Today someone in Facebook's management made the prediction that in a few years text would be irrelevant to the operations of the company because everybody would be using videos. This strikes me as a pretty unlikely scenario, seeing that newspapers still exist at least in a niche market or two. But it had me thinking about the changes in public taste and the use of media as I looked up the offered "forgotten book of the day."
Today's book dates from the 1850s and it is entitled "The Most Eminent Orators
and Statesmen of Ancient and Modern Times. "
And what I found interesting about this book is that it is not exactly a
collection of famous speeches, stretching from the ancient Greeks up to modern
times, but a collection of lives of orators as celebrities. The forgotten book
series has some curious material but I was really struck by the fact that so
many of the famous orators in the collection are completely unknown today,
except perhaps to certain types of historians and literary scholars. Who
remembers Charles James Fox anyway?
(And if you do remember Fox do you remember Henry Grattan?)
Answer: Fox was a Whig leader in the House of Commons at the same time as
William Pitt, in other words during the American and French revolutions. Old
Fox (though he was actually young Fox back then) certainly belongs in his
place as a man famous for the eminence of his oratory. If I recall correctly
he never became Prime Minister, and his career is most famous for his defence
of Reform and Revolution against the repressive English government of Lord
North, which provoked the American Revolution.
My point is Fox's oratory was considered a significant public art form. A
speech by Charles James Fox was probably, at least among prominent and
important people, the equivalent of a major Beyoncé video. The equivalent of
Charles James Fox still gets a fair amount of attention today in British
politics and beyond, but he sure certainly doesn't come across as an artist.
Image: Your clue is "Ireland."