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IM: ROVE THEIR LANGUAGE AND SENTIMENTS, AND
BY LINDLEY MURRAY,
W. E, DEAN, PRINTER.
MANY selections of excellent matter have been made for the benefit of young persons. Performances of this kind are of so great utility, that fresh productions of them, and new attempts to improve the young inind, will scarcely be deemed superfluous, if the writer make his compilation instructive and interesting, and sufficiently distinct from others.
The present work, as the title expresses, aims at the attainment of three objects : to improve youth in the art of reading ; to meliorate their language and sentiments; and to inculcate some of the most important principles of piety and viriue.
The pieces selected not only give exercise to a great variety of emotions, and the correspondent tones and variations of voice, but contain sentences and members of sentences, which are diversified, proportioned, and pointed with accuracy. Exercises of this nature are, it is presumed, well calculated to teach youth to read with propriety and effect. A selection of sentences, in which variety and proportion, with cxact punctuation, have been carefully observed in all their parts, as well as with respect to ono another, will probably have a much greater effect in properly teaching the art of reading than is commonly imagined. In such constructions every thing is accommodated to the understanding and the voice; and the common difficulties in learning to read well are obviated. When the learner has acquired a habit of reading such sentences with justness and facility, he will readily apply that habit, and the improvements he has made, to sentences more complicated and irregular, and of a construction entirely different.
The language of the pieces chosen for this collection has been carefully regarded. Purity, propriety, perspicuity, and, in many instances, elegance of diction, distinguish them. They are extracted from the works of the most correct and elegant writers. From the sources whence the sentiments are drawn, the reader may expect to find them connected and regular, sufficiently important and impressive, and divested of every thing that is either trite or eccentric. The frequent perusal of such coniposition naturally tends to infuse a taste for this species of excellence ; and to produce a habit of thinking and of composing with judgment and accuracy.*
That this collection may also serve the purpose of promoting piety and virtue, the Compiler has introduced many extracts which place religion in the most amiable light ; and which recommend a wat variety of moral duties, by the excellence of their nature, and the happy effects they produce. These subjects are exhibited in a style and manner which are calculated to arrest. the attention of youth ; and to make strong and durable impressions on their minds.
* The learner, in his progress through this volume and the Sequel to it, will meet with numerous instances of composition, in strict conformity to the rules for promoting per. Frieuons and elegant writing contained in the Appendix to the Author's English Gramwar. By occasionally examining the conformity, he will be confirmed in the utility of those rules, and be cnabled to apply them with ease and dexterity.
It is proper further to observe, that the Reader and the sequel, besides teaching to read accurately, and inculcating many inportant sentiments, may be considered as auxiliarien to the Author's English Grammar; as practical illustrations of the principles and rules contained in that work.
1 111 some of the pieces, the Compiler has made a few alterations, chiefly verbal, to up them the better to the ign or his work
5 The Compiler has been careful to avoid cvery expression and sentinient, that might gratify a corrupt mind, or, in the least degree, offend the eve or
car of innocence. This he conceives to be peculiarly incumbent on every cd person who writes for the benefit of youth. It would, indeed, be a great and
happy improvement in education, if no writings were allowed to come under their notice, but such as are perfectly innocent; and if, on all proper occasions, they were encouraged to perusc those which tend to inspire a due reverence for virtue, and an abhorrence of vice, as well as lo aniinate them with sentiments of piety and guodness, such impressions decply engraven on their minds, and connected with all their attainments, could scarcely fail of attending them through life, and of producing a solidity of principle and character, that would be able to resist the danger arising from future intercourse with the world.
The author has endeavoured to relieve the grave ard serious parts of his collection, by the occasional admission of pieces which amuse as well as * d'instruct. '16however, any of his readers should link it contains too great it 9. proportion of the former, it may be some apology, to observe that, in the ** existing publications designed for the perusal of young persons, the prepon
derance is greatly on the side of gay and amusing productions. Too much attention may be paid to this medium of improvement. When the imagination, of the young especially, is much entertained, the sober dictates of the understanding are regarded with indifference; and the influence of good affections is either fecble or transient. A temperate use of such enteriainment seems therefore requisite, to afford proper scope for the operations of the understanding and trie heart.
Tlie reader will perceive, that the compiler has been solicitous lo recommend to young persons, the perusal of the Sacred Scriptures, by interspersing through his work some of the most beautiful ard interesting passages of those invaluable writings. To excite an early taste and veneration for this great rule of life, is a point of so high importance, as lo warrant the attempt to promote it on every proper occasion.
To improve the young mind, and to afford some assistance to tutors, in thie arduous and important work of education, were the motives which led to this production. If the author should be so successful as to accomplish
these ends, even in a small degree, he will think that his time and pains have * been well employed, and will deem himself amply rewarded.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD
READING. TO read with propriety is a pleasing and important attainment ; produe. tive of improvement both to the understanding and the beart. It is essential to a complete reader, that he minutely perceive the ideas, and enter into the feelings of the author, whose sentiments he prosesses to repeat : for how is it possible to represeut clearly to others, whai we have but saint or inaccurate conception of ourselves? If there were no other benefits resulting from ibe art of reading well, than the necessity it lays us under, of precisely ascertain ing the meaning of what we read ; and the habit thence acquired, of dying this with facility, both when reading silently and aloud, they would constitute a sufficient compensation for all the labour We can bestuw upon the subject. But the pleasure derived to ourselves and orbers, from a clear conmunication of ideas and feelings; and the strong and Jurable impressirno made thereby on the minds of the reader and the audience, are considerations, which give additional importance to the study of this necessary and useful art. The perfect attainment of it doubtless requires great attention and practice, joined jo extraordinary natural powers; but as there are many degrees of excellence in the art, the student whose aims fall short of perfection will find himself amply rewarded for every exertion he may think proper to make,
To give rules for the management of the voice iu reading, by which the pecessary pauses, emphasis, and tones, may be discovered and put in prae. tice, is not possible. After all the directions that can be offered an ibese points, much will remain to be taught by the living instructor ; much will be attainable by no other means, than the force of example, influencing the imi. tative powers of the learner. Some rules and principles on these bends will, however, be found useful, to prevent erroneous and vicious modes of utter: ancc; to give the young reader some taste for the subject; and to wrist him in acquiring a just and accurate mode of delivery. The observations whick we have to make for these purposes, may be comprised under the following heads : Proper Loudness of Voice ; Distinctness ; Slowners ; Propriety of Pronunciation ; Emphasis; Tones ; Pauses ; and mode of Reading Vorae.
Proper Loudness of Voice. THE first attention of every person who reads to others, doubtless, must be to make himself heard by all those to whom he reads. He must enden. your to fill with his voice, the space occupied by the company: of voice, it nay be thought, is wholly a natural talent: li is, in a good mea. surc, the gift of nature ; but it may receive considerable assistance from art. Mych depends, for this purpose, on the proper pitch and management of the voice. Every person has three pitches in his voioc; the high, the middle, and tbe low one. The high, is that which he uses in calling aloud to some per. son at a distance. The low, is when be approaches to a whisper. 'Tbo middle, is that which he employs in common conversation, and whicb he should generally use in reading to others. For it is a great mistake to imagine that one must take the highest pitch of his voice, in order to be well heard in a large company. Tbis is confounding two things which are different, loud. ness or strength of sound, with the key or note in which we speak. There is a variety of sound within the compass of each key. A speaker may there. fore render his voice louder, without altering the key: and we shall always be able to give mont body, most persevering force of sound, to that pitch of pojee to which in conversation ive are accustomed. Whereas, by wetting out on our highest pitch or key, we certainly allow ourselves less company
NOTE.--For many of the observations contained in this preliminary tract, the author Is indebied to the writings of Dr. Blair, and to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
voice b fore we have done. We shall fatigue ouretires, auu reau wila paiu; and whenever a person speaks with paiu to himsell, he is also heard with pain by his audience. Let us therefore give the soice full strength and swell of sound; but always pitch it on our ordinary speaking key. It should be a constant rule never to utter a gr ater quantity of voice thau we can afford without pain to ourselves, and without any ex. traordinary effort. As long as we keep within these bounds, the other organs of specch will be at liberty to discharge their sereral offices with ease ; and we shall always have our voice under command. But whenever we transgress these bounds, tre give up the reins, and have no louger any management of it. It is a useful rule, too, in order to be well beard, io cast nur eye on some of the most distant persons in the company, and to consider ourselves as reading to them. We naturally and mechanically utter our words with such a degree of strength, as to make ourselves be heard by the person whom we address, provided he is within reach of our voice. As this is the case in conversation, it will bold also in reading to others. But let iis remember, that in reading, as well as in conversation, it is possible to offend by speaking too loud. This extreme hurts the earby making the voice come upon it in rumbling, indistinct masses.
By the habit of reading, when young, in a loud and vehement manner, the vnice becou:es fixed in a strained and unnatural key; and is rendered incaharmony of utterance, and affords ease to the reader, and pleasure to ihe andience. This unnatural pitch of the voice, and disagreeable monotony, are most observable in persons who are taught to read in large rooms; who were accustomed to stand at too great a distance, when reading to their teachers : whose instructors were very imperfect in their hearing ;, or who were láught by persons who considered loud expression as the chief requisite in forming a good reader. These are circumstances which demand the serious attention of every one to whom the education of youth is committed.
Distinctness. IN the next place to being well heard and clearly understood, distinctness of articulation contributes inore than mere loudness of sound. The quantity of sound necessary to fill even a large space, is smaller than is coinmonly imagined ; and, with distinct articulation, a person with a treak voice will make it reach further than the strongest voice can reach rithout it. To this,' therefore, every reader ought to pay great attention. He must give every sound which he utters, its due proportion ; and make every syllable, and eren every letter in the word which he pronounces, be heard distinctly; without slurring, whispering, or suppressing, any of the proper sounds.
Ap accurate nowledge of the simple, clementary sounds of the language, and a facility in expressing them, are so necessary to distinctpess of expres, sion, that if the learcer's attainments are, in this respect, imperfect (and many there are in this situation), it will be incumbent on his teacher to carry him back to these primary articulations ; and to suspend his progress, till ho become perfectly master of them. It will be in vain to press him forward, with the hope of forming a good reader, if he cannot coupletely articulate every elementary sound of the language.
Due degree of Slowness. IN order to express ourselves distinctly, moderation is requisite with regard to the speed of pronouncing. Precipitancy of speech confounds all artiklen tion, and all meaning. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that there may be also an extreme on the opposite side. It is ohrious that a lifeless, drawling nuanner of reading, which allows the minds of the hearers to be always nato runuing the speaker, must render every such performance insipid and fatigue ing. But the extreme of reading too fast is much more common; and requires the more to be guarded against, because, when it has grown into a habit, few