Many have to be recovered from grammars, dictionaries, &c., where single lines or groups of lines are quoted to illustrate the proper use of words, phrases or idioms. Moreover, many a reciter was not content to declaim the genuine verses of ancient poets, but interpolated some of his own composition, and the change of religion introduced by Islam led to the mutilation of many verses to suit the doctrines of the new creed.1 The language of the poems, as of all the best Arabian literature, was that of the desert Arabs of central Arabia; and to use it aright was the ambition of poets and scholars even in the Abbasid period.
On this day also it was the custom for boys still at school to declaim pieces of poetry, and to receive prizes (Plato, Timaeus, 21 B).
While still a child he could declaim most of the Iliad in Greek without a book, and read and quoted Tacitus with enthusiasm.
He used to declaim by the hour in the conclaves at Burlington House upon the necessity of securing Fox; upon the strength which his genius would lend to the administration in its task of grappling with the sanguinary giant; upon the impossibility, at least, of doing either with him or without him.