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it is very disagreeable to the hearer. It is always offensive to an audience, to observe any thing in the reader or speak er, that marks indolence or inattention. When the voice is naturally too loud, or too low, young persons should correct it in their ordinary conversation : by this means they will learn to avoid both the extremes, in reading. They should begin the sentence with an even, moderate voice, which will enable them to rise or fall as the subject requires.
2. Avoid a thick, confused, cluttering voice.
It is very disagreeable to hear a person mumble, clip, or swallow his words ; leaving out some syllables in the long words, and scarcely ever pronouncing some of the short ones; but hurrying on without any care to give his words their full sound, or his hearers the full sense of them. This fault is not easily cured. The best means of mending it, is, to endeavour, both in conversation and reading, to pronounce every word in a deliberate, clear, and distinct
3. Be careful to read neither too quickly nor too slowly. A precipitant reader leaves no room for
pauses; fatigues himself; and lowers the dignity of his subject. His hearers lose much of what is delivered, and must always be dissatisfied with a reader who hurries and tires them. Children are very apt to read too fast, and to take a pleasure in it, thinking that they who pronounce the words with the greatest rapidity, are the best scholars. The heavy, dronish, sleepy reader, and who often makes pauses where there should be none, is also very disagreeable. If he hems and yawns between the periods, he is still more so.
4. Study to avoid an irregular mode of pronunciation.
It is a great fault in reading, to raise and fall the voice by fits and starts; to elevate and depress it unseasonably without regard to sense or stops; or always to begin a sentence with a high voice, and conclude it with a low one; or, on the contrary, to begin with a low voice, and conclude with a high one. To avoid these errors, the sentence should not be hegun in too high, or too low a key; regard should be had to the nature of the points, and the
length of the periods : and the reader's mind should be attentive to the subject, sense, and spirit of his author.
5. With the utmost care avoid a flat, dull, uniform voice, without emphasis or cadence, or a proper regard to the sense of what is reading.
This is a practice to which children who do not love learning, and who are tired with their lessons, are very prone. When this mode of reading becomes habitual, it is painful to the hearer, and very difficult to be remedied. The best means of cure are those prescribed for the preceding error: for if the mind be attentive to the sentiments delivered, the voice will be adapted to their nature and importance.
6. Reading with an improper tone, is a great and common fault of learners, and must be carefully avoided.
No habit is more easy to be contracted than this, or harder to be overcome. This unnatural tone in reading, is always disgusting to persons of sense and delicacy. Some have a squeaking tone. Persons whose voices are shrill and weak, or overstrained, are apt to fall into this tone. Some have a singing or canting note: others assume a high, swelling tone. These lay too much stress on every sentence, and violate every rule of decent pronunciation. Some affect an awful and striking tone, attended with solemn grimace; as if they wished to move the reader with every word, whether the weight of the subject supports them or not.—Some have a set, uniform tone of voice, which 'has already been noticed. Others have a strange, whimsical, whining tone, peculiar to themselves, and not easy to be described. They are continually laying the emphasis on words which do not require or deserve it.
To avoid all kinds of unnatural and disagreeable tones, we should read with the same ease and freedom that would mark our private conversation, on the same subject. We do not hear persona converse in a tone : if we did, we should laugh at them. “Do not,” says Dr. Watts, “affect to change that natural and easy sound with which you speak, for a strange, new, awkward tone, as some do when they begin to read. We should almost be persuaded that the
speaker and the reader were two different persons, if our eyes did not tell us the contrary."
We shall close these rules and observations, by a remark of considerable importance to young persons
who are desirous of learning to read well. Few rules on the subject are intelligible to children, unless illustrated by the voice of a competent instructer. They should, therefore, pay great attention to the manner in which their teacher, and other persons of approved skill, perform the business of reading. They should observe their mode of pronounoing the words, placing the emphasis, making the pauses, managing the voice, and adapting it to the various subjects they read; and, in all these respects, endeavour to imitate them as nearly as possible.
6. Ingratitude to our Supreme Benefactor, is highly
7. Speculation and practice,
Sect. 1. The eagle,
2. The humming-bird,