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SIR JAMES GRAHAM'S SPEECHES.
(From Fraser's Magazine.)
The Conservative speeches of Sir James Graham, made while fighting side by side with Sir Robert Peel and Lord Stanley against the Whigs, were admirable specimens of what may be done by highly cultivated powers, extensive acquaintance with the best models of eloquence, persevering care, and elaborate preparation, without oratorical genius, or that earnestness or sincerity of purpose which will often advantageously supply its place. Assuming them to have been deliberately got up to serve a certain purpose, it would be impossible to withhold admiration from the power, tact, and apti- tude with which the means were made sub- servient to the end. Upon the supposition that the speaker was really sincere, it was difficult to account for the absence, even in the most solemn appeals to the religious feelings of the auditory, or to their cherished constitutional prepossessions, of those touches of deep feeling which are the utterance of the soul, not the promptings of art, and which actlike a talisman upon the sympathies. The speeches referred to were, many of them, superior as compositions to those of Sir Robert Peel or Lord Stanley, containing more of the great argument on which the whole movement of the Conservative party was based. For, although Sir James Graham evinces so little readiness to bend his will to
those around him, be shows a chameleqn like power of reflecting their sympathies, opinions, or prejudices. They were in this respect admirable manuals for the party, and no doubt did good service in the country. But the impetuous eloquence of Lord Stanley, and the admirable persuasive art of Sir Robert Peel enabled them to achieve more with materials which, in justice to Sir James Graham, we mast admit were not superior to those which are to be found in his speeches of that period. What detracted from~the effect of the declamatory passage was a somewhat pompous and stilted tone, a too evident affectation of solemnity and earnest- ness, which might have been partly natural, arising from physical causes, and, therefore, not fairly the object oi criticism, though materially marring the effect of the speeches. But, allowing for all these defects, they were yet remarkable efforts of oratorical skill, which raised Sir James to a level with the best speakers in the House of Commons. The exordiums and perorations always bore marks of the most careful preparation, and were usually models of fine composition ; the quotations were most apt, and often from recondite sources, the poetical passages de- livered with a fine emphasis and full apprecia- tion of the rhythm. As a debater, rising at a late hour, perhaps, to reply suddenly to the arguments of a previous speaker or speakers, where the novelty of the topics precludes all preparation, and the real powers of the orator are therefore tried to the utmost, Sir James showed himself the possessor of the very highest order of talent. In readiness of argument, retentiveness of memory, sudden- ness of quotation, quickness of retort, invec- tive, sarcasm, repartee, declamation, he was seldom or never at fault, and was always the antagonist most dreaded by the Ministers.
Perhaps one reason for this might be the virulence of tone, and unscrupulousness in the use of weapons, of which mention has already been made, as one of the chief faults
of Sir James Graham.