The Art of Public Speaking HTML version
But how shall we get the milk? There are two ways: the one is first-hand--from the cow; the other is
second-hand--from the milkman.
The Seeing Eye
Some sage has said: "For a thousand men who can speak, there is only one who can think; for a thousand men
who can think, there is only one who can see." To see and to think is to get your milk from your own cow.
When the one man in a million who can see comes along, we call him Master. Old Mr. Holbrook, of
"Cranford," asked his guest what color ash-buds were in March; she confessed she did not know, to which the
old gentleman answered: "I knew you didn't. No more did I--an old fool that I am!--till this young man comes
and tells me. 'Black as ash-buds in March.' And I've lived all my life in the country. More shame for me not to
know. Black; they are jet-black, madam."
"This young man" referred to by Mr. Holbrook was Tennyson.
Henry Ward Beecher said: "I do not believe that I have ever met a man on the street that I did not get from
him some element for a sermon. I never see anything in nature which does not work towards that for which I
give the strength of my life. The material for my sermons is all the time following me and swarming up
Instead of saying only one man in a million can see, it would strike nearer the truth to say that none of us sees
with perfect understanding more than a fraction of what passes before our eyes, yet this faculty of acute and
accurate observation is so important that no man ambitious to lead can neglect it. The next time you are in a
car, look at those who sit opposite you and see what you can discover of their habits, occupations, ideals,
nationalities, environments, education, and so on. You may not see a great deal the first time, but practise will
reveal astonishing results. Transmute every incident of your day into a subject for a speech or an illustration.
Translate all that you see into terms of speech. When you can describe all that you have seen in definite
words, you are seeing clearly. You are becoming the millionth man.
De Maupassant's description of an author should also fit the public-speaker: "His eye is like a suction pump,
absorbing everything; like a pickpocket's hand, always at work. Nothing escapes him. He is constantly
collecting material, gathering-up glances, gestures, intentions, everything that goes on in his presence--the
slightest look, the least act, the merest trifle." De Maupassant was himself a millionth man, a Master.
"Ruskin took a common rock-crystal and saw hidden within its stolid heart lessons which have not yet ceased
to move men's lives. Beecher stood for hours before the window of a jewelry store thinking out analogies
between jewels and the souls of men. Gough saw in a single drop of water enough truth wherewith to quench
the thirst of five thousand souls. Thoreau sat so still in the shadowy woods that birds and insects came and
opened up their secret lives to his eye. Emerson observed the soul of a man so long that at length he could say,
'I cannot hear what you say, for seeing what you are.' Preyer for three years studied the life of his babe and so
became an authority upon the child mind. Observation! Most men are blind. There are a thousand times as
many hidden truths and undiscovered facts about us to-day as have made discoverers famous--facts waiting
for some one to 'pluck out the heart of their mystery.' But so long as men go about the search with eyes that
see not, so long will these hidden pearls lie in their shells. Not an orator but who could more effectively point
and feather his shafts were he to search nature rather than libraries. Too few can see 'sermons in stones' and
'books in the running brooks,' because they are so used to seeing merely sermons in books and only stones in
running brooks. Sir Philip Sidney had a saying, 'Look in thy heart and write;' Massillon explained his astute
knowledge of the human heart by saying, 'I learned it by studying myself;' Byron says of John Locke that 'all
his knowledge of the human understanding was derived from studying his own mind.' Since multiform nature