^!l^^L-^'^L'L^k \f/ M' \f/ \f x ' ^ / VIS s / Nf ' \*-'' Xf- x v -'' N?-' \f
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
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
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.
E. J. ELLERY THORPE
EDGAR S. WERNER PUBLISHING & SUPPLY CO.
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.
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
"I could not speak the words. They never were so
"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
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-
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
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-
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
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-
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-
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.
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.
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
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-
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-
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
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-
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.
My own hope is a sun will pierce
The thickest cloud earth ever stretched.
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
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
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
A child who hesitates is a constant menace to all the
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
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
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-
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-
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
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
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-
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
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-
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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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