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ers is, to study Demosthenes until they fall in love with his style.
The law of needful practice, too, as might be expected, applies to this subject as well as to rhetorical composition. (See Vol. I. p. 66.) Quintilian illustrates the law thus: "The art of speaking depends upon great labor, constant study, varied exercise, and repeated trials." Lord Brougham, in his instructions for young Macaulay, enforces the same idea thus: "Let him first of all learn to speak easily and fluently, as well and as sensibly as he can, no doubt, but at any rate let him learn to speak. This is to eloquence, or good public speaking, what the being able to talk in a child is to correct grammatical speech. It is the requisite foundation, and on it you must build. Moreover, it can only be acquired young, therefore let it by all means, and at any sacrifice, be gotten hold of forthwith, by a custom of talking much in company, by speaking in debating societies, with little attention to rule." When Sir Isaac Newton was asked how he had discovered the true system of the universe, he replied: "By continually thinking upon it." When Mr. Murray asked Wendell Phillips, "How shall I learn to speak?" Mr. Phillips replied, "Keep speaking." Bishop Simpson's testimony is of weight: "To attain the highest power in direct address, practice is absolutely essential. If I am asked how and when you shall begin, I answer, The first time you preach; and, if practicable, before a small audience. There is certainly some risk; but don't stand
shivering on the bank; plunge in at once." Stuart, in answer to a question as to how young artists are to commence their subjects, is reported to have said, Just as puppies are taught to swimchuck them in.”
In this connection it may be remarked that several writers upon oratory recommend the development of the conversational powers, as an aid to oratorical Dr. Storrs puts the matter in a strong
"Conversation, too, with equal minds, is of immense and constant service in refreshing the mind, and replenishing it with active force. Indeed, conversation, if practised as it ought to be, as a commerce of thought between responsive and interchanging minds, is an invaluable aid toward gaining the art of easy and self-possessed public speech. I do not think we have as much of it as we ought, or that it holds the place which it should in our plans of life, as a real educational force. It is much the same exercise, if you analyze it, with public speaking. Of course it is not the same altogether. In public speech your utterance of thought is more prolonged; it is monologue, not dialogue. You miss the help which comes from interjected remarks or replies; and you are not so immediately conscious of the sympathy or the collision of the adjacent minds. Still conversation is much the same form of mental activity, and it always helps the public speaker. It trains the mind to think rapidly, and to formulate thought with facility and success; and each sense of such success, which is gained in conversation, will give one more confidence when he stands before an audience.
"Instead of talking to ten persons, you are there to talk to five hundred; but the one exercise has helped for the other, as singing in a parlor helps to sing in a choir, or as
shooting with an air-gun, at ten paces, helps one to shoot straight with a rifle, at a hundred. One who is silent, secluded, all the week, without contact with men, had better always read his sermons. He will be certainly timorous and self-conscious, when Sunday comes; afraid of other minds, except as they speak to him through books."
It is clear, therefore, that he who aspires to oratorical distinction must talk. Let him talk to himself, if no one is near. At the club and caucus his voice must be heard. On the cars, in the street, everywhere, in fine, he must talk. But this may make one a bore, may it not? Yes, for a time. Submit to the sacrifice. "The longer I live,” says Thackeray, "the more convinced am I that oversensitiveness is a great mistake in a public man.' "It is probable there never was a successful speaker," says Mathews, in Oratory and Orators, "who did not acquire his mastery by the constant torment of his hearers."
In addition to the study of models, and constant practice, most men who have given attention to this subject strongly recommend the importance of professional elocutionary instruction. The history of the subject is full of interest and suggestion. We have already seen how patiently, under various teachers, Demosthenes submitted himself to the details of elocutionary discipline. Cicero, likewise, was for nearly thirty years under continuous drill. Even after he had attained eminence as a pleader, his voice still being harsh, he applied to several teachers, and even went to Asia and other places, to
hear the best speakers and receive instruction. For months together, he declaimed daily in the presence of some friend, occasionally in his native language, but oftener in Greek, a language with which he was thoroughly familiar, and from which he transferred much richness to his more unadorned and meagre native speech.36
Curran's elocutionary discipline, also, was such as to remind one of that of Demosthenes and Cicero. Small in stature, a harsh voice, a hasty articulation, and an awkward bearing, were his inheritance. He was known at school as "stuttering Jack Curran," and in a debating society, on account of an early failure, was called "Orator Mum." But he over
came these constitutional defects. He was on constant guard against all elocutionary vices, daily read aloud slowly and distinctly, studiously observed and imitated skilful speakers, practised before a mirror, spoke in debating-clubs whenever an opportunity presented itself, and thus at last surmounted every obstacle, turned his shrill and stumbling brogue into a flexible, sustained, and finely-modulated voice; his action became free and forcible; and he acquired perfect readiness in thinking on his legs,—in a word, he became one of the most eloquent and powerful forensic advocates that the world has seen."
Chatham, too, studied oratory with the utmost diligence, practised daily before a mirror, and often before his friend, the poet Pope. Fox belongs to this same class of diligent elocutionary workers. During five sessions of Parliament he spoke every
night but one, and always regretted that he did not speak on that night also. We are told by Lord Holland, his nephew, that in "whatever employment, or even diversion, Fox was engaged, whether dress, cards, theatricals, or dinner, he would exercise his faculties with wonderful assiduity and attention till he had reached the degree of perfection he aimed at."
Pitt commenced in childhood his elocutionary work and continued it life-long. "Probably no man of genius since the days of Cicero," says Professor Goodrich, "has ever submitted to an equal amount of drudgery." Macaulay, in his biography of Pitt, says: "He had indeed been carefully trained from infancy in the art of managing his voice, a voice naturally clear and deep-toned. His father (Lord Chatham), whose oratory owed no small part of its effect to that art, had been a most skilful and judicious instructor. The wits of Brookes's, irritated by observing night after night how powerfully Pitt's sonorous elocution fascinated the rows of country gentlemen in the House of Commons, reproached him with having been taught by his dad on a stool.'"
Chesterfield, whom Walpole ranked as "the first speaker of the House," says: "I succeeded in Parliament by resolving to succeed." But this, as a matter of fact, involved indefatigable labor, to perfect himself not only in public speaking but in conversation. Count Montalembert, one of the most eloquent Frenchmen of the present century, when