What is it that they say about brevity? That it is the essence of eloquence? Well, it can be the essence of life too.

Today happens to be the day in which the US president William Henry Harrison died in 1841 -barely a month into office (to be exact, 30 days, 11 hours, 30 minutes.) The reason? Pneumonia.

What does this have to do with brevity?

To date, Harrison holds the record of having delivered the longest inaugural address of any American president. Even though the famed Daniel Webster of Webster’s Dictionary had edited the president’s speech for length, it took him more than 2 hours to read on a cold spring day -not too unlike this one. He contracted a cold afterwards, and no application of the era’s most sophisticated medical sciences (including snakebites) saved him. He died a month later, on this date in 1841.

I wish all those who address at commencements and inaugurals and eulogies and assorted other events where the most verbose somehow happen to take hold of the pulpit, and hold on to it for dear life, take a cue from this lesson of history. It might save their lives.


~ by safrang on April 4, 2007.

One Response to “Brevity”

  1. […] be made into a punishible criminal offence.” we’d all fare much better. apparently “brevity is the essence of eloquence” did not do it for these […]

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