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MANY selections of excellent matter have lately been made for the benefit of young persons. Performances of this kind are of so great utility, that fresh productions of them, and new attempts to improve the young mind, will scarcely be deemed fuperfluous, if the writer make his compilation instructive and 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 sentiments; and to inculcate some of the most im. portant principles of piety and virtue.
The pieces selected, not only give exercise to a great variety of emotions, and the correspondent tones and variations of voice, but contain sentences and members of sentences, which are diversified, proportioned, and pointed with accuracy.
Exercises of this nature are, it is presumed, well calculated to teach youth to read with propriety and effect. A felection of sentences, in which variety and proportion, with exact punctuation, have been carefully observed, in all their parts as well as with respect to one another, will probably have a much greater effect, in properly teaching the art of reading, than is commonly imagined.
In such constructions, every thing is accommodated to the understanding and the voice ; and the common difficulties in learning to read well, are obviated. When the learner has acquired a habit of reading such fentences, with justness and facility, he will readily apply that habit, and the improvements he has made, to fentences 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 sentiments are drawn, the reader may expect to find them connected and regular, fufficiently important and impressive, and divested of every thing that is either trite or eccentric. The frequent perusal of such compofition, naturally tends to infuse a tafte 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 virtue, the Compiler has intro
* The Grammatical Student, in his progress through this work, will meet with numerous instances of composition, in ftrict conformity to the rules for promoting perfpicuous and elegant writing contained in the Appendix to the Author's English Grammar. By occasionally examining this conformity, he will be confirmed in the utility of thofe rules; and be enabled to apply them with ease and dexterity.
duced many extracts, which place religion in the most amiable light; and which recommend a great variety of moral duties, by the excellence of their nature, and the happy effects which they produce. These subjects are exhibited in a style and manner, which are calculated to arrest the attention of youth; and to make strong and durable impressions on tbeir minds *.
The Compiler has been careful to avoid every expression and sentiment, that might gratify a corrupt mind, or, in the least degree, offend the eye or ear of f 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 fich as are perfectly immocent; and if, on all proper occafions, they were encouraged to peruse those which tend to inspire a due reverence 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 relist 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
* In some of the pieces, the Compiler has made a few alterations, chiefly verbal, to adapt them the better to the design of his work.
admission of pieces which amuse as well as instruct. If, however, any of his readers should think it cone tains too great a proportion of the former, it may be fome apology, to observe that, in the existing publications 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 fober dice tates of the understanding are regarded with indifference ; and the influence of the good affections, is either feeble, or transient. A temperate use of such entertainment seems therefore requisite, to afford proper scope for the operations of the understanding and the heart.
The reader will perceive, that the Compiler has been solicitous to recommend to young perfons, the perusal of the facred Scriptures, by interfperting through his work, some of the most beautiful and interesting passages of those invaluable writings. To excite an carly taste and veneration for this great rule of life, is a point of so high importance, as to warrant the attempt to promote it on every proper occasion,
To improve the young mind, and to afford fome affistance to tutors, in the arduous and important work of education, were the motives which led to this
production, If the Author should be fo successful as to accomplish these. ends, even in a small degree, he will think his time and pains well employed, and himself amply rewarded.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD
To read with propriety is a pleasing and important attainment ; productive of improvement both to the underftanding 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 conceptions 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 fa. cility, both when reading filently and aloud, they would constitute a sufficient compensation for all the labour 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 confiderations, which give additional inportance to the fiudy of this necessary and useful art. The perfect attain
Note. For niany of the observations contained in this preliminary tract, the Author is indebted to the writings of Dr. Blair, and to the Encyclopædia Britannica.