Page images
PDF
EPUB

461

SUNDAY-SCHOOL SPEECH-MAKING.*

THE POMPOUS SPEAKER.

He pro

humanity. I see them with the With self-satisfied strut, graceful and fears, its dangers and its troubles

world before them; with its hopes flourish of pocket-handkerchief, and

all unknown to them. I gaze upon loud blast from his nostrils upon the

their future ; but Oh, what a gaze! same, this gentleman takes his posi- My youthful hearers, the Sundaytion upon the platform. It is Sabbath afternoon-a monthly appointment

school is infused with a spirit of for laying aside the regular lesson of profound conviction in certain funda

mental truths. The Sunday-school the day, and hearing speeches about looks to the indoctrination of the missionary matters. The gentleman has come for the purpose of being youthful heart in all the divine at: has come for the purpose of being tributes. It contemplates the entire one of the speakers. He looks round with patronizing air on the company

sanctification of every child of Adam."

Here the superintendent ought to whom he is to address, clears his throat, says ‘ h’m' several times, and step up to the man, and tell him

that the children do not understand proceeds :

a word of what he is telling them ; “My dear young friends, let me

but he is a little afraid of hurting observe, as a preliminary, that I

the stately person's feelings, and so must have perfect silence while I

suffers him to plunge on. address you. You must bestow on

ceeds, and after talking a great deal me your undivided attention, and not

about himself, a little about the be guilty of disorderly conduct or

Sunday-school, Adam's fall, and seconfusion. If you interrupt me

veral other things, presently gets while I am addressing you, or sig into the thick of his speech. He is nify by your inattentive deportment more pompous than at first

.

His that you do not appreciate my re

flourish of speech and flourish of marks, I shall be obliged, though pocket-handkerchief are both on the reluctantly, to bring my address to a

increase. He uses words of great conclusion." He has by this time succeeded in length, and very hard to be under

stood. The most of his hearers do getting their eyes and mouths pretty not understand his speech at all ; and well open, from curiosity as to what

it would be no loss, except the loss is coming next. He continues :

of time consumed in uttering it, if noMy I glad to see you all here this afternoon body understood it. It is inflated fus

tian. It is ornamental dulness. It is have from my earliest childhood heavy frothiness

. It is not on any subexperienced a deep solicitude for the ject in particular

. The great man was welfare of the young and rising ge

announced to speak on something neration. The sight of a little child

connected with the object for which awakens in my heart a warm interest for the whole family of infantile lower himself to that.

the meeting was held. But he cannot

He under

stands that several other persons are * From “ Sunday-school Photographs," by the Rev. Alfred Taylor, Bristol, Penn

to speak, and he will let them attend sylvania. Johnstone, Hunter, & Co., Edin

to that part. burgh.

At last, long after the proper time,

:

an

he brings his remarks to their pro- mity is that he was not filled. Conmised close. Those of his hearers sequently he has nothing to say. who are still awake, have been look- It would be well for himself, and ing forward to this moment with for his hearers, if he could convince pleasurable expectation. The sleepers himself, before starting, of his empty care not how long he keeps on. He condition. But he rises with the air has settled them. He wipes his mas- of one who has important truths to sive brow, parades down from the communicate. Even if he has an platform, takes his seat on inward conviction that he has not honourable chair, and looks round much to say, he thinks the emergency on the exhausted victims of his ad

may bring forth something. He has dress, as much as to say, “ Was'nt heard about how some great men find that a magnificent speech ?"

words and thoughts coming to them Truly magnificent. “The pomps and in the pulpit, and upon the platform, vanity of this wicked world, and all and he does not know but that a the sinful lusts of the flesh.” Very deluge of speech matter may flow in fine stuff to blow the trumpet with, upon him after he gets in motion. but very poor fare for hungry and He is introduced to those who are to starving young souls.

be his hearers. He looks wise at There are some men who do this them. They look at him as if they pompous sort of talking for the sake expect something very fine; but he of making a display ; but there are is as empty as a tin rattle. True, the others who do it, because they do not tin rattle has a few solid substances know better. They have heard a within it, which can be made to jingle great orator or two, and think they against its sides, and thus produce an ought to speak as the great orator entertaining sound for very young perspeaks. Mr. Stuff, when addressing a sons. So our empty friend may have Sunday-school, thinks he is Daniel an idea or two, or some fragmentary Webster addressing the Senate, and remnants of an idea, which will jingle puts on airs accordingly. He comes a little when violently agitated. But as near his model as a poodle dog the music of the rattle is monotonous, comes when he attempts to growl and soon becomes tiresome. So with like a lion.

the speech. It is very hard work to If the ponpous man ever does any

listen to it; all the harder if we symgood with his gift of speaking, it will pathize with the suffering speaker in be after he shall have laid aside all his laborious efforts to pumpup somethe feathers, gold lace, and brass thing from where there is nothing. buttons of his style. He must speak For the opening sentences of his with more simplicity, and must be speech Mr. Empty selects some wise sure that what he utters is sound saws, so old that all their teeth are sense, instead of a long string of worn off, or else some allusion to his empty nothings, covered up with own emotions on being asked to great swelling words of bombastic address such an assembly as that pedantry.

which is before him. If it is an

ordinary Sunday-school address, and THE EMPTY MAN.

the day is fair, he opens by saying, SOME empty things are empty be- "My dear children, I am glad to see cause they have been exhausted of you here this bright and beautiful that which they formerly contained afternoon." Then a pause and a This is not the case with the speaker clearing of the throat, waiting for someto whom we now listen. His infir- thing else to come. When the some

thing does come, it is apt to be a slight then he talked, but he didn't say paraphrase of the sentence already nothing." A man commenced speaking uttered, or an improvement on it: for quite eloquently at a meeting where instance, “I am very glad indeed, my the speeches were but to be five midear young friends, to behold your nutes long; but after he had spoken pleasant faces here on this sunshiny about two minutes, he consumed the day.” The pleasurable thought which remaining three in telling how sorry lies at the bottom of this may be he was that the time was so short ; ventilated seven or eight times in the he would like to have more time. By course of the speech. If the occasion general consent his time was extendis a great one--an anniversary or a ed, as we all supposed he had somepic-nic, prominent allusion is made thing to say, which being done, he to “this interesting occasion,” to the paused, scratched his ear, and said, pleasure which it gives the angels in Well, really, Mr. Chairman, I dont heaven to behold it, and to the Sun- know that I have anything more to day finery with which the children say." The irrepressible smile which are adorned. If it is at a Sunday- followed interfered sadly with the school convention, where five minute devotional purposes for which the speeches are being delivered, these meeting was held.

The man was, trite remarks consume the whole of oratorically viewed, a tin rattle. One the speaker's time, and he costs the jingle finished him. convention exactly five minutes of The Empty Speaker generally its time whenever he rises, giving talks a great while; always as long nothing in exchange for it.

as he is allowed to.

He keeps on At an anniversary or other meeting in the hope that he will succeed in where this gentleman officiates, he asks saying something, a hope which is as a particular favour that he may shared by his hearers, but which is be the last speaker. This he does in most generally disappointed. That the hope that he may gather a few which he says

will not warrant the ideas from the speakers who precede labour and expense of phonographing him. He makes the most of his oppor- or printing. Emptiness arises from tunities here, and sometimes succeeds want of preparation. It may seem in appropriating some ideas, but to some people absurd to talk of without such digestion as to make freparing to address children. It is them his own. When he brings them a great deal more absurd to address out, it is as when a turkey would them without preparation. Consider steal peacocks' feathers for purposes what you have to say. If you have of personal adornment; all who see nothing to say, keep your mouth caretheir rich plumage know that they did fully closed. If, on consideration, you not grow upon the turkey. He says, find that you have somewhat to say, "As the previous speaker has just out with it, weighing every word and eloquently remarked”-and then he

every thought, dressing it in its most proceeds with a mangled hash of what pleasing garb, and being very particuhe thought the speaker said, with lar to stop the moment you get done. variations. If the youthful hearers are asked what he said, they are THE APOLOGETIC SPEAKER. apt to give such an account as did a little girl who had been listening to This orator begins by saying that one of these empty men. " Why, he positively cannot speak, owing to Ma, he talked, and he talked, and he a very bad cold in his head, which told us he was glad to see us; and he caught a few days ago, by im

[ocr errors]

prudently leaving off one thickness statements, at once procure a comof his under garments. Or, he is a fortable hack, and hurry him to a sufferer from the aching nerves of a place of repose and safety. . : partially-decayed tooth, which he His talk is apt to be a continuous has allowed to remain in his lower string of nothings, amounting in their jaw longer than it ought to, by reason total to exceedingly little. It did of not having had time to go to the certainly need some apology, if indentist's for the purpose of having it deed it ought to have been spoken rooted out; or, he has not fully at all. It would have been better to recovered from the bruise on his omit it altogether. His hearers knee, which he received when that grow weary, and, while they wish joint came violently in contact with him no particular harm, hope that the brick pavement one night last some of his infirmities will interfere week, some careless or designing with his appearance in public, should person having placed melon rind in a future invitation be extended to a spot on which he could not avoid him. treading. Or, the illness of his wife's Sometimes it is the case, however, cousin (on the mother's side) has so that a speaker who begins with an engrossed his attention since the apology makes a really excellent fourteenth of last month, that he speech. This, which is a rare occannot collect his thoughts. Or, he

currence, is only an evidence that fears (after promising to speak) that good men sometimes do foolish he is not the best man whom the things. No apology ever helps a committee could have selected for speech. No speech is as good, with this interesting occasion; and as he an apology at its beginning, as it is sees around him those who are more if the speaker plunges at once into eloquent than he, he trusts that his what he has to say, and says it well-known inability to interest an earnestly and clearly. The only audience, will suffice for a reason warrantable apology is in the case of why he should give place to some of the speaker of feeble voice, who conthe learned and gifted gentlemen sumes the first five minutes of his who are present. Or, the pressure speech in building the fire under his of business during the past few days boiler to get up sufficient steam to has been such as never, in all his enable his voice to be heard. If we business experience and here he must have an apology, let us have it stops to hint at what a tremendous then, for nobody will lose anything experience he has had), crowded on by not hearing it. him before. It has completely overwhelmed him. Or he is totally

THE RIDICULOUS SPEAKER. unprepared. The audience sympathizes with

The last words of the ponderous the afflicted person, and unanimously address of that able man, the Rev. conclude that it is unreasonable to Dr. Plod, have just fallen upon the expect a speech from a man labour- wearied ears of the audience. The ing under any or all of the above- audience are glad, for Dr. Plod has mentioned disabilities. They wonder been speaking for forty minutes. that his family could have consented He has been into the depths of metato his leaving home under the cir- physical theology, and has rolled out cumstances; and still greater is their his weighty sayings with logical surprise to see that the committee accuracy, and even with elegance of do not, on hearing his apologetic diction. But it was not possible for

his youthful hearers to understand ding. As it would not require a one word of it.

careful calculation to ascertain how Mr. Ridiculous has been an- long.it would take a man to starve nounced as the next speaker. The on such puddings, so we might easily children know him, and are looking calculate how soon a Sunday-school for some lively refreshment from would run down, if statedly fed on him, which they feel that they de- such foolish nothings as the present serve, after listening to the stately orator utters. utterances of Dr. Plod. He knows, Both Mr. Ridiculous and Dr. Plod too, that if that distinguished person are in error, although their errors are were to continue his address much widely different in their character. longer, the hearers, great and small, Plod is as grave as a sexton, Ridicumight be snoring. They need waking lous cannot help playing the buffoon. up, and he will wake them up. He Plod never smiles, while Ridiculous reasons with himself, Old Plod thinks that the chief excellence of couldn't come it over these folks; speaking is to keep the children on a but see me fetch them.” And he broad grin all the time. The Doctor proceeds to “fetch them.”

thinks it undignified to be constantly The first thing he does is to make using illustrations, and so entirely a comical face at the children. The avoids them. The funny man uses children at once set him down as a great loads of them ; but they are superior man, for Dr. P.'s coun- only jokes, and are not used to illustenance was as unmoved as a mile- trate anything in particular. Plod stone during his speech. Now he is disapproves of froth pudding, but does going to interest them. They begin not hesitate to offer his

young friends to love him, and wish he were going stale sawdust pie. The one they to talk all the time. He makes cannot possibly swallow or digest, another funny face, which makes the the other they gulp down in large youthful congregation laugh. These spoonfuls, but the more they get of pleasant smirks are instead of the it the poorer and thinner they beordinary "introduction” with which sermons are begun.

It is very easy to make children The “introduction” being over, he laugh, especially very young children. plunges into the heads of his subject But making them laugh should not (if his subject had any heads, or if be the chief object of the man who he had any subject it would be a good addresses them in Sunday-school. If thing); or, at any rate, he plunges mirth is all that is desired it would into something. It is a string of be well to omit the speech altogether, funny nothings, without head, mid- and only do funny things. Let a dle, or tail. One queer story suc- funny person go from bench to bench ceeds another, interspersed with in a Sunday-school, and tickle the pleasant grimaces, which come as children's noses with a straw, or naturally and as frequently as do pleasantly punch them under the ribs the oaths with which profane men with a stick, and he will have the spice their conversation. It is ex- school in a burstof cheerful merriment tremely delightful to the children, sooner than by delivering the very funbut miserably unprofitable. It is niest address he knows. Perhaps somelike the elegant froth puddings which body says this would be a ridiculous adorn hotel dinner-tables, fine to proceeding. Not much more ridiculook at, but poor stuff to feed upon; lous than someof the buffoon speeches nearly all froth, and almost no pud- which are sometimes made.

come.

« PreviousContinue »