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Conversation offers one of the best and most practical helps to the study of public speaking. Here common faults of speech can be readily noted, and habits of fluent and natural expression established. The facility and self-confidence gained here will be valuable in speaking before an audience.

Probably nothing betrays a man so unmistakably as his style of conversation. The quality of his voice, his use of words, his ability to put his ideas into forceful and effective speech, all disclose his breeding and education. The value of conversation as an educational force is emphasized by President Eliot, of Harvard, who says: "I recognize but one mental acquisition as an essential part of the education of a lady or gentleman, namely, an accurate and refined use of the mother-tongue." Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, of Columbia, says: "First among the evidences of an education I name correctness and precision in the use of the mother-tongue."

The best public speaking and preaching of to-day is mainly colloquial or conversational in style. Hence conversation offers the best models for study and practise. The ability to speak to the point, to describe vividly a recent journey, or to tell an interesting story, is a practical and direct preparation for the larger work of public address. The practise of communicating to others what one has seen

or heard, will gradually awaken a desire to speak before a larger audience.

The conversation of children often serves as the best model of easy unaffected speech. Their vivacity and genuineness might well be copied by those who wish to move and influence men.

The student of public speaking should be careful not to indulge at any time in loose and incorrect speech. In his daily conversation he should exercise the utmost care in pronouncing every word clearly and correctly, in puretoned voice, and usually in a low key. He should avoid everything that is slipshod in speech, high pitch, rapid rate, half-closed mouth, and the disposition to be vociferous.

Dr. Richard Storrs, the gifted and eloquent preacher, has recommended conversation as one of the best means of refreshing the mind and replenishing it with active force. He says: "Conversation, if practised as it ought to be, as a commerce of thought between responsive and interchanging minds, is an invaluable aid toward gaining the art of easy and self-possest public speech. I do not think we have as much of it as we ought, or that it holds the place which it should in our plans of life, as a real educational force. It is much the same exercise, if you analyze it, as public speaking. Of course it is not the same altogether. In public speech your utterance of thought is more prolonged; it is monolog not dialog. You miss the help which comes from interjected remarks or replies; and you are not so immediately conscious of the sympathy or the collision of the adjacent minds. Still, conversation is much the same form of mental activity, and it always helps the public speaker. It trains the mind to think rapidly, and to formulate thought with facility and success; and

each sense of such success, which is gained in conversation, will give one more confidence when he stands before an audience.

The following extracts in conversational style will serve as introductory practise along these lines. They should be read aloud, with natural and spontaneous expression, and with due regard to clear and correct enunciation.

1. "I am willing to amuse you if I can, sir; quite willing; but I can not introduce a topic, because how do I know what will interest you? Ask me questions, and I will do my best to answer them."

"Then, in the first place, do you agree with me that I have a right to be a little masterful, abrupt, perhaps exciting sometimes, on the grounds I stated-namely, that I am old enough to be your father, and that I have battled through a varied experience with many men of many nations, and roamed over half the globe, while you have lived quietly with one set of people in one house?"

"Do as you please, sir.

"That is no answer; or rather, it is a very irritating, because a very evasive one; reply clearly.'


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"I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.


"Humph! Promptly spoken. But I won't allow that, seeing that it would never suit my case, as I have made an indifferent, not to say a bad use of both advantages. Leaving superiority out of the question then, you must still agree to receive my orders now and then, without being piqued or hurt by the tone of command-will you?''

I smiled: I thought to myself Mr. Rochester is peculiar— he seems to forget that he pays me 30 pounds per annum for receiving his orders.

"The smile is very well," said he, catching instantly the passing expression; "but speak, too."

"I was thinking, sir, that very few masters would trouble themselves to inquire whether or not their paid subordinates were piqued and hurt by their orders.''

"Paid subordinates! What, you are my paid subordinate, are you? Oh, yes, I had forgotten the salary! Well, then, on that mercenary ground, will you agree to let me hector a little?"

"No, sir, not on that ground, but on the ground that you did forget it, and that you care whether or not a dependent is comfortable in his dependency, I agree heartily."

"And will you consent to dispense with a great many conventional forms and phrases, without thinking that the omission arises from insolence?''

“I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence: one I rather like, the other nothing free-born would submit to even for a salary.


"Humbug! Most things free-born will submit to anything for a salary; therefore keep to yourself, and don't venture on generalities of which you are intensely ignorant. However, I mentally shake hands with you for your answer, despite its inaccuracy, and as much for the manner in which it was said as for the substance of the speech. The manner was frank and sincere; one does not often see such a manner; no, on the contrary, affectation, or coldness, or stupid, coarse-minded misapprehension of one's meaning are the usual rewards of candor. Not three in three thousand raw school-girl governesses would have answered me as you have just done. But I don't mean to flatter you; if you are cast in a different mold to the majority, it is no merit of yours: Nature did it. And then, after all, I go too fast in my conclusions; for what I yet know, you may be no better than the rest; you have intolerable defects to counterbalance your few good points."


"And so may you," I thought. My eye met his as the idea crossed my mind. He seemed to read the glance, answering as if its import had been spoken as well as imagined

"Yes, yes, you are right," said he; "I have plenty of faults of my own: I know it, and I don't wish to palliate them, I assure you. God wot, I need not be too severe about others; I have a past existence, a series of deeds, a color of life to

contemplate within my own breast which might well call my sneers and censures from my neighbors to myself. I started, or rather (for, like other defaulters, I like to lay half the blame on ill fortune and adverse circumstances), was thrust on to a wrong tack at the age of one-and-twenty, and have never recovered the right course since: but I might have been very different; I might have been as good as you-wiser—almost as stainless. I envy you your peace of mind, your clean conscience, your unpolluted memory. Little girl, a memory without blot or contamination must be an exquisite treasure-an inexhaustible source of pure refreshment: is it not?",

"How was your memory when you were eighteen, sir?'' "All right then; limpid, salubrious: no gush of bilge-water had turned to fetid puddle. I was your equal at eighteenquite your equal. Nature meant me to be on the whole a good man, Miss Eyre: one of the better kind; and you see I am not So. You would say you don't see it: at least I flatter myself I read as much in your eye (beware, by the by, what you express with that organ, I am quick at interpreting its language). Then, take my word for it, I am not a villian; you are not to suppose that not to attribute to me any such bad eminence; but owing, I verily believe, rather to circumstances than to my natural bent, I am a trite, commonplace sinner, hackneyed in all the poor petty dissipations with which the rich and worthless try to put on life. Do you wonder that I avow this to you? Know that in the course of your future life you will often find yourself elected the involuntary confidante of your acquaintances' secrets: people will instinctively find out, as I have done, that it is not your forte to tell of yourself, but to listen while others talk of themselves; they will feel, too, that you listen with no malevolent scorn of their indiscretion, but with a kind of innate sympathy, not the less comforting and encouraging because it is very unobtrusive in its manifestations."

"How do you know?-how can you guess all this, sir?''

"I know it well; therefore I proceed almost as freely as if I were writing my thoughts in a diary. You would say, I should have been superior to circumstances: so I should-so I should; but you see I was not. When fate wronged me, I had

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