C.N. Douglas, comp. Forty Thousand Quotations: Prose and Poetical. 1917.


The orator is the mouth (os) of a nation.

Joseph Roux.

Eloquence is vehement simplicity.


He lards with flourishes his long harangue.


Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.


There is no true orator who is not a hero.


Eloquence is a painting of the thoughts.


Brevity is a great praise of eloquence.


The object of oratory alone is not truth, but persuasion.


Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions.


The poet is the nearest borderer upon the orator.

Ben Jonson.

What the orators want in depth, they give you in length.


Oratory is the power of beating down your adversary’s arguments and putting better in their place.


Eloquence is in the assembly, not in the speaker.

William Pitt.

Pour the full tide of eloquence along, serenely pure, and yet divinely strong.


’Tis remarkable that they talk most who have the least to say.


The capital of the orator is in the bank of the highest sentimentalities and the purest enthusiasms.

Edward G. Parker.

The manner of your speaking is full as important as the matter.


His enthusiasm kindles as he advances; and when he arrives at his peroration it is in full blaze.


Orators are most vehement when they have the weakest cause, as men get on horseback when they cannot walk.


Poesy and oratory omit things not essential, and insert little beautiful digressions, in order to place everything in the most effective light.

Dr. Watts.

  • Hark to that shrill, sudden shout,
  • The cry of an applauding multitude,
  • Swayed by some loud-voiced orator who wields
  • The living mass as if he were its soul!
  • William Cullen Bryant.

    He is an eloquent man who can treat humble subjects with delicacy, lofty things impressively, and moderate things temperately.


    Every man should study conciseness in speaking: it is a sign of ignorance not to know that long speeches, though they may please the speaker, are the torture of the hearer.


    It is the first rule in oratory that a man must appear such as he would persuade others to be: and that can be accomplished only by the force of his life.


    In oratory, affectation must be avoided—it being better for a man by a native and clear eloquence to express himself than by those words which may smell either of the lamp or inkhorn.

    Herbert of Cherbury.

    Oratory may be symbolized by a warrior’s eye, flashing from under a philosopher’s brow. But why a warrior’s eye rather than a poet’s? Because in oratory the will must predominate.

    J. C. and A. W. Hare.

    The passions are the only orators that always persuade; they are, as it were, a natural art, the rules of which are infallible; and the simplest man with passion is more persuasive than the most eloquent without it.

    La Rochefoucauld.

  • While words of learned length, and thund’ring sound,
  • Amaz’d the gazing rustics rang’d around;
  • And still they gaz’d, and still the wonder grew
  • That one small head should carry all he knew.
  • Goldsmith.

    Oratory, like the drama, abhors lengthiness; like the drama, it must keep doing. It avoids, as frigid, prolonged metaphysical soliloquy. Beauties themselves, if they delay or distract the effect which should be produced on the audience, become blemishes.


    There is no power like that of oratory. Cæsar controlled men by exciting their fears; Cicero, by captivating their affections and swaying their passions. The influence of the one perished with its author; that of the other continues to this day.

    Henry Clay.

    Oratory is the huffing and blustering spoiled child of a semi-barbarous age. The press is the foe of rhetoric, but the friend of reason; and the art of declamation has been sinking in value from the moment that speakers were foolish enough to publish, and readers wise enough to read.


    Those orators who give us much noise and many words, but little argument and less wit, and who are the loudest when least lucid, should take a lesson from the great volume of nature; she often gives us the lightning without the thunder, but never the thunder without the lightning.


    If our eloquence be directed above the heads of our hearers, we shall do no execution. By pointing our arguments low, we stand a chance of hitting their hearts as well as their heads. In addressing angels, we could hardly raise our eloquence too high; but we must remember that men are not angels.


    The language of the heart—the language which “comes from the heart” and “goes to the heart”—is always simple, always graceful, and always full of power, but no art of rhetoric can teach it. It is at once the easiest and most difficult language—difficult, since it needs a heart to speak it; easy, because its periods though rounded and full of harmony, are still unstudied.