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tions of that nature; and also a proper book for those schools, in which, from their circumscribed plan of education, larger works of the kind cannot be admitted.
THE compiler has added to this edition more than twenty pages of matter, which he hopes will be found useful and interesting. He has also given to many of the pieces a new arrangement, calculated to render every part of the work more intelligible and pleasing to young minds.
RULES AND OBSERVATIONS
FOR ASSISTING CHILDREN TO READ WITH PROPRIETY.
THE compiler of this work having, in the preface to his "English Reader," explained at large the principles of elocution, nothing on this head seems to be necessary, in the present publication, but to give a few plain and simple rules, adapted to the younger classes of learners; and to make some observations, calculated to rectify the errors which they are most apt to commit. These rules may be comprehended under the following heads. They are comprised in few words, and a little separated from the observations, that those teachers who wish their pupils to commit them to memory, may more readily distinguish them from the parts which require only an attentive perusal.
I. All the simple sounds should be pronounced with fulness, distinctness, and energy; particularly the vowels, on the proper utterance of which, the force and beauty of pronunciation greatly depend.
The simple sounds, especially those signified by the letters l, r, s, th, and sh, are often very imperfectly pronounced by young persons. B and p are apt to be confounded: so are d and t, s and z, ƒ and v. The letters v and w are often sounded the one for the other: thus, wine is pronounced vine; and vinegar, winegar. The diphthong ow, is, in some words, vulgarly sounded like er: as foller, meller, winder: instead of follow, mellow, window. When several consonants, proper to be sounded, occur in the beginning or at the end of words, it is a very common error to omit one of them in pronunciation: as in the words asps, casks, guests, preadth, fifth, twelfth, strength, hearths. Not sounding the letter h, when it is proper to sound this letter, is a great fault in pronunciation, and very difficult wholly to cor
When children have acquired any improper habits with respect to simple sounds, the best mode of correction is, to
make them frequently repeat words and sentences, in which those sounds occur. When the simple sounds are thoroughly understood and acquired, the various combinations of them into syllables and words will be easily effected.
II. In order to give spirit and propriety to pronunciation, due attention must be paid to accent, emphasis, and cadence.
When we distinguish a syllable by a greater stress of the voice, it is called accent. When we thus distinguish any word in a sentence, it is called emphasis. It is difficult to give precise rules for placing the accent: but the best general direction, is, to consult the most approved pronouncing dictionaries, and to imitate the practice of the most correct speakers.
There are, in every sentence, some word or words, on which the sense of the rest depends; and these must always be distinguished by a fuller and stronger sound of voice, whether they are found in the beginning, the middle, or at the end of the sentence. It is highly improper to lay an emphasis on words of little importance. Words put in opposition to each other, are always emphatical: as, "Here I am miserable; but there I shall be happy." " Children," says Beattie, "are not often taught to read with proper emphasis. When books are put before them which they do not understand, it is impossible they should apply it properly. Let them, therefore, read nothing but what is level to their capacity. Let them read deliberately, and with attention to every word. Let them be set right, not only when they misapply the emphasis, but also cautioned against the opposite extremes of too forcible and too feeble an application of it: for, by the former of these faults, they become affected in their utterance; and by the latter, insipid." That children may be enabled to apply the emphasis with judgment, they should carefully study the subject, and ascertain the meaning of every difficult word and sentence, previously to their being called to read to the teacher.
As emphasis consists in raising the voice, cadence signifies the falling of it. Towards the close of a sentence, the cadence takes place, unless the concluding words be emphatical. It should always be easy and gradual, not abrupt; and should never be expressed in a feeble and lan
guid manner. Even the falling of the voice may be managed with spirit and variety.
III. As the art of reading greatly depends on the proper management of the breath, it should be used with economy. The voice ought to be relieved at every stop; slightly at a comma, more leisurely at a semicolon, or a colon, and completely at a period.
A due attention to this rule, will prevent a broken, faint, and languid voice, which is the usual fault of ignorant and vulgar readers. It will enable the reader to preserve the command of his voice; to pronounce the longest sentence with as much ease as the shortest; and to acquire that freedom and energy with which a person of judgment naturally expresses his perceptions, emotions, and passions, in common discourse.
The comma marks the shortest pause; the semicolon, a pause double that of the comma; the colon, double that of the semicolon; and the period, double that of the colon. A dash following a stop, shows that the pause is to be greater than if the stop were alone; and when used by itself, requires a pause of such length as the sense alone can determine. A paragraph requires a pause double that which is proper at a period.
The points of interrogation and exclamation, are uncertain as to their time. The pause which they demand is equal to a semicolon, a colon, or a period, as the sense may require. They should be attended with an elevation of the voice. The parenthesis, unless accompanied with a stop, requires but a small pause. It generally marks a moderate depression of the voice.
IV. Let the tone of the voice, in reading, be the same as it would be in speaking on the same subject.
To render this rule proper and effectual, children should be taught to speak slowly, distinctly, and with due attention to the sentiments they express. The mode of speaking is then only to be imitated by the reader, when it is just and natural.
V. Endeavour to vary and modulate the voice, accor ding to the nature of the subiect, whether it be in a so
lemn, a serious, a familiar, a gay, a humorous, or an ironical strain.
It would be highly improper to read an interesting narrative, with an air of negligence; to express warm emotions of the heart, with cold indifference; and to pronounce a passage of Scripture, on a sublime and important subject, with the familiar tone of common conversation. On the other hand, it would be absurd to read a letter on trivial subjects, in a mournful strain; or a production of gaiety and humour, with grave formality.
VI. In reading verse, the same general directions must be observed, as have been given for reading prose.
Narrative, didactic, descriptive, and pathetic pieces, have the same peculiar tone and manner, in poetry as in prose. A singing note, and making the lines jingle by laying too great stress on the rhyming words, should be particularly avoided. A very small pause ought to be made at the end of a line, unless the sense, or some of the usual marks of pause, require a considerable one. The great rule for reading verse, as well as prose, is to read slowly, distinctly, and in a natural tone of voice.
We shall now caution young readers against some faults which many are apt to commit. In doing this, it will unavoidably happen, that a few of the preceding observations will, in some respects, be repeated: but this confirmation of the rules will, it is presumed, be no disadvantage to the learners. A display of the various errors in reading, incident to children, may make a greater impression, than directions which are positive, and point only to the propriety of pronunciation.
1. Avoid too loud, or too low a voice.
An overstrained voice is very inconvenient to the reader, as well as disgusting to the hearer. It exhausts the reader's spirits; and prevents the proper management and modulation of his voice, according to the sense of his subject; and it naturally leads into a tone. Too low a voice is not so inconvenient to the speaker, as the other extreme: but