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place religion in the most amiable light; and which recommend a great 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
The Compiler has been careful to avoid every expression and sentiment, that might gratify a corrupt mind, or, in the least degree, offend the eye or ear of innocence. This he conceives to be peculiarly incumbent on every 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 peruse those which tend to inspire a due reverence for virtue, and an abhorrence of vice, as well as to animate them with sentiments of piety and goodness. Such impressions deeply 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 and serious parts of his collection, by the occasional admission of pieces which amuse as well as instruct. If, however, any of his readers should think it contains too great a proportion of the former, it may be some apology, to observe that, in the existing publications designed for the perusal of young persons, the preponderance 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 youth especially, is much entertained, the sober dictates of the understanding are regarded with indifference; and the influence of good affections is either feeble or transient. A temperate use of such entertainment seems therefore requisite, to afford proper scope for the operations of the understanding and
The reader will perceive, that the Compiler has been solicitous to recommend to young persons, the perusal of the sacred Scriptures, by interspersing through his work some of the most beautiful and 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 to warrant the attempt to promote it on every proper occasion.
To improve the young mind, and to afford some assistance to tutors, in the 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.
*In some of the pieces the Compiler has made a few alterations, chiefly verbal, to adapt them the better to the design of his work.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD
TO read with propriety, is a pleafing and important attainment; productive of improvement both to the understanding and the heart. It is effential to a complete reader, that he minutely perceive the ideas, and enter into the feelings of the author, whose fentiments he profeffes to repeat for how is it poffible to represent clearly to others, what we have but faint or inaccurate conceptions of ourselves? If there were no other benefits refulting from the art of reading well, than the neceffity it lays us under, of precisely ascertaining the meaning of what we read; and the habit thence acquired, of doing this with facility, both when reading filently and aloud, they would conftitute a sufficient compenfation for all the labour we can bestow upon the subject. But the pleasure derived to ourselves and others, from a clear communication of ideas and feelings; and the ftrong and durable impreffions made thereby on the minds of the reader and the audience, are confiderations, which give additional importance to the study of this neceffary and useful art. The perfect attainment of it doubtlefs requires great attention and practice, joined to extraordinary natural powers: but as there are many degrees of excellence in the art, the ftudent, whose aims fall fhort 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 in reading, by which the neceffary pauses, emphafis, and tones may be discovered and put in practice, is not poffible. After all the directions that can be offered on thefe points, much will remain to be taught by the living inftructer: much will be attainable by no other means, than the force of example influencing the imitative powers of the learner. Some rules and principles on these heads will, however, be found ufeful, to prevent erroneous and vicious modes of utterance; to give the young reader fome taste of the fubject; and to affift him in acquiring a juft and accurate mode of delivery. The observations which we have to make, for these purposes, may be comprised under the following heads: PROPER LOUDNESS OF VOICE; DISTINCTNESS; SLOWNESS; PROPRIETY OF PRONUNCIATION; EMPHASIS; TONES; PAUSES; and MODE OF READING VERSE.
For many of the observations contained in this preliminary tract, the Author is indebted to the writings of Dr. Blair, and to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Proper Loudness of Voice.
THE firft attention of every perfon who reads to others, doubtless, muft be, to make himself be heard by all thofe to whom he reads He muft endeavour to fill with his voice the fpace occupied by the company. This power of voice, it may be thought, is wholly a natural talent. It is, in a good measure, the gift of nature; but it may receive confiderable assistance from art. Much depends, for this purpose, on the proper pitch and management of the voice. Every perfon has three pitches in his voice; the HIGH, the MIDDLE, and the Low one. The High, is that which he uses in calling aloud to fome perfon at a diftance. The Low is, when he approaches to a whifper. The Middle is, that which he employs in common converfation, and which he fhould generally ufe 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. This is confounding two things which are different, loudness or ftrength of found, with the key or note on which we fpeak. There is a variety of found within the compafs of each key. A speaker may therefore render his voice louder, without altering the key and we fhall always be able to give moft body, most perfevering force of found, to that pitch of voice, to which in converfation we are accustomed. Whereas by fetting out on our highest pitch or key, we certainly allow ourselves lefs compafs, and are likely to strain our voice before we have done. We fhall fatigue ourselves, and read with pain; and whenever a perfon speaks with pain to himself, he is always heard with pain by his audience. Let us therefore give the voice full ftrength and fwell of found; but always pitch it on our ordinary speaking key. It fhould be a constant rule never to utter a greater quantity of voice than we can afford without pain to ourselves, and without any extraordinary effort. As long as we keep within thefe bounds, the other organs of fpeech will be at liberty to discharge their several offices with eafe; and we shall always have our voice under command. But whenever we tranfgrefs thefe bounds, we give up the reins, and have no longer any management of it. It is a useful rule too, in order to be well heard, to caft our eye on some of the moft diftant perfons in the company, and to confider ourselves as reading to them. We natually and mechanically utter our words with fuch a degree of ftrength, as to make ourselves be heard by the perfon whom we addrefs, provided he is within the reach of our voice. As this is the cafe in conversation, it will hold alfo in reading to others. But let us remember, that in reading, as well as in converfation, it is possible to offend by fpeaking too loud. This extreme hurts the ear, by making the voice come upon it in rumbling, indistinct maffes.
By the habit of reading, when young, in a loud and vehement manner, the voice becomes fixed in a ftrained and unnatural
key; and is rendered incapable of that variety of elevation and depression which conftitutes the true harmony of utterance, and affords ease to the reader, and pleasure to the audience. This unnatural pitch of the voice, and difagreeable monotony, are most observable in persons who were taught to read in large rooms; who were accustomed to ftand at too great a distance, when reading to their teachers; whofe inftructers were very imperfect in their hearing; or who were taught by persons, that considered loud expression as the chief requisite in forming a good reader. These are circumftances which demand the ferious attention of every one to whom the education of youth is committed.
IN the next place, to being well heard and clearly understood, diftin&tnefs of articulation contributes more than mere loudness of found. The quantity of found neceffary to fill even a large fpace, is fmaller than is commonly imagined; and, with distinct articulation, a perfon with a weak voice will make it reach farther, than the ftrongeft voice can reach without it. To this, therefore, every reader ought to pay great attention. He must give every found which he utters, its due proportion; and make every fyllable, and even every letter in the word which he pronounces, be heard diftinctly; without slurring, whispering, or fuppressing any of the proper founds.
An accurate knowledge of the simple, elementary founds of the language, and a facility in expressing them, are fo neceffary to diftinctness of expression, that if the learner's attainments are, in this respect, imperfect, (and many there are in this fituation) it will be incumbent on his teacher, to carry him back to these primary articulations; and to fufpend his progress, till he become perfectly mafter of them. It will be in vain to prefs him forward, with the hope of forming a good reader, if he cannot completely articulate every elementary found of the language.
Due Degree of Slowness.
In order to exprefs ourselves diftinctly, moderation is requifite with regard to the speed of pronouncing. Precipitancy of speech confounds all articulation, and all meaning. It is scarcely neceffary to obferve, that there may be also an extreme on the oppofite side. It is obvious that a lifelefs, drawling manner of reading, which allows the minds of the hearers to be always outrunning the speaker, muft render every such performance insipid and fatiguing. But the extreme of reading too faft is much more common, and requires the more to be guarded againft, because, when it has grown into a habit, few errors are more difficult to be corrected. To pronounce with a proper degree of slowness, and
with full and clear articulation, is neceffary to be ftudied by all, who wish to become good readers; and it cannot be too much recommended to them. Such a pronunciation gives weight and dignity to the fubject. It is a great assistance to the voice, by the paufes and refts which it allows the reader more easily to make; and it enables the reader to fwell all his founds, both with more force and more harmony.
Propriety of Pronunciation.
AFTER the fundamental attentions to the pitch and management of the voice, to diftinct articulation, and to a proper degree of slowness of speech, what the young reader muft, in the next place, ftudy, is propriety of pronunciation; or, giving to every word which he utters, that found which the beft ufage of the language appropriates to it; in opposition to broad, vulgar, or provincial pronunciation. This is requifite both for reading intelligibly, and for reading with correctness and ease. Inftructions concerning this article may be beft given by the living teacher. But there is one obfervation, which it may not be improper here to make. In the English language, every word which consists of more fyllables than one, has one accented fyllable. The accents reft fometimes on the vowel, sometimes on the confonant. The genius of the language requires the voice to mark that fyllable by a stronger percussion, and to pass more slightly over the reft. Now, after we have learned the proper feats of these accents, it is an important rule, to give every word juft the same accent in reading, as in common difcourfe. Many perfons err in this respect. When they read to others, and with folemnity, they pronounce the fyllables in a different manner from what they do at other times. They dwell upon them and protract them; they multiply accents on the fame word; from a mistaken notion, that it gives gravity and importance to their fubject, and adds to the energy of their delivery. Whereas this is one of the greatest faults that can be committed in pronunciation: it makes what is called a pompous or mouthing manner; and gives an artificial, affected air to reading, which detracts greatly both from its agreeableness and its impression.
Sheridan and Walker have published Dictionaries, for ascertaining the true and best pronunciation of the words of our language. By attentively consulting them, particularly "Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary," the young reader will be much affifted, in his endeavours to attain a correct pronunciation of the words belonging to the English language.
By emphasis is meant a stronger and fuller found of voice, by which we diftinguish fome word or words, on which we defign