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on the question of child labor he might open with a concrete picture, not overdrawn, of a big Chicago refrigerating plant on a broiling day in summer; of massive doors which separate the icy temperature within, from the terrific heat without; of little boys of ten or twelve years, who in operating these doors must undergo the enervating effects of this alternation of heat and cold. In an entirely different tone, the following opening of a recent biographical address suggests how stimulating a simple description can be.
"One hot August day in 1831, a gawky youth of twenty-three could have been seen walking along the streets of New York for the first time. His clothes were patched and soiled, his coat cuffs were far above his wrists and his pants scarcely reached his ankles. A much worn hat covered his head and all the worldly possessions he was not at that moment wearing were tied in a handkerchief and carried on a stick across his shoulder. There was nothing about this youngster to suggest that he would soon become one of the greatest moral, intellectual and political forces of his times. Yet this was Horace Greeley's arrival in New York.”
There is little difficulty in selecting a fit subject for portrayal when the descriptive opening seems advantageous. Care should be taken, however, to choose the most significant features in order
that the picture may be vivid, and unobscured by minor details.
In case the narrative is used, the speaker must, as a rule, depend upon tales that he hears or reads. But inasmuch as the humorous anecdote is most favored for getting the audience in a proper frame of mind toward speaker and subject, the problem of finding effective narratives is comparatively simple. The newspapers and periodicals are sprinkled with humorous bits, many of them bright, snappy and easily adaptable to a great variety of subjects. While writing this paragraph I glanced at the daily paper on my desk and took at random the first anecdote that appeared, running as follows.
"The late John Philip Quinn, who for twenty years traveled all over America exposing the electric roulette wheel and other cheating devices used in gambling, had a reform story that he would tell while exhibiting his queer paraphernalia in his private car. 'Don't be afraid of reform,' he said; 'help every poor fellow who wants to reform. The way most people act you'd think they all believed religiously in the following reform story.' 'You stopped smoking because she asked you to?' was the question put to a solemn looking chap. 'Yep.' 'And you stopped swearing because she asked you to?' 'Yep.' 'And you gave up your poker parties and went into
refined, serious society for the same reason?' 'Yep, yep.' 'And yet you never married her!' 'Well, you see, after I'd reformed like that I found I could do better.""
To link the point of this story to the theme of any reform discussion the speaker would need only to say something to the effect that the X association or the Y party has reformed, or is reforming, and is already aiming to do better. This random anecdote merely serves to indicate a type of narrative opening which puts an audience in good humor, and foreshadows the point of the address. In the papers and magazines are to be found scores of such items, and it is a good idea to clip the best of them and file them for use when occasion arises.
IV. The Literary Reference
Another way of opening, akin to the narrativedescriptive method and highly favored by good speakers, is the literary reference. It may be an allusion to a character, a scene, an incident, a theory or a bit of philosophy in some poem, play, novel or other literary work. The effectiveness of this kind of opening is increased if the allusion be to some well-known work, or writer at least, for the average audience is pleased to recognize a literary acquaintanceship. And such self-satisfaction subtly reacts to the speaker's legitimate ad
vantage. The essential thing to be observed in making a literary allusion, as in the use of all illustrative matter, is that the point of reference should be perfectly clear in its bearing on the topic idea. The following introduction from President Wilson's discussion of "Progress" illustrates the manner in which a literary reference may fitly open an address.
"In that sage and veracious chronicle, ‘Alice Through the Looking-Glass,' it is recounted how, on a noteworthy occasion, the little heroine is seized by the Red Chess Queen, who races her off at a terrific pace. They run until both of them are out of breath; then they stop, and Alice looks around her and says, 'Why, we are just where we were when we started!' 'Oh, yes,' says the Red Queen; 'you have to run twice as fast as that to get anywhere else.'
"That is a parable of progress. The laws of this country have not kept up with the change of economic circumstances in this country; they have not kept up with the change of political circumstances; and therefore we are not even where we were when we started. We shall have to run, not until we are out of breath, but until we have caught up with our own conditions, before we shall be where we were when we started; when we started this great experiment which has been the hope and the beacon of the world. And we
should have to run twice as fast as any rational program I have seen in order to get anywhere else."
V. Allusion to Timely Remark or Incident
Sometimes a timely remark, bit of conversation or incident which involves one or more of the factors of the subject under discussion affords a very apt opening. A reference to something which has been said by a previous speaker, or in a recent conversation, puts the speaker at once upon an easy and intimate footing with his audience. Again, in these days of such a multiplicity of news items, one can almost always find an account of an interesting happening which pertains to one's topic, whatever that may be.
D. PRESENTING THE SUBJECT
From any one, or combination, of the above means of getting attention and arousing interest the speaker may proceed to the presentation of the topic idea. If the subject is complex, or unfamiliar to the audience, he may use any or all of the following factors as a foundation for the discussion proper: (1) an account of the significant steps in the history of the subject leading up to the present; (2) an analysis of the existing state of affairs; (3) a careful explanation of the terms