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Eloquence Of O'Connell

Broadly considered, O'Connell's eloquence has never been equalled in modern times, certainly not in English speech. Do you think I am partial? I will vouch John Randolph of Roanoke, himself an orator of no mean level. Hearing O'Connell, he exclaimed: "This is the man, these are the lips, the most eloquent that speak the English tongue in my day!" I think he was right. I remember the solemnity of Webster, the grace of Everett, the rhetoric of Choate; I know the eloquence that lay in the iron logic of Calhoun; I have melted beneath the magnetism of Sergeant S. Prentiss of Mississippi, who wielded a power few men ever had; it has been my fortune to sit at the feet of the great speakers of the English tongue on the other side of the ocean; but I think all of them together never surpassed, and no one of them ever equalled, O'Connell.

Nature intended him for our Demosthenes. Never, since the great Greek, has she sent forth any one so lavishly gifted for his work as a tribune of the people. In the first place, he had a magnificent presence, impressive in bearing, massive, like that of Jupiter. Webster himself hardly outdid him in the majesty of his proportions. To be sure, he had not Webster's craggy face and precipice of brow, nor his eyes glowing like anthracite coal. Nor had he the lion roar of Mirabeau. But his presence filled the eye. A small O'Connell would hardly have been an O'Connell at all. So it was with O'Connell; there was something majestic in his presence before he spoke, and he added to it what Webster had not, but Clay might have lent, grace. Lithe as a boy, at seventy, every attitude a picture, every gesture a grace, he was still all nature, nothing but nature seemed to speak all over him. With the slightest possible Irish brogue, he would tell a story, while all Exeter Hall shook with laughter. The next moment, tears in his voice like a Scotch song, five thousand men wept.

Wendell Phillips.

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