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McMahon, Edward M. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 9, Number 3 (Dec. 1907)

Lyman, R. L.
Public speaking,   pp. 96-100


Page 96


96             THE WISCONSIN ALUMNI MAGAZINE
                 PUBLIC SPEAKING
             By R. L. LYMAN, Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory
IT  might be said with truth that     The most important accomplish-
  there come to    our universities  ment in life is the power of meeting
young men and young women from      other men, of being able to put peo-
eighteen to twenty years of age who  ple at their ease, of making them re-
can not look even one man squarely  spect you because of your own confi-
in the eye, who can not, to save their  deuce in  yourself.  A  gentleman
lives, get their voices out of their  "is a man who can shake hands
with
throats, who might as well be dumb, a king without feeling embarrassed,
so far as any power of expressing   or shake hands with a deck-hand
their own thoughts is concerned, without making him       feel embar-
(if indeed they have any original   rassed."  It is said that William
thoughts worth expressing). I might  Earl of Nassau won a subject from
tell you that young men proficient in  King Philip of Spain every time he
Latin, German, and     mathematics  took off his hat. Ease, grace, confi-
speak most atrocious English; that  dence, polish, aggressiveness, all of
many and many a college student     these qualities are developed espe-
can absorb text books who cannot by  cially by studies which lie in our line
any desperate mental strain do any  of work.
constructive or original thinking, to  It is with much hesitation that I
say nothing of being unable intelli-  shall try to demonstrate that our
gently to make others grasp    his  studies in public speaking  accom-
thought. Now, if you or I or any    push these results, attempting to set
teacher wishes to organize in our   forth the educational value of our
pupils the power of successful be- frhteeuainlvleo                  u
                                       work as I see it. I hesitate because
I
 havior, or if any institution of edu-
               '.                    ~~~~~realize that the study of public
 cation wishes to do so most effect-
 ively, we cannot afford to neglect  speaking is of necessity less schol-
       thcse branches of study whicharly and learned than many other
 thcse branches of Anudy which teach
 our young people how to think for   studies which our young people are
 themselves, how firmly, clearly, and  urged to pursue. On this account it
 gracefully to express their thoughts has frequently been ridiculed, has
 to others, whether that expression be  been called "the department
of hot
 by written or by spoken discourse.  air," and has had similar appro-
 I believe that both high school and  brious terms applied to it. In almost
 university have been neglecting one  every institution of higher learning
 of the most fruitful sources of train-  the teachers of public speaking
have
 ing; the courses in argumentation, a great struggle to secure a proper
 debating and elocution, all of which  recognition of the value of their
 may be classed under the general    work; but we believe so firmly in the
 term, public speaking.                diciplinary and practical value of


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