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PIECES IN PROSE AND VERSE,
ASSIST YOUNG PERSONS TO READ WITH
PROPRIETY AND EFFECT;
IMPROVE THEIR LANGUAGE AND SENTIMENTS AND
TO INCULCATE THE MOST IMPORTANT
BY LINDLEY. MURPAY,
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY
ANY selections of excellent matter have been made for the benefit os » vung persons. Performances of this kind are of so great utility, that fresk froductions of them, and new attempts to improve the young mind, will Barcely be deemed superftuous, if the writer makes his compilation instructire ad interesting, and sufficiently distinct from others.
The present work, as the title expresses, aims at the attainment of three objects: to improve youth in the art of reading ; to meliorate their language and sentimerts; and to inculcate some of the most important principles of piety and virtue.
The pieces selected, not only give exercise to a great varety of emotions, and the correspondent tones and variations of voice, but contain sentences and members of sentences, which are diversified, proportinned, and pointed with accuracy. Exercises of this nature are, it is presumed, well calculated to teach youth to read with propriety and effect. A selection of sentences, in which variety and proportion, with exact punctuation, have been carefully nbserved, in all their parts as well as with respect to one another, will prohably have a much greater effect, in properly' teaching the art cf reading, tnan is coinmonly imagined. In such constructions, every thing is accommodated to the nnderstanding and the voice; and the comn.on difficulties in learning to read well are obviated. When the learner has acquired a habi. of reading such sentences with justness and facility, he will readily apply that habit, and the improvements le bas made, to sentences more complicated and irregular, and of a construction entirely different. .
The language of the pieces chosen for this collection has been carefully regarded. Purity, propriety, perspicuity, and, in many instances, elegance of diction, distinguish them. They are extracted from the works of the most correct and elegant writers. From the sources whence the sentimenta are drawn, the reader may expect to find them connected and regular, sufficiently important and impressive, and divested every thing that is either trite or eccentric. The frequent perusal of such composition naturally tends lo infuse a taste for this species of excellence, and to produce a habit of thinking, and of composing, with judgment and accuracy. *
That this collection may also serve the purpose of promoting piety and vir. tue, the Compiler has introduced many extracts, which place religion in the most amiable light ; and which recommend a great ariety of moral duties, by the excellence of their nature, and the happy.eflects they produce. These subjects are exhibited in a style and manner which are calculated io arrest the attention of youth ; and to make strong, and durable impressions on their minds.
The Compiler has beer carefuld avoid every expression and sentiment,
* The learner, in his progress through tris volume and the Sequel to it, will meet with numerous instances of cosa position, in strict conformity to the rules for promoting perspicuous and elegant writing, contained in the Appendix 10 the Author's English Grammar. By occasionally examining this conformity he will be confirmed in the utility of those rules; and be enabled to apply them with ease and dexterity.
It is proper further to observe, that the Reader and the Sequel, besiiles caching to read accurately, and inculcating many important sentiments, may be considered as auxiliaries to the Author's English Grammar; as practica! illustrations of the principles and rules contained in that work.
| In some of the pieces, the Compiler has made a few alterations ch seslial, to adapt them the better to the design of his work.
Lhat might gratify a worrupt mind, or, in the least degree, offend the eye or ear of innocence. This he conceives to be peculiarly incumbent on every person who writes for the benefit of youth. It would indeed be a great and happy improvement in education, if no writings were allowed to come under their notice, but such as are perfectly innocent; and if on all proper occa. sions, they were encouraged to peruse those which tend to inspire a due rererence for virtue, and an abhorrence of vice, as well as to animate them with sentiments of piety and goodness. Such impressions deeply engraven on their minds, and connected with all their attainments, could scarcely fail of attending them through life, and of producing a solidity of principle and character, that would be able to resist the danger arising from future intercourse with the world.
The Author has endeavoured to relieve the grave and serious parts of his collection, by the occasional admission of pieces which amuse as well as instruct. If, however, any of his readers should think it contains too great a portion of the former, it may be some apology to observe, that in the existing publicaticns designed for the perusal of young persons, the preponderance is greatly on the side of gay and amusing productions. Too much attention may be paid to this medium of improvement. When the imagination, of youth especially, is much entertained, the sober dictates of the understanding are regarded with indifference: and the influence of good affections is either feeble, or transient. A tenperate use of such entertainment seems therefore requisite, to afford proper scope for the operations of the understanding and
The reader will perceive, that the Compiler has been solicitious to recom mend to young persons, the perusal of the sacred Scriptures, by interspersing through his work some of the most beautiful and interesting passages of those invaluable writings. To excite an early taste and veneration for this grea rule of life, is a point of so high importance, as to warrant the attempt to pro mote it on every proper occasion.
To improve the young mind, and to afford some assistance to tutors, in the arduous and important work of education, were the motives which led to this production. If the author should be so successful as to accomplish these ends, even in a small degree, he will think that his time and pains have been pell employed and will deem himself amply rewarded,
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD READING.
TO read with propriety is a pleasing and important attainment; produs tive 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 readirg well, than the necessity it lays us under, of precisely ascertaiaing the meaning of what we read; and the habit thence acquired, of doing this with facility, both when reading silently and aloud, they would constitụte a sufficient compensation for all the labour we can bestow upon the subject. But the pleasure derived to 'ourselves and others, from a clear com. munication of ideas and fer
as 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 nfcpwr
emphasis, and tones, may be discovered and put in prac. tice, 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 aitaina. ble by po other means, than the force of example, influencing the imitative powers of the learner.' Some rules and principles on these heads will, hovr. ever, be found useful, to prevent erroneons and vicious modes of utterance; to give t'e 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 follnwing heads : Proper Loudness of Voice; Distinctness ; Slowness; Propriety of Pronunciation ; Emphasis ; Tones ; Panses ; and Mode of Reading Verse.
Proper Loudness of Voice, THE first attention of every person who reads tqoothers, doubtless, must be to make himself bicara by all those tuitlom Heireads. He must éndeayour to fill witir his voice, the space occapied 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 recere considerable assistance from art. Much depends, for this purpose,:an die proper pitch and management of the voice
on has three pitches in his voice; the high, the raiddle and the low one. The high, is that which lee used in calling alond to some person at a distance. The low; is where 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 coripass of each key. A speaker may there. fore render his voice louder, without altering the key; and we shall always
NOTE. For many of the observations contained in this preliminary tract the anthor is iudebted to the writings of Dr. Blair, and to the Encyclopedia Britannica.