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Brainard Gardner Smith.

Reading and speaking; familiar talks to young men who would speak well in public, with a thorough presentation of Mandeville's system of sentential delivery online

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RE ADI



LIBRARY

OF THE

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



Accession ...... t 05.154 Class ....<5f3..



READING AND SPEAKING

FAMILIAR TALKS TO THOSE WHO WOULD

SPEAK WELL IN PUBLIC; WITH A

THOROUGH PRESENTATION OF

MANDEVILLE'S SYSTEM OF

SENTENTIAL DELIVERY



BY
BRAINARD GARDNER SMITH

UPSON PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC AND ORATORY IN HAMILTON COLLEGE



THIRD EDITION, REVISED AND ENLARGED




BOSTON, U.S.A.

D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS
1898







COPYRIGHT, 1891,
BY BRAINARD GARDNER SMITH.



TYPOGRAPHY BY J. S. GUSHING & Co., BOSTON, U.S.A.
PRKSSWORK BY BERWICK & SMITH, BOSTON, U.S.A.



CONTENTS.



PAGE

INTRODUCTORY . v



CHAPTER I.
CONTROL OF THE BREATH . . . . . . . 3

CHAPTER II.
FAULTS, AND How TO CURE THEM . . . . .10

CHAPTER III.
CONSONANT SOUNDS 19

CHAPTER IV.
GOOD ARTICULATION AND A NATURAL MANNER . . .24

CHAPTER V.
SHALL WE LEARN TO READ AND SPEAK? 29

CHAPTER VI.
PUNCTUATION. PAUSES. MODULATION 37

CHAPTER VII.
EMPHASIS 57



in



\ ftfVI 54



IV CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VIII.

PAGE

CLASSIFICATION AND DELIVERY OF SENTENCES ... 70

CHAPTER IX.
CLASSIFICATION AND DELIVERY OF SENTENCES. Continued . 93

CHAPTER X.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION 115

CHAPTER XI.
SOME GENERAL SUGGESTIONS 126

CHAPTER XII.
GESTURE 134

CHAPTER XIII.
PHYSICAL EARNESTNESS 142

CHAPTER XIV.

SUGGESTIONS BY EXPERIENCED SPEAKERS . . . -153

i

CHAPTER XV.
DECLAMATIONS 164



INTRODUCTORY.



THIS collection of suggestions to would-be speakers
consists of most informal talks on matters of importance
to all young men ; for we are a nation of speech-makers.
Wendell Phillips used to say that as soon as the Yankee
baby could sit up in his cradle he called the nursery to
order, and proceeded to address the house. There are
some rules in the book, but they are those which my
experience has taught me ought to be known by every
speaker ; and as there are not so many as to be burden-
some, I trust that they may be learned by every young
man who has this book.

I have put upon these pages suggestions not usually
found in print. Some of them may seem trivial; but I
have been making them to students in the class-room over
and over again. Why not print them ?

I do not claim any originality, or to say what has not
been said in one way or another by many teachers. In-
deed, there is no new road to successful public speaking.
But I have tried to group together, in small compass and
convenient form, suggestions, rules, hints, encouragements,
warnings, examples, illustrations, all having bearing on the
"noble art of oratory," and all likely to be helpful.

My one aim is to help young men to a natural, comfort-
able, manly, forceful manner of 'speech in public. That is
not oratory ; but it is a long stride towards it. If they add
these suggestions and rules to the solid foundation of



Vi INTRODUCTORY.

knowledge, of acquirement, the result of diligent and
patient study, and if, moreover, they have the " oratorical
instinct," then I am sure the results will not be fruitless.

The book is meant for the class-room, for the teacher,
for the student, as well as for the general reader, and I
have endeavored to give abundant opportunity for putting
the suggestions and rules into practice. Practice is the
main thing. The student must do the work ; the teacher
may help him do it on the right lines.

My thanks are due to the distinguished gentlemen who
so kindly responded to my request for suggestions to
young men who wish to be public speakers. The chapter
containing their suggestions is certainly the most inter-
esting and helpful in this volume.

I also desire to acknowledge my obligations to Messrs.
D. Appleton & Co., New York, for permission to make the
use I have made of Mandeville's " Elements of Reading and
Oratory " ; to Messrs. Funk & Wagnalls, New York, for
permission to quote from Shepard's " Before an Audi-
ence "; to the Penn Publishing Co., Philadelphia, the
publishers of Henry Ward Beecher's " Oratory," from
which, by their kind permission, I have taken extracts ;
and to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, pub-
Ushers of the Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson.



READING AND SPEAKING.



" I hope that you will from the start cultivate Elocution. The power of
speaking with grace and energy, the power of using aright the best words
of our noble language, is itself a fortune, and a reputation, if it is associ-
ated and enriched by knowledge and sense. I would, therefore, give a special
attention to all that is required of you in this department. But not one study
prescribed by the government is to be neglected." RUFUS CHOATE, in a
letter to his son, then a student in Amherst College.

" Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly
intelligible to the person to whom you speak." RALPH WALDO EMERSON.

" I define oratory to be the art of influencing conduct with the truth set
home by all resources of the living man." HENRY WARD BEECHER.

" Deliberative eloquence, in its highest forms and noblest exertion, is the
utterances of men of genius, practiced, earnest, and sincere, according to a
rule of art t in presence of large assemblies, in great conjuncture of public
affairs, to persuade a people." RUFUS CHOATE.




READING AND SPEAKING.

CHAPTER I.
CONTROL OF THE BREATH.

Their words are natural breath. Tempest.

'Tis breath thou lackest. King Richard II.

How art thou out of breath, when thou hast breath to say to
me that thou art out of breath? Romeo and Juliet.

Well, breathe awhile, and then to it again. .King Henry IV.

MY first suggestion is that you learn to breathe properly.
Nothing is more important than the ability to control the
breath. It is not my province to speak of the physiology
of the vocal organs, of the lungs, of the chest cavity, of
the midriff or diaphragm. Any modern elementary work
on physiology will furnish all the necessary information at
a trifling expense of money and time. I do not claim that
there is anything new in what I shall say. There are several
authorities on the subject. Sir Morell Mackenzie, Oskar
Guttmann, Leo Kofler, have given valuable suggestions ;
and so have Dr. Lenox Browne and Emil Bhenke in their
"Voice in Speech and Song," a work which I can recom-
mend, and to which I am indebted for much that follows.

There are three ways by which the chest may be enlarged
and air taken into the lungs.

i. By raising the shoulders, collar-bones, and upper
part of the chest. This is called clavicular or collar-bone
breathing.

3



4 READING AND SPEAKING.

2. By extending the lower or floating ribs sideways.
This is called lateral or costal breathing.

3. By flattening the midriff or diaphragm, the " great
breathing muscle," as Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes calls
it. This is called midriff or diaphragmatic or abdominal
breathing.

The lungs rest upon the midriff ; and, when this powerful
muscle is flattened, they must follow. At the same time
the abdomen is protruded, because its contents are pushed
downward by the midriff. The lower ribs are also pushed
out by the same muscle, so that costal and midriff breath-
ing take place together almost invariably. I believe that
the best authorities agree that they should take place
together ; thus the chest cavity is enlarged where its walls
offer the least resistance, and where the lungs are the
largest.

No speaker should ever employ clavicular breathing
even in combination with costal and midriff breathing. It
forces the upper chest walls up against the root of the
throat, and has a tendency to congest the blood-vessels
and tissues there. It necessitates controlling the exit of
the breath by the glottis, which was not made for that
purpose. Throaty tones, " speaker's sore throat," and
kindred troubles are largely due to this method of breath-
ing and of controlling the breath. It follows that an
abandonment of clavicular breathing, and the practice of
deep breathing (costal and midriff breathing combined)
often cure sore throats, and correct faulty tones.

When the speaker breathes zVzspires by flattening
the midriff, he is able to control the breath by that strong
muscle. As long as he holds it down, the air that he has
taken in remains in the lungs, just as water remains in the
cells of a sponge as it lies in the open hand. Close the



CONTROL OF THE BREATH. 5

hand, and the water is squeezed out. Close the hand
slowly, and the water oozes out slowly. Relax the midriff
and lower ribs slowly, and the air will leave the lungs
slowly. The throat ought to have nothing more to do
with controlling the breath than the chanter of a bagpipe
has to do with controlling the air in the big bag under the
piper's arm. The throat the vocal organs should be
used to speak with. All its muscles should be relaxed, and
the speech organs should merely use the air as it passes
from the lungs through the mouth. And no more air
should be allowed to pass out than is needed for speech.

I am now speaking with no design of being scientifically
accurate. I am striving to give you impressions only.

Dr. Browne lays down this rule : " The criterion of
correct inspiration is an increase in the size of the abdo-
men and of the lower part of the chest. Whoever draws
in the abdomen and raises the upper part of the chest in
the act of filling the lungs, breathes wrongly."

There are a few very simple exercises, which, if practiced
regularly, will give you control of your breathing, and, to a
great degree, of your voice. They should be practiced
when there is no restricting clothing to interfere with the
freedom of the waist. After going to bed at night, and
before getting up in the morning, are good times. Many
of my pupils practice them in the gymnasium, stretching
out flat on the mats, or on the inclined surfaces of some of
the large pieces of apparatus.

EXERCISES IN DEEP BREATHING.

Lie flat on the back, placing one hand lightly on the
abdomen and the other on the lower ribs. This is that
you may feel what is going on down there, and get distinct
impressions. Endeavor to expand the lower ribs and raise



6 READING AND SPEAKING.

the abdomen slowly and steadily ; at the same time breathe
slowly and steadily through the nostrils. If the ribs are
expanded, and the midriff flattened, the air must come
into the lungs, just as when you open your fingers the air
will fill the cells of a damp sponge which you have squeezed
in your hand. If you breathe deeply, the ribs must ex-
pand, and the midriff flatten. But I find that most
persons get the best impression of deep breathing by
putting their attention more upon the movements of the
ribs and abdomen than upon the thought of taking in air.
Some find it difficult at first to get any movement of the
ribs and abdomen. Of course, the abdomen is moved simply
because the midriff pushes down upon its contents ; but at
first to most persons there is no sense of movement in the
midriff. Never mind that ; look for its effects in the dis-
tended abdomen.

Right here I wish to guard you against the idea that
you must see how far out you can push the abdomen. You
are to strive to get a large expansion of the lower part of
the chest cavity.

Having thus taken a deep breath, which, as it seems to
you, has caused the ribs and abdomen to move, or, better
still, having by the expansion of the ribs and the disten-
sion of the abdomen filled the lungs with air, hold it there
a few seconds, not over four or five. Do not hold it by
closing the glottis, or, as it seems to you, by shutting up
the throat, or closing the air passages. Hold it by keeping
the midriff down, and the ribs expanded. As long as you
thus press firmly down and out, no air can leave the lungs,
however wide open the throat, mouth, and nostrils may be.

Having thus held the breath four or five seconds, expel
it suddenly from the lungs as completely and quickly as
possible. The result will be a complete collapse of the



CONTROL OF THE BREATH. 7

lower part of the body. The midriff will fly back, the ribs
fall to their place, the abdomen sink down. I have been
thus minute in giving these directions, because of the
importance of the exercise. I will repeat the directions
briefly.

I. Inhale slowly through the nostrils, expanding the lower ribs,
and flattening the midriff. Hold the breath four or five seconds by
keeping the midriff down. Then expel the air sharply and quickly
through the mouth.

Repeating this for two or three minutes, you will have a
realizing sense that the muscles about the waist are having
a new experience. Do not fatigue them. Do not overdo
any of these exercises.

After practicing the first exercise until the midriff is
under pretty good control, take up the second exercise.
It is just the opposite of the first.

II. Inhale very quickly through the mouth, so that the ribs and
midriff will respond quickly. You may find it easier to give your
thought to the expansion and distension of ribs and abdomen, getting
the impression that their movement brings the air into the lungs ;
which is the fact. Hold the breath as before, and then exhale very
slowly and steadily through the mouth, controlling the breath
entirely with the midriff.

This at first will be difficult. The tendency will be to
expel the air in jets and spurts. Practice until you can
hold a lighted candle before your mouth and empty the
lungs without causing the flame to flicker. A feather will
serve instead of a flame while practicing on your back.
Afterwards, when sitting or standing, the lighted candle
will be best. It is this control of the outgoing air that
will do much towards giving you a firm, steady voice, and
towards curing a throaty tone. In practicing this exercise
keep your attention on the midriff. Do not think of the



8 READING AND SPEAKING.

throat. All the muscles there should be relaxed. Remem-
ber this when you come to speak; and whenever your
throat begins to feel tired, whenever you are conscious of
a throat, turn your attention to the midriff, and by a steady
pressure there take the strain from the throat.

III. The third exercise consists in breathing in slowly as in I.,
and breathing out slowly as in II., holding the breath as in each.

After a week of practice the breath may be held a little
longer each day ; but it should never be held over twenty
seconds. These exercises are not worth reading about
unless they are regularly and persistently practiced until
the habit of deep breathing and control of the midriff is
attained. Practiced for four or five minutes two or three
times a day, two or three minutes five or six times a day,
a minute ten or twelve times a day, they will do much for
you. Such practice is better than half an hour once a day.
Do not overdo the exercising when you begin. Make
haste slowly. After getting pretty good control of the
breath while lying flat on the back, try the exercises while
sitting erect in a chair, with the shoulders well thrown
back. Then practice while walking. Keep at it persist-
ently until the habit of breathing correctly is acquired.

I might fill several pages with the experiences of those
who, by faithfully practicing these simple exercises, have
been wonderfully benefited. I will content myself with
quoting the testimony of Dr. Lenox Browne.

" It must be borne in mind that unflinching regularity in this matter
is of the greatest importance. Exercise in moderation, regularly and
conscientiously repeated, will increase the breathing capacity, improve
the voice, and make speaking easy. It may change, and has changed,
the falsetto of a grown man into a full, sonorous, man's voice ; it may
restore, and has restored, a lost voice ; as it also may cure, and often
has cured, clergyman's [speaker's] sore throat. It will certainly turn



CONTROL OF THE BREATH. Q

a greater quantity of dark blue blood into bright red blood ; the appetite
will increase ; sounder sleep will be enjoyed ; flesh will be gained ; and
the flabby, pallid skin will fill out and get a healthy, rosy color. All
this, and more, may be, and often has been, the result of lung gym-
nastics carried on in moderation and with perseverance. It is needless
to add that a man will no more improve his breathing by fitful and
exaggerated exercises, than he could hope to become a proficient upon
the violin by practicing once or twice a month for six hours at a
stretch."

I believe that I have given enough suggestions to enable
any one to acquire the habit of deep breathing. To those
who wish to study the subject further I recommend the
authors I have named, and also a very interesting article
on " The Relations of Diaphragmatic and Costal Respira-
tion," published in The Journal of Physiology, Vol. XL,
No. 3, March, 1890.

Never, in exercising or speaking, strive to fill the lungs
as full of air as possible, or to hold the breath as long as
possible. Both are injurious. The lungs should be con-
stantly replenished with air, so that there shall be an
ample supply for the speaker ; not an over-supply. There-
fore, in speaking, take breath at every opportunity. Do
not see how far you can go in a sentence without taking
breath. It is fatal to good speaking, for it is certain to
induce hurried speaking, the voice growing weaker and
weaker as the breath becomes scantier. The Rev. J. P.
Sandlands, in his book, "The Voice and Public Speaking,"
says : " It will be found, after considerable practice, that it
is possible to take in sufficient breath for reading a very
long passage. I have myself read in the churchyard, on a
cold afternoon, the whole of the Lord's Prayer, after a
single inspiration." It is difficult to decide which is the
worse the advice given, or the taste that permitted the
publication of this peculiar devotional performance.



IO READING AND SPEAKING.



CHAPTER II.
FAULTS, AND HOW TO CURE THEM.

For heaven's sake, speak comfortably. King Richard IL

Why, masters, have your instruments been at Naples, that they

speak i' the nose thus? Othello.

WHAT sort of a voice have you ? High pitched or low ?
Weak or strong ? You do not know ? That is not surpris-
ing. It's a wise man that knows his own voice. When
the phonograph is so improved that sound can be repro-
duced, minus the peculiar phonographic quality that now
characterizes it, men may easily learn to recognize their
own voices. Even as it is, you can recognize the repro-
duced voice of your friend who has talked to the phono-
graph. Talk to it yourself, and see if you ever heard that
voice before.

What are your faults as a reader or speaker ? Do you
articulate poorly ? Do you lisp ? Do you talk " through
your nose," as we incorrectly say? Do you begin your
sentences with a yell and end them with a gasp ? Do
you "make faces" when you speak, or is your face as
expressionless as a pan of milk? Do you slouch, or
straddle, or strut before your audience ? Do you finger
the skirts of your coat ? Have you any bad habits ? Of
course you do not know. If you did, you would cure
them ; or try to. It does not need an experienced and
high-priced teacher of elocution to tell you of your faults ;
although, undoubtedly, such an one could best put you
in the way of overcoming them. But, unfortunately, good



FAULTS, AND HOW TO CURE THEM. II

teachers of elocution are not always available, and it is
not always safe for a person to try to cure himself, par-
ticularly when he has no means of diagnosing his case.

One of the worst tones, and when I thus use the
word "tone," I mean what Webster defines as "an
affected speaking, with a measured rhythm, and a regular
rise and fall of the voice," one of the worst tones I
ever heard was possessed by a young man with oratorical
aspirations and weak lungs. To strengthen his lungs, he
was advised to read in the open air ; so, one long vacation,
he armed himself with a volume of Webster's orations, and
all that summer made the pasture and the wood-lot ring
with the weighty sentences of the Defender of the Consti-
tution. He strengthened his lungs, and developed a sing-
song which he was never able to overcome.

Another young man came to my class with a very
pronounced and disagreeable tone. I called his attention
to the fault, and suggested that, in addition to his regular
class work, he read aloud daily to some one who should
tell him when he departed from a natural, conversational
manner. Fortunately, he could have for his critic his
intelligent mother. He read aloud to her daily and often ;
read newspapers, novels, his lessons, anything, endeavoring
constantly to "tell it " in the most natural way. She was
a careful critic, and kept him to his work. At the end of
six months he could read and speak remarkably well ; and
the tone never showed itself except in moments of unusual
excitement. He could have cured himself entirely ; if,
indeed, he has not. Such faults will not disappear in a
day, nor in a week, nor in a month ; but they can be cured
by patient persistence.

A gentleman was called from active business life to a
professor's chair in a technical college. He found it



12 READING AND SPEAKING.

necessary to lecture, not only to his students, but before
various associations. He asked me to hear him read, and
to criticise and suggest. He lisped ; "r " was as unknown
to him as to Dundreary, with his "wow, and wumpus, and
wiot," and he had a weak voice. In a few lessons I
pointed out these defects, of which before he had known
almost nothing, and advised him as I had advised the
student. The professor read daily to his wife, and prac-
ticed on a list of difficult words which I made out for him.
The result was a rapid and almost surprising improvement.
But he worked very hard.

It was some time after I had begun preaching this
practice to those who came to me for help, that I chanced
upon this paragraph in an article entitled " How to Read
Well/' by Edmund Shaftesbury, the author of several
works on voice culture and elocution :

11 The person who desires to acquire the colloquial style should take
a newspaper and select some short sentence, and say this aloud to some
person in his presence. For instance, to-day's paper contains the
following : ' The heat of yesterday was so intense that many persons
were prostrated.' If you say this, the person hearing it will suppose
it is a remark of your own. It is better to sit behind the person, so
that the paper may not be seen ; then read as many selections from it
as possible, trying in each case to deceive your hearer. A pupil, who
was a most unnatural and affected reader, adopted this method to cure
himself. He reports : ' One evening I was alone with my wife, and
taking up the paper, I tried to read the following in a colloquial
manner: " Miss Gracie Smith, who recently arrived in this city, is as
beautiful as she is accomplished. Few persons can resist her charms."
My wife immediately arose and said, "And what do you know about
Miss Smith? " " I know nothing," I said ; "I was merely reading to
you from the paper." "Oh, I thought you were talking!" Every
reader should practice in this manner until perfection is reached."

So, you see, you may help yourself by getting a friend
to help you. The teacher of elocution could help you



FAULTS, AND HOW TO CURE THEM. 13

better than the inexperienced friend, probably ; but it is
not every one who can afford to take one or two lessons
a day, six days in the week for six months. But that is
exactly the way to break up bad habits of speech. It is
the constant daily practice, day after day, whether you feel
like it or not, that brings the unruly tongue into subjec-
tion, makes the weak voice strong, enables the high-voiced
speaker to hear his own squeak and to place his tones
where they belong, or the indistinct growler to develop a
ringing baritone. The teacher may tell you just what to
do and how to do it, but twelve hours later you do not
know whether you are doing what he told you to do, or not.
It is well for those who take lessons in elocution, to be
accompanied by a friend, who shall also hear the lesson,
and then help the pupil carry out the instruction.

But suppose that there is no teacher of elocution, and
you learn that your voice is pitched too high. How are
you going to lower it ? You have not known that it was
too high. It has always sounded well to you. You must
have some assistance, and your assistant must, if possible,
imitate you, to show you how you speak. Then you must
try to imitate some one who speaks well. With breath
well controlled, with throat relaxed, with mouth well open,
strive to speak in a big, strong voice. Think of the sound


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Online LibraryBrainard Gardner SmithReading and speaking; familiar talks to young men who would speak well in public, with a thorough presentation of Mandeville's system of sentential delivery → online text (page 1 of 15)