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the preference of plain English for the transmission of your thoughts to others, that I fear to weary you by repetition ; but if it be a useful hint for addressing even select assemblies, it is necessary for speaking to a mob. And you may do so without lapsing into vulgarity, for it is the glory of our English tongue—and perhaps we are indebted to it for much of the power of the British nation—that the thoughts of the wise may not only be clothed, but conveyed with accuracy and force, in the language of the common people.
ORATORY OF THE PLATFORM (CONCLUDED).
desire to say,
The speaker who can influence a mob is usually stigmatised by those who cannot do so as a demagogue. It is well to be advised of this probable consequence of successful Platform Oratory, that you may be prepared to meet and defy it. Demagoguism consists not in the use of those arts of oratory by which an assembly is moved—not in saying in the most effective manner that which you
may with honour say ;-but in saying that which is not your sincere opinion, or which you do not verily believe, for the purpose of insuring applause and support. If you are honest with your audience, you may rightfully express your honest thoughts in any fashion that will best secure for them a welcome; but if you seek to lure by the utterance of that which is not your faith, you play the demagogue, and the name is then properly applied to you.
The manner of mob oratory should, like the matter of it, be bold, confident and energetic. You must feel the most perfect self-confidence and show it; you must speak out with the full power of your voice, throw all your energy into the effort, and employ emphatic action. Let there be no appearance of hesitation for thoughts or words; go on, say something, sense or nonsense, anything rather than seem perplexed. An English mob is peculiarly sensible to whatever savours of the ludicrous, and quick to seize upon weaknesses and turn them to ridicule. A public meeting at an election time licenses every wag in the crowd to let off a joke at your expense, and he is never slow to avail himself of the opportunity. Never wince under it; or, at least, if it pricks you,
do not show that you are hit. If
have sufficient selfpossession, join in the laugh, and laughingly turn the jest upon the jester. This leaves you master of the field, and his discomfiture will deter those in a crowd who are always ready to follow the lead.
The kind of interruptions with which you are liable to be visited by the irreverent jesters who form part of every mob are exhibited in the admirable description of the election in “ Pickwick.” The gentleman with a weak voice is advised by one in the crowd “to send home and inquire if he had left his voice under the pillow;" and the mayor is interrupted by a shout of “Success to his worship the mayor, and may
he never forget the tin and sarsepan business as he got his fortun by.” These are not exaggerations of the fun you will have to face at an election, and you must be prepared to receive it with good humour.
Speak out. Speak up. Do not wait for the significant shout that will come to you if you speak small. Not only is your power over a crowd dependent upon your being heard, but a full, clear voice has a power of its own, apart from the thoughts which it conveys. It creates an impression of reality and earnestness; it
commands attention, and the mind itself is more readily reached through the full ear.
And this is fit occasion for a few hints on oratory in the open
air. Most persons find this very difficult of accomplishment, very trying to the lungs, and very crazing, indeed, to the voice. Beginners usually speak from a window, or from a hustings, in the same tones as they use in a room. They are immediately put out by finding that the sounds they have sent forth seem to be swallowed up in space,
and that no echo of them comes back to their ears. Consequently they are in utter ignorance how far off they have been heard. If not unpleasantly informed by the usual cry of “Speak out," from beyond the favoured circle in the foreground, the unpractised orator has no means whatever of measuring his fire. In either case, he strains his voice to the utmost, with still the same unpleasant sensation that it is lost. Louder and louder; still no echo; then pain; then hoarseness, which will not be cured for days. But when you speak in the open air, there is no echo; your voice will be heard just so far as you can throw it, and no further, and it will grow fainter as the distance grows, until the words die away in inarticulate murmurs. Nature has given great variety of powers of voice, and if the vocal organs have not been framed for it, no training will create power. But the voice may be vastly strengthened by judicious exercise, under instruction; and in a former letter I have thrown out some suggestions for educating it. Besides the compass of the voice, there is a great deal in its management. Mere loudness will not suffice for the open air, and straining will never succeed. The moment that the effort becomes painful, the voice loses
in force, and a sense of pain is the best warning that you have trespassed beyond your capacities. On the instant that the sensation occurs, moderate your tones, relax the exertion, and rather close your speech than continue it at such risk of injury to your voice.
But mere loudness will not make the voice audible in the open
air more than in a room. You will be heard further off by help of clearness and fullness of sound, and, more than all, by very distinct articulation. You should speak slowly, looking at the most distant of the assembly, and the voice addressed to them, even if they should be beyond its reach, will fall upon the furthest ear to which its capacities can extend. Here, also, it is of the utmost importance that you should use the upward inflection; that is, that you should raise the voice at every pause or close of a sentence, instead of lowering it.
In open-air speaking it is impossible to employ the delicate variety of tones so effective in a room, where the voice may be lowered almost to a whisper without being lost to the audience, for the degree of loudness necessary to be exercised where there is no echo to help you forbids the expression of more than the ruder tones of emotion, and these must be somewhat exaggerated to be effective. Consequently, action is especially demanded on these occasions. When the great orator of the ancients placed action as the foremost, and, indeed, almost the only, rule he could prescribe for oratory, he had in his mind the open-air assemblies to which alone he was accustomed. Thus limited, the saying is more true than it appears when applied to the oratory usually required in the less genial atmosphere of the North. But when you speak in the open air, you are under the conditions assumed by him, and you should resort to