Toasts and Forms of Public Address


_The Introduction_. The speaker’s modesty or inability, the lateness of the hour, the merit of preceding speeches, the literary treats that are to follow, the character of the dinner, personal allusion to the president or to the audience–_but not all of these in one address_.

_The Discussion_. Here refer to the toast or theme–be sure to put in a humorous anecdote. Make it as appropriate as possible, but don’t fail to bring it in. Get up a short controversy: set up a man of straw if you can find nobody else, and then make an onslaught upon him; but _be sure he has no friends in the audience_!

_Conclusion_. A graceful compliment to some one, a reference to an expected speaker, or a word indicating the part of your subject of which you will not treat, or give a _very_ quick summary of what you have already said.


With a number of the following anecdotes a few suggestions are given as to the manner in which they may be used. The habit of thinking how a good story may be brought into an address should be formed, after which these hints will be superfluous. At the outset they may help to form the habit.


[A good illustration of complete independence. It can be used as a humorous description of a monopoly or as a compliment to a man who has complete control of his own affairs.]

An inquisitive passenger on a railroad recently had the following dialogue:

“Do you use the block system on this road?” inquired the passenger.

“No, sir,” replied the conductor, “we have no use for it.”

“Do you use the electric or pneumatic signals?”

“No, sir.”

“Have you a double track?”


“Well, of course, you have a train dispatcher, and run all trains by telegraph?”


“I see you have no brakeman. How do you flag the rear of your train if you are stopped from any cause between stations?”‘

“We don’t flag.”

“Indeed! What a way to run a railroad! A man takes his life in his hand when he rides on it. This is criminally reckless!”

“See here, mister! If you don’t like this railroad you can get off and walk. I am president of this road and its sole owner. I am also board of directors, treasurer, secretary, general manager, superintendent, paymaster, trackmaster, general passenger agent, general freight agent, master mechanic, ticket agent, conductor, brakeman, and boss. This is the Great Western Railroad of Kentucky, six miles long, with termini at Harrodsburg and Harrodsburg Junction. This is the only train on the road of any kind, and ahead of us is the only engine. We never have collisions. The engineer does his own firing, and runs the repair shop and round-house all by himself. He and I run this railway. It keeps us pretty busy, but we’ve always got time to stop and eject a sassy passenger. So you want to behave yourself and go through with us, or you will have your baggage set off here by the haystack!”


[To ridicule extravagant explanations that do not explain–or unreasonable pretensions to antiquity.]

An old Scotch lady, who had no relish for modern church music, was expressing her dislike to the singing of an anthem in her own church one day, when a neighbor said: “Why, that is a very old anthem! David sang that anthem to Saul.” To this the old lady replied: “Weel, weel! I noo for the first time understan’ why Saul threw his javelin at David when the lad sang for him.”


[To illustrate hobby-riding–very appropriate where many toasts and speeches run in one line.]

A boy in Buffalo, N. Y., who was asked to write out what he considered an ideal holiday dinner _ménu_, evolved the following:

Furst Corse. Mince pie. Second Corse. Pumpkin pie and turkey. Third Corse. Lemon pie, turkey, and cranberries Fourth Corse. Custard pie, apple pie, chocolate cake and plum pudding. Dessert. Pie.


[Suitable caricature for any one who tries to make merit of doing what he cannot help.]

“If my employer does not retract what he said to me this morning I shall leave his store.” “Why, what did he say?” “He told me to look for another place.”


[A silent guest might tell this to show that he had found a way to be of greatest service at a banquet.]

Mrs. Penfield–“My husband has found a way by which he says I am of the greatest help to him in his literary work.”

Mrs. Hillaire–“How nice that must be for you, my dear! But how are you able to do it?”

Mrs. Penfield–“As soon as I see him at his desk I go into another room and keep perfectly quiet until he has finished.”


[Would be a good answer to one who gave a compliment, and tried in that way to shove off a speech or other duty upon the one complimented.]

McSwatters–“It’s very funny.”

Mrs. McSwatters–“What is?”

McSwatters–“Why, when the doctor treats me I always have to pay for it.”