The Making of an Orator 1906

Review in the Spectator, 23 June 1906, p.22.

This an interesting book. How, indeed, could it fail to be so when a man accustomed to speaking, who has had the opportunities of public life, tells us about a subject with which he is particularly acquainted, and illustrates it with the great examples which history supplies? If there were nothing else in Mr O’Connor Power’s volume than the chapters in which he deals with Demosthenes ‘On the Crown’, ‘Cicero against Cataline’, and the ‘Examples from Modern Oratory’,  it would be worth reading. Here we have illustrations from Sheridan, Burke, Fox, Pitt and Erskine, and the more recent speakers who figure in his ‘Further Examples’. We are also privileged to listen again to some of the great voices of our own times. An orator, in the strict sense of the word, can no more be ‘made’ than can a poet; but a man may learn to speak, as he can learn to write verse, the difference being that the concionator mediocris has a raison d’être which does not exist for the mediocris poeta. What man is there – one might almost say what woman is there – who may not be called upon to assume the position of what our author calls the ‘occasional speaker’? Here provision is made against such a contingency, and even if the peril is never realised, a pleasant and informing volume will have been read.


The soul of delivery is in the manful assertion of the orator’s personality, in the revelation of the high purpose by which he is actuated, in the profound conviction of the truth of his course, in the firm resolve to establish it, in the dauntless spirit that faces all obstacles, and, conquering them, sweeps onward to the desired goal.

John O’Connor Power, The Making of an Orator, Delivery, p.101.


See That Irishman, Part Five, The Making of an Orator, for a helpful synopsis.

The Making of an Orator is now available in Scholars Edition Choice, ‘This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and a part of the knowledge base of civilisation as we know it.’

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