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By Joseph Meisel

By means of the final many years of the 19th century, extra humans have been making extra speeches to larger numbers in a greater diversity of venues than at any earlier time. This ebook argues recognizably smooth public lifestyles was once created in Victorian Britain principally throughout the instrumentality of public speech. laying off new mild at the careers of a number of the most vital figures of the Victorian period and past, together with Gladstone, Disraeli, Sir Robert Peel, John shiny, Joseph Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, and Canon Liddon, the ebook lines the ways that oratory got here to occupy a vital place within the belief and perform of Victorian public lifestyles. now not a research of rhetoric or a party of significant oratory, the publication stresses the social advancements that resulted in the construction and intake of those speeches.

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Extra resources for Public Speech and the Culture of Public Life in the Age of Gladstone

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The other  colleges had no more than seven presidents each, and eight of them had no more than three. The  Oxford Union presidents were drawn somewhat more evenly from  colleges. Of the total,  ( percent) came from Christ Church,  ( percent) from Balliol, and  ( percent) from Oriel. The other  colleges contributed no more than  presidents each, and seven of them no more than three. Clearly, the large colleges dominated, but less so at Oxford than at Cambridge. The Unions were not quite the oratorical meritocracy that Birkenhead claimed.

Gladstone’s career in the Oxford Union became so compelling a tale because, atypically for Union performances, his Reform speech did have virtually immediate, real, and undeniably significant results. Because of his later fame, the Gladstone legend fails to appreciate that these consequences—at least, at first—were strictly personal. However early Gladstone came to be seen as a “coming man,” it would take a number of years before the young parliamentarian plucked from the Union would begin to have a discernible impact on national life, and many more before it was clear that he was the dominant figure in British politics in the second half of the nineteenth century.

In the case of individuals who were active in more than one career area (e. g. someone who was both a barrister and an MP, or someone who was both a clergyman and headmaster of a school), I have attempted to classify them according to what appears to have been the main occupation of their lives. As table .  shows, the presidents of both Unions went into the group of careers I have defined as public in virtually equal proportion—threefourths of the total. Within the public group, Cambridge has a higher proportion of lawyers, and Oxford a higher proportion of politicians.

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