The James Otis Pre-Revolutionist

Author: John Clark Ridpath

Otis Compared With Randolph.

"The wit exemplified by Mr. Otis in debate," says Dr. Magoon, "was often keen but never malignant, as in John Randolph. The attacks of the latter were often fierce and virulent, not unfrequently in an inverse proportion to the necessity of the case.

"He would yield himself up to a blind and passionate obstinacy, and lacerate his victims for no apparent reason but the mere pleasure of inflicting pangs.

"In this respect, the orator of Roanoke resembled the Sicilian tyrant whose taste for cruelty led him to seek recreation in putting insects to the torture. If such men cannot strike strong blows, they know how to fight with poisonous weapons; thus by their malignity, rather than by their honorable skill, they can bring the noblest antagonist to the ground.

"But Mr. Otis pursued more dignified game and with a loftier purpose.

"He indeed possessed a Swiftian gift of sarcasm, but, unlike the Dean of St. Patrick’s, and the forensic gladiator alluded to above, he never employed it in a spirit of hatred and contempt towards the mass of mankind.

"Such persons should remember the words of Colton, that, ’Strong and sharp as our wit may be, it is not so strong as the memory of fools, nor so keen as their resentment; he that has strength of mind to forgive, is by no means weak enough to forget; and it is much more easy to do a cruel thing than to say a severe one.’"


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Chicago: John Clark Ridpath, "Otis Compared With Randolph.," The James Otis Pre-Revolutionist, ed. Conway, Moncure Daniel, 1832-1907 in The James Otis Pre-Revolutionist Original Sources, accessed October 3, 2022,

MLA: Ridpath, John Clark. "Otis Compared With Randolph." The James Otis Pre-Revolutionist, edited by Conway, Moncure Daniel, 1832-1907, in The James Otis Pre-Revolutionist, Original Sources. 3 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Ridpath, JC, 'Otis Compared With Randolph.' in The James Otis Pre-Revolutionist, ed. . cited in , The James Otis Pre-Revolutionist. Original Sources, retrieved 3 October 2022, from