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READER AND SPEAKER;
BY SAMUEL PUTNAM.
PUBLISHED BY FRENCH & ADLARD.
According to Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by
In the Clerk's office of the District Court of the Southern District of
STEREOTYPED BY FRANCIS F. RIPLEY,
THE Compiler of this volume, having been for several years employed in conducting the education of youth, has found it very dif ficult to obtain select pieces of composition, suited both to the purposes of declamation, and to the capacities of his pupils. There are, indeed, excellent collections of pieces, designed for declamation, selected from the best orators, ancient and modern; but these are almost exclusively intended for scholars in the higher stages of educa tion; and it is as unreasonable to think of teaching a boy to speak eloquently, by requiring him to commit and rehearse these specimens of elevated oratory, as to think of teaching the child, who has just learned his alphabet, to read accurately, by assigning him a lesson in the "Paradise Lost." Would we wish a lad to recite the ideas of another with correctness of tone and inflexion, and with a vivacity and energy of enunciation, indicating an adequate perception of the power of language, it would be requisite for him to have a full apprehension of the import of such composition; otherwise he will be drawn into the exercise of speaking, by a sort of physical compulsion, with the feeling of one who is obliged to say something, rather than of one who has something to say. It is in this view of the subject, that the compiler has been induced to collect into a body, such specimens of composition as are adapted to the purposes of declamation, and level to the capacities of those for whom they are designed.
In regard to another peculiarity of the work-which its name imports-the compiler would remark, that it has been suggested by frequently observing the peculiar feeling of his pupils, when prompted, in the midst of the performance, for some fault too great to be overlooked. The only effectual remedy which he has found for this evil is, to make use of the piece as a reading lesson; and while reading, the pupil can be prompted at pleasure, till he becomes correct and familiar with all the emphases, tones, pauses, and inflexions, requisite to the full expression of the writer's sentiments and feelings. This being accomplished, it becomes very easy to commit the piece to memory; a consideration of no trivial importance with some scholars.
He has also had occasion to remark, that, so far from any loss of interest in such pieces, they have, without exception, been read with increased interest, by every member of the class, whenever they
have occurred in the course of class reading. Thus, Declamation seems-if we may be allowed the expression-to pay back to Reading the debt thus contracted, and both are gainers by the operation.
What he conceives to be another advantage of the plan, is, that those pieces which are suited for declamation, are, almost without exception, good reading lessons.
The selection has been made indiscriminately, from American and foreign writers; the object of the compiler being to collect, wherever he could find them, specimens of rhetorical composition, adapted to his purpose. He has endeavoured to select, not only such as are intelligible, in their scope and sentiment, to those for whom they were designed, but such also, as have been found, on actual experiment, to interest them; because boys, like men, must be interested in what they have to say, if they would say it with ease and elegance, with force and accuracy.
The utmost care has been taken, that the moral sentiment of the selections should be not only unexceptionable, but such as should inspire the tender and susceptible mind of him who recites them, with a generous and an enthusiastic love for what is virtuous and praiseworthy; so that correct moral principle may be incorporated with the intellectual faculties, in their earliest development and discipline.
As it was somewhat difficult to find a sufficient number of suitable prose unusually large portion of the compilation is made up of poetry; but the simplicity of its character removes, in a great measure, any objection on this ground. It is, indeed, the poetic costume, that creates, for most young minds, so many and so strong attractions. And for the same reason, a few highly interesting prose pieces have been admitted which cannot be considered rhetorical.
The fact, that so many of the selections are short, must be considered a happy circumstance, as they can, easily, and without disgust, be committed to memory, by quite young pupils; while, at the same time, they secure all the advantages resulting from appearing in the attitude of declaimers.
There will be found, occasionally, a few pieces of a more elevated character, suited to scholars in the more advanced stages of education.
The compiler sends this work broad into the world, hoping that it may contribute something towards unfolding to the minds of youth, the power of language, and disciplining into correctness, gracefulness, and energy, the faculty of SPEECH, one of the noblest characteristics of our nature.
READER AND SPEAKER.
HYMN TO THE SUN.
OH thou, the golden fount of light,
He calls thee from thy eastern bed,
When o'er the hills the huntsman roves,
When wintry winds assail our shore,
To thee the buds of spring we owe,