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The Art of Public Speaking Part 38

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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 ye here idle?

--PATRICK HENRY.

With a zeal approaching the zeal which inspired the Crusaders who followed Peter the Hermit, our silver Democrats went forth from victory unto victory until they are now a.s.sembled, not to discuss, not to debate, but to enter up the judgment already rendered by the plain people of this country. In this contest brother has been arrayed against brother, father against son.

The warmest ties of love, acquaintance, and a.s.sociation have been disregarded; old leaders have been cast aside when they refused to give expression to the sentiments of those whom they would lead, and new leaders have sprung up to give direction to this cause of truth. Thus has the contest been waged, and we have a.s.sembled here under as binding and solemn instructions as were ever imposed upon representatives of the people.

--WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN.

_Figurative and indirect language has suggestive force_, because it does not make statements that can be directly disputed. It arouses no contradictory ideas in the minds of the audience, thereby fulfilling one of the basic requisites of suggestion. By _implying_ a conclusion in indirect or figurative language it is often a.s.serted most forcefully.

Note that in the following Mr. Bryan did not say that Mr. McKinley would be defeated. He implied it in a much more effective manner:

Mr. McKinley was nominated at St. Louis upon a platform which declared for the maintenance of the gold standard until it can be changed into bimetallism by international agreement. Mr.

McKinley was the most popular man among the Republicans, and three months ago everybody in the Republican party prophesied his election. How is it today? Why, the man who was once pleased to think that he looked like Napoleon--that man shudders today when he remembers that he was nominated on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. Not only that, but as he listens he can hear with ever-increasing distinctness the sound of the waves as they beat upon the lonely sh.o.r.es of St. Helena.

Had Thomas Carlyle said: "A false man cannot found a religion," his words would have been neither so suggestive nor so powerful, nor so long remembered as his implication in these striking words:

A false man found a religion? Why, a false man cannot build a brick house! If he does not know and follow truly the properties of mortar, burnt clay, and what else he works in, it is no house that he makes, but a rubbish heap. It will not stand for twelve centuries, to lodge a hundred and eighty millions; it will fall straightway. A man must conform himself to Nature's laws, be verily in communion with Nature and the truth of things, or Nature will answer him, No, not at all!

Observe how the picture that Webster draws here is much more emphatic and forceful than any mere a.s.sertion could be:

Sir, I know not how others may feel, but as for myself when I see my _alma mater_ surrounded, like Caesar in the senate house, by those who are reiterating stab after stab, I would not for this right hand have her turn to me and say, "And thou, too, my son!"

--WEBSTER.

A speech should be built on sound logical foundations, and no man should dare to speak in behalf of a fallacy. Arguing a subject, however, will necessarily arouse contradictory ideas in the mind of your audience.

When immediate action or persuasion is desired, suggestion is more efficacious than argument--when both are judiciously mixed, the effect is irresistible.

QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES

1. Make an outline, or brief, of the contents of this chapter.

2. Revise the introduction to any of your written addresses, with the teachings of this chapter in mind.

3. Give two original examples of the power of suggestion as you have observed it in each of these fields: (_a_) advertising; (=b=) politics; (_c_) public sentiment.

4. Give original examples of suggestive speech, ill.u.s.trating two of the principles set forth in this chapter.

5. What reasons can you give that disprove the general contention of this chapter?

6. What reasons not already given seem to you to support it?

7. What effect do his own suggestions have on the speaker himself?

8. Can suggestion arise from the audience? If so, show how.

9. Select two instances of suggestion in the speeches found in the Appendix.

10. Change any two pa.s.sages in the same, or other, speeches so as to use suggestion more effectively.

11. Deliver those pa.s.sages in the revised form.

12. Choosing your own subject, prepare and deliver a short speech largely in the suggestive style.

CHAPTER XXIII

INFLUENCING BY ARGUMENT

Common sense is the common sense of mankind. It is the product of common observation and experience. It is modest, plain, and unsophisticated. It sees with everybody's eyes, and hears with everybody's ears. It has no capricious distinctions, no perplexities, and no mysteries. It never equivocates, and never trifles. Its language is always intelligible. It is known by clearness of speech and singleness of purpose.

--GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE, _Public Speaking and Debate_.

The very name of logic is awesome to most young speakers, but so soon as they come to realize that its processes, even when most intricate, are merely technical statements of the truths enforced by common sense, it will lose its terrors. In fact, logic[25] is a fascinating subject, well worth the public speaker's study, for it explains the principles that govern the use of argument and proof.

Argumentation is the process of producing conviction by means of reasoning. Other ways of producing conviction there are, notably suggestion, as we have just shown, but no means is so high, so worthy of respect, as the adducing of sound reasons in support of a contention.

Since more than one side of a subject must be considered before we can claim to have deliberated upon it fairly, we ought to think of argumentation under two aspects: building up an argument, and tearing down an argument; that is, you must not only examine into the stability of your structure of argument so that it may both support the proposition you intend to probe and yet be so sound that it cannot be overthrown by opponents, but you must also be so keen to detect defects in argument that you will be able to demolish the weaker arguments of those who argue against you.

We can consider argumentation only generally, leaving minute and technical discussions to such excellent works as George P. Baker's "The Principles of Argumentation," and George Jacob Holyoake's "Public Speaking and Debate." Any good college rhetoric also will give help on the subject, especially the works of John Franklin Genung and Adams Sherman Hill. The student is urged to familiarize himself with at least one of these texts.

The following series of questions will, it is hoped, serve a triple purpose: that of suggesting the forms of proof together with the ways in which they may be used; that of helping the speaker to test the strength of his arguments; and that of enabling the speaker to attack his opponent's arguments with both keenness and justice.

TESTING AN ARGUMENT

I. THE QUESTION UNDER DISCUSSION

1. _Is it clearly stated?_

(_a_) Do the terms of statement mean the same to each disputant? (For example, the meaning of the term "gentleman" may not be mutually agreed upon.)

(_b_) Is confusion likely to arise as to its purpose?

2. _Is it fairly stated?_

(_a_) Does it include enough?

(_b_) Does it include too much?

(_c_) Is it stated so as to contain a trap?

3. _Is it a debatable question?_

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The Art of Public Speaking Part 38 summary

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