Pause And Power. Part 3
The worldly hope men set their hearts upon - turns ashes - or it prospers; - and anon like snow upon the desert's dusty face - lighting a little hour or two - is gone.
The bird of time has but a little way to flutter, - and the bird is on the wing.
You will note that the punctuation marks have nothing to do with the pausing. You may run by a period very quickly and make a long pause where there is no kind of punctuation. Thought is greater than punctuation. It must guide you in your pauses.
A book of verses underneath the bough, - a jug of wine, a loaf of bread - and thou beside me singing in the wilderness - Oh - wilderness were paradise enow.
You must not confuse the pause for emphasis with the natural pauses that come through taking breath and phrasing. For example, note the pauses indicated in this selection from Byron:
But hush! - hark! - that deep sound breaks in once more, And nearer! - clearer! - deadlier than before. Arm, arm! - it is - it is the cannon's opening roar!
It is not necessary to dwell at length upon these obvious distinctions. You will observe that in natural conversation our words are gathered into clusters or phrases, and we often pause to take breath between them. So in public speech, breathe naturally and do not talk until you must gasp for breath; nor until the audience is equally winded.
A serious word of caution must here be uttered: do not overwork the pause. To do so will make your speech heavy and stilted. And do not think that pause can transmute commonplace thoughts into great and dignified utterance. A grand manner combined with insignificant ideas is like harnessing a Hambletonian with an ass. You remember the farcical old school declamation, "A Midnight Murder," that proceeded in grandiose manner to a thrilling climax, and ended - "and relentlessly murdered - a mosquito!"
The pause, dramatically handled, always drew a laugh from the tolerant hearers. This is all very well in farce, but such anti-climax becomes painful when the speaker falls from the sublime to the ridiculous quite unintentionally. The pause, to be effective in some other manner than in that of the boomerang, must precede or follow a thought that is really worth while, or at least an idea whose bearing upon the rest of the speech is important.
William Pittenger relates in his volume, "Extempore Speech," an instance of the unconsciously farcical use of the pause by a really great American statesman and orator. "He had visited Niagara Falls and was to make an oration at Buffalo the same day, but, unfortunately, he sat too long over the wine after dinner. When he arose to speak, the oratorical instinct struggled with difficulties, as he declared, 'Gentlemen, I have been to look upon your mag - mag-magnificent cataract, one hundred-and forty - seven
-feet high! Gentlemen, Greece and Rome in their palmiest days never had a cataract one hundred-and forty-seven-feet high!'"
Questions And Exercises
1. Name four methods for destroying monotony and gaining power in speaking.
2. What are the four special effects of pause?
3. Note the pauses in a conversation, play, or speech. Were they the best that could have been used? Illustrate.
4. Read aloud selections on pages 50-54, paying special attention to pause.
5. Read the following without making any pauses. Reread correctly and note the difference:
Soon the. night will pass; and when, of the Sentinel on the ramparts of Liberty the anxious ask: | "Watchman, what of the night?" his answer will be | "Lo, the morn appeareth."
Knowing the price we must pay, | the sacrifice | we must make, | the burdens | we must carry, | the assaults | we must endure, | knowing full well the cost, | yet we enlist, and we enlist | for the war. | For we know the justice of our cause, | and we know, too, its certain triumph. |
Not reluctantly, then, | but eagerly, | not with faint hearts, | but strong, do we now advance upon the enemies of the people. | For the call that comes to us is the call that came to our fathers. | As they responded, so shall we.
"He hath sounded forth a trumpet | that shall never call retreat, He is sifting out the hearts of men | before His judgment seat. Oh, be swift | our souls to answer Him, | be jubilant our feet,
Our God | is marching on." - Albert J. Beveridge, From his speech as temporary chairman of Progressive National Convention, Chicago, 1912.
6. Bring out the contrasting ideas in the following by using the pause:
Contrast now the circumstances of your life and mine, gently and with temper, .AEschines; and then ask these people whose fortune they would each of them prefer. You taught reading, I went to school: you performed initiations, I received them: you danced in the chorus, I furnished it: you were assembly-clerk, I was a speaker: you acted third parts, I heard you: you broke down, and I hissed: you have worked as a statesman for the enemy, I for my country. I pass by the rest; but this very day I am on my probation for a crown, and am acknowledged to be innocent of all offence; while you are already judged to be a pettifogger, and the question is, whether you shall continue that trade, or at once be silenced by not getting a fifth part of the votes. A happy fortune, do you see, you have enjoyed, that you should denounce mine as miserable! - Demosthenes.
7. After careful study and practice, mark the pauses in the following:
The past rises before me like a dream. Again we are in the great struggle for national life. We hear the sounds of preparation - the music of the boisterous drums, the silver voices of heroic bugles. We see thousands of assemblages, and hear the appeals of orators; we see the pale cheeks of women and the flushed faces of men; and in those assemblages we see all the dead whose dust we have covered with flowers. We lose sight of them no more. We are with them when they enlist in the great army of freedom. We see them part from those they love. Some are walking for the last time in quiet woody places with the maidens they adore. We hear the whisperings and the sweet vows of eternal love as they lingeringly part forever. Others are bending over cradles, kissing babies that are asleep. Some are receiving the blessings of old men. Some are parting from those who hold them and press them to their hearts again and again, and say nothing; and some are talking with wives, and endeavoring with brave words spoken in the old tones to drive from their hearts the awful fear. We see them part. We see the wife standing in the door, with the babe in her arms - standing in the sunlight sobbing; at the turn of the road a hand waves - she answers by holding high in her loving hands the child. He is gone - and forever.
- Robert J. Ingersoll, to the Soldiers of Indianapolis.
8. Where would you pause in the following selections? Try pausing in different places and note the effect it gives.
The moving finger writes; and having writ moves on: nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.
The history of womankind is a story of abuse. For ages men beat, sold, and abused their wives and daughters like cattle. The Spartan mother that gave birth to one of her own sex disgraced herself; the girl babies were often deserted in the mountains to starve; China bound and deformed their feet; Turkey veiled their faces; America denied them equal educational advantages with men. Most of the world still refuses them the right to participate in the government and everywhere women bear the brunt of an unequal standard of morality.
But the women are on the march. They are walking upward to the sunlit plains where the thinking people rule. China has ceased binding their feet. In the shadow of the Harem Turkey has opened a school for girls. America has given the women equal educational advantages, and America, we believe, will enfranchise them.
We can do little to help and not much to hinder this great movement. The thinking people have put their O. K. upon it. It is moving forward to its goal just as surely as this old earth is swinging from the grip of winter toward the spring's blossoms and the summer's harvest.1
9. Read aloud the following address, paying careful attention to pause wherever the emphasis may thereby be heightened.
THE IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT . . . At last, the Republican party has appeared. It avows, now, l From an editorial by D. C. in Leelie's Weekly, June 4, 1914. Used by permission.
as the Republican party of 1800 did, in one word, its faith and its works, "Equal and exact justice to all men." Even when it first entered the field, only half organized, it struck a blow which only just failed to secure complete and triumphant victory. In this, its second campaign, it has already won advantages which render that triumph now both easy and certain. The secret of its assured success lies in that very characteristic which, in the mouth of scoffers, constitutes its great and lasting imbecility and reproach. It lies in the fact that it is a party of one idea; but that is a noble one - an idea that fills and expands all generous souls; the idea of equality of all men before human tribunals and human laws, as they all are equal before the Divine tribunal and Divine laws.
I know, and you know, that a revolution has begun. I know, and all the world knows, that revolutions never go backward. Twenty senators and a hundred representatives proclaim boldly in Congress to-day sentiments and opinions and principles of freedom which hardly so many men, even in this free State, dared to utter in their own homes twenty years ago. While the government of the United States, under the conduct of the Democratic party, has been all that time surrendering one plain and castle after another to slavery, the people of the United States have been no less steadily and perseveringly gathering together the forces with which to recover back again all the fields and all the castles which have been lost, and to confound and overthrow, by one decisive blow, the betrayers of the Constitution and freedom forever. - W. H. Seward.