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fallacious belief that you are following nature. doubt can linger in your mind whether nature is allsufficient for the purpose of oratory, I need but point to the wonderful lack of it-to the bad reading in the Pulpit, and the bad speaking at the Bar, in Parliament and at public meetings. It is possible that education might not remove the reproach ; but it is certain that the present system does not succeed in creating or cultivating oratory. It will, at least, be worth while to attempt improvement; the effort cannot wholly fail, for, if nothing more, it will certainly make better readers of those who now read so badly.
The object is worth the effort. Apart from professional advantages, the art of speaking is the surest path to the gratification of your very laudable ambition to take part in the political and social life of your generation. In all countries and in all ages the orator has risen to distinction. But his art is nowhere so potent as in free countries, where liberty of speech is the birthright of the citizen. Wherever self-government is recognised, there must be gatherings for the purpose of transacting public business; men must meet together in their parishes, their counties, or by whatever name the subdivisions of their country may be known. They could not discuss the business of the meeting without some speaking, and the most pleasant speaker will assuredly win the ears, and therefore carry with him the feelings and the votes, of those who cannot speak. The same result is seen in all assemblies, from the vestry, which is the Parliament of the parish, to the House of Commons, which is the Parliament of the nation. A man who cannot speak is there doomed to insignificance ; a man who can speak but badly is still somebody; the man who speaks tolerably is a man of mark; the man who speaks well at once establishes himself as a chieftain, and he holds in his hand the power of the whole assembly. Seeing, then, what a valuable accomplishment is the Art of Speaking-how surely it will lead to power, possibly to greatness, certainly to fame, and probably to profit, -the marvel is that it is not more cultivated in this country In truth, it can scarcely be said to be cultivated at all. How is this? Is it that Englishmen are unconscious of its value, or that they think it a gift bestowed by nature, which art cannot produce and can do little to perfect? I cannot tell; but there the fact is. In our homes, in our schools, no pains are taken to teach young persons to speak or to read ; and he who cannot read well will not speak well. Parents and guardians cheerfully expend large sums for the teaching of music or drawing—whether a natural taste for it does or does not existaccomplishments which only the gifted are likely to turn to good account in after life, and for the exercise of which there is seldom a demand ; while the arts of reading and of speaking—the former daily in request, and the latter leading to success in life through many paths—are entirely neglected, or, if recognised at all, imperfectly taught by a lesson of half-an-hour in a week, or got up for the occasion of a show-off on those dreary days when the schoolmasters advertise themselves under pretence of exhibiting the abilities of their pupils.
THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE ART OF SPEAKING.
The proverb Poeta nascitur, fc., has been extended to the Orator. It is only partially true as applied to either. There is no such thing as a born Poet or a born Orator. No man can write a good poem or make a good speech by the mere force of untaught nature ; he must go through more or less of training to accomplish either. We have heard a great deal of uneducated poets ; but this does not mean that they were able to scribble poetry when first putting their pens to paper. They were not uneducated poets, but only self-educated poets. If they had been trained to no other knowledge or accomplishment, they had trained themselves industriously to this. On the other hand, it is no less true that the Poet and the Orator must be endowed by nature with certain faculties, wanting which neither could achieve greatness. But there is this notable distinction between them, that inferiority, or even mediocrity, in a Poet renders his accomplishment uninteresting to others and almost useless to himself, whereas very small powers of oratory are highly useful to the possessor. Of this you may be assured, that, whatever the degree of capacity for oratory with which you may have been endowed by nature, you will never attain to proficiency in it without much training.
Doubtless you have shared the sort of hazy notion floating in the public mind, that if you can only pronounce the words properly you can read ; that if you have words you can speak ; and that words will come, when they are wanted for a speech, as readily as they come in a tête-à-tête. I suspect you have formed no conception of the number and variety of the qualifications essential to good writing, right reading and effective speaking ; how, for reading, the mind must be cultivated to understand, the feelings to give expression, the voice to utter correctly, the taste to impart tone to the entire exercise ; and, for speaking, how the intellect must be trained to a rapid flow of ideas, the instantaneous composition of sentences, with the right words in the right places wherewith to clothe the thoughts, the voice attuned to harmony and the limbs trained to graceful action, so that the audience may listen with pleasure, while their convictions are carried, their feelings touched and their sympathies enlisted.
I hope you will thoroughly understand that it is not my purpose, in these letters, to play the part of a professor and teach you to write, read and speak, but only to put you in the way to teach yourself. My design is to impress upon you the absolute necessity for a formal study of the kindred Arts of Writing, Reading and Speaking, if you would attain to such a mastery of them as will be required in your Profession, and to point out to you the paths by which they are to be sought. And I must repeat, in my own justification for making the attempt, that there is a very great difference indeed
between knowledge and action. A man may well know precisely what should be done, and how it should be done, and even be enabled to impart that knowledge to others, without being able to do it. That is precisely my position. By devoting to the subject a great deal of time and thought, I have been enabled to learn something of what a writer, a reader and a speaker should do and should not do, what qualifications are required for each, and how their arts may be best cultivated and attained, but without ability perfectly to perform them myself; therefore it is that these letters propose nothing more than to convey to you, in a short time, the information that it has taken me a long time to collect.
A perfect speaker would be almost a perfect man, so that there never was, and never will be, a perfect Orator. The best does but approach the standard of ideal excellence. Such great gifts of mind and body must combine to constitute an Orator that, when I detail them, you will cease to wonder that great orators are so few. I will first sketch the mental qualifications, for these, or some of them, are absolutely indispensable, and their presence will go far to compensate for the absence of many physical advantages.
The foremost care of a speaker is, to have something to say; his next is, to say it; and his third is, to sit down when he has said it. These may appear to you very commonplace requirements, and you will probably think that I needed not have taken the trouble to write long letters to you to tell you this. But in fact, like other golden rules, they are more easy to remember than to observe. Consult your own experience, and say how many of all the speeches you have ever heard, on any occasion whatever, gave utterance to thoughts, to ideas,