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pleas, as they are technically called) made by distinguished lawyers in the courts of justice in favor of or against a supposed criminal. The Eloquence of the Pulpit consists of sermons or discourses delivered on religious occasions. The Eloquence of the Forum consists in the speeches, addresses, orations, &c., addressed to political or promiscuous assemblies.
To many, this information may seem superfluous or puerile. But as this volume is designed for the young and the unlettered, it must not be forgotten that their sources of information are few, and that they will not always take the pains to inform themselves of the meaning of words, even when they are familiar to their eyes in capital letters, and in the running titles of the books before them every day. It is often the case, that the teacher also, taking for granted that his pupils are familiar with the meaning of words so often presented to their eyes, neglects to question them on the subject; and in riper years it becomes a matter of surprise to the pupil himself, that, in early life, words which he had heard sounded almost every day at school presented no idea to his mind beyond that of an unmeaning, or rather an unintelligible sound.
The object of all education is not so much to fill the mind with knowledge as to strengthen its powers, and enlarge its capacity. Those exercises, therefore, are always most beneficial, in all education, which tend most effectually to this result. There is, perhaps, no branch of study connected with popular education, which, when properly pursued, is more highly subservient to this end than the study of correct and tasteful reading, as an art. It necessarily involves a complete knowledge of the subject to be read, the relation and dependences of the phrases, clauses, and members of the sentences, the proper meaning of the words employed, and the connexion between the sentences themselves. This cannot be acquired without a vigorous employment of the perceptive powers, aided by those of comparison, of analysis, of reasoning, of judgment, of taste, and of discrimination. Subordinate and auxiliary to the acquisition of this important art, on the part of the pupil, it is here recommended that the teacher should exercise also the power of classification, by requiring his pupils, while studying a reading lesson, (which, by the way, always should be studied, previous to practising it,) to ascertain and to inform his teacher under which of the above mentioned classes, whether narrative, descriptive, didactic, &c., the piece he is about to read belongs. The teacher who thus employs the faculties of his pupils cannot fail to see a vigorous growth of intellect springing up under his culture, and will be amply compensated for such mortifications as may occasionally arise during formal examinations, from the treachery of the youthful memory, or the want of a proper command over its stores.
One of the best selections of reading lessons which has been in use in the common schools of this country is that of Mr. Lindley Murray, called "The English Reader." Whether estimated by its moral and
religious tone, or by the taste and beauty of the selections, it must equally command the approbation of all to whom the subject of education is consigned. It is true that the compiler had not learnt the modern art of selecting from the productions of editors, members of school committees, and others, whose vanity might, perhaps, aid the circulation of his work, but he has made ample amends for this kind of neglect, by presenting the choicest gems of English literature, selected from the brightest stars of that galaxy familiarly known as the British classics. His introductory tract, for many of the observations in which he has acknowledged his indebtedness to Dr. Blair and to the Encyclopedia Britannica, contains so much valuable instruction on the art of reading, that the author of this work is persuaded that he cannot render better service than by presenting it entire. Many of the suggestions, it will be seen, are followed out in the introductory lessons in this volume; but as all information becomes the better fixed by repetition, such repetition will, to say the least, be pardonable, even though it may be deemed superfluous. "OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD READING.
"To read with propriety is a pleasing and important attainment; productive of improvement both to the understanding and the heart. It is essential to a complete reader, that he minutely perceive the ideas, and enter into the feelings of the author, whose sentiments he professes to repeat for how is it possible to represent clearly to others, what we have but faint or inaccurate conception of ourselves? If there were no other benefits resulting from the art of reading well, than the necessity it lays us under of precisely ascertaining the meaning of what we read, and the habit thence acquired of doing this with facility, both when reading silently and aloud, they would constitute a sufficient compensation for all the labor we can bestow upon the subject. But the pleasure derived to ourselves and others from a clear communication of ideas and feelings, and the strong and durable impressions made thereby on the minds of the reader and the audience, are considerations which give additional importance to the study of this necessary and useful 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 student whose aims fall short of perfection will find himself 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 necessary pauses, emphasis, and tones, may be discovered and put in practice, is not possible. After all the directions that can be offered on these points, much will remain to be taught by the living instructer: much will be attainable by no other means than the force of example, influencing the imitative powers of the learner. Some rules and principles on these heads will, however, be found useful, to prevent erroneous and vicious modes of utterance; to give the young reader some taste for the subject; and to assist him in acquiring a just and accurate mode of delivery. The observations 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; Tunes; Pauses; and Mode of Reading Verse.
"PROPER LOUDNESS OF VOICE.
"The first attention of every person who reads to others, doubtless, must be to make himself heard by all those to whom he reads. He must endeavor 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 considerable assistance from art. Much depends, for this purpose, on the proper pitch and management of the voice. Every person 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 some person at a distance. The low is when he approaches to a whisper. The middle is that which he employs in common conversation, and which he should generally use in reading to others. For it is a great mistake, 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 — loudness or strength of sound, with the key or note in which we speak. There is a variety of sound within the compass of each key. A speaker may, therefore, render his voice louder, without altering the key; and we shall always be able to give most body, most persevering force of sound, to that pitch of voice to which in conversation we are accustomed. Whereas by setting out on our highest pitch or key, we certainly allow ourselves less compass, and are likely to strain our voice before we have done. We shall fatigue ourselves, and read with pain; and whenever a person speaks with pain to himself, he is always heard with pain by his audience. Let us, therefore, give the voice full strength and swell of sound; but always pitch it on our ordinary speaking key. It should be a constant rule never to utter a greater quantity of voice than we can afford without pain to ourselves, and without any extraordinary effort. As long as we keep within these bounds, the other organs of speech will be at liberty to discharge their several offices with ease; and we shall always have our voice under command. But whenever we transgress these bounds, we give up the reins, and have no longer any management of it. It is a useful rule too, in order to be well heard, to cast our eye on some of the most distant persons in the company, and to consider ourselves as reading to them. We naturally and mechanically utter our words with such a degree of strength as to make ourselves be heard by the person whom we address, provided he is within the reach of our voice. As this is the case in conversation, it will hold also in reading to others. But let us remember, that in reading, as well as in conversation, it is possible to offend by speaking too loud. This extreme hurts the ear, by making the voice come upon it in rumbling, indistinct
By the habit of reading, when young, in a loud and vehement manner, the voice becomes fixed in a strained and unnatural key; and is rendered incapable of that variety of elevation and depression which constitutes the true harmony of utterance, and affords ease to the reader, and pleasure to the audience. This unnatural pitch of the voice, and disagreeable monotony, are most observable in persons who were taught to read in large rooms; who were accustomed to stand at too great a distance, when reading to their teachers; whose instructers were very imperfect in their hearing; or who were taught by persons who considered loud expression as the chief requisite in forming a good reader. These are circumstances which demand the serious attention of every one to whom the education of youth is committed.
"In the next place, to being well heard and clearly understood, distinctness of articulation contributes more than mere loudness of sound. The quantity of sound necessary to fl even a large space is smaller than is commonly imagined; and, with distinct articulation, a person with a weak voice will make it reach further than the strongest voice can reach without it. To this, therefore, every reader ought to pay great attention. He must give every sound which he utters its due proportion; and make every syllable, and even every letter, in the word which he pronounces, be heard distinctly without slurring, whispering, or suppressing, any of the proper sounds.
"An accurate knowledge of the simple, elementary sounds of the language, and a facility in expressing them, are so necessary to distinctness of expression, that if the learner's attainments are, in this respect, imperfect, (and many there are in this situation.) it will be incumbent on his teacher to carry him back to these primary articulations; and to suspend his progress till he become perfectly master of them. It will be in vain to press him forward. with the hope of forming a good reader. if he cannot completely articulate every elementary sound of the language.
"DUE DEGREE OF SLOWNESS.
"In order to express ourselves distinctly, moderation is requisite with regard to the speed of pronouncing. Precipitancy of speech confounds all articulation, and all meaning. It is scarcely necessary to observe, that there may be also an extreme on the opposite side. It is obvious that a lifeless, drawling manner of reading, which allows the minds of the hearers to be always outrunning the speaker, must render every such performance insipid and fatiguing. But the extreme of reading too fast is much more common; and requires the more to be guarded against, because, when it has grown into a habit, few errors are more difficult to be corrected. To pronounce with a proper degree of slowness, and with full and clear articulation, is necessary to be studied by all, who wish to become good readers; and it cannot be too much recommended to them. Such a pronunciation gives weight and dignity to the subject. It is a great assistance to the voice, by the pauses and rests which it allows the reader more easily to make: and it enables the reader to swell all his sounds, both with more force and more harmony.
"PROPRIETY OF PRONUNCIATION.
"After the fundamental attentions to the pitch and management of the voice, to distinct articulation, and to a proper degree of slowness of speech, what the young reader must, in the next place, study, is propriety of pronunciation; or, giving to every word which he utters that sound which the best usage of the language appropriates to it; in opposition to broad, vulgar, or provincial pronunciation. This is requisite both for reading intelligibly, and for reading with correctness and ease. Instructions concerning this article may be best given by the living teacher. But there is one observation, which it may not be improper here to make. In the English language, every word which consists of more syllables than one has one accented syllable. The accents rest sometimes on the vowel, sometimes on the consonant. The genius of the language requires the voice to mark that syllable by a stronger percussion, and to pass more slightly over the rest. Now, after we have
learned the proper seats of these accents, it is an important rule, to give every word just the same accent in reading as in common discourse. Many persons err in this respect. When they read to others and with solemnity, they pronounce the syllables in a different manner from what they do at other times. They dwell upon them and protract them; they multiply accents on the same word, from a mistaken notion, that it gives gravity and importance to their subject, and adds to the energy of their delivery. Whereas this is one of the greatest faults that can be committed in pronunciation: it makes what is called a pompous or mouthing manner, and gives an artificial, affected air to reading, which detracts greatly both from its agreeableness and its impression.
"Sheridan and Walker have published dictionaries for ascertaining the true and best pronunciation of the words of our language. By attentively consulting them, particularly Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary,' the young reader will be much assisted in his endeavors to attain a correct pronunciation of the words belonging to the English language.*
"By emphasis is meant a stronger and fuller sound of voice, by which we distinguish some word, or words, on which we design to lay particular stress, and to show how they affect the rest of the sentence. Sometimes the emphatic words must be distinguished by a particular tone of voice, as well as by a particular stress. On the right manage
ment of the emphasis depends the life of pronunciation. If no emphasis be placed on any words, not only is discourse rendered heavy and lifeless, but the meaning is often left ambiguous. If the emphasis be placed wrong, we pervert and confound the meaning wholly.
"Emphasis may be divided into the Superior and the Inferior emphasis. The superior emphasis determines the meaning of a sentence, with reference to something said before, presupposed by the author as general knowledge, or removes an ambiguity, where a passage may have more senses than one. The inferior emphasis enforces, graces, and enlivens, but does not fix, the meaning of any passage. The words to which this latter emphasis is given are, in general, such as seem the most important in the sentence, or, on other accounts, to merit this distinction. The following passage will serve to exemplify the superior emphasis.
'Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,' &c. 'Sing, heavenly Muse!'
"Supposing that originally other beings besides men had disobeyed the commands of the Almighty, and that the circumstance were well known to us, there would fall an emphasis upon the word man's in the first line; and hence it would read thus:
'Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit,' &c.
"But if it were a notorious truth, that mankind had transgressed in
*This remark must now be received, in this country at least, with some qualification. The best dictionary that we have at the present day is undoubtedly that of Mr. Worcester, a gentleman to whose accuracy, fidelity, and industry, the cause of education is much indebted. His dictionary, in the opinion of the author of this work, is the most comprehensive, as well as the safest guide, that has yet been published.