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MANY felections of excellent matter have lately been made for the benefit of young perfons. Performances of this kind are of fo great utility, that fresh productions of them, and new attempts to improve the young mind, will scarcely be deemed fuperfluous, if the writer make his compilation inftructive and interefting and fufficiently diftinct from others.
The prefent work, as the title expreffes, aims at the attainment of three objects to improve youth in the art of reading to meliorate their language and fentiments; and to inculcate fome of the moft important piles of piety and virtue.
The pieces felected, not only give exercife to a great variety of emotions, and the correfpondent tones and variations of voice, but contain fentences and, members of fentences, which are diverfified, proportioned, and pointed with accuracy. Exercifes of this nature are, it is prefumed, well calculated to teach youth to read with propriety and effect. A felection of fentences, in which variety and proportion, with exact punctuation, have been carefully obferved, in all their parts as well as with refpect to one another, will probably have a much greater effect, in properly teaching the art of reading, than is commonly imagined. In fuch conftructions, every thing is accommodated to the understanding and the voice; and the common difficulties in learning to read well, are obviated. When the learner has acquired a habit of reading fuch fentences, with juftnefs and facility, he will readily apply that habit, and the improvements he has made, to fentences more complicated and irregular, and of a con. ftruction entirely different.
The language of the pieces chofen for this collection, has been carefully regarded. Purity, propriety, perfpicuity, and, in many inftances, elegance of diction, diftinguifh them. They are extracted from the works of the most correct and elegant writers. From the fources whence the fentiments
are drawn, the reader may expect to find them connected and regular, fufficiently important and impreffive, and divefted of every thing that is either trite or eccentric. The frequent perufal of fuch compofition, naturally tends to infufe a tafte for this fpecies of excellence; and to produce a habit of thinking, and of compofing, with judgment and
That this collection may alfo ferve the purpofe of promoting piety and virtue, the Compiler has introduced many extracts, which place religion in the moft amiable light; and which recommend a great variety of moral duties, by the excellence of their nature, and the happy effects which they produce. Thefe fubjects are exhibited in a ftyle and manner, which are calculated to arreft the attention of youth; and to make ftrong and durable impreffions on their minds.t
The Comper has been careful to avoid every expreffion and fentiment, that might gratify a corrupt mind, or, in the leaft degree, offend the eye or ear of innocence. This he conceives to be peculiarly incumbent on every perfon 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 fuch as are perfectly innocent; and if, on all proper occafions, they were encouraged to perufe thofe which tend to infpire a due reverence for virtue, and an abhorrence of vice, as well as to animate them with fentiments of piety and goodnefs. Such impreffions deeply engraven on their minds, and connected with all their attainments, could fcarcely fail of attending them through life; and of producing a folidity of principle and character, that would be able to refift the danger arifing from future intercourfe with the world.
The Author has endeavoured to relieve the grave and ferious parts of his collection, by the occafional admiffion of
The Gramatical Student, in his progress through this work will meet with numerous instances of composition, in strict conformity to the rules for promoting perspicuous and elegant writing contained in the Appendix to the Author's English Grammar. By occasionally examin. ing this conformity, he will be confirmed in the utility of those rules; and be enabled to apply them with ease and dexterity.
† 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.
pieces which amufe as well as inftruct. If, however, any of his readers fhould think it contains too great a proportion of the former, it may be fome apology, to obferve that, in the exifting publications defigned for the perufal of young perfons, the preponderance is greatly on the fide of gay and amufing productions. Too much attention may be paid to this medium of improvement. When the imagination, of youth efpecially, is much entertained, the fober dictates of the understanding are regarded with indifference; and the influence of the good affections, is either feeble, or tranfient. A temperate ufe of fuch entertainment feems therefore requifite, to afford proper fcope for the operations of the underftanding and the heart.
The reader will perceive, that the Compiler has been folicitous to recommend to young perfons, the perufal of the facred Scriptures, by interfperting through his work, fome of the most beautiful and interefting paffages of thofe invalu able writings. To excite an early tafte and veneration for this great rule of life, is a point of fo high importance, as to warrant the attempt to promote it on every proper occafion.
To improve the young mind, and to afford fome affiftance to tutors, in the arduous and important work of education, were the motives which led to this production. If the Author fhould be fo fuccefsful as to accomplish thefe ends, even in a fmall degree, he will think his time and pains well employed, and himself amply rewarded.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD
To read with propriety is a pleafing and important attainment; productive of improvement both to the underftanding and the heart. It is effential to a complete reader, that he minutely perceive the ideas, and enter into the feelings of the author, whofe fentiments he profeffes to repeat: for how is it poffible to reprefent clearly to others, what we have but faint or inaccurate conceptions of ourfelves? If there were no other benefits refulting from the art of reading well, than the neceffity it lays us under, of precifely afcertaining 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 fufficient compenfation for all the labour we can bestow upon the subject. But the pleasure derived to ourfelves and others, from a clear communication of ideas and feelings; and the strong and durable impreffions made thereby on the minds of the reader and the audience, are confiderations, which give additional importance to the ftudy of this neceffary and ufeful 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 ftudent whofe aims fall fhort of perfection, will find himfelf 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 paufes, emphafis, and tones, may be difcovered 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 inftructor: much will be attainable by no other means, that the force of example in
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.
fluencing the imitative powers of the learner. Some rules and principles on thefe heads will, however, be found useful, to prevent erroneous and vicious modes of utterance; to give the young reader fome taste of the subject; and to affift him in acquiring a just and accurate mode of delivery. The obfervations 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.
Proper Loudness of Voice.
THE firft attention of every perfon who reads to others, doubtlefs, must be, to make himself be heard by all thofe to whom he reads. He must endeavour 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 confiderable affiftance from art. Much depends, for this purpofe, 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 miftake, 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, loudnefs 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 fpeaker may therefore render his voice louder, without altering the key and we shall always be able to give moft body, moft perfevering force of found, to that pitch of voice, to which in converfation we are accustomed. Whereas by fetting out on our higheft 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 well of