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Successful Recitations   By: (1848-1929)

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E text prepared by Roy Brown


Edited by



"Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines." Hamlet . SHAKESPEARE.

London: S. H. Bousfield & Co., Ld., Norfolk House, Norfolk Street W.C. London: Printed by H. Virtue And Company, Limited. City Road.


Many things go to the making of a successful recitation.

A clear aim and a simple style are among the first of these: the subtleties which make the charm of much of the best poetry are lost in all but the best platform work. The picturesque and the dramatic are also essential elements; pictures are the pleasures of the eyes, whether physical or mental, and incident is the very soul of interest.

The easiest, and therefore often the most successful, recitations are those which recite themselves; that is, recitations so charged with the picturesque or the dramatic elements that they command attention and excite interest in spite of poor elocution and even bad delivery. The trouble with these is that they are usually soon recognized, and once recognized are soon done to death. There are pieces, too, which, depending upon the charm of novelty, are popular or successful for a time only, but there are also others which, vitalised by more enduring qualities, are things of beauty and a "joy for ever."

But after all it is not the Editor who determines what are and what are not successful recitations. It is time, the Editor of Editors, and the public, our worthy and approved good masters. It is the public that has made the selection which makes up the bulk of this volume, though the Editor has added a large number of new and less known pieces which he confidently offers for public approval. The majority of the pieces in the following pages are successful recitations, the remainder can surely be made so.




True Patriotism is the outcome of National home feeling and self respect.

Home feeling is born of the loving associations and happy memories which belong to individual and National experience; self respect is the result of a wise and modest contemplation of personal or National virtues.

The man who does not respect himself is not likely to command the respect of others. And the Nation which takes no pride in its history is not likely to make a history of which it can be proud.

But self respect involves self restraint, and no man who wishes to retain his own respect and to merit the respect of others would think of advertising his own virtues or bragging of his own deeds. Nor would any Nation wishing to stand well in its own eyes and in the eyes of the world boast of its own conquests over weaker foes or shout itself hoarse in the exuberance of vainglory.

Patriotism is not to be measured by ostentation any more than truth is to be estimated by volubility.

The history of England is full of incidents in which her children may well take an honest pride, and no one need be debarred from taking a pride in them because there are other incidents which fill them with a sense of shame. As a rule it will be found that the sources of pride belong to the people themselves, and that the sources of shame belong to their rulers. It would be difficult to find words strong enough to condemn the campaign of robbery and murder conducted by the Black Prince against the peaceful inhabitants of Southern France in 1356, but it would be still more difficult to do justice to the magnificent pluck and grit which enabled 8,000 Englishmen at Poitiers to put to flight no less than 60,000 of the chosen chivalry of France. The wire pullers of state craft have often worked with ignoble aims, but those who suffer in the working out of political schemes often sanctify the service by their self sacrifice... Continue reading book >>

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