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Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me;
Grammatical punctuation serves, to a limited extent, to mark the pauses which must be made in reading aloud; but these pauses, alone, are not sufficient to secure an intelligible and impressive delivery. Pauses must frequently be made in reading where no grammatical points are used. These are called rhetorical pauses.
Pause after the nominative, when it consists of
more than one word.*
The fashion of this world .... passeth away.
To practise virtue .... is the sure way to love it. Note. - A pause may be made after the nominative, when it consists of only one word, if we wish it to be particularly observed; as, “ Adversity ... is the school of piety."
On the Improvement in the Construction of School
D. P. Page.
WHATEVER the structure and conveniences of the first school-houses in New England were, there is no account of * The place of the pause is indicated by the marks ..
The attention of the pupil should be called to the passages that occur in the lesson, in which the rule may be reduced to practice. By thus attending to one thing at a time, in each lesson, the principles of elocution will finally be well understood.
them, to my knowledge, handed down to the present generation. It is sufficient praise for our ancestors that they established free schools, and provided accommodations for them of any kind. Nor is it necessary that we should go farther back than fifty years, to find structures, between which and the modern ones a comparison sufficiently striking for our purpose may be traced.
Indeed, I may go no farther than to some existing relics of the past generation; and it may be that all who hear me have already in their own mind, and perhaps have had at some past time, connected with their own schoolday experience, the very pattern which will answer our present purpose.
In examining quite a large number of these declining monuments of ill-adapted ingenuity, I have found that a few prominent characteristics mark them all. It seems to have been deemed essential that these edifices, built for the accommodation of all, should have a place in the very centre of the district, determined by actual admeasurement; and wherever the rods and links should fix that point, whether hill or valley, forest or meadow, "highway or byway,” - there, and there only, must the edifice be erected, and thither must the children wend their course, perhaps far away from the village, far away from the principal road, (an object of no small consequence, particularly in winter,) far away from a suitable site for any building, to gain their first impressions of school.
It would seem also to have been considered quite essential that each of these buildings should be furnished with the most ample fireplaces, " gaping wide," and at the same time with slanting floors, the seats rising one above another, suggesting to the modern visitor the idea that they were designed for vast roasting-places, in which each victim could have an equal chance to see and appreciate the towering fames, as they rose in columns to the elevated mantel-piece, and roared up the incandescent flue. Of the capacity of these fireplaces, none can better judge than
those who have taken their “ turn” of a winter's morning, to “make the fire” for a country school, some twenty-five years ago. Who does not well remember the rotund backlog, of a fathom long; the ample bowlders, from a neighboring stone wall, for andirons; the “ forestick,” of a sled's length, to support the superincumbent mass of clefts, small wood, and chips, to the amount of the third part of a cord, to be consumed for an ordinary day's warming of the district school-house? Who does not recollect the merry sound of axes, when the larger boys spent most of the afternoon in chopping at the door. the fuel for the next day's burning?
I have mentioned the sloping floor, upon which it was difficult to stand at ease, if not to stand at all; and which, in the ascent, might remind one of the worthy Pilgrim's Hill of Difficulty, and in the descent, of his approach to the Valley of Humiliation, in which, in the quaint language of Bunyan, “it were dangerous for one to catch a slip.” I might go on to mention the inconvenient fixtures of these rooms; the seats from which dangled many an aching limb, hopeless of finding rest or a resting-place; the forms without backs, upon which many a weary urchin sank — to sleep; and slept - to fall; and fell — to electrify the little community with an extempore solo, in which, like some discarded politician, he deigned to “ define his position."
I might also mention the ill-jointed wainscoting by which the room was on all sides amply ventilated; the shattered ceiling; the scanty light; the marks of juvenile industry, in the shape of scorings and engravings upon the desks; the grotesque drawings upon the walls; the scanty playground; the absence of all out-door accommodations; the dreary aspect about the premises of many of these buildings; the gloomy loneliness of the location, where, at certain seasons of the year at least, in the language of Sprague, “the rank thistle nodded in the wind, and the wild fox dug his hole unscared." I might allude to the absence of taste, either in the style of the buildings themselves, or in any little decoration about them. But all this would be but repeating what has been well and justly said before, and what every observing person has so often witnessed as to render the recital unnecessary.
But I gladly turn from a topic so unflattering to the taste and ingenuity of those we otherwise cheerfully applaud, and would point you to the very many new and elegant structures which now adorn our towns and villages. By the agency of several associations and several distinguished individuals, a correct taste has been diffused through the community so generally, that an unsightly, ill-constructed new school-house is almost an anomaly. Much ingenuity has been concentrated upon the items of ventilating, lighting, warming, and furnishing the school-room; so that, in all these respects, little is left to be done, certainly little to be known. It has been again and again demonstrated that a small sum of money, expended in ornamenting a building of this sort, particularly in the way of painting both within and without, is capital well invested, and that a good return will be realized in the preservation of the property, not only from the wastes of the weather and the trespasses of time, but also from that swifter and more deplorable spoiling, which is the result of youthful activity coupled with youthful destructiveness. While an unsightly, ill-contrived, and unornamented structure will, as it were, invite their depredations, they will reverence good taste and a fair finish so far, as to restrain the love of mischief, ere it desecrates and despoils.
The fitness of things has now become the question ; and so widely diffused is the information on this point, that we confidently set down the improvement in the construction of school-houses as one of the greatest achievements of the age, and one of the strongest proofs of advancement in the enterprise of public instruction.