Toasts - and Forms of Public Address for Those Who Wish to Say - the Right Thing in the Right Way
by William Pittenger
1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse








INTRODUCTION AFTER-DINNER SPEECHES—ANCIENT AND MODERN VALUE OF A GOOD STORY AND HOW TO INTRODUCE IT PURPOSE OF AFTER-DINNER SPEAKING SOME A B C DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING SPEECHES, TOASTS, AND RESPONSES HOLIDAY SPEECHES Fourth of July Memorial Day Washington's Birthday Christmas Thanksgiving PRESENTATION ADDRESSES ADDRESSES OF WELCOME WEDDING AND OTHER ANNIVERSARIES TOASTS Sentiments Suggested by a Toast Miscellaneous Toasts Humorous Toasts MISCELLANEOUS ADDRESSES Centennial or Semi-Centennial Dedication of a Monument or Unveiling a Statue Birthday Celebration Reception Responses to Toasts at a Dinner Responses to Toasts to The Navy Responses to Toasts to General Jackson Responses to Toasts to The Workingman Nominating a Candidate Accepting a Nomination Speech in a Political Canvass Speech after a Political Victory Speech after a Political Defeat A Chairman's or President's Speech For Any Occasion ILLUSTRATIVE AND HUMOROUS ANECDOTES INDEX OF TOASTS INDEX OF ANECDOTES


The author of this manual has at various intervals prepared several treatises relating to the art of speech. Their wide circulation is an indication of the demand for works upon this subject. They were intended to embrace the principles which govern speech-making in the forum, in the pulpit, or at the bar. While these do not differ essentially from the principles applicable to occasions where the object is only entertainment, yet there are certain well-defined differences which it is the purpose of this little volume to point out. We hope thus to render the same service to a person who is called upon to offer or respond to a toast in a convivial assembly, as the author's previous volumes rendered to those preparing to speak upon subjects of a serious and practical nature.

That help is needed, and may be afforded, no one will deny. A novice called upon to participate in the exercises of a public banquet, an anniversary, or other entertainment, unless he has an experienced friend to give him a few hints or advice, is apt to be dismayed. He does not even know how to make a start in the work of preparation, and his sense of inability and fear of blundering go far to confuse and paralyze whatever native faculty he may have. A book like this comes to him at such a time as reinforcements to a sorely pressed army in the very crisis of a battle. As he reads, some ideas which seem practical, flash upon him. He learns what others before him have done. If he is to offer a toast, he examines the list furnished in this volume, finding one perhaps that pleases him, or one is suggested which is better adapted to his purpose than any in the book, and he wonders at the stupidity of the author in omitting it. Soon he becomes quite interested in this suggested toast, and compares it with those in the list to find out wherein it differs. Thus gradually and unconsciously he has prepared himself for the part he is to perform.

Or if invited to respond to a toast, he passes through a similar experience. He may find the outline of a speech on that very topic; he either uses it as it is printed or makes an effort to improve it by abridgment or enlargement. Next he looks through the treasury of anecdotes, selects one, or calls to mind one he has read elsewhere which he considers better. He then studies both of them in their bearings on the subject upon which he is to speak, and longs for the hour to arrive, when he will surprise and delight his friends by his performance. He rises to speak conscious that he knows a great deal, not only about the toast assigned to him, but about other toasts as well—feels that he has something to say which, at least, will fill in the time, and save him from confusion and discredit. He even hopes to win applause by means of the stories and happy turns with which his speech is interspersed.

He has thus satisfactorily taken the first step toward becoming a ready and entertaining after-dinner speaker. The sense of knowing how to do what is expected of him has a wonderfully quieting effect upon his nerves; and thus the study of this book will greatly add to the confidence of a speaker, and the effectiveness of his delivery. Whatever graces of manner he possesses will become available, instead of being subverted by an overmastering fear.

It is not easy to mention all the uses of such a manual. One who has been accustomed to speaking, but fears he is getting into a rut, can turn to this text-book and find something which is not so distressingly his own, that his friends expect him to parade it before them on all occasions.

He may glance over the outline of a speech altogether new and strange to him, and endeavor to adapt it to his own use; or he may weave together fragments of several speeches, or take the framework of one and construct upon it a speech which will enable him to make a new departure. A writer sometimes, after years of practice, finds it difficult to begin the composition of some simple reception or commemorative address; but the reading of a meagre outline, not one word or idea of which may be directly used, serves to break the spell of intellectual sloth or inertia, and starts him upon his work briskly and hopefully.

The field covered by the present volume is not entirely unoccupied. One of the earliest publications in this line is an anonymous English work, very dignified and conservative. The speeches it furnishes are painstaking, but a trifle heavy, and savor so much of English modes of expression, as well as thought and customs, as to be poorly adapted to this country. Two works have appeared in this country, also, one being intended apparently for wine parties only; the other, while containing a number of gem-like little speeches, fails to give the aid which is sought by the ordinary tyro, and is calculated rather to discourage him; giving him the impression that it is more difficult to become an acceptable after-dinner speaker than he had ever supposed. While a few of the best things in the latter volume are availed of, a different method is pursued in the present work. Outlines of speeches are preferred to those which are fully elaborated; and the few plain rules, by which a thing so informal and easy as an after-dinner speech may be produced, are so illustrated as to make their application almost a matter of course. Good-humor and brevity, an outline and a story—what more is needed, unless it be that serene self-confidence which enables a speaker to say even foolish and absurd things, with the assurance that all goes down at a public dinner? What if you are not the most brilliant, humorous, and stirring speaker of the evening? Aim to fill your place without discredit; observe closely those who make a great success; the next time you may have a better outline or more telling story, and become, before you know it, the leader of the evening.

It is not intended to give rules or directions for the order either of drinking or feasting. That field is fully occupied. But the custom of making addresses at the close of a feast has, been so thoroughly established, and so frequent are these occasions, that a gentleman is not fully equipped for a place in society, if he cannot gracefully offer or respond to a toast, or preside at a gathering where toasts or other forms of after-dinner speaking are expected. It is the aim of this manual to help the beginner in this field.


An idea of the real meaning of after-dinner speaking may be obtained from the feudal feasts of earlier times. The old lord or baron of the Middle Ages partook of his principal meal in the great hall of his castle, surrounded by guests, each being assigned his place in formal order and with no small degree of ceremony. This hall was the main feature of the castle. There all the family and guests met on frequent festal occasions, and after the feasting and the hour of ceremony and more refined entertainment was over, retired to rest in comparatively small and humble apartments adjoining, though sometimes they would simply wrap their cloaks about them, and lie down to sleep on the rushes that littered the floor of the great hall.

After the "rage of hunger was appeased"—which then, as in our day, and back even as far as the time of the ancient Greeks, was the first business in order—came the social hour, which meant much to the dwellers in those dull, comfortless old barracks—for the great castles of that day were little better than barracks. The chief gave the signal for talk, music, or story, previous to which, any inquiries or conversation, other than the briefest question and answer about the food or other necessary things, would have been considered inappropriate and disrespectful. There probably was present some guest, who came under circumstances that awakened the strongest curiosity or who had a claim upon his entertainer. Such a guest was placed at the board in a position corresponding to his rank.

After resting and partaking of the repast, it was pertinent to hear what account he could give of himself, and courtesy permitted the host to levy an intellectual tax upon him, as a contribution to the joy of the hour. Seated at the head of the table the chief, or, in his absence, a representative, made the opening speech—the address of welcome, to use the term familiar to ourselves. This might be very brief or at considerable length; it might suggest inquiries of any of the company or merely pledge an attentive and courteous hearing to whatever the guest might utter; it might refer to the past glory of the castle and its lord, or vaunt its present greatness and active occupation.

But whatever form it might take it was sure to consist—as addresses of welcome in all ages have done—of two words, by dexterously using which, any man can make a good speech of this character. These two words are "We" and "You;" and all else not connected with these is irrelevant and useless. They do not constitute two parts of the same speech but ordinarily play back and forth, like a game of battledore. Who "we" are; what "we" have done; how "we" saw "you;" what "we" have heard of "you;" how great and good "you" are thought to be; the joy at "your" coming; what "we" now want to learn of "you;" what "we" wish "you" to do; how "we" desire a longer stay or regret the need of an early departure—all is a variation of the one theme—"we" and "you."

The old Baron probably said all of this and much more in a lordly way, occupying a longer or shorter time, without ever dreaming that he was making a speech. It was his ordinary after-dinner talk to those whom chance or fortune brought within his walls. Or, if he prided himself upon being a man of few words, scorning these as fit only for women and minstrels, he would simply remind the guest that he was now at liberty to give such an account of himself, and to prefer such requests as seemed agreeable to him.

The guest was then expected to respond, though this by no means was the rule. The host might wish first to call out more of his own intellectual treasures. This he would do by having other occupants of the castle speak further words of welcome, or would call upon a minstrel to sing a song or relate some deed of chivalry.

When the guest at last rises to speak, it is still the two pronouns with slightly changed emphasis that play a conspicuous part. The "we" may become "I;" but this is no essential change. Where "I" or "we" have been; what "I" have done, suffered, or enjoyed; how and why "I" came here; how glad "I" am to be here; what "I" have known and heard of "you;" how "we" may help each other; what great enterprises "we" can enter upon; how thankful for the good cheer and good words "we" hear.

In the baronial hall, which foreshadowed the family fireside of later days, the drinking was free and copious whilst the other portions of the entertainment were of a general character and quite protracted. Mirth, song, the rude jest, anecdotes of the chase or of a battle, or a rehearsal of the experiences of every-day life, were all in place. Sometimes, the guests, overpowered by their libations, are said to have fallen under the table and to have slumbered there till surprised by the pale morning light. There was little need of ceremony in such feasts, and there is little need of formality or constraint in the far different festal occasions of the present time.

When no guest, either by chance or invitation came to the castle, less variety could be given to the after-dinner entertainment, and many expedients were required to pass the long hours that sometimes hung heavily on their hands. Then the use of "Toasts" became an important feature. The drinking also was expected to arouse interest, but if it went on in silence and gloom or amid the buzz of trivial conversation in different parts of the hall the unity of the hour was marred and the evening was voted dull—the lord himself then having no more honor than his meanest vassal. But the toast—no matter how it originated—remedied all this. A compliment and a proverb, a speech and a response, however rude, fixed the attention of every one at the table, and enabled the lord to retain the same leadership at the feast that he had won in the chase or in battle. He might himself propose a toast of his own choice or give another permission to propose it. He might then designate some humorous or entertaining clansman to respond; he might either stimulate or repress the zeal of the guests, and give unity to each part of the entertainment and to the whole feast. For these reasons the toast rose into popularity, and is now often used—possibly it might be said generally used if our own country alone be considered—even when no drinking at all is indulged in.

Let us now take a look at an after-dinner hour of the present day; one of the very latest and most approved pattern. The contrast will not be without interest and value. The fare at the dinner is always inviting. The company is large. Good speakers are secured in advance. Each is given an appropriate toast, either to propose or respond to. Suppose it is a New England society celebrating Forefathers' Day in New York. The chairman (who is usually the president of the society) rises, and by touching a bell, rapping on the table, or in some other suitable manner, attracts all eyes to himself. He then asks the meeting to come to order, or if he prefers the form, to give attention. Then he utters a few graceful commonplaces, and calls upon a guest to offer the leading toast—not always the chief or most interesting one. When one is reached in which there is a lively interest, some distinguished person such as Chauncey M. Depew, the prince of after-dinner speakers, comes to the front. We give an outline of one of his addresses on Forefathers' Day, delivered December 22d, 1882, in response to the toast, "The Half Moon and the Mayflower."

In reading this address the "We" and "You" cannot fail to be noted. Mr. Depew said he did not know why he should be called upon to celebrate his conquerors. The Yankees had overcome the Dutch, and the two races are mingled. The speaker then introduced three fine stories—one at the expense of the Dutch who are slow in reaching their ends. A tenor singer at the church of a celebrated preacher said to Mr. Depew, "You must come again, the fact is the Doctor and myself were not at our best last Sunday morning." The second related to the inquisitiveness of a person who expressed himself thus to the guide upon the estate of the Duke of Westminster: "What, you can't tell how much the house cost or what the farm yields an acre, or what the old man's income is, or how much he is worth? Don't you Britishers know anything?" The third story, near the close, set off Yankee complacency. A New England girl mistook the first mile-stone from Boston for a tombstone, and reading its inscription "1 M. from Boston," said "I'm from Boston; how simple; how sufficient."

The serious part of the discourse was a rapid statement of the principles represented by the Dutch pioneer ship "Half Moon" and the Pilgrim "Mayflower;" the elements of each contributed to national character and progress. (For speech in full see Depew's Speeches, Vol. I.)

Other toasts and responses followed; eloquence and humor mingled until the small hours of the night. Probably not one of that pleased and brilliant assemblage for a moment thought that they were doing at this anniversary what their old, barbaric ancestors did nightly, while resting after a border foray or Viking sea raid.


No matter how inexperienced a speaker may be or how stammering his utterance, if he can tell a good story, the average dinner party will pronounce him a success, and he will be able to resume his seat with a feeling of satisfaction. The efforts often made to bring in an entertaining story or a lively anecdote are sometimes quite amusing, but if they come in naturally the effect will unquestionably be happy. Almost any story, by using a little skill, can be adapted to nearly every occasion that may arise. We may mention a few among which a speaker can scarcely fail to find something to serve his purpose.

It is necessary always to be thoroughly familiar with the story and to understand its exact point. No matter how deliberately or with what difficulty you approach that part of your speech where the fun is to be introduced—yet, when that point is reached there must be no hesitation. It is well to memorize carefully the very words which express the pun, or the flash of wit or humor which is the climax of the story. The story itself may be found in such a manual as this, or in some volume of wit and humor.

There is no disadvantage in using wit gathered from any source, if it has not been so often used as to be completely worn out. When a good story is found anywhere and fully memorized and all its bearings and fine points thoroughly understood, there are two ways of getting it before an audience. The direct way is to say frankly that you have read a story and will tell it. This will answer very nicely when called upon for a speech. Few festive audiences are unwilling to accept a story for a speech, and a proposal to compromise on such terms is very likely in itself to bring applause. But the story in this case should be longer than if it is given as part of a speech. If, however, it should prove a failure, your performance will make a worse impression than when a poor story is introduced into a speech, although the story may only feebly illustrate any portion of it.

For these as well as other reasons most persons will prefer to make an address, even if it be very brief, and will endeavor to make the story fit into it. All stories that suggest diffidence, modesty, backwardness, or unwillingness to undertake great things, can be introduced to show how reluctant the speaker is to attempt a speech, and if these characteristics are only slightly referred to in the story it may still be used effectively and will leave a favorable impression.

If a topic, a toast, or a sentiment is given for a response, any of them may suggest a story; and after a good story has been told—one that has real point—it will be better to stop without making any attempt at application or explanation.

A great help is often found in the utterances of previous speakers. If these have done well, they may be complimented, and the compliment so contrived as to lead directly up to the story that is lying in wait; or something being said with which you heartily agree—however slight a portion of the address it may be—this harmony of views can be used in the same manner. On the other hand, if you disagree with any of the speakers, the mere reference to it will excite a lively interest. If this difference is used, not as the basis of a serious argument, but only to drag in a story illustrating the disagreement, the story will nevertheless appear to be very appropriate.

If you happen to be the first speaker, you are by no means without resources. You can then imagine what other speakers are going to say, and if you can slip in a humorous or good-natured hit at the expense of some of the prominent speakers, it will be, highly relished. If you describe what they are likely to say it will be enjoyed, while if you should happen to mention the very opposite this will be set down as your intention. You may even describe the different speakers, and be reminded of things that will bring in the prepared story very appropriately.

The writer once knew of a very dull speaker, who scored a great success in a popular meeting, by describing the eloquent speaker who was to follow. He began by telling how he was accustomed when a boy to take a skiff and follow in the wake of a steamer, to be rocked in its waves, but once getting before the huge vessel his boat was swept away, and he was nearly drowned. This unfortunately was his situation now, and he was in danger of being swept aside by the coming flood of eloquence. But he asked who is this coming man? It was the first time he had heard of him—then followed the story he had been trying to work in—a story wherein the eloquent man was described as "one who could give seventeen good reasons for anything under heaven." The story was a great success. In dumb show, the speaker he referred to begged for mercy. This only delighted the audience still more, and when the dull speaker finished it was admitted that, for once, he had escaped being stupid or commonplace. He had also forced upon the next speaker the necessity of removing the unpleasant effects of the jokes made at his expense, a task that required all his cleverness.

The manner of introduction by the chairman, his name or general position, the appearance of any one of the guests, the lateness or earliness of the hour, events of the day that attract interest, the nature of the entertainment or assemblage—all of these will offer good hooks by which to draw in the story. But let the story be good and thoroughly mastered. Of course the work of adaptation will be much easier if you have several stories in reserve. A story must not be repeated so often that it becomes known as belonging to you, for then a preceding speaker might get a laugh on you by telling it as yours, leaving you bankrupt.

Jones and Smith once rode several miles in a carriage, together, to a town where both were to make addresses. Jones was quite an orator; Smith had a very retentive memory. Jones asked Smith about his speech, but Smith professed not to have fully decided upon his topic, and in turn asked Jones the same question. Jones gave a full outline of his speech, Smith getting him to elaborate it by judicious inquiries as to how he would apply one point and illustrate another. The ride thus passed pleasantly for both parties. Smith was called upon to speak first, and gave with telling effect what he had gathered from Jones, to the delight of everybody, but poor Jones, who listened in utter consternation, and had not strength enough left even to reclaim his stolen property.

If your speech is to be a story it is especially advisable to have a reserve on hand, for stories are easily copied and apt to be long remembered. Care also must be taken that the story is not one with which persons generally are familiar. A gentleman was in the habit of telling a story which has already been quoted, the point of which lies in the phrase "I'm from Boston." Some of his more intimate companions, in self-defense, would exclaim when he proposed a story, "Is it a mile from Boston?"

The definition of the toast itself or of any of the words in the sentiment which is the speaker's topic may be made the occasion for drawing in the illustrative story.

The manner of ending a good story is also worthy of careful study. When an audience is applauding a palpable "hit," it does not seem an appropriate time to stop and take one's seat; but it often is the best course. To do this appears so abrupt that the novice is apt to make a further effort to finish up the subject till he has finished up his audience as well. An attempt to fully discuss a topic, under such circumstances, is not successful once in a hundred times. The best course is to follow an apt story by some proverb, a popular reference, or a witty turn, and then to close. But no abruptness will be disliked by your hearers half so much, as the utterance of a string of commonplaces, after you have once secured their attention. The richness of the dessert should come at the close, not at the beginning, of the oratorical feast.


Briefly stated, it is to bring into one focus the thought of an assembly. While the good things of the table may be satisfactory, and conversation free and spontaneous, there is yet need of some expedient for making all thought flow in one channel, and of blending the whole company into a true unity. There is one way, and only one, of doing this—the same that is used to produce unity of action and thought in any assembly, for whatever purpose convened. When the destinies of empires are at stake, when great questions that arise among men are to be solved, the art of speech must be called into play. So after a good dinner has been enjoyed, the same potent agency finds a field, narrower, indeed, but scarcely less operative. And this object—of causing a whole assembly to think the same thoughts and turn their attention to a common topic—is often well attained even when the speeches do not aspire to great excellence or pretension to eloquence.

A commonplace illustration will make our meaning clear. Suppose a great reception, where many rooms are filled with invited guests. There is conversation, but only by groups of two or three persons; refreshments are served; larger groups begin to gather around prominent persons, but there is the same diversity of sentiment and purpose that is to be found in a chance crowd in a public park. The guests are not in one place, with one accord. But now, on some pretext, the power of public speech is evoked; perhaps a toast is offered and responded to, or a more formal address of welcome or congratulation, or anything else suitable to the occasion. The subject and the manner of introduction are not material, so that the living, speaking man is brought face to face with his fellows; at once, instead of confusion and disorder, all is order and harmony. The speaker may hesitate in the delivery of his message, but his very embarrassment will in some instances contribute to harmonize the thought of the assembly even more powerfully than a more pretentious address. But a good and appropriate speech will indelibly fix the thought, and be far more satisfactory.

Where no particular kind of address is indicated by the nature of the assemblage, stories and humor will generally be highly appreciated. A good story has some of the perennial interest that surrounds a romance, and if it is at the same time humorous, an appeal is made to another sentiment, universal in the human breast. If people thrill with interest in unison, or laugh or cry together for a time, or merely give attention to the same thoughts, there will arise a sense of fellowship and sympathy which is not only enjoyable, but is the very purpose for which people are invited to assemblies.

More ordinary after-dinner speeches succeed by the aid of humorous stories than by all other means combined. In a very ingenious book of ready-made speeches the turning point of nearly every one depends upon a pun or other trick of speech. While this is carrying the idea a little too far, still it fairly indicates the importance placed upon sallies of wit or humor as a factor in speech-making. The fellowship that comes from laughing at the same jokes and approving the same sentiments may not be the most intimate or the most enduring, but it is often the only kind possible, and should be prized accordingly.

The chief use of toasts is to call out such speeches, and thus lead the thought of the assembly along pleasant and appropriate channels—all prearranged, yet apparently spontaneous.

A long speech is selfish and unpardonable. It wearies the guests, destroys variety, and crowds others out of the places to which they have been assigned and are entitled. When the speaking is over, the company will have been led to contemplate the same themes, and will have rejoiced, sympathized, and laughed in unison.


1. Do not be afraid or ashamed to use the best helps you can get. Divest yourself of the idea that all you need is to wait till a toast is proposed and your name called, and then to open your mouth and let the eloquence flow forth. The greatest genius in the world might succeed in that way, but would not be likely to venture it. Use a book and study your subject well.

2. Generally, it is not well to memorize word for word either what you have written or obtained from a book, unless it is a pun or a story where the effect depends upon verbal accuracy. But be sure to memorize toasts, sentiments, and titles absolutely. To know the substance of your speech well, with one or two strong points in it, is better than to have a flowery oration weighing down your memory.

3. If you are a novice (and these directions are given to no others), do not aim to make a great speech, but to say a few things modestly and quietly. A short and unassuming speech by a beginner is sure of applause. Eloquence, if you have it in you, will come later through practice and familiarity with your subject.

4. If you can't remember or find a good story, invent one! Perhaps you have scruples as to the latter. But a story is not a lie; if so, what would become of the noble tribe of novel-writers! Mark Twain gives a very humorous account of the way in which he killed his conscience. Probably many speakers who retail good things might make confession in the same direction.

But why is it not as reputable to invent one's own story as to tell the story some one else has invented? Does the second telling improve its morality? Rather give heed to the quality of the story. This, and not its origin, is the really important matter to consider.

5. Success in after-dinner speaking is difficult or easy to attain according to the way you go about it. If you think you must startle, rouse, and electrify your hearers, or, worse still, must instruct them in something you think important, but about which they care nothing, your efforts are likely to be attended by a hard and bitter experience. But if, when a prospective speech-occasion looms up, you will reflect upon the sentiment you wish to propose, or will get a friend to do a little planning and suggest the easiest toast or topic, and then attempt to say just a little, you will probably come off with flying colors.

6. When you rise, do not be in a hurry. A little hesitation has a better effect than too much promptness and fluency, and a little stammering or hesitation, it may be added, will have no bad effect. In beginning, your manner can without disadvantage be altogether lost sight of, and if you have something to say the substance of which is good, and has been carefully prearranged, you will be able to give utterance to it in some form; grammatical mistakes or mispronunciation, where there is no affectation, as well as an occasional repetition, will rarely be noticed.

7. Above all, remember it may be assumed that your hearers are your friends, and are ready to receive kindly what you have to say. This will have a wonderfully steadying effect on your nerves. And if your speech consists only of two or three sentences slowly and deliberately uttered, they will at least applaud its brevity, and give you credit for having filled your place on the programme respectably.

It has been often said that Americans are greatly ahead of the English in general speech-making, but in pleasant after-dinner talking and addresses they are much inferior. Probably this was once true, but if so, it is true no longer. The reason of any former deficiency was simply want of practice, without which no speech-making can be easy and effective. But the importance of this kind of oratory is now recognized, and, with proper efforts to cultivate and master it, Americans are taking the same high rank as in other forms of intellectual effort. Lowell and Depew are acknowledged as peers of any "toast-responder" or "after-dinner orator" the world has ever seen. One of the chief elements of their charm consists in the good stories they relate. Whoever has a natural faculty, be it ever so slight, as a storyteller, will, if he gathers up and appropriates the good things that he meets with, soon realize that he is making rapid progress in this delightful field, and that he gains much more than mere pleasure by his acquisitions.

The best entertainments are not those which merely make a display of wealth and luxury. Quiet, good taste, and social attractions are far better. The English wit, Foote, describes a banquet of the former character. "As to splendor, as far as it went, I admit it: there was a very fine sideboard of plate; and if a man could have swallowed a silversmith's shop, there was enough to satisfy him; but as to all the rest, the mutton was white, the veal was red, the fish was kept too long, the venison not kept long enough; to sum up all, everything was cold except the ice, and everything sour except the vinegar." Excellence in the quality of the viands is not to be disregarded in the choicest company. A celebrated scholar and wit was selecting some of the choicest delicacies on the table, when a rich friend said to him, "What! do philosophers love dainties?" "Why not?" replied the scholar; "do you think all the good things of this world were made only for blockheads?"



At a Fourth of July banquet, or celebration, toast may be offered to "The Flag," to "The Day," to "Independence," to "Our Revolutionary Fathers," to "The Nation," to any Great Man of the Past, to "Liberty," to "Free Speech," to "National Greatness," to "Peace," to "Defensive War," to any of the States, to "Washington" or "Lafayette," to "Our Old Ally, France," to any of the "Patriotic Virtues," to "The Army and The Navy," to the "Memory of any of the Battles by Land or Sea." Appropriate sentiments for any of these may easily be devised or may be found in the miscellaneous list in this volume. "The Constitution and the Laws" or something similar should not be omitted.


Their order and character will depend upon the special topic.

Our present prosperity—the greatness and resources of our country as compared with those of the Revolutionary epoch—the slow growth of the colonies—the rapid growth of the States and the addition of new States continually—what was gained by independence—did we do more than simply prevent tyranny—the advantages an independent country possesses over a colony, such as Canada—the perils of independence and the responsibility of power—the romantic early history of the country—the wars that preceded the Revolutionary conflict—the character of the struggle—the slenderness of our resources compared with the mighty power of Britain—our ally, France—what that nation gained and lost by joining in our quarrel—the memories of Washington and Lafayette—the principles at stake in the Revolution—the narrow view our fathers took of the issue at first, and the manner in which they were led first to independence and then to nationality—some phases of the struggle—its critical points—Trenton and Valley Forge—Saratoga and Yorktown—our responsibilities and duties—the questions of that day enumerated and compared with the burning questions of the present day (which we do not enumerate here, but which the speaker may describe or even argue if the nature of his audience, or time at his disposal permits)—the future greatness of the nation—the probability of the acquisition of new territory.

Laughable incidents either from history or illustrations from any source, must not be forgotten, for if the speech be more than a few minutes long they are absolutely indispensable.


The Fourth of July has been a great day ever since 1776. Before that year the Fourth of this month came and went like other days. But then a great event happened: an event which made a great difference to the entire world; the boundaries of many countries would be very different to-day if the important event of that day had not transpired. It was a terrible blow to the foes of humanity and even to many weak-kneed friends. The exhortation of one of the signers of the Declaration on that day, "We must all hang together," with the grim but very reasonable rejoinder, "If we do not, we will assuredly hang separately." The bloodshed and suffering which followed and which seem to be the only price at which human liberty and advancement can be procured. We had to deal with our old friends the English very much as the peace-loving Quaker did with the pirate who boarded his ship; taking him by the collar Broad-brim dropped him over the ship's side into the water, saying, "Friend, thee has no business on this ship." We have shown that we own and can navigate the ship of State ourselves, and now we are willing to welcome here not only John Bull but all nations of the world when they have any friendly business with us.

The gunpowder that has been consumed. First, during the Revolutionary war and the second war with England; and then the powder that has been exploded by small and large boys in the hundred and odd Fourths that have followed.


We are so far from home that we can't hear the eagle scream or see the lightning in his eye. Only from the almanac do we know that this is the day of all days on which he disports himself. He was a small bird when born, more than a hundred years ago, but has grown lively till his wings reach from ocean to ocean, and it only requires a little faith to see him stretch himself clear over the Western Hemisphere and the adjacent islands. Other birds despised him on the first great Fourth, but these birds of prey, vultures, condors and such like, with crows, as well as the smaller Republican eagles born since, are humble enough to him now. The British lion himself having been so often scratched and clawed by this fowl, has learned to shake his mane and wag his tail rather amiably in our eagle's presence, even if he has to give an occasional growl to keep his hand in. We are proud of this bird, though we are far from home, and to-day send our heartiest good wishes across the sea to the land we love the best.


The field here is very wide. All the history of the country is appropriate, but can only be glanced at, though a good speech might be made by dwelling at length on some romantic incident in its history. The size and richness of the country from the green pine forests of Maine to the golden orange groves of California; or the prophecy of the manifest greatness of coming destiny. Here the old but laughable story can be brought in easily about the raw Irishman who saw a pumpkin for the first time, and was told that it was a mare's egg, and generously given one. He had the misfortune, however, to drop it out of his cart, when it rolled down-hill, struck a stump, burst and frightened a rabbit, which bounded away followed by Pat, shouting: "Shtop my colt; sure and if he is so big and can run so fast now, when just born, what a rousing horse he will be when grown up!"

But our country has more than merely a vast area. She has made advances in science, art, literature, and culture of all kinds, and is destined to play a chief part in the drama of the world's progress.

* * * * *


The celebration of this day has become general and has assumed a special and beautiful character. It might have been feared that angry passions engendered by civil strife would predominate, but the very reverse of this is true. Kindness and charity, tender memories of the sacrifices of patriotism, the duty of caring for the living and of avoiding all that might lead again to the sad necessity of war, are the sentiments nearly always inculcated.

The following are a few of the toasts that may be given at celebrations, or banquets, or at the exercises that form a part of the annual decorating of soldiers' graves:

The Martyred Dead—the Regiments locally represented—the Army and Navy—any Dead Soldier especially prominent—the Union Forever—the Whole Country—Victory always for the Right—the Surviving Soldiers and Sailors—Unbroken Peace—the Commander-in-Chief, and other officers locally honored—any special battle whose field is near at hand—the Flag with all its Stars undimmed.


Time in its rapid flight tests many things. Thirty years ago the Southern Confederacy, like a dark cloud full of storm and thunderings, covered the Southern heavens. Statesmen planned, preachers prayed, women wept, and armies as brave as ever formed in line fought, for its establishment. Blood flowed freely, and the roar of battle filled the whole land. Many wise men thought it would continue for ages, but lo! it has disappeared. Nothing remains to its adherents but a memory—mournful, pathetic, and bitter.

How different with the Old Flag that we love. It had been tested before, but this was its supreme trial. It had been victorious in several wars. It had sheltered new and expanding States, it had fostered higher forms of civilization, and represented peoples and interests that were complex and varied; but in our Civil War it was assailed as never before. The test was crucial, but nobly was it borne. Men died in ranks as the forest goes down before the cyclone. What sharp agony in death, and what long-continued suffering and bereavement this implies. But the result was decisive—a strengthening of the power and grandeur of the nation that sometimes seems to be only too great and unquestioned.

We have no wish by any word of ours to revive bitter feeling or stir up strife. This hallowed day has been from the first a peacemaker. Men, standing with uncovered heads in the presence of the dead, do not care to utter words of reproach for the irrevocable past. We, wearing the blue, can say to the scarred veteran wearers of the gray: "You fought well for the lost cause. But the case was fairly tried in the awful court of war. It took four years for the jury to agree, but the verdict has been given—a verdict against your cause—and there is no higher court and no appeal. There is no resurrection for the dead Confederacy; but we can offer you something better—an equal part in the life and destiny of the most glorious nation time has yet produced." And on their side the gray can reply, in the words of Colonel Grady, the eloquent orator of the South, in his speech at Atlanta: "We can now see that in this conflict loss was gain, and defeat real and substantial victory; that everything we hoped for and fought for, in the new government we sought to establish, is given to us in greater measure in the old government our fathers founded."

We do not meet on these Memorial Days to weep for the dead, as we did while wounds were yet fresh. Time has healed the scars of war, and we can calmly contemplate the great lesson of patriotic devotion, and rejoice that the nation to which we belong produced men noble enough to die for that which they valued so much. Neither do I care to say anything of human slavery, the institution that died and was buried with the Confederacy. I had enough to say about it while it was living. Let the dead past bury its dead.

But we are here to foster patriotism, in view of the most tremendous sacrifice ever willingly made by a people on the altar of nationality. That the sacrifices of the Civil War deserve this rank will appear from the fact that they were made—in the main—by volunteers. We were not fighting directly to defend our altars and our fires; we were not driven to arms to repel an invading foe; we were not hurried to the field by king or noble; but in the first flush of manhood we offered ourselves to preserve unimpaired the unity, the purity, the glory of our nation. So far as I have turned over the leaves of the volume of time, I have found nothing in all the past like this. Therefore, standing before the highest manifestation of earthly patriotism, viewing it crowned in all the glory of self-sacrifice, by a faithfulness which was literally in the case of hundreds of thousands "unto death," we ask: "What is there that justifies a nation in exacting or accepting (when freely offered) such tribute of the life-blood of its people?"

The two things of inestimable value which our government furnishes and which we ought to preserve even with life itself, if the sacrifice is needed, are liberty and law, or rather liberty in law. The old world gave law, without which human society cannot exist. But it was accompanied with terrible suffering—as when "order reigned in Warsaw." Such law came from masters, and made the mass of the people slaves. We have an equal perfection of law, order, subordination, but it rises side by side with liberty The people govern themselves—not in one form of government alone but in affairs national, State, county, down to the smallest school district and a thousand voluntary societies. In each the methods by which the people's will may be made supreme in designated affairs are clearly defined, so that the whole of united human effort is brought under the dominion of law, even such things as general education, and yet each affair is in the hands of the people directly concerned. For thousands of years the principles of our complex and wonderful system of co-ordinated government have been growing up till they have reached their fullest perfection on our soil, and we breathe their beneficence as we breathe the air of heaven. Men are willing to die by the tens of thousands that this liberty under law may not perish from the world.

... Comrades and Citizens:—We move forward to new issues and new responsibilities. Grave dangers are now upon us. God grant that they may not need to be met and settled in the rude shock of war. The time for wisdom, for clear-sighted patriotism is—now. Labor and capital, the foundations of law and order; the complex civilization of a nation which now talks by lightning, and is hurled by steam over plains and mountains, and which, doubtless, will soon fly through the air—all these are to be settled by the men now on the stage of action. We cannot do better than to tell you, to settle them in the spirit of the men whose great sacrifices we to-day commemorate.


This is one of the most interesting of national celebrations, appealing not to pride, but to tender personal memories. But we must not give ourselves up wholly to sadness or mourning. The story of issues and results must be told.

Why did our heroes die? On account of the cancer of slavery and the resulting doctrine of State Rights. Nationality and liberty, the opposite view. The former was the party of action, and, therefore, though in a minority, it was bolder and more determined. But the shell of materialism dropped from the North, and it was aroused with electric energy when Sumter was fired on; there was no passion, only such fervid resolve to preserve our nation as the world never before saw. The struggle over, there were no State trials, no prisons nor scaffolds, and the Republic, though bleeding at every pore, said to the conquered enemy, "Come and share fully with us all the blessings of our preserved institutions," and thus won a second victory greater than the first.

The wonderful intelligence of the volunteer—story of Napoleon's soldier—"Dead on the field of honor."

The Grand Army of the elect—the heroes of history, some of whom are enumerated—the actual value to a nation of such heroism. To-day all that belongs to the strife is forgiven, but its lessons are too noble and precious ever to be forgotten. We can all, North and South, read with enthusiasm the story of each varied and romantic campaign.

The Confederate women first began decorating the graves of their dead with flowers, and did not pass by the Union graves near their late foes. This touched the heart of the nation as nothing else could have done, and enmity melted away, and the observance of the day has become universal.

The two great national heroes—Washington, with his wise, foresighted "Farewell Address;" Lincoln, with his gentle spirit, his martyr death, and his tender words, "With malice towards none, with charity for all." Washington the Founder, Lincoln the Preserver.

* * * * *



To Washington—to The Great Men of Revolutionary Times—to The Great Man who could not do what many modern Politicians can do—tell a lie—to The Childless Father of Eighty Millions of people—to The American Model Statesman—to The Greatest of Good Men and the Best of Great Men.


Indian, French, and English enemies. He had to make the armies with which he conquered. He was always a safe commander, but full of enterprise also—his character made the Union of the States and the Constitution possible. His character the best inheritance of the American people. Other men as great, possibly in some instances greater in a single field—his greatness shown in the wide union of the noblest kinds of greatness, all in harmony.


"While venerating their lofty patriotism, may we emulate them in their republican simplicity of manners." He declared that a great deal had been said at one time and another about the democratic simplicity of our forefathers. Suppose that the gentlemen of the present day should go back to some of the customs of the forefathers. Suppose a man should go to a ball nowadays in the costume in which Thomas Jefferson, "that great apostle of democratic simplicity," once appeared in Philadelphia. What a sensation he would create with his modest (?) costume of velvet and lace, with knee-breeches, silk stockings, silver shoe-buckles, and powdered wig. "Even the great father of his country had a little style about him," said the speaker. "It was a known fact that he never went to Congress when he was President unless he went in a coach and six, with a little cupid on the box bearing a wreath of flowers. The coach must be yellow and the horses white, and then the President's secretary usually followed in a coach drawn by four horses. When Washington ascended the steps to enter the doors, he always stopped for a moment and turned slowly around to allow an admiring people to see the father of their country. Oh! our forefathers were saturated with modesty and simplicity. The people of the present day have retrograded greatly from the simplicity of their Revolutionary ancestors. I can remember when it was impossible, years before the war, to hold a night session of Congress. It was impossible because the members of Congress attended dinners, and lingered over their wine. They attended dinners very like the one we have just enjoyed, and yet there is not a man in this company who is unfitted to attend to any public or private duties that might demand his attention. Yes, it is true that we have departed from the old customs, but we have advanced and not retrograded. The world has changed, but it has changed for the better. It is growing better every day, and don't let anybody forget it."

* * * * *



The Day of Good-will—to The Cold Weather without and the Warm Hearts within—to The Christmas Tree, which grows in a Night and is plucked in the Morning by the gladdest of fingers—to The Day in which Religion gives sweetness to Social Life—Christmas Gifts; may they bless the Giver not less than the Receiver—to The Oldest of our Festivals, which grows mellower and sweeter with the passage of the centuries—to St. Nicholas [or Santa Claus], the only saint Protestants worship—to A Merry Day that leaves no heart-ache—to A Good Christmas, may sleighing, gifts, and feasting crowd out all gambling and drunkenness.


The good cheer enjoyed on this merriest day of the year. How the little people look forward to it. It comes to the older ones as a joy, and yet tender and sad with the memories of other Christmases. The religious and the secular elements of the day. The countries where it is most observed. The long contest between the two days, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The compromise that Massachusetts and Virginia, New England and the South, have unanimously agreed upon; namely, to keep both days.


The speaker assumes that the observance of the day is becoming obsolete, and that there are persons who wish it to die out. The assumption, though rather strained, affords the opportunity to demolish this man of straw. "All other kings may go, but no one can spare King Christmas, or St. Nicholas, his prime minister. School-rooms and nurseries would rebel. And plum pudding is too strongly entrenched in Church and State to be dislodged. Washington Irving, with his Sketch Book, would protest. Best argument of all is the worth of the Christmas entertainments. Here's to the Festival of Festivals, and long may its honors be done by such hosts as entertain us to-day."


Coming at the beginning of the farmer's rest, when the harvest is all gathered, this is a very joyous festival, and more than any other abounds in family reunions. Any toast therefore is appropriate which tells of the harvest, of fertility, of the closing year, of the family pride and traditions, of pleasure to young and old. At dinner, turkey and mince or pumpkin pie will of course be served, and these national favorites must not be forgotten by the toastmaker.

This day, too, has an official and governmental flavor given to it by the State and national proclamations which fix the date and invite its observance. Usually, these enumerate the blessings enjoyed by the whole country during the year, and suggest topics peculiarly fitting for toasts. It is perhaps not too much to say that Thanksgiving is distinctly the American Festival, and should be honored accordingly.


To The Inventor of Pumpkin Pie—to Peace with all Nations—to The Rulers of our Country—to The Farmer—to Full Stomachs and Merry Hearts—to their Excellencies, the President and the Governor; may we obey all their commands as willingly as when they tell us to feast—Abounding Plenty; may we always remember the Source from which our benefits come—Our two National Fowls, the American Eagle and the Thanksgiving Turkey; may the one give us peace for all our States and the other a piece for all our plates—The Turkey and the Eagle; we love to have the one soar high, but wish the other to roost low—The Great American Birds; may we have them where we love them best, the Turkeys on our tables and the Eagles in our pockets.


The manner in which the day was first instituted. The sore struggles and the small beginnings of that day compared with the greatness and abounding prosperity of the present. The warfare between Christmas and Thanksgiving, the one being thought the badge of popery and prelacy. The Battle of the Pies, pumpkin and mince, terminating in a treaty of peace and alliance; and now we can enjoy the nightmare by feasting on both combined! The national blessings of the year; the poorest have more now than kings and emperors had five hundred years ago. Exemption from wars. Internal peace. Willingness and habit of settling every domestic dispute by the ballot, and not the bullet. The increasing tendency to arbitrate between nations, thus avoiding the horrors of war. The beneficence of our government and the ease with which its operations rest upon our shoulders. The wonderful progress of science and invention, and the manner in which these have added to the comfort of all the people.


Why we ought to be grateful to the old Puritans, with all their faults. Their unsuccessful warfare on plum pudding, which, like truth, "crushed to earth," rose again. Their discovery and enshrining of Turkey. On this day the Nation gathers as a family at the Thanksgiving board, and from all parts of the world the wanderers come home to the family feast. The duty of Happiness, joined to gratitude, is emphasized this day. The closing toast, "The Federal Eagle and the Festal Turkey; may we always have peace under the wings of the one, and be able to obtain a piece from the breast of the other."


Giving a present is a kind and graceful act, and should be accompanied by a simple, short, and unaffected speech. "Take this" would have the merit of brevity, but would fail in conveying any information as to who gave, why they gave to the recipient, and why that present was selected rather than another, and why the speaker was chosen to make the presentation. All of these items form a part of nearly every presentation address, whilst some of them belong to all.

The novice will find much help in preparing his proposed speech by selecting a few items that are generally appropriate; afterward he can include anything which his own genius or wishes may suggest.

He may say that an abler speaker might have been selected for the pleasant duty, but not one who could enter into it more heartily or with more good wishes. He can refer to any circumstance which, if told briefly, will show why he has been selected, notwithstanding his reluctance or sense of unworthiness; or why he is pleased that the selection has fallen upon him. Such reference is usually effective.

Then the nature of the gift may be described. Here is an easy field for a little pleasantry. If a watch, it can be said, "Your friends are growing a little suspicious of you, and, after due deliberation, they have determined to a place a watch upon you." If a cane is the article in hand, then the painful duty of administering punishment for offenses by caning is in order. A ring will afford an opportunity for many verbal plays. The ring of friends about the recipient, the true ring of a bell, or of an uncracked vase, a political ring—any of these can be made to lead up to the little hoop of gold. The fineness of the material, its sterling and unvarying value, the inscription on it, any specialty in its form—all these will be found rich in suggestion. Silverware of any kind may also be considered as to the form of the article, the use to which it is to be put, and the purity of the metal. Hardly any article can be thought of which will not allow some pleasant puns or bon mots. If a book is given, we bring the person "to book," and the book to him. Job wished that his enemy might write a book; we, more charitable, wish our friend to read a book, and now offer him a good one for the purpose. The author or the title will, if closely examined, yield some matter for play on words.

The army presents of sword or banner, while usually more serious, do not forbid the same kind of badinage.

But this should form only a small portion of the speech, and consist merely of two or three well-studied sentences, to be uttered slowly, so that their double meaning may have time to sink in, and appear also as if they were just thought of. A good anecdote should be introduced at this point. It must be short, tinged with humor, and, if it succeeds in arousing the attention of the hearers, it will be of great value. If it is very appropriate or highly illustrative, these qualities will compensate for humor. Indeed, a felicitous anecdote will make the whole speech a success, if the speech is not continued too long afterward. Better suffer the extreme penalty of reading every anecdote in this volume, and of searching for hours in other fields, than fail to get the right one; but if unsuccessful invent one for the occasion!

The good qualities of the recipient must not be overlooked, especially those in recognition of which the present is given. If anything in the nature of the present itself can be made symbolic of these assumed good or great qualities, it will be a happy circumstance. And while flattery should not be excessive or too palpable, it is seldom indeed that a large dose of "pleasant things" will not be well received by all parties on such an occasion.

The expression of kindly feeling and good wishes always affords a favorable opportunity for closing. Perhaps, however, a more striking conclusion can be made by taking advantage of the very moment when the present is handed over to the recipient, accompanying this act with a hearty wish for its long retention and its happy use in the manner its nature indicates. Wishing a ring to be worn as a memento of friendship, a watch to mark the passage of happy hours, a cane not to be needed for support, but only as a treasured ornament, a sword to be worn with honor and only to be unsheathed at the call of duty or of patriotism, etc.

The reception of a gift is more easy than the presentation, but is at the same time more embarrassing. The reception is easier, because the essential part of the response is to say "Thank you," which are very easy words to utter if the givers are real friends and the present is an appropriate one. It is more embarrassing because it is always harder to receive a favor gratefully than to give one. If the gift is a surprise, there is no harm in saying so, though if it is not a surprise, it is not advisable to tell an untruth about it. The recipient may say he is embarrassed, and his embarrassment—whether real or feigned—will create sympathy for him. Besides, he can ask for indulgence with more grace than the preceding speaker, as he is supposed to be taken by surprise. He may be so overcome with emotion as to break down altogether, and yet he will be loudly applauded.

A still stronger reason for this disparity is that the speaker representing the givers has been selected, probably out of a large company, to make his speech, and is thus expected to do it well; but the receiver occupies his position for a reason that has no connection whatever with his speech-making powers. If he succeeds in expressing his gratitude and goodwill to those who have been so generous he will have served the essential purpose of his speech; but if, in addition, he can gather up the points made in the presentation speech, assenting to its general principles, accepting the humorous charges for which he is to be watched, caned, stoned (when a diamond or other stone is given), or put to the sword, and gently deprecates the serious flattery offered, he will be regarded as doing exceedingly well. One phrase he will not be likely to omit, unless "he loses his head" altogether—"When I look upon this, I will always remember the feelings of this hour, the kind words uttered, the appreciation shown." This word "appreciation." with the reiteration of thanks, will make a very fitting conclusion.


In our country the number of voluntary associations that visit similar associations, or meet at special times and places is very large. Often such associations are furnished with free board and lodging by the people of the place where the assemblage occurs. Facilities for assemblage and enjoyment are offered and other privileges tendered that are highly appreciated. Religious bodies, church and philanthropic societies, military and fire companies, athletic and social clubs, various orders and educational societies, political bodies, these form only a small proportion of the endless number of organizations convening and gathering at different centres, gatherings which serve to keep all parts of our country in close touch.

It is needless to furnish model speeches for each of these, for the same general line of remark is adapted to all. The changes of illustration demanded by the character of the association to be welcomed, and for which responses are to be made, will be readily understood, and a little study of the name and character of the place of meeting will make the necessary local allusions quite easy. The welcome and response for a fire company, or a baseball club, will not differ much from that for a Christian Endeavor Society. A few general hints and a little investigation by the novice will put him on the right track in either case.


A clear statement about those who extend the welcome and of those who are to be welcomed is appropriate. This may be expanded advantageously by giving a few of the characteristics of each, greater latitude being allowed in complimenting those who are welcomed than those who entertain. It is bad taste to spend more time in telling our guests how good and great we are than in expressing the exalted opinion we have of them for their noble work, their great fame, or their high purpose; or in declaring the pleasure we feel and the honor we have in entertaining them. The warmth of the welcome extended should be expressed in the fullest manner, and as this is the central purpose of the whole address, it will bear one repetition. A good illustrative story, brief but pointed, may be worked in somewhere, perhaps in connection with a modest depreciation of our own fitness or ability adequately to express the strong feelings of those we represent, though if one can be found having a connection with the visitors themselves, it will be still better. What we wish our visitors to do while with us may also be appropriately referred to. If there are places of interest for them to visit, work for them to do, or special entertainments provided,—here is additional matter for remark. All these items may be run through in a few minutes, and then the address should close. The most bungling and formal welcome, if short, will be enjoyed more and be more applauded than the most graceful and eloquent one unduly prolonged. Should however, in spite of this warning, more "filling in" be desired of an appropriate character, it may be found almost without limit in setting forth the claim of the cause which both the visitors and the entertainers represent—athletic sports, religion, benevolence, education, or what not.


This may be still more brief than the address of welcome. To say that the reception is hearty, that it gives pleasure and is gratefully received and appreciated, is all that is essential. An invitation to return the visit should not be forgotten, if circumstances are such that it can be appropriately made. Then the speaker has an opportunity to review any portion of the preceding speech and express his indorsement of any of the assertions made. He should not dissent from them, unless this dissent can be made the means of a little adroit flattery by placing a higher estimate upon the entertainers and their services than their own speaker has done, or by modestly disclaiming some of the praise that has been given. The novice must avoid being carried too far by this fascinating review, both as to the quantity and the quality of the disagreement.

A closing sentence may be, "Allow me once more, most heartily, to thank you for this generous welcome to—your homes—your headquarters—to the hospitalities of your city," as the case may be.


Another wide field for the oratory of entertainment is to be found in the various celebrations that mark the passage of specific or notable portions of time—centennial, semi-centennial, and quadrennial; likewise weddings, annual, tin, paper, crystal, silver, and golden. The speeches for these differ widely in character. They may take the form of congratulatory addresses, of toasts and responses, or more formal addresses. All dedications come in the same category. Generally the shorter intervals call for light and humorous speeches, while the longer ones demand something more grave and thoughtful.

The following speech and response for a wooden (fifth) wedding anniversary is taken from a volume of ready made speeches. It is a fine example of that wit and play upon words which is never more suitable or more highly appreciated than on such an occasion.


If it is a good maxim not to halloo till you are out of the woods, our kind host and hostess must be very quiet this evening, for it seems to me that they are in the thick of it. If their friends had been about to burn them alive instead of to wish them joy on their fifth wedding-day, they could scarcely have brought a greater quantity of combustible material to the sacrifice. What shall we say to them on this ligneous occasion? Of course, we must congratulate them on their willingness to renew their matrimonial vows after five years of double-blessedness. In this age of divorce it is something worthy of note, that a pair who have been one and inseparable for even so short a period as the twentieth part of a century, should stand up proudly before the world and propose to strengthen the original compact with a new one. They look as happy and contented as if they had never heard of Chicago, or seen those tempting little advertisements in the newspapers that propose to separate man and wife with immediate dispatch for a reasonable consideration. Instead of going to court to cut the nuptial bond in twain, it appears that they have been courting for five years with the view of being remarried this evening. Vaccination, it is said, wears out in seven years, but matrimony, we see, in this instance, at least, takes a stronger hold of the parties inoculated as time rolls on; and although in this case they are willing to go through the operation again, it is not for the sake of making assurance doubly sure, but in order to enjoy marriage as a luxury. With this happy specimen of a wooden wedding before them our young unmarried friends will see that they can go into the joinery business with but little risk of getting into the wrong box. In fact, it is because connubial bliss beats every other species of felicity all hollow that we have met this evening to requite it with hollow-ware. In the name of all their friends I affectionately congratulate the doubly-married pair on their past happiness and future prospects, and hope they may live to celebrate their fiftieth wedding day and receive a golden reward.


"For self and partner"—as men associated in business sometimes conclude their letters—I offer to you and all our friends who have obliged us with their presence, the thanks of the firm which renews its articles of partnership this evening. We welcome you heartily to our home, well knowing that your kind wishes are not like—your useful and elegant tokens of remembrance—hollow-ware. When Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane, Macbeth was conquered, and it seems to me that you have come almost as well provided with timber as Macduff and Malcolm were. Your articles, however, although of wood, are not of the Burn 'em kind, and I am not such a Dunce inane as to decline accepting them. Indeed, my wife, who, notwithstanding her matrimonial vows, has a single eye—to housekeeping—would not permit me to refuse them were I so inclined. She knows their value better than I do, and with the assistance of her kitchen cabinet will, I have no doubt, employ them usefully.

The speech closes with thanks and good wishes in return.


A toast may be given either with or without sentiment attached, and in either case a response equally fitting; but in the former the subject is narrowed and defined by the nature of the sentiment. Yet the speaker need not hold himself closely to the sentiment, which is often made rather a point of departure even by the ablest speakers. Indeed, the latitude accorded to after-dinner speeches is very great, and a sentiment which gives unity and direction to the speech made in response to it is, on that account, of great value.

To illustrate these points we will take the toast "Our Flag." A speech in response would be practically unlimited in scope of treatment. Anything patriotic, historical or sentimental, which brings in some reference to the banner, would be appropriate. But let this sentiment be added: "May the justness and benevolence which it represents ever charm the heart, as its beauty charms the eye," and the outline of a speech is already indicated. Has our nation always been just and kind? Where and how have these qualities been most strikingly manifested? Why have we seemed sometimes to come short of them, and how should such injustice or harsh dealing be remedied, with as much rhetorical admixture of the waving folds and the glittering stars as the speaker sees fit to employ.

From these considerations may be deduced the rule that when the proposer of a toast wishes to leave the respondent the freedom of the whole subject he will give the toast alone, or accompanied by a motto of the most non-committal character. But if he wishes to draw him out in a particular direction he will put the real theme in the sentiment that follows the toast.


Years ago a speaker provoked a controversy (maliciously and with no good excuse) which scarcely came short of blows, by proposing as a toast the name of a general of high rank, but who was unfortunate in arms. He was a candidate for office. Added to the toast was the sentiment, "May his political equal his military victories." This was in bad taste, indeed, but it shows the use that can be made of the sentiment, when added to a toast, in fixing attention in a certain direction.

The number of sentiments suggested by the common and standard toasts is unlimited. Take the toast "Home," as an example.

Home: The golden setting in which the brightest jewel is "Mother."

Home: A world of strife shut out, and a world of love shut in.

Home: The blossoms of which heaven is the fruit.

Home: The only spot on earth where the fault and failings of fallen humanity are hidden under a mantle of charity.

Home: An abode wherein the inmate, the superior being called man, can pay back at night, with fifty per cent. interest, every annoyance that he has met with in business during the day.

Home: The place where the great are sometimes small, and the small often great.

Home: The father's kingdom; the child's paradise; the mother's world.

Home: The jewel casket containing the most precious of all jewels—domestic happiness.

Home: The place where you are treated best and grumble most.

Home: It is the central telegraph office of human love, into which run innumerable wires of affection, many of which, though extending thousands of miles, are never disconnected from the one great terminus.

Home: The centre of our affections, around which our hearts' best wishes twine.

Home: A little sheltered hollow scooped out of the windy hill of the world.

Home: A place where our stomachs get three good meals daily and our hearts a thousand.


These might be multiplied indefinitely, but a sufficient number are given to serve as hints to the person who is able to make his own toasts, yet seeks a little aid to lift him out of the common rut.

Marriage: The happy estate which resembles a pair of shears; so joined that they cannot be separated; often moving in opposite directions, yet always punishing any one who comes between them.

Marriage: The gate through which the happy lover leaves his enchanted ground and returns from paradise to earth.

Woman: The fairest work of the great Author; the edition is large, and no man should be without a copy.

Woman: She needs no eulogy; she speaks for herself.

Woman: The bitter half of man. (A sour bachelor's toast.)

Wedlock: May the single all be married and all the married be happy. Love to one, friendship to many, and good-will to all.

The Lady we love and the Friend we trust.

May we have the unspeakable good Fortune to win a true heart, and the Merit to keep it.

Friendship: May its bark never founder on the rocks of deception.

Friendship: May its lamp ever be supplied by the oil of truth and fidelity.

Unselfish Friendship: May we ever be able to serve a friend, and noble enough to conceal it.

Firm Friendship: May differences of opinion only cement it.

May we have more and more Friends and Need them less and less.

May our Friend in sorrow never be a Sorrowing friend.

Active Friendship: May the hinges of friendship never grow rusty.

To our Friends: Whether absent on land or sea.

Our Friends: May the present have no burdens for them and futurity no terrors.

Our Friends: May we always have them and always know their value.

Friends: May we be richer in their love than in wealth, and yet money be plenty.

A Friend: May we never want one to cheer us, or a home to welcome him.

Good Judgment: May opinions never float in the sea of ignorance.

Careful Kindness: May we never crack a joke or break a reputation.

Enduring Prudence: May the pleasures of youth never bring us pain in old age.

Deliverance in Trouble: May the sunshine of hope dispel the clouds of calamity.

Successful Suit: May we court and win all the Daughters of Fortune except the eldest—Miss Fortune.

Here's a Health to Detail, Retail, and Curtail—indeed, all the tails but tell-tales.

The Coming Millennium: When great men are honest and honest men are great.

Our Merchant: May he have good trade, well paid. May the Devil cut the toes of all our foes, That we may know them by their limping.

May we Live to learn well and Learn to live well.

A Placid Life: May we never murmur without cause, and never have cause to murmur.

May we never lose our Bait when we Fish for compliments.

A Better Distribution of Money: May Avarice lose his purse and Benevolence find it.

May Care be a stranger and Serenity a familiar friend to every honest heart.

May Fortune recover her eyesight and be able to distribute her gifts more wisely and equally.

May Bad Example never attract youthful minds.

May Poverty never come to us without rich compensations and hope of a speedy departure.

Our Flag: The beautiful banner that represents the precious mettle of America.

American Eagle, The: The liberty bird that permits no liberties.

American Eagle, The: May she build her nest in every rock peak of this continent.

American Valor: May no war require it, but may it be always ready for every foe.

American People, The: May they live in peace and grow strong in the practice of every virtue.

Our Native Land: May it ever be worthy of our heartiest love, and continue to draw it forth without stint.

(A spread-eagle toast.) The Boundaries of Our Country: East, by the Rising Sun; north, by the North Pole; west, by all Creation; and south, by the Day of Judgment.

Our Lakes and Rivers: Navigable waters that unite all the States and render the very thought of their separation absurd.

Our Sons and Daughters: May they be honest as brave and modest as fair.

America and the World: May our nation ever enjoy the blessings of the widest liberty, and be ever ready to promote the liberties of mankind.

Discontented Citizens: May they speedily leave their country for their country's good.


"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."

The Patriot:

"Breathes there a man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land; Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned, As home his footsteps he hath turned From wandering on a foreign strand?"

Our Country: Whether bounded by Canada or Mexico, or however otherwise bounded and described; be the measurement more or less, still Our Country; to be cherished in our hearts and defended by our lives.

Our Country: In our intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; and if not, may we ever be true patriots enough to get her into the right at any cost.

Our Country: May we render due reverence and love to the common mother of us all.

The Ship of State:

"Nail to the mast her holy flag; Set every threadbare sail; And give her to the God of Storms, The lightning and the gale."

Columbia: My country, with all thy faults, I love thee still.

Webster's Motto: Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.

True Patriotism: May every American be a good citizen in peace, a valiant soldier in war.

Our Country: May our love of country be without bounds and without a shadow of fear.

Our Statesmen: May they care less for party and for personal ambition than for the nation's welfare.

Failure to Treason: May he who would destroy his country for a mess of pottage never get the pottage!

The Penalty of Treason: May he who would uproot the tree of Liberty be the first one crushed by its fall.

The Nation: May it know no North, no South, no East, no West, but only one broad, beautiful, glorious land.


Dear Country, our thoughts are more constant to thee, Than the steel to the star and the stream to the sea.

Our Revolutionary Fathers: May their sons never disgrace their parentage.

Our Town: The best in the land; let him that don't like it leave it.

The Tree of Liberty: May every American citizen help cultivate it and eat freely of its fruit.

The Emigrant: May the man that doesn't love his native country speedily hie him to one that he can love.

The American Eagle: It is not healthful to try to deposit salt on his venerable tail.

California: The land of golden rocks and golden fruits.

Ohio: The second Mother of Presidents.

Vermont: A State of rocks, but producing men, women, maple sugar, and horses.

"The first are strong, the last are fleet, The second and third are exceedingly sweet, And all are uncommonly hard to beat."

Texas: The biggest of States, and one of the very best.

New York: Unrivalled if numbers in city and State be the test.

Our Navy: May it always be as anxious to preserve peace as to uphold the honor of the flag in war.

Our Army: May it ever be very small in peace, but grow to mighty dimensions and mightier achievement in war.

Our Country: May the form of liberty never be used to subvert the principles of true freedom.

Our Voters: May they always have a standard to try their rulers by, and be quick to punish or reward justly.

Fortune: A divinity to fools, a helper to wise men.

The Present: Anticipation may be very agreeable but participation is more practical.

The Present Opportunity: We may lay in a stock of pleasures for use in memory, but they must be kept carefully to prevent mouldering.

Philosophy: It may conquer past or present pain but toothache, while it lasts, laughs at philosophy.

Our Noble Selves: Why not toast ourselves and praise ourselves since we have the best means of knowing all the good in ourselves?

Charity: A link from the chain of gold that angels forge.

Our Harvests: May the sunshine of plenty dispel the clouds of care.

Virtue: May we have the wit to discover what is true and the fortitude to practice what is good.

Our Firesides: Our heads may not be sharpened at colleges, but our hearts are graduates of the hearths.

The True Medium: Give us good form, but not formality.

The Excesses of Youth: They are heavy drafts upon old age, payable with compound interest about thirty years from date.

The Best of Good Feeling: May we never feel want nor want feeling.

Our Incomes: May we have a head to earn and hearts to spend.

Forbearance: May we have keen wit, but never make a sword of our tongues to wound the reputation of others.

Wit: A cheap and nasty commodity when uttered at the expense of modesty and courtesy.

Cheerfulness and Fortitude: May we never give way to melancholy, but always be merry at the right places.

Generosity: May we all be as charitable and indulgent as the Khan of Tartary, who, when he has dined on milk and horseflesh, makes proclamation that all the kings and emperors of earth have now his gracious permission to dine.

Economy: The daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Independence.

Fidelity and Forgiveness: May our injuries be written in sand and our gratitude for benefits in rock.

A Good Memory: May it always be used as a storehouse and never as a lumber-room.

A Health to Our Dearest: May their purses always be heavy and their hearts always be light.

The Noblest Qualities: Charity without ostentation and religion without bigotry.

Discernment of Character: May Flattery never be permitted to sit in the parlor while Plain and Kindly Dealing is kicked out into the woodshed.

False Friends: May we never have friends who, like shadows, keep close to us in the sunshine only to desert us in a cloudy day or in the night.

A Competence: May we never want bread to make a toast or a good cook to prepare it.

The Man we Love: He who thinks most good and speaks least ill of his neighbors.

Human Nature as the Best Study: He who is learned in books alone may know how some things ought to be, but he who reads men learns how things are.

Metaphysics the Noblest of the Sciences: "When a mon wha' kens naething aboot ony subject, takes a subject that nae mon kens onything aboot and explains it to anither mon still more ignorant—that's Metaphysics."

The Deeds of Men: The best interpreters of their motives.

Love and Affection: The necessary basis for a happy life.

Charity: A mantle of heavenly weaving used to cover the faults of our neighbors.

Charitable Allowances: May our eyes be no keener when we look upon the faults of others than when we survey our own.

Cheerful Courage: "May this be our maxim whene'er we are twirled, A fig for the cares of this whirl-a-gig world."

A Golden Maxim: To err is human, to forgive divine.

Prudence in Speech: The imprudent man reflects upon what he has said, the wise man upon what he is going to say.

Thought and Speech: It is much safer to always think what we say than always to say what we think.

Everybody: May no one now feel that he has been omitted.

Fame: The great undertaker who pays little attention to the living but makes no end of parade over the dead.

The Chatterbox: May he give us a few brilliant flashes of silence.

Discretion in Speech: May we always remember the manner, the place, and the time.

A Happy Future: May the best day we have seen be worse than the worst that is to come.


To a Fat Friend: May your shadow never grow less.

May every Hair of your head be as a shining Candle to light you to glory.

Long Life to our Friends: May the chicken never be hatched that will scratch on their graves.

Confusion to the Early Bird: May it and the worm both be picked up.

The Nimble Penny: May it soon grow into a dime and then swell into a dollar.

To a Sovereign: not the kind that sits on a throne, but the one that lies in our pocket.

Our Land: May we live happy in it and never be sent out of it for our country's good.

Three Great Commanders: May we always be under the orders of General Peace, General Plenty, and General Prosperity.

The Three Best Doctors: May Doctor Quiet, Doctor Diet, and Doctor Good Conscience ever keep us well.

The Health of that wise and good Man who kept a Dog and yet did his own barking!

Here's to the health of ——: The old bird that was not caught with chaff.

The Health of those we Love the beet; Our noble selves.


Every year new occasions arise that point to a new order of celebrations. Until recently there were no centennial celebrations. Once inaugurated these suggested semi-centennial and quarter-century ones, and as the country advanced in years there came the bi-centennial and ter-centennial. And the attention of the civilized globe was called to our fourth-centennial by the unrivalled and wonderful display at the World's Exhibition in Chicago.

In this chapter are given outlines of a miscellaneous character, some original and some selected.


This is a good model for the semi-centennial or centennial of any noted event.

Being in the open air the speaker referred to the grand scenery, almost the same as one hundred years before.

Effect on the nation's heart of such Revolutionary commemorations.

Small events influence the currents of history. Thermopyla and its 300; the three plain farmers who preserved American liberty.

1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse