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if occasion called for an impromptu effort, it must ordinarily be evident that the speaker is treating the subject superficially. An eclectic collection of material is essential for acquiring that mastery which inspires complete confidence on the part of the audience. For example, if a person is speaking on "Labor Conditions in the United States," it is desirable for him to know not only what the Commissioner of Labor and the Immigration Officials report, but also what such men as Mr. Gompers, Mr. Mitchell, and the President of the Employers' Association have to say on the subject. The good speaker rarely exhausts all the details at his command, but it is far better to be able to select the most desirable from an excess of material than to be under the necessity of stretching to the required proportions a very limited amount.
B. A SPIRIT OF FAIRNESS
Further, with regard to the speaker's attitude toward his subject, he should be impelled by a spirit of fairness, a desire to arrive at the truth of the matter. This is another reason for making an unbiased examination of sources: neutral, pro and anti when the topic is of an argumentative nature; or emanating from different attitudes of mind or varying points of view when the subject
is of a descriptive, narrative or expository character. Rarely is there a subject of any great importance concerning which the facts all support one view; usually a conflict is involved, although the preponderance of evidence may lead to a more or less decided conclusion in favor of a given view. The intelligent audience is aware of this existence of conflicting factors; therefore, not only the fair speaker, but even the merely skillful one, does not attempt to hide or distort those matters which seem to favor a conclusion opposed to his own. He refutes such points if he can; and naturally lays particular emphasis upon what he considers the right side of the case. But, above all things, he avoids following the paths of prejudice, trickery, deception, those tortuous byways which lead sooner or later to a speaker's undoing.
There has been of late in the business world a revival of interest in the old copy-book maxim, "honesty is the best policy." In keeping with the materialistic trend, the old saying now appears without any ambiguity as, "Honesty pays.' The grocer less frequently sells storage eggs for fresh; the merchant less frequently offers to the public "twenty-five dollar suits marked down to twelve-forty-nine." Why? Principally, I believe, because a more enlightened and self-assertive public these days comes back once and for all with the stale eggs and the supposedly twenty-five
dollar suits. It is this same enlightened public that listens to speakers, whether in convention halls or on street corners. And if you or I, standing in a pulpit or on an up-turned barrel, attempt to secrete or distort essential matters, we do it in the face of intelligent persons who are constantly checking up, either silently or with loud and very disconcerting voices, the exaggerations, the vital omissions, the misrepresentations, and other "cold-storage" features of our speeches. Any student who doubts the soundness of this statement has but to listen to a few political campaigners, or attend a so-called forum, after which he will agree that fair dealing pays in speaking as well as in business. The following extract from a speech of Ex-Governor Hughes is such an admirable and suggestive illustration of fairness and open-mindedness that I venture to quote at some length.
"The typical American does not seek idleness but work. He wants to justify himself by proved capacity in useful effort. Under different conditions he still has the spirit of those who faced the wilderness, advanced the outposts of civilization, and settled a continent of matchless resources, where has been laid the basis for a wider diffusion of prosperity among a greater population than the world has ever known.
"To whatever department of activity we may
turn, after making all necessary allowances for ignorance, shiftlessness and vice, we still find throughout the country, dominant and persuasive, the note of energy and resistless ambition. The vitality of the people has not been sapped by prosperity. The increase of comfort has not impaired their virility. We are still a hardy people, equal to our task, and pressing forward vigorous and determined in every direction to enlarge the record of achievement.
"It is easy, looking at phases of our life in an absolute way, for one who is pessimistically inclined to gather statistics which superficially considered are discouraging. Congestion in our great cities, the widened opportunity for the play of selfishness, and the increase of temptations following in the wake of prosperity, give rise to an appalling number and variety of private and public wrongs whose thousands of victims voice an undying appeal to humanity and patriotism.
"But one would form a very inaccurate judgment of our moral condition by considering these wrongs alone. They must be considered in their relation to other phases of our life. We must not fail to take note of the increasing intensity of the desire to find remedies and the earnestness with which all forms of evil and oppression are attacked.
"Considering the tremendous increase in the
opportunities for wrongdoing, the seductive and refined temptations, and the materialistic appeals that are incident to our present mode of life, and the material comforts which invention and commerce have made possible, I believe that the manner in which the ethical development of the people has kept pace with their progress in other directions may fairly be called extraordinary.
"In saying this, I am not at all unmindful of how far short we come of an ideal state of society. On the contrary, existing evils are the more noticeable, because they stand out in strong contrast to the desires and aspirations of the people. We have had disclosures of shocking infidelity to trust and to public obligation, but more important than the evil disclosed was the attitude of the people toward it. Individual shortcomings are many, but the moral judgment of the community is keen and severe.
"To-day the American people are more alive to the importance of impartial and honorable administration than ever before. They do not simply discuss it; they demand it. While in many communities administration is controlled in the selfish interest of a few to the detriment of the people, that which is more characteristic of our present political life is the determination that selfish abuse of governmental machinery shall stop.