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This book is designed to set forth the main principles of effective platform delivery, and to provide a large body of material for student practice. The work laid out may be used to form a separate course of study, or a course of training running parallel with a course in debating or other original speaking. It has been prepared with a view also to that large number who want to speak, or have to speak, but cannot have the advantage of a teacher. Much is therefore said in the way of caution, and untechnical language is used throughout.
The discussion of principles in Part One is intended as a help towards the student's understanding of his task, and also as a common basis of criticism in the relation between teacher and pupil. The preliminary fundamental work of Part Two, Technical Training, deals first with the right formation of tone, the development of voice as such, the securing of a fixed right vocal habit. Following comes the adapting of this improved voice to the varieties of use, or expressional effect, demanded of the public speaker. After this critical detailed drill, the student is to take the platform, and apply his acquired technique to continued discourse, receiving criticism after each entire piece of work.
The question as to what should be the plan and the content of Part Three, Platform Practice, has been determined simply by asking what are the distinctly varied conditions under which men most frequently speak. It is regarded
as profitable for the student to practice, at least to some extent, in all the several kinds of speech here chosen. In thus cultivating versatility, he will greatly enlarge his power of expression, and will, at length, discover wherein lies his own special capability.
The principal aim in choosing the selections has been to have them sufficiently alive to be attractive to younger speakers, and not so heavy as to be unsuited to their powers. Some of them have proved effective by use; many others
In all cases they are of good quality. It is hoped that the new features of the book will be found useful. One of these is a group of lighter afterdinner speeches and anecdotes. It has been said that, in present-day speech-making, humor has supplanted formerday eloquence. It plays anyway a considerable part in various kinds of speaking. The young speaker is generally ineffective in the expression of pleasantry, even his own. Practice in the speaking of wholesome humor is good for cultivating quality of voice and ease of manner, and for developing the faculty of giving humorous turn to one's own thought. It is also entertaining to fellow students. Other new features in the book are a practice section for the kind of informal speaking suited to the club or the classroom, and a section given to the occasional poem, the kind of poem that is associated with speech-making.
A considerable space is given to argumentative selections because of the general interest in debating, and because a need has been felt for something suited for special forensic practice among students of law. Some poetic selections are introduced into Part Two in order to give attractive variety to the student's work, and to provide for the ad
vantage of using verse form in some of the vocal training. The few character sketches introduced may serve for cultivating facility in giving entertaining touches to serious discourse. All the selections for platform practice are designed, as seems most fitting, to occupy about five minutes in delivery. Original speeches, wherein the student presents his own thought, may be intermingled with this more technical work in delivery, or may be taken up in a more special way in a subsequent course.
It should, perhaps, be suggested that the plan of procedure here prescribed can be modified to suit the individual teacher or student. The method of advance explained in the Discussion of Principles is believed to be the best, but some who use the book may prefer, for example, to begin with the second group of selections, the familiar, colloquial passages, and proceed from these to those more elevated and sustained. This or any other variation from the plan here proposed can, of course, be adopted. For any plan the variety of material is deemed sufficient, and the method of grouping will be found convenient and practical.
The making of this kind of book would not be possible except for the generous privileges granted by many authors and many publishers of copyrighted works. For the special courtesies of all whose writings have a place here the editor would make the fullest acknowledgment of indebtedness. The books from which extracts are taken have been mentioned, in every case, in a prominent place with the title of the selection, in order that so far as possible students may be led carefully to read the entire original, and become fully imbued with its meaning and spirit, before undertaking the vocal work on the selected portion. For the purpose of such reading, it would be well to have these books collected on a section of shelves in school libraries for easy and ready reference.
The publishers from whose books selections have been most liberally drawn are, Messrs. Houghton Mifflin Company, Messrs. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, Messrs. Little, Brown, and Company, of Boston, and Messrs. Harper and Brothers, Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, Messrs. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Messrs. G. W. Dillingham Company, Messrs. Doubleday, Page and Company, and Mr. C. P. Farrell, New York. Several of the after-dinner speeches are taken from the excellent fifteen volume collection, “Modern Eloquence,” by an arrangement with Geo. L. Shuman and Company, Chicago, publishers. In the first three volumes of this collection will be found many other attractive after-dinner speeches.
I. L. W. CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS.