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IMPRESSIVENESS IN SPEECH
Eloquence is in the soul, not in the tongue.
Marmontel: Discourse on Eloquence.
19. Emotion an essential factor in literature
Under the wide and starry sky,
And I laid me down with a will.
Literature, the kind that people enjoy and like to hear read, is a record of the deeds of men and the way they think and feel about life and the world. “ In all art,” said Stevenson, “it is first of all the author's attitude that is narrated, though in that attitude there is implied a whole experience and theory of life.” Now, however clearly we may think the author's thoughts, we do not get what he has to give until we understand his attitude of mind and have entered into his experiences and made them ours. A man may know by heart the ten commandments, but unless they are working principles of his life and influence his
conduct for good, they are not his in actual experience. If our imaginations fail to image the sweep and silent grandeur of “the wide and starry sky,” if we are indifferent to the gladness of life, and if we do not feel the spiritual energy of Stevenson's poem as a whole, we cannot speak it with fidelity, nor can we hope to communicate to others its gladness and good will. We cannot give that which we do not possess. Not until we know and feel what the author thought and felt are we justified in speaking his words.
20. Emotion the source of impressive speech When Lincoln made his Address at Gettysburg it was not his ideas alone that gave the speech its power, but the sincere expression of noble sentiment and emotion which impressed all who heard him. It was an appeal to the heart. The man made himself felt in all he said. So, in v all reading and speaking, forcefulness is the result of the speaker's relation to the thought he utters, of the earnestness and intensity of his feeling about it. When he has felt a thought, when it has impressed and influenced him, the fact will be evident in his speech. The voice, as well as language, reveals how a speaker feels about what he says. It gives thought its emotional and spiritual value. “ Force, the emotional quality of style,” says Barrett Wendell, “ I may define as the distinguishing quality that holds attention." Though this refers particularly to written language it is equally applicable to speech. Without emotion, speech lays little claim to the attention of others. Unless a man means what he says, others will not give much thought to what he says. But nothing is more compelling than earnest self-devotion to an idea. The man back of a thought gives it force and carrying power. This is as true of reading aloud as of speaking one's own thoughts. Since it is the emotional quality of literature that determines its influence
upon us, the emotional energy of the reader, his interest, sincerity, and sympathy are vital to truthful and effective reading
21. Emotional pretense Perhaps it is the realization that the power of literature to entertain, interest, and impress us is derived largely from its emotional character that has so often tenpted teachers and readers to put emphasis first and chiefly on the importance of producing emotional effects regardless of the thought to be expressed. But in literature it is the thought that stimulates emotion. To pretend to the spirit of a thing before one is sure of its meaning is to play the hypocrite. Feigned enthusiasmı, when one is not sure of what one is enthusiastic about, is not so deceptive as it is dishonest. To assume a mood not prompted by a thought or situation can but result in artificiality and insincerity in speech. Moreover, to overdo emotional expression, to carry it beyond the reasonable bounds of the thought itself, is no less censurable. Repression of one's impulses is sometimes as important as expression. There is dignity and strength in self control. Quiet speech under circumstances that excite strong feeling is often most impressive. To strut and bellow and tear a passion to tatters" may make even the unskillful laugh — when they should not. Loudness, rant, and frothy exuberance are “ signs of doubt and fear" and self-consciousness, rather than of sincerity and strength. The lofty style of affected declamation gives evidence that the speaker is thinking more about himself than of what he is saying, that he is more eager to produce effect than to communicate thought and genuine feeling.
Bornbast and affectation do not inspire confidence in the listener. Studied niceties or exaggerated feeling, in speaking of a beautiful day, the grandeur of a mountain scene,