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the work you have done ; or, better still, if you
have a practised friend, ask him to go through it with you, point out your faults, and make you correct it in his presence, correction upon correction, until the work assumes a decent shape. And in the performance of this process, write each improved edition below the former one, so that you may compare the last with the first, and any one with any other, and trace the march of improvement and learn the faults to be avoided.
From plain narrative proceed to essay, to argument, to declamation, to poetry-very necessary to accustom you to give the glow of colour to your thoughts and music to your words. It matters not that your prose and your poetry are equally unfit for publication ; that is not your object. Think not of it as such, but solely as a lesson which you may thrust into the fire as soon as it is finished. Indeed, better that you do so, and then it will never cause you to be put to shame through the vanity of appearing in print with them. Write as many lines to Celia and Delia as you please; the more of them the better for your education in oratory; but have the courage to burn them before the ink is dry. At last, when
you are well practised, when you can write with tolerable fluency and correctness, with some thoughts in what you write,—not stifled in a cloud of fine words, or disguised in roundabout phrases, or the nouns buried beneath the adjectives,-begin to write imaginary speeches in a modest way.
To do this rightly you must surround yourself with an ideal audience, and you may further become, in fancy, any orator of fame; or, what is better, imagine yourself an orator, winning the ears and moving the hearts of an excited and admiring multitude. Choose for your theme some topic of the day that may have interested
you have feelings, and perhaps believe that you have decided opinions, large and liberal. Before you begin to write, close your eyes, not to go to sleep, but the better to bring the picture before the eye of the mind, and then think what you would say to charm such an audience as your fancy has conjured up. You will experience a rush of fine thoughts and eloquent words. Seize your pen instantly, and set them down. Why do you pause before half-a-dozen words are inscribed,-bite your pen,-write another word or two,-pause again,—draw your pen through the writing, write another word, erase that—and then close your eyes and address yourself again to thought ? Wherefore are not the thoughts that came so quickly before you began to write as quickly caught and fixed upon the paper; and where are the words that then flowed so richly? Ah! when you come to put them into shape, you learn how merely fanciful they were ; how unsubstantial the ideas, how chaotic the language ! It was to teach you this truth that you were recommended to write. It is the surest means of learning the lesson of your incapacity, and it is at the same time its best remedy. The first step is now taken, and a most important one it is. You have learned that an ordinary array of thoughts clothed in appropriate language is not attained without diligent study, long labour, and much practice. The path is now cleared of the obstruction of self-confidence; you know your weakness, and what you have really to acquire, and therefore you are in a condition to begin the work of self-teaching. You will commence with an attempt to write a speech.
THE FIRST LESSON-WRITING A SPEECH.
Do not be discouraged by the difficulties: all that is worth having is difficult to be pursued at first. In despite of pauses, pen-bitings and obliterations, still, I say, persevere. Every successive sentence will be easier to compose than was its predecessor. Yet, I repeat again and again, remember that you must have something to say. Be assured that you have really a distinct and definite conception in your mind of an idea which you desire to convey to other minds.
So long as you are merely thinking, you cannot be sure that your thought is clear. Is it an argument, —often you jump at the conclusion without regarding the intermediate steps; your sentiments are still more frequently but indistinct emotions, which you mistake for thoughts; and the imperfections in your narrative do not force themselves upon your attention until you are compelled to put it into shape. Hence, at the beginning, it is necessary that you should test yourself by trial in private, before you risk the chance of learning your defects by a public failure. The best gauge of your power to think is to write your thoughts ; for thus you
learn what your thoughts are worth, as well as in what words to express them.
Therefore, before you attempt to speak a speech, write one.
Choose your theme, and ask yourself this plain question, “What do I want to say about this subject ?”
In speech you may say much that would be inadmissible in writing. Written declamation is disagreeable, but declamation may be employed with great effect in speech. The structure of the sentence differs in the two forms of discourse, and the very language is unlike. A spoken essay would be as intolerable as a written oration. In the essay, we look for thoughts; in the speech, mainly for sentiments and emotions. The former is supposed to be the utterance of profound reflection in skilfully constructed sentences ; the latter is the outpouring of the mind in the words that rush to the tongue, regardless of the orderly array prescribed to deliberate composition.
Nevertheless, you should try to write a speech before you attempt to speak one. But write it as you would speak it. To do this you must exercise your imagination, and suppose yourself in the presence of an audience, upon your feet, about to address them on some theme familiar to you; and acting, as it were, as your own reporter. Doubtless
mind to be full of fine ideas and your brain overflowing with apt words wherein to clothe them. Before you have written three
will be amazed to discover that those crowding thoughts are very shadowy and indefinite, those thick coming fancies little better than dreams, and the glowing words extremely reluctant to fall into orderly array.
In fact, you will find that you have yet to learn your lesson, and to do so you must begin with the rudiments of the art.
And great, indeed, will be the value of this first lesson, if only it should teach you thus much—that you have everything to learn. The first step to all knowledge is the knowledge of our ignorance.
You will find your pen halting for thoughts and words; or, if you try to dash along, careless of what you write, you will be displeased with yourself when you read what you
have written. But be of good courage ; already by your failure you have taken a long step towards success. Now you have measured your incapacity and the difficulties to be conquered even at the threshold of your study. You will thenceforward make rapid progress, with the help of patience and perseverance.
No matter how slowly the work is done—do it. Complete your exercise in some shape, however clumsy. The express purpose of this first lesson is not so much to teach
you what to do, as to convince you by experiment what you cannot do.
Having made two or three trials in this way, until you are able to express some definite thoughts in definite language, you may advance to the next process and attempt the construction of a formal speech—this also in writing, but written precisely as you would have spoken it-in the style and language of oratory. Begin by sketching an outline of your proposed treatment of the theme. Asking yourself “What have I to say about it ?” note in two or three suggestive words the ideas as they occur to you
Afterwards arrange these in orderly fashion, so that the discourse may assume something like a logical shape, the parts