Public Speaking
by Irvah Lester Winter
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

For the purposes of this work there is probably very little, if any, value in a strict classification of gestures. It may, at times, be convenient to speak of one gesture as merely for emphasis, of another as indicating location, of another as giving illustration, of one as more subjective, expressing a thought that reflects back upon the speaker, or is said more in the way of self-communion, of another as objective, concerned only with outer objects or with ideas more apart from the person or the inward feeling of the speaker. But it can easily be shown that one idea, or one dominant feeling, may be expressed by many kinds of action, in fact, so far at least as prescribed movements are concerned, in directly opposite kinds, and gesture is so largely a matter of the individual, and is governed so much by mixed motive and varying circumstance, that the general public speaker will profit little by searching for its philosophic basis, and trying to practice according to any elaborated system. The observing of life, with the exercise of instinct, taste, sense, above all of honest purpose—these, with of course the help of competent criticism, will serve as sufficient practical guides in the cultivation of expressive action.

Some observations, or perhaps general principles, may be offered as helpful. When a speaker is concerned with driving ideas straight home to his audience, as in putting bare fact in a debate, his action will be more direct; it will move in straighter lines and be turned, like his thought, more directly upon his audience. As his statement is more exactly to a point, so his gesture becomes more pointed and definite. When the speaker is not talking to or at his audience, to move them to his will, but is rather voicing the ideas and feelings already possessed by them, and is in a non-aggressive mood, he is likely to use less of the direct and emphasis-giving gesture, and to employ principally the gesture that is merely illustrative of his ideas, more reposeful, less direct, less tense.

To consider more in detail the principle that the man, and not the arm, is the gesture, a man should look what he is to speak. The eye should always have a relation to gesture. The look may be in the direction of the arm movement or in another direction. No practical rule can be given. It can only be said that the eye must play its part. Observing actions in real life, we see that when one person points out an object to another, he looks now at the object, now at the person, as if to guide that person's look. When he hears a sound he may glance in the direction of it, but then look away to listen. Often a suspended action, with a fixed look of the face, will serve to arrest the attention of auditors and fix it upon an idea. One should cultivate first the look, then the supporting or completing action.

As to the movement of the arm and the form of the hand, one should be careful not to become stiff and precise by following exact rules. In general, it may be said that the beginning of the arm movement, being from the body, is in the upper arm; the finish of it is at the tips of the fingers, with the forefinger leading, or bringing the gesture to a point. There is generally a slightly flexible, rythmical movement of the arm and hand. This should not, as a rule, be very marked, and in specially energetic action is hardly observable. In this arm action there is an early preparatory movement, which indicates or suggests, what is coming. Often a moment of suspense in the preparation enhances the effect of the finish, or stroke, of the gesture, which corresponds usually to the vocal emphasis. At the final pointing of the action, the hand is, for a moment or for moments, fixed, as the mind and the man are fixed, for the purpose of holding the attention of the auditor; then follows the recovery, so-called, from the gesture, or it may be, the passing to another gesture. And all the while, let it again be said, slight changes of bodily pose with proper adjustments of the feet, will make the harmonious, unified action. It should be remembered that, as in viewing a house or a picture we should be impressed by the main body and the general effect, rather than by any one feature, so on the same principle, no striking feature of a man's action should attract attention to itself. On the same principle, no part of the hand should be made conspicuous—the thumb or forefinger should not be too much stuck out, nor the other fingers, except in pointing, be very much curved in. Generally, except in precise pointing, there is a graduated curving, not too nice, from the bent little finger to the straighter forefinger. As the gesture is concerned with thought more delicate, the action of the hand is lighter and tends more to the tips of the fingers; as it is more rugged and strong, the hand is held heavier. It is bad to carry the arm very far back, causing a strained look; to stretch the arms too straight out, or to confine the elbow to the side. The elbow is kept somewhat away even in the smallest gesture. While action should have nerve, it should not become nervous, that is, over- tense and rigid. It should be free and controlled, with good poise in the whole man.

Before leaving this subject, in its physical aspect, let us consider somewhat the matter of standing and moving on the platform. Among imperfections as regards position, that kind of imperfection which takes the form of perfectly fixed feet, strictly upright figure, hands at the side, head erect, and eyes straight-of all bad kinds, this kind is the worst. This is often referred to as school declamation, or the speaking of a piece. We have discarded many old ideas of restriction in education. Let us discard the strait-jacket in platform speaking. Nobody else ever speaks as students are often compelled to speak. Let them speak like boys—not like men even—much less like machines. There is of course a good and a bad way of standing and moving, but much is due to youth, to individuality, and to earnest intention, and a student should have free play in a large degree.

In walking, the step should neither be too fast nor too slow, too long nor too short, too much on the heel or too much on the toe. A simple, straightforward way of getting there is all that is wanted. The arms are left to swing easily, but not too much; nor should one arm swing more than the other. The head, it will be noted, may occasionally rise and fall as one goes up or down steps or walks the platform. Before beginning to speak, one should not obviously take a position and prepare. He should easily stop at his place, and, looking at his auditors, begin simply to say something to them. As to the feet, they will, of course, be variously placed or adjusted according to the pose of the body in the varying moods of the speech. In general, the body will rest more on one foot than on the other. In a position of ease, as usually at the beginning of a speech, one foot will bear most of the weight. In this case, this foot will normally be pointed nearly to the front; the other foot will be only very slightly in advance of this and will be turned more outward. The feet will not be close together; nor noticeably far apart. They need not—they had better not—as it is sometimes pictured in books, be so set that a line passing lengthwise through the freer foot will pass through the heel of the other foot. As a man becomes earnest in speaking, his posture will vary, and often he will stand almost equally on his two feet. In changing one's position, it is best to acquire the habit of moving the freer foot, the one lighter on the floor, first, thus avoiding a swaying, or toppling look of the body.

In connection with the subject of standing, naturally comes the question of the arms in the condition of inaction. It is possibly well to train one's self, when learning to speak, to let the arms hang relaxed at the side, but speakers do not often so hold the arms. Usually there is a desk near, and the speaker when at rest drops one hand upon this, or he lets one arm rest at the waist, or he brings the two hands together. Any of these things may be done, if done simply, easily, without nervous tightening, or too frequent shifting. One thing, for practical reasons, should not be allowed, the too common habit of clasping the hands behind the back. It will become a fixed mannerism, and a bad one, for the hands are thus concealed, the shoulders and head may droop forward, and the hands may be so tightened together behind the back as to cause nervous tension in the body and in the voice. The hands should be in place ready for expressive action. The back is not such a place.

Nearly every movement that a man makes in speaking should have some fitting relation to what he is at the moment saying. These movements will then be varied. When certain repeated actions, without this proper relation, are acquired, they are called mannerisms. They have no meaning, and are obtrusive and annoying. Repeated jerking or bobbing of the head, for a supposed emphasis; regularly turning the head from side to side, for addressing all the audience; nervous shaking of the head, as of one greatly in earnest; repeated, meaningless punching or pounding of the air, always in the same way; shifting of one foot regularly backward and forward; rising on the toes with each emphatic word,—although single movements similar to these often have appropriate place, none of these or others should be allowed to become fixed mannerisms, habitually recurring movements, without a purpose. We are sometimes told that certain manneristic ways are often a speaker's strength. Probably this is at least half true. But eccentricities should not be cultivated or indulged. They will come. We should have as few as possible, or they won't count. One thing, however, should here be said. Positive strength, with positive faults, is much better than spiritless inoffensiveness. One should not give all his attention to the avoiding of faults.

In the application of gesture to the expression of ideas, one is helped, as has been said, by constantly heeding the general principle of suiting the form of the gesture to the nature of the thought, or of suiting the action to the word. Inasmuch as gesture so generally takes the form of objects or actions, it is undoubtedly easier to begin with the more concrete in language, or with the discussion of tangible objects, and work from these to the more abstract and remotely imaginary—from the more, to the less, familiar. Let the student indicate the location, or the height, or the width, or the form of an object. His action will probably be appropriate. Let him apply similar, probably less definite, action to certain abstract ideas. Let him pass to ideas more remote and vague, by action largely suggestive, not definite or literal.

The most important, because the most fundamental, principle to be borne in mind is that gesture should be made to enforce, not the superficial, or incidental, ideas appearing in a statement, but the ideas which lie behind the form of expression and are the real basis, or inhere in the fundamental purpose, of the speaker's discourse.

At the close of Senator Thurston's speech on intervention in behalf of Cuba, there is picturesque language for impressing the contention that force is justified in a worthy cause. The speaker cites graphically examples of force at Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, Shiloh, Chattanooga, and Lookout Heights. The student is here very likely to be led astray by the fine opportunity to make gesture. He may vividly see and picture the snows of Valley Forge, marked with bloodstained feet, and the other scenes suggested, but forget about the central idea, the purpose behind all the vivid forms of expression. Graphic, detailed gestures may have the effect of making the pictures in themselves the main object. The action here should be informal, unstudied, and merely remotely suggestive. The speaker should keep to his one central idea, and keep with his audience. Otherwise the speech will be insincere and purposeless, perhaps absurd. The fundamental, not the superficial, should determine the action. Young speakers almost invariably pick out words or phrases, suggesting the possibility of a gesture, and give exact illustration to them, as if the excellence of gesture were in itself an object, when really the thing primarily to be enforced is not these incidental features in the form of expression, but the underlying idea of the whole passage. It is as if the steeple were made out of proportion to the church, or a hat out of proportion to the man. This misconception of what gesture really means is doubtless, in large measure, the cause of making platform recitation often false and offensive. The remedy does not lie in omitting gesture altogether, as some seem to think, but in making gesture simple and true.

Finally, let the student remember that he goes to the platform, not to make a splendid speech and receive praise for a brilliant exhibition of his art, but that he goes there because the platform is a convenient place from which to tell the people something he has to say. Let him think it nothing remarkable that he should be there; let him so bear himself, entering with simplicity, honesty, earnestness, and modesty, into his work, that no one will think much about how his work is done. Spirited oratory, with the commanding presence, the sweeping action, and an overmastering force of utterance, may at times be called forth, but these are given to a man out of his subject and by the occasion; they are not to be assumed by him merely because he is before an audience, or as necessary features of speech-making. Let the student speak, first and always, as a self-respecting, thinking man, earnest and strong, but self-controlled and sensible.



The selections in the several sections for platform practice are to be used for applying, in appropriate combination, the principles heretofore worked out, one by one. The first group provides practice in the more formal style. The occasion of the formal address requires, in large degree, restraint and dignity. The thought is elevated; the mood serious, in some cases subdued, the form of expression exact and firm. The delivery should correspond. The tone should be, in some degree, ennobled; the movement deliberate, and comparatively even and measured; the modulation not marked by striking variations in pitch; the pauses rather regular, and the gesture always sparing, perhaps wholly omitted. The voice should be generally pure and fine; the enunciation should be finished and true. Whatever action there may be should be restrained, well poised, deliberate, with some degree of grace. In general it should be felt that carelessness or looseness or aggressiveness or undue demonstrativeness would be out of harmony with the spirit of the occasion. Good taste must be exercised at every step, and the audience should be addressed, from the outset, as in sympathy with the speaker and ready at once to approve. The spirit and manner of contention is out of place.

In this style of discourse the liability to failure lies in the direction of dullness, monotony, lack of vitality and warmth. This is because the feeling is deep and still; is an undercurrent, strong but unseen. This restrained, repressed feeling is the most difficult fittingly to express. In this kind of speech some marring of just the right effect is difficult to avoid. Simplicity, absolute genuineness, are the essential qualities. The ideas must be conveyed with power and significance, in due degree; but nothing too much is particularly the watchword regarding the outward features of the work.


In the public lecture the element of entertainment enters prominently. The audience, at first in a passive state, must be awakened, and taken on with the speaker. Probably it must be instructed, perhaps amused. The speaker must make his own occasion. He has no help from the circumstance of predisposition among his auditors. He must compel, or he must win; he must charm or thrill; or he must do each in turn. Animation, force, beauty, dramatic contrast, vividness, variety, are the qualities that will more or less serve, according to the style of the composition. Aptness in the story or anecdote, facility in graphic illustration, readiness in expressing emotion, happiness in the imitative faculty, for touching off the eccentric in character or incident, are talents that come into play, and in the exercise of these, gesture of course has an important place.

The lecture platform is perhaps the only field, with possibly the exception of what is properly the after-dinner speech, wherein public speaking may be viewed as strictly an art, something to be taken for its own sake, wherein excellence in the doing is principally the end in view. This means, generally, that individual talent, and training in all artistic requirements, count for more than the subject or any "accidents of office," in holding the auditor's interest. An animated and versatile style can be cultivated by striving to make effective the public lecture.


Informal discussion is the name chosen for the lecture or talk in the club or the classroom. It implies a rather small audience and familiar relations between audience and speaker. While the subject may be weighty, and the language may be necessarily of the literary or scientific sort, the style of speaking should be colloquial. It ought to bring the hearer pretty near to the speaker. If the subject and language are light, the speaking will be sprightly and comparatively swift.

Since the occasion for this kind of speaking is frequent, and the opportunity for it is likely to fall to almost any educated man, proficiency in it might well be made an object in the course of one's educational training. The end aimed at is the ability to talk well. This accomplishment is not so easy as it may seem. It marks, indeed, the stage of maturity in speech-making. Since authoritative opinion from the speaker and interest in the subject on the part of the audience are prime elements in this form of discussion, little cultivation of form is usually given to this kind of speaking. The result is much complaining from auditors about inaudibleness, dullness, monotony, annoying mannerisms, or a too formal, academic tone that keeps the audience remote, a lack of what is called the human quality. A good talker from the desk not only has the reward of appreciation and gratitude, but is able to accomplish results in full proportion to all that he puts into the improvement of his vocal work. An agreeable tone, easy formation of words, clear, well-balanced emphasis, good phrasing, or grouping of words in the sentence, some vigor without continual pounding, easy, unstudied bodily movement without manneristic repetition of certain motions, in short, good form without any obtrusive appearance of form,—these are the qualities desired.


In the case of the forensic, we come nearer to the practical in public speaking. The speaker aims, as a rule, to effect a definite purpose, and he concentrates his powers upon this immediate object. Since the speech is for the most part an appeal to the reason, and therefore deals largely with fact and the logical relations of ideas, precision and clearness of statement are the chief qualities to be cultivated. But since the aim is to overcome opposition, and produce conviction, and so to impress and stir as to affect the will to a desired action, the element of force, and the moving quality of persuasion enters in as a reenforcement of the speaker's logic. Generally the speech is very direct, and often it is intense. It has in greater degree than any other form the feature of aggressiveness. Some form of attack is adopted, for the purpose of overthrowing the opposing force. That attack is followed up in a direct line of argument, and is carried out to a finish. In delivery the continuous line of pursuit thus followed often naturally leads to a kind of effective monotone style, wherein the speaker keeps an even force, or strikes blow after blow, or sends shot after shot. The characteristic feature of the forensic style is the climax—climax in brief successions of words, climax in the sentence, climax in giving sections of the speech, climax in the speech as a whole.

Special notice should be taken of the fact that, in earnest argument, sentences have, characteristically, a different run from that in ordinary expository speaking. Whereas in the expository style the sentence flows, as a rule, easily forth, with the voice rising and falling, in an undulatory sort of way, and dropping restfully to a finish, in the heated forensic style, the sentence is given the effect of being sent straight forth, as if to a mark, with the last word made the telling one, and so kept well up in force and pitch. The accumulating force has the effect of sending the last word home, or of making it the one to clinch the statement.

The dangers to be guarded against in debate are wearying monotony, over-hammering—too frequent, too hard, too uniform an emphasis—too much, or too continued heat, too much speed, especially in speaking against time, a loss of poise in the bearing, a halting or jumbling in speech, nervous tenseness in action, an overcontentious or bumptious spirit. Bodily control, restraint, good temper, balance, are the saving qualities. A debater must remember that he need not be always in a heat. Urbanity and graciousness have their place, and the relief afforded by humor is often welcome and effective.

In no form of speaking, except that of dramatic recitation, is the liability to impairment of voice so great as it is in debating. One of the several excellent features of debating is that of the self- forgetfulness that comes with an earnest struggle to win. But perhaps a man cannot safely forget himself until he has learned to know himself. The intensity of debating often leads, in the case of a speaker vocally untrained, to a tightening of the throat in striving for force, to a stiffening of the tongue and lips for making incisive articulation, to a rigidness of the jaw from shutting down on words to give decisive emphasis. Soon the voice has the juice squeezed out of it. The tone becomes harsh and choked; then ragged and weak. The only remedy is to go straight back and begin all over, just as a golfer usually does when he has gone on without instruction. The necessity of going back is often not realized till later in life; then the process is much harder, and perhaps can never be entirely effective. The teacher in the course of his experience meets many, many such cases. The time to learn the right way is at the beginning.

Among the selections here offered for forensic practice, examples in debate serve for the cultivation of the aggressiveness that comes from immediate opposition; examples in the political speech for acquiring the abandon and enthusiasm of the so-called popular style; in the legal plea for practice in suppressed force. In the case of the last of these, it is well that the audience be near to the speaker, as is the case in an address to a judge or jury. The idea is to be forcible without being loud and high; to cultivate a subdued tone that shall, at the same time, be vital and impressive. The importance of a manner of speaking that is not only clear and effective, but also agreeable, easy to listen to, is quite obvious when we consider the task of a judge or a jury, who have to sit for hours and try to carry in their minds the substance of all that has been said, weighing point against point, balancing one body of facts against another. A student can arrange nearly the same conditions as to space, and can, by exercise of imagination, enter into the spirit of a legal conflict.


After-dinner speaking is another form that many men may have an opportunity to engage in. It can also be practiced under conditions resembling those of the actual occasion, that is, members of the class can be so seated that the speaking may become intimate in tone, and speeches can be selected that will serve for cultivating that distinctive, sociable quality of voice that, in itself, goes far in contributing to the comfort and delight of the after-dinner audience. The real after-dinner speech deals much in pleasantry. The tone of voice is characteristically unctuous. Old Fezziwig is described by Dickens as calling out "in a comfortable, rich, fat, jovial, oily voice." Something like this is perhaps the ideal after-dinner voice, although there is a dry humor as well as an unctuous, and each speaker will, after all, have his own way of making his hearers comfortable, happy, and attentive. Ease and deliberation are first requisites. Nervous intensity may not so much mar the effect of earnest debate. The social chat is spoiled by it. Humor, as a rule, requires absolute restfulness. Especially should a beginner guard himself against haste in making the point at the finish of a story. It does no harm to keep the hearer waiting a bit, in expectation. The effect may be thus enhanced, while the effect will be entirely lost if the point, and the true touch, are spoiled by uncontrolled haste. The way to gain this ease and control is not by stiffening up to master one's self, but by relaxing, letting go of one's self. Practice in the speech of pleasantry may have great value in giving a man repose, in giving him that saving grace, an appreciation of the humorous, in affording him a means of relief or enlivenment to the serious speech.


The occasional poem is so frequently brought forth in connection with speech-making that some points regarding metrical reading may be quite in place in a speaker's training. Practice in verse reading is of use also because of the frequency of quoted lines from the poets in connection with the prose speech.

To read a poem well one must become in spirit a poet. He must not only think, he must feel. He must exercise imagination. He must, we will say it again, see visions and dream dreams. What was said about vividness in the discussion of expressional effects applies generally to the reading of poetry. One will read much better if he has tried to write— in verse as well as in prose. He will then know how to put himself in the place of the poet, and will not be so likely to mar the poet's verses by "reading them ill-favoredly." He will know the value of words that have been so far sought, and may not slur over them; he may feel the sound of a line formed to suggest a sound in nature. He will know that a meter has been carefully worked out, and that, in the reading, that meter is of the spirit of the poem; it is not to be disregarded. Likewise he will appreciate the place of rhyme, and may not try so to cover it up as entirely to lose its effect. In humorous verse, especially, rhyme plays an effective part; and in all verse, alliteration, variations in melody, the lighter and the heavier touch, acceleration and retard in movement, the caesura, or pause in the line, and the happy effect of the occasional cadence, are features which one can come to appreciate and respect only with reading one's favorite poems many times, with spirit warm, with faculties alert.


Although the use of selected speeches is best for effective drill in delivery, yet a student's training for public speaking is of course not complete until he has had experience in applying his acquired skill to the presenting of his own thought. Thinking and speaking should be made one operation. The principles of composition for the public speech belong to a separate work. A few hints only can be given here, and these will be concerned with the informal, offhand speech rather than with the formal address.

The usual directions regarding the choosing of the subject, the collecting of material, and the arranging of it in the most effective order, with exceptions and variations, hold in all forms of the speech. The subject chosen should be one of special interest to the speaker, one on which it is known he can speak with some degree of authority, because of his personal study of it, or because of his having had exceptional personal relations with it. It must also be, because of the nature of it, or because of some special treatment, of particular interest to the audience to be addressed. Either new, out-of-the-way subjects, or new, fresh phases of old subjects are usually interesting. The subject must be limited in its comprehensiveness to suit the time allowed for speaking, and the title of the speech should be so phrased as to indicate exactly what the subject, or the part of a subject, is to be. To this carefully limited and defined subject, the speaker should rigidly adhere.

How to find a subject is generally a topic on which students are advised. Though it is often a necessity to hunt for a suitable special topic on which to speak, the student should know that when he gets outside the classroom, he will find that he will not be invited to speak because he is ready at finding subjects and clever in speech. It is not strange, in view of the many advertisements that reach young men, offering methods of home training, or promising sure success from this or that special method of schooling, that they may come to believe that any one has only to learn to stand up boldly on a platform, and with voice and gesture exercise some mysterious sort of magical control over an audience, and his success as an orator is secure. They will find that their time and money have been wasted, so far as public speaking is concerned, unless, having at the start some native ability, they have secured, in addition, a kind of training that is fundamental. A man is wanted as a speaker primarily because he stands for something; because he has done some noteworthy work. His subjects for discussion arise out of his personal interests, and, to a large extent, his method of treatment will be determined by his relation to these subjects. A young man may well be advised, then, not simply how to choose and how to present a subject, but first to secure a good mental training, and then to find for himself an all-absorbing work to do. The wisdom that comes from a concentrated intellectual activity, and an interest in men's affairs, both directed to some unselfish end, is the essential qualification of the speaker.

In considering the arrangement of a speech, the student will do well to ask himself first, not what is to be the beginning of it, but what is to be the end of it; what is the purpose of it; and what shall be the central idea; what impression, or what principal thought or thoughts, shall be left with the audience. When this is determined, then a way of working out this central idea or of working up to it—in a short speech, by a few points only—must be carefully and thoroughly planned. Extemporaneous speaking is putting spontaneously into words what has previously been well thought out and well arranged. Without this state of preparation, the way of wisdom is silence.

The language of a speech is largely determined by the man's habit of mind, the nature of his subject, and the character of his audience. Students often err in one of two directions, either by being too bookish in language or by allowing the other extreme of looseness, weak colloquialism in words, and formless monotony of sentence, with the endless repetition of the connective "and." Language should be fresh, vital, varied. It should have some dignity. Much reading, writing, and speaking are necessary to secure an adequate vocabulary, and a readiness in putting in firm form a variety of sentences. Concreteness of expression and occasional illustration are more needed in speech than in writing, and the brief anecdote or story is welcome and useful if there is room for it, and if it comes unbidden, by virtue of its fitness and spontaneity, and is not drawn in by the ears for half- hearted service. The inevitable story at the opening of an after-dinner speech might often be spared. Although a good story is in itself enjoyable, yet when a speaker feels that he must make one fit into the speech, whether or no, by applying it to himself or his subject or the occasion, the effect is often very unhappy. A man is best guided in these things simply by being true, by being sincere rather than artful. On this same principle, a student may need some advice with regard to his spirit and manner in giving expression to his own ideas before an audience. He need not, as students often seem to think they must, appear to have full knowledge or final judgment on the largest of subjects. It is more fitting that he should speak as a student, an inquirer, not as an authority. If his statements are guarded and qualified; if he speaks as one only inclined to an opinion when finality of judgment is obviously beyond his reach; if he directly refers, and defers, to opinions that must be better than his can be, his speech will have much more weight, and he will grow in strength of character by always being true to himself. It is a question whether students are not too often inspired to be bold and absolute, for the sake of apparent strength in speaking, rather than modest and judicious and sensible, for the sake of being strong as men.

In the form of delivering one's thought to an audience, it is of the first importance that one should speak and not declaim. There is, of course, a way of talking on the platform that is merely negatively good, a way that is fitting enough in general style, but weak. There should be breadth, and strength, and reach. But this does not mean any necessity of sending forth pointless successive sentences over the heads of an audience. A college president recently said, "Our boys declaim a good deal, though they're not so bad as they used to be. It seems to me," he added, "that the idea is to say something to your audience." That is what a teacher must be continually insisting on, that the student say something to somebody, not chant or declaim into space. And the student should be continually testing himself on this point, whether he is looking into the faces of his hearers and speaking, though on a larger scale, yet in the usual way of communicating ideas.

It is not desirable that men should become overready speakers. Methods of training in extemporaneous discussion that require speaking without thought, on anything or nothing that can be at the moment invented, are likely to be mischievous. Thought suggests expression, and exact thought will find fit form. Sound thinking is the main thing. Practice for mere fluency tends to the habit of superficial thinking, and produces the wearisome, endless talker. In this connection emphasis may be laid upon the point of ending a speech when its purpose is accomplished, and that as soon as can be. Many speeches are spoiled by the last third or quarter of them, when a point well made has lost its effect by being overenforced or obscured by a wordy conclusion. Let the student study for rare thought and economy of speech.

Books on speaking have repeatedly insisted that after all has been said, the public speaker's word will be taken for what he is known to be worth as a man; that his utterances will have effect according as they are given out with soul-felt earnestness. This has already been touched upon here, and it is well that it should be often repeated. It may be well, however, also to consider quite carefully what part is played in men's efforts by the element of skill. Of two equally worthy and equally earnest men, the man of the superior skill, acquired by persistent training in method, will be the stronger man, the man who will be of more service to his fellows. More than this, inasmuch as public men can seldom be perfectly known or judged as to character, and may often, for a time at least, deceive, it is quite possible that the unscrupulous man with great skill will, at some moment of crisis, make the worse appear to be the better cause. Equally skilled men are therefore wanted to contend for the side of right. The man whose service to men depends largely upon his power of speech—in the pulpit, at the bar, or in non-professional capacity—must have, either from gift or from training, the speaker's full equipment, for matching himself against opposing strength.


For convenience of practice, a few pages of brief exercises, exemplifying the foregoing principles, are given at the end of the book. By using each day one example in each group, and changing from time to time, the student will have sufficient variety to serve indefinitely. This vocal practice may be made a healthful and pleasurable daily exercise.





From "The Cotter's Saturday Night"


O Scotia! my dear, my native soil! For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent, Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content! And oh! may Heaven their simple lives prevent From luxury's contagion, weak and vile! Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent, A virtuous populace may rise the while, And stand a wall of fire around their much-loved isle.

O Thou! who poured the patriotic tide, That streamed through Wallace's undaunted heart, Who dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride, Or nobly die, the second glorious part, (The patriot's God, peculiarly Thou art, His friend, inspirer, guardian and reward!) Oh never, never, Scotia's realm desert; But still the patriot, and the patriot bard, In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!


From "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"


O Rome! my country! city of the soul! The orphans of the heart must turn to thee, Lone mother of dead empires! and control In their shut breasts, their petty misery. What are our woes and sufferance?—Come and see The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way O'er steps of broken thrones and temples, Ye! Whose agonies are evils of a day:— A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.

The Niobe of nations! there she stands, Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe; An empty urn within her withered hands, Whose holy dust was scattered long ago;— The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now; The very sepulchers lie tenantless Of their heroic dwellers:—dost thou flow, Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness? Rise, with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress!


From "In Memoriam"


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light; The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow; The year is going, let him go; Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind, For those that here we see no more; Ring out the feud of rich and poor, Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause, And ancient forms of party strife; Ring in the nobler modes of life, With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin, The faithless coldness of the times; Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes, But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood, The civic slander and the spite; Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good.


From "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"


Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; Man marks the earth with ruin—his control Stops with the shore: upon the watery plain, The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain A shadow of man's ravage, save his own, When for a moment, like a drop of rain, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknell'd, uncoffin'd, and unknown.

The armaments, which thunderstrike the walls Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake, And monarchs tremble in their capitals; The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make Their clay creator the vain title take Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war; These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake, They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike th' Armada's pride or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee: Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage,—what are they? Thy waters wasted them while they were free, And many a tyrant since; their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay Has dried up realms to deserts: not so thou; Unchangeable, save to thy wild waves play, Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow; Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy I wanton'd with thy breakers—they to me Were a delight; and if the freshening sea Made them a terror—'twas a pleasing fear.


From "The Building of the Ship," by permission of, and by special Arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of this author's works.


Sail forth into the sea, O ship! Through wind and wave, right onward steer! The moistened eye, the trembling lip, Are not the signs of doubt or fear.

Sail forth into the sea of life, O gentle, loving, trusting wife, And safe from all adversity Upon the bosom of that sea Thy comings and thy goings be! For gentleness and love and trust Prevail o'er angry wave and gust; And in the wreck of noble lives Something immortal still survives!

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! Sail on, O Union, strong and great! Humanity with all its fears, With all the hopes of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate! We know what Master laid thy keel, What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel, Who made each mast, and sail, and rope, What anvils rang, what hammers beat, In what a forge and what a heat Were shaped the anchors of thy hope! Fear not each sudden sound and shock, 'Tis of the wave and not the rock;

'Tis but the flapping of the sail, And not a rent made by the gale! In spite of rock and tempest's roar, In spite of false lights on the shore, Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea! Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee, Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears, Our faith triumphant o'er our fears, Are all with thee,—are all with thee!


From "Horatius"


"O Tiber, Father Tiber! To whom the Romans pray, A Roman's life, a Roman's arms, Take thou in charge this day!" So he spake, and, speaking, sheathed The good sword by his side, And, with his harness on his back, Plunged headlong in the tide.

No sound of joy or sorrow Was heard from either bank, But friends and foes in dumb surprise, With parted lips and straining eyes, Stood gazing where he sank; And when above the surges They saw his crest appear, All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry, And even the ranks of Tuscany Could scarce forbear to cheer.

But fiercely ran the current, Swollen high by months of rain, And fast his blood was flowing, And he was sore in pain, And heavy with his armor, And spent with changing blows; And oft they thought him sinking, But still again he rose.

And now he feels the bottom;— Now on dry earth he stands; Now round him throng the Fathers To press his gory hands. And now, with shouts and clapping, And noise of weeping loud, He enters through the River Gate, Borne by the joyous crowd.


From "Julius Caesar"


Flavius. Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?

Second Citizen. Indeed, sir, we make holiday, to see Caesar, and to rejoice in his triumph.

Marullus. Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home? What tributaries follow him to Rome, To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels? You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements, To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops, Your infants in your arms, and there have sat The live-long day, with patient expectation To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome; And when you saw his chariot but appear, Have you not made an universal shout, That Tiber trembled underneath her banks, To hear the replication of your sounds, Made in her concave shores? And do you now put on your best attire? And do you now cull out a holiday? And do you now strew flowers in his way That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood? Be gone! Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, Pray to the gods to intermit the plague That needs must light on this ingratitude.


From "Collected Verse," with the permission of A. P. Watt and Son, London, and Doubleday, Page and Company, New York, publishers


God of our fathers, known of old— Lord of our far-flung battle-line— Beneath whose awful hand we hold Dominion over palm and pine— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget.

The tumult and the shouting dies— The captains and the kings depart— Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice, An humble and a contrite heart. Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget.

Far-called our navies melt away— On dune and headland sinks the fire, Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre. Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget.

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe— Such boasting as the Gentiles use Or lesser breeds without the Law— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget.

For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard— All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding calls not Thee to guard— For frantic boast and foolish word, Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord.


From Webster's Reply to Hayne, in the United States Senate. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, publishers of "The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster"


Mr. President, I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts; she needs none. There she is. Behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill; and there they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, fallen in the great struggle for independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every State from New England to Georgia; and there they will lie forever. And, sir, where American liberty raised its first voice, and where its youth was nurtured and sustained, there it still lives in the strength of its manhood and full of its original spirit. If discord and disunion shall wound it; if party strife and blind ambition shall hawk at and tear it; if folly and madness, if uneasiness under salutary and necessary restraint, shall succeed in separating it from that Union by which alone its existence is made sure,—it will stand, in the end, by the side of that cradle in which its infancy was rocked; it will stretch forth its arm with whatever of vigor it may still retain over the friends who gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the proudest monuments of its own glory, and on the very spot of its origin.


Delivered in the House of Lords, February 13, 1788


My Lords, I do not mean to go further than just to remind your Lordships of this,—that Mr. Hastings's government was one whole system of oppression, of robbery of individuals, of spoliation of the public, and of suppression of the whole system of the English government, in order to vest in the worst of the natives all the power that could possibly exist in any government; in order to defeat the ends which all governments ought, in common, to have in view. In the name of the Commons of England, I charge all this villainy upon Warren Hastings, in this last moment of my application to you.

Therefore, it is with confidence that, ordered by the Commons of Great Britain, I impeach Warren Hastings of high crimes and misdemeanors.

I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has abused.

I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain, whose national character he has dishonored.

I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he has subverted.

I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose property he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate.

I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes. And I impeach him in the name and by the virtue of those eternal laws of justice, which ought equally to pervade every age, condition, rank, and situation, in the world.


From the oration at the laying of the corner stone of the monument, June 17, 1825. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, publishers of "The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster"


This uncounted multitude before me and around me proves the feeling which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human faces, glowing with sympathy and joy, and from the impulses of a common gratitude turned reverently to heaven in this spacious temple of the firmament, proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose of our assembling have made a deep impression on our hearts.

If, indeed, there be anything in local association fit to affect the mind of man, we need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate us here. We are among the sepulchers of our fathers. We are on ground distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding of their blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our annals, nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our humble purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never been born, the 17th of June, 1775, would have been a day on which all subsequent history would have poured its light, and the eminence where we stand a point of attraction to the eyes of successive generations. But we are Americans. We live in what may be called the early age of this great continent; and we know that our posterity, through all time, are here to enjoy and suffer the allotments of humanity. We see before us a probable train of great events; we know that our own fortunes have been happily cast, and it is natural, therefore, that we should be moved by the contemplation of occurrences which have guided our destiny before many of us were born, and settled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our existence which God allows to man on earth.


In dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa., Nov. 19, 1863


Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.



From "The Courtship of Miles Standish," by permission of, and by Special arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of this author's works


"A wonderful man was this Caesar!

You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skillful!" Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the youthful: "Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and his weapons. Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dictate Seven letters at once, at the same time writing his memoirs." "Truly," continued the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other, "Truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Caesar! Better be first, he said, in a little Iberian village, Than be second in Rome, and I think he was right when he said it. Twice was he married before he was twenty, and many times after; Battles five hundred he fought, and a thousand cities he conquered; He, too, fought in Flanders, as he himself has recorded; Finally he was stabbed by his friend, the orator Brutus! Now, do you know what he did on a certain occasion in Flanders, When the rear-guard of his army retreated, the front giving way too, And the immortal Twelfth Legion was crowded so closely together There was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield from a soldier, Put himself straight at the head of his troops, and commanded the captains, Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns; Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their weapons; So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other. That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well done, You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"



I want to talk to you of the attitude that should properly be observed by legislators, by executive officers, toward wealth, and the attitude that should be observed in return by men of means, and especially by corporations, toward the body politic and toward their fellow citizens.

I utterly distrust the man of whom it is continually said: "Oh, he's a good fellow, but, of course, in politics, he plays politics" It is about as bad for a man to profess, and for those that listen to him by their plaudits to insist upon his professing something which they know he cannot live up to, as it is for him to go below what he ought to do, because if he gets into the habit of lying to himself and to his audience as to what he intends to do, it is certain to eat away his moral fiber.

He won't be able then to stand up to what he knows ought to be done. The temptation of the average politician is to promise everything to the reformers and then to do everything for the organization. I think I can say that, whatever I have promised on the stump or off the stump, either expressly or impliedly, to either organization or reformers, I have kept my promise; and I should keep it just as much if the reformers disapproved.

A public man is bound to represent his constituents, but he is no less bound to cease to represent them when, on a great moral question, he feels that they are taking the wrong side. Let him go out of politics rather than stay in at the cost of doing what his own conscience forbids him to do.


From "Self-Cultivation in English," with the permission of the author, and of Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York, publishers


First, then, "Look well to your speech." It is commonly supposed that when a man seeks literary power he goes to his room and plans an article for the press. But this is to begin literary culture at the wrong end. We speak a hundred times for every once we write. The busiest writer produces little more than a volume a year, not so much as his talk would amount to in a week. Consequently through speech it is usually decided whether a man is to have command of his language or not. If he is slovenly in his ninety-nine cases of talking, he can seldom pull himself up to strength and exactitude in the hundredth case of writing. A person is made in one piece, and the same being runs through a multitude of performances. Whether words are uttered on paper or to the air, the effect on the utterer is the same. Vigor or feebleness results according as energy or slackness has been in command. I know that certain adaptations to a new field are often necessary. A good speaker may find awkwardnesses in himself when he comes to write, a good writer when he speaks. And certainly cases occur where a man exhibits distinct strength in one of the two, speaking or writing, and not in the other. But such cases are rare. As a rule, language once within our control can be employed for oral or for written purposes. And since the opportunities for oral practice enormously outbalance those for written, it is the oral which are chiefly significant in the development of literary power. We rightly say of the accomplished writer that he shows a mastery of his own tongue.

Fortunate it is, then, that self-cultivation in the use of English must chiefly come through speech; because we are always speaking, whatever else we do. In opportunities for acquiring a mastery of language, the poorest and busiest are at no large disadvantage as compared with the leisured rich. It is true the strong impulse which comes from the suggestion and approval of society may in some cases be absent; but this can be compensated by the sturdy purpose of the learner. A recognition of the beauty of well-ordered words, a strong desire, patience under discouragements, and promptness in counting every occasion as of consequence,—these are the simple agencies which sweep one on to power. Watch your speech, then.


From "Hamlet"


Hamlet. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb- shows and noise. I could have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.

I Player. I warrant your honor.

Hamlet. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature; for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theater of others. O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.


From "The Merchant of Venice"


Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend A young and learned doctor to our court. Where is he?

Nerissa. He attendeth here hard by, To know your answer, whether you'll admit him.

Duke. With all my heart. Some three or four of you Go give him courteous conduct to this place. Meantime the court shall hear Bellario's letter.

Clerk (reads). "Your grace shall understand that at the receipt of your letter I am very sick; but in the instant that your messenger came, in loving visitation was with me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthasar. I acquainted him with the cause in controversy between the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we turned o'er many books together: he is furnished with my opinion; which, bettered with his own learning, the greatness whereof I cannot enough commend, comes with him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace's request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his commendation."


From "Julius Caesar"


Casca. You pull'd me by the cloak; would you speak with me?

Brutus. Ay, Casca; tell us what hath chanc'd to-day, That Caesar looks so sad.

Casca. Why, you were with him, were you not?

Brutus. I should not, then, ask Casca what had chanc'd.

Casca. Why, there was a crown offered him; and being offered him, he put it by with the back of his hand, thus; and then the people fell a-shouting.

Brutus. What was the second noise for?

Casca. Why, for that too.

Cassius. They shouted thrice: what was the last cry for?

Casca. Why, for that too.

Brutus. Was the crown offered him thrice?

Casca. Ay, marry, was't, and he put it by thrice, every time gentler than other; and at every putting-by mine honest neighbors shouted.

Cassius. Who offered him the crown?

Casca. Why, Antony.

Brutus. Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca.

Casca. I can as well be hanged as tell the manner of it: it was mere foolery; I did not mark it. I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown;—yet 'twas not a crown neither, 'twas one of these coronets;— and, as I told you, he put it by once: but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him again; then he put it by again: but, to my thinking, he was very loth to lay his fingers off it. And then he offered it the third time; he put it the third time by: and still as he refused it, the rabblement shouted, and clapped their chopped hands, and threw up their sweaty nightcaps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown, that it had almost choked Caesar; for he swooned, and fell down at it: and for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of opening my lips, and receiving the bad air.


From "Lectures on Oratory" BY HENRY WARD BEECHER

How much squandering there is of the voice! How little there is of the advantage that may come from conversational tones! How seldom does a man dare to acquit himself with pathos and fervor! And the men are themselves mechanical and methodical in the bad way who are most afraid of the artificial training that is given in the schools, and who so often show by the fruit of their labor that the want of oratory is the want of education.

How remarkable is the sweetness of voice in the mother, in the father, in the household! The music of no chorded instruments brought together is, for sweetness, like the music of familiar affection when spoken by brother and sister, or by father and mother.

Conversation itself belongs to oratory. How many men there are who are weighty in argument, who have abundant resources, and who are almost boundless in their power at other times and in other places, but who, when in company among their kind, are exceedingly unapt in their methods. Having none of the secret instruments by which the elements of nature may be touched, having no skill and no power in this direction, they stand as machines before living, sensitive men. A man may be a master before an instrument; only the instrument is dead; and he has the living hand; and out of that dead instrument what wondrous harmony springs forth at his touch! And if you can electrify an audience by the power of a living man on dead things, how much more should that audience be electrified when the chords are living and the man is alive, and he knows how to touch them with divine inspiration!


From "Personal Power," by permission of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of this author's works.


In this talk about the part which the college may take in the training of a gentleman, I have not dwelt, as you have noticed, upon forms or conventionalities. Every gentleman respects form. Respect for form can be taught, or at least inculcated, but not form itself. One comes to be at ease in society by going into society. Manners come by observation. We imitate, we follow the better fashion of society, the better behavior of men. Good breeding consists first in the attention of others in our behalf to certain necessary details, then in our attention to them. We come in time to draw close and nice distinctions. This little thing is right, that is not quite right. So we grow into the formal habits of a gentleman. "Good manners are made up of constant and petty sacrifices," says Emerson. It is well to keep this saying in mind as a qualification of another of his more familiar sayings: "Give me a thought, and my hands and legs and voice and face will all go right. It is only when mind and character slumber that the dress can be seen."

I like to see the well-bred man, to whom the details of social life have become a second nature. I like also to see the play of that first healthy instinct in a true man which scorns a mean act, which will not allow him to take part in the making of a mean custom, which for example, if he be a college fellow, will not suffer him to treat another fellow as a fag. I am entirely sure that that man is a gentleman.

So then it is, in this world of books, of companionship, of sport, of struggle with some of us, of temptation also, and yet more of high incentives, we are all set to the task of coming out, and of helping one another to come out, as gentlemen. Do not miss, I beseech you, the greatness of the task. Do not miss its constancy. It is more than the incidental work of a college to train the efficient, the honorable, the unselfish man. A college-bred man must be able to show at all times and on all occasions the quality of his distinction.



From "Julius Caesar"


Be patient till the last.

Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause, and be silent, that you may hear: believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If, then, that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer,—Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honor for his valor; and death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I have done no more to Caesar than you shall do to Brutus. The question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy; nor his offenses enforced, for which he suffered death. Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony: who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth; as which of you shall not? With this I depart,— that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.


From "Hamlet"


Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame! The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, And you are stay'd for. There; my blessing with thee! And these few precepts in thy memory See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportion'd thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in, Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee. Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice; Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment. Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy; For the apparel oft proclaims the man, And they in France of the best rank and station Are most select and generous, chief in that. Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!


From the Lord Rector's address, University of Edinburgh, 1882


Let us win in the competition of international well-being and prosperity. Let us have a finer, better educated, better lodged, and better nourished race than exists elsewhere; better schools, better universities, better tribunals, ay, and better churches. In one phrase, let our standard be higher, not in the jargon of the Education Department, but in the acknowledgment of mankind. The standard of mankind is not so exalted but that a nobler can be imagined and attained. The dream of him who loved Scotland best would lie not so much in the direction of antiquarian revival, as in the hope that his country might be pointed out as one that in spite of rocks, and rigor, and poverty, could yet teach the world by precept and example, could lead the van and point the moral, where greater nations and fairer states had failed. Those who believe the Scots to be so eminently vain a race, will say that already we are in our opinion the tenth legion of civilization. Well, vanity is a centipede with corns on every foot: I will not tread where the ground is most dangerous. But if we are not foremost, we may at any rate become so. Our fathers have declared unto us what was done in their days and in the old time before them: we know that we come of a strenuous stock. Do you remember the words that young Carlyle wrote to his brother nine years after he had left this University as a student, forty-three years before he returned as its Rector?—

"I say, Jack, thou and I must never falter. Work, my boy, work unweariedly. I swear that all the thousand miseries of this hard fight, and ill-health, the most terrific of them all, shall never chain us down. By the river Styx it shall not! Two fellows from a nameless spot in Annandale shall yet show the world the pluck that is in Carlyles."

Let that be your spirit to-day. You are citizens of no mean city, members of no common state, heirs of no supine empire. You will many of you exercise influence over your fellow men: some will study and interpret our laws, and so become a power; others will again be in a position to solace and exalt, as destined to be doctors and clergymen, and so the physical and spiritual comforters of mankind. Make the best of these opportunities. Raise your country, raise your University, raise yourselves.


Delivered in the House of Commons, March, 1775


Reflect, sirs, that when you have fixed a quota of taxation for every colony, you have not provided for prompt and punctual payment. You must make new Boston Port Bills, new restraining laws, new acts for dragging men to England for trial. You must send out new fleets, new armies. All is to begin again. From this day forward the empire is never to know an hour's tranquillity. An intestine fire will be kept alive in the bowels of the colonies, which one time or other must consume this whole empire.

Instead of a standing revenue, you will therefore have a perpetual quarrel. Indeed, the noble lord who proposed this project seems himself to be of that opinion. His project was rather designed for breaking the union of the colonies than for establishing a revenue. But whatever his views may be, as I propose the peace and union of the colonies as the very foundation of my plan, it cannot accord with one whose foundation is perpetual discord.

Compare the two. This I offer to give you is plain and simple; the other full of perplexed and intricate mazes. This is mild; that harsh. This is found by experience effectual for its purposes; the other is a new project. This is universal; the other calculated for certain colonies only. This is immediate in its conciliatory operation; the other remote, contingent, full of hazard. Mine is what becomes the dignity of a ruling people—gratuitous, unconditional, and not held out as a matter of bargain and sale. I have done my duty in proposing it to you. I have indeed tried you by a long discourse; but this is the misfortune of those to whose influence nothing will be conceded, and who must win every inch of their ground by argument. You have heard me with goodness. May you decide with wisdom!


From a speech in the Senate, 1900


Some one asked the other day why the President did not bring about a cessation of hostilities. Upon what basis could he have brought about a cessation of hostilities? Should he have asked Aguinaldo for an armistice? If so, upon what basis should he have requested it? What should he say to him? "Please stop this fighting"? "What for," Aguinaldo would say; "do you propose to retire?" "No." "Do you propose to grant us independence?" "No, not now." "Well, why, then, an armistice?" The President would doubtless be expected to reply: "Some distinguished gentlemen in the United States, members of the United States Senate, and others, have discovered a doubt about our right to be here at all, some question whether we have acquired the Philippines, some question as to whether we have correctly read the Declaration of Independence; and I want an armistice until we can consult and determine finally whether we have acquired the Philippines or not, whether we are violating the Declaration of Independence or not, whether we are trampling upon the Constitution or not." That is practically the proposition.

No, Mr. President, men may say in criticism of the President what they choose. He has been grossly insulted in this chamber, and it appears upon the record. He has gone his way patiently, exercising the utmost forbearance, all his acts characterized by a desire to do precisely what the Congress had placed upon him by its ratification of the treaty and its increase of the army. He has done it in a way to impress upon the Filipinos, so far as language and action could do it, his desire, and the desire of our people, to do them good, to give them the largest possible measure of liberty.


From an address in the House of Commons, March, 1865


Why should we fear a great nation on the American Continent? Some people fear that, should America become a great nation, she will be arrogant and aggressive. But that does not follow. The character of a nation does not depend altogether upon its size, but upon the intelligence, instruction, and morals of its people. You fancy the supremacy of the sea will pass away from you; and the noble lord, who has had much experience, and is supposed to be wiser on the subject than any other man in the House, will say that "Rule Britannia," that noble old song, may become obsolete. Well, inasmuch as the supremacy of the seas means arrogance and the assumption of dictatorial power on the part of this country, the sooner that becomes obsolete the better. I do not believe that it is for the advantage of this country, or of any country in the world, that any one nation should pride itself upon what is termed the supremacy of the sea; and I hope the time is coming—I believe the hour is hastening—when we shall find that law and justice will guide the councils and will direct the policy of the Christian nations of the world. Nature will not be baffled because we are jealous of the United States—the decrees of Providence will not be overthrown by aught we can do.

The population of the United States is now not less than 35,000,000. When the next Parliament of England has lived to the age which this has lived to, that population will be 40,000,000, and you may calculate the increase at the rate of rather more than 1,000,000 of persons per year. Who is to gainsay it? Will constant snarling at a great republic alter this state of things, or swell us up in these islands to 40,000,000 or 50,000,000, or bring them down to our 30,000,000? Honorable members and the country at large should consider these facts, and learn from them that it is the interest of the nations to be at one—and for us to be in perfect courtesy and amity with the great English nation on the other side of the Atlantic.



From "King Robert of Sicily," by permission of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of this author's works.


Days came and went; and now returned again To Sicily the old Saturnian reign; Under the Angel's governance benign The happy island danced with corn and wine.

Meanwhile King Robert yielded to his fate, Sullen and silent and disconsolate. Dressed in the motley garb that Jesters wear, With look bewildered and a vacant stare, Close shaven above the ears, as monks are shorn, By courtiers mocked, by pages laughed to scorn, His only friend the ape, his only food What others left,—he still was unsubdued. And when the Angel met him on his way, And half in earnest, half in jest, would say, Sternly, though tenderly, that he might feel The velvet scabbard held a sword of steel, "Art thou the King?" the passion of his woe Burst from him in resistless overflow, And, lifting high his forehead, he would fling The haughty answer back, "I am, I am the King!" Almost three years were ended; when there came Ambassadors of great repute and name From Valmond, Emperor of Allemaine, Unto King Robert, saying that Pope Urbane By letter summoned them forthwith to come On Holy Thursday to his city of Rome. And lo! among the menials, in mock state, Upon a piebald steed, with shambling gait, His cloak of fox-tails flapping in the wind, The solemn ape demurely perched behind, King Robert rode, making huge merriment In all the country towns through which they went. The Pope received them with great pomp and blare Of bannered trumpets, on Saint Peter's square, Giving his benediction and embrace Fervent and full of apostolic grace. While with congratulations and with prayers He entertained the Angel unawares, Robert, the Jester, bursting through the crowd, Into their presence rushed, and cried aloud: "I am the King! Look, and behold in me Robert, your brother, King of Sicily! This man who wears my semblance to your eyes, Is an imposter in a king's disguise. Do you not know me? does no voice within Answer my cry, and say we are akin?" The Pope in silence, but with troubled mien, Gazed at the Angel's countenance serene; The Emperor, laughing, said, "It is strange sport To keep a madman for thy Fool at court!" And the poor, baffled Jester in disgrace Was hustled back among the populace.


An extract from "Masters of the Situation," a lecture


When I talk across an ocean of 3000 miles, with my friends on the other side of it, and feel that I may know any hour of the day if all goes well with them, I think with gratitude of the immense energy and perseverance of that one man, Cyrus W. Field, who spent so many years of his life in perfecting a communication second only in importance to the discovery of this country. Think what that enthusiast accomplished by his untiring energy. He made fifty voyages across the Atlantic. Eight years more he encountered the odium of failure, but still kept plowing across the Atlantic, flying from city to city, soliciting capital, holding meetings and forcing down this most colossal discouragement. At last day dawned again, and another cable was paid out—this time from the deck of the "Great Eastern." Twelve hundred miles of it were laid down, and the ship was just lifting her head to a stiff breeze then springing up, when, without a moment's warning, the cable suddenly snapped short off, and plunged into the sea. Nine days and nights they dragged the bottom of the sea for this lost treasure, and though they grappled it three times, they could not bring it to the surface. In five months another cable was shipped on board the "Great Eastern," and this time, by the blessing of heaven, the wires were stretched unharmed from continent to continent. Then came that never- to-be-forgotten search, in four ships, for the lost cable. In the bow of one of these vessels stood Cyrus Field, day and night, in storm and fog, squall and calm, intensely watching the quiver of the grapnel that was dragging two miles down on the bottom of the deep.

At length on the last night of August, a little before midnight, the spirit of this great man was rewarded. I shall here quote his own words, as none others could possibly convey so well the thrilling interest of that hour. He says: "All felt as if life and death hung on the issue. It was only when the cable was brought over the bow and onto the deck that men dared to breathe. Even then they hardly believed their eyes. Some crept toward it to feel of it to be sure it was there. Then we carried it along to the electricians' room, to see if our long- sought treasure was dead or alive. A few minutes of suspense and a flash told of the lightning current again set free. Then the feeling long pent up burst forth. Some turned away their heads and wept. Others broke into cheers, and the cry ran from man to man, and was heard down in the engine rooms, deck below deck, and from the boats on the water, and the other ships, while the rockets lighted up the darkness of the sea. Then, with thankful hearts, we turned our faces again to the West. But soon the wind rose, and for thirty-six hours we were exposed to all the dangers of a storm on the Atlantic. Yet, in the very height and fury of the gale, as I sat in the electricians' room, a flash of light came up from the deep, which, having crossed to Ireland, came back to me in mid-ocean, telling me that those so dear to me, whom I had left on the banks of the Hudson, were well, and following us with their wishes and their prayers. This was like a whisper of God from the sea, bidding me keep heart and hope."

And now, after all those thirteen years of almost superhuman struggle and that one moment of almost superhuman victory, I think we may safely include Cyrus Field among the masters of the situation.


From "Speeches and Lectures," with the permission of Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, Boston, publishers.


Broadly considered, O'Connell's eloquence has never been equaled in modern times, certainly not in English speech. Do you think I am partial? I will vouch John Randolph of Roanoke, the Virginia slaveholder, who hated an Irishman almost as much as he hated a Yankee, himself an orator of no mean level. Hearing O'Connell, he exclaimed, "This is the man, these are the lips, the most eloquent that speak the English tongue in my day!" I think he was right. I remember the solemnity of Webster, the grace of Everett, the rhetoric of Choate; I know the eloquence that lay hid in the iron logic of Calhoun; I have melted beneath the magnetism of Sergeant S. Prentiss of Mississippi, who wielded a power few men ever had; it has been my fortune to sit at the feet of the great speakers of the English tongue on the other side of the ocean; but I think all of them together never surpassed, and no one of them ever equaled O'Connell.

Nature intended him for our Demosthenes. Never, since the great Greek, has she sent forth one so lavishly gifted for his work as a tribune of the people. In the first place, he had a magnificent presence, impressive in bearing, massive, like that of Jupiter. Webster himself hardly outdid him in the majesty of his proportions. To be sure, he had not Webster's craggy face, and precipice of brow, not his eyes glowing like anthracite coal. Nor had he the lion roar of Mirabeau. But his presence filled the eye. A small O'Connell would hardly have been an O'Connell at all. These physical advantages are half the battle.

I remember Russell Lowell telling us that Mr. Webster came home from Washington at the time the Whig party thought of dissolution, a year or two before his death, and went down to Faneuil Hall to protest; drawing himself up to his loftiest proportion, his brow clothed with thunder, before the listening thousands, he said, "Well, gentlemen, I am a Whig, a Massachusetts Whig, a Faneuil-Hall Whig, a revolutionary Whig, a constitutional Whig. If you break the Whig party, sir, where am I to go?" And says Lowell, "We held our breath, thinking where he could go. If he had been five feet three, we should have said, 'Who cares where you go?'" So it was with O'Connell. There was something majestic in his presence before he spoke; and he added to it what Webster had not, what Clay might have lent—infinite grace, that magnetism that melts all hearts into one. I saw him at over sixty-six years of age; every attitude was beauty, every gesture grace. You could only think of a greyhound as you looked at him; it would have been delightful to watch him, if he had not spoken a word. Then he had a voice that covered the gamut. The majesty of his indignation, fitly uttered in tones of superhuman power, made him able to "indict" a nation. Carlyle says, "He is God's own anointed king whose single word melts all wills into his." This describes O'Connell. Emerson says, "There is no true eloquence unless there is a man behind the speech." Daniel O'Connell was listened to because all England and all Ireland knew that there was a man behind the speech.

I heard him once say, "I send my voice across the Atlantic, careering like the thunderstorm against the breeze, to remind the bondman that the dawn of his redemption is already breaking." You seemed to hear the tones come echoing back to London from the Rocky Mountains. Then, with the slightest possible Irish brogue, he would tell a story, while all Exeter Hall shook with laughter. The next moment, tears in his voice like a Scotch song, five thousand men wept. And all the while no effort. He seemed only breathing.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse