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PIECES IN PROSE AND VERSE,
ASSIST YOUNG PERSONS TO READ WITH
PROPRIETY AND EFFECT;
IMPROVE THEIR LANGUAGE AND SENTIMENTS AND
TO INCULCATE THE MOST IMPORTENT
PIETY AND VIRTUE
WITH A FEW PRELIMINARY
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES
BY LINDLEY MURRAY.
NEWARK, N. J.
JANY selections of excellent matter have been made for the benefit o. rung persons.
Performances of this kind arc of so great utility, that fresh coductions of them, and new atteinpts to improve the young mind, will scarcely be deemed superfluous, is the writer makes his compilation instructire and interesting, and sufficiently distinct from others.
The present work, as the title expresses, aims at the attainment of three objects: to jn prove yoath in the art of reading; to Welioratc thei: language and sentiments; and to inculcate some of the most important principles of piety and virtue.
The pieces selected, not only give exercise to a great vanety of emotions, and the correspondent tones and variations of roice, 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. Å selection of sentences, in which variety and proportion, with exact punctuation, have been carefully observed, in all their parts as well as with respect to one another, will prohably have a much greater effect, ir properly teaching the art of reading, than is commonly imagined. In such constructions, every thing is accomnodated to the understanding and the voice; and the comn.on difficulties in learning to read well are obviated. When the learner has acquired a habi: of reading such sentences with justness and facility, he will readily apply that habit, and the inıprovements lie bas made, to sentences mere 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 inɔst correct and elegant writers. From the sources whence the sentimenta are drawn, the reader may expect to find them connecteư and regular, sufficiently important and impressive, and divested vi every thing that is either trite or eccentric. The frequent perusal of such composition naturally tends to insuse 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 iniroduced many extracts, which place religion in the most aniable light; and which recommend a great variety of moral daties, by the excellence of their nature, and the happy effects they produce. These subjects are exhibited in a style and manner which are calculated 10 arrest the attention of youth ; and to make strong and durable impressions on their minds.t
The Compiler has been careful to avoid cvery expression and sentiment,
* The learner, in lijs progress through this volume and the Sequel to it, will meet with numerous instances of composition, in strict conformity to the rules for promoting perspicuous and elegant writing, contained in the Appendix ta the Author's English Grammar. By occasionally examining this conformity, he will be confirmed in the utility of those rules; and be enabled to apply thens with ease and dexterity.
It is pmper further to obscrve, that the Reader and the Sequel, besides icaching to read accurately, and inculcating many important sentiments, may be considered as auxiliaries to the Author's English Grammar; as practica? illustrations of the principles and rules centained in that work.
| Io some of the pieces, the Corr.piler has made a few alterations ch reibal, to adapt them the better to the design of his sok.
tirat might gratify a corrupt mind, or, in the least degree, offend the eye or ear of innocence. This he conceives to be peculiarly incunibent on cvery person who writes for the benefit a youth. li would indeed be a great and happy improvement in euncation, il no writings were allowed to come under their notice, but such as are perfectly innocent; and if on all proper occaKions, 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 wonld 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 portion of the former, it may be some apology to observe, that in the existing publications designcil for the perusal of young persons, the preponderance is greatly on the side of gay and amusing productions. Too much attention may bc 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 feehle, or transient. A te.aperate use of such entertainment scems therefore requisite, to afford proper scope for the operations of the understanding and the heart.
The reader will perceive, that the Compiler has been solicitious to recome mend 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 grco rule of life, is a point of so high importance, as to warrant the attempt to pro mote 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 degrec, he will think that his time and pains have been pell employed, and will deem hiroself amply rewarded.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD READING..
TO read with propriety is a pleasing and imnortant attainment; produce Live of improvement both to the understanding and the heart. It is essential to a complete reader, that lie minutely perceive the ideas, and enter into the fcclings of the author, whese sentiments he professes to repeat: for how is it possible to represent clearly to others, whai we have but saint or inaccurate conception of ourselves ? If there were no other benefits resulting from the art of reading well, than the necessity it lays us under, of' precisely ascertaining the meaning of what we read; and the habit tience acquired, of doing this with facility, both when reading silentiy and aloud, they would constilute a sufficient compensation for all the labour we can bestow upou the subject. But the pleasure derived to ourselves and others, from a clear coinmunication of ideas and feelings; and the strong and durable impressions made thereby on tire mintis 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 to 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 inanagement of the voice in reading, by which the DEWry pauses, emphasis, and tones, may be discovered and put in practice, is not possible. After all the directions that can be offered on ihese pints, much will remain to be taught by the living instructer: much will be attaina. ble by no other means, than the force of example, influencing the imitative powers of the learner.' Some rules and principles on these heads will, bow. ever, he found useful, to prevent erroneons and vicious modes of uttcrance; to give'r'le young reader some taste for the subject; and to assist him in ac. quiring a just and accurate mode of delivery. The olscrvations which we have to make, for these purposes, may be comprised under th:e follnwing heads : Proper Loudness of Poice; Distinctness; Sloveness ; Propriety of Pronunciation ; Emphasis ; Tones ; Pauses; and Mole of Reading Verse.
Proper Loudness of Voice. THE first attention of every person wllo reads to others, doubtlesz, mw. be to make himself heard by all those tú whom he reads. He must endea. your to fill with his voice, the space 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 considerable assistance from art. Much depends, for this purpose, on the proper pitch and management of the voice. Every person has three pitches in his voice ; the ligh, the middle and the low one. The high, is that which he uses in calling aloud to some per. son at a distance. The law, is when he approaches to a whisper. The middle, is that which he employs in common conversation, and which he should generally use in reading to others. For it is a great mistake, to innagine 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 strength of sound, with the key or nete in which we speak. There is a variety op sound within the compass of each key. A speaker may tnere fore render his voice louder, without altering the key; and we shall always
' NOTE. 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.
be able to give 'most body, most prcserving force of sound, to that pitch of voice to which in conversation we are accustomed. Whereas, by setting out on our highest pitch or key, we certainly allow ourselves less compass, and are likely to Strain our voice before we have done. We shall fatigue our selves, and read with pain; and whenever a person speaks with pain to him sel, he is also heard with pain by his audience. Let us therefore give the voice full strength and swell ef sound ; but always pitch it on our ordinary wreaking kcy. It should 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 these bounds, the other organs of speech will be at liberty to discharge their several offices with ease; and we shall always have our voice under command. But whenever we tansgress these 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 cast our eye on some of the most distant persons in the company, and to consider ourselves as reading to them. We naturally ard 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. Asíthis is the case in conversation, it will hold also in reading to others. But let us remember, that in reading as well as in conversation, it is possible to offend by speaking too loud. This extreme hurts the ear, by making the voice come upou it in rumbling, indistinct inasscs.
By the habit of reading, when young, in a loud and vehement manner, the voice becomes fixed in a strained and unnatural key; and is rendered inca.. pable of that variety of elevati?n and depression which constitutes the true harmony of utterance, and affox ds ease to the reader, and pleasure to the audience. This unnatural pitch of the voice, and disagreeable monctony are most observable in persons who were 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 szught; by persons who considered loud expression as the chief requisite in forming a good reader. These are circumstances, which demand the seri. yus attention of every one to whom the education of youth is committed.
Distinctness. IN the next place to being well heard and clearly understood, distinctnes of articulation contributes more than mere loudness of sound. The qnantitz of sound necessary tu fill even a large space, is smaller than is commonly imagined ; and, with distinct articulation, a person with a weak voice will make it reach further than the strongest voice can reach without 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 even every letter in the word which he pronounces, be heard distinctly ; without slurring, whispering, or suppressing, any of the proper sounds.
An accurate knowledge of the simple, elementary sounds of the language, and a facili.y in expressing them, are so necessary to distinctness of expresa sion, that if the learner's attainments are, in this respect, imperfect, (and mapy there are in this situation,) it will be incumbent on his teacher to car. ry him back to these primary articulations, and to suspend his progress, till he become perfectly master of them. It will be in vain to press him forward, with the hope of forraing a good reader, if he cannot completely articuiatr 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 articulation, and all meaning. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that there may be also an extreme on the opposite side. It is obvious that a lifelcssdrawling manner of reading, which allows the minds of the hearers to be always outfunuing the speaker, bast render every such performance insipid and fatigue
and ing. But the extremac of reading too fast in much more common; the more to be guarded against because when it has grown into a batit, le