PUBLIC SPEAKING PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE
BY IRVAH LESTER WINTER
IN OFFERING A BOOK TO STUDENTS OF PUBLIC SPEAKING THE AUTHOR WOULD PAY WHAT TRIBUTE IS HERE POSSIBLE TO CHARLES WILLIAM ELIOT WHO FOR MANY YEARS HAS TAUGHT BY EXAMPLE THE POWER AND BEAUTY OF PERFECTED SPEECH
This book is designed to set forth the main principles of effective platform delivery, and to provide a large body of material for student practice. The work laid out may be used to form a separate course of study, or a course of training running parallel with a course in debating or other original speaking. It has been prepared with a view also to that large number who want to speak, or have to speak, but cannot have the advantage of a teacher. Much is therefore said in the way of caution, and untechnical language is used throughout.
The discussion of principles in Part One is intended as a help towards the student's understanding of his task, and also as a common basis of criticism in the relation between teacher and pupil. The preliminary fundamental work of Part Two, Technical Training, deals first with the right formation of tone, the development of voice as such, the securing of a fixed right vocal habit. Following comes the adapting of this improved voice to the varieties of use, or expressional effect, demanded of the public speaker. After this critical detailed drill, the student is to take the platform, and apply his acquired technique to continued discourse, receiving criticism after each entire piece of work.
The question as to what should be the plan and the content of Part Three, Platform Practice, has been determined simply by asking what are the distinctly varied conditions under which men most frequently speak. It is regarded as profitable for the student to practice, at least to some extent, in all the several kinds of speech here chosen. In thus cultivating versatility, he will greatly enlarge his power of expression, and will, at length, discover wherein lies his own special capability.
The principal aim in choosing the selections has been to have them sufficiently alive to be attractive to younger speakers, and not so heavy as to be unsuited to their powers. Some of them have proved effective by use; many others are new. In all cases they are of good quality.
It is hoped that the new features of the book will be found useful. One of these is a group of lighter after-dinner speeches and anecdotes. It has been said that, in present-day speech-making, humor has supplanted former-day eloquence. It plays anyway a considerable part in various kinds of speaking. The young speaker is generally ineffective in the expression of pleasantry, even his own. Practice in the speaking of wholesome humor is good for cultivating quality of voice and ease of manner, and for developing the faculty of giving humorous turn to one's own thought. It is also entertaining to fellow students. Other new features in the book are a practice section for the kind of informal speaking suited to the club or the classroom, and a section given to the occasional poem, the kind of poem that is associated with speech- making.
A considerable space is given to argumentative selections because of the general interest in debating, and because a need has been felt for something suited for special forensic practice among students of law. Some poetic selections are introduced into Part Two in order to give attractive variety to the student's work, and to provide for the advantage of using verse form in some of the vocal training. The few character sketches introduced may serve for cultivating facility in giving entertaining touches to serious discourse. All the selections for platform practice are designed, as seems most fitting, to occupy about five minutes in delivery. Original speeches, wherein the student presents his own thought, may be intermingled with this more technical work in delivery, or may be taken up in a more special way in a subsequent course.
It should, perhaps, be suggested that the plan of procedure here prescribed can be modified to suit the individual teacher or student. The method of advance explained in the Discussion of Principles is believed to be the best, but some who use the book may prefer, for example, to begin with the second group of selections, the familiar, colloquial passages, and proceed from these to those more elevated and sustained. This or any other variation from the plan here proposed can, of course, be adopted. For any plan the variety of material is deemed sufficient, and the method of grouping will be found convenient and practical.
The making of this kind of book would not be possible except for the generous privileges granted by many authors and many publishers of copyrighted works. For the special courtesies of all whose writings have a place here the editor would make the fullest acknowledgment of indebtedness. The books from which extracts are taken have been mentioned, in every case, in a prominent place with the title of the selection, in order that so far as possible students may be led carefully to read the entire original, and become fully imbued with its meaning and spirit, before undertaking the vocal work on the selected portion. For the purpose of such reading, it would be well to have these books collected on a section of shelves in school libraries for easy and ready reference.
The publishers from whose books selections have been most liberally drawn are, Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company, Messrs. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, Messrs. Little, Brown, and Company, of Boston, and Messrs. Harper and Brothers, Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, Messrs. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Messrs. G. W. Dillingham Company, Messrs. Doubleday, Page and Company, and Mr. C. P. Farrell, New York. Several of the after-dinner speeches are taken from the excellent fifteen volume collection, "Modern Eloquence," by an arrangement with Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago, publishers. In the first three volumes of this collection will be found many other attractive after-dinner speeches.
I. L. W. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS.
A DISCUSSION OF PRINCIPLES
TECHNICAL TRAINING Establishing the Tone Vocal Flexibility The Formation of Words Making the Point Indicating Values and Relations Expressing the Feeling Showing the Picture Expression by Action
PLATFORM PRACTICE The Formal Address The Public Lecture The Informal Discussion Argumentative Speech The After-Dinner Speech The Occasional Poem The Making of the Speech
ESTABLISHING THE TONE O Scotia!.......................... Robert Burns O Rome! My Country!................ Lord Byron Ring Out, Wild Bells!.............. Alfred Lord Tennyson Roll On, Thou Deep!................ Lord Byron Thou Too, Sail On!................. Henry W. Longfellow O Tiber, Father Tiber!............. Lord Macaulay Marullus to the Roman Citizens..... William Shakespeare The Recessional.................... Rudyard Kipling The Cradle of Liberty.............. Daniel Webster The Impeachment of Warren Hastings. Edmund Burke Bunker Hill........................ Daniel Webster The Gettysburg Address............. Abraham Lincoln
VOCAL FLEXIBILITY Caesar, the Fighter................. Henry W. Longfellow Official Duty...................... Theodore Roosevelt Look Well to your Speech........... George Herbert Palmer Hamlet to the Players.............. William Shakespeare Bellario's Letter.................. William Shakespeare Casca, Speaking of Caesar........... William Shakespeare Squandering of the Voice........... Henry Ward Beecher The Training of the Gentleman...... William J. Tucker
MAKING THE POINT Brutus to the Roman Citizens....... William Shakespeare The Precepts of Polonius........... William Shakespeare The High Standard.................. Lord Rosebery On Taxing the Colonies............. Edmund Burke Justifying the President........... John C. Spooner Britain and America................ John Bright
VALUES AND TRANSITIONS King Robert of Sicily.............. Henry W. Longfellow Laying the Atlantic Cable.......... James T. Fields O'Connell, the Orator.............. Wendell Phillips Justification for Impeachment...... Edmund Burke Wendell Phillips, the Orator....... George William Curtis On the Disposal of Public Lands.... Robert Y. Hayne The Declaration of Independence.... Abraham Lincoln
EXPRESSING THE FEELING Northern Greeting to Southern Veterans. ................................... Henry Cabot Lodge Matches and Overmatches............ Daniel Webster The Coalition...................... Daniel Webster In His Own Defense................. Robert Emmet On Resistance to Great Britain..... Patrick Henry Invective against Louis Bonaparte.. Victor Hugo
SHOWING THE PICTURE Mount, the Doge of Venice!......... Mary Russell Mitford The Revenge........................ Alfred Lord Tennyson A Vision of War.................... Robert G. Ingersoll Sunset Near Jerusalem.............. Corwin Knapp Linson A Return in Triumph................ T. De Witt Talmage A Return in Defeat................. Henry W. Grady
EXPRESSION BY ACTION In Our Forefathers' Day............ T. De Witt Talmage Cassius against Caesar.............. William Shakespeare The Spirit of the South............ Henry W. Grady Something Rankling Here............ Daniel Webster Faith in the People................ John Bright The French against Hayti........... Wendell Phillips The Necessity of Force............. John M. Thurston Against War with Mexico............ Thomas Corwin The Murder of Lovejoy.............. Wendell Phillips
DEPICTING CHARACTER A Tale of the Plains............... Theodore Roosevelt Gunga Din.......................... Rudyard Kipling Address of Sergeant Buzfuz......... Charles Dickens A Natural Philosopher.............. Maccabe Response to a Toast................ Litchfield Moseley Partridge at the Play.............. Henry Fielding A Man's a Man for a That........... Robert Burns Artemus Ward's Lecture............. Charles Farrar Brown Jim Bludso, of the Prairie Belle... John Hay The Trial of Abner Barrow.......... Richard Harding Davis
THE SPEECH OF FORMAL OCCASION The Benefits of a College Education Abbott Lawrence Lowell What the College Gives............. Le Baron Russell Briggs Memorial Day Address............... John D. Long William McKinley................... John Hay Robert E. Lee...................... John W. Daniel Farewell Address to the United States Senate. ....................................Henry Clay The Death of Garfield.............. James G. Blaine The Second Inaugural Address....... Abraham Lincoln The Death of Prince Albert......... Benjamin Disraeli An Appreciation of Mr. Gladstone... Arthur J. Balfour William E. Gladstone............... Lord Rosebery The Soldier's Creed................ Horace Porter Competition in College............. Abbott Lawrence Lowell
THE PUBLIC LECTURE A Master of the Situation.......... James T. Fields Wit and Humor...................... Minot J. Savage A Message to Garcia................ Elbert Hubbard Shakespeare's "Mark Antony"........ Anonymous Andre and Hale..................... Chauncey M. Depew The Battle of Lexington............ Theodore Parker The Homes of the People............ Henry W. Grady General Ulysses S. Grant........... Canon G. W. Farrar American Courage................... Sherman Hoar The Minutemen of the Revolution.... George William Curtis Paul Revere's Ride................. George William Curtis The Arts of the Ancients........... Wendell Phillips A Man without a Country............ Edward Everett Hale The Execution of Rodriguez......... Richard Harding Davis
THE INFORMAL DISCUSSION The Flood of Books................. Henry van Dyke Effectiveness in Speaking.......... William Jennings Bryan Books, Literature and the People... Henry van Dyke Education for Business............. Charles William Eliot The Beginnings of American Oratory. Thomas Wentworth Higginson Daniel Webster, the Man............ Thomas Wentworth Higginson The Enduring Value of Speech....... Thomas Wentworth Higginson To College Girls................... Le Baron Russell Briggs The Art of Acting.................. Henry Irving Address to the Freshman Class at Harvard University ....................................Charles William Eliot With Tennyson at Farringford....... By His Son Notes on Speech-Making............. Brander Matthews Hunting the Grizzly................ Theodore Roosevelt
ARGUMENT AND PERSUASION
DEBATES AND CAMPAIGN SPEECHES On Retaining the Philippine Islands George F. Hoar On Retaining the Philippine Islands William McKinley Debate on the Tariff............... Thomas B. Reed Debate on the Tariff............... Charles F. Crisp South Carolina and Massachusetts... Robert Y. Hayne South Carolina and Massachusetts... Daniel Webster The Republican Party............... John Hay Nominating Ulysses S. Grant........ Roscoe Conkling The Choice of a Party.............. Roscoe Conkling Nominating John Sherman............ James A. Garfield The Democratic Party............... William E. Russell The Call to Democrats.............. Alton B. Parker Nominating Woodrow Wilson.......... John W. Wescott Democratic Faith................... William E. Russell England and America................ John Bright On Home Rule in Ireland............ William E. Gladstone
THE LEGAL PLEA The Dartmouth College Case......... Daniel Webster In Defense of the Kennistons....... Daniel Webster In Defense of the Kennistons, II... Daniel Webster In Defense of John E. Cook......... D. W. Voorhees In Defense of the Soldiers......... Josiah Quincy, Jr. In Defense of the Soldiers, II..... Josiah Quincy, Jr. In Defense of the Soldiers, III.... Josiah Quincy, Jr. In Defense of Lord George Gordon... Lord Thomas Erskine Pronouncing Sentence for High Treason ................................... Sir Alfred Wills The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson.. George S. Boutwell The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson.. William M. Evarts The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, II ................................... William M. Evarts
THE AFTER-DINNER SPEECH At a University Club Dinner........ Henry E. Howland The Evacuation of New York......... Joseph H. Choate Ties of Kinship.................... Sir Edwin Arnold Canada, England and the United States ................................... Sir Wilfred Laurier Monsieur and Madame................ Paul Blouet (Max O'Rell) The Typical American............... Henry W. Grady The Pilgrim Mothers................ Joseph H. Choate Bright Land to Westward............ E. O. Wolcott Woman.............................. Theodore Tilton Abraham Lincoln.................... Horace Porter To Athletic Victors................ Henry E. Howland
THE OCCASIONAL POEM Charles Dickens.................... William Watson The Mariners of England............ Thomas Campbell Class Poem......................... Langdon Warner A Troop of the Guard............... Hermann Hagedorn, Jr. The Boys........................... Oliver Wendell Holmes
THE ANECDOTE The Mob Conquered.................. George William Curtis An Example of Faith................ Henry W. Grady The Rail-Splitter.................. H. L. Williams O'Connell's Wit.................... Wendell Phillips A Reliable Team.................... Theodore Roosevelt Meg's Marriage..................... Robert Collyer Outdoing Mrs. Partington........... Sidney Smith Circumstance not a Cause........... Sidney Smith More Terrible than the Lions....... A. A. McCormick Irving, the Actor.................. John De Morgan Wendell Phillips's Tact............ James Burton Pond Baked Beans and Culture............ Eugene Field Secretary Chase's Chin-Fly......... F. B. Carpenter
INDEX OF TITLES INDEX OF AUTHORS
Happily, it is no longer necessary to argue that public speaking is a worthy subject for regular study in school and college. The teaching of this subject, in one form or another, is now fairly well established. In each of the larger universities, including professional schools and summer schools, the students electing the courses in speaking number well into the hundreds. These courses are now being more generally placed among those counted towards the academic degrees. The demand for trained teachers in the various branches of the work in schools and colleges is far above the present supply. Educators in general look with more favor upon this kind of instruction, recognizing its practical usefulness and its cultural value. The question of the present time, then, is not whether or not the subject shall have a place. Some sort of place it always has had and always will have. Present discussion should rather bear upon the policy and the method of that instruction, the qualifications to be required of teachers, and the consideration for themselves and their work that teachers have a right to expect.
Naturally, public speaking in the form of debating has received favor among educators. It seems to serve the ends of practice in speaking and it gives also good mental discipline. The high regard for debating is not misplaced. We can hardly overestimate the good that debating has done to the subject of speaking in the schools and colleges. The rigid intellectual discipline involved in debating has helped to establish public speaking in the regular curriculum, thus gaining for it, and for teachers in it, greater respect. To bring training in speech into close relation with training in thought, and with the study of expression in English, is most desirable. This, however, does not mean that training in speech, as a distinct object in itself, should be allowed to fall into comparative neglect. It is quite possible that, along with the healthy disapproval of false elocution and meaningless declamation, may come an underestimation of the important place of a right kind and a due degree of technical training in voice and general form.
In a recent book on public speaking, the statement is made that it is all well enough, if it so happens, for a speaker to have a pleasing voice, but it is not essential. This, though true in a sense, is misleading, and much teaching of this sort would be unfortunate for young speakers. It would seem quite unnecessary to say that beauty of voice is not in itself a primary object in vocal training for public speaking. The object is to make voices effective. In the effective use of any other instrument, we apply the utmost skill for the perfect adjustment or coordination of all the means of control. We do this for the attainment of power, for the conserving of energy, for the insuring of endurance and ease of operation. This is the end in the training of the voice. It is to avoid friction. It is to prevent nervous strain, muscular distortion, and failing power, and to secure easy response to the will of the speaker. The point not wholly understood or heeded is that, as a rule, the unpleasing voice is an indication of ill adjustment and friction. It denotes a mechanism wearing on itself—it means a voice that will weaken or fail before its time—a voice that needs repair.
Since speech is to express a speaker's thought, training in speech should not be altogether dissociated from training in thinking. It ought to go hand in hand, indeed, with the study of English, from first to last. But training in voice and in the method of speech is a technical matter. It ought not to be left to the haphazard treatment, the intense spurring on, of vocally unskilled coaches for speaking contests. Discussions about the teaching of speaking are often very curious. We are frequently told by what means a few great orators have succeeded, but we are hardly ever informed of the causes from which many other speakers have been embarrassed or have failed. A book or essay is written to prove, from the individual experience of the author, the infallibility of a method. He was able to succeed, the argument runs, only by this or that means; therefore all should do as he did. It seems very plausible and attractive to read, for instance, that to succeed in speaking, it is only necessary to plunge in and be in earnest. But another writer points out that this is quite absurd; that many poor speakers have not lacked in intense earnestness and sincerity; that it isn't feeling or intense spirit alone that insures success, but it is the attainment as well of a vocal method. Yet he goes on to argue that this vocal method, this forming of a public speaking voice and style, cannot be rightly gained from the teachers; it must be acquired through the exercise of each man's own will; if a man finds he is going wrong he must will to go right—as if many men had not persistently but unsuccessfully exercised their will to this very end. It is so easy, and so attractive, to resolve all problems into one idea. President Woodrow Wilson, of Princeton University, once said that he always avoided the man or the book that proclaimed one idea for the correcting of society's ills. These ideas on which books or essays are written are too obviously fallacious to need extended comment; the wonder is that they are often quoted and commended as being beneficial in their teaching. If we want to row or sprint or play golf, we do not simply go in and do our utmost; we apply the best technical skill to the art; we seek to learn how, from the experience of the past, and through the best instructors obtainable. Both common sense and experience show that the use of the human voice in the art of speaking is not the one thing, among all things, that cannot be successfully taught. The results of vocal teaching show, on the contrary, from multitudes of examples, from volumes of testimony, that there are few branches of instruction wherein the specially trained teacher is so much needed, and can be so effective as in the art of speaking.
In an experience extending over many years, an experience dealing with about all the various forms of public speaking and vocal teaching, the present writer has tried many methods, conducted classes on several different plans, learned the needs, observed the efforts, considered the successes and failures, of many men and women of various ages and of many callings. The constant and insistent fact in all this period of experience has been that skillful, technical instruction, as such, is the one kind of instruction that should always be provided where public speaking is taught, and the one that the student should not fail to secure when it is at hand. Other elements in good speech-making may, if necessary, be obtained from other sources. The teacher of speaking should teach speech. He should teach something else also, but he should, as a technician, teach that. The multitude of men and women who, in earlier and later life, come, in vocal trouble, to seek help from the experienced teacher, and the abundance of testimony as to the satisfactory results; the repeated evidences of failure to produce rightly trained voices wholly by so-called inspirational methods; the frequent evidences of pernicious vocal results from the forcing of young voices in the overintense and hasty efforts made in preparing for prize speaking, acting, and debating,—all these may not come to the understanding of the ordinary observer; they may not often, perhaps, come within the experience of the exceptionally gifted individuals who are usually cited as examples of distinguished success; they cannot impress themselves on educators who have little or no relation with this special subject; they naturally come into the knowledge and experience of the specially trained teacher of public speaking, who is brought into intimate relations with the subject and deals with all sorts and conditions of men. Out of this experience comes the strong conviction that the teacher of public speaking should be a vocal technician and a vocal physician, able to teach constructively and to treat correctively, knowing all he can of all that has been taught before, but teaching only as much of what he knows as is necessary to any individual.
For the dignity and worth of the teaching, the teacher of speaking should be trained, and should be a trainer, as has been indirectly said, in some other subject—in English literature or composition, in debating, history, or what not. He should be one of the academic faculty—concerned with thought, which speech expresses. He should not, for his other subject, be mainly concerned with gymnastics or athletics; he should not, for his own good and the consequent good of his work, be wholly taken up merely with the teaching of technical form in speaking. He should not be merely—if at all—a coach in inter- collegiate contests; nor should his service to an institution be adjudged mainly by the results of such contests. He should be an independent, intellectually grown and growing man, one who—in his exceptionally intimate relations with students—will have a large and right influence on student life. The offer recently held out by a university of a salary and an academic rank equal to its best, to a sufficiently qualified instructor in public speaking, was one of the several signs of a sure movement of to-day in the right direction—the demand for a man of high character and broad culture, specially skilled in the technical subject he was to teach, and the providing of a worthy position.
One fact that needs to be impressed upon governing bodies of school and college is that the cultivation of good speaking cannot but be unsatisfactory when it is continued over only a very brief time. It may only do mischief. A considerable period is necessary, as is the case with other subjects, for reaching the student intelligence, for molding the faculties, for maturing the powers, for adapting method to the individual, and for bringing the personality out through the method, so that method disappears. Senator George F. Hoar once gave very sensible advice in an address to an audience of Harvard students. He did not content himself with dwelling on the inevitable platitude, first have something to say, and then say it; he said he had been, in all his career, at a special disadvantage in public speaking, from the want of early training in the use of his voice; and he urged that students would do well not only to take advantage of such training in college, but to have their teacher, if it were possible, follow them, for a time, into their professional work. This idea was well exemplified in the case of Phillips Brooks—a speaker of spontaneity, simplicity, and splendid power. It is said that, in the period of his pulpit work, in the midst of his absorbing church labors, he made it a duty to go from time to time for a period of work with his teacher of voice, that he might be kept from falling back into wrong ways. It is often said that, if a man has it in him, he will speak well anyway. It is emphatically the man who has it in him, the man of intense temperament, like that of Phillips Brooks, who most needs the balance wheel, the sure reliance, of technique. That this technique should not be too technical; that form should not be too formal; that teaching should not be too good, or do too much, is one of the principles of good teaching. The point insisted on is that a considerable time is needed, as it is in other kinds of teaching, for thoroughly working out a few essential principles; for overcoming a few obstinate faults; for securing matured results by the right process of gradual development.
There is much cause for gratification in the evidences of a growing appreciation, in all quarters, of the place due to spoken English, as a study to be taught continuously side by side with written English. Much progress has also been made toward making youthful platform speaking, as well as youthful writing, more rational in form, more true in spirit, more useful for its purpose. In good time written and spoken English, conjoined with disciplinary training in thought and imagination, will both become firmly established in their proper place as subjects to be thoroughly and systematically taught. Good teaching will become traditional, and good teachers not rare. And among the specialized courses in public speaking an important place should always be given to an exact training in voice and in the whole art of effective delivery.
A DISCUSSION OF PRINCIPLES
ESTABLISHING THE TONE
The common trouble in using the voice for the more vigorous or intense forms of speaking is a contraction or straining of the throat. This impedes the free flow of voice, causing impaired tone, poor enunciation, and unhealthy physical conditions. Students should, therefore, be constantly warned against the least beginnings of this fault. The earlier indications of it may not be observed, or the nature of the trouble may not be known, by the untrained speaker. But it ought to have, from the first, the attention of a skilled teacher, for the more deep-seated it becomes, the harder is its cure. So very common is the "throaty" tone and so connected is throat pressure with every other vocal imperfection, that the avoiding or the correcting of this one fault demands constant watchfulness in all vigorous vocal work. The way to avoid the faulty control of voice is, of course, to learn at the proper time the general principles of what singers call voice production. These principles are few and, in a sense, are very simple, but they are not easily made perfectly clear in writing, and a perfect application of them, even in the simpler forms of speaking, often requires persistent practice. It will be the aim here to state only what the student is most likely to understand and profit by, and to leave the rest to the personal guidance of a teacher.
The control of the voice, so far as it can be a conscious physical operation, is determined chiefly by the action of the breathing muscles about the waist and the lower part of the chest. The voice may be said to have its foundation in this part of the physical man. This foundation, or center of control, will be rightly established, not by any very positive physical action; not by a decided raising of the chest; not by any such marked expansion or contraction as to bring physical discomfort or rigid muscular conditions. When the breath is taken in, by an easy, natural expansion, much as air is taken into a bellows, there is, to a certain degree, a firming of the breathing muscles; but this muscular tension is felt by the speaker or singer, if felt at all, simply as a comfortable fullness around, and slightly above, the waistline, probably more in front than elsewhere. An eminent teacher of singing tells his pupils to draw the breath into the stomach. That probably suggests the sensation. When the breath has been taken in, it is to be gently withheld,—not given up too freely,—and the tone is formed on the top, so to speak, of this body of breath, chiefly, of course, in the mouth and head. For the stronger and larger voice the breath is not driven out and dissipated, but the tone is intensified and given completer resonance within—within the nasal or head cavities, somewhat within the pharynx and chest. This body of breath, easily held in good control, by the lower breathing muscles, forms what is called the vocal "support." It is a fixed base of control. It is a fundamental condition, and is to be steadily maintained in all the varied operations of the voice.
Since this fundamental control of voice is so important, breathing exercises are often prescribed for regular practice. Such exercises, when directed by a thoroughly proficient instructor, may be vocally effective, and beneficial to health. Unwisely practiced, they may be unfitted to vocal control and of positive physical harm. Moderately taking the breath at frequent intervals, as a preparation or reenforcement for speaking, should become an unconscious habit. Excessive filling of the lungs or pressing downward upon the abdomen should be avoided. In general, the hearing of the voice, and an expressional purpose in making the voice, are the better means of acquiring good breathing. For the purposes of public speaking, at least, it is seldom necessary to do much more, in regard to the breathing, than to instruct a student against going wrong. The speaker should have a settled feeling of sufficiency; he should hold himself well together, physically and morally, avoiding nervous agitation and physical collapse; he should allow the breath freedom rather than put it under unnatural constraint. Perfect breathing can only be known by certain qualities in the voice. When it is best, the process is least observed. The student learns the method of breathing mainly by noting the result, by rightly hearing his voice. He must, after all, practice through the hearing.
The discussion of vocal support has brought us to the second main principle, the government of the throat. The right control of the voice, by placing a certain degree of tension upon the breathing muscles, tends to take away all pressure and constraint from the throat, leaving that passage seemingly open and free, so that the breath body or column; as some conceive it, seems almost unbroken in continued speech, much as it is, or should be, in prolonging tone in singing. The throat is opened in a relaxed rather than a constrained way, so as to give free play for the involuntary action of the delicate vocal muscles connected with the larynx, which determine all the finer variations of voice. Whatever kind of vocal effort is made, the student should constantly guard himself against the least throat stiffening or contraction, against what vocalists call a "throat grip." He is very likely to make some effort with the throat, or vocal muscles, when putting the voice to any unusual test—when prolonging tone, raising or lowering the pitch, giving sharp inflections, or striking hard upon words for emphasis. In these and other vocal efforts the throat muscles should be left free to do their own work in their own way. The throat is to be regarded as a way through; the motive power is below the throat; the place for giving sound or resonance, to voice, for stamping upon words their form and character, is in the mouth, front and back, and especially in the head.
The last of the three main considerations, the concentration of tone where it naturally seems to be formed, is often termed voice "placing," or "placement." The possible objection to this term is that it may suggest a purely artificial or arbitrary treatment or method. Rightly understood, it is the following of nature. Its value is that it emphasizes the constancy of this one of the constant factors in voice. Its result is a certain kind and degree of monotony; without that particular kind of monotony the voice is faulty. When the tone is forced out of its proper place, it is dissipated and more or less lost. A student once told the writer, when complimented on the good placement of his voice, that he learned this in his summer employment as a public crier at the door of a show tent. He said he could not possibly have endured the daily wear upon the voice in any other way. Voices are heard among teamsters, foremen on the street, and auctioneers, that conform to this and other principles perfectly. We may say that in such cases the process of learning is unconscious. In the case of the untaught student it was conscious, and was exactly what he would have been instructed to do by a teacher. The point is that many cannot learn by themselves, and our more unconscious doings are likely to become our bad habits.
Just what this voice placement is can perhaps be observed simply by sounding the letter "m," or giving an ordinary hum, as the mother sings to the child. It is merely finding the natural, instinctive basal form of the voice, and making all the vowels simply as variations of this form. The hum is often practiced, with a soft pure quality, by singers. It is varied by the sound of "ng," as in "rung" or "hung," and the elemental sound of "l." The practice should always be varied, however, by a fuller sounding of the rounder vowels, lest the voice become too much confined or thinned. The speaker, like the singer, must find out how, by a certain adjustment all along the line from the breathing center to the point of issue of the breath at the front of the mouth, he can easily maintain a constant hitting place, to serve as the hammer head; one singing place for carrying the voice steadily through a sustained passage; one place where, as it were, the tone is held in check so it will not break through itself and go to pieces,—a "placing of the voice," which is to be preserved in every sort of change or play of tone, whether in one's own character or an assumed character; a constant focus or a fixed center of resonance, a forming of tone along the roof of the mouth and well forward in the head, the safeguard and, practically, the one most effective idea in the government of voice.
And now it should be hastily stated that this excellent idea, like other good things, may be easily abused. If the tone is pushed forward or crowded into the head or held tight in its place, in the least degree, there is a drawing or a cramping in the throat; there is a "pressing" of the voice. It should be remembered that the constancy of high placement of tone depends upon the certainty of the tone foundation; that, after all, the voice must rest upon itself, and must not sound as if it were up on tip-toe or on stilts; that tone placement is merely a convenient term for naming a natural condition.
As a final word on this part of the discussion, the student should of course be impressed with the idea that though these three features of vocal mechanism have been considered separately, all ideas about voice are ultimately to become one idea. The voice is to be thought of as belonging to the whole man, and is to become the spontaneous expression of his feelings and will; it should not draw attention to any particular part of the physical man; whatever number of conditions may be considered, the voice is finally to be one condition, a condition of normal freedom.
A lack of freedom is indicated in the voice, as in other kinds of mechanism by some sign of friction—by a harsh tone from a constrained throat; by a nasal or a muffled tone, from some obstruction in the nasal passages of the head, either because of abnormal physical conditions, or because of an unnatural direction of the breath, mainly due probably to speaking with a closed mouth; by a bound-up, heavy, "chesty" tone, resulting from a labored method of breathing.
Voice in its freer state should be pure, clear, round, fairly musical, and fairly deep and rich. Its multitude of expressive qualities had better be cultivated by the true purpose to express, in the simplest way, sentiments appropriated to one's self through an understanding and a comprehensive appreciation of various passages of good literature. As soon as possible all technique is to be forgotten, unless the consciousness is pricked by something going wrong.
Voices in general need, in the larger development, to be rounded. The vowel forms "oo" as in moon, "o" as in roll, and "a" as in saw, greatly help in giving a rounded form to the general speech; for all vowels can be molded somewhat into the form of these rounder ones. The vowels "e" as in meet, "a" as in late, short "e" as in met, short "a" as in sat, are likely to be made very sharp, thin, and harsh. When a passage for practice begins with round vowels, as for example, "Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll!" the somewhat rounded form of the lips, and the opened condition of the throat produced in forming the rounder vowels, can be to some extent maintained through the whole of the passage, in forming all the vowels; and this will give, by repeated practice, a gradually rounded and deepened general character to the voice. On the other hand the thinner, sharper vowels may serve to give keenness and point to tones too thick and dull. In applying these suggestions, as well as all other vocal suggestions, moderation and good sense must be exercised, for the sake of the good outward appearance and the good effect of the speaking. The chief vowel forms running from the deepest to the most shallow are: "oo" as in moon, "o" as in roll, "a" as in saw, "a" as in far, "a" as in say, "e" as in see.
Since the making of tones means practically the shaping of vowels, something should here be said about vowel forms. The mouth opening should of course be freely shaped for the best sounding of the vowels. For the vowel "a" as in far, the mouth is rather fully opened; for "a" as in saw, it is opened deep, that is, the mouth passage is somewhat narrowed, so as to allow increased depth. The vowel "o," as in no, has two forms, the clear open "o," and the "o" somewhat covered by a closer form of the lips, Commonly, when the vowel is prolonged, the initial form, that is the open "o," is held, with the closed form, like "oo" in moon, touched briefly as the tone is finished. So with long "i" (y), as in thy, and "ou," as in thou—the first form is like a broad "a" as in far, with short "i" (sit) ending the "i" (y), and "oo" (moon) ending the "ou." This final sound, though sometimes accentuated for humorous effect, is usually not to be made prominent. The sound of "oi," as in voice, has the main form of "aw" as in saw, and the final form in short "i," as in pin. The vowel "u" is sounded like "oo" (moon) in a few words, as in rule, truth. Generally, it sounds about like "ew" in new or mew. In some of the forms the front of the mouth will be open, in some half open, and in some, as in the case of long "e" (meet), nearly closed. Whatever the degree of opening, the jaw should never be allowed to become stiffly set, nor the tongue nor lips to be held tight, in any degree or way. These faults cause a tightening in the throat, and affect the character of the tone. It will generally be advantage to the tone if the lips are trained to be very slightly protruding, in bell shape, and if the corners of the mouth be not allowed to droop, but be made very slightly to curve upward. The tongue takes of course various positions for different vowels. For our purposes, it may be sufficient to say that it will play its part best if it be not stiffened but is left quite free and elastic, perhaps quite relaxed, and if the tip of it be made to play easily down behind the lower teeth.
Since voice has here been discussed in an objective sort of way, it is fitting to emphasize the importance of what is called naturalness, or more correctly, simplicity. Everybody desires this sort of result. It can readily be seen, however, that about everything we do is a second nature; is done, that is to say, in the acquired, acceptable, conventional way. Voice and speech are largely determined by surrounding influences, and what we come to regard as natural may be only an acquired bad habit, which is, in fact, quite unnatural. Voice should certainly be what we call human. Better it should have some human faults than be smoothed out into negative perfection, without the true ring, the spunk of individuality. There is, nevertheless, a best naturalness, or second nature, and a worst. The object of training is to find the best.
In this discussion of voice some of the ideas often applied to the first steps in the cultivation of singing have been presented, as those most effective also for training in speech. Although, on the surface, singing and speaking are quite different, fundamentally they are the same. Almost all persons have, if they will use it, an ear for musical pitch and tone, and the neglect to cultivate, in early life, the musical hearing and the singing tone is a mistake. To prospective public speakers it is something like a misfortune. The best speakers have had voices that sang in their speaking. This applies distinctly to the speaking, for example, of Wendell Phillips, who is commonly called the most colloquial of our public speakers. It has often been commented on in the case of Gladstone, and applies peculiarly to some of our present-day speakers, who would be called, not orators, but impressive talkers. The meaning is, not of course that speaking should sound like singing, or necessarily like oratory, but that to the trained ear the best speaking has fundamentally the singing conditions, and the voice has singing qualities; and the elementary exercises designed for singing are excellent, in their simpler forms and methods, for the speaking voice. In carrying out this idea in voice training, the selections here given for the earliest exercises, are such as naturally call for some slight approach to the singing tone. Some are in the spirit and style of song or hymn; others are in the form of address to distant auditors, wherein the reciter would call to a distance, or "sing out," as we say. This kind of speaking is a way of quickly "bringing out" the voice. Young students especially are very apt in this, getting the idea at once, though needing, as a rule, special cautions and guidance for keeping the proper vocal conditions, so as to prevent "forcing." The passages are simple in spirit and form. They carry on one dominant feeling, needing little variation of voice. The idea is to render them in a way near to the monotone, that the student may learn to control one tone, so to speak, or to speak nearly in one key, before doing the more varied tones of familiar speech or of complex feeling. We might say the passages are to be read in some degree like the chant; but the chant is likely to bring an excess of head resonance and is too mechanical. The true spirit of the selections is to be given, from the first, but reduced to its very simplest form. Difficulties arise, in this first step, in the case of two classes of student: those who lack sentiment or imagination, or at least the faculty of vocally expressing it, and those with an excess of feeling. The former class have to be mentally awakened; for some motive element, aesthetic appreciation or imaginative purpose, should play a part, as has been said, even in technical vocal training. The latter class must be restrained. Excessive emotion either chokes off expression, or runs away with itself. Calmness, evenness, poise, the easy control that comes from a degree of relaxation, without loss of buoyancy,—these are the conditions for good accomplishment of any kind. This self-mastery the high-strung, ardent spirit must learn, in order to become really strong. This is accomplished, in the case of a nervous temperament, not by tightening up and trying hard, but by relaxing, by letting down. In the use of these passages the voice will be set at first slightly high in pitch, in order to help in keeping a continuous sounding of tone against the roof of the mouth and to a proper degree in the head. This average pitch, or key, or at least the character of the tone, will be maintained without much change, and with special care that the tone be kept up in its place at the ends of lines or sentences, and be kept well fixed on its breath foundation. The simpler inflections indicating the plain meaning, will of course be observed, the tone will be kept easily supported by the frequently recovered breath that is under it. The back of the mouth will seem to be constantly somewhat open. There will be no attempt at special power, but only a free, mellow, flowing tone of moderate strength. In the exercise each voice will be treated, in detail, according to its particular needs, and in each teacher's own way.
At the time of student life, when physical conditions are not matured, the counsel should repeatedly be given, not only that the voice, though used often and regularly, should be used moderately, but also that the voice should be kept youthful—youthful, if it can be, even in age—but especially in youth, whatever the kind of literature used for practice. Also youth should be counseled not to try to make a voice like the voice of some one else, some speaker, or actor, or teacher. It will be much the best if it is just the student's own.
In the earliest exercises here given the tone will be, for the best and most immediate effect, kept running on somewhat in a straight line, so to speak; will have a certain sameness of sound; will be perhaps somewhat monotonous, because kept pretty much in one key, or in one average degree of pitch. It will perhaps be necessary to make the utterance for the time somewhat artificial. The voice is in the artificial stage, as is the work of an oarsman, for example, in learning the parts of the stroke, or that of a golfer in learning the "swing," although in the case of some students, when the vocal conditions are good and the tone is well balanced, very little of the artificial process is necessary. In that case the voice simply needs, in its present general form, to be developed.
The next step in the training is to try a more varied use of the voice, without a loss of what has been acquired as to formation of tone. The student is to make himself able to slide the voice up and down in pitch, by what is called inflection, to raise or lower the pitch by varied intervals, momentarily to enlarge or diminish the tone, in expressive ways; in short, to adapt the improved tone, the more effective method of voice control, to more varied speech. In the early practice for getting tone variation, the student must guard most carefully against "forcing." Additional difficulties arise when we have vocal changes, and moderate effort, in the degree of the change, is best. In running the tone up, one should let the voice take its own way. The tone should not be pushed or held by any slightest effort at the throat. The control should, as has been said, be far below the throat. In running an inflection from low to high, the tone may be allowed, especially in the earlier practice, to thin out at the top. And always when the pitch is high the tone should be smaller, as it is on a musical instrument, though it should have a consistent depth and dignity from its proper degree of connection with the chest. This consistent character in the upper voice is attained by giving the tone a bit of pomp or nobleness of quality. In taking a low pitch there is, among novices, always a tendency to bear down on the tone in order to gain strength or to give weight to utterance. The voice is thus crowded into, or on, the throat. The voice should never be pushed down or pressed back in the low pitch. This practice leads to raggedness of tone, and finally to virtual loss of the lower voice. The voice should fall of itself with only that degree of force which is legitimately given by the breath tension, produced easily, though firmly, by the breathing muscles. Breadth will be given to the tone by some degree of expansion at the back of the mouth, or in the pharynx. As soon as can be, the speech should be brought down to the utmost of simplicity and naturalness, so that the thought of literature can be expressed with reality and truth; can be made to sound exactly as if it came as an unstudied, spontaneous expression of the student's own mind, and yet so it can be heard, so it will be adequate, so it will be pleasing in sound. The improved tone is to become the student's inevitable, everyday voice.
THE FORMATION OF WORDS
The term enunciation means the formation of words, including right vocal shape to the vowels and right form to the consonants. Pronunciation is scholastic, relating to the word accent and the vowel sound. Authority for this is in the dictionary. Enunciation, belonging to elocution, is the act of forming those authorized sounds into finished speech.
There is a common error regarding enunciation. It is usual, if a speaker is not easily understood, to say that he should "articulate" more clearly; that is, make the consonants more pronounced, and young students are thus often urged into wrongly directed effort with the tongue and lips. Sometimes in books, articulation "stunts," in the form of nonsense alliterations, are prescribed, by which all the vowels are likely to be chewed into consonants. The result is usually an overexertion, and a consequent tightening, of the articulating muscles. At first, and for a time, it may appear that this forcing of the articulation brings the desired result of clearer speech, but it will, in the end, be destructive to voice and bring incoherent utterance. Articulation exercises too difficult for the master, should not be given to the novice. All teachers of singing train voices, at first, on the vowel, and it should be known that, without right vowel, or tone, formation, efforts at good articulation are futile. Every technical vocal fault must be referred back to the fundamental condition of right formation of tone, that is, the vowel. Sputtering, hissing, biting, snapping, of consonants is not enunciation. The student should learn how without constraint, to prolong vowels; learn, if you please, the fundamentals of singing, and articulation, the formation of consonants, the jointing of syllables, will become easy. The reason for this is that when the vowel tone is rightly produced, all the vocal muscles are freed; the tongue, lips, and jaw act without constraint.
The principle of rhythm simplifies greatly the problem of enunciation. It is easier, not only to make good tone, but also to speak words, in the reading of verse than of prose. It is much easier to read a rhythmical piece of prose than one lacking in rhythm. All prose, then, should be rendered with as much rhythmical flow as is allowed consistently with its spirit and meaning. Care must be taken of course that no singsong effect occurs; that the exact meaning receives first attention. In case of long, hard words, ease is attained by making a slight pause before the word or before its preposition or article or other closely attached word, and by giving a strong beat to its accented syllable or syllables, with little effort on the subordinate syllables.
The particular weakness among Americans, in the speaking of words, is failure adequately to form the nasal, or head, sounds. The letters "l," "m," "n," are called vowel consonants. They can be given continuous sound, a head resonance. This sounding may be carried to a fault, or affectation; but commonly it is insufficiently done, and it should be among the first objects of cultivation in vocal practice. The humming of these head sounds, with very moderate force, is excellent for developing and clearing this resonance. The "ng" sound, as in rung, may be added.
Improper division of words into syllables is a common fault. The word "constitution," for example, is made "cons-titution," instead of "con- stitution;" "prin-ciple" is pronounced "prints-iple." A clean, correct formation should be made by slightly holding, and completing the accented syllable. The little word "also" is often called "als-o" or "als-so" or "alt-so"; chrysanthemum is pronounced "chrysant-themum"; coun-try is called "country," band so forth. In the case of doubled consonants, as in the word "mellow," "commemorate," "bubble," and the like, a momentary holding of the first consonant, so that a bit of separate impulse is given to the second, makes more perfect speaking. There is a slight difference between "mel-low" and "mel-ow," "bub-ble" and "bub-le," "com-memorate" and "com-emorate." These finer distinctions, if one cares to make speech accurate and refined, can be observed in words ending in "ence" and "ance" as in "guidance" and "credence"; in words with the ending "al," "el," or "le," as in "general," "principal," "final," "vessel," "rebel," "principle," and "little." If that troublesome word "separate" were from the beginning rightly pronounced, it would probably be less often wrongly spelled. One should hasten to say, however, that over-nicety in enunciation, pedantic exactness, obtrusive "elocutionary" excellence, or any sort of labored or affected effort should be carefully guarded against. The line of distinction between what is perfect and what is slightly strained is a fine one. Very often, for example, one hears such endings as "or" in "creator," "ed" in "dedicated," "ess" in "readiness," "men" in "gentlemen," pronounced with incorrect prominence. These syllables, being very subordinate, should not be made to stand out with undue distinctness, and though the vowels should not be distorted into a wrong form, they should be obscured. In "gentlemen," for example, the "e" is, according to the dictionary, an "obscure" vowel, and the word is pronounced almost as "gentlem'n,"—not "gentlemun," of course, but not "gentlemen." The fault in such forms is more easily avoided by throwing a sharp accent on the accented syllable, letting the other syllables fall easily out. The expression of greeting, "Ladies and gentlemen," should have a strong accent on each first syllable of the two important words, with little prominence given to other syllables or the connecting word; as, "La'dies 'nd gen'tlem'n."
In the same class of errors is that of making an extra syllable in such words as "even," "seven," "heaven," "eleven," and "given," where properly the "e" is elided, leaving "ev'n," "heav'n," and so forth. The mouth should remain closed when the first syllable is pronounced; the "n" is then simply sounded in the head. The same treatment should be given to such words as "chasm" and "enthusiasm." If the mouth is opened after the first part of the word is sounded, we have "chas-um," "enthusias-um." The little words "and," "as," "at" and the like should, of course, when not emphatic, be very lightly touched, with the vowel hardly formed, and the mouth only slightly opened. The word "and" is best sounded, where not emphatic, with light touch, slight opening of the mouth, and hardly any forming of the vowel; almost like "'nd." These words should be connected closely with the word which follows, as if they were a subordinate syllable of that word.
Often we hear such words as "country," "city," and their plurals, pronounced "countree," "citee," and "citees"; "ladies" is called "ladees." The sound should properly be that of short "i" not of long "e." The vowel sound, short "a," as in "cast," "fast," "can't," must be treated as a localism, and yet it is hardly necessary to adhere to any decided extreme because of local associations. Vocally, the very narrow sound of short "a," called "Western," is impossible. It can't be sung; in speech it is usually dry and harsh. As a matter of taste the very broad sound of the short "a," when it is made like "a" in "far," is objectionable because it is extraordinary. There is a form between these extremes, the correct short "a"; this ought to be acceptable anywhere. It is suggestive to observe that localisms are less pronounced among artists than among untrained persons. Trained singers and actors belonging to different countries or sections of country, show few differences among themselves in English pronunciation. Among localisms the letter "r" causes frequent comment. In singing and dramatic speaking, this letter is best formed at the tip of the tongue. In common speech it may be made only by a very slight movement at the back of the tongue. A decided throaty "burr" should always be avoided. In the case of vigorous dramatic utterance, the "r" may be quite decidedly rolled, on the principle that, in such cases, all consonants become a means of effectiveness in expression. In the expression of fine, delicate, or tender sentiment, all consonants should be lightly touched or should be obscured. Enumeration of the many kinds of carelessness of speech would be to little purpose. Scholarly speech requires a knowledge of correct forms, gained from the dictionary, and vocal care and skill in making these forms clear, smooth, and finished in sound.
This discussion has perhaps suggested the extreme of accuracy in speech. But as has already been said, any degree of overnicety, of pedantic elegance, of stilted correctness, is especially irritating to a sensitive ear. Excessive biting off of syllables, flipping of the tongue, showing of the teeth, twisting of the lips, is carrying excellence to a fault. The inactive jaw, tongue, and lips must be made mobile, and in the working away of clumsiness and slovenliness of speech, some degree of stiltedness must perhaps, for a time, be in evidence, but matured practice ought finally to result, not only in accuracy and finish, but in simplicity and ease in speaking.
MAKING THE POINT
When the student has made a fair degree of progress in the more strictly mechanical features of speech, the formation of tone, and the delivery of words, he is ready to give himself up more fully to the effective expression of thought. Of first importance to the speaker, as it is to the writer, is the way to make himself clear as to his meaning. The question has to be put again and again to the young speaker, What is your point? What is the point in the sentence? What is the point in some larger division of the speech? What is the point, or purpose, of the speech as a whole? This point, or the meaning of what is said, should be so put, should be so clear, that no effort is required of a listener for readily apprehending and appreciating it. Discussing now only the question of delivery, we say that the making of a point depends mainly upon what we commonly call emphasis. Extending the meaning of emphasis beyond the limit of mere stress, or weight, of voice, we may define it as special distinctness or impressiveness of effect. In the case of a sentence there is often one place where the meaning is chiefly concentrated; often the emphasis is laid sharply upon two or more points or words in the sentence; sometimes it is put increasingly on immediately succeeding words, called a climax, and sometimes the stress of utterance seems to be almost equally distributed through all the principal words of the sentence.
The particular point of a sentence is determined, not so much by what the sentence says as it stands by itself, as by its relation to what goes before or what follows after. The first thing, then, for the student to do is to become sure of the precise meaning of the sentence, with reference to the general context. Then he must know whether or not he says, for the understanding of others, exactly what is meant. The means of giving special point to a statement is in some way to set apart, or to make prominent, the word or words of special significance. There are several ways in which this is done. Commonly a stress or added weight of voice is put upon the word; generally, too, there is an inflection, a turning of the tone downward or upward; there is frequently a lengthening out of the vowel sound, and a sudden stop after, in some cases before, the word. Any or all these special noticeable vocal effects serve to draw attention to the word and give it expressive significance. These effects are everywhere common in good everyday speech. In the formal art of speaking, they have to be more or less thought out and consciously practiced.
Emphasis is determined by the comparative importance of ideas. An idea is important when, being the first to arise in the mind, it becomes the motive for utterance. We see an object, the idea of high or broad or beautiful arises in the mind; we so form a sentence as to make that idea stand forth; this idea, or the word expressing it, becomes vocally emphatic. In this sentence, "He has done it in a way to impress upon the Filipinos, so far as action and language can do it, his desire, and the desire of our people, to do them good," the idea "to do them good" is the one that arose first in the mind of the speaker and called up the other ideas that served to set this one prominently forth. It is the emphatic idea. It should be carried in the mind of the student speaker from the beginning of the sentence. Again, an idea is important when it arises as closely related to the first, and becomes the chief means of giving utterance concerning the first. This second idea may be something said about the first; it may be compared or contrasted with the first. Being matched against the first, it may become of equal significance with it. "Who is here so base that would be a bondman?" Here the idea "base" is used to emphasize the quality of "bondman," and becomes equally emphatic with that idea. Other ideas, or other words expressing them, being formed around these principal ones, will be subordinated or more loosely run over, since they simply serve as the setting for the principal ones, or the connecting links, holding them together. Sometimes an idea arising in the mind grows in intensity, asserting itself by stronger and stronger successive words. For example, "He mocks and taunts her, he disowns, insults and flouts her"; and, "I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life." The impressiveness in delivering these successive words is increased not because they are in the form of a climax, but they are in the form of a climax because the thought is so insistent as to require new words for its expression. The student will be true and sure in his emphasis only when he takes ideas into his mind in the natural way; that is, he should seize upon the central idea before he gives utterance to any part of a statement. If that idea is constantly carried foremost in the mind, he will then, in due time, give it its true emphasis. So, in the case of a climax, he must realize the spirit and force behind the utterance, and not depend upon any mechanical process of merely increasing the strength of his tones.
Sometimes emphasis must be made to stand so strong as not merely to arrest the movement of thought, and fix the mind of the hearer upon a point, but to turn the attention of the hearer for the moment aside; to draw his mind to the thought of something very remote in time or place or relation, as in the case of making momentary reference to some historic fact or some well-known expression of literature. Allusions and illustrations, then, should be given, not only with color but also with special emphasis. Byron, contemplating the ruins of Rome, calls her "the Niobe of nations." The hearer's mind should be arrested, his imagination stirred, at that word. Words used in contrast with one another are given opposing effect by contrasting emphasis: "Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more." "My words fly up; my thoughts remain below." When words are used with a double meaning, as in the case of a pun, or with a peculiar implication, or are repeated for some peculiar effect of mere repetition,—when we have, in any form, what is called a play upon words,—a peculiar pointedness is given, wherein the circumflex inflection plays a large part. "Now is it Rome indeed and room enough, when there is in it but one only man." "I had rather bear with you than bear you; yet if I did bear you, I should bear no cross, for I think you have no money in your purse." "But, sir, the Coalition! The Coalition! Aye, the murdered Coalition!"
Although, as has been said, the usual method of making a point is to give striking force to an idea, very often the same effect, or a better effect, is produced by a striking sudden suppression of utterance, by way of decided contrast. When the discourse has been running vigorously and inflections have been repeatedly sharp and strong, the sudden stop, and the stilled utterance of a word, are most effective. Only, the suppressed word must be set apart. There must be the pause before or after, or both before and after. Robert Ingersoll, when speaking with great animation, would often suddenly stop and ask a question in the quietest and most intimate way. This gave point to the question and was impressive.
We have been considering thus far only primary or principal emphasis. Of equal importance is the question of secondary emphasis. The difference in vocal treatment comes in regarding the principal emphasis as absolute or final, as making the word absolved from, cut off from, the rest of the sentence following, and having a final stop or conclusive effect, while the secondary may be regarded as only relatively emphatic, as being related in a subordinate way to the principal, and as maintaining a connection with the rest of the sentence, or as hanging upon the words which follow, or as being a step leading up to the main idea. The vocal indication of this connective principle is the circumflex inflection. The tone will be raised, as in the principal emphasis, but instead of being allowed to fall straight to a finality, it is turned upward at the finish, to hook on, as it were, to the following. The weight of voice will be less marked, the inflection less long, and the pause usually less decided, than in the case of the primary emphasis. "Recall romance, recite the names of heroes of legend and song, but there is none that is his peer." At the words romance and song there is a secondary emphasis; the voice is not dropped, it is kept suspended with the pause.
A common failing among students is an inability to avoid a frequent absolute emphatic inflection when it is not in place. Many are unable steadily to sustain a sentence till the real point is reached. They fail to keep the voice suspended when they make a pause. It is very important that a student should have a sure method of determining what the principal emphasis is. He should, as has already been said, follow, in rendering the thought of another, the method of the spontaneous expression of his own ideas. He should take into his mind the principal idea or ideas, before he speaks the words leading thereto. He should then, at every pause, keep the thought suspended, incomplete, till he reaches that principal idea; he should then make the absolute stop, with the effect of finality, afterwards running off in a properly related way, such words as serve to complete the form of expression. Take the following sentence: "I never take up a paper full of Congress squabbles, reported as if sunrise depended upon them, without thinking of that idle English nobleman at Florence, who when his brother, just arrived from London, happened to mention the House of Commons, languidly asked, Ah! is that thing still going?" It is rather curious that very rarely will a student keep the thought of such a sentence suspended and connected until he arrives at the real point at the end. He will first say that he never takes up a paper, though of course he really does take up a paper. Then he says he never takes up this kind of paper; and this he does not mean. So he goes on misleading his audience, instead of helping them properly to anticipate the form of statement and so be prepared for the point at the right moment. He should not, as a general rule, let his voice take an absolute drop at the places of secondary emphasis.
In reference to the emphatic point in a larger division of the speech, and to the main or climactic points of the whole speech, the principles for emphasis in the sentence are applied in a larger way. And the way to make the point is, first of all, to think hard on what that point is, what is the end or purpose to be attained. If this does not bring the result—and very often it does not—then the mechanical means of producing emphasis should be studied and consciously applied—the increase, or perhaps the diminution, of force, the lengthening or shortening of tones on the words; a change in the general level of pitch; the use of the emphatic pause; and a lengthening of the emphatic inflection. A more impressive general effect must, in some way, be given to the parts of greater importance.
INDICATING VALUES AND RELATIONS
Perhaps the most commonly criticized fault among beginners in speaking is that of monotony. Monotony that arises from lack of inflection of voice or from lack of pointed-ness or emphasis in a sentence, will presumably be corrected in the earlier exercises. The monotony that is caused by giving to all sentences an equal value, saying all sentences, or a whole speech, in about the same force, rate, and general pitch, is one that may be considered from another point of view. One fault in the delivery of sentences—perhaps the most frequent one—is that of running them all off in about the same modulation. By modulation we mean the wavelike rise and fall of the voice that always occurs in some degree in speech,—sometimes called melody—and the change of key, or general pitch, in passing from one sentence, or part of a speech, to another. Frequently, novices in speaking and in reading, will swing the voice upward in the first part of every sentence, give it perhaps another rise or two as the sentence proceeds, and swing it down, always in precisely the same way, at the end. The effect of this regular rising at the beginning, and this giving of a similar concluding cadence at the end, is to make it appear that each sentence stands quite independent of the others, that each is a detached statement; and when, besides, each sentence is given with about the same force and rate of speed, they all seem to be of about equal importance, all principal or none principal, but as much alike as Rosalind's halfpence. Sentences that have a close sequence as to thought should be so rendered that one seems to flow out from the other, without the regular marked rise at the beginning or the concluding cadence at the end. Sentences, and parts of sentences, which are of less importance than others with which they are associated, should be made less prominent in delivery. Often students are helped by the suggestion that a sentence, or a part of a sentence, or a group of sentences, it may be, be dropped into an undertone, or said as an aside, or rapidly passed over, or in some way put in the background—said, so to speak, parenthetically. Other portions of the speech, or the sentence, the important ones, should, on the same principle, be made to stand out with marked effect.
Notice, in the following quotation, how the first and the last parts arc held together by the pitch or key and the modulation of the voice, and the middle part, the group of examples, is held together in a different key by being set in the background, as being illustrative or probative. "Why, all these Irish bulls are Greek,—every one of them. Take the Irishman carrying around a brick as a specimen of the house he had to sell; take the Irishman who shut his eyes, and looked into the glass to see how he would look when he was dead; take the Irishman that bought a crow, alleging that crows were reported to live two hundred years, and he meant to set out and try it. Well, those are all Greek. A score or more of them, of the parallel character, come from Athens."
The speaker should cultivate a quick sensitiveness as to close unity and slight diversity, as to what is principal and what is subordinate, as to what is in the direct, main line of thought, and what is by the way, casual, or merely a connecting link. This sense of proportion, of close or remote relation, of directness and indirectness, the feeling for perspective, so-called, can be acquired only by continued practice, for sharpening the faculty of apprehension and appreciation. It is usually the last attainment in the student's work, but the neglect of it may result in a confirmed habit of monotony. The term transition is commonly used to denote a passing from one to another of the main divisions of the discourse. The making of this transition, though often neglected, is not difficult. The finishing of one part and the making of a new beginning on the next, usually with some change of standing position, as well as of voice, has an obvious method. The slighter transition, or variation, within a main division, and the avoidance of the slight transition where none should be made, require the keener, quicker insight.
Sentences will have many other kinds of variation in delivery according to the nature and value of the thought. Some will flow on with high successive waves; some will be run almost straight on as in a monotone. Some will be on a higher average tone, or in a higher key; others will be lower. Some will have lengthened vowel sound, and will be more continuous or sustained, so that groups of successive words seem to run on one unbroken tone; others will be abrupt and irregular. Some will be rapid, some slow; some light, others weighty; some affected by long pauses, others by no pause, and some will be done in a dry, matter-of- fact, or precise, or commonplace, or familiar manner, others will be touched with feeling, colored by imagination, glowing with persuasive warmth, elevated, dignified, or profound. A repetition of the selections to be learned, with full expression by voice and action, repetition again, and again, and again, until the sentiment of them becomes a living reality to the speaker, is the only way to acquire the ability to indicate to others the true proportions, the relative values, and the distinctive character, of what is to be said.
EXPRESSING THE FEELING
We are in the habit of distinguishing between what proceeds from mere thinking, what is, as we say, purely intellectual, and what arises more especially from feeling, what we call emotional. We mean, of course, that one or the other element predominates; and the distinction is a convenient one. The subject, the occasion, to a great extent the man, determine whether a speech is in the main dispassionate or impassioned, whether it is plain or ornate in statement, whether it is urgent or aggressive, or calm and rather impassive. It would be beyond our purpose to consider many of the variations and complexities of feeling that enter into vocal expression. We call attention to only a few of the simpler and more common vocal manifestations of feeling, counselling the student who is to deliver a selected speech, to adapt his speaking to the style of that speech. In so doing he will get a varied training, and at length will find his own most effective style.
The speech which is matter-of-fact and commonplace only, has characteristically much short, sharp inflection of voice, with the rapidly varying intervals of pitch that we notice in one's everyday talking. As the utterance takes on force, it is likely to go in a more direct line of average pitch, with stronger inflection on specially emphatic words. As it rises to sentiment, the inflections are less marked, and in the case of a strain of high, nobler feeling, the voice moves on with some approach to the monotone. According as feeling is stronger and firmer, as in the expression of courage, determination, firm resolve, resistance, intense devotion, the voice is kept sustained, with pauses rather abrupt and decisive; if the feeling, though of high sentiment, is tranquil, without aggressiveness, the voice has more of the wavelike rise and fall, and at the pausing places the tone is gradually diminished, rather than abruptly broken off. In the case of quickly impulsive, passionate feeling, the speech is likely to be much varied in pitch, broken by frequent abrupt stops, and decisive inflections. In the case of the expression of tenderness or pathos, there is a lingering tone, with the quality and inflection of plaintiveness, qualified, in public speech, by such dignity and strength as is fitting. In all cases the quality of voice is of course the main thing, and this, not being technical or mechanical, must depend on the speaker's entering into the spirit of the piece and giving color, warmth, and depth to his tones. The spirit of gladness or triumph has usually the higher, brighter, ringing tone; that of gravity, solemnity, awe, the lower, darker, and less varied tone.
In the case of the expression of irony, sarcasm, scorn, contempt, and kindred feelings, the circumflex inflection is the principal feature. This is the curious quirk or double turn in the voice, that is heard when one says, for example, "You're a fine fellow," meaning, "You are anything but a fine fellow." In the earlier part of Webster's reply to Hayne are some of the finest examples of irony, grim or caustic humor, sarcasm, and lofty contempt. They need significant turns and plays of voice, but are often spoiled by being treated as high declamation.
In the expression of the various kinds and degrees of feeling there may be a fully expressed force or a suppressed or restrained force. Often the latter is the more natural and effective. This is intense, but not loud, though at times it may break through its restraint. It is most fitting when the hearers are near at hand, as in the case of a jury or judge in court, when the din of loudness would offend.
The climax is a gradually increasing expression of feeling. It may be by a gradual raising of the voice in pitch; it may be by any sort of increasing effectiveness or moving power. It is rather difficult to manage, and may lead to some strained effort. The speaker should keep a steady, controlled movement, without too much haste, but rather a retarded and broadened utterance as the emphatic point is approached; and always the speaker should keep well within his powers, maintaining always some vocal reserve.
The practice of emotional expression gives warmth, mellowness, sympathy and expansiveness to the voice, and must have considerable cultural value.
SHOWING THE PICTURE
A difficult attainment in speaking is that of vividness. The student may see the picture in his own mind's eye, but his mode of expression does not reveal the fact to others. Imagination in writing he may have, with no suggestion of it in the voice. Too often it is erroneously taken for granted that the human voice, because it is human, will at any call, respond to all promptings of the mind. It will no more do so, of course, than the hand or the eye. It must be trained. Often it is a case not merely of vocal response, but of mental awakening as well, and in that case the student must, if he can, learn to see visions and dream dreams.
A way to begin the suiting of speech to imaginative ideas is to imitate; to make the voice sound like the thing to be suggested. Some things are fast, some slow, some heavy, some light, some dark and dismal, some bright and joyous; some things are noisy, some still; some rattle, others roar; the sea is hoarse; the waves wash; the winds blow; the ocean is level, or it dashes high and breaks; happy things sing, and sad things mourn. All life and nature speak just as we speak. How easy it ought to be for us to speak just as nature speaks. And when our abstract notions are put in concrete expression, or presented as a picture, how easy it would seem, by these simple variations of voice, to speak the language of that picture, telling the length, breadth, action, color, values, spirit of it. That it is a task makes it worth while. It affords infinite variety, and endless delight.
One necessary element in so-called word-painting is that of time. When a speaker expresses himself in pictures for the imagination he must give his hearers time to see these pictures, and to sufficiently see and appreciate the parts, or lines of them, and the significance of them. It is a common fault to hasten over the language of imagination as over the commonplace words. The speaker or reader had better be sure to see the image himself before, and indeed after, he speaks it. Others will then be with him. Although among most young speakers the tone of imagination is lacking, yet often young persons who become proficient vocally are fain greatly to overdo it, till the sound that is suited to the sense becomes sound for its own sake, and thereby obscures the sense. Regard for proportion and fitness, in relation to the central idea or purpose, should control the feeling for color in the detail.
EXPRESSION BY ACTION
It should always be borne in mind that gesture means the bearing or the action of the whole man. It does not mean simply movement of the arm and hand. The practice of gesture should be governed by this understanding of the term. A thought, an emotion, something that moves the man from within, will cause a change, it may be slight, or it may be very marked, in eye, face, body. This is gesture. This change or movement may, from the strength of the feeling that prompts it, extend to the arm and hand. But this latter movement, in arm and hand, is only the fuller manifestation of one's thought or feeling—the completion of the gesture, not the gesture itself. Arm movement, when not preceded or supplemented by body movement, or body pose, is obtrusive action; it brings a member of the body into noticeable prominence, attracting the auditor's eye and taking his mind from the speaker's thought. Better have no gesture than gesture of this kind. The student, then, should first learn to appreciate the force of ideas, to see and feel the full significance of what he would say, and indicate by some general movement of body and expression of face, the changing moods of mind. Then the arm and hand may come—in not too conspicuous a way—to the aid of the body. When Wendell Phillips pointed to the portraits in Faneuil Hall and exclaimed: "I thought those pictured lips would have broken into voice to rebuke the recreant American,—the slanderer of the dead," it was not, we may be sure, the uplifted arm alone, but the pose of the man, the something about his whole being, which bespoke the spirit within him, and which was really the gesture. In less positive or striking degrees of action, the body movement will, of course, be very slight, at times almost imperceptible, but the principle always holds, and should be from the first taught. In gesture, the bodily man acts as a unit.
The amount of gesture is, of course, determined by the temperament of the speaker, the nature of the speech, the character of the audience, and the occasion of the address. One speaker will, under certain conditions, gesticulate nearly all the time; another will, under the same conditions, seem seldom to move in any way. The two may be equally effective. A speech that is charged with lively emotion will usually be accompanied by action; a speech expressive of the profound feeling that subdues to gravity, or resignation, would be comparatively without action. The funeral oration by Mark Antony is full of action because it is really intended to excite the will of his audience; in a funeral address simply expressive of sorrow and appreciation, gesture would, as a rule, be out of place. A sharply contested debate may need action that punctuates and enforces; the pleasantry of after-dinner talk may need only the voice. So, one audience, not quick in grasping ideas, may need, both in language and action, much clear, sharp indication of the point by illustration, much stirring up by physical attack, so to speak, while another audience would be displeased by this unnecessary effort to be clear and expressive. Yet again, given a certain speaker and a certain subject and a certain audience, it is obvious that the occasion will determine largely how the speaker will bear himself. The atmosphere of a college commencement will be different from that of a barbecue, and the speaker would, within the limits set by his own personality and his own dignity, adapt himself to the one or the other. The general law of appropriateness and good taste must determine the amount of gesture.