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THE declamations and recitations in this compilation are mostly new. Many of the dialogues, and some of the other pieces, have never before been published; and a majority of those not original appear in a work of this kind for the first time. A sufficient number, however, of the more choice of the older specimens of oratory and fine writing have been included, to make up a desirable variety.
Reference has been had, in admitting pieces, to the wants of pupils of both sexes, and of different ages.
The devoting of a part of the book to salutatories, valedictories, presentation speeches, and other occasional addresses, constitutes not only an original feature in this work, but one, it is believed, that will prove valuable and useful.
The arrangement of the pieces has been made chiefly with a view to convenience in making selections for speaking; but if, for the purposes of reading, this order should seem too methodical, it can be deviated from to any extent, in taking lessons, so as to secure, practically, all the possible advantages of an intermingling of prose with poetry, and of monologue with dialogue.
Some of the selections, in order to their better adaptation, it is but just to their authors to say, have been considerably condensed; and, in a few instances, otherwise changed. The piece entitled "Remembrance of the Good" was taken, by permission, from a compilation by another. Of the two dialogues, "The Seasons," and "The Village Squire," each partaking more or less of the nature of a waif, the latter has been somewhat altered, and both included in this collection, for the reason, that they have never before, in any form, appeared in any similar work, to the knowledge of the compiler.
The elocutionary analysis is the result of much labor, and is intended to contain, at least, all the more important principles upon which good reading and speaking depend, as clearly stated and as fully explained as could be expected in a work so elementary in its nature.
Technical terms have been avoided as much as possible; and when found necessary, no new ones have been introduced,
but such as seemed the most just and expressive have been selected from Dr. Rush, and other approved authorities.
Allusion has been made to many errors in the manner of reading and speaking, and all of them suitably noticed.
Particular pains has been taken to furnish concise and definite rules for the right use and application of all the elements of vocal expression. Under the rules there have been arranged numerous illustrations, with a special view to their being used "drill exercises." A large number of the illustrations being selected from the body of the work, a key is thereby afforded to the right expression of many important passages in the declamations and recitations.
The rhetorical notation is very simple, and, as exhibited on the fifty-fifth and the three pages immediately following, will be seen to be easy of application.
In preparing the analysis numerous English and American works, relating to the subject treated, have been examined and compared. Of these, great indebtedness is acknowledged to the well-known very original and philosophical treatise on "The Human Voice," by James Rush, M.D.; Murdoch and Russell's "Orthophony, or Vocal Culture in Elocution;" Barber's "Grammar of Elocution;" Gardner's "Music of Nature;" and the productions of Walker, Knowles, Sheridan, Bell, Wood, Smart, J. E. Worcester, Webster, Porter, Bronson, Caldwell, Day, Mandeville, W. Russell, Vandenhoff, and some others, have been consulted with more or less benefit. But it has been deemed scarcely necessary to give any more particular reference to authorities, since we have seldom had occasion to use the language of others, whenever it has been found convenient to adopt their views, and assimilate the same to the peculiar arrangement and design of this work.
Convinced, by the testimony of many practical teachers, as well as by his own large experience in imparting instruction, of the necessity of some brief yet comprehensive and practical manual of elocution, adapted alike to common schools and academies, the author has caused the elocutionary part of the National Speaker to be published by itself, in a cheap volume, called "The Practical Elocutionist."
Boston, May, 1849.
HENRY B. MAGLATHLIN.