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Imprison'd WranglersThe Rhetorical Culture of the House of Commons 1760-1800$
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Christopher Reid

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199581092

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199581092.001.0001

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Educating the Orator

Educating the Orator

(p.113) 6 Educating the Orator
Imprison'd Wranglers

Christopher Reid

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the education of the eighteenth-century parliamentary elite and considers how school and university prepared them for a role in public life. It begins with the idea of liberal education, and asks how far Roman models of the making of the orator (especially those set down by Cicero and Quintilian) retained their influence in a commercial age. In eighteenth-century England, as in republican Rome, a preparation for public life turned on moments of initiation and trial. Focusing on the unusually well-recorded educational career of one MP, Viscount Althorp, the chapter reconstructs these moments in the training of the public speaker, with a particular emphasis on rhetorical exercises such as declamation. It concludes with the most daunting trial of all, the maiden speech in the House of Commons, and the methods used by MPs such as George Canning to survive it successfully.

Keywords:   liberal education, Roman models, Cicero, Quintilian, Viscount Althorp, declamation, maiden speech

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