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DESIGNED TO ASSIST YOUNG PERSONS
IMPROVE THEIR LANGUAGE AND SENTIMENTS; AND
PIETY AND VIRTUE.
WITH A FEW PRELIMINARY
BY LINDLEY MURRAY,
MANY selections of excellent matter have been made for the benefit o young persons. Performances of this kind are of so great utility, that fresh prorluctions of them, and new attempts to in prove the young mind, will scarcely be deemed superfluous, if the writer makes his compilation instiuctive and interesting, and sufficiently distinct from others.
The present work, as the title expresses, aims at the attainment of three objects: to inprove youth in the art of reading; tó meliorate their language and sentimients; and to inculcate some of the most important 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 diversihed, proportioned, and pointed with accuracy. Exercises of this nature are, it is presumed, well calculated to leach youth to read with propriety and effect. Å selection 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 prea bably 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 reall well are obviated. When the learner has acquired a habit of reading sich sentences, with justness and facility, he will readi!y apply that habit, and the improvements he has inade, to sentences inore 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 thie most correct and elegant writers. From the sources whence the sentiments are drawn, the reader may expect to find them connected and regular, sutti. ciently important and impressive, and divested of every thing that is either trite or eccentric. The frequent perusal of such composition naturally tents to infuse a taste for this species of excellence, and to produce a habit of think ing, and of coin posing, with judgment and accuracy.*
That this collection may also serve the purpose of proinoting piety and ris. lue, the Compiler has introduced many extracts, which place religion in the most ainiahle light: and which recommend a great variety of moral duties, by the excellence of their nature, and the happy effects 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 ou their mindst
The Compiler has been careful to avoid every expression and sentiment, that might gratify a corrupt niind, or, in the least degree, offend the eye or ear of innocence. "This he conceives to be peculiarly incumbent on every person
* The learner, in his progress through this volume and the Sequel to it, win mect with numerous instances of composition, in strict conformity to the rules for promoting perspicuous and elegant writing, contained in the Appendix to the Author': English Graminar. By occasionally exaniining this conforniity, he will be confirmed In ihe utility of those rules; and he enabled to apply them with case and dexterity.
It is proper further to observe, that the Reader and the Sequel, besides teaching to read accurately, and inculcating many important sentiments, may be considered a ayxiliaries to the Author's English Grammar; as practical illustrations of the princi ples and rules contained in that work.
Ain song of the piecer, the Compiler bas made a few alterations, chiefly verbal, no A di ibere the other we of bis work.
who writes for the benefit of youth. It would indeed be a great and hapra improvement in education, if no writings were allowed to conne under their notice, bût such as are perfectly innocent; and if on all proper occasions, they were cricouraged 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 attend i ng them through life, and of producing a solicies of principle and charac ter, that would be able to resist ihe danger arising froin 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 loo great a portion of the fornier, it may be some apology to observe, that in the existing publicatious designed for the perusal of young persons, the preponde 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 regarden with indifference; and the influence of good affections is either see.
ble, or transienl. d teinperate 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 solicitious to recommend 10 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 great rule of life, is point of so high importance, as to warrant the attempt to pro. mote il 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 acenmplish these ends, even in a small degree, he will think that his time and pains have been well employed, and will deem himself amply rewarded.
TO real with propriety is a pleasing and important attainment; produc. tive of improvement both to the undersianding and the heart. It is essential to a complete reader, that he ininutely perceive the ideas, and enter into the feelings of the author, wiose 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 froin the art of reading well, than the necessity it lays us uider, of precisely ascertaining the meaning of what we read; and the habit thence acquired, of doing this with facility, both when reading silently and ainud, 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 a clear com munication of ideas and feelings; and the strong and durable impressions made thereby ou the minds of the reader and the audience, are considerations, which give additional importance to the study of this necessary an i useful art. The perfect atlaiminent of it doubtless requires great attention and practice, joined io extraordinary natural puwers; but as there are many degrees of excellence
in the art, the student whose aiins fall short of perfection will find hiinsell · anıply rewarıied 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 lones, 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 instructor; much will be atlairia. ble by no other means, than the force of example, influencing the imitative powers of the learner. Some rules and principles on these heads will, how. ever, he found useful, to prevent erroneous and vicious modes of utterance ; to give the young reader some taste for the subject; and to assist himn in acquir ing a just and accurate mode of delivery. The observations which we have to make, for these purposes, may be comprised under the following heacts : Proper Loudness of Voice ; Distinctness, Slowness; Propriety of Pronuncia tion: Emphasis ; Tones; Pauses; and Mode of Reading Verse.
Proper Loudness of Voice. THE first attention of every person who reads to others, doubtless, must de to make himself heard by all those to whom he reads. He must endea. vnur to fill with his voice, the space occupied by the coinpany. This power of voice, it may be thought, is wholly a natural talent. It is, in a good inea. sure, the gift of vature; 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 iniddle, and the low one. The high, is that which he uses in calling aloud to some per.
NOTE. For many of the observations contained in this preliminary Tract, the author is indebted to the writings of Dr. Blair, and to ihe Encyclopedia Britanuica.
top at a Jistarce. The low, is when he approaches to a whisper. Tho iniddle, is that which he employs in common conversation, and which he should generally use ir. readmg to others. For it is a great mistake, to ima. gine inal one must take the liighest pitch of his voice, in order to be well heard in a large company. This is confounding two things which are different, soudness 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 or voice to which in conversation we are accustomed. Whereas, by setting out oui 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 our. seles, and read with pain; and wheneyer a person speaks with pa
hiin. self, he is also 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 ex. tranrdinary 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 trans gress these buiinds, we give up the reins, and have no longer any manage. ment of it. It is a useful rule, too, in order to be well heard, lo cast our eye Ou soine 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 whorn we acidress, provided he is within reach of our voice. As this is the case in conversation, it will hold also in reading to others. But let us remeinber, that in reading as well as in conversation, it is possible to offend by speaking too loud. This extrenie hurts ti e ear, by making the voice come upon it jy rum. bling, indistinct nasses.
By the habit of reading, wlen young, in a loud and vehement manner, the voice beco:nes fixed in a strained and unnatural key; and is rendered inca. pable of that variety of elevarion and depression which constituies the true harmony of utterance, and affords ease to the reader, and pleasure to the dience. This unnatural pitch of the voice, and disagreeable monotony, are most observable in persons wro were taught to read in large rooms : who Here accustomed to stand at ti o great a distance, when reading to their tea. Chiers; whose instructor's were very imperfect in their nearing ; cr who were taught hy persons who considered loud expression as the chief rcquisite in forming a good reader. These are circumstances, which demand the seri. ous attention of every one to whom the education of youth is coinmilled.
Distinctness. IN the next place to being well heard and clearly ur derstood, distinctness of articulation contributes more than mere louduess of suund. The quantity of sound necessary to fill even a large space, is sinailer than is commonly Imagined; and, with distinct articulation, a person with a weak voice will make it reach further than the strongest voice can rcach 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 dis:inctly; without slurring, whispering, or suppressing, any of the proper sounds.
An accurate knowledge of the siinple, elementary sounds of the language, and a facility in expressing them, are so necessary to disuinctness of expreg. 81011, that if ihe learner's attaininents are, in this respect, imperfect, (and many there are in this situation,) it will be incumbent on his teachrr to car. ry him back to these primary articulations; and to suspend his pic ress, til ne become perfectly master of them. It will be in vain to press him orward, With the hope of forming a good reader, if he cannot completely fiticulate Bury cterpentary sound of the language.