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The Art of Public Speaking Part 20

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_THE LARK_

Bird of the wilderness, Blithesome and c.u.mberless, Sweet be thy matin o'er moorland and lea!

Emblem of happiness, Blest is thy dwelling-place: Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!

Wild is thy lay, and loud, Far in the downy cloud,-- Love gives it energy; love gave it birth.

Where, on thy dewy wing Where art thou journeying?

Thy lay is in heaven; thy love is on earth.

O'er fell and fountain sheen, O'er moor and mountain green, O'er the red streamer that heralds the day; Over the cloudlet dim, Over the rainbow's rim, Musical cherub, soar, singing, away!

Then, when the gloaming comes, Low in the heather blooms, Sweet will thy welcome and bed of love be!

Emblem of happiness, Blest is thy dwelling-place.

Oh, to abide in the desert with thee!

--JAMES HOGG.

In joyous conversation there is an elastic touch, a delicate stroke, upon the central ideas, generally following a pause. This elastic touch adds vivacity to the voice. If you try repeatedly, it can be sensed by feeling the tongue strike the teeth. The entire absence of elastic touch in the voice can be observed in the thick tongue of the intoxicated man.

Try to talk with the tongue lying still in the bottom of the mouth, and you will obtain largely the same effect. Vivacity of utterance is gained by using the tongue to strike off the emphatic idea with a decisive, elastic touch.

Deliver the following with decisive strokes on the emphatic ideas.

Deliver it in a vivacious manner, noting the elastic touch-action of the tongue. A flexible, responsive tongue is absolutely essential to good voice work.

_FROM NAPOLEON'S ADDRESS TO THE DIRECTORY ON HIS RETURN FROM EGYPT_

What have you done with that brilliant France which I left you?

I left you at peace, and I find you at war. I left you victorious and I find you defeated. I left you the millions of Italy, and I find only spoliation and poverty. What have you done with the hundred thousand Frenchmen, my companions in glory? They are dead!... This state of affairs cannot last long; in less than three years it would plunge us into despotism.

Practise the following selection, for the development of elastic touch; say it in a joyous spirit, using the exercise to develop voice charm in _all_ the ways suggested in this chapter.

_THE BROOK_

I come from haunts of coot and hern, I make a sudden sally, And sparkle out among the fern, To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down, Or slip between the ridges; By twenty thorps, a little town, And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip's farm I flow To join the br.i.m.m.i.n.g river; For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.

I chatter over stony ways, In little sharps and trebles, I bubble into eddying bays, I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret, By many a field and fallow, And many a fairy foreland set With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow To join the br.i.m.m.i.n.g river; For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.

I wind about, and in and out, With here a blossom sailing, And here and there a l.u.s.ty trout, And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake Upon me, as I travel, With many a silvery water-break Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow To join the br.i.m.m.i.n.g river, For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.

I steal by lawns and gra.s.sy plots, I slide by hazel covers, I move the sweet forget-me-nots That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance, Among my skimming swallows; I make the netted sunbeam dance Against my sandy shallows,

I murmur under moon and stars In brambly wildernesses, I linger by my shingly bars, I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow To join the br.i.m.m.i.n.g river; For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.

--ALFRED TENNYSON.

The children at play on the street, glad from sheer physical vitality, display a resonance and charm in their voices quite different from the voices that float through the silent halls of the hospitals. A skilled physician can tell much about his patient's condition from the mere sound of the voice. Failing health, or even physical weariness, tells through the voice. It is always well to rest and be entirely refreshed before attempting to deliver a public address. As to health, neither scope nor s.p.a.ce permits us to discuss here the laws of hygiene. There are many excellent books on this subject. In the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius, one senator wrote to another: "To the wise, a word is sufficient."

"The apparel oft proclaims the man;" the voice always does--it is one of the greatest revealers of character. The superficial woman, the brutish man, the reprobate, the person of culture, often discloses inner nature in the voice, for even the cleverest dissembler cannot entirely prevent its tones and qualities being affected by the slightest change of thought or emotion. In anger it becomes high, harsh, and unpleasant; in love low, soft, and melodious--the variations are as limitless as they are fascinating to observe. Visit a theatrical hotel in a large city, and listen to the buzz-saw voices of the chorus girls from some burlesque "attraction." The explanation is simple--buzz-saw lives.

Emerson said: "When a man lives with G.o.d his voice shall be as sweet as the murmur of the brook or the rustle of the corn." It is impossible to think selfish thoughts and have either an attractive personality, a lovely character, or a charming voice. If you want to possess voice charm, cultivate a deep, sincere sympathy for mankind. Love will shine out through your eyes and proclaim itself in your tones. One secret of the sweetness of the canary's song may be his freedom from tainted thoughts. Your character beautifies or mars your voice. As a man thinketh in his heart so is his voice.

QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES

1. Define (_a_) charm; (_b_) joy; (_c_) beauty.

2. Make a list of all the words related to _joy_.

3. Write a three-minute eulogy of "The Joyful Man."

4. Deliver it without the use of notes. Have you carefully considered all the qualities that go to make up voice-charm in its delivery?

5. Tell briefly in your own words what means may be employed to develop a charming voice.

6. Discuss the effect of voice on character.

7. Discuss the effect of character on voice.

8. a.n.a.lyze the voice charm of any speaker or singer you choose.

9. a.n.a.lyze the defects of any given voice.

10. Make a short humorous speech imitating certain voice defects, pointing out reasons.

11. Commit the following stanza and interpret each phase of delight suggested or expressed by the poet.

An infant when it gazes on a light, A child the moment when it drains the breast, A devotee when soars the Host in sight, An Arab with a stranger for a guest, A sailor when the prize has struck in fight, A miser filling his most h.o.a.rded chest, Feel rapture; but not such true joy are reaping As they who watch o'er what they love while sleeping.

--BYRON, _Don Juan_.

CHAPTER XIV

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The Art of Public Speaking Part 20 summary

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