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POETRY AND PROSE,
FROM SOME OF THE BEST AND MOST POPULAR WRITERS
INTENDED TO FURNISH YOUTH,
IN SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES,
A CLASS-BOOK THAT WILL AT ONCE INTEREST, GRATIFY,
BY JOSEPH GUY, JUN.,
OF MAGDALEN-HALL, OXFORD,
AUTHOR OF THE JUVENILE LETTER-WRITER," &c., &c.
WILLIAM TEGG AND CO., 85, QUEEN-STREET,
270. c. 126.
Ir may be hoped that the following Selections will, in due season, lead British youth to a perusal of the entire works of those authors from whom these extracts have been made. Nor can they form their language and their style of written composition from better models, or from purer sources. And as the various specimens are, for the most part, such as have not before appeared in any school volume, their novelty, to such a class, will afford a new stimulus and incentive to reading, of that kind which will be as instructive as it will prove entertaining.
With respect to the judgment and taste, if any, exhibited in the choice of the following pieces, the author can only affirm, that, having been all his life in schools, either as learner or teacher, this compilation is the result of much experience, both as to the matter generally desired. by preceptors, and as to that which is usually most attractive and pleasing to youth.
2, HOLLIS-PLACE, HAVERSTOCK-HILL, LONDON, 1852.
*** IT has been thought preferable, for the purpose of occasional recitations in schools, to give only detached extracts from Shakspere, rather than entire scenes. When, however, such are also required, with the intention of making a nearer approach to theatrical representation, the volume of our great poet is of easy access. Teachers may likewise be inclined to choose for themselves; and, by so doing, give greater variety to the entertainment by selecting scenes, not only from Hamlet, and one or two others, as is generally the custom at present, but from almost any of the thirty-six Dramas of Shakspere.
By elocution is meant, the utterance of those articulate sounds which are formed by the human voice; and as the object of those sounds is to communicate our ideas, it is surely of no little importance that we speak with sufficient distinctness to be well and easily understood. Nevertheless, a naturally good elocution, combined with all the requisites for making a pleasing and an impressive speaker, is, perhaps, one of the rarest gifts bestowed upon man. We most of us possess the necessary organs of articulation; but nature has still left much for cultivation, and for man to improve upon.
Important, however, as the art of elocution is, it is rarely made the subject of tuition in our schools and colleges; in which a delegated professor of the art is seldom, if at all, employed.
The very indistinct mode of utterance of perhaps some members of our own family circle, or of individuals at our social meetings, is often felt to be sufficiently irritating; but when, as is too frequently the case, it occurs in a public reciter, it becomes a fault of great magnitude, and may be termed a serious evil.
Had many of our public speakers been early taught the principles of elocution, much annoyance from ignorance of the art would be saved both to themselves and their audience. However, the fault lies principally in the imperfect system pursued in their early instructionelocution not being one of the branches taught.
In this country, where public speaking is so often and so much in request,—not only from the pulpit, in the senate, and at the bar, but also in the council chambers of our towns, and at the frequent public meetings in the most secluded localities of our isle,-to neglect so important a
study is almost unpardonable in an individual above the lowest grade; but certainly so, that it should be nearly excluded from our seminaries of learning.
The Grammar of the art properly belongs to private instruction, though some of its leading features may be noticed in this introduction.
Next, then, to a clear enunciation in conversation, a good and distinct utterance in reading claims attention. To read well requires, also, a proper modulation of the voice. This latter quality, it is true, pre-supposes much judgment and study, as it includes emphases, pauses, and tones, with a suitable degree of loudness, and a careful attention to the examples of the best readers.
If school-teachers were, in general, good readers, it might be recommended that, when a class is round them, they, also, should take their turn in the lesson; as children would soon adopt the style of their instructors, instead of the monotonous and sing-song tones they usually fall into, if not taught better.
From inattention in early life to reading and reciting, how few of our public speakers can be termed really eloquent, though in other respects fluent in language, and rich in all the tropes and figures of oratory! or be said to possess the power of a Demosthenes, a Cicero, or a Garrick, in swaying the feelings and passions of their audience, and, as it were, taking them captive!
Recitations, also, may be made of great service in initiating youth, while at school, in all the principles of eloquence. Our language abounds with rich examples for such a practice, both in prose and poetry. Where they have a competent instructor in the art, it must be of lasting advantage to them; called, as many of them will be, in after-life, to put in practice what they have been taught. And if, in most instances, it only enabled the greater part of them to speak with distinctness and propriety, it were an art worth cultivating: but it would do much more than this; it would add the ornaments of elocution to the solid weight of their logical reasoning.