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least, in its dangers, is the possibility, nay, the probability, of the memory proving treacherous. If there is the slightest slip, all is gone; the thread once lost is never regained. You beat about with evident effort, looking as bewildered as you feel ; you try back, talk nonsense, stumble, and break down, utterly discomfited. Of course, the more of these written passages you try to introduce, the more you multiply the chances of this most ignominious form of failure. Pray you, avoid it !
Lastly, there is the Reply. This is the triumph of speech-making, if not of oratory. A great oration may be best made in the introduction of a subject; but a great speech in a reply. This it is that tests the true genius of an orator. By labour or preparation it is possible for mediocrity to get up a formal oration that may more really deserve admiration as a work of art. But a reply cannot be got up; in its nature it must be impromptu, and for its efficiency it must depend entirely upon the natural powers of the orator. If you observe closely the various speakers in Parliament, you will note how some who are accounted orators, and who make fine speeches, never commit themselves to a reply, while all the greatest intellects there reserve themselves for the reply. Here it is that the orator revels in the full enjoyment of all his faculties and the unrestricted exercise of his art. He is bound by no rules of construction, he has not to search for subjects, usually he is embarrassed only by the wealth of them, for whatever has been mooted in the debate is his to deal with at his pleasure. He has taken note of the weak points in the argument, and, with these before him, he treats them in their order, with the further consciousness that his is the last word, and therefore that he has the advantage of the last impression upon the minds of the audience. For a task so all-embracing and miscellaneous, no rules can be prescribed, for it is not subject to rule, and no hints can be suggested, for the moment must teach its own lesson. I can only say that you will best educate yourself to the Reply by sedulous study of the Arts of Writing, Reading and Speaking, and the hints I have thrown out to this end may help you to attain the object of your ambition.
THE ORATORY OF THE BAR.
That Bar oratory has a style of its own is evident from this, that, with rare exceptions, great orators of the Bar are not equally successful in the Legislature, and some are conspicuous failures. Probably this is due in part to the prejudice with which the speeches of Lawyers are received in the House of Commons. They are looked upon, with what justice I will not venture to affirm or deny, as place-hunters rather than patriots ; as advocates speaking from a brief, more than as men pleading the cause which in their honest consciences they believe to be the truth and the right. If they speak well, they obtain little credit for it, for it is thought to be their business to speak; and if they speak indifferently, they are laughed at as men who do not know their business. A foregone conclusion thus taints the judgment. To achieve success, far greater ability and sagacity must be displayed by the Lawyer in the Legislature than would suffice to conduct a layman to fame and influence.
But, if you would prosper at the Bar, you must not suffer your aspirations after parliamentary honours to
your studies for a moment from the arts by which the success of the Advocate is to be attained. In this, as in all its other departments, the Law is a jealous mistress, and you must serve her with all your soul and strength. She will not endure a divided allegiance, nor permit you to win other fame than that which she confers. If
resolve to make the Bar your business, as well as your profession, you will probably have to unlearn much, as certainly as you will require to learn a great deal. If you have cultivated oratory at Oxford, or Cambridge, or at any of the spouting clubs in London, almost certainly you will have acquired a style of speaking altogether unfitted for the Bar, and which you must discard with all possible speed, without hesitation and without reserve. The debating-club style is the worst you can bring into a court of justice, and exposes its exhibitor to certain humiliation and failure. It is the most fruitful cause of breaking down at the Bar, and when you see it still adhering to a man after six months of trial, you may look upon him as hopeless. Being thus fatal, your first and most earnest endeavours should be directed to learn if any of this style cleaves to you, and if so, you should strive laboriously to cast it off.
You will not better know yourself in this than in more important matters. Consult, therefore, a judicious friend, or, if you have none, seek the counsel of a professional teacher of elocution. Prefer a friend, if he can be found, for his ears are likely to be more true than those of masters, who are themselves apt to fall into mannerisms almost as disagreeable as the faults they are invited to mend. Give your friend an opportunity to hear you speak at some time when you are to do so in earnest ; for a private recitation, made with
express purpose to avoid a defect, would not be a suffi. cient test. If he should detect the slightest traces of the debating-club style—which I cannot describe, although you will recognise it in a moment—you should direct your
efforts to its removal. Its principal features are grandiloquence, floweriness, phrase-making, poetising, word-picking and mouthing—all or some of them. To banish these, you must rather go to their opposites, and learn, by frequent practice, to speak with exceeding plainness and simplicity, clothing your thoughts in the common language of every-day life, and putting your sentences into the most un-essay-like form; in brief, bring down your oratory to talking, and from that basis start afresh, omitting no opportunity for practice, and, when practising, ever bearing in mind that your present object is to unlearn.
Having shifted more or less those evil habits, and become again a pupil, I will now give you a few hints as to what it will be necessary for you to learn.
In studying the art of oratory for the Bar, you must, in the first place, keep clearly before you the objects of it. Unlike most of the other forms of oratory, it is not a display of yourself—with the acquisition of fame as the primary purpose—but it is a duty which you have undertaken for the benefit of another, and your single thought should be—as I believe with most it is—the advantage of your client. Whatever will best promote his interests you are bound to do without a thought of display on your own part. The cause of your client is advanced only by persuading the jury and convincing the court. Therefore your business is to adopt precisely that style of speaking which will best persuade jurymen and convince judges, and this is not a style that finds