ePub 版

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 whien recommend a great va riety of moral duties, by the excellence of their nature, and the happy effects they produce. These subjects are exhibited in a -'yle and inan ner which are calculated to arrest the attention of youth; and to make strong and durable img ressions on their minds.*

The Compiler has been careful to avoid every expression and sen timent, that might gratify a corrupt mind, or, in the least degree, offenc the eye or ear of innocence. This he conceives to be peculiarly in cumbent on every person who writes for the benefit of youth. It woul indeed be a great and happy improvement in education, if no writing were allowed to come under their notice, but such a are perfectly is nocent ; and if, on all proper occasions, they were tcouraged to pe ruse those which tend to inspire a due reverence for virtue, and an at horrence of vice, as well as to animate them with sentiments of piety and goodness Such in ores ions 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 princi,de and ch_rac ter, that would be able to resist the danger arising from future inte, course with the world.

The Author has endeavoured to relieve the grave and serious part. of his collection, by the occasiona! admission of pieces which amuse as well as instruct. If, however, any of his readers should think i 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 Losing productions. Too much attention may be paid to this medi um of improvement. When the imagination, of youth especially, is such entertained, the sober d'ctates of the und ·rstanding are regarded with indifference; and the influence of good affections is either feeble, r transient. A temperate use of such entertainment seems therefore t¿quisite, to afford proper scope for the operations of the understanding vid the heart.

The reader will perceive, that the Compiler has been solicitous to ommend 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,

so tarrant the attempt to promote it on every proper occasion. Lo i prove the young mind, and to afford some assistance to futors, in the dous and important work of education, were the motives which ie 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 pains have been well employed, and will deem himself am ply rewinded.


In some of the pieces the Compiler has reade a few alterations, chiefly verbal, w0 alant them the better to the design of his work.



TO read with propriety is a pleasing and important attainment, productive of improvement both to the understanding and the heart. It is essential to a complete reader, that he minutely perceive the ideas, and enter into the feelings of the author, whose sentiments he professes to repeat: for how is it possible to represent clearly to others, what we have but faint or inaccurate conceptions 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 thence acquired, of doing this with facility, both when reading silently and aloud, they would constitute a sufficient compensation for all the labour we can bestow upon the subject. But the pleasure derived to ourselves and others, from a clear commuication of ideas and feelings; and the strong and durable impressions nade 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 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 be may think proper to make.

To give rules for the management of the voice in reading, by which be necessary pauses, emphases, and tones, may be discovered and put in practice, is not possible. After all the directions that can be offered on these points, much will remain to be taught by the living instructer: 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 useful, to prevent erroneous and vicious modes of utterance; to give the young reader some taste of the subject; and to assist him in acquiring a just and ac curate mode of delivery. The observations which we have to make, for these purposes, may be comprised under the following heads: PRO




For many of the observations contained in this preliminary tract, the Author is in debted to the writings of Dr. Blair, and to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

A 2


Proper loudness of Voice.

The fit attention of every person who reads to others, doubtless, must be, to make himself be heard by all those to whom he reads. He must endeavour to fill with his voice the space occupied by the com pany. This power of voice, it may be thought, is wholly a natural ta lent. It is, in a good measure, the gift of nature; but if 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 HIGH, the MIDDLE, and the Low one. The high, is that which he uses in.calling aloud to some person at a distance. The low is, when he approaches to a whisper. The middle is, that which he employs in common conversation, and which he should ge⚫lly use in reading to others. For it is a great mistake, to imagine 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 note on which we speak. There is a variety of sound within the compass of each key. A speaker may therefore render his voice londer, without altering the key; and we shall always be able to give most body, most persevering torce of sound, to that pitch of voice, to which in conversation we are ace.stomed. Whereas by setting out on our highest pitch or key, wa certainly allow ourselves less compass, and are likely to strain our voice before we have done. We shall fatigue ourse) es, and read with pain; and whenever a person speaks with pain to him if, he is always heard with pain by his audience. Let us therefore giv the voice full strength and swell of sound; but always pitch it on out ordinary speaking key. 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 transgress 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 outreye on some of the most distant persons in the company, and to consider ourgelves 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 the reach of our . As this 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 upon it in rumbling, indistinct masses.

By the habit of reading, when young, in a loud and vehement mumer. the voice becomes fixed in a strained and uunatural key ; and is rendered incapable of that variety of elevation and depression which constitutes the true harmony of utterance, and affords ease to the reader, and plea sire to the audience. This unnatural pitch of the voice, and disa grecable monotony, 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 mmperiest -a their hearing, or who were taught by persons, that con

[ocr errors]




In the next place, to being well heard and clearly understood, disaltinctness of articulation contributes more than mere loudness of sound. The quantity of sound necessary to fill even a large space, is smaller than is commonly imagined; and, with distinct articulation, a person the with a weak voice will make it reach farther, than the strongest voice can reach without it. To this, therefore, every reader ought to pay tand great attention. He must give every sound which he utters, its due the 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 lananguage, and a facility in expressing them, are so necessary to distinctthiness of expression, that if the learner'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, til! he become perfectly master of them. I will be in vain to press him forward, with the hope of forming a good reader, if he cannot completely articulate every elementary sound of language.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Due degre, 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 lifeless, drawling manner of reading, which allows the minds of the hearers to be always outrunning the speaker, must render every such performance insipid and fatiguing. But the extreme of reading too fast is much more cominon, and requires the more to be guarded against, be cause, 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 byfull and clear articulation, is necessary to be studied 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 subject. It is a 1.it great assistance to the voice, by the pauses and rests which it allows ar, the reader more easily to make; and it enables the reader to swell all his sounds, both with more force and more harmony.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sidered loud expression as the chief requisite in forming a good reader. These are circumstances which demand the serious attention of every une to whom the education of youth is committe.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Propriety of Pronunciation.

AFTER the fundamental attentions to the pitch and management of the voice, to distinct articulation, and to a proper degree of slowness of speech, what the young reader must, in the next place, study, is pro priety of pronunciation; or, giving to every word which he uiters, the

sound which the best usage of the language appropriates to it; in opposition to broad, vulgar, or provincial pronunciation. This is requisite both for reading intelligibly, and for reading with correctness and ease Ins* uctions concerning this article may be best given by the living teacher. But there is one observation, which it may not be improper here to make. In the English language, every word which consists of more sy ables than one, has one arcented syllable. The accents resi sometimes on the vowel, sometimes on the consonant. The genius of the language requires the voice to mark that syllable by a stronger per cussion, and to pass more slightly over the rest. Now, after we have learned the proper seats of these accents, it is an important rule, to give every word just the same accent in reading, as in common discourse. May persons err in this respect. When they read to others, and with solemnity, they pronounce the syllables in a different manner from what they do at other times. They dwell upon them and protract them; they multiply accents on the saine word; from a mistaken notion, that it gives gravity and importance to their subject, 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 o 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 at tentively consulting them, particularly "Walker's Pronouncing Dic tionary," the young reader will be much assisted, in his endeavours to attain a correct pronunciation of the words belonging to the English language.



By Emphasis is meant a stronger and fuller sound of voice, by which we distinguish some word or words, on which we design to lay particu lar stress, and to show how they affect the rest of the sentence. Some times the emphatic words must be distinguished by a particular tone of voice, as well as by a particular stress. On the right management of the emphasis depends the life of pronunciation If no emphasis be placed on any words, not only is discourse rendered heavy and lifeless, but the meaning left often ambiguous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we pervert and confound the meaning wholly.

Emphasis may be divided into the Superior and the Inferior emphasis. The superior emphasis determines the meaning of a sentence, with reference to something said before, presupposed by the author as gene ral knowledge, or removes an ambiguity, where a passage may have more senses than one. The inferior emphasis enforces, graves, and enlivens, but does not fir, the meaning of any passage. The words to which this latter emphasis is given, are, in general, such as seem the most important in the sentence, or, on other accounts, to merit this distinction. The following passage will serve to exemplify the super or emphasis.

"Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit

"Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

"Brought death into the world, and all our we,"
Sing heavenly Muse !”


« 上一頁繼續 »