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Exercises in Prose and Poetry
IN SCHOOLS, ACADEMIES, LYCEUMS, COLLEGES:
NEWLY TRANSLATED OR COMPILED FROM CELEBRATED ORATORS, AUTHORS,
A TREATISE ON ORATORY AND ELOCUTION.
NOTES EXPLANATORY AND BIOGRAPHICAL.
BY EPES SARGENT.
THOMAS, COWPERTHWAIT & CO.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year eighteen hundred and fiftytwo, by EPES SARGENT, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Many of the single pieces in this collection are protected by the copyright.
NEW ENGLAND TYPE AND STEREOTYPE FOUNDERY,
THE distinguishing features of the present collection are, the unusual variety and methodical arrangement of the materials; a comprehensive grouping, such as has not hitherto been attempted, of exercises from the most celebrated orators and popular debaters of ancient and modern times; the allotment of a liberal space to original translations from the French and other languages; and the introduction of notes, explanatory and biographical, with the dates of the birth and death of authors. Side by side with those pieces of acknowledged excellence, that justify the title of the work, will be found a large number that are now, for the first time, presented as exercises for recitation and declamation. In the case of selections, care has been taken to collate them with the latest and most authentic editions of the works from which they are extracted; and thus many current errors and mutilations have been avoided.
Of the British parliamentary specimens, many are valuable, not only as models of style, but as illustrating the early history of our own country. Much original research has been bestowed on this part of the volume. The privilege of occasional compression being indispensable, it has been exercised with as scrupulous a regard as possible to the integrity of the text. Most of the extracts from Chatham, Pitt, Fox, and Sheridan; nearly all from Burke, Grattan, Curran, and Brougham; all but one from Canning and Macaulay; and all from Vane, Meredith, Wilkes, Sheil, Croker, Talfourd, Peel, Cobden, Palmerston, Russell, and others, are now, for the first time, introduced into a "Speaker."
Among the familiar masterpieces of American oratory will be found many new extracts, not unworthy of the association. They belong to the whole country, and no sectional bias has influenced the choice.
Of the brilliant specimens of the senatorial eloquence of France, all but two have been translated expressly for this work. In the other departments of the volume, there has also been a considerable expenditure of original editorial labor; all the highly effective exercises from Massillon, Hugo, Pichat, Mickiewicz, and many others, having been translated; all those from Homer, Schiller, Delavigne, Bulwer, Mazzini, Kossuta, and
Browning; and nearly all from Knowles, Croly, Horace Smith, and others, together with the comic dialogues from Morton, Mathews, and Coyne, having been selected or adapted for this collection.
It will be seen that the oratory of the ancients has supplied an unusual number of exercises. A certain novelty has, however, in many instances, been imparted here, by original translations. We have had little, in modern times, to surpass the Philippics of Demosthenes or the fiery invective of Æschines. The putative speeches from Livy, Tacitus, and Sallust, have been newly translated or adapted. In two or three instances, the translation has been so liberal that a nearer relationship to the original than that of a paraphrase has not been claimed. The speeches of Brutus, Caius Marius, Canuleius, Virginius, and others, have been expanded or abridged, to serve the purpose of declamation. The two speeches of Spartacus, that of Regulus, with several others, are now, for the first time, published. The extracts from that strangely depreciated work, Cowper's Homer, have the vivid simplicity and force of the original, and are among the most appropriate exercises for elocution in the whole scope of English blank verse.
Throughout the present volume, in deciding upon the insertion of a piece, the question has been, not "Who wrote it?" or, "What country produced it?" but, "Is it good for the purpose?" Like other arts, that of eloquence is unhedged by geographical lines; and it is as inconsistent with true culture, to confine pupils to American models in this art, as it would be in sculpture or painting. While exercising great freedom of range in selection, however, it has been the editor's study to meet all the demands of a liberal patriotism; to do justice to all the noblest masters of eloquence, and to all schools and styles, from which a grace may be borrowed; and, above all, to admit nothing that could reasonably offend the ear of piety and good taste.
The Introductory Treatise embodies the views, not only of the editor, but of many of our most experienced and distinguished teachers, in regard to the unprofitable character of those "systems" which profess to teach reading and speaking by the rule and plummet of sentential analysis or rhetorical notation. Of these attempts the pupil may well exclaim, in the words of Cowper,
"Defend me, therefore, common sense, say I,
From reveries so airy, from the toil
Of dropping buckets into empty wells,
And growing old in drawing nothing up!"
The preceptive portion of the Treatise presents no particular claim to originality; the object being merely to give a summary of all the discoveries and hints that can be serviceable to the student, in the development of his vocal and elocutionary powers.