chapter  XI
Pages 14

THE elections at Honiton and Westminster in 1806 and 1807 were Cobbett's first experience of public speaking. He seems to have enjoyed them, and to have learned at once the knack of holding an audience. It was not generally easy in those days to get an uninterrupted hearing at a political-least of all at an election-meeting ; but this power Cobbett's qualities assured him from the first. He had a loud voice and a commanding presence, and he was pertinacious in the extreme. Even if his opponents began by shouting him down, they ended by hearing what he had to say. "If you wish to get out of the heat of the sun," he told the Honiton electors, " I recommend you to give me a hearing ; for reply I will, before we part. [Order was restored]." 1 From this time he added to his other work occasional speeches at political dinners, county meetings of electors, and the like.