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orators ; but it certainly does come to pass that practically all of them acquire the ability to stand upon their feet in a public place and say anything that they may have occasion to say with directness and without undue embarrassment or confusion of manner. If one should compare a hundred Eastern graduates of the present month of June with a hundred Western graduates, it would probably appear that the former would somewhat excel in a certain air of ease, polish and maturity in private conversation,—while the young Westerners would unquestionably prove themselves immensely superior on the average, if a sudden emergency required some public expression of views. Of course the differences either way would not be nearly so marked at the end of ten years after leaving college. In the long run the chief factor of successful public speech consists in having something to say. It is not often that a man who possesses-in his knowledge of a theme or in his zealous convictions—the subject-matter of a speech, is unable after a little practice to speak with a reasonable degree of success. Nevertheless, some or atorical training at the very period when the mind of a man is forming, and his stock of facts and ideas is growing most rapidly, must have its great advantages.
The natural and wholesome rivalry among the literary societies of any given college might easily have been expected to point the way to periodical contests in which the different societies would be represented by their champion orators and debaters. And from competitive oratory within the college walls, in this era of inter-collegiate relationships which so curiously combine the spirit of competition with the spirit of co-operation, it is not a long step to the inter-collegiate oratorical contest.
The numerous colleges which have been planted in the Mississippi valley states have constituted a theme for much disparagement from sources none too well informed. If one will but keep in mind a reasonable distinction between the proper work of the American college on the one hand, and the post-graduate and professional work of a great university on the other, he may easily find much ground for defend ing and for praising the college system of the states west of the Alleghany Mountains. A central state university with its series of special schools for advanced study and research, and with its group of professional and technical colleges, is worthy of all commendation. But for the best results in strictly collegiate, that is to say, undergraduate work, it may well be claimed that ten well organized colleges with five hundred students apiece, properly distributed through a state, will be product ive of better results than would one great central college, in which several thousand undergraduates would find themselves massed, subject to the instruction of transient tutors and perfunctory assistant professors. It is a curious new heresy in educational methods,-this American opinion which holds that there can be no sort of disadvantage in the hud
dling together of undergraduates by the thousands. It grows out of a confusion of ideas, and out of that transitional and bewildered condition in which half a dozen important Eastern institutions have found themselves by reason of their attempts to be universities and colleges at the same time, without recognizing any distinction between a “college boy" and a “university man.” Perhaps it is time that the tables were turned, and that the task of criticism were directed to the anomalous group of great educational caravansaries. The local or small endowed college, which occupies so characteristic a place in the American educational system, is precisely the type of institution of which we have best reason to be proud.
This is a digression, but it has pertinence. It is because Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan. Wisconsin, Minnesota and the other Western states have each its group of small colleges that the Western system of inter-collegiate oratorical contests has grown up. Each college has its local oratorical association; and the so-called “home contest" is one of the great occasions of the year. It stands at the apex of all the efforts of the literary societies to train their members in the kindred arts of writing and speaking. After each college has held its home contest and selected its champion for the year, the “ state contest” occurs under the auspices of the intercollegiate oratorical association of the state. Some central town like the state capital is chosen as the scene of the competition, or else the different college towns are selected in rotation year after year. Following the several state contests comes the grand final competition between the representatives of the different states which are included in the association.
In the contest which was held this year at Galesburg, Illinois, the competing states were Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri. The number of colleges banded together to form this interstate association may be estimated at nearly one hundred,
an average of about ten to each of the ten states, although it happens that some state groups are much more numerous than ten and others much less. If a hundred colleges are thus concerned, it may be estimated that in each college an average of ten students will make more or less serious effort to enter the preliminary or home contests. Thus the final victory may be considered as one gained over a thousand competitors who have entered the lists at the outset. And when one further considers the indirect influence of the contests upon the work of the debating societies, and upon various other oratorical and literary efforts in the student communities of the West, the magnitude of this oratorical impulse becomes apparent.
So generally indeed has it affected young America in the Mississippi valley that the students from these states who go to the eastern colleges and universities almost invariably take the contagion with them. Thus in the recent inter-collegiate debates, in which the students of several of the largest Eastern colleges have participated, nearly all the successful speakers have been young men who live, and who have prepared for college, in the Mississippi valley states.
This Western passion for oratory, although it has been stimulated and sustained by the inter collegiate contests, was widespread and fervent before the interstate organization had its beginning. The credit of proposing the existing organization is due to students of Knox College at Galesburg, Ill. The first interstate contest was actually held on February 27, 1874, the competing speakers representing only the states of Iowa, Ilinois and Wisconsin. The move. ment rapidly grew until ten states were admitted into the association. The constitution requires that the orations shall not be over two thousand words in length, and the instructions to the judges are exceedingly minute. Nobody has ever yet invented a satisfactory system of marking, and much criticism sometimes results from the decisions arrived at, particularly in the “home” and state contests. For the interstate occasion six judges are chosen, none of whom can have any relation whatever with the colleges represented in the contest, and no two of whom can come from the same state. Three of the judges are selected for a previous marking of the written orations upon their merits as pieces of literary composition and for the intellectual ability they reveal. The other three judges pass upon the oratorical manner and delivery of the speakers as evinced in the actual contest. Each judge makes his marks without con: sultation with the others, and by a somewhat complex system of averages the final result is attained. In the recent contest two states were represented by young ladies. These were Miss Ethel M. Brown, of Oskaloosa College, who appeared as Iowa's champion, and Miss Nellie E. Wood, of Earlham College, who represented Indiana. The full list of topics and speakers was as follows:
“ American Literary Genius,” E. B. Sherman, University of Nebraska.
“The Better Personality,” C. W. Wood, Beloit College, Wisconsin.
“The Statecraft of Napoleon,” T. L. Anderson, Central College, Mo.
“The Province of Law," Forrest Woodside, Kansas State Normal.
• The Hero of Compromise," 0. A. Hauerbach, Knox College, Ill.
“Our Nation's Perpetuity,” Miss Nellie Wood, Earlham College, Ind.
“ Reserve Power,” A. C Baldwin, Dennison University, Ohio.
“Fidelity to Its Ideal–Our Nation's Safeguard,” E. M. Phillips, Hamlin University, Minn.
"A Plea for Shylock," Miss Ethel Brown, Oskaloosa College, Iowa.
“Social Progress," W. N. Schafer, University of Colorado.
Mr. Hauerbach, of Knox College, Illinois, carried off the first honors, and the second place was awarded to Mr. C. W. Wood, of Beloit College, Wisconsin. The judges who had passed upon the manuscripts in advance were United States Senator C. K. Davis, of
Minnesota ; Professor John R. Commons, of the Indiana State University, and the Rev. Dr. Willard Scott, of Chicago. The judges who were present in order to decide upon the delivery of the speakers were themselves accomplished in the practice of public speaking, two of them having national fame as orators. They were Ex-Senator Ingalls, of Kansas ; the Hon. W. J. Bryan, of Nebraska, and Governor Jackson, of Iowa.
Western college oratory has fashions of its own. Generally speaking it is somewhat high-keyed and artificial. It strives after epigram, revels in antithesis, and after twenty years of the two-thousandword limit, it has tended to become terse and intense. Its principal fault, perhaps, is its undue devotion to phrase-making. Mr. Hauerbach's speech in defense of compromise, which has carried off this year's in. terstate honors, does not show the characteristics of the typical college speech in their extremest forms. Nevertheless, it is representative of the method. The following paragraphs constitute the last half of Mr. Hauerbach's oration :
We say that the blood of the Civil War redeemed the nation. But was the Union saved when the war ceased ? Did the contest for civil rights end there ? Secession was dead. But that malign spirit which had hovered in the rear of the battle was not dead. Exultingly it came to the front. “The right of conquest and spoliation !” was its only message to the prostrate South. Those dark days of reconstruction followed. Envy, hate and passion threatened to plunge the wounded nation into deeper gloom. Now, alas, was the Union rent in twain ! After all, had not Lincoln lived and died in vain ? No! Men, for a time, might forget his voice, but the spirit of tolerance and liberality by which he was inspired can never die. Counseling forgiveness, amnesty, and peace, it rose at last above the wrangling of the petty spoilsman of the North and the vindictive mutterings of the proud Southerner, conquered but unsubdued, to verify in the most glorious reconciliation of all time that prophecy of old, “Good tidings shall bind up the broken-hearted, and to them that mourn give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”
Lincoln the compromiser! It is in this rôle that his true grandeur and beauty of character shine forth. In the North, impatient friends urged him to issue at once the emancipation proclamation. Wendell Phillips denounced him as a “slave hound.” From the South all manner of obloquy was hurled against him. In the midst of the storm stood Lincoln : “With malice toward none, with charity for all," he calmly waited the decree from a higher source than human lips. He must needs use a hand of iron, but it was gloved in the velvet of pity. In the death of Abraham Lincoln the South lost her truest friend, the North and the Union its most noble defender.
A nation is prone to glorify its successful general above him who in legislative halls quietly guards his country's liberties. Is it true that all the elements of courage and virtue belong to martial success. It is indeed a thrilling scene-the conqueror resplendent in crimson robe and victor's crown, cheered by shouts of victory and songs of triumph. But in the light of a Christian age that picture changes. The notes of triumph cannot drown the despairing wail of defeat ; the joyful song of the conqueror is turned to harsh and hideous discord by the dying
groans of the conquered. That robe is crimson-aye, taire with that of a personality such as Victor Hugo with the blood of fathers ! The gems that sparkle in that creates in Bienvenu, the bishop. If Mr. Hauerbach's crown, are they aught but the frozen tears of widowed oration reflects the practical political philosophy of motherhood ? The enemy of war, the champion of peace,
the day, Mr. Wood's seems even more distinctly to will yet be crowned the hero of modern civilization !
reflect the spirit of the new Christian sociology, of There is no more auspicious sign of the world's progress to-day than the increasing tendency toward universal
which one now reads and hears so much. The conarbitration The world is coming to recognize that the cluding half of Mr. Wood's oration was as follows: Pan-American Congress was based upon a principle of Here is a battlefield for your historians to make note of. greater importance and wider significance than a mere Turn the pages of history and read where great statesselfish compact for national aggrandizement. The ruddy men have met and solved the vital problems of nations, glow of Mars begins to pale before the silvery light of where mighty warriors have faced each other and worked Bethlehem's star, fixed in the heavens amidst the chant out the great possibilities of their peoples, and yet I would ing of angel choirs—“Peace on earth, good will toward put up against them all this simple meeting of Jean Valmen." The groans of a peasantry ground down by tax- jean and Bienvenu. For upon such meetings depends the ation for standing armies shall yet be answered. The na- destiny of man. tions of the earth will yet learn that bonds of love bind W eary, sore and bleeding at heart, Jean Valjean stands more securely than bands of iron.
helpless in the presence of the bishop, asking himself Shall it be the American people who will teach the these questions : “Why has this man taken me in? Why world this blessed lesson? Ample is their opportunity. does he trust me beneath his roof? He does not shrink War struck from the slave his shackles of iron, but it did from me, but even touches me. Can it be possible that not free his mind from the darkness of ignorance and he has any love for such a one as I am ? Ah ! I can superstition. No sabre stroke or cannon shot can cut answer that,” says Jean. “It is part of his business to down the gloomy wall of race prejudice in the South. do this. He is paid for it. Show me the man who does Only concessions and forbearance can avert the impend- good because it is right, and that is the man I will foling horrors of a race war. Riots and strikes almost daily low." Jean had no faith in men, for the simple reason proclaim social disorders. The gulf between wealth and that men had no faith in him. He needed a soul friend, poverty widens. In the very centres of our civilization who could love him not for what he was but for what he are want and suffering enough to sicken him who does might become. not blind his eyes or steel his heart. Among working Watch the scene the next morning in the house of the classes there is a general feeling of dissatisfaction and bit- bishop, and you will say that Jean has found this friend. terness. The spirit of the age is one of unrest, of break- In this scene you will see the culmination of all influences ing away from the old lines of thought and action.
arid the starting point of the evolution of a life which has A sign of progress this may be, but it is il such times simply existed into one which truly lives. as these that false ideas of heroism mislead the masses. Bid your political economists look for a moment at the Strong, unscrupulous men, exponents of blind popular sympathy of Bienvenu for this poor, half-starved, dedesires or fierce partisan passion, may precipitate a nation spised outcast, and they will write a new book upon the into all the horrors of a revolution. The lurid flame of science, convinced that they must use more heart in order anarchy, the smoke of the soldier's rifle, which have so to make their political economy practical. recently disgraced and startled more than one American Call your lovers of law and let them look in upon city, teach a twofold lesson. They who defy Justice Bienvenu as he administers “a cup of cold water” to this must bear her frown ; they who would seek her altars man while civil law demonstrates that man should "renmust respect the sovereignty of her law! The time has der under Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's," and they come when our nation's safety lies not in the skillful use will learn that when civil law casts loose from divine law of the sword, but in the right use of mind and heart. it ceases to restrain crime and enforce order. Divine law May society be deaf to the appeals of the rash agitator goes hand in hand with civil law in ruling the universe. and ignorant dem'gogue ! May men learn to heed the The personality of one is stamped upon the personality of voice of him whose soul is large enough to feel that all the other. We need a Parkhurst to join hands with have rights ; a man with mind and judgment keen enough municipal law and thus fathom out the great and grand to discover the source of a grievance, with strength and possibilities of all true government. Build your prison courage to relieve it by just and fair compromise!
houses, but forget not to build your temples. The evolution of the world's hero has been the index of The law and duty of the detective in this scene were not man's moral progress. The despised of yesterday becomes powerful enough to put Jean in his right place in life, for the honored of to-day. Humility to the Roman soldier they lacked heart and soul. But when Bienvenu steps in meant disgrace ; to-day it is “the meek who shall inherit and exhibits the principle of sympathy and love, comthe earth." Brute force must yield before the higher bined with that of law and duty, Jean Valjean swings power of moral courage. The compromiser, willing to around into the orbit of the Divine Universe. What was renounce the glory of partisan popularity, daring, in his it in the personality of Bienvenu that brought about this love for all, to meet the enmity of all, may hear himself wonderful change in the life and character of Jean? denounced by party hate as “weakling," "coward,” What was it ? Listen, and you will hear it speaking to “traitor ;” but when the clouds of human pride and you as it has spoken to struggling humanity for over prejudice shall roll away, men will unite with Heaven in eighteen centuries. The very air we breathe is ladened proclaiming him a hero, a hero in the largest and truest with it, the sunshine that we see and feel has this sense, inspired by unselfish devotion to a high and worthy message wrapped up in every molecule and atom. purpose, a purpose to serve not self, not party, not men, Come with me to far off Judea, to the manger, on the Debut Man
cember morning, and you will see it wrapped in swaddling Mr. Wood's oration, which won the second place, is
clothes. Behold with your tear-filled eyes that bleeding
cross on Calvary's mount, and you will see that it is slain a comparison of the character and influence of a Vol
by the raging hands of a mob; bend over the tomb which
was rent on Resurrection morning, and you will see that 1874_First, T. Edward Egbert, Chicago University ; it is filled with this glorious message, “ Thou art thy second, George T. Foster, Beloit College. brother's keeper."
1875—First, Thomas I. Coultas, Ilinois Wesleyan UniverThis is the message that binds nation to nation, and in
sity; second, Thomas W. Graydon, Iowa State University. the circle of human events it substitutes personality for
1876—First, Charles T. Noland, Central College ; second, individuality, and all nations of men are known under the
Miss Laura A. Kent, Antioch College. one title, the human race. You take this message into
1877–First, Olin A. Curtis, Lawrence University ; secyour life and your personality becomes one that will pierce the walls of China, it will build up Christianity in
ond, S. Frank Pronty, Central College. the heart of pagan India, or lay down its life not in vain 1878–First, E. A. Bancroft, Knox College ; second, J. on the arid soil of darkest Africa. In fact, you will pre- Gerry Eberhart, Cornell College. vail to level all races and nations up to the high plane 1 879—First, R. M. La Follette, Wisconsin University ; where you yourself stand. Would you keep the Ten second, J. A. Barber, Oberlin College. Commandments? Then by all means grasp hold of this 1880—First, L. C. Harris, Iowa College ; second, Richmessage. Would you reform society ? Then make this
ard Yates, Illinois College. your motto. Would you build up a great and national
1881–First, Charles F. Coffin, De Pauw University; life? Then make this the pivot around which circles
second, Owen Morris, Carleton College. your code of laws. This message becomes the greatest element in molding
1882—First, Frank G. Hanchett, Chicago University; the personality of man so that his influence results in
second, Arthur J. Craven, Iowa State University. good. Long before the cannon of the French Revolution
1883–First, John M. Ross, Monmouth College ; second, had thundered out its first charge Voltaire heard this Daniel M. Kellogg, Beloit College. same message and might have regenerated France. But 1884–First, Charles T. Wyckoff, Knox College ; seche did not believe in the Christ. When Bienvenu heard ond, George L. Mackintosh, Wabash College. it, he had his eyes fixed upon that bleeding cross and his 1885–First, Albert J. Beveridge, De Pauw University ; feet firm upon the Rock of Faith. Out of the principles second, Victor E. Bender, Knox College. of Voltaire grew the criminal, the convict, the outcast, 1886--First, E. C. Ritsher, Beloit College ; second, H. Jean Valjean. But out of the great, deep, loving, sac- H. Russell, Oberlin College. rificing soul of Bienvenu leaped Jean Valjean the man, 1887–First, John H. Finley, Knox College ; second, the citizen, the benefactor. You remember the story, Parke Daniels, Wabash College. how after the bishop saved Jean from the galleys, he 1888--First, R. G. Johnson, De Pauw University ; secspoke to him these simple words : “Go in peace. It is ond, Harry M. Hyde, Beloit College. your soul I am buying for you, and I withdraw it from 1889–First, Ed. H. Hughes, Wesleyan University ; secthe dark i houghts and from the spirit of perdition, and ond, J. A. Blaisdell, Beloit College. give it to God." That deed, accompanied by these words, 1890_First, S. W. Naylor, Washburn College ; second, made it possible for this life, which was torn within by all A. C. Douglass, Monmouth College. the sins and vices of the flesh, and oppressed without by 1891–First, Frank Fetter, Indiana University ; second, the evil conditions of the times, to rise superior to themG uy E. Maxwell, Hamline University.
1892–First, Miss E. Jean Nelson, De Pauw University ; That is personality that can stoop and lift fallen man second, G. H. Geyer, Ohio Wesleyan University. kind; it is to become the greatest force in the evolution 1893—First, A. A. Hopkins, Lake Forest University ; of society. Behold Jean Valjean as he now stands before second, J. H. Kimball, Beloit University. the world, transformed. Up to this time he has only ex- 1894–First, C. F. Wishart, Monmouth College ; second, isted. He now begins to live. The purpose of revenge is L. F. Dimmitt, De Pauw University. now the purpose to save. As he stands there at the 1895–First, Otto A. Hauerbach, Knox College ; second, threshold of his mission, looking out upon the troubled Charles W. Wood, Beloit College. waves of life, this man for the first time in nineteen years weeps. “The man that cannot weep,'' says Victor Hugo, A number of these men have fully justified the “cannot see.” Jean sees clearly now. He forgets himself highest expectations of their friends, and have made and strives only to live for others. The bishop dies, but themselves widely known as eloquent speakers at the the influence of his personality lives on.
bar, in the pulpit, in legislative halls, or on educaShow the world a Voltaire, and it will predict a French
cational platforms. There is a current newspaper Revolution. Give to struggling humanity a personality
assertion to the effect that these brilliant and promlike that of Bienvenu, and there is life and salvation even for such a fallen, depraved wretch as Jean Valjean.
ising collegians are the ones of whom nothing is
heard in future years. The facts belie such a It must not be assumed that the orations which judgment. It may be the man who stood third, win the prizes are greatly superior, as pieces of liter- rather than the man that happened to take first ary production, to those which are not so fortunate. honors, who ten years later has gained the higher The disparities-whether in the home contests, the place in the estimation of his fellow citizens. But state competitions, or the final interstate meeting- speaking in general, it is within the bounds of truth between the winners and their disappointed compet. to say that the Western students of the past twentyitors are usually not so wide as to discredit in any five years who have tried diligently to learn the art way the unsuccessful young orators. The following of public speaking, and who have shown the most list is interesting as showing the men and the col- promise and aptitude in their college days, are the leges which have been successful in securing first and ones who have been most successful in the larger and second places in the interstate contests for twenty- harsher competitive struggle of the great world outtwo successive years :
side of college walls.