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defect, hence every effort has been made to make the laws which govern good speaking and reading both interesting and attractive, instead of dull and repelling ; so that those who may be anxious to make advances in the right direction, and who will be also prepared to follow the rules laid down and to give the needful effort to secure success, may have good reasons for hoping, that they will not labour in vain.
The preparation of these counsels has been a labour of love, and it will be a cheering result for the author to know, that the book has helped to remove any “stones of stumbling," which may have stood in the way of any young person who desired to overcome the obstacle and to open his or her mouth wisely and well so as to benefit or improve the world in which we live.
JOHN W. KIRTOX,
SPEAKER AND ELOCUTIONIST,
HOW TO READ OR SPEAK WELL.
Books without number on ELOCUTION have been issued, each professing to be “a complete guide" to the noble art : and yet it must be self-evident to every thoughtful person that there can be no royal road either to fluent speaking or effective reading. Any attempt, therefore, to draw a hard and fast line is simply absurd or ridiculous, for no absolute rule can be laid down which will fit all persons alike. All that can be done consists merely in pointing out plainly those things which are absolutely essential, and also to furnish illustrations of the best methods which have been proved by experience to be successful, with those who have overcome obstacles, or made themselves a name as accomplished speakers or readers. Nature, it has been truly said, makes the true orator, just as she alone makes the poet or the painter; at the same time, art will always aid even the best natural gifts in securing greater efficiency, or in augmenting power.
Now it must be readily conceded that every person has some original or native gift, talent, grace, taste, or what you like to call it. This will, sooner or later, make itself manifest, and it is the privilege as well as the duty of the teacher of Elocution to seek to draw out and cultivate this special “forte," so that it may appear to the best advantage. Such being the case, it will be self-evident that while the “Comic ” style will suit one, the “ Tragic" will be equally suitable to another. The “Senti.
mental” will be perfectly appropriate to one, but may be altogether inappropriate to another. If, therefore, we wish to secure the widest scope and the fullest development to all the powers at command, it will be no use trying to put a square man into a round hole, or a round man into a square hole. To do so will only result in failure.
Such being the case, it is very evident that the first thing for everyone who wishes either to Read or Recite with effect, is to ascertain as carefully as possible “What special gift, talent, taste, or leaning have I ?” “Is there any strong natural bent or bias in any direction ?" If there is, then seek to improve that, for depend upon it, if you will set about doing so, something worth having will be the result in the course of time. To be ONE'S SELF and not another's imitator, should be the solemn and deliberate decision of everyone who sincerely wishes to excel either as a Reader or a Speaker. Can anything be more contemptible than to be merely a copyist? Indeed, all rightminded persons will at once confess, that it is sickening to see how many small imitators of some of our great speakers, preachers, and readers there are about. As we note their feeble attempts we instinctively say, “Why, he would like to be THE SECOND, if he could, but he never will be, that is certain." By all means study the words, watch the actions, listen to the delivery of the most accomplished, gifted, and successful men you can, in order to see what can be done, and also how to do it. But, having taken all your notes, instead of seeking to reproduce their performance, seek to develop and expand your own powers to the very best of your ability; and in this way, and this only, will you feel that you are doing either justice to yourself, or the subject to which you have chosen to direct your special attention.
Dr. Blair has defined style to be “the peculiar manner in which a writer expresses his thoughts by words.” It is a picture of the ideas of the mind, and of the order in which they exist. Buffon has perhaps given a happier definition when he says, “Style is the man himself.” If this is correct, then, we shall easily understand how important it is that each person should make his own style. By this plan everything which is specially peculiar can be turned to the best account, and there will be no danger of anyore laying a charge of imitation against you,