Toasts and Forms of Public Address

A still stronger reason for this disparity is that the speaker representing the givers has been selected, probably out of a large company, to make his speech, and is thus expected to do it well; but the receiver occupies _his_ position for a reason that has no connection whatever with his speech-making powers. If he succeeds in expressing his gratitude and goodwill to those who have been so generous he will have served the essential purpose of his speech; but if, in addition, he can gather up the points made in the presentation speech, assenting to its general principles, accepting the humorous charges for which he is to be watched, caned, stoned (when a diamond or other stone is given), or put to the sword, and gently deprecates the serious flattery offered, he will be regarded as doing exceedingly well. One phrase he will not be likely to omit, unless “he loses his head” altogether–“When I look upon this, I will always remember the feelings of this hour, the kind words uttered, the appreciation shown.” This word “appreciation.” with the reiteration of thanks, will make a very fitting conclusion.


In our country the number of voluntary associations that visit similar associations, or meet at special times and places is very large. Often such associations are furnished with free board and lodging by the people of the place where the assemblage occurs. Facilities for assemblage and enjoyment are offered and other privileges tendered that are highly appreciated. Religious bodies, church and philanthropic societies, military and fire companies, athletic and social clubs, various orders and educational societies, political bodies, these form only a small proportion of the endless number of organizations convening and gathering at different centres, gatherings which serve to keep all parts of our country in close touch.

It is needless to furnish model speeches for each of these, for the same general line of remark is adapted to all. The changes of illustration demanded by the character of the association to be welcomed, and for which responses are to be made, will be readily understood, and a little study of the name and character of the place of meeting will make the necessary local allusions quite easy. The welcome and response for a fire company, or a baseball club, will not differ much from that for a Christian Endeavor Society. A few general hints and a little investigation by the novice will put him on the right track in either case.


A clear statement about those who extend the welcome and of those who are to be welcomed is appropriate. This may be expanded advantageously by giving a few of the characteristics of each, greater latitude being allowed in complimenting those who are welcomed than those who entertain. It is bad taste to spend more time in telling our guests how good and great we are than in expressing the exalted opinion we have of them for their noble work, their great fame, or their high purpose; or in declaring the pleasure we feel and the honor we have in entertaining them. The warmth of the welcome extended should be expressed in the fullest manner, and as this is the central purpose of the whole address, it will bear _one repetition_. A good illustrative story, brief but pointed, may be worked in somewhere, perhaps in connection with a modest depreciation of our own fitness or ability adequately to express the strong feelings of those we represent, though if one can be found having a connection with the visitors themselves, it will be still better. What we wish our visitors to do while with us may also be appropriately referred to. If there are places of interest for them to visit, work for them to do, or special entertainments provided,–here is additional matter for remark. All these items may be run through in a few minutes, and then the address should close. The most bungling and formal welcome, if short, will be enjoyed more and be more applauded than the most graceful and eloquent one unduly prolonged. Should however, in spite of this warning, more “filling in” be desired of an appropriate character, it may be found almost without limit in setting forth the claim of the cause which both the visitors and the entertainers represent–athletic sports, religion, benevolence, education, or what not.


This may be still more brief than the address of welcome. To say that the reception is hearty, that it gives pleasure and is gratefully received and appreciated, is all that is essential. An invitation to return the visit should not be forgotten, if circumstances are such that it can be appropriately made. Then the speaker has an opportunity to review any portion of the preceding speech and express his indorsement of any of the assertions made. He should not dissent from them, unless this dissent can be made the means of a little adroit flattery by placing a higher estimate upon the entertainers and their services than their own speaker has done, or by modestly disclaiming some of the praise that has been given. The novice must avoid being carried too far by this fascinating review, both as to the quantity and the quality of the disagreement.

A closing sentence may be, “Allow me once more, most heartily, to thank you for this generous welcome to–your homes–your headquarters–to the hospitalities of your city,” as the case may be.