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lum of High School and College. Training in the spoken word is to-day, as never before, looked upon as a prerequisite to professional and business success. Henry Ward Beecher, speaking of the rightful place of speech culture, says:
A living force that brings to itself all the resources of the imagination, all the inspirations of feeling, all that is influential in body, in voice, in eye, in gesture, in posture, in the whole animated man, is in strict analogy with the divine thought and the divine arrangement ... and so regarded, it should take its place among the highest departments of education.
The majority of mankind, however, seems to feel that beautiful, powerful, and effective speech or the ability to read well and acceptably is the gift or attainment of the chosen few. Nothing can be further from the fact. Beauty is the normal condition in the universe in every realm of nature, and is attained by the simple effort of each thing to express itself in natural and spontaneous fashion. Likewise, clear, impressive, delight-giving, thought-provoking speech, and the power to read well are as easy to attain, and may be obtained in the same natural, spontaneous, unaffected manner.
Unfortunately in the past the teachers of these simple and natural arts befogged the whole subject by their artificialities, formalities, conventionalities and pretenses. Their text-books were filled with unnecessary and injurious rules, mandates, and requirements. And thus the pseudo-science of "Elocution," with its stilted expressions, its fixed gestures, its artificial inflections, came into being. And the students who were eager to acquire the mastery of effective speech,—than which there is no greater accomplishment,-were intimidated, frightened away by the multiplicity of rules and theories.
Let us be thankful that the day is dawning when instruction in correct spoken language comes through the easy avenues of naturalness, spontaneity, simplicity and normal enthusiasm. Too long have we been discouraged by the glib aphorism that there is no easy road to learning. It is not true, if by learning we mean the attainment of the real intellectual things, instead of the sham, pretentious things that men in the past too often have called learning.
The authors of this book venture the affirmation that hardly one of the great readers, public speakers of power, or orators of influence have ever taken a lesson in the so-called art of "elocution” or heeded any of its straight-jacket rules. Daniel Webster has well expressed the difference between the man with a heart full of burning thoughts demanding utterance, and the one with a mouth full of carefully chosen words, and exquisitely modulated phrases, meaning little or nothing to the soul of him:
True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be brought from afar. Labor and learning may toil for it, but they will toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshaled in every way, but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp of declamation, all may aspire after it,--they cannot reach it. It comes, if it comes at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, original, native force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly ornaments and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, their children, and their country hang on the decision of the hour. Then words have lost their power, rhetoric is in vain, and all elaborate oratory contemptible. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the presence of higher qualities. Then patriotism is eloquent; then self-devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, out-running the deductions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward to his object,--this, this is eloquence; or, rather, it is something greater and higher than all eloquence: it is action,-noble, sublime, God-like action.
The natively-eloquent learned to speak with power because they had a message, because they felt, were deeply moved, saw a vision, experienced a deep emotion, had a thought they strongly desired to communicate to others, and with a few fundamental, simple, readily-grasped principles before them, generally unconsciously exercised, they said their say, and convinced the world.
To state these basic principles with the simplicity and naturalness they call for, and to show the pleasure and power that come from their development is the purpose of the authors of this book.
By following these self-evident steps one who has something worth saying, whose heart is deeply stirred, will become a good reader, a fluent, convincing public speaker with little or no conscious effort. Just as a few simple exercises, regularly persisted in, produce glowing, radiant health and physical strength, so will these simple, enjoyable exercises, kept ever in mind and daily used, bring to one the glowing delight of reading to oneself with appreciation and intelligence, reading publicly with intelligibility and effectiveness, and speaking to a large or small audience with convincing power.
The SELECTIONS OF THE BOOK While there are many and varied text-books that deal with this important subject in a more or less modern fashion, they all use, to a greater or lesser extent, the same old selections from well-known authors and orators, which, unfortunately, were used by the teachers of the stilted, artificial, sophomoric and altogether discredited "elocution.” Hence, the authors and editors of this volume have made an almost entirely new choice of Selections for illustrative purposes and for public reading. But few will be found that have been used elsewhere. References are made to the writings of standard authors which may be obtained in any ordinary library, but a large percentage of the prose and poetry of this collection is
taken from the more modern and popular American writers.
It is neither the intent nor the desire of the editors to limit the field of thought of their readers or students to any one field of English literature. Our aim is quite the contrary. We would so emphasize the worth of the literature of the West, however, that those who have hitherto deemed that "no good can come out of Nazareth,” may be led to search for literary good in other Nazareths.
Literature is as wide as civilized human life, and according to the intensity with which life is lived, and the desire of those who live to express that intensity, will literature of strength and power be produced. The West lives intensely, rapidly, urgently, individually, hence its literature is intense, strong and powerful.
Just as sure as history records the existence of an early West-a West where the gun and knife settled men's heated controversies, a West where, for many years, there was a dearth of woman's soft voice and tender smile- just so sure are the writings of the Western poets, philosophers and storytellers of this period a vital part of our early American literature. The literature of the West, as with the literature of
. any country, needs only be a true, sincere, worthy expression of the life it professes to portray.
The greater one's knowledge of the literatures of the various peoples of the world, the deeper one's sympathies become, and the easier it is to grasp the divine principles of human brotherhood.
The authors also wish to call attention to what they deem another important feature of their work. It will be seen from the outline plan of the book that it is divided into four parts, viz.: Intelligible Reading, Sympathetic Reading, Melodious Reading, Oratorical Reading.
The selections have been arranged, in the main, under these respective headings, that they may accompany the explana
tions, serve to elucidate the principles laid down, and afford copious examples for their practice.
There is also an important and practical chapter on the Development and Use of the Memory.
That this book will fill a long felt and continuously expressed want on the part of teachers of Oral Reading is the confident assurance of the editors.
In the preparation of the technical part of the book the authors have been immeasurably aided by their large and personal knowledge of, and acquaintance or friendship with, leading orators in politics, the law, the church, on the lecture platform, and at public dinners and other functions. They have also availed themselves of the same knowledge of the great interpreters in the theater. A long, intimate study of the essential characteristics which made for the success of many masters in the art of using the spoken word has been made. Thus the authors are assured that no factor that leads towards, and assures, success in dramatic or private reading or speaking has been ignored. All academic and purely theoretical matter has been rigorously excluded.
The old methods of sophomoric oratory are gone, never to return. Men and women of purpose have learned that simplicity, directness, naturalness, are the most potent factors in conveying their ideas to others. It is gratifying to know that modern methods of teaching Oral Reading and Private and Public Speaking seek to emphasize these fundamental principles and reduce to the lowest possible minimum all introductions of the artificial.
LEONARD G. NATTKEMPER,