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THE OLD MEMBERS OF THE CALHOUN AND KALAMAZOO COUNTY BARS

BY A. D. P. VAN BUREN

The power of public speaking is probably the most transitory of all kinds of intellectual influence, for it dies with the death of its individual auditors. The artist leaves behind him his picture, the author his book, for the world to enjoy, to profit from, and judge them by, long after they are gone. But the orator whose speech is never reported leaves only a recollection. No description can reproduce his eloquence, no tradition can do more than repeat the glowing story, and murmur of that wonderful power, that fascination which once drove audiences wild with delight. It is gone—vanished like a glory from the earth. Gone as completely as an ended song, a forgotten dream. What do the people now know of Mrs. Siddons' grace, John Kem-ble's dignity, Booth's pathos and passion, Henry's marvelous eloquence, or the wonderful power of the orators of forty years ago. The young generation begin to smile when we who have heard Bradley, Stuart, Littlejohn^ Chipman, and their compeers, praise them so highly, and reply that we are overpraising past orators. And how can we prove anything? We can only ' say, "It was so. " The great theme, which is necessary to make the great orator, is gone, or divided up and become sectional in its application. We have no broad national questions as in the past, and without the great theme we cannot have the great orator.
The old members of the Calhoun county bar were, intellectually, strong men, and able lawyers. Among them were men who aided largely in establishing the institutions of this state. The bar, in its best days, was conspicuous for its legal talent; and for that which is the glory of any profession— character above reproach. Bradley, Pratt and Van Arman were self-made men. Crary, Church and Gordon had the benefit of a collegiate course,, and a thorough legal training.

Michigan


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