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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by
EPES SARGENT, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusette.
- MORE than twenty years ago we put forth our first reading-book for schools. Since that time we have contributed to this department of educational literature sixteen volumes of lessons for reading or speaking, of which the copies put in circulation may be reckoned by millions. In the preparation of these works, as well as of this now presented, we have been indebted to no American compiler, with the single exception of our honored and venerable friend and predecessor, John Pierpont, author of “The First-Class Book,” and to him for pieces only by conspicuous writers like Campbell, Moore, and Bowring, to which our own unaided researches would in all likelihood have guided us. We mention these facts simply to guard against any unjust inference in respect to priority in the introduction and use of certain pieces.
We have endeavored to give to our introductory treatise, as far as possible, a purely practical character. The great fault, in nearly all treatises by professed teachers of elocution, has been the intermingling, with scientific certainties, of much that is merely speculative or theoretical. We do not claim to have wholly avoided this fault; but we have tried to avoid it, having adopted an eclectic course, and confined ourselves to statements on which the leading writers on elocution are for the most part in harmony. We have to express our indebtedness, in this labor, to the writings of Steele, Garrick, Walker, Bell, Rush, Russell, Ellis, and others. We should be unjust, also, did we not mention our obligations to Mr. Lewis B. Monroe, the distinguished Boston teacher of elocution, with whom we have frequently consulted during the progress of this work. While he is not responsible for anything that is erroneous or even questionable in it, to his fine taste and well-trained judgment we owe much that adds to the value of this collection as a class-book for elocutionary drilling.
The large type of the volume will commend itself to all who properly appreciate the importance of the mechanical appearance of what is read in schools.
In regard to orthography, we have selected from every lesson the words differently spelt, and placing them, in both their forms, conspicuously at the head, have repeated them in the Explanatory Index. We have also called attention to besetting faults of pronunciation, and given frequent hints for elocutionary delivery.
The space thus usefully occupied made it necessary for us to throw the biographical notices of authors into the Explanatory Index. But there is an obvious advantage in this disposition of them; for when there are several pieces by the same author scattered through the volume, the biographical notice, easily referred to through its alphabetic arrangement, is made to attach to all the pieces instead of to the first one only.
This new Fifth Reader, as well as the new Fourth of the same series, has been prepared with great care, and will be found, it is believed, to contain the choicest English reading exercises ever yet compressed into the same space. While selecting these especially for their adaptedness to elocutionary practice, it has been our object to give a proper proportion of such pieces as may help, at this critical period in our national history, to inspire a devoted spirit of patriotism, an intelligent faith in our republican system, a renewed confidence in our purified institutions, and a persistent resolve to demand, for our whole country, nothing less than Union and Liberty.