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completion of the subject which I have sought to bring under your consideration in these letters. It involves many incidental topics, which I purpose to treat as they arise in association with the main thread of the argument. As before, my aim is to offer you some practical hints for self-teaching, gathered from observation or suggested by reflection. I have no pretension to be myself an orator, but I do not write wholly from theory. The requirements of my profession have compelled me to give some attention to the art, and that which I learned with difficulty and labour, because I had no guide, I am desirous of conveying to you in a form which I hope may give you the sum of much tentative toil, and the benefit of combined thought and experience. I do not place it before you as a system. I have constructed no elaborate scheme; I have no formulas to prescribe, and scarcely anything to propound in the nature of positive rules. An orator, like a poet, must be born such ; he cannot be made. I can pretend to nothing more than to tell
should try to do and what you should endeavour to avoid, throwing out suggestions of apt means for cultivating the mental and physical faculties requisite to success.
But although you may be wanting in the capacities needful to a great orator, you may certainly train yourself to be a good speaker-that is to say, you may learn to express your thoughts aloud, in language that makes them clearly intelligible to your audience, and in a manner that is not painful to them. The foundation of the Art of Speaking is, of course, the possession of ideas to be spoken. A speech cannot be constructed without thoughts of some kind to be expressed in words. You must fill your mind with ideas somehow. Wanting them, it is useless to attempt the art ; but, having them, the utterance of them, both in language and delivery, is to some extent a matter of training. The power of words is, indeed, denied to some men, though they are few; more frequently the voice may be defective; in other cases Nature has made gracefulness of manner impossible; but these, though essential to oratory, are not necessary to speaking, and you may become a very tolerable speaker, though wanting in some, or deficient in all, of these qualities. Therefore, I exhort you not to be dismayed by seeming obstacles at the beginning. Be resolute in self-training; proceed persistently in spite of repeated failure; fear not to break down; measure your faults, and put them to mending; be earnest and unwearied in the pursuit of your object, and you will assuredly attain it. The uses of the art, its advantages to all men,
but especially to a Lawyer, need no description. They must be patent to you, for everywhere you see men who have risen to the highest places solely by virtue of this accomplishment. In a free country it must ever be so. The man who can express powerfully what others feel, but are unable to express, wields the united power of all the minds of whom he is the exponent. There is no such personal influence as that enjoyed by the orator, for he not only implants his thoughts in other men, but directs them to action. The man who can stand up and speak aloud to an assembly a single sentence intelligibly has a faculty that sets him in effectiveness far above his fellows. Such an accomplishment is worth a great deal of patient industry to attain, and if I cannot pretend to teach it, I may, perhaps, be enabled to put you in the way of learning it, even although I am unable to practise my own preaching.
FOUNDATIONS OF THE ART OF SPEAKING.
INSTINCTIVELY you will change the structure of the sentences, and the very words, to express the self-same thought in talking, in writing, and in speaking. But it does not therefore follow that you will instinctively frame your speech of the best words in the best places, and utter them in the most effective manner. These are matters for education, the product of artistic training and much practice. I have shown you before that reading is not a matter of course; so neither does excellent oratory come from nature. You will often hear it asserted otherwise, and there seems to be a prevalent impression, among those who have never given thought to the subject, that any man who can read words can pronounce them properly, that words will come when they are wanted, and that, if you find the words, you may be an orator without further labour. Few have formed the slightest conception of the number and variety of the qualifications essential to effective speaking—how the memory must be filled with facts and words; how the intellect must be cultivated to rapid understanding and still more rapid reasoning; how the feelings must be at once powerful and under perfect control ; how the voice must be trained to give the full expression, and the taste to impart the true tones, infinitely varied, to the entire of the discourse. Then the mind must be exercised to a rapid flow of ideas and to the instant composition of sentences wherein to clothe them; add to these, a voice attuned to sweetness as well as power, and the limbs tutored to graceful action, and you have a short summary of the acquirements necessary for an orator.
You will see from this that there is a task before you that will demand all your energies and perseverance, for it will be a work of long labour. You will say, perhaps, that there are books and teachers enough to help you to your object--books that profess to impart the whole art of oratory, and teachers of elocution who promise to make you an accomplished speaker in a certain number of lessons. As I have stated in the preceding letters on the Art of Reading, I have looked with care into many of these books, and listened to some of these teachers, and I must confess that I have found in them very little that was calculated to train a student to oratory. The rules propounded are usually pedantic and often impracticable. Inasmuch as every student requires a different training, according to the specialties of his natural gifts—his peculiar intellect, temperament and physique—very few general rules can be prescribed ; so few, indeed, that it would be better to abolish the term and substitute merely hints and suggestions for strict formulas. Teachers of elocution too often impart to their pupils a mannerism that is more disagreeable than even positive incapacity. It is less painful to listen to an awkward or stumbling speaker than to a stiff, constrained and artificial orator, who is manifestly talking by rule.
But the foundations of the Art of Oratory may be described in a few words.
The first qualification of an Orator is to have something to say.
The second is to sit down when he has said it.
These have been already described at some length in my Third Letter; to that I refer you, asking you at this place to render repetition unnecessary by turning back to those pages, and reperusing them, for they cannot be too firmly imprinted upon your memory.