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I. Select an exercise in length, sentiment, and style of composition adapted to the time and place where it is to be spoken, and in sympathy with your own feelings. The shortest pieces are best for all ordinary occasions.
II. Study the selection carefully so as to master the spirit of the author. After that commit it to memory. Make the language, word for word, and the sentiment throughout wholly your own.
III. Repeat the piece aloud, frequently, giving the proper sound of every letter, syllable, and word a clear AND DISTINCT UTTERANCE. Articulation, accent, emphasis, and inflection, as learned in the reading lessons, will be applied with ease and correctness after the language and spirit of the text have been mastered.
IV. Walk upon the stage with ease and naturalness, as you would walk across your own private room. Bow to the audience as you would to an acquaintance on the street. Stand in an easy, graceful position. Avoid stiffness.
V. Speak as if you wished to convince each person in the room that every word uttered was your own, and every sentiment true and of public importance.
VI. Feel as you would wish to speak, for you will surely speak
as you feel.
VII. Begin calmly and deliberately—avoid bombast.
VIII. Consider yourself, as far as possible, in the place of the author of the piece you are speaking. For example: in the case of Cicero against Catiline, imagine the scene in the Roman Senate, when Cicero, as consul, had convened the senators in the most sacred chamber on Capitoline Hill to take counsel as to what should be done to defend the Republic against the conspirators. When Cicero rose to address the Senate, to his great astonishment, he saw Catiline, the chief conspirator, and many of his associates present. In place, therefore, of addressing the Senate, he turned upon the traitor senator, and with the full power of his wonderful eloquence denounced him, revealed the plans of his conspiracy to the Senate, and warned him of the dire punishment that would surely overtake him. The youth attempting to speak an extract from this oration, should study this scene and fire his soul with the patriotic indignation that burned in the breast of the great Roman orator, and he will not fail to speak with effect. The spirit of any piece will be best understood by a careful study of the circumstances under which it was originally produced.
AMERICAN POPULAR SPEAKER.
What country ever offered a nobler theatre for the display of eloquence than our own? From the primary assemblies of the people, where power is conferred, and may be retained, to the national legislature, where its highest attributes are deposited and exercised, all feel and acknowledge its influence.
The master spirits of our father-land, they who guided the councils of England in her career of prosperity and glory, whose eloquence was the admiration of their contemporaries, as it will be of posterity, were deeply imbued with classical learning. They drank at the fountain and not at the stream, and they led captive the public opinion of the empire, and asserted their dominion in the senate and the cabinet.
Nor have we been wanting in contribution to the general stock of eloquence. In our legislative assemblies, at the bar, and in the pulpit, many examples are before us, not less cheering in the rewards they offer than in the renown which follows them. And if our lamps are lighted at the altar of ancient and modern learning, we may hope that a sacred fire will be kept burning, to shed its influence upon our institutions, and the duration of the Republic.
But after all, habits of mental and moral discipline are the first great objects in any system of instruction, public or private.