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THIS Volume treads in the steps of its predecessors, as far as principle is concerned. The chief difference between this and the "Third Eclectic Reader " is, that the rules are more specific; the exemplifications more numerous; the list of errors in pronunciation and articulation more extended; and the questions more copious, embracing a wider range, and requiring a more vigorous exercise of thought. The mind of the pupil is presumed to have expanded, as he advanced through the preceding numbers of the "Series." In this book, therefore, he is to expect that higher claims will be made upon his powers of thought, both in the character of the lessons, and in the questions appended to them.
The lessons are of a higher grade than in the preceding volumes. The author, however, ventures to predict, that if any of them shall be found unintelligible to the younger classes of readers, it will not be those of the highest character for thought and diction, and especially in the selections from poetry. Nothing is so difficult to be understood as nonsense. Nothing is so clear and easy to comprehend as the simplicity of wisdom.
By the questions, all the pupil knows, and, sometimes more, will be put in requisition. This will not be unpleasant to those whose minds are sufficiently active and vigorous, to take delight in new efforts, and fresh acquisitions. It may even happen that some of the questions cannot be answered by the instructor. Still, there is nothing which an intelligent teacher of a "common school" might not be expected to learn, or easily acquire. Nothing is so well taught as what has been recently learned. It is, however, the wish of the author, to incite the teacher to the adoption of the interrogative method orally, rather than confine him to the printed questions.
From no source has the author drawn more copiously than from. the Sacred Scriptures. For this certainly he apprehends no censure In a Christian country, that man is to be pitied, who, at this day, can honestly object to imbuing the minds of youth with the language and spirit of the word of God. Among the selections from the Bible are some elegant specimens of sacred poetry, as arranged by Bishop Jebb and Dr. Coit.
To the present remodeled and enlarged edition, are added an introductory article on reading; definitions of the more difficult words in each lesson, in which the proper pronunciation is indicated and the part of speech denoted by the usual abbreviations; a notation, to a considerable extent, of the proper inflection and emphasis, together with questions, and explanations of the same; and, lastly, grammatical questions. To the latter the attention of the teacher is especially invited, as they form a very important and valuable feature of the work. No teacher is aware, until he tries it, how far the study of grammar and that of reading may be united, with decided advantage to both.
With regard to the general plan of this series, as it has met so universally the approbation of intelligent critics, it needs here no explanation or defense.
DIRECTIONS FOR READING.
THE great object to be accomplished in reading as a rhetorical exercise, is, to convey to the hearer, fully and clearly, the ideas and feelings of the writer. In order to do this, it is necessary that the reader should himself thoroughly understand those sentiments and feelings. This is an essential point. It is true, he may pronounce the words as traced upon the page, and, if they are audibly and distinctly uttered, they will be heard, and in some degree understood, and, in this way, a general and feeble idea of the author's meaning may be obtained.
Ideas received in this manner, however, bear the same resemblance to the reality, that the dead body does to the living spirit. There is no soul in them. The author is stripped of all the grace and beauty of life, of all the expression and feeling which constitute the soul of his subject, and it may admit of a doubt, whether this fashion of reading is superior to the ancient symbolic or hieroglyphic style of communicating ideas.
At all events, it is very certain, that such readers, with every conceivable grace of manner, with the most perfect melody of voice, and with all other advantages combined, can never attain the true standard of excellence in this accomplishment. The golden rule here is, that the reader must be in earnest. The sentiments and feelings of the author whose language he is reading, must be infused into his own breast, and then, and not till then, is he qualified to express them.
In accordance with this view, a preliminary rule of importance is the following.
RULE. Before attempting to read a lesson, the learner should make himself fully acquainted with the subject, as treated of in that lesson, and endeavor to make his own, the feelings and sentiments of the writer.
For this purpose, every lesson should be well studied beforehand, and no scholar should be permitted to attempt to read any