan of the Olympian

gods. 232. clxx. MRS. FELICIA HEMANS, an admirable woman and sweet poetess,

was born at Liverpool, England, September 25, 1793, and died May 16, 1835. Her maiden name was Browne. She was married to Captain Hemans, an officer in the British Army, but the union was not a happy one. Her imagination was chivalrous

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Page No

and romantic, and she delighted in picturing the ancient martial glory of England. The purity of her mind is seen in all her works. Though popular, and in many respects excellent, her poetry is calculated to please the fancy rather than to make a

deep and lasting impression. CLXX. A true story. Young Casabianca, a boy thirteen years old, son

of the commander of the Orient, remained at his post, in the battle of the Nile, after the ship had taken fire and all the guns had been abandoned, and was blown up with the vessel when

the flames reached the magazine. 250 CLXXXVI. The Royal George, of 108 guns, whilst undergoing a partial ca

reening in Portsmouth Harbor, England, was overset about 10, A. M., August 29, 1782. The total loss was believed to be near

- 1000 souls. 283. cxc. THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY was born in the county of

Leicester, England, October 25, 1800, and died December, 28, 1859. He was educated at Cambridge University. He was several times elected member of Parliament, and for several years he served the government in India as member of the Supreme Council. But his fame rests mainly on his literary productions, the principal of which is his History of England, whose popularity has never been exceeded by any other historical work in the language. His essays, which have been collected and published in six volumes, are remarkable for brilliancy of style and richness of matter. As a descriptive poet he has exhibited high genius in his “ Lays of Ancient Rome.” His “ Battle of Ivry” has the true trumpet-ring which kindles the soul

and stirs the blood. - Ivry, (ee'-vree): a town in France where Henry IV. gained a

decisive victory over Mayenne, 1590.
- oriflamme, (or'-e-flam): the ancient royal standard of France.

- Mayenne, Duke: commander of the army of the League.
Remember Saint Bartholomew: the massacre on Saint Bartholo

mew's Eve, August 23, 1572. 265 cxcl Bingen, (bing-en). 274. CXCVII. SAMUEL Taylor COLERIDGE, a man remarkable for his rich

poetical imagination, his unrivalled colloquial eloquence, and his superior critical powers, was born in Devonshire, England, October 20, 1772, and died July 25, 1834. He was educated at Christ's Hospital, London, where he had Charles Lamb for a school-fellow, and at Jesus' College, Cambridge. He afterwards acquired a knowledge of the German language and literature at Ratzburg and Gottingen. In early life he was a Unitarian and a Jacobin, but he subsequently became a Trinitarian and a Royalist. Those who knew him thought him equal to any task; he planned great works in prose and verse which he never executed. His poetical works, of which his Ancient Mariner is the most striking and original, have been collected and published in three volumes. His language is often rich and musical, highly figurative and ornate. His Ode on France was considered by Shelley to be the finest

« PreviousContinue »