From his youth he was diligent in his studies and a great reader, and during his college life showed a marked talent for extemporaneous speaking.
Vergniaud made a brilliant extemporaneous reply, and the attack for the moment failed.
Unfortunately his extemporaneous speeches were commonplace, in very bad taste, fervently intemperate and denunciatory; and though this was probably due largely to temperament and habits of stump-speaking formed in early life, it was attributed by his enemies to drink.
As a speaker Mill was somewhat hesitating, pausing occasionally as if to recover the thread of his argument, but he showed great readiness in extemporaneous debate.
Licensed to preach in 1791, he was engaged for several years as an itinerant Presbyterian preacher in his native state, and acquired during this period the facility in extemporaneous speaking for which he was remarkable.