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The third rule is—Read often and carefully the best specimens of deliberative eloquence. An intelligent application of this rule requires that the student should become familiar with many particulars bearing upon what he reads. What is the precise nature of the proposition which the speaker advocates or opposes? What are his own personal relations to it? What is the character or constitution of the body whom he addresses? What the time, the place, the circumstances, wherein the speech was delivered 2 All these and other kindred inquiries he should make, in order to put himself duly in sympathy with the parties originally and really interested in the case. Then let him observe accurately the speech itself; its opening, the order and relative force of the several arguments adduced, the skill displayed in evading or obviating objections, the pertinency of the illustrations, the facility and naturalness of the transitions from one topic to another, the closing remarks or peroration, and, throughout the whole, every grace and every elegance in the structure of individual sentences or pasSages. The fourth rule is—Eacercise your powers often in the practice of written composition. “Writing,” says Lord Bacon, “makes an accurate man,” and this is the testimony of every scholar. The rule, however, which we are now commending, has Several modes of application. If the student is acquainted with any language other than his vernacular, one of the easiest applications of the present rule is the translating of passages out of that foreign language into his own. Every sentence thus translated is an exercise, however brief, in English composition; a fact which accounts for the greater facility in the use of language, which boys who have studied, even for comparatively short periods of time, the Latin and Greek languages, than is found in the possession of those who are without that advantage. He, however, who knows no other than his native tongue, may adopt, with the greatest benefit, a custom, commended and adopted by Cicero and other great speakers, in their youth, that of reading carefully a passage from some great oration or other literary composition, getting the substance of it fairly in the memOry, and then putting it again into language the best you can command. There is, also, another way of reaching the result contemplated in this exercise, which the author of these observations has often found singularly efficient, in the prosecution of his duties as a practical educator. It is simply to .place before the learner a given passage from a writer of established reputation, and then to require him to express, in words other than those of the author, the same idea; that is, neither more nor less than what is found in the passage assigned. This is an admirable method of acquiring precision of style, on which depends, in great measure, every other excellence of composition. But a higher application of the present rule for the cultivation of skill in speaking, is that which obliges the young Orator to engage frequently in the practice of original composition. In this, if he would be proficient, he must study to bring into actual and appropriate use those essential principles and precepts which, under the imposing names of Grammar and Rhetoric, all terminate at last in justifying that brief definition of a good style, “proper words in proper places.” By the due application of this rule, whether in one or in all of the ways above indicated, the mind becomes habituated to close and accurate thinking, familiar with various forms of expression, and ready, when the occasion demands, to display its resources in fluent and forceful language. The fifth and last general rule which we shall here give for acquiring superiority in extemporaneous speaking, is—Be always diligent in the acquisition of scnowledge. The aim of this rule is especially to reach the case of those who, relying upon a certain natural readiness of utterance, are but too apt to fall into the deplorable habit of undertaking to speak without having anything in particular to say. He that fails from this cause, deserves to fail; for he equally deceives himself and his audience; mistaking Sound for Sense, and raising expectations which he is not able to satisfy. A glib tongue in an empty head is no common calamity. There is no kind of knowledge, as before intimated, which may not be useful to the deliberative speaker. Such is the variety of the questions which he may find it necessary or desirable to discuss, that no mental treasures, however extensive or diversified, can exceed the limits of his actual wants. It was no mere fancy that led the ancients to adopt the principle, that the genuine Orator should be competently acquainted with every department of knowledge. Not that, even in their day, the orator could be expected to be a man of universal knowledge, in any such sense as includes and necessitates a minute and profound acquaintance with all the various and complicated branches of human learning. This, if not then, certainly now, would be quite out of human power; but there is an important sense in which this theory of universal culture is unquestionably true. Let the standard be high, whatever may be our deficiencies in reaching it.
The perfect orator is, indeed, the rarest of human characters. It is seldom, in the lapse of ages, that all those qualities that must conspire to produce this character are found to unite in a single individual. In voice, in person, in genius, in knowledge, in fluency, in everything that can influence the eye, the ear, the heart, or the head, he must be pre-eminent.
Few, therefore, very few, can ever hope to attain to the glory of being perfect orators; but all, or nearly all, by persevering and judicious practice, may become ready and efficient speakers.
“But,” as is well observed by an eminent writer,” already quoted, “no man ought to place such confidence in his own abilities as to hope to rise to the highest pitch of reputation by his first efforts. For our extemporary powers of speaking must rise by degrees, from inconsiderable beginnings to perfection. And this can neither be acquired nor maintained without practice.”
SEC TION IV.
RULES OF ORDER IN DELIBERATIVE ASSEMBLIES.
This part of the present work embraces a pretty full course of instruction in the Rules of Order ob
served in deliberative assemblies. For reasons elsewhere” assigned, these rules deservedly claim the most careful attention.
They are, indeed, of almost universal applicability; but (as stated on page 41) are often, by special rules, altered, modified, or superseded, in certain points, to answer the demands of particular organizations.
In this part of the subject, moreover, we have adopted the mode of question and answer. This has been done, partly, because it seemed more likely to elicit attention, and, partly, because, where the work is employed as a text-book, such an arrangement can hardly fail to prove highly convenient and useful.
Those who may wish merely to refer to particular points, in this or any other part of the work, will be able readily to reach their object, by means of the Index at the end, which has been made, expressly for that purpose, very full and minute.
* See page 40.