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hand to the mouth, that he should first observe, when performing that action without thought of any thing else, what muscles are contracted, in what degrees, and in what order; then, that he should note down these observations; and lastly, that he should, in conformity with these notes, contract each muscle in due degree, and in proper order; to the end that he may be enabled, after all, to-lift his hand to his mouth; which, by supposition, he had already done. Such instruction is like that bestowed by Moliere's pedantic tutor upon his Bourgeois Gentilhomme, who was taught, to his infinite surprise and delight, what configurations of the mouth he employed in pronouncing the several letters of the alphabet, which he had been accustomed to utter all his life without knowing how.*
"3rd. Lastly, waiving both the above objections, if a person could learn thus to read and speak, as it were by note, with the same fluency and accuracy as are attainable in the case of singing, still the desired object of a perfectly natural as well as correct elocution, would never be in this way obtained. The reader's attention being fixed on his own voice (which in singing, and there only, is allowed and expected), the inevitable consequence would be, that he would betray more or less his studied and artificial delivery; and would, in the same degree, manifest an offensive affectation.
"The practical rule then to be adopted, in conformity with the principles here maintained, is, not only to pay no studied attention to the voice, but studiously to withdraw the thoughts from it, and to dwell as intently as possible on the sense, trusting to nature to suggest spontaneously the proper emphases and tones.
"Many persons are so far impressed with the truth of the doctrine here inculcated, as to acknowledge that it is a great fault for a reader to be too much occupied with thoughts respecting his own voice;' and thus they think to steer a middle course between opposite extremes. But it should be remembered that this middle course entirely nullifies the whole advantage proposed by the plan recommended. A reader is sure to pay too much attention to his voice, not only if he pays any at all, but if he does not strenuously labour to withdraw his attention from it altogether.
"He who not only understands fully what he is reading, but is earnestly occupying his mind with the matter of it, will
* 66 6 Qu'est-ce que vous faites quand vous prononcez OP
An answer which, if not savouring of philosophical analysis, gave at least a good practical solution of the problem."
be likely to read as if he understood it, and thus to make others understand it;* and in like manner, with a view to the impressiveness of the delivery, he who not only feels it, but is exclusively absorbed with that feeling, will be likely to read as if he felt it, and to communicate the impression to his hearers. But this cannot be the case if he is occupied with the thought of what their opinion will be of his reading, and how his voice ought to be regulated; if, in short, he is thinking of himself, and, of course, in the same degree abstracting his attention from that which ought to occupy it exclusively. "It is not, indeed, desirable, that in reading the Bible, for example, or any thing which is not intended to appear as his own composition, he should deliver what are, avowedly, another's sentiments, in the same style as if they were such as arose in his own mind; but it is desirable that he should deliver them as if he were reporting another's sentiments which were both fully understood and felt in all their force by the reporter and the only way to do this effectually-with such modulations of voice, &c., as are suitable to each word and passage is to fix his mind earnestly on the meaning, and leave nature and habit to suggest the utterance.
To impart to the delivery of a written discourse something of the vivacity and interesting effect of real, earnest speaking, the plan to be pursued, conformably with the principles I have been maintaining, is, for the reader to draw off his mind as much as possible from the thought that he is reading, as well as from all thoughts respecting his own utterance; to fix his mind as earnestly as possible on the matter, and to strive to adopt as his own, and as his own at the moment of utterance, every sentiment he delivers; and to say it to the audience in the manner which the occasion and subject spontaneously suggest to him who has abstracted his mind both from all consideration of himself, and from the consideration that he is reading."
The preceding Observations prove to a demonstration that ARTIFICIAL SYSTEMS of teaching to read are useless, and worse than useless, for they are positively injurious when carried into practice; and what can be better or more philosophic than the practical rules for reading
#66 Who, for instance, that was really thinking of a resurrection from the dead, would ever tell any one that our Lord rose again from the dead' (which is so common a mode of reading the Creed); as if He had done so more than once ?"
which the same distinguished author suggests? But, as he adds,
"It is by no means a very easy task to fix the attention on the meaning, in the manner, and to the degree now proposed. The thoughts of one who is reading any thing very familiar to him, are apt to wander to other subjects, though perhaps such as are connected with that which is before him; if, again, it be something new to him, he is apt (not to wander to another subject, but) to get the start, as it were of his hearers, and to be thinking, while uttering each sentence, not of that, but of the sentence which comes next. And in both cases, if he is careful to avoid those faults, and is desirous of reading well, it is a matter of no small difficulty, and calls for a constant effort, to prevent the mind from wandering in another direction; viz., into thoughts respecting his own voice, respecting the effect produced by each sound, the approbation he hopes for from the hearers, &c. And this is the prevailing fault of those who are commonly said to take great pains in their reading-pains which will always be taken in vain with a view to the true object to be aimed at, as long as the effort is thus applied in a wrong direction. With a view, indeed, to a very different object, the approbation bestowed on the reading, this artificial delivery will often be more successful than the natural. Pompous spouting, and many other descriptions of unnatural tone and measured cadence, are frequently admired by many as excellent reading; which admiration is itself a proof that it is not deserved; for when the delivery is really good, the hearers (except any one who may deliberately set himself to observe and criticise) never think about it, but are exclusively occupied with the sense it conveys and the feelings it excites.
As the foundation of good reading should be laid from the very first, the following observations may be useful. They are extracted from the writer's "Outline of the Method of Teaching in the National Model Schools:"
In the preface of the First Book of Lessons, and in a few words, the foundation of not only the EXPLANATORY OF INTELLECTUAL method of teaching, but also of GOOD READING, is laid. 'It is recommended to teachers to make their pupils perfectly acquainted with one lesson before they proceed to another; and to exercise them as much as possible upon the meaning of such
words and sentences, as admit of being defined and explained.' The teachers, therefore, from the very first, are expected to lead their pupils to inquire into, and consequently understand, the meaning of the words and sentences which they meet with in their lessons. Now, such a habit is the shortest and surest road to GOOD READING; for all the authorities agree, that, to read with propriety and expression, requires a person to understand what he reads.
"The other instruction to our teachers in this important sentence, namely, that 'their pupils are to be made perfectly acquainted with one lesson before they proceed to another,' is also in the highest degree conducive to good reading. If the children are instructed in this way, their lessons, which have been drawn up on the progressive principle, will be comparatively easy, and they will consequently experience no difficulty in pronouncing the words, or reading. But, if any of the lessons in the series are omitted-or if the pupils are taken over them in a hurried or careless manner, difficulties and discouragement, and BAD READING, will be the result. If a child feels no difficulty in reading, he can, and if properly instructed, will, from habit, pay attention to the meaning of what he reads; but if the contrary is the case, his mind will be too much engrossed with the mechanical difficulty of pronouncing the words, to attend to the ideas which they convey. It is only when a child can read without difficulty, that he begins to pay attention to the meaning of what he reads; and when he does so, he will not only become a good reader, but what is of still greater importance, he will begin to feel a pleasure in reading.
"As understanding what is read is the great rule for good reading, children should be habituated from the first to give an uninterrupted attention to the meaning of what they read. With this view they should be frequently and regularly called upon to close their books, and to give in their own language the substance of the
sentence or passage just read. Such questioning, it is evident, fixes the attention of the children upon the subject of their lesson, and the answering in their own words, gives them a habit of expressing themselves in suitable language.
"At first, and perhaps for a considerable time, teachers will find some difficulty in applying the explanatory or intellectual method. Children will often be slow to speak, or perhaps silent, even when able to give the required explanation, and time, so precious in a large school, will, in consequence be lost. But this is because they have not been accustomed to give explanations. 'Exercise them,' therefore, from the beginning, 'as much as possible upon the meaning of such words and sentences as admit of being defined and explained.' Begin with the easiest and most familiar words; and express yourself satisfied with almost any explanation the child may be able to give-provided he has a conception of its meaning. Do not wait for, nor expect accurate-nor any definitions from children. Encourage them to say just what they think of it, and they will soon learn to express themselves with ease and correctness.
"Another rule for GOOD READING is, to read slowly and distinctly; AND JUST AS WE SPEAK. * The first part of this rule is expressed by the good old couplet
"Learn to read slow, all other graces
Will follow in their proper places.'
* This, however, though an excellent, is a most difficult rule. We quote again from Archbishop Whately :
"The object of correct reading is to convey to the hearers, through the medium of the ear, what is conveyed to the reader by the eye; to put them in the same situation with him who has the book before him; to exhibit to them, in short, by the voice, not only each word, but also all the stops, paragraphs, italic characters, notes of interrogation, &c., which his sight presents to him. His voice seems to indicate to them, thus and thus it is written in the book or manuscript before me.' Impressive reading superadds to this some degree of adaptation of the tone of voice to the character of the subject, and of the style. What is usually termed fine reading, seems to convey in addition to these, a kind of admonition to the hearers, respecting the feelings which the composition ought to excite