Reference > Cambridge History > The Victorian Age, Part Two > Historians, Biographers and Political Orators > Palmerston
  Orators of the Reform Bill period Plunket  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators.

§ 75. Palmerston.


To oratorical distinction, neither John Charles, viscount Althorp (afterwards earl Spencer), lord Grey’s lieutenant in the house of commons, where he enjoyed a unique personal regard, nor his successor in the leadership of the whig party and as prime-minister, William Lamb, viscount Melbourne, had any wish to attain. The latter, indeed, though he went so far as to declare that “the worst thing about the Spaniards was their speaking so well,” could himself do this as most other things well when obliged to do them. The two statesmen, in turn colleagues and rivals, who succeeded lord Melbourne as heads of the liberal party, lord John, afterwards earl, Russell and Henry Temple, viscount Palmerston, were, neither of them, born to sway senates by the force or grace of their eloquence. But the extraordinary self-confidence inbred in the former and his early services to the cause of parliamentary reform, helped him over the repeated breakdowns, at times self-provoked, of his career, and occasionally seemed to warm up the outward coldness of a courageous and patriotic nature. Lord Palmerston, whose easy disposition, great capacity for affairs and quick perception of the mainsprings of personal popularity established him in the end as a national favourite, made at least one great speech in his life (the Civis Romanus speech of 1850), besides many other successful, and some unsuccessful, efforts; he neither shrank from claptrap, nor always avoided flippancy, but the ring which found an echo in English hearts was not wanting where there was a need for it. In Palmerston’s early days, Byron had called his oratory unconvincing; but he had learnt something from Canning, besides the traditions of his foreign policy.   122

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  Orators of the Reform Bill period Plunket  
 
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