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it was noticeably greater than before. Was it attributable to his Greek? Yes. but only in the relation of Greek meet Greek, which he acquired in “give and take” debates.
Having said so much in behalf of the debater’s prowess, in seriousness it should be said that this greatness does not come from the little training received in the debating class; however, this in many instances develops a germ that otherwise might remain latent. It may be that only those who arc exceptionally bright have the temerity to enter this contest for blood; however, be this as it may, Peru is proud of the names of her illustrious debaters whose praises we hear sung continually. Strangers soon learn the names of Cline, Moore, Gates, Stoddard. Anderson, Hanna, Keith, Line, Winslow, Vernon, Wear, Kennedy, and many others whose frankness, cleverness, and success arc regarded as exemplary.
Debaters are not born, they are cvolutioni .cd. It seems possible to develop into a fairly good speaker as a result of effort. The ability to reason well, and to analyze, are more remarkable in some than in others, to be sure, but the amount of practice given by these who are eminently leaders in the field is seldom known. The eminent examples of Demosthenes and Cicero as developed products, arc conspicuous. Webster, Clay and Philipps became great debaters only as a reward of wide reading, and constant practice. We arc told that Lincoln had an analytical mind, that lie sought the causes of all things, and was not satisfied with an idea until he was able to clothe it in proper words. This it is plain to see, was a developed characteristic. Persistency and originality were peculiar to him. but his power of expressisons, his comparisons and analogies were developed by constant practice.
The two movements of the mind seem to be impression and expression. That many try to express what has never been impressed is certain, but the failure is inevitable. But we arc told by the psychologists that it is just as erroneous to have an impression without expressing it. In the field of forensics there is certainly a great opportunity for the expression of all impressions and one is only hindered by the fewness of his impressions.
We are told that a fact is a fact, and that it is worth just as much if whispered as if yelled, that it isn’t noise but light that affects judges. Most debaters are fully aware that it is the lightning that docs the work and not the thunder; however, it is certainly false reasoning to think forcefulncss, excellence of diction, pleasantness of expression, ease and gracefulness of carriage arc not to the debater the “apparel that oft proclaims the man.”
There arc a number of short-comings—getting prepared articles, giving quotations without credit, mis-quoting, etc. In the Pathfinder of January 17, there arc three advertisements which inform us that for a small sum of money outlines for debates can be obtained cither for the affirmative or the negative. The only one who would buy this cheap “stuff” is a fellow who need not worry over victories.
It is true that the art of oratory is only the art of conversation raised to a high level and it is this latter art that debating seeks to cultivate in the attainment of the former. The man whose conversation is so dull and listless that he
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interested in proof, fail to remember. His mind thus becomes a store house of facts, and he stands on firmer ground by his disapproving of gossip and his approving of truth.
The debater gains in self-confidence with each debate he wins, until lie reaches his Waterloo; for he values the favorable opinion of three men more than having offered a truthful solution. His first defeat never has the effect of lowering the mark of his self-confidence, but of increasing his ambition to succeed along more rational and permanent paths. He polishes his speech, improves his personal appearance, trains his voice, practices graceful positions, and by increased devotion to courtesy, sincerity, and honesty, lie generally reaches the place of eminence, in the minds of his friends, that he had in his own before the defeat.
The debater finds that one of his greatest problems is to organize his material, after he has done his reading, and the discipline is so great, and so difficult of attainment that the methods of the debate are sure to be made a part in the acts of his business career. It would seem strange indeed to sec a good debater slovenly in his work. In the recitations lie stands erect, alert, open to conviction, and ready, to convince. He cannot be passed by without a reason, and is not satisfied to sit quietly by, and, sponge-like, absorb. Soon the awkward boy, who begins to debate, is not recognized, for he commences to make a complete speech in each recitation, takes a more active part in all discussions, and organizes his thoughts in such a way as to produce respect in the minds of his instructors, and admiration, in the minds of his mates.
In almost all cases the debater is the leader in the school activities. He is elected class president bv a large majority, he is the editor-in-chief of the College paper, wins out in the election to the position of manager of the College Annual, as well as editor-in-chief, is president of the large literary societies, gives the announcements in chapel, represents his class in the practical talks, is president of the Christian societies, and is the ambassador of the. class on all important occasions. Not content with these eminent honors, he has commenced to invade the field of athletics, and when lie wrestles, he brings his mind to act with his muscles, puts real science into the contest, and uses his head for RE-buttal. If lie has time to compete in football he wins a place on the team —for his quick wit and ready mind cause him to anticipate the argument before it is made, and again his discipline in the organization of his material allows him and has taught him to give argument for argument. He refutes the argument that lie is slow and in BRIEF time wins a place on the College basketball squad.
In life he takes just as active a part as he takes in his College course. He makes speeches from the school house to the Senate; from the justice of the peace to judge in the Supreme Court; from school teaching to the presidency of the Union. He is the representative from the County, the Senator from the district, and the Governor of the State. He is the greatest lawyer, the most earnest advocate, the Ivy-day orator, and the autocrat of the pulpit. He is in evidence everywhere. Hearing of the great success of some man, we are ardently told that he was able to meet people, that since his High School career
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himself is forced to yawn in the midst of it. has no more right to carry this style into his formal discourse than has the man whose speech is fustian-loaded and bombastic.
Not all of us can become Emmets or Burkes or Websters—men, who, by their ebullient and soul-stirring orations could change the course of action of nations and the history of the world. Nor, indeed, will the voice of many of us ever be heard in the halls of congress pleading with a stubborn opposition against the iniquities of a protective tariff system; not many of us can ever hope to be a Reed, a Beveridge, or a Davis.
Our criterion of what constitutes effective public speaking has radically changed in the past fifty years, as is evidenced in the type of speech found in the Congressional Records of these two respective periods. It is said that the speech of the Webster, “When my eye shall last behold.” would provoke a titter if delivered in the Senate today. Much has been said of physical presence and personal magnetism, voice and gesturing, but we have come now to believe that the person who can speak effectively is he who has for the foundation of his discourse, sound information, condensed and lucid, pure logic, and an interest in the subject at hand.
These latter things—information, analysis and logic—the young debater gains. By meeting crowds time after time he develops an easy, graceful, and effective speaking attitude; with each debate his style becomes more simple, more direct and vivacious. When lie leaves College, he finds the formal debate a thing of the past, but as an educated citizen other forms of address arc demanded of him on numerous special occasions. As a result of his College debates, he is enabled to make his point and stop, rather than to bore his listeners with the prolix effusion that ordinarily characterises such speeches. In the business or professional world his conversation is forceful and convincing, and he soon develops that mysterious element that the world for want of a better term calls pcrsonalitv, and he takes his place among first rank citizens.
I. G. WILSON.
Upon the banks of Silent Water I strolled one fairy summer’s day; The yellow-throats by Silent Water Had never warbled half so gay.
The lily leaves in Silent Water
Adown the stream sailed peacefully; While in the marsh by Silent Water The cat-tails swayed in melody.
The cattle near the Silent Water The trees along the Silent Water Lay drowisly beneath the trees; Were all bedight in summer’s hue;
The aster heads by Silent Water And in an elm by Silent Water
Were nodding blithely in the breeze. A jay rejoiced o’er nestlings two.
All Nature ’round the Silent Water Seemed smiling under joyful skies.
For there beside the Silent Water
Were you with gladness in vour eyes!
E. E.'E., '15.
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