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SPEECH-HESITATION 



E.J.Ellery Thorpe. 




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LIBRARY 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. 



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PRESIDENT'S OFFICE, 

CLARK UNIVERSITY. 

WORCESTER, MASS. 

I have just read " Speech Hesitation " by Mrs. E. J. 
Thorpe, with much interest. 

Her method has the distinct advantage over nearly all 
others that I have known in that it is laid on a definite, and, 
as I think, a correct conception of what are probably the 
most common causes of the difficulty and seeks by a ration- 
al and systematic method to remove them. I am not sur- 
prised at the success she has met with, becanse, too, of the 
careful study of individual cases upon which she bases her 
treatment. 

The-whole subject is one of the most peculiar and scien- 
tifically interesting in all the field of education. I am 
heartily in* accord with her conviction that one of the most 
urgent needs in view of the large per cent, afflicted, and of 
the kind of treatment needed, is for an institution where 
this very grave and painful, but most curable affliction of 
childhood and youth can be treated with conditions so con- 
trolled as to make the prospect of cure most favorable. 

Wealthy philanthropists, and, if need be, legislators 
should be appealed to. 

May 30, 1899. G. STANLEY HALL. 



SPEECH HESITATION 



BY 



E. J. ELLERY THORPE 





NEW YORK 

EDGAR S. WERNER PUBLISHING & SUPPLY CO. 

1900 



i 






Copyrighit 

1898 
BY E. J. E. THORPE 



TO MY PUPILS, 

WHO HAVE FURNISHED THE MEANS BY WHICH 

THESE TRUTHS HAVE BEEN EVOLVED, 
THIS SMALL VOLUME IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED. 

E. J. E. THORPE. 

Newton Centre, Mass. 







SPEECH-HESITATION 

CHAPTER I. 

It is curious to observe how a man of a clear, sharp 
and 1 powerful mind and reasoning according to sound 
and correct principles may yet, owing to his defective 
knowledge of facts, arrive at conclusions directly op- 
posed to truth. MAX MULLER. 

A LOVE of dramatic reading in early youth, and the 
foundation in general voice-training laid by sem- 
inary and normal school drill in singing and in oratory, 
together with membership in the New York Harmonic 
Society and in choirs, including that of Plymouth Church ; 
association and practice with graduates of the best schools 
of oratory, notably with one who had studied under the 
famous James E. Murdoch, and who brought to me the 
best thought of that great actor and elocutionist, were the 
means by which my attention was called to the physical 
affection that is the subject of this book. 

Together my friend and I studied the various methods 
of breathing, practiced the stroke of the glottis and the 
formation of sound at the front of the mouth, and gave 
much attention to articulation. But speech-affection at 
that time was not a matter that engaged the attention of 
the general educator. In my several years' teaching in 
one of the largest public schools of New York City 



6 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

the daily attendance in its primary department avera- 
ging over 1,000 and where the teachers constantly met 
to discuss educational needs I observed that no allusion 
was ever made to any case of hesitancy in speech that 
might exist among the pupils. 

It is now more than thirty years since I began to study 
my first case of this affection, and it seemed to my inex- 
perienced mind like a new form of a very old difficulty, 
one that would yield readily to the ordinary vocal drilL 
In utter ignorance that this was one of the greatest prob- 
lems, that medical men and philosophers had studied it 
carefully, that many theories had been advanced and much 
done to find the cause and the remedy, I set to work with 
the greatest enthusiasm. I reasoned that as the subject 
failed to produce certain sounds, therefore he must learn 
their nature, and practice until he could produce them. 
This reasoning was false, as was afterward seen. 

The breathing-exercises and articulations were prac- 
ticed diligently, in full expectation of complete success. 
The contraction of the vocal cords, which prevented the 
formation of the vowel-sounds, and the want of control 
of lips and tongue were supposed to be caused by weak- 
ness; therefore, lips, tongue, and vocal cords were exer- 
cised in the expectation that increased strength would 
give greater freedom of action. The theory was that 
clearness in speaking must come through phonic drill; 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 7 

but the more conscientious the training, the less capable 
were the vocal organs of doing their work. 

Great attention was given to the refractory sounds, 
always supposing them to be consonants. They were 
practiced before and after the vowels; words in which 
they and their combinations occurred were woven into 
sentences, and readings were selected for this especial pur- 
pose. When a half day had been spent in this way, the 
pupil was sent out to make a trial of his strength on some 
errand or by the use of these particular words among 
his playmates. The invariable report on his return would 
be: 

"I could not speak the words. They never were so 
hard before." 

"But," I would say, "you have said them to me hun- 
dreds of times. Why could you not say them then ?" 

"I do not know, but it was impossible to speak them." 

Slowly and vaguely the truth began to dawn upon my 
mind that this kind of drill was emphasizing and increas- 
ing, rather than decreasing, the difficulty, and, conse- 
quently, adding to a fear that the pupil had of trying to 
make these sounds. I began to see that, once made, he 
could go on repeating them indefinitely; but that after 
an interval they were as difficult as before. 

There was a baffling, inexplainable mystery in it that 



8 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

surprised and interested me. I felt assured that someone 
must know all about it. My friends, the elocutionists, 
were consulted, and their opinions agreed perfectly with 
all that had been done. One of the best authorities said 
to me: "The breathing must be corrected, and there is 
but one way to form each sound. This must be learned. 
These two things accomplished, anyone must be able to 
talk." As time went on, quite a number having the diffi- 
culty trusted themselves to my experiments, and some 
really gained confidence and were improved. Some per- 
sons can by such drill go so far as to declaim, perhaps, in 
public. This accounts for a great many so-called "cures," 
and assists greatly in filling tables of statistics. Some- 
one has said : "There are three kinds of untruths : Lies, 
white lies, and statistics;" and when statistics are made 
on this basis, we may well question their validity. 

It is not unusual that one can speak upon the platform 
who in private converses with the greatest difficulty. 
He can do something. The average person who hesitates 
can talk or declaim, at times, but the contraction is there, 
always ready to assert itself. While that is true, he is 
practically no better, because nothing new has been in- 
troduced, and the work, on the whole, is not satisfactory. 
My work was pursued as one works upon a puzzle. At 
times a clue would seem to be found, only to disappear 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. g 

and leave the matter as dark as before. The questions 
were beginning to arise : "If these persons can sometimes 
speak words voluntarily and can repeat them after they 
have been spoken by others, do they need to learn their 
construction? If the breathing is perfect before the at- 
tempt to speak, is it the breathing that affects the speech, 
or the speech that affects the breathing?" 

At this stage of investigation the Centennial took me to 
Philadelphia, and a call was made upon Mme. Seller. I 
had read her "Voice in Speaking" and "Voice in Sing- 
ing," and knew her by reputation as one skilled in voice- 
training, and also that she had received some pupils who 
needed instruction in speaking. She talked freely upon 
the subject. She said that although the voice in singing 
was her special work, she had by request taken pupils who 
needed instruction in speaking. Her plan was to train the 
pupil first upon the least difficult sounds, and when these 
were conquered he went on to those that were more dif- 
ficult, and was drilled in this way until he had mastered 
them all. 

Then I asked: "What does he do when away from 
yon? Can he make these sounds then?" 

She said: "I have never inquired. If he can speak 
every word when with me, why can he not do the same 
when away from me?" 



10 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

I replied : "That is the special difficulty. They all can 
read and talk with me after a certain time, but when 
away from me the sounds are as difficult as before, per- 
haps more so." 

Then she said : "You have gone farther in this matter 
than I have, and it is of no use to talk with me." 

Mme. Seiler invited me to be present while she gave a 
lesson in vocal music. It differed from anything in vocal 
training than I had heard before. She said, "You 
must make a tunnel of your body ; there must be no stop 
along the way." I saw that those who hesitate in speak- 
ing do stop along the way, and that the ordinary theory 
of diaphragmatic breathing and speaking is a theory 
only when coupled with phonic drill. 

Up to this time the difficulty seemed to be entirely with 
the consonants, but a case came under my care in which 
the vowels stopped in the throat. The muscles of thj 
throat closed and prevented the possibility of making 
any sound. Plainly the sharp attack upon the vowel with 
the throat-muscles, which had been a conspicuous part 
of my education, would never do in a case like this, and 
I groped my way tow r ard the open passage theory, first 
experimenting upon myself. Yet so strong was the in- 
fluence of long training and deeply rooted prejudice that 
although the effect was at least partly clear, it was ten 
years before the old method was given up entirely. It 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 1 1 

was held so long, partly because the truth dawned so 
slowly and partly because of the question: "If this is 
given up, what remains to be done ?" 

My efforts in articulative training ended with a boy who 
told me that a certain sound was impossible to him. 
Without letting him know, I managed to introduce that 
sound continually; but the next day it was more trying 
than before, and besides, other sounds, apparently easy, 
had become suddenly difficult. That experience sufficed, 
and ended my practice of articulative drill. Some of the 
persons who received that drill would go away alone. 
Perhaps they would spend a day in the woods, and work 
upon the troublesome sounds with a fixed determination 
that they should be conquered. What they really did was 
to strengthen and to increase a muscular contraction that 
was the cause of the trouble, and to increase the dread of 
sounds that had become already objects of fear. It 
would be well if the work of those years could be re- 
called; 'but as my work has led on to better methods I 
have felt the force of Phillips Brooks's words, which were 
of course applied to quite a different realm of thought: 
''Why mourn your sins? They are the stepping-stones 
to a higher life." 

Lengthening the sound is practically singing, and with 
few exceptions the persons who hesitate in speaking are 
able to sing. Length without strength is a drawl, and 



1 2 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

drawling is not speaking in the best manner. In speak- 
ing, we utilize the outgoing breath, but are not expected 
to lengthen that breath much beyond its ordinary use. 
It is necessary for some persons to work deliberately at 
first until they have acquired a habit of placing the energy 
correctly; but we must not rely so much upon the means 
as to forget the object to be attained. The door of truth 
opens slowly, and often we think that we have reached the 
main entrance when we have found only the guide-board 
th;>t points to the outer portal. 

New difficulties arose. Practicing articulations in 
suc'h a way 'as to eliminate the effort introduced an abnor- 
mal care and increased the fear, w ; hich was always a se 
rious complication. Besides, the words lacked charac- 
ter; the life seemed to be gone from them. There was 
constant danger of being asked to repeat, an experience 
that the pupil always greatly dreaded. The care exer- 
cised in lessening the force upon the consonants brought 
them more prominently before the mind, and increased 
the morbid mental condition; and if consonants were so 
much reduced, on what were we to rely in making our- 
selves understood ? Confident that the question must have 
been answered by someone somewhere, all the literature 
to be found upon the subject was thoroughly investigated. 
In studying various methods, I was greatly assisted by 
those published by Edgar S. Werner in his Voice Maga- 
zine. 



SPEECH-HESITATION. 13 

A physician has said, "The subject has not received 
the attention it deserves from physicians." But except 
Lord Bacon, Aristotle, Mendelssohn, and a few others, 
those who have written upon it have been among the con- 
spicuous physicians of their time, and each writer, almost 
without exception, had a personal interest in finding the 
truth. 

The list of writers (including Hippocrates, 300 B. C., 
who believed the cause to be dryness of the tongue) is 
too long to be given here. The various causes given were 
a lesion of the brain, nervous affections, spasm or closure 
of the glottis, abnormal conditions of the tongue, uvula, 
palate, pharynx, hyoid-bone, jaw or teeth, imperfect res- 
piration, sluggish mentality, muscular debility, physical 
influences, bad vocalization, timidity, diseased tonsils or 
nasal cavities, paralysis, contraction of the genioglossus 
muscles, retraction of the lingual muscles, etc. But all 
my subsequent experience goes to prove that in eac'h par- 
ticular, effect was mistaken for cause. As remedies, the 
oldest practitioners used lotions, gargles and washes for 
the tongue and the neck. Following these were eminent 
authorities, Who practiced breathing, articulative exer- 
cises and rhythm. During the year 1841 surgical opera- 
tions raged till stopped by government authority. 

Mechanical contrivances, beginning with the pebbles 



14 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

of Demosthenes and continuing in the fork of Itard, 
the ivory plates of Colombat, the whalebone of Male- 
bouche, the piece of wood under the tongue by Dr. 
Klencke, and Bates's appliances, are in some form in use 
at the present day. 

The use of tricks began in 1837 with the American 
method of Mrs. Leigh, which was striking the tongue 
against the roof of the mouth. Dr. Arnott suggested 
placing short e before every word. Dr. Voisin in 1837 
pressed 'the thumb upon the chin. Dr. Graves (1848) 
suggested holding a stick in the right hand, with which 
to strike the forefinger of the left. The object of the 
trick being to direct the attention of the person from 
himself, any movement not in general use would serve 
the purpose. The marketable tricks of the present time 
are : Pressing together the thumb and the finger, winking, 
waving the hand, turning a roll of paper, throwing back 
the head, etc. These are sold as great secrets. They are 
lon'g-lived, because human nature loves mystery. 

In this medley of opinion the question was, What, if 
anything, is right? for the supporters of each theory 
were in their day of highest standing and reputation. 
And again, can rhythm, any vocal gymnastic or sur- 
gical operation or trick, remove chorea, lesion o'f the 
brain, or spasm of the glottis? Dr. Chigon (1838) 
asked, "How can a disease be removed before we know 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 1 5 

the cause ?" Some physicians said, "We do not know the 
cause, and we never can know ; all attempts to relieve the 
difficulty are therefore in the nature of a fraud." Others 
said: "We do not know what 'hesitation of speech is, 
but we are waiting for the light." 

While endeavoring from this confusion of authority 
to extract some general law, a clergyman friend lost his 
voice 'because of a serious throat-affection, and found it 
through Mme. Setter's instruction; not in the harsh, hard 
tones that were symptomatic of all that was incorrect, but 
in tones beautiful and melodious, as a voice must be, 
formed upon nature's plan. As he described in detail 
the process of instruction that he 'had received, there 
came to my mind the dawning of a great light, which has 
steadily increased. It occurred to me to make a compar- 
ison between the symptoms in his case and those of some 
upon whom I was experimenting for speech-trouble. 
They seemed alike in so many respects that a trial of the 
process, so far as I was able to reproduce it, was made 
upon my pupils with entire success. What was 
done was to remove all undue contraction from 
the throat and to strengthen the breathing-muscles. A 
close comparison of every new case with every other 
showed the inevitable symptom of throat-contraction. It 
is surprising how long it may be, after a principle is ac- 
cepted as truth, before it is clear in all its relations. But 




1 6 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

what was at first vague and experimental, by slow degrees 
became clear and positive. 

Nervousness always exists in this form of physical de- 
rangement. The usual explanation was, "I hesitate be- 
cause I am so nervous." But when relief came the pa- 
tient would say, "I am no more nervous now than other 
persons." The question was, Do nervousness and throat- 
contraction exist as independent symptoms, or does one 
cause the other, and which is the cause? The answer 
came through a child six years old, who had St. Vitus's 
dance. The opinion of the highest authority was that 
the speech-irregularity 'was caused by chronic chorea; 
therefore she could never talk. By pursuing the usual 
plan of removing the throat-contraction, in less than 
three months she spoke perfectly, and every trace of the 
chorea 'had disappeared. That was several years ago,, 
and there 'has been no return of the difficulty. The mother 
was wise. Until the child was able to play with other 
children without excitement, she was kept by herself, 
and it was a year at least after iher speech was perfect be- 
fore she was allowed to enter school. This case was 
sufficiently marked to settle the question o/f cause and effect 
in regard to nervousness, and all subsequent experience 
has strengthened the position. The whole difficulty was 
that the grasp of the breath, which should have been in 
the breathing-muscles, was placed upon the muscles of 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. i j 

the throat where the breath must pass, and with force 
sufficient to throw the whole system into disorder. 

As the years went on, a large number of cases in every 
varying degree of severity received the treatment, whicn 
experience was constantly rendering more certain. Some 
of the cases were even more severe than that of the little 
girl previously mentioned. They were of long standing, 
and in some cases the subjects of them could not appear 
before the world; but whenever the instructions were 
followed, the case yielded to the treatment, and there was 
no reason to change the opinion that throat-contraction 
was the foundation of the difficulty, and its removal the 
one definite aim. 

But why the throat-contraction? Not infrequently 
was reported inability properly to control the pen while 
writing. Often persons who were physically weak and 
who could walk but short distances would, as the effort 
was taken from the speech, become strong and able to 
walk for miles without fatigue. This led to a general 
study of voices, and the amount of throat-contraction in 
those of young children even in infants was a revela- 
tion. 

A young lady eighteen years old had been an invalid 
all her life. At birth she was with difficulty made to 
breathe. Her limbs were weak, and she walked and used 



18 - SPEECH-HESITATION. 

her hands very little. She was constantly under medical 
treatment, from which she received no permanent benefit. 
Her voice was very weak, and she seldom spoke except in 
answer to a question. Though her speech was free from 
impediment, with every attempt to speak her head swayed 
from side to side and her hands were twisted with great 
energy. The speaking- force was focused in the muscles 
of the neck and the 'hands, and it was those muscles that 
were first in action when she began to speak. All that 
she needed was a voice properly placed, and when that 
was gained she walked miles without fatigue. Whereas 
s'he had been unable to li'ft a cup filled with any liquid, 
s'he could without effort raise a good-sized pitcher and 
pour the water from it; and she could read aloud for 
hours and talk with the utmost freedom. 

A boy nine years old dragged his right foot, and the 
right hand and arm were useless. His voice was an 
aspirate, and his face was a mass of contractions. His 
speech was an illustration of extreme hesitation. At 
birth he did not breathe perceptibly for an hour. For 
some days he made no sound, and it was a month before 
he made what could be called a cry. He, too, needed a 
voice, and when it came, strength came to the leg and 
the arm, and the contraction left the face and centred in 
the 'breathing-muscles. 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 19 

A person who had become interested in these investiga- 
tions urged visiting a hospital for children, where were 
some cases answering this description. The symptoms 
were the same, in a greatly exaggerated form. One boy 
in particular was an embodied, extreme example of all 
that had been seen in a large number of cases. Thes? 
symptoms had been found distributed among many per- 
sons. For instance, one was weak in the fingers ; another 
in the legs. In one the contraction was in the wrists; 
another, perhaps, in the jaw or the tongue. One would 
be troubled with bronchitis ; another with throat-disease. 
The tongue might be so large as to interfere with swal- 
lowing. Sometimes the eye could not be fixed upon any 
object, and often there were growths in the nasal pas- 
sage. 

With the exception of the last, all these symptoms were 

concentrated in this one boy, and every one was strongly 

marked. All that great strength which should have been 
gathered in the breathing-muscles centred in the throat, 
tongue, lower jaw and wrists. The constant movement 
and abnormal energy centred in the jaw and the tongue 
caused a profuse flow of saliva. The size of the tongue 
was increased by the unusual exercise; the effort in the 
throat caused bronchitis. The preponderance of mus- 
cular energy went to the wrists and lower jaw and tongue, 



20 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

and the fingers and legs and feet were quite helpless. 
The wrists were very strong and abnormally developed. 
The eyes were never fixed upon any object, the shoulders 
were lifted, and the head was never erect. The responsive 
instinct was there, in full force, and when one spoke to 
the child all these false centres were roused to full activ- 
ity. 

Naturally, as there was no avenue through which the 
mind could operate, all the usual channels being barred 
and shut off, the mind was supposed to be wanting. He 
was laid upon a rug on the floor, and told to kick. In- 
stantly the limp feet flew, propelled from the hips. Three 
things were noted : First, he knew what the word "kick" 
meant; second, he was not so much paralyzed but that 
he could kick ; third, 'he was pleased and delighted to fol- 
low any suggestion to the best of his ability. He had 
repeatedly heard and understood that his case was hope- 
less, and he eagerly caught upon even a ray of hope. 

With permission from the medical committee experi- 
ments were made upon him, and the boy's conscientious 
spirit was a great assistance. In six weeks the symptoms 
all were changed for the "better. In about a year he used 
his feet, legs and hands very well. His head was erect, 
and the condition of his eyes normal. The contraction 
about the throat, tongue and jaw was so reduced that he 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 2 1 

was able to speak quite a list of words, and connect some 
of them. Several others at the hospital also received the 
benefit of the training. Some were permanently benefited. 
The teacher took what was thought would be a vaca- 
tion, but saw no time to return, and the boy from whom 
so much was learned, and to whom we were so much in- 
debted, was allowed to relapse. At birth he did not 
breathe perceptibly for two hours, and he never made a 
vocal sound till taught by us. At first his efforts were a 
kind of groan, directed into the lower jaw; but he under- 
stood the aim, and kept at work, and constantly gained. 
If I had known then, as I do now, that the natural 
strength must exceed the unnatural, before one is safe in 
being left to himself, probably some way would have been 
found to complete the work. To train a voice that already 
exists is an easier task than to create one. The wonderful 
feature in this case was that the boy so well understood 
and put into practice the lessons taught him. 



CHAPTER II. 



Starting with the unquestionable truth that at any 
moment the existing quantity of liberated nerve- 
force, which in an inscrutable way produces in us the 
state we call "feeling," must generate an equivalent 
manifestation of force somewhere, it clearly follows 
that if, of the several channels it may take, one is 
wholly or partly^ closed, more must be taken by the 
others; or that if two are closed, the discharge along 
one must be more intense; and that, conversely, 
should anything determine an unusual efflux in one di- 
rection, there will be a diminished efflux in other di- 
rections. Herbert Spencer. 

In the universe taken as a whole, evolution of one 
part must be at the expense of some other part. 
Le Conte. 

BREATH, held with firmness by the breathing-mus- 
cles and released with energy, is the essential ele- 
ment of all vocal sound. Voice, which, developed, be- 
comes speech, begins with the life. In the first cry of 
life there are three conditions : Inspiration, muscular 
grasp, release ; first, the inspiration, which fills the lungs ; 
second, the grasp of that inspiration by every muscle 
used in breathing, or the concentration of energy, by 
which the breath is firmly held and controlled ; third, the 
release, by which the breath is driven against the vocal 
cords, producing the cry, which varies in different chil- 
dren, from a clear, full, strong, flexible and controlled 
tone, which by its quality indicates that every muscle 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 2 $ 

uses to its full capacity all the energy that nature pro- 
vides for the purpose, to the faintest aspirate, which also 
indicates by the varying degrees of strength the amount 
of power unused by the breathing-muscles. 

But the unused power is not lost. If turned from its 
legitimate use in the breathing-muscles, it will certainly 
be at work in another place. The repetition of the cry 
by the child has been called an "acquired reflex." If the 
cry is according to nature, every repetition strengthens 
the entire system, working from the centre to the per- 
iphery. But if the muscular grasp, which is the centre, 
is weak, not only does the system suffer from the loss of 
the legitimate exercise but the surplus energy, acting in the 
wrong place, is a cause of derangement and disease. The 
grasp of the breath, in order to produce vocal sound, 
is in accord with nature's law, and if the conditions 
are perfect, is, in every instance it is called into exercise, 
as unstudied and unpremeditated as in the first cry of the 
child. 

The child cries because he must. It is nature's pro- 
vision for sending life and strength into every fibre of 
his being, and every cry is laying a foundation for future 
use in speech and in song. As intelligence grows, the tone 
is varied to express different emotions, followed by ges- 
ticulations of the feet, hands and head, and these by a 



24 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

great deal of meaningless movement of lips and tongue. 

The first definite voice or vowel sound is short u or 
ugh. It is the natural response of the lower animal, 
the savage and the little child, and is the radical of every 
vowel, When properly made. The child learns articula- 
tions, which are the refinement of gesture, by imitation, 
and the greater his power of imitation, the earlier he 
learns to talk. 

The muscles that move the tongue and the jaw in mas- 
tication are the same as are used in forming articulations 
or consonants. The same stream of breath that forms 
the vowel gives expression to the articulations, which may 
be called the finish to the vowel-sound. 

Supposing the concentration of energy in the breathing- 
muscles to have been complete from the first cry till the 
child begins to talk, no abnormal energy can be placed 
upon the articulation. Therefore, it offers no obstruction 
to the passage of the breath, because vowel and articulation 
blend in a perfect whole, and the harmony is complete. 
In speech, so conditioned, the tones may be low, but 
never weak; reposeful, but always energetic; and as life 
goes on, by constant use they can easily be adapted to 
any requirement of public and private use. It is only from 
the centre that the voice can expand and develop to a 
variety of pitch and increase of compass. The founda- 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 2 $ 

tion for the voice, in all pulpit and platform oratory, dra- 
matic speaking and singing, is but a broadening from the 
current melody of the speaking-voice, which depends in 
every case upon the perfect grasp at the centre. The 
child who has held the perfect control of his voice from 
the beginning until he is old enough to talk, not only has 
established a vital power in every nerve-centre, muscle 
and fibre of his system, but is so confirmed in that con- 
trol that he is not likely to be affected by any subse- 
quent influence. 

The non-vocalized breath is inspiration and expiration. 
With this, life may go on and the breathing be perfect; 
but there can be no vocal sound without the grasp or stop 
of the breath. We give a great deal of time to the study 
of how best to breathe. Perhaps it would be better, did 
we learn how to stop breathing in the best manner. The 
grasp of the breath forms the centre of the respiratory 
system. This is inevitable, and any degree of weakness 
at the true centre indicates a corresponding abnormal 
strength, first evident in the throat-muscles. The symp- 
toms are weak, high-pitched, shrill, nasal, or harsh voices, 
inability to read for even a few minutes without pain in 
the throat, hoarseness, loss of voice and tendency to 
throat-disease. Such persons may suffer from nervous- 
ness, general weakness, or a kind of invalidism that seems 



->6 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

to have no explainable cause. The constant use of the 
throat-muscles gives a tendency to lift from the true cen- 
tre and to focus at the throat. If the contraction centres 
at the vocal cords in sufficient force seriously to impede or 
stop the breath, speech-hesitation in its uncomplicated 
form will be the result. 

Although, according to my observation, the contraction 
begins at the throat-muscles, it may focus in greater 
strength at other points, affecting the speech only indi- 
rectly. If the force of the contraction is below the vocal 
cords, the throat may not be seriously affected, but the 
entire system is lia'ble to feel the strain. If the speaker is 
a clergyman, he may be obliged to resign his charge. A 
rest will bring relief, but a return to public speaking, un- 
less the manner of using the voice is changed, will cause a 
return of the symptoms. 

.A cripple at a hospital spoke with the quality of voice 
that comes from the use of those muscles. He had evi- 
dently used them from the beginning with every attempt 
to speak. Some public speakers are saved from a similar 
condition because that voice is used only in addressing 
an audience. The focusing of the contraction in the 
muscles above the vocal cords is the cause of what is 
known as clergyman's and teacher's sore throat. When 
called upon to use more power than is required in the or- 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 27 

dinary conversational tone, the throat-contraction is in- 
creased, and the consequence is throat-disease. Upon 
the same principle children, when at play, scream into 
their throats with most destructive energy, which 
accounts for the excision of so many tonsils. The use of 
the voice through the breathing-muscles is invigorating 
and strengthening, but through the throat-muscles it is 
weakening and dispiriting. The teacher raises his voice 
in order to be heard by a roomful of pupils, and the 
greater the interest in his work, the greater the strain. 
Some clergymen perform the entire service in an easy, 
conversational style, clear and restful to the hearer, which 
leaves the speaker physically stronger than before. Oth- 
ers make the prayer, read the Scriptures and the hymn 
and give the text well, but when they begin to warm to 
their subject, the lift begins toward the throat, increasing 
in intensity to the end. 

One who is accustomed to the study of the voice from 
this point of view can easily detect, from its quality, 
when the hold on the breathing-muscles begins to weaken, 
and can note the exact location of its upward tendency, 
till it fastens itself upon some point about the throat. 
An education of this kind is probably of more value than 
the use of a laryngoscope. If the contraction focuses in 
the muscles at the sides of the neck, the head may in the 



2 g SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

act of speaking bend from side to side. In a few such 
cases, when also the contraction is great in the lower jaw, 
it has 'been attended with loss of hearing, which the pupil 
has reported to me as relieved when the contraction is 
removed. If the contraction focuses in the muscles at 
the back of the neck, it is marked in slight cases by a 
pain in those muscles, when tired or excited. In more se- 
vere cases the head may shake, as in palsy. In all these 
cases, although the contraction may remain through life 
about the same, the tendency, as a rule, is to communi- 
cate from one nerve-centre to another, to the shoulders, 
hands and feet, till the entire system is under its influence. 
The distance is wide between a slight effort made upon 
the throat-muscles and the cripple at the hospital, but the 
line of retrogression is complete. 

Many persons, in performing any work with the hands, 
will repeat their motion with the lips and the facial mus- 
cles. We all have met persons walking on the street or 
on the deck of a steamer, with every muscle of the face in 
a state of contraction. How many can think intently 
while lying down, and leave the head to drop a dead 
weight upon the pillow ? The twisting of the fingers by 
children^and by grown persons as well, when they think 
they are sitting quite still, and the fidgeting with the 
leaves of a book while reading, are evidences of an activ- 
ity at the periphery that should be at the centre. 




SPEECH-HESITA TION. 2 9 

Many persons, in walking, hold the hands, wrists and 
elbows in a state of tension, instead of allowing the arms 
to swing from the shoulder. It is an indication that the 
arms are controlled by an over-tension of the muscles 
about the throat and the neck. All cases of writer's 
cramp that I have known arose from this cause. Many 
persons are conscious of a tightening of the throat-mus- 
cles, which become a pain, when playing a game, reading 
an exciting book, or doing anything that awakens in- 
terest. Sometimes, as in shooting at a mark, or in doing 
anything that requires close attention, the whole system 
is tense and rigid. A little girl who had St. Vitus's dance 
as a consequence of the contraction held broken sticks 
in her hands, shaking them continually. The act seemed 
to be an outlet for the abnormal energy. As she grew 
strong at the centre, that exercise was gradually dropped. 
Some children twist the hair or the ears, and others keep 
always a string, piece of paper, or something, to work 
upon with the fingers. 

This misplaced energy in jaw and in throat is the con- 
striction that all trainers of the voice are obliged to meet. 
The hold or grasp of the breath is what distinguishes 
the vocalized from the non-vocalized breath. It is so es- 
sential that it may almost be called the speech. We begin 
to speak wherever it is located. It is a great energy, 



3 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

how great, probably no one knows with exactness, but it 
has been estimated to be equal to a thousand pounds. We 
are wholly unconscious of the force if it is in the right 
place. If we begin to speak at any point above the dia- 
phragm, the speech suffers according to the location, the 
amount of misplaced energy and the temperament of the 
speaker. If all the energy is centred at any such point, 
there can be no speech, because it is only force in the 
breathing-muscles that can drive the breath against the 
vocal cords; and as the breath, whether vocalized or 
not, must pass through the glottis, it is plain that if the 
muscles at the glottis tie up the passage, the speech is 
hindered in the degree of the force of the contraction. 

This iis the distinguishing symptom in speech-hesitation. 
It is one cause of spasm of the glottis. K the con- 
traction -stops at the glottis, only the vowels are hindered ; 
but if it extends, as it usually does, to the lips and the 
tongue, the consonants also are affected. Consonants 
have been called breath-obstructions; but they are as 
dependent as are the vowels upon the free passage of the 
breath, and they never obstruct, except when contraction 
of lips and tongue enter into their formation. 

Four persons were suffering with contraction in dif- 
ferent forms. Two were school-teachers, one of whom 
was an invalid. Her voice was weak and her throat dis- 



SPEECH-HESITATION. 31 

eased, and she was trying change of climate and rest in 
hope of finding relief. The other was obliged to give up 
teaching on account of hoarseness. Besides the other 
remedies, she practiced gymnastic exercises, and con- 
sequently lost 'her voice altogether, 'because gymnastics 
increased the peripheral strength. When the physical 
exercises were given up, the hoarse voice returned. She 
said that with any slight excitement, as interesting read- 
ing or the playing of games, the muscles of the throat 
closed tightly. 

The third case had been an invalid from childhood, 
with the contraction focused in the muscles in the side 
of the neck and the hands. There was no hesitation in 
speaking any word, but the head bent from side to side, 
and the contraction had reached the hands. At birth it 
was with difficulty that she was made to breathe. 

The fourth was a case of speech-hesitancy, the con- 
traction being in the vocal cords. It was the least com- 
plicated of all, because the contraction had not reached 
far beyond the focusing point. In each case the voice 
was weak and pitched on a high key. 

It is only a voice that is free from that contraction 
and the percentage of such voices is small that can be 
readily adapted to the varied requirements of life, from 
the low, quiet tone necessary in the sick-room, to the 



32 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

strong, clear tone that will fill every part of a large 
audience room. The voice can not expand from the throat. 
A large class of persons, who never fail to go on, are so 
nicely balanced as to be very nervous about speaking in 
unusual places, but never having been quite stopped, they 
do not know the cause. Some hesitate constantly, but 
manage to push along, and habit renders them uncon- 
scious of any serious difficulty; and this unconsciousness 
may be their salvation. Others hesitate occasionally, but, 
as this hesitation is seldom, it does not trouble them. All 
these carry a weight, more or less heavy, but they do 
not know what the burden is or 'how they came by it. 

Quite a percentage of persons who hesitate habitually 
get on very well for a time; perhaps will talk for days 
without revealing any difficulty, especially if difficult per- 
sons and places are avoided. In some such cases, even 
the neighbors whom they meet continually detect no weak- 
ness. It may be that when the conversation becomes ex- 
citing they are silent or withdraw, and this may give 
them the reputation of being odd or queer. I am told 
that some such persons, being always able to talk, when 
addressed on the -subject of speech-difficulty will league 
with dealers in tricks as reference, for the revenue that 
may come to them. But the mass of cases are much more 
intricate. The tendency of the contraction is to communi- 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 33 

cate from point to point, until the whole system is under 
its influence ; and the severity of the case depends entirely 
upon how far the contraction reaches and the amount of 
rigidity it has attained. 

From the vocal cords it reaches out to the jaw, tongue, 
lips and facial muscles, making of each a new centre as 
it proceeds. When the muscles of the jaw become rigid, 
it may cause a profuse flow of saliva, and the teeth will 
strike together with great force. If in the tongue, it 
cleaves to the roof of the mouth. If in the lips, they 
close together immovably. When the contraction extends 
through the muscles at the neck and the jaw, there may 
be times when the rigidity is at the extreme, when the 
person is unable to hear, and if it reaches to the upper 
part of the face, the eyes may roll about, giving the ap- 
pearance of convulsions ; or they may move from side to 
side, never being fixed upon any object. The contraction 
may stop here, but often it continues to the shoulders, 
hands and feet. 

These extreme cases feel themselves under the power 
of a monster clutching and holding them with an irre- 
sistible power. The extreme examples of these conditions 
are found in hospitals in a hopelessly chronic or gener- 
ally paralyzed state. In a healthy muscle, the relaxation 
equals the contraction. If a muscle continues contracted 



34 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

too long, the result will be a partial paralysis. This fre- 
quently occurs in the lips, tongue, jaw or facial muscles, 
and as the vocal organs can not be controlled, to one whose 
attention has not been turned to this aspect of the subject 
they may suggest brain lesion. 

As far as I have been able to observe, three generations 
of noticeable throat-contractions bring about an average 
case of hesitation. Usually it is quite evident in the 
grandmother, more so in the mother or father, or both, 
one or both of whom, perhaps, 'hesitates a little sometimes, 
but not enough to cause inconvenience. The next genera- 
tion does not get on as well. Occasionally the degrees 
of difficulty are found in one family. In one case, the 
mother spoke with a great deal of effort in the throat, 
the boy seven years old hesitated inveterately ; the child 
four years old could neither walk nor hold up her head: 
so great was the misplaced energy. 

The mental phase is conspicuous in those cases in 
which speech-hesitation is a prominent symptom. It is 
a serious complication, but stands in relation to the physi- 
cal as effect and not as cause. One is never afraid to do 
what he knows that he can do. It is true that by the con- 
stant play and interplay of the one with the other, the 
mental may in many cases outgrow the physical, but the 
origin, the root of the difficulty, lies in the latter. 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 35 

When a sensitive child first learns that his speech is 
peculiar, he instinctively avoids meeting persons outside 
the circle of his immediate friends. Often a child five 
years old resolves not to speak to anyone except his par- 
ents and nurse, and not unusually at that early age deter- 
mines not to speak at all and carries out his resolution* 
He does well, for he avoids the struggle and consequent 
nervous strain, and is in better condition to receive in- 
struction. But usually the child tries to talk, and every 
effort fixes and intensifies the contraction. His playmates 
laugh at and imitate him, his teacher is tried, his parents 
pity or blame him, and he dreads them all. Perhaps he 
has never seen nor head of anyone in like condition, and 
he feels conspicuous before the world with a mark worse 
than that of Cain upon him. In his class he stands with 
beating heart, trembling in every limb, as he sees his turn 
coming, and when it comes, shakes his head to indicate 
that he does not know, when he does ; loses his mark and 
stands at the foot, when he might be at the head. He 
goes hungry, because he can not ask for food, and eats 
what he does not want, because he must say the easy word. 
Very early, life is turned into 'bitterness because the fact 
that he wants to say a word is the great reason that he 
can not say it. 

As he grows older, he stays away from merrymakings 



36 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

and good times, because he seems to see every eye directed 
toward him and knows that any attempt to speak will 
make him conspicuous. He is always looking this way 
and that, to see if any person is approaching who will 
speak to him, and turning corners and dodging down 
alleys to avoid what may be an acquaintance in the dis- 
tance. He loses trains, because he can not ask for his 
ticket or tell where his baggage is to go. Nothing is so 
obedient as a muscle trained ; and on his way to the sta- 
tion, with mind preoccupied, the first hint that he is to 
purchase a ticket may be the tightening contraction. He 
dreams for months over an expected interview that may 
never come, especially if he is to introduce himself, as 
his own name stands first on the list of impossibilities. 
He makes a plan of what the conversation will be, and 
wonders if he will be able to speak certain words, and 
when the time comes he has worked himself into such a 
mental condition that probably he can not speak at all. 

It is well if he must find some occupation, for it will 
perforce divert his mind from himself. But it is hard for 
a man to keep books all his life, when his tastes and con- 
scious ability would open to him the widest field. Said 
one: "I hesitate badly and am growing worse. I have 
limited means, have lost my position, and life is a failure, 
'because of my defect." Said another: "I work for daily 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 37 

wages, when I might 'be in good business. I am an out- 
cast from society, treated with contempt, and scorned by 
my inferiors, when I know that I might have a place 
among the best. Is He a just God, who can send such 
an affliction upon one who has done nothing to merit it ? 
Sometimes I can talk with those who can understand me 
very well for a time, but I can not read aloud, even when 
alone. If I s'hould try a course of treatment and it should 
fail, I do not know what the result would be." 

Sometimes one who might shine in society does menial 
work, because all other avenues are closed to him. Eie 
associate.-* with low companions because they notice less 
his infirmity. Neither the social nor the business wo-ul 
opens its doors very wide to one who seems to go into 
convulsions *,vi'h every word he attempts to speak. "If i 
could only talk !" is the wail that goes up from his inmost 
soul, through every waking moment. It is the las,, 
thought at night, as he goes to sleep, the first as he awakes 
in the morning, and he dreams of it all through the night. 
Sometimes the contraction is evident even when not 
speaking, and he dreads to appear on the street in the 
daytime, and yields to the temptation to use a stimulant, 
depending upon its bracing effect to carry him through 
an ordeal. In this way, not unusually, a drinking habit 
is formed, but in the reaction stimulants leave the subject 



38 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

worse than before. If he tries to find diversion in enter- 
tainments, not infrequently he is forced to witness a pain- 
ful caricature of himself. It is to be hoped that our 
higher civilization and wider knowledge will oblige us 
to frown upon such characterization. Nothing but inex- 
cusable ignorance of the nature of this painful malady can 
induce any performer so to outrage the sensibilities of 
so large a portion of any community. It is not to the cred- 
it of any publication, especially if for the young, to put 
upon its pages anecdotes or stories representing speech- 
hesitancy, for there is no one who has the difficulty who 
would not be pained by them deeply. 

Another type of the mental phase is that of one who 
uses such extreme care that he seldom hesitates. By con- 
stant practice he becomes an adept in the use of synonyms. 
If one word will not do, another may. I knew of one 
person who never began a sentence with the first word 
that presented itself, and he never hesitated, except when 
obliged to be literal. I have talked for hours with others 
who, to an unpracticed ear, would give no sign of hesitan- 
cy, because a collection of words was laid away that could 
never be used under any circumstances. Another list 
might be used if the conditions were favorable, and so 
the entire vocabulary was classified. Every word was 
spoken with an extreme care conspicuous in every move- 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 39 

ment, until the whole atmosphere was one of painful re- 
straint. 

It is true that a few who would gladly drop the burden 
are so happily constituted that they do not allow it to 
hinder their success in life, and some can even make it a 
matter of jest. One who had opportunities of meeting 
such persons said: "I know some who hesitate and they 
get on very well." But it was because they got on very 
well that he knew them. 



CHAPTER III. 

My own hope is a sun will pierce 

The thickest cloud earth ever stretched. 

Robert Browning. 

PRIMARY schools have been called, with truth, "breed- 
* ing-places for speech-hesitation." For this there may 
be several reasons : Many children are so nicely pivoted 
that only a little forceful explosion of the vowel from the 
throat and a little more energy placed upon the articula- 
tions, are all that is necessary to destroy the slight balance 
and cause them to hesitate. Perhaps a child hesitates but 
little, and by encouragement and the right kind of instruc- 
tion would overcome the slight impediment. It may be 
that his friends have avoided giving any attention to it, 
thinking that if nothing was said, he would be less con- 
scious O'f the infirmity, and be better able to outgrow and 
overcome it. But he 'has discovered that he can not speak 
certain letters and words, and has begun to avoid them 
and substitute others. The teacher does not understand 
that no word or sound is difficult except as it is made so 
by the contraction; i. e., that the word is simply subject to 
the condition. 

If one grasps his pen with all the energy that can be 
concentrated in the muscles of the hand, he may not be 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 41 

able to write, but the pen is not at fault, the impediment 
is the misapplied force. 

The child receives the usual phonic drill, di- 
rect attention being given to the troublesome sounds, and 
when he struggles through them and repeats them after 
the teacher, it seems like a victory. But it is a victory 
that is worse than a defeat. 

Reading is usually more difficult than speaking, be- 
cause every word must be rendered literally, and learn- 
ing reading as it is now taught is a dangerous experi- 
ment for a child inclined to hesitation. School is a very 
trying place for such a child. He is sensitive, and knows 
that every ear in the school is on the alert to hear and to 
magnify every fault. He is met by anything but loving 
sympathy. The boys and even the girls follow him with 
taunts, shouting into his ear the words of which he is most 
afraid, and imitating his efforts. They little know their 
own danger. The tormenting spirit in boys is stimulated 
by the helplessness of the object, who knows that to 
undertake a word in return is to expose himself to still 
greater ridicule. So, as a rule, he suffers in silence. 

A young man told me of a boy who pursued him more 
relentlessly than his other companions, and one day his 
courage was aroused to answer as best he could, that 
his greatest hope was that he, the tormentor, would live 



42 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

to hesitate as badly as himself. This amused the boy so 
that he put greater determination than usual into his 
imitations. "To-day," said the young man, "he hesitates 
worse than I do. I can to-day count twenty who hesitate 
because, when boys, they imitated me. I am careful about 
speaking in the presence of children, because of their 
imitative faculty." 

Teachers can do much to make or mar in this respect. 
Some, by their kindly helpfulness in encouraging and in 
screening a child from the rudeness of the other pupils, 
will sometimes give one Who is not confirmed in the dif- 
ficulty sufficient confidence to carry him along. Others 
will make him unnecessarily conspicuous and by their 
lack of kindly tact fix what might easily have been re- 
moved. Several have said to me : "I was made to hesitate 
by the severity of my teacher ;" and others who, to all ap- 
pearance, had no trouble in speaking were in daily fear 
of the teacher. Finally a day came when some unusual 
little severity sent the contraction with a grasp to the 
throat, and it never lost its hold. I have known children 
who would hesitate the year through under one teacher, 
and talk perfectly with another. A quick, short, sharp, 
incisive manner, however kindly, is very trying to one 
who hesitates. 

A child who hesitates is a constant menace to all the 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 



43 



rest. Besides those who take great pleasure in making 
him wretched, many who do not directly intend to imitate 
him do so unconsciously. Children in the primary schools, 
being at the imitative age, are uncontrollably attracted 
and fascinated by anything out of the usual course, es- 
pecially if it is unnatural. A mother of several children 
told me that when they were in the lower school-grades, 
there were always some who hesitated. Her diildren 
took no pains to imitate them, but they continually caught 
it up. Said she : "I thought that in spite of all I could do 
I should have a family who could not talk; but I man- 
aged to carry them through." All are not as fortunate. 

Children are sensitively and delicately organized. With 
many persons, the chief means of control is fear. The 
child so conditioned dreads from day to day meeting the 
teacher and the children with whom he is associated. He 
knows that every attempt at a recitation is an exposure to 
ridicule, and out of schodl-'hours he thinks of it contin- 
ually. Through the year he becomes accustomed to the 
teacher and one class of scholars, but through vacation 
his mind is constantly dwelling upon the thought of the 
new teacher and the new class that he must meet. The 
question is : "Will the teacher be patient with my infirmity, 
and will the pupils be more, or less, insulting than those 
in the old class?" Generally, the hesitation that com- 



44 SPEECPI-HESITA TION. 

mences and is developed in the primary school increases 
through the different grades, until the child can neither 
read nor recite. 

Few contract the difficulty after reaching ten or twelve 
years of age, because by that time the muscular action 
has become fixed. For the same reason, the difficulty of 
changing the action after that time is increased. At the 
present time, prevention is one of the strong elements 
in all remedial work. We guard our schools carefully 
against every other form of infectious disease, but to this 
the doors are open wide, in spite of the fact that sorm 
children, by hearing another hesitate only once, may be- 
wrecked for life. 

It is an ungracious act to criticize, especially when one 
stands alone and aims his criticism at a practice or a be- 
lief that is generally accepted as the highest and best ; bui 
this must not deter me from saying that our phonic sys 
tern needs revision, before it can be safe for any child. 
By the forceful practice of consonants we are helping or* 
that great power of misapplied strength which is the ban* 
of pupils and the discouragement of a ! ll teachers of th 
voice. Speech is the clothing of the thought. Is the 
thinker helped, either in speaking or in singing, by being 
reminded that a word ends with a d, t or s? Besides the 
great energy employed in making them so prominent, so 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 45 

much strength is drawn from the grasp at the centre. 
"Does she not articulate well?" asked one, of a singer. 
"Yes, almost too well," was the answer. And it was 
true, that the singer was soon unable to sing at all. The 
German language abounds in consonants, which may be 
the reason why it is so unsafe to practice German songs. 
Works upon the voice usually close with a chapter giving 
exercises for those who hesitate, which should never even 
be seen by them. 

Pupils who come to me, almost without exception, re- 
port that nothing so increased the hesitation as the phonic 
drill received by them in school ; and my greatest anxiety 
for them is that, on returning to school, they may be ex- 
posed to it again. One with the tendency to hesitation 
can not with safety hear it. If such a statement as this 
had been made to me twenty-five years ago, I should have 
resented it;but now my eyes can not be closed to the truth, 
which is that phonics, as they are taught, induce hesita- 
tion faster than we can by any means correct it, and where 
it is the most conscientiously taught, the percentage of 
hesitation is the highest. 

Without doubt, the remote cause of hesitation is mis- 
applied energy. When a child labors under all the con- 
traction that can be possible and be able to speak, a slight 
influence may bring that contraction to a focus. A child 



46 SPEECH-HESITA TION . 

four years old visited for a few hours one of about her 
age who hesitated in her speech. On her return home 
she imitated the child. Her friends were at first amused, 
but after a few repetitions, it became a fixed habit and 
lasted through life. It is a common occurrence that the 
affection is communicated by a nurse who is herself un- 
der its influence. It may be explained here that it is not 
necessary for one actually to hesitate, in order to com- 
municate the difficulty. A marked throat-contraction, if 
imitated, may be all that is needed to carry it to a child 
sensitive to this influence. 

Twins eight years old were in school together, and a 
little afraid of the teacher. One day a question was put 
to one of them with more than usual directness, and he 
could not answer. He was supposed to be obstinate. 
When he went home his parents thougfht the same, but 
when he tried to talk it was with the greatest difficulty that 
he could speak a word. In two or three days his brother 
went through the same experience, and neither of them 
was ever able to speak with any freedom. The contrac- 
tion, once focused, will remain. 

A boy eight years old met a man on the street, who in- 
quired the way to some place. It was done in so impera- 
tive a manner that the boy was frightened and could not 
answer. This enraged the man, who thought that the boy 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 47 

was making fun of him. The boy went home in a state 
of intense excitement, and for some hours could not utter 
a syllable. From that time he spoke with marked hesita- 
tion. In my experience, whooping-cough, diphtheria, 
scarlet fever any disease that affects the throat may be 
sufficient to fix the contraction. The cough that follows a 
common cold, laughing with effort in the throat, as so 
many do, or a blow on the head, is liable to produce a 
like result. A boy exclaimed : "Ha, ha, ha !" several times, 
for fun, and it ended in hesitation. 

A serious misconception is the classing of these cases 
with those of deaf-mutes, and subjecting them to the same 
kind of training. Deaf-mutism is one thing; speech-hesi- 
tation is quite another. A deaf-mute must learn every 
particular sound; but is it necessary for one who has 
formed every sound in every combination until he is six, 
eight or ten years of age, and perhaps has spoken with 
unusual clearness, to learn the structure of speech, if a 
fright, blow, or severe illness any abrupt shock comes 
and he suddenly hesitates ? This minute he talks ; the next 
he can not. Is it because he suddenly forgets how? I 
think not. The truth is that he, like most of the world, 
has practiced a great deal of throat-contraction, and one 
of these influences was the last, decisive stroke that caused 
a little more determined focusing of the unnatural 
strength, and the slight balance was lost. 




48 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

"Why does anyone talk like that ?" said a person to me, 
referring to speech-hesitation. I said : "Why do you use 
your throat in that way?" "I do not know," was the an- 
swer. Then I explained : "He makes that contraction a 
little more than you do; that is all. The result is what 
you see." It may be added that the questioner had pain 
in the throat with every slight cold. 

The early part of my work was a line of experiments 
with different methods, with no settled opinion in re- 
gard to the cause. If cases differed in severity, the reason 
for the difference was not clear; and what one was able 
to do, it seemed reasonable to expert of another. A run 
of mild cases for a time seemed to favor t)he impression. 
One to whom the process and the reasons were explained 
caught the principle, at once put it inlto execution, and 
was soon out of the difficulty. Another young man I 
saw twice, about fifteen minutes. He bravely hdd to the 
right, although it was new and strange to him, and the 
wrong by degrees disappeared. He spoke in a falsetto 
voice, which was caused by the contraction. 

Just as I had taken my seat on a train one evening, for 
a ride of half an hour, a young man took the seat by me, 
and began at once telling me that he had been for some 
years preparing himself for a public speaker, which for 
evident reasons he could never be, unless his obstacle 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 49 

could be removed. At once the whole matter was ex- 
plained to him and 'he took a lesson on the train. Two 
years afterward I heard from him. He had been able to 
use the instruction with entire success. 

Another young man, who was in danger of losing his 
place and who, when it was most important that he should 
speak, could not utter a sound, took ten lessons, and was 
able to take up the work and carry it out for himself, 
until he could speak perfectly. His case, although severe, 
was uncomplicated, i. e., the contraction centred at the 
vocal cords, and had not communicated, to any appreci- 
able extent, to other centres. 

A young man Who could never buy an article at a store, 
a ticket at the railway ticket-office, or make a call, without 
the greatest difficulty, was able to do all these with per- 
fect freedom, after three weeks' instruction ; and he com- 
pleted the work by himself. These all were cases of sim- 
ple throat-contraction. The seriousness of the case de- 
pends upon the rigidity and extent of the contraction, and 
the degree of mental complication. 

A young woman, after the first day's training, would 
stop instantly when she saw that she was going wrong, 
and she never hesitated after the third or the fourth day 
It must not be understood that all tendency to hesitate 
was gone in the time mentioned, in any of these cases. 



50 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

but the persons persistently aimed at the right and re- 
fused to practice the wrong. The cases were not com- 
plicated and the gain was steady and sure. 

Two young women Who were anxious for an education 
and who could not attend school because of their inability 
to talk, began school when partly relieved, grew stronger 
as they went on, and became teachers. 

A young man in whom the contraction extended from 
the throat to the jaw, lips, tongue, eyes, and finally to the 
hands and the feet, and who could speak but very little, 
came to me during the winter months. He did farm 
work, being unable to obtain other employment on ac- 
count of his disability. After the second winter he found 
a good situation and has had no further trouble. 

One case was of a young man suffering from chorea. 
His hands were closed with thumbs turned in upon the 
palm, and he had no thought that they cou'ld be opened. 
It was necessary for someone to cut his food. There 
was a great deal of contraction in the face; the head 
shook and shoulders lifted. After exercising the breath- 
ing-muscles in the usual way, the young man was sur- 
prised to find his hands open upon the arms of his chair, 
and a general relaxation of all the muscles followed. 
The speech gradually became free, and the whole system 
was restored to a natural condition. This case confirmed 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 5 r 

the opinion that nervousness was an effect and not a 
cause. 

A young man of nineteen came to me, directly from 
Scotland. When eight years old, a door was blown 
against his head, and from that time he was unable to 
speak. It was the opinion of the best physicians in Glas- 
gow that he could never be made to speak. He commu- 
nicated by writing, and the mental complication was 
strongly developed. Sometimes, hopeless as it was, he 
would attempt to speak a word, and the evident strain 
showed that every muscle in the system took part in the 
effort. In this, as in some preceding cases, the question 
was how to find a beginning; but the same process that 
had unlocked the bars in other cases opened the way in 
this, and soon the young man could utter words, and it 
was not long before he could read to me, and converse 
very well He was so sensitive that he would falter if 
anyone passed through the room, but, being encouraged, 
after a time he read with the class, and at the end of ten 
months, when he left me, he could transact business any- 
where, and was speaking at public meetings. 

In several cases where speech was impossible, words 
and their meanings were fully recognized and understood 
when seen in print, but there was no mental connection 
between the printed and the spoken word, and it was 



52 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

necessary to learn it as something new and foreign. A 
boy six years old, knowing that he could not speak (the 
reason was a contraction at the glottis) refused to try. 
When the right way was explained to him, he put it into 
practice at once, and in three days was talking with per- 
fect freedom. This went on we'll for a while, but he was 
not kept under training until strong, and the result was a 
relapse. 

In the first place, the boy did well to keep silence. 
In that way communication of the difficulty to other parts 
of the system was avoided; but, after once talking well, 
he dropped back by degrees, and then fie diose the strug- 
gle with the contraction rather than the silence. The con- 
traction was very great, and became communicated to the 
muscles of the neck, right arm, and right leg. When he 
returned to me in about two years, he bent his head from 
side to .side and lifted his right leg and right arm in 
his attempts to speak. His parents expected that the 
first experience would be repeated, and it was difficult 
for them at once to see that we were now dealing with a 
\ery different case; but the work was finally accom- 
plished. 

When the contraction extends to hands and feet, the 
case is considerably complicated. Two young men whose 
symptoms compared almost exactly were receiving in- 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 53 

struction at the same time. The feet were lifted, the 
hands contracted, and the winking of the eyelids was ab- 
normally frequent, showing that the contraction extended 
from the top of the head to the sole of the foot. One be- 
lieved in what he was doing, and held and used every gain 
that was made, and so worked on perseveringly until en- 
tire freedom was gained. The other had no faith, could 
see no good in anything that did not bring perfection in a 
little time. When a gain was evident, he believed it would 
not last, and proceeded to prove his position by refusing 
to continue the practice. Of course, all work with him 
was a failure. 

Wherever the contraction centres, the sense of weak- 
ness that follows will, like any other physical ailment, 
affect the mind in a degree ; but it is only when the prom- 
inent symptom is speech-hesitation that the mind suffers 
seriously. But the mental complication is an effect and 
not a cause, and in all cases that have come under my ob- 
servation, the organs of speech are without fault; and 
besides, when the physical disability is removed, tihe men- 
tal affection gradually disappears. There may be some 
question, however, whether the great strain caused by the 
contraction may not in some cases affect the brain. 

One who took a three weeks' course with me said that 
he could both hear and see better, as the contraction came 



54 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

tinder control. A marked feature of his case was that he 
felt a pressure in the right side of his head Which, when 
he tried to talk, was almost a pain. The contraction in 
his case was centred in the throat, neck and face. His 
mind was clearer and he could think better when the 
strain was removed from the head. 

A young lady made a similar report of herself. She 
had a very loud voice, which had been intensified by 
shouting, and Which seemed directed to the lower jaw. 
She and her friends had for some time been conscious 
that her mind was being affected in some way. She wrote 
after her return home, referring to the effect of the treat- 
ment on 'her mental condition : "It is the difference be- 
tween a cloudy day and a bright June morning." 

A little girl six years of age came to me for training. 
Nothing had been noticeable in her speech until, when 
she was about four years old, being outdoors at play, a 
watering-cart went by, and suddenly sprinkled water upon 
her. She was frightened and seriously shocked, and from 
that time she began to hesitate in speaking. The fright 
created no new conditions, but developed or focused those 
that already existed, i. e., tightened and fixed a con- 
traction that might otherwise have beetn overcome. Both 
legs were weak ; she lifted her right foot and right hand 
and bent her head, her face becoming very red in her 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 55 

efforts to speak. She was also subject to periodical at- 
tacks of nausea. The contraction in the tongue and the 
jaw was most m'arked, but no symptom was unusual. 
She was with me some months, and during that time the 
effort in the leg and the hand disappeared, and was nearly 
gone from the tongue. The nausea also disappeared. Con- 
siderable throat-contraction remained, but was gradually 
becoming less. A't this stage a removal to a distant city 
interrupted the course of treatment. At that time slhe 
seemed to be on the road to perfect recovery, and, in- 
deed, to the general observer she appeared well. If all in- 
fluences had been favorable and if hers had been an or- 
dinary case, she would have continued growing stronger ; 
but when she caught a little in the throat, a boy imitated 
and laughed at her, and, being sensitive, it was more than 
she could bear. From that time she grew worse. The 
contraction in the tongue assumed a more violent form, 
and the disability in the right arm and leg returned, and 
so increased that both became useless. Finally, it became 
evident to those who understood the symptoms, that the 
brain was in some way affected. She was a very interest- 
ing and intelligent child. If there was bilain disease in 
the beginning, could the unfavorable symptoms have been 
removed by vocal training? The specialist who exam- 
ined the child saw symptoms indicating a tumor of the 



56 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

brain, but he stated also that some symptoms necessary 
to prove it were wanting. The child died at the Massa- 
chusetts General Hospital. A post-mortem examination 
showed a diseased brain, but, as reported to me, there was 
no tumor. One of the best authorities, who examined the 
child before she went to the hospital, thought there might 
be a small chance for her recovery. Since noticing with 
greater care the effect of gymnastic exercises, I think that 
we may have lost the slight chance by encouraging her 
to use her limbs while they were in an abnormal condi- 
tion. 

The contraction may exist as an all-prevailing influence 
throughout the system, and never centre at any given 
point, unless developed by fright, fever, whooping-cough, 
or any other positive influence that brings it to a focus. 

Children under the influence of abnormal muscular con- 
traction dread to be alone, and are likely to be afraid of 
the dark. They are commonly styled "nervous children. ' 
To spring at a child to frighten away hiccough is an un- 
safe thing to do, and cases of convulsions have been re- 
ported to me as caused by tossing a child in the air just for 
exercise or for fun. When the contraction exists in this 
general way, as nature is helpful, strength may be un- 
consciously established at the true centre, or a slight over- 
balance at any point may be overcome, and then the child 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 57 

outgrows it; or the contraction may at any time develop 
any conditions of which it is capable. 

As a case of serious misplaced contraction develops, it 
may change character arid show new and more aggra- 
vated symptoms. A child eight years of age had scarlet 
fever, which induced speech-hesitation. After a time the 
hesitation stopped and epilepsy followed. A young man 
whose physical system suffered severely from the con- 
traction -and in whom speech-hesitation was a marked 
symptom, met with a great disappointment, which de- 
veloped epilepsy. In some serious cases of speech-hesita- 
tion it has been noticed that one of the parents was an 
epileptic. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Truth is the strong thing. Robert Browning. 

ALTHOUGH the mild cases opened the way to a gen- 
eral knowledge of the nature and consequent manner 
of treatment of this peculiar malady, it is from the sever- 
est cases that positive information has been obtained. If 
.a child does not cry at birth, he may be a cripple without 
a voice. If the cry is produced with difficulty, he lives 
under the disadvantage of a partly disorganized condition, 
varying in different individuals. In Rhode Island any 
person having charge of an infant is expected, if the eyes 
are not in a perfect condition, to report the fact to the 
health officer immediately. This is an act to prevent 
blindness. We are looking for some way in which to pre- 
vent speech-disturbances. As the conditions that develop 
all the various symptoms, including speech-hesitation, be- 
gin at birth, would it not be well for all Who have the 
care of children to know and to be able to report the 
voice-conditions of every child ? We shall sometime reach 
that point. If to-d ! ay our kindergarten and primary 
teachers were models in all that relates to the voice, and 
were required to train their pupils properly, much might 




SPEECH-HESITA TION. 59 

be done in the way of prevention ; but the training should 
begin by imitation, before the child learns to talk. In this 
way all mental complications would be avoided, and the 
speech would not be in the way of the general develop- 
ment. The most pernicious advice that can be given is, 
"Let him be; he will outgrow it." It is as two grains of 
wheat hidden in two bushels of chaff. There is no error 
so hard to meet and to refute as one that contains an ele- 
ment of truth. It is true that a few, in whom the con- 
traction is slight, outgrow it; but, unfortunately, it is 
equally true that the multitude do not. 

Sometimes a little common-sense training, like "Wait 
till the excitement is over," or reading aloud, declamation, 
talking out courageously, or speaking the words with 
decision, may relieve the self-consciousness and restore 
the needed balance. Many a mother has saved her child 
from a chronic condition, by obliging him to stop till he 
could speak without hesitation. Counting any number be- 
fore speaking has the same effect. Any emotion crowds 
toward the throat; that removed, the contraction drops 
to its proper place. 

Avicenna, an Arabian physician, born in 980, recom- 
mended taking a full breath before speaking. Perhaps no 
device has received more attention or done greater in- 
jury. It is opposed to nature's economy, which is to do the 



60 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

most work with the least material. It is a common but 
false notion that a person who hesitates speaks upon 
exhausted lungs. Some, because of the contraction, do 
exhaust the lungs when beginning to speak; so do many 
w l ho do not hesitate. Every inspiration is sufficient for 
ordinary speaking; more than that embarrasses and hin- 
ders. Just stopping ( to take a 'full breath may help one 
over a hard place for a time, but the effect is weakening 
and leaves him less able than before to meet an emer- 
gency. Besides, it becomes, as any trick or device may be, 
a subterfuge, which is an unsafe reliance. 

Several cases have been reported to me which were 
very successfully treated by Whipping. When the child 
began to hesitate, the father, and sometimes the mother, 
administered the chastisement. It is a most unsafe ex- 
periment. Many children, if subjected to it, would be 
liable to be thrown into convulsions or 'seriously injured 
mentally. 

In a few cases, a slight movement called "a trick" mav 
give relief. But tricks should be used with caution, and 
never in serious cases, because one may in this way add 
tension to an already overstrained part. In this haphaz- 
ard treatment, which gives no definite aim, what helps one 
is not likely to relieve another. 

The person who cures 'himself is everywhere. Meeting 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 6 1 

such cases 'frequently, a special study was made of their 
peculiarities, in the hope of gaining from this source a 
more direct and satisfactory light. Most of them told me 
frankly that they had no idea 'how it was done. "I made 
up my mind that I would not hesitate; that is all that I 
can say about it." Others said: "My mother stopped 
me every time I began to go wrong." One lady applied 
for a position, which was refused because of her speech- 
disability. She promised that she would 'Stop the hesita- 
tion at once if the position was given to her. As her char- 
acter eminently qualified her, the place was given, and she 
carried out her determination to the letter, but could give 
me no hint of 'how it was done. 

Others have said that when old enough to be sensitive in 
regard to their affliction and to see the disadvantages con- 
nected with it, they have managed, in some way unknown 
to themselves, to gain control of it. Others, by assuming 
a coincidence they did not feel, have risen above it. One 
gentleman said that when a boy, his associates urged him 
to join a debating society. He declined, explaining that 
he could not, for obvious reasons, take part in debate. 
But the boys wanted him, and induced him to join. They 
knew that in every other way he was fully their equal, 
so they urged until he was induced to make a trial. The 
boys were helpful; he got on better than he expected; 



62 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

the experiment was repeated, and in this way he over- 
came the whole trouble. He does not know how much he 
owes those boys. If they had laughed at him, the reverse 
would >no doubt have been the result. 

A person said to me : "I do not see why one needs 
assistance to overcome speech-affection." 

"Do you understand the difficulty?" I asked. 

"I think I do; I had as much trouble as anyone could." 

"How did you overcome it?" I inquired. 

"Just as I do everything else; when I make up my mind 
to a thing, it is done." 

Very little of the information gained in this way was 
suggestive or helpful. 

In my experience this trouble is usually intensified in 
the second generation. Many a father who has "cured" 
himself expects his son to do the same. The father has no 
knowledge of the way in which he found relief; he can 
make no comparison between his own case and that of his 
son, wihom he charges with want of will. He does not 
know that while one may be so conditioned that an ex- 
ercise of will is all that is necessary to carry him through, 
another, by the exercise of the same amount will, may 
only increase and tighten the contraction. A father need 
never expect his son to follow his example in this respect. 

In other diseases we expect difference of degree, and 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 63 

this is no exception. That a person must experience the 
difficulty before he is fitted to give instruction is one of 
the superstitions growing out of the general ignorance 
upon the subject. Upon this principle, a physician should 
contract all the diseases he is called upon to treat. The 
differences caused by heredity, temperament, and the al- 
most endless variations in the extent of the contraction, 
can only be understood by comparing many cases one 
with another, from the general standpoint of cause and 
effect. There is a limit beyond which no case can be 
outgrown, where shouting, or the exercise of will, but 
tightens the fetters already too closely drawn; where all 
the simple means that have indirectly given relief to many 
art not only useless but harmful. Persons so conditioned 
never find the way blindly; the difficulty is radical, and 
must receive radical treatment. 

Two distinct principles enter into the formation of per- 
fect speech, absolute hold of the breath, centring where 
it turns to go out ; and absolute let go above that point. 
If any deviation from these conditions exists, the remedy 
lies in a return to the normal. If a person overcomes any 
phase of the muscular disorganization, of which speech- 
hesitation is a prominent symptom, it is because, either 
blindly or otherwise, he finds these principles, and puts 
them into practice. 



64 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

Every teacher has been limited by the traditionary opin- 
ion that all that is necessary to be done is to learn to talk ; 
therefore, a "perfect and permanent cure" should be ef- 
fected in a short time. He is also expected to cure every 
case without any exception, and every dase is to be placed 
beyond the possibility of a relapse. This is to be per- 
formed by some magic or sleight of hand on the part of 
the teacher, which leaves the pupil free from all respon- 
sibility. 

I asked the clergyman who took lessons of Mme. Seiler 
how long it was before all tendency to contract the mus- 
cles of the throat was gone. He said : "From three to 
four years." He took lessons four weeks, and went di- 
rectly into his pulpit. When 'he felt the contraction ris- 
ing, 'he stopped and waited until it ha'd 'dropped to its 
proper place. He did the same in conversation. He said . 
"It is death to me to allow the wrong, and life to do the 
right ; therefore, I never speak under the influence of the 
contraction." 

When we consider that the conditions which lead up to 
speech-hesitation begin at birth, and that the muscles 
which are to be brought into exercise have been for years 
in a chronic state of disuse, we can understand that in 
many cases they must be brought into a state of activity 
by the exercise of the greatest care, because overwork re- 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 65 

acts upon the throat-muscles and increases the contrac- 
tion. 

It should be known, also, that it is the few who suffer 
no recurrence or relapse. A small percentage will guin 
steadily to the end, but the ordinary and especially the 
severe case will be liable to relapse; there will be ups 
and downs until the muscular energy has gained a nor- 
mal strength. Whenever one is tired, or suffering from 
any physical ailment, the old contraction is liable to as- 
sert itself. At such times it would be well to remain 
quiet, because one gains only when doing right. When 
a person has lived under the great strain for years, he 
loses the power of comparison in this matter, and if the 
load is partly lifted, he may believe himself to be per- 
fecc, when the work is only begun. 

Occasionally one will be able to 'hold a part gain, but, 
as a rule, there is no safety except perfection, and the pu- 
pil should remain under the eye of a teacher until he 
knows the difference between right and wrong, and can 
do the one and avoid the other. The most discouraging 
feature of the work is that one must go back to what 
should have been accomplished When learning to talk, be- 
cause human nature revolts against a backward move- 
ment; but whoever will pursue it patiently, persistently, 
and perseveringly will conquer in the end. 



66 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

It is like aiming at a mark. At first there will be fre- 
quent failures, but if the aim is continued the time will 
come when the mark will be struck always; 'i. e., every 
word will be spoken without misplaced contraction. 



CHAPTER V. 

There is much music, excellent voice, in this little 
organ ; yet can not you make it speak ? Hamlet. 

NE form of serious speech-disturbance is undevel- 
oped articulation. We meet persons frequently, who 
omit a sound or substitute another. Common illustra- 
tions are the omission of 'the letter r, or the substitution of 
w or /, d for hard g or k, or the combination th for s, 
commonly called "a lisp." Speech begins with short u or 
ugh, and they are often ma'de to fill the place of any other 
vowel. The diphthong ou is often substituted for long i, 
and there is a general inability to make the vowel-sound 
tine to its character. Any failure in this respect suggests 
a reversion to a primitive type. The Chinese as a nation 
omit r ; the Ephraimites used s in the place of sh. Trav- . 
elers have stated that the Society Islanders can not pro- 
nounce the hard g and k ; i. e., they never lift the back of 
the tongue. In learning to articulate, a child does what is 
easiest. The lips when at rest are in position to form 
labials. For that reason a child may say "mama" and 
"papa," and go no farther. The dentals are nearly as 
easy, as the tongue when at rest is in the proper place for 
their expression. In forming other consonants, the 



68 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

tongue or the lips must make a special movement if the 
sound is produced; and if one is not imitative in this re- 
spect, and is not able to connect the sound with the exact 
movement that produces the sound, his speech may be a 
jargon. An omission or a substitution in the case of one 
sound is noticeable, but in some cases so many letters 
are omitted or substituted as to render the speech unin- 
telligible. When the entire articulative process is so 
changed, something like a new language is formed. Some- 
times several in a family are so affected, understanding 
each other but having little verbal communication with 
the outside world. This is not owing to originality. Usu- 
ally the disability is keenly felt, and the child is glad to 
learn. The parents and the nurse learned to talk uncon- 
sciously, and have no knowledge of how to correct the er- 
ror. The contraction that causes speech-hesitation is 
found in every varying degree, in complication with this 
form of speech-affection. The weakness at the centre 
causes an abnormal peripheral activity. The child per- 
haps is sent out to run off that misapplied force, when 
what he needs is energy at the centre. Sometimes the ab- 
normal energy is so great as to suggest insanity. As the 
power otf imitation differs in degree, some children, as 
they grow older, will see the wrong and be able to cor- 
rect it. This usually occurs within the first six years of a 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 69 

child's life. It is unsafe to trust to this, because every ar- 
ticulation is a muscular action which has a tendency to 
'become automatic by repetition. Some of the best au- 
thorities believe thai the failure in a child to talk perfect- 
ly at six years of age, by simply hearing words spoken 
by others, is conclusive evidence of mental weakness. 
There are feeble-minded persons who hesitate in speak- 
ing, because muscular contraction in them is indiscrim- 
inative. No doubt there are feeble-minded children who 
fail to articulate, but the large proportion of bright 
children who can not articulate, but who learn rapidly 
under proper instruction, proves that this disability does 
not always mean mental weakness. 

Demosthenes did not (hesitate. He could not form the 
letter r, and his articulation was not clear. Shouting to 
the waves was a dangerous experiment, but it succeed- 
ed with him, and his voice gained strength. The pebbles 
obliged him to individualize the words, instead of run- 
ning them together. It is said that Henry Ward Beecher 
spent the most of three years of his life in overcoming an 
indistinctness in his speech that unfitted him for pulpit 
oratory. 

The advice, "Let him be; he will outgrow it," or 
"He will speak words when he sees the need," is most 
pernicious for any form of speech-affection. It may be 



70 SPEECH-HESITATION. 

doing a child an irreparable wrong, nay, it is almost 
criminal, to leave out of the first years of his life this 
greatest means of development. If, as some believe, 
words are necessary to thought, these children have been 
obliged to work with very imperfect material. Some of 
them, having great force of character, keep pace very well 
with other children; but, in general, to judge them by 
those who can speak correctly, i's making a most unfair 
comparison. One who 'has traveled in a foreign country 
where no one understood his language, will have some 
conception of the strain upon suc'h a life. Besides, one 
suffers physically from the loss of the healthful exercise 
that comes from the constant use of correct speedi. If a 
child has no speech-instinct or 'desire for communication, 
he will not learn to talk unless a responsive spirit can be 
aroused. 

A boy nine years old could speak no word so that it 
could be understood. The tongue through overexercise 
became so large as to interfere with the swallowing. As 
it lay out of the mouth, there could be no articulation. The 
strength in the tongue was greater than in the throat- 
muscles, therefore there was no hesitation sufficient to 
stop speech. He was a very active boy, but not strong. 
He fell frequently, because of weakness of his legs; he 
could not dress himself, because his fingers were too weak 




SPEECH-HESITA TION. 



71 



to fasten his clothing; and he was unable to put on his 
coat and overshoes. There were growths in his nasal 
passage, which were removed. Whenever the force is 
wrongly centred, there are liable to be abnormal growths, 
or some either form of disease. 

These extreme symptoms were new, and the case was 
watched with the greatest interest. Soon it was evident 
that as the effort was removed from the tongue and the 
jaw, the difficulty in swallowing was corrected, and 
Strength came to every part of the system. He was very 
social, and his inability to make himself understood was 
a very great strain upon the nervous system. Sometimes 
he would stamp and scream with all his might, but as the 
unnatural energy was removed from the tongue, it gradu- 
ally fell into place. He soon learned to form sounds. In 
four months' time he could speak any word, and the diffi- 
culty in swallowing disappeared. But the most noticeable 
feature in the case was that, as the great force left the 
tongue, strength came to his legs and fingers. 

The boy did his paft of the work well. He never failed 
in the utmost exactness in carrying out instructions. An- 
other boy, sixteen years old, could speak but two words. 
He was as conscientious and as anxious to learn as the 
former boy, but the symptoms were more confirmed, re- 
quiring a longer time for removal. This boy was gener- 



72 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

ally weak. He stooped, 'his feet dragged, his arms hung 
in a lifeless way, and he was subject to nausea. As he 
learned to use his voice, he grew strong, and all the symp- 
toms changed for the better. When 'he did his first er- 
rand at a store, and was understood, the hopelessness in 
him gave place to courage, and he began to feel that he 
was a man. At birth it Was with difficulty that he was 
made to breathe, and he was in spasms most of the time 
for 'three days. 

A little girl seven years of age spoke but a very 
few words. She had learned to communicate entirely by 
pantomime. She could generally make us understand by 
that means all she would have been glad to say. She was 
in a condition that suggested insanity, and at first an at- 
tempt to try to place the tongue and lips was a great trial. 
Her nervousness was so great that a minute was a long 
time for 'her to practice. But soon s'he began to be proud 
that she could speak a new word ; that induced her to aim 
at words that she could not speak, and then she gained 
faster. When she learned a new sound she would for 
some time put it everywhere, but every gain made way for 
another, and now she says most ordinary words, and ap- 
plies them properly. She lias read three Second Readers 
through, and has commenced the Third Reader. She had 
a can of water out-of-doors, and someone asked her if 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 73 

she knew where there was a cylinder. She at once 
pointed to the can and said : "That is a cylinder." The 
f\rst word she learned to spell was "cat," and it was a 
serious process ; but now she can learn to spell any vv jrd 
of one syllable by studying it over once or twice. She has 
been with me a year. 

Sometimes the hesitation and the failure in articulation 
combine in one case. In a little boy of five the muscles of 
the throat closed when he attempted to speak. He would 
open his mouth and grow red in the face, but could not 
make a sound because of the effort in the throat. He ap- 
peared to have croup with every slight cold. There was 
no recurrence pf this symptom after the contraction was 
removed. So many sounds were omitted or changed 
about, that when he could speak 'he could not be under- 
stood. He brought a pear to me, and asked : "II a woup ?'" 
("Is it ripe?") That sentence is an illustration of the 
whole. The child was so sensitive in regard to his speech 
that he would not try to speak to anyone outside of his 
own family ; but he overcame it all. 

Dr. Lennox Browne, in "Voice, Song and Speech," 
basing his information on the report made by Mr. Robert 
M. Zug in Werner's Magazine for January, 1879, 
states upon a computation of five in 1,000 in 1870, that 
the number of those who hesitate in the United States 



74 SPEECH-HESITA TION. 

alone, is almost three times that of the blind, insane and 
deaf-mutes added together. 

In the public schools of Boston, according to fhe latest 
statistics, there are 500, or seven in 1,000, who speak with 
difficulty. One who understands the situation said : "We 
do not know what to do, so we pay no attention to them 
till they get so bad that they can not talk at all." 

During our great World's Fair in Chicago, the proud 
toast was made in one of the leading periodicals that 
every important subject was to be discussed and that the 
various committees had planned to omit nothing that was 
worthy of their attention. But this great army of suffer- 
ers was wholly ignored. Not a voice was heard even so 
mudh as to report whether or not the darkness had been 
penetrated by one ray of light. Yet in vital consequence 
it might well have stood at the head of the list. 

It may be questioned if a work so important should be 
left wholly to the judgment or the caprice of parents, and 
if it would not be proper for tthe State to know how many 
and who are affected with speech-disability, and oblige the 
parents to attend to it, furnishing a school for those who 
are unable to bear the expense. A difficulty that disables 
a young man from joining the army is certainly worthy 
the attention of the government. 

The terms generally used in defining speech-hesitation 



SPEECH-HESITA TION. 



75 



are- omitted in this treatise, because, first, they give un- 
due prominence to what is merely one symptom of i 
serious physical derangement; second, persons showing 
that symptom are not a unique and separate class; as has 
been supposed, but the conditions that often exist in a 
marked degree in many not suspected of any speech-irreg- 
ularity are exaggerated in them ; third, the words are in 
themselves so unpleasant and conspicuous as to be objects 
of dread to those to whom they are applied. It would be 
well if they could be stricken from the language. 

For the same reason the word "defective" has not been 
used. Speech-hesitation has but one cause, which is mis- 
placed contraction. Defect in the organs of speech has no 
connection with the subject under discussion. 

Dr. L. G. Howe, at the laying of the corner-stone of a 
public building at Syracuse, N. Y., said: "The institu- 
tion whose foundation-stone is to be laid will be the last 
link in a chain it will complete the circle of the State's 
charities, which will then embrace every class whose in- 
firmities call for public aid." Evidently the needs of one 
great army of sufferers had never appealed even to the 
warm heart of Dr. Howe, and they have not been very 
well understood by anyone ; but, when teachers can work 
under a recognized authority, it must be that the world 
will respond to this "last" call for public benevolence. 





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