1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Horace Twiss

Henry Crabb Robinson, 13 July 1809; Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence (1870; 1872) 1:152.



On the 13th of July I was invited to a small party at Mrs. Buller's. There were not above half a dozen gentlemen. Mrs. Buller told me, before the arrival of Horace Twiss, that some of her friends had heard of his imitations of the great orators, and that he was to "exhibit." The company being assembled, he was requested to make a speech in the style of Mr. Pitt or Mrs. Fox, as he had done at Lady Cork's. Twiss was modest, not to say bashful, — he could not do such a thing unless excited; but if Mr. Mallett or Mr. Robinson would make a speech on any subject, he would immediately reply. Unfortunately, both Mr. Mallett and Mr. Robinson were modest too, and their modesty was inflexible. At length a table being set in the doorway between the two drawing-rooms, the orator was so placed that a profile or oblique view was had of his face in both rooms, and he began: "Mr. Speaker!" and we had two speeches in succession, in imitation of Fox and Pitt, — I think on the subject of the Irish union, or it might be Catholic emancipation. I have forgotten all but the fact that the lady who sat next to me said, "O, the advantages you gentlemen have! — I never before knew the power of human oratory!" Human oratory I will swear to.