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[TO John Adams]
HONOURED SIR :
In the course of the debate the principal persons who spoke were on one side, Mr. Fox, Lord North, Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Lee; on the other Mr. Pitt, Lord Mulgrave, Sir L. Kenyon, Mr. P. Arden and Mr. Wilberforce ; and if I may be allowed to give my opinion, Mr. Pitt is upon the whole the best and most pleasing speaker of them all. He has much grace in speaking and has an admirable choice of words. He speaks very fluently, so distinctly that I did not lose a word of what he said, and he was not once embarrassed to express his ideas. Mr. Fox on the contrary speaks with such an amazing heat and rapidity that he often gets embarrassed and sta mmers some time before he can express himself. His ideas are all striking, but they flow upon him in such numbers that he cannot communicate them without difficulty. I should think he would carry all before him if he spoke to persons who were to be convinced by anything that was said. Lord North is very cool, but does not I think speak like either of the two before mentioned. Mr. Sheridan speaks extremely fast, and has a wonderful facility of expression, but is not so distinct as Mr. Pitt. There, Sir, in obedience to your command have I given you my opinion of the eloquence of several great orators. If it is erroneous, my judgment is in fault, for I have followed in this matter the ideas of no one. The other day I met with Governor Pownall, who desired me to present his compliments to you. He wishes to know something about the business of the donation, but I told him I believed you had heard nothing of it. He is going to spend some time in the South of France. . . .
- John Quincy Adams