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Elocution is the art of speaking out, and of opening the mouth, and of using the organs of speech and their accessories so as to be heard distinctly; and to convey to other minds, and to leave upon each and every of them, a correct intelligence, appreciation, and impression of all we utter. Hence elocution, in a secondary sense comes to mean the art of reading, speaking, and conversing elegantly. The perfection of elocution is oratory.*

Words are the paints; the voice the brush; the mind the painter.

The art which teaches us how to persuade the mind, and touch the heart, must surely deserve the earliest attention. Every man, if he pleases, may choose good words instead of bad ones; may speak properly instead of improperly; may be clear and perspicuous in his recitals instead of dark and muddy; he may have grace instead of awkwardness in his gestures; and, in short, may be a very agreeable instead of a very disagreeable speaker, if he will take care and pains.


The foundation of reading and speaking is good

sense and solid thought.

From Elocution by Pearson and Waithman.


Before a man can speak on any subject, it is necessary to be acquainted with it.


The man who speaks with culture and ability will always command willing listeners.

The three requisites of good speaking are

1. Have something to say.

2. Know how to say it.

3. Sit down when you have said it.



The great objects which every public speaker will naturally have in his eye in forming his Delivery, are first, to speak so as to be fully and easily understood by all who hear him; and next, to speak with grace and force, so as to please and to move his audience.

In order to be fully and easily understood, the four chief requisites are:

A due degree of loudness of voice;


Slowness; and

Propriety of pronunciation.


It is a mistake in public speakers to begin in a loud tone, because it cannot be sustained, a spiteful cough will interpose; by beginning in a low tone, and gradually warming up, the physical fatigue is largely diminished, while the voice grows clearer, louder, and stronger.

• From How to Live Long.

-DR. W. W. HALL.

The entire principles of the management of the voice are contained in these old lines:

"Begin low,
Speak low,

Take fire,

Rise higher,

When most impressed,

Be self-possessed."


"Lack of matter'

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is often supplied by manner. Indeed it may sometimes be of less consequence what we express than how we express it.*

Air and manner are more expressive than words.

Let your manners be simple, and your speech unaffected.

Many times we do injury to a cause by dwelling upon trifling arguments.


Without doubt, the best delivery is that which is the most natural, the most free from trick and artifice, and that in which the speaker is most self-forgetful. Never think of yourself when speaking but only of your subject.


A just and reasonable modesty does not only recommend eloquence, but sets off every great talent which a

* From William Danby's Ideas and Realities.

man can be possessed of. It heightens all the virtues which it accompanies, like the shades in paintings; it raises and rounds every figure, and makes the colours more beautiful, though not so glaring as they would be without it.


Never will a man speak well, but when he understands, feels, and is in earnest.


Always look at those whom you are talking to, never at those whom you are talking of.


Generally, assume an easy manner on making your appearance, and guard against all feelings of timidity. If your subject be a melancholy one, look grave and thoughtful; if cheerful, let your countenance be lit up with a smile; if merry, you may advance to a grin.

Survey your audience confidingly but not rudely; and be careful not to pick out any particular person or persons in the audience for your remarks, but speak to all equally.*

A speaker never with grace speaks in the line immediately in front of him, but either to the right or to the left.*

In order that respiration be properly performed during vocal exercise, it is essential that there should be no constriction at the waist. The waist-coat of the male, and the corsage of the female should be sufficiently loose to permit of free abdominal respiration. Close

*From Elocution by Pearson and Waithman.

fitting, or tight corsets, therefore, interfere mechanically with efficient respiration, and impair the vocal powers correspondingly.

An easy position of the body should be assumed during public use of the voice or during vocal practice. The erect position is the best, with the book, manuscript or score at an easy reading distance, at about the level of the neck or chin, so that the head need not be depressed, and thus interfere with easy utterance and intonation. The body must not be turned too much to the right or left of the middle line, as that prevents distinct hearing by the audience at the opposite side of the room. There is hardly any public hall which permits equal facility of hearing in every part of it. It is proper, therefore, to address the central portion of the audience; by which plan those at the two sides are placed under equal advantages. Addresses first to one side of the room, and then to the other deprive those at each side, successively of the remarks which are being made to the people at the opposite side of the house.*

The general health should be carefully maintained, and indigestion in particular most warily guarded against. Indigestion is, without exception, elocution's worst enemy. Persons suffering from chronic diseases of the respiratory organs should never attempt to aggravate their cases by any vigorous or prolonged public speaking, or by speaking for any length of time in ill-ventilated rooms. Notwithstanding, they may attain to pleasing utterance and enunciation in conversation by a cultivation of the art of elocution.†

* From Ward and Lock's Long Life Series, edited by George Black.

From Elocution by Pearson and Waithman.

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