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Last evening, in Harvard 1, Professor Baker delivered an informal but extremely interesting and valuable talk on the history of debating in the University, and its present possibilities.
He emphasized the immense stride taken in debating during the last ten years and the responsibility resting upon the present speakers to maintain the high standard.
Other colleges have turned to Harvard as the acknowledged leader in organized training for argumentative speaking, and though the members of the clubs and of English VI may not realize the importance of the coming debates, the great body of graduates look for a special effort to continue the series of victories.
In fact the public is beginning to feel very strongly the value of this branch of college work and to watch with great interest the intercollegiate contests. Yale realizes this, and her new Eating Club debates, and the recent defeat of Princeton warn Harvard to look to her laurels.
Thanks to the steady, hard work of the clubs, and the courses in speaking, Harvard debaters have gained a high degree of thoroughness and sincerity of address. Those who have really done justice to their opportunities for practice and criticism have at least become ready, easy talkers, and methodical in argument.
There are, however, two weak points. The thoroughness of the leaders does not always appear in the club debates of the rank and file. Furthermore, a far worse failing, there is a strange neglect of voice training. In spite of the efforts of Mr. Hayes to cultivate the power of skilful voice modulation, of a forcible and graceful manner, few of the men here can force home their thought-material with the delivery which it deserves.
Professor Baker closed with a strong appeal to all men who can debate at all to enter the competive debates, not only for the self-evident personal benefit, but to aid the cause of Harvard debating at this crisis.
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