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"Is it true?-a child asks, when you tell him a wonderful rtory that strikes his imagination." This remark of Mrs. Barbauld is placed at the beginning of the Juvenile Companion, as having an immediate bearing upon an important fact in intellec tual philosophy, which, to say the least, has not been sufficiently regarded in works designed for the young. The writer of fiction has the unlimited command of events and characters yet, the single circumstance of truth-that the events related really came to pass-counterbalances, with respect to interest, all the privileges of the former, and in a mind accustomed to exer tion, will throw the advantage on the side of the historian. The author in all his labors for the advancement of education, has endeavored to keep this fact continually in view.
The object of this volume is to make the reader acquainted with particularly interesting and important events in history and biography, presuming, that an inclination will thereby be formed in the minds of young persons, for connected and extensive reading upon those subjects. Morever, in the selection of materials, such have been taken as were of a dicided character, in their moral tendency. Whether a good or bad quality were to be represented, unless it were so strongly marked, that a child would be led of his own accord, and instantaneously, to admire the one, and to abhor the other, it was deemed unfit for use. Thus a literary and a moral purpose is accomplished at the same ime, and by the same labor. It is an undoubted truth, that there is no better way to inculcate the principles and the love of what is excellent than by the exhibition of real excellence; and, that there is no better way to guard one against the commission of what is of a contrary character, than by the display, from real life, of mean, vicious, and vile conduct.
It is also believed, that the plan of the Juvenile Companion is well calculated to facilitate the art of good reading. Our youth may be furnished with a thousand rules and illustrations of rhetoric, if there were so many, and it would be of no comparative value in learning to read, unless the books containing these rules and illustrations, are intelligible and interesting. From such a routine of exercises a natural elocution can never be
wrung from the voice of young or old; while on the other hand, books, like the present, will always be read with at least the prominent tones of an agreeable style. Let children and youth understand what they read-let them be interested in what they read, and they will be sure to read with a good degree spirit
It will be seen that a larger portion of the volume is in verse, than is usual with reading books of corresponding character. It is thought, that this will add to the value of the work. Young persons especially are fond of reading poetry; and a moral sentiment, or a historical fact, expressed in verse, is much more likely to make an impression, than if it were in prose. While it is acknowledged, that much difficulty was experienced in finding a sufficient number of articles in this part of the work, of the high character desired, a belief is indulged by the author, that he has labored with some degree of success.
The plan of the Juvenile Companion required no other regard to classification or chronological arrangement of the different articles which compose it, than to make the work as interesting as possible. Hence, with a few exceptions the prose and poetry alternately succeed each other, throughout the volume. The author cheerfully relinquishes all claim to the honor of being thought very methodical, provided he can thereby render his labors more acceptable and useful to the youthful reader. His object has been to furnish young persons, both in families and in schools, with a compilation that will never fail to be interesting-that will always be found instructive-that will always leave on the mind of the reader an impression favorable to virtue and piety.
The author deems it unnecessary to make any comment upon the numerous reading books already before the public-or, to make any apology for adding to the number. He would indeed be cautious in presuming on an indulgence, with which his efforts to benefit the rising generation are liberally favored-not doubting, however, that such efforts, although comparatively unsuccessful, are justly entitled to respectful consideration The spirit of the age, especially as it regards education, justifies the persuasion, that he is not mistaken in this opinion; and, for the decision to be passed upon this, as well as upon every other literary undertaking in which he engages, he cheerfully yields to the intelligence of parents and teachers.
J. L. BLAKE.
Boston, January, 1833.