Page images

hisses.] You will not find a man [interruption], you will not find me to be a man that dared to speak about Great Britain three thousand miles off, and then is afraid to speak to Great Britain when he stands on her shores. [Immense applause and hisses.] And if I do not mistake the tone and temper of Englishmen, they had rather have a man who opposes them in a manly way [applause from all parts of the hall] than a sneak that agrees with them in an unmanly way. [Applause and "Bravo."] Now if I can carry you with me by sound convictions, I shall be immensely glad [applause] ; but if I cannot carry you with me by facts and sound arguments, I do not wish you to go with me at all; and all that I ask is simply fair play. [Applause, and a voice, “You shall have it, too."]

Public speakers should see that their subject fits the. occasion, and particularly should they make it appear as though it intimately concerned the audience to which it is addressed. Mr. Beecher was extremely wise in selecting the themes upon which he spoke in his memorable tour through Great Britain in 1863, when he presented the cause of the Federal Government to the people of England and Scotland. When he spoke in Manchester his theme was the effect slavery had on the manufacturing interests; in Glasgow, where were located the shipyards where blockade-runners were being built for the Confederate States, and the laboring classes were thus personally concerned in the struggle between the States, he pointed out the degrading effect slavery had upon labor; in the cultured city of Edinburgh, he discussed the philosophy and the history of slavery; thus presenting his subject, on each occasion that he spoke, in a manner to interest his audi

ences. This showed great tact on Mr. Beecher's part and accounts, in a large measure, for his success in winning the masses of the people of Great Britain to the cause of the Union.

Julius M. Mayer, ex-Attorney General of the State of New York, at a political meeting held at Cooper Union, on November 4, 1911, after speaking on general political topics for a considerable time, said: “I want to discuss just one thing." A voice in the audience then cried out: "Go ahead, then, and do it.” The rebuke was deserved. The speaker, the last on the list, had been announced to speak specifically on one question, but instead of immediately taking up his theme, which was the Levy Election Law, he started to discuss matters foreign to his subject; consequently the audience, which had listened to two long speeches by abler campaigners than Mr. Mayer, were tired out and restless before he really took up his subject, the result being that half the audience left before the speaker had touched on the topic he was designated to discuss, and the other half were not disposed to listen to him patiently. They had listened while they were being amused by the witty speech of Job E. Hedges, enthused by the impassioned, eloquent address of William A. Prendergast, and would have given attention to the remarks of Mr. Mayer had he immediately taken up his subject; but they were unwilling to listen to an indifferent speaker discuss matters with which the majority of them were thoroughly familiar. Let this experience of Mr. Mayer's be a lesson to speakers, and may it admonish them not to try the patience of an audience.

Francis P. Bent, who, at the time, was Vice-Chairman of the Board of Aldermen of the City of New York, and who is a clever campaign speaker, on a recent occasion quoted, in an address before a social club, the following passage from Shakespeare's Henry V:

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger. This last word was scarcely out of his mouth when some one cried out: “The Tammany Tiger?” A shout then arose from the assembly. Alderman Bent was not one particle disconcerted, but smilingly replied : “My friend, I do not suppose that Shakespeare, in writing those lines, intended to prophesy the coming of the Tammany Tiger, nor did I specifically have that specimen of the animal in view when I used the quotation, but I have no hesitation in saying that of all the fighting machines of which I have read, or with which I have come in contact, I know of none that excelled the Tammany Tiger in its ability to put up a good fight.” He then went on with his speech, amid the hearty applause of his audience. In this instance, Alderman Bent typified the ready speaker.

Another occasion on which a speaker cleverly turned an interruption recently came to the personal attention of the author. John F. Hylan, a City Magistrate of the Borough of Brooklyn, New York City, was the last speaker on the programme at the opening of a Democratic Club in that section, previous to the election of 1911. His Honor had

a few pet truths in the form of facts stowed away in his brain which he desired to impart to his Democratic brethren. Judges, as we are informed by Shakespeare, are “ full of wise saws and modern instances," and Magistrate Hylan, whom the author has known for many years, is no exception to the rule; consequently, he proceeded to do his little "preaching." After enumerating many of the points he wished to drive home, particularly some pertaining to Jeffersonian principles, he finally said: "I know these are dry facts.” A Democratic brother here spoke up: “You bet they are; and I'm dry, too.” Of course the audience roared with laughter, and it looked as though the dryness alluded to by the thirsty one had put an end to the speech; but Magistrate Hylan, not one whit abashed, replied: “Your thirst will be attended to by the steward of the club in a few moments, and I will endeavor to moisten my remarks for you by stating that they shall soon come to a close.”

If a speaker will not antagonize his audience through lack of tact, will keep to his subject, will be earnest in manner and language, not overtax the patience of his listeners by needlessly prolonging his discourse, and will put his mentality into his voice, he will surely be rewarded with the attention of his audience, and he will be able to sway it at his will and compel it, unknowingly, to do his bidding.

The speaker can only be sure of his subject after having considered it on all sides. He must look through it, beneath it, above it, on all sides of it, consider it care

fully from every possible standpoint, after which he may safely feel that he knows his subject and is prepared to speak upon it.

In order that he may be sure of himself, the speaker must be equipped physically, vocally, and mentally to carry out the task he has assumed. He must have a body capable of resisting the fatigue of standing, a voice that will serve as a vehicle for conveying the message, and a mind of sufficient power to originate, develop, and present the thought. All these parts may be made equal to the task of properly performing these important duties, and the speaker who is thus equipped will possess that perfect confidence which the consciousness of being prepared for the work he undertakes alone can give. If he possesses a justified confidence in his subject, in the art of expression, and in himself, he will be master of all three, and by their means he will control his audience.

Self-consciousness is the cause of many speakers failing who otherwise are fitted for their task. The speaker must learn to avoid thinking of himself even indirectly. He should never permit himself to wonder what his auditors are thinking of him or his effort - should permit no thought to wander to them in quest of finding out their thoughts concerning him - but he should concentrate all his mental power upon his subject in order that he may send it out to his audience, drive it home, and command attention to his thought. If he does this, his will be the dominant mind, his attention will all be directed where it belongs - on his subject - and he will have no time nor

« PreviousContinue »