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THE CLASS AND STANDARD SERIES
ADAPTED TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE REVISED CODE.
CHARLES BILTON, B.A.
A POETICAL READER
SUITABLE FOR ALL CLASSES OF SCHOOLS.
'The poet cometh to you with words set in delightful proportion,
LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
Requirements of the Revised Code.
Reading. A few lines of poetry from a reading book used in the first class of the school.
Writing.-A sentence slowly dictated once, by a few words at a time, from a reading book used in the first class of the school.
Arithmetic.-A sum in compound rules (common weights and measures).
ALL EXPERIENCED TEACHERS know and appreciate the great utility of a selection of good poetry as a means of forming the taste, cultivating the moral perceptions, exercising the imagination, and awakening and stimulating the desire for the acquisition of knowledge. In our earliest years we are taught, and delight in, the ofttold nursery rhymes; and many volumes of poems have been written for the especial use of children. Miss Aikin has truly said, 'that the magic of rhyme is felt in the very cradle; the mother and the nurse employ it as a spell of soothing power. The taste for harmonythe poetical ear-if ever acquired, is so almost always during infancy. The flow of numbers easily impresses itself on the memory, and is with difficulty erased. By the aid of verse, a store of beautiful imagery and glowing sentiment may be gathered up as the amusement of childhood, which in riper years may beguile the heavy hours of languor, solitude, and sorrow; may enforce sentiments of piety, humanity, and tenderness; may soothe the soul to calmness, rouse it to honourable exertion, or fire it with virtuous indignation.'
This selection is intended for the use of children in whom the teacher is endeavouring to implant a love of reading for the sake of its uses and pleasures. There is no surer method of doing so than by presenting to
the minds of the pupils choice specimens of our great writers. Very great care has been taken in the compilation of this volume to choose such extracts as will tend to interest and at the same time to instruct, and while many old favourites are retained-because though familiar to the teacher, they are new to the scholar— yet a great number of the pieces, it is believed, will be found to appear in a book of this kind for the first time. By the use of a somewhat smaller type, the chief incidents of the whole of Sir Walter Scott's 'Lady of the Lake' have been inserted. The short extracts illustrative of the Seasons,' ' Birds,' 'Flowers,' &c. are presented in a novel manner, by the connecting prose remarks and explanations; and the 'Trial Scene,' from Shakspeare's 'Merchant of Venice,' is rendered more intelligible to the young, by the accompanying abridgment of Lamb's Essay on the Play, by which means the connecting links of the story are supplied.
The style and character of the extracts are very varied. Specimens are given of sacred and moral, descriptive, narrative, pathetic, dramatic, and comic poetry. A few of the pieces are printed in the prose form, in order that the children, by reading them in this manner, may learn to avoid the sing-song tone so often heard in the enunciation of verse.
One great aim of a selection of poetry for scholars should be to imbue those reading it with a desire to become further acquainted with the works of our standard poets; and it is hoped that in the following pages such extracts from each writer's productions are furnished as will (using the words of Sir Philip Sydney) 'not only show the way, but will give so sweet a prospect into the way, as to entice anyone to enter into it: nay, as if their journey should be through a
fair vineyard, to give them at the very first a cluster of grapes; that, full of that taste, they may long to pass further.'
Independently of the above mentioned advantages of the use of poetry, its great importance, as a means of improving the quality of reading, cannot be overestimated, and ought to give it prominence as a part of instruction. The Rev. J. Blandford, one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, has said, 'In order to teach children to read well, the instructor must accustom them to read poetry more frequently than according to the general habit. If proper pieces were selected, they might be made the groundwork of admirable lessons, not only in the art of reading, but also in geography, grammar, history, &c.' To read poetry really well requires most careful and thorough instruction on the part of the teacher. The adoption of the following general rules is recommended :—
1. The portion chosen for the lesson not to be more than can be thoroughly elucidated at the time.
2. The teacher should first read the piece with proper emphasis and correct expression, so as to give the pupils a general idea of its meaning.
3. All difficult words, phrases, and allusions should be clearly explained; a short biographical account of the writer given, &c. &c.
4. Each pupil should then read in turn, either the whole or a portion of the piece previously explained, after which the class should be questioned.
The pupils should be accustomed to commit pieces to memory (either in school or as home lessons), for the purpose of recitation. This exercise will be found most useful in helping to secure a good style of reading, in strengthening the memory of the learners, and