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at the Bar. There never was a more argumentative speaker; and the extraordinary impression produced by him in Parliament, was caused by the whole texture of his speeches being argumentative; the diction plain, but forcible; the turn often epigrammatic; the figures as natural as they were unexpected; so that what had occurred to no one, seemed as if every one ought to have anticipated it; but all-strong expressions, terse epigram, happy figure-were wholly subservient to the purpose in view, and were manifestly perceived never to be themselves the object, never to be introduced for their own sake; they were the sparks thrown off by the motion of the engine, not fireworks to amuse by their singularity, or please by their beauty; all was for use, not ornament; all for work, nothing for display; the subject ever in view, the speaker never, either of himself or of the audience. This, indeed, is the invariable result of the highest eloquence, of the greatest perfection of the art, and its complete concealment. In all great passages the artist himself, wrapt up in his work, is never thought of by his hearers, equally wrapt up in it, till the moment when they can pause and take breath, and reflect on the mastery which has been exercised over them, and can then first think of the Master.
There have been orators in all ages to whom this description applies; to many of them, however, only in occasional passages. But though Lord Plunket rarely, if ever, reached the highest point attained by so few in any age, of rapid, overpowering declamation clothed and combined with argument, he probably surpassed them all in this, that there was no interval whatever in his speech, the whole being an exemplification of the rule-clear statement, close reasoning, felicitous illustration, all strictly confined to the subject in hand, every portion without any exception furthering the process of conviction. That he possessed a lively imagination as well as strong feelings, was
manifest in almost every speech he delivered; that he had wit in the ordinary sense, the happy power of seizing on resemblances and diversities which escape other men's observation, is equally certain, though of course, like both his fancy and his feelings it was ever subdued to the use of the occasion. It was employed not to season his discourse and give it a relish, but to help the argument. In society it appeared more frequently. To give instances would be easy-one or two may suffice. When Lord Essex once said that he had seen a brother of Sir John Leach, and could almost have thought it was the Master of the Rolls himself, so much did the manner run in the family, "I should as soon have thought of a wooden leg running in the family," said Plunket. "What has taken O'Connell over to Ireland?" said some one, at the time the tribute called rent was collecting: "Very likely to look after his tenants," was the answer.
The beauty of his figurative passages has been always extolled, and never with exaggerated praise. The great excellence was not merely in the power of imagination displayed, but in the absolute perfection of their fitness to the occasion. Like the point of his wit, his fancy was only employed to enforce the argument, or afford necessary illustration. The celebrated description of time as securing titles, cannot be too much admired for the perfect appropriateness of the figure, its striking and complete resemblance, as well as its raising before us an image, previously familiar to the mind in all particulars, except its connexion with the subject for which it is so unexpectedly but so naturally introduced. Like all the passages of the great master, its perfect concision is as remarkable as that of the great masters of song, the Dantes and Miltons, who with a single blow that needs not be repeated, accomplish their object: or like Demosthenes himself in the woTsp vepos and the
ὥσπερ δι βαρβάροι πυκτεύουσιν. "Time with his scythe in his hand is ever mowing down the evidences of title; wherefore the wisdom of the law plants in his other hand the hour glass by which he metes out the periods of possession that shall supply the place of the muniments his scythe has destroyed." This speech was in the Court of Chancery many years ago.
But more recently in the House of Lords, as if to afford a triumphant refutation of the notion that his genius had felt the hand of age, he with consummate skill and an admirable figurative illustration, defended himself from the charge of inconsistency in supporting the great measure of 1831, when, like all the adherents of Lord Grenville, and indeed, of the Burke school to which he inclined, he had always been adverse to Parliamentary Reform. "In those days Reform approached us in a far different guise; it came as a felon and we resisted; it now comes as a creditor; we admit the debt, and only dispute on the instalments by which it shall be paid."
These are great and renowned passages; but numberless others occur in almost all his speeches, though much less celebrated, and for the most part the foundation is homely and unpretending. Thus to describe the effects of sedition and intimidation, if left unchecked, in extending itself, he takes the hackneyed simile of the undulations occasioned by a pebble thrown into a lake; but no one can deny the novel application of this well-known image. "The system of violence, though his country was not deemed particularly timid, and was now undisturbed, would have its effect there also. It was like a stone thrown into the water; circle succeeded circle; every new pro
* Αρχειν γαρ ειώθατε might be given as an illustration, though not a simile-ανδρων επιφανων πασα γη ταφος is ascribed to Pericles by Thucydides; but he makes him go on to illustrate in a way Demosthenes probably would not have done; for the snλw, the axeg and μn wgwonxovan almost reduce the fine metaphor to a fact.
selyte added to its powers; every one who was terrified became the instrument of intimidation. If this went on he knew not where it would end."
Speaking of the increasing numbers and might of the Roman Catholics :- "The power of all bodies of men depends upon their numbers, professions, wealth; upon their interest in commerce and manufactures, and upon their rank in your fleets and armies. These are, and have been the imperishable materials of political power since the foundation of the civilized world; gold and steel are the hinges of the gate on the road to it, and knowledge holds the key."
To give examples of his reasoning, apart from such illustrations, of its strict and pure logic, its happily but moderately employed antithesis, and the epigram of the pointed diction which conveyed it, would be to cite almost any portion of any speech; but, for the most part, the ratiocination could only be followed by examining a large portion of the statement. Let us see, however, if some passages of pure reasoning may not be selected from the body of the argument to which they belong, and give some idea, faint though it be, of this matchless orator's manner of putting his
He has denounced the double treason to our own religion and our constitution, in sanctioning by law the free exercise of the Catholics' faith, throwing away the religious test and substituting the political one in its place:" If the political oath is an insufficient substitute for the religious adjuration, how can we be justifiable in allowing it to give the Catholic admission to the high constitutional privileges he now enjoys? If it is a sufficient substitute, we prevaricate with our own consciences, in refusing him admission, on the strength of it, to the remaining privileges which he requires. In direct violation of the policy which substituted the political oath for the religious declaration, we now say that we require his declaration that he
does not hold the religious doctrine which implies the political. But he is ready to swear that he does not hold the political doctrine; and still you prefer his declaration that he does not hold the opinion which furnishes the presumption, to his oath that he does not hold the opinion which is the thing presumed. Is not this a perfect proof that the political apprehension is a pretext, and that it is bigotry, or something worse, which is the motive? Is not this, also, a full attestation of your perfect reliance on the honour and sincerity of the Catholic, as well as of your own intolerance? You will accept his word as a proof that he has abjured his religious tenets, but you will not receive his oath as long as he abides by them. Is it he that is insincere in his oath? Then why trust his declaration? Has the oath a negative power? It is not merely that his oath is not binding; but that which shall be full evidence if he merely asserts it by implication, shall become utterly incredible if he swear to it directly. Why, this is worse than transubstantiation; it is as gross a rebellion against the evidence of demonstration, as the other is against the testimony of sense."
Of this other passage it may truly be said that there is in each of the sentences throughout, and in each member of some of the sentences, a complete argument. After indignantly denying the assertion "of some of their absurd advocates," that the Catholics are slaves, and affirming that they possess most of the privileges of this country, with the power which these rights confer, he proceeds :-"Do you believe that such a body, possessed of such a station, can submit to contumely and exclusion? That they will stand behind your chair at the public banquet? The less valuable in sordid computation the privilege, the more marked the insult in refusing it; and the more honourable the anxiety for possessing it. Miserable and unworthy wretches must they be if they ceased to aspire to it; base and dangerous hypocrites if they dissembled their