EXAMPLES OF ORATORY AND HOW TO STUDY THEM
It will be beneficial to you in this connection to study examples of speeches by the world's great orators. I furnish you here with a few short specimens which will serve this purpose. Carefully note the suggestions and the numbered extract to which they refer.
1. Practise this example for climax. As you read it aloud, gradually increase the intensity of your voice but do not unduly elevate the key.
2. Study this particularly for its suggestive value to you as a public speaker.
3. Practise this for fervent appeal. Articulate distinctly. Pause after each question. Do not rant or declaim, but speak it.
4. Study this for its sustained sentences and dignity of style.
5. Analyze this for its strength of thought and diction. Note the effective repetition of |I care not.| Commit the passage to memory.
6. Read this for elevated and patriotic feeling. Render it aloud in deliberate and thoughtful style.
7. Particularly observe the judicial clearness of this example. Note the felicitous use of language.
8. Read this aloud for oratorical style. Fit the words to your lips. Engrave the passage on your mind by frequent repetition.
9. Study this passage for its profound and prophetic thought. Render it aloud in slow and dignified style.
10. Practise this for its sustained power. The words |let him| should be intensified at each repetition, and the phrase |and show me the man| brought out prominently.
11. Study this for its beauty and variety of language. Meditate upon it as a model of what a speaker should be.
12. Note the strength in the repeated phrase |I will never say.| Observe the power, nobility and courage manifest throughout. The closing sentence should be read in a deeply earnest tone and at a gradually slower rate.
13. Read this for its purity and strength of style. Note the effective use of question and answer.
14. Study this passage for its common sense and exalted thought. Note how each sentence is rounded out into fulness, until it is imprest upon your memory.
Extracts for Study
SPECIMENS OF ELOQUENCE
A Study in Climax
1. My lords, these are the securities which we have in all the constituent parts of the body of this House. We know them, we reckon them, rest upon them, and commit safely the interests of India and of humanity into your hands. Therefore it is with confidence that, ordered by the Commons,
I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has betrayed.
I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain, whose national character he has dishonored.
I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he has subverted, whose properties he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate.
I impeach him in the name and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has violated.
I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and opprest in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life. -- Impeachment of Warren Hastings: EDMUND BURKE.
Suggestions to the Public Speaker
2. I am now requiring not merely great preparation while the speaker is learning his art but after he has accomplished his education. The most splendid effort of the most mature orator will be always finer for being previously elaborated with much care. There is, no doubt, a charm in extemporaneous elocution, derived from the appearance of artless, unpremeditated effusion, called forth by the occasion, and so adapting itself to its exigencies, which may compensate the manifold defects incident to this kind of composition: that which is inspired by the unforeseen circumstances of the moment, will be of necessity suited to those circumstances in the choice of the topics, and pitched in the tone of the execution, to the feelings upon which it is to operate. These are great virtues: it is another to avoid the besetting vice of modern oratory -- the overdoing everything -- the exhaustive method -- which an off-hand speaker has no time to fall into, and he accordingly will take only the grand and effective view; nevertheless, in oratorical merit, such effusions must needs be very inferior; much of the pleasure they produce depends upon the hearer's surprize that in such circumstances anything can be delivered at all, rather than upon his deliberate judgment, that he has heard anything very excellent in itself. We may rest assured that the highest reaches of the art, and without any necessary sacrifice of natural effect, can only be attained by him who well considers, and maturely prepares, and oftentimes sedulously corrects and refines his oration. Such preparation is quite consistent with the introduction of passages prompted by the occasion, nor will the transition from one to the other be perceptible in the execution of the practised master. -- Inaugural Discourse: LORD BROUGHAM.
A Study in Fervent Appeal
3. It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! -- The War Inevitable: PATRICK HENRY.
A Study in Dignity and Style
4. In retiring as I am about to do, forever, from the Senate, suffer me to express my heartfelt wishes that all the great and patriotic objects of the wise framers of our Constitution may be fulfilled; that the high destiny designed for it may be fully answered; and that its deliberations, now and hereafter, may eventuate in securing the prosperity of our beloved country, in maintaining its rights and honor abroad, and upholding its interests at home. I retire, I know, at a period of infinite distress and embarrassment. I wish I could take my leave of you under more favorable auspices; but without meaning at this time to say whether on any or on whom reproaches for the sad condition of the country should fall, I appeal to the Senate and to the world to bear testimony to my earnest and continued exertions to avert it, and to the truth that no blame can justly attach to me. -- Farewell Address: HENRY CLAY.
A Study in Strength and Diction
5. For myself, I believe there is no limit fit to be assigned to it by the human mind, because I find at work everywhere, on both sides of the Atlantic, under various forms and degrees of restriction on the one hand, and under various degrees of motive and stimulus on the other, in these branches of the common race, the great principle of the freedom of human thought, and the respectability of individual character. I find everywhere an elevation of the character of man as man, an elevation of the individual as a component part of society. I find everywhere a rebuke of the idea that the many are made for the few, or that government is anything but an agency for mankind. And I care not beneath what zone, frozen, temperate, or torrid; I care not of what complexion, white, or brown; I care not under what circumstances of climate or cultivation -- if I can find a race of men on an inhabited spot of earth whose general sentiment it is, and whose general feeling it is, that government is made for man -- man, as a religious, moral, and social being -- and not man for government, there I know that I shall find prosperity and happiness. -- The Landing at Plymouth: DANIEL WEBSTER.
A Study in Patriotic Feeling
6. Friends, fellow citizens, free, prosperous, happy Americans! The men who did so much to make you are no more. The men who gave nothing to pleasure in youth, nothing to repose in age, but all to that country whose beloved name filled their hearts, as it does ours, with joy, can now do no more for us; nor we for them. But their memory remains, we will cherish it; their bright example remains, we will strive to imitate it; the fruit of their wise counsels and noble acts remains, we will gratefully enjoy it.
They have gone to the companions of their cares, of their dangers, and their toils. It is well with them. The treasures of America are now in heaven. How long the list of our good, and wise, and brave, assembled there! How few remain with us! There is our Washington; and those who followed him in their country's confidence are now met together with him and all that illustrious company. -- Adams and Jefferson: EDWARD EVERETT.
A Study in Clearness of Expression
7. I can not leave this life and character without selecting and dwelling a moment on one or two of his traits, or virtues, or felicities, a little longer. There is a collective impression made by the whole of an eminent person's life, beyond, and other than, and apart from, that which the mere general biographer would afford the means of explaining. There is an influence of a great man derived from things indescribable, almost, or incapable of enumeration, or singly insufficient to account for it, but through which his spirit transpires, and his individuality goes forth on the contemporary generation. And thus, I should say, one grand tendency of his life and character was to elevate the whole tone of the public mind. He did this, indeed, not merely by example. He did it by dealing, as he thought, truly and in manly fashion with that public mind. He evinced his love of the people not so much by honeyed phrases as by good counsels and useful service, vera pro gratis. He showed how he appreciated them by submitting sound arguments to their understandings, and right motives to their free will. He came before them, less with flattery than with instruction; less with a vocabulary larded with the words humanity and philanthropy, and progress and brotherhood, than with a scheme of politics, an educational, social and governmental system, which would have made them prosperous, happy and great. -- On the Death of Daniel Webster: RUFUS CHOATE.
A Study of Oratorical Style
8. And yet this small people -- so obscure and outcast in condition -- so slender in numbers and in means -- so entirely unknown to the proud and great -- so absolutely without name in contemporary records -- whose departure from the Old World took little more than the breath of their bodies -- are now illustrious beyond the lot of men; and the Mayflower is immortal beyond the Grecian Argo or the stately ship of any victorious admiral. Tho this was little foreseen in their day, it is plain now how it has come to pass. The highest greatness surviving time and storm is that which proceeds from the soul of man. Monarchs and cabinets, generals and admirals, with the pomp of courts and the circumstance of war, in the gradual lapse of time disappear from sight; but the pioneers of truth, the poor and lowly, especially those whose example elevates human nature and teaches the rights of man, so that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth, such harbingers can never be forgotten, and their renown spreads coextensive with the cause they served. -- The Qualities that Win: CHARLES SUMNER.
A Study in Profound Thinking
9. There is something greater in the age than its greatest men; it is the appearance of a new power in the world, the appearance of the multitude of men on the stage where as yet the few have acted their parts alone. This influence is to endure to the end of time. What more of the present is to survive? Perhaps much of which we now fail to note. The glory of an age is often hidden from itself. Perhaps some word has been spoken in our day which we have not designed to hear, but which is to grow clearer and louder through all ages. Perhaps some silent thinker among us is at work in his closet whose name is to fill the earth. Perhaps there sleeps in his cradle some reformer who is to move the church and the world, who is to open a new era in history, who is to fire the human soul with new hope and new daring. What else is to survive the age? That which the age has little thought of, but which is living in us all; I mean the soul, the immortal spirit. Of this all ages are the unfoldings, and it is greater than all. We must not feel, in the contemplation of the vast movements in our own and former times, as if we ourselves were nothing. I repeat it, we are greater than all. We are to survive our age, to comprehend it, and to pronounce its sentence. -- The Present Age: W. E. CHANNING.
A Study of Sustained Power
10. Now, blue-eyed Saxon, proud of your race, go back with me to the commencement of the century, and select what statesman you please. Let him be either American or European; let him have a brain the result of six generations of culture; let him have the ripest training of university routine; let him add to it the better education of practical life; crown his temples with the silver locks of seventy years, and show me the man of Saxon lineage for whom his most sanguine admirer will wreathe a laurel, rich as embittered foes have placed on the brow of this negro, -- rare military skill, profound knowledge of human nature, content to blot out all party distinctions, and trust a state to the blood of its sons, -- anticipating Sir Robert Peel fifty years, and taking his station by the side of Roger Williams, before any Englishman or American had won the right; and yet this is the record which the history of rival states makes up for this inspired black of St. Domingo. -- Toussaint L'Ouverture: WENDELL PHILLIPS.
Study in Beauty of Language
11. He faced his audience with a tranquil mien and a beaming aspect that was never dimmed. He spoke, and in the measured cadence of his quiet voice there was intense feeling, but no declamation, no passionate appeal, no superficial and feigned emotion. It was simple colloquy -- a gentleman conversing. Unconsciously and surely the ear and heart were charmed. How was it done? -- Ah! how did Mozart do it, how Raffael?
The secret of the rose's sweetness, of the bird's ecstacy, of the sunset's glory -- that is the secret of genius and of eloquence. What was heard, what was seen, was the form of noble manhood, the courteous and self-possest tone, the flow of modulated speech, sparkling with matchless richness of illustration, with apt allusion and happy anecdote and historic parallel, with wit and pitiless invective, with melodious pathos, with stinging satire, with crackling epigram and limpid humor, like the bright ripples that play around the sure and steady prow of the resistless ship. Like an illuminated vase of odors, he glowed with concentrated and perfumed fire. The divine energy of his conviction utterly possest him, and his
|Pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in his cheek, and so distinctly wrought,
That one might almost say his body thought.|
Was it Pericles swaying the Athenian multitude? Was it Apollo breathing the music of the morning from his lips? -- No, no! It was an American patriot, a modern son of liberty, with a soul as firm and as true as was ever consecrated to unselfish duty, pleading with the American conscience for the chained and speechless victims of American inhumanity. -- Eulogy of Wendell Phillips: GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS.
A Study in Powerful Delivery
12. I thank you very cordially, both friends and opponents, if opponents you be, for the extreme kindness with which you have heard me. I have spoken, and I must speak in very strong terms of the acts done by my opponents. I will never say that they did it from passion; I will never say that they did it from a sordid love of office; I have no right to use such words; I have no right to entertain such sentiments; I repudiate and abjure them; I give them credit for patriotic motives -- I give them credit for those patriotic motives which are incessantly and gratuitously denied to us. I believe we are all united in a fond attachment to the great country to which we belong; to the great empire which has committed to it a trust and function from Providence, as special and remarkable as was ever entrusted to any portion of the family of man. When I speak of that trust and that function I feel that words fail. I can not tell you what I think of the nobleness of the inheritance which has descended upon us, of the sacredness of the duty of maintaining it. I will not condescend to make it a part of controversial politics. It is a part of my being, of my flesh and blood, of my heart and soul. For those ends I have labored through my youth and manhood, and, more than that, till my hairs are gray. In that faith and practise I have lived, and in that faith and practise I shall die. -- Midlothian Speech: WILLIAM EWART GLADSTONE.
A Study in Purity of Style
13. Is this a reality? or is your Christianity a romance? is your profession a dream? No, I am sure that your Christianity is not a romance, and I am equally sure that your profession is not a dream. It is because I believe this that I appeal to you with confidence, and that I have hope and faith in the future. I believe that we shall see, and at no very distant time, sound economic principles spreading much more widely among the people; a sense of justice growing up in a soil which hitherto has been deemed unfruitful; and, which will be better than all -- the churches of the United Kingdom -- the churches of Britain awaking, as it were, from their slumbers, and girding up their loins to more glorious work, when they shall not only accept and believe in the prophecy, but labor earnestly for its fulfilment, that there shall come a time -- a blessed time -- a time which shall last forever -- when |nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.| -- Peace: JOHN BRIGHT.
A Study in Common Sense and Exalted Thought
14. My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in this dispute there is still no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty. In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, are the momentous issues of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to |preserve, protect, and defend| it. -- The First Inaugural Address: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.