From John Wentworth’s Congressional Reminiscences. Adams, Benton, Calhoun, Clay, and Webster, An Address (Chicago, 1882)
Although the Senate and galleries would always be filled when it was announced that Mr. Clay was to speak, yet it was always with the expectation and hope that some one would interrupt him, and a grand, intellectual sparring exposition would take place. Of all men whom I ever heard, I never know one who could endure so much interruption and discuss so many side issues, and yet finish his speech with the entire facts and the entire line of argument marked out in his mind from the beginning, as Mr. Clay. Could the enemies of Mr. Clay have formed a combination never to interrupt him, nor be interrupted by him, they would have deprived him of much of his senatorial glory. The best speeches of Calhoun, Webster, and Benton were well considered, and read now much as when delivered. Not so with Mr. Clay’s best speeches. They were unpremeditated, and as much a surprise to himself as to his audience. Short-hand reporting had not then reached its present condition. Thus, Clay must suffer with posterity incapable of hearing the varied intonations of his ever-pleasing voice, or of seeing his gesticulations, his rising upon his toes, his stamp of the foot, his march down the aisles until his long fingers would almost touch the president’s desk, and his backward tread to his seat, all the while speaking; his shake of the head, his dangling hair, and his audience in the galleries rising and leaning over as if to catch every syllable.