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The art of reading well, is a highly valued accomplishment, and in all our schools should be considered of the first importance; it is not only the foundation of good speaking, but it may be termed the basis of a finished education.
Experience has convinced me that it may be eucily taught, by beginning with such lessons as are intelligible and interesting to the learner, and making each selection with reference to the natural progress of the mind. Where emotions are excited, there is little need of rules for their expression.
Questions like the following are often asked:- Why do children and youth more frequently fail in good reading, than in any other branch of education? Why do we often hear a youth, whose tones in conversation are varied and agreeable, read in a dull, monotonous manner? Why are there so few good readers in society? We believe a correct answer will be found in the fact that bad habits have been formed by a practice of reading uninteresting if not unintelligible exercises. Let any competent judge examine the books used in teaching this valuable art, and he will see that their compilers have hitherto' but little known or regarded the taste, wants and capacities of those for whom they have laboured.
The following work is designed for the middle and higher classes in our Academies and Schools. In preparing it, great care has been taken to select such lessons, as are calculated to give exercise to the various emotions of the mind and the corresponding tones and inflections of the voice. It will be found to contain a greater quantity of interesting and useful matter than any other similar work; and the different selections are so arranged as to give the learner a knowledge of reading the various kinds of style, from the simple narrative to the lofty epic. The compiler Aatters himself that the work is such an one as has long been needed; and in the earnest hope that it may be found useful to the young in improving their style of reading, and in exciting them to virtuous action,
Humbly submits it to the candor
J. OLNEY. Hartford, April, 1831.
The following extract from the North American Review is inserted here for
the benefit of teachers and others interested in the education of youth.
“It ought to be a leading object in our schools to teach the art of reading. It ought to occupy three-fold more time than it does. The teachers of these schools should labor to improve themselves. They should feel, that to them, for a time, are committed the future orators of the land. We had rather have a child, even of the other sex, return to us from school, a first-rate reader, than a first-rate performer on the piano-forte. We should feel that we had a far better pledge for the intelligence and talent of our child. The accomplishment, in its perfection, would give more pleasure. The voice of song is not sweeter than the voice of eloquence. And there may be eloquent readers, as well as eloquent speakers: We speak of perfection in this art; and it is something, we must say in defence of our preference, which we have never yet seen. Let the same pains be devo ted to reading, as are required to form an accomplished performer on an instrument; let us have our phonasci, as the ancients had,—the formers of the voice, the music-masters of the reading voice; let us see years devoted to this accomplishment, and then we shall be prepared to stand the comparison. It is, indeed, a most intellectual accomplishment. So is music, too, in its perfection. But one recommendation of the art of reading is that it requires a constant exercise of mind. It demands continual and close reflection and thought, and the finest discrimination of thought. It involves, in its perfection, the whole art of criticism on language.”
SIMPLIFIED FROM THE WORKS OF
PORTER, WALKER, AND RUSH. All who attentively observe the movements of the voice in reading or in speaking, will perceive that it rises and falls as in singing. Let any one count slowly, and he will easily discover these variations of the voice, as, one, two, thrée,-four, five, six ;-here it will be seen that the voice varies in its tones. Let these words drawl off the tongue and these slides of the voice will be still more apparent. In the question and answer,-Will you go to-day? Nomany one will easily perceive that the voice is inclined upwards on the word day, and downwards on no. These movements, or slides of the voice are called inflections, which include all those gradual waving variations which are heard in good reading, or in animated conversation.
The modifications of the voice are four-viz. The rising inflection, which turns the voice, upwards, marked thus the falling inflection, which turns the voice downwards, marked thus the circumflex, which is a union of the falling and rising inflections, marked thus and the monotone, which is a sameness of sound, marked thus (-). That the learner may acquire a practical knowledge of these inflections, it is important that he should be exercised on examples like the following, till he can easily distinguish one from the other.
RISING INFLECTION. FALLING INFLECTION.
or spèll ?
or ignorant ?
So am 'I.
I am idle.
I am poòr.
I shall walk.
I shall ride. Rule 1. When interrogative sentences, connected by the disjunctive or, succeed each other, the first ends with the rising inflection, the latter with the falling; as,
Did you say nó or yès ?
Will you write or read ? Rule 2. A direct question, or that which admits the answer of yes or no, has the rising inflection, and the answer has the falling; as,
Did you say fáme? Nò. I said name.
Will you ride? I will walk.
Why are you idle? I have no book.
Rule 4. When a sentence is composed of a positive and negative part, which are opposed to each other, the positive must have the falling inflection and the negative the rising; as,
He did not say yours- -but minè.
Study not for amúsement- --but for impròvement. Rule 5. Commands, denunciation, reprehension, generally require the falling inflection; as,
Give me the book. Hènce! bégone! away!
Wo unto you Phàrisees! Why tèmpt ye me. Rule 6. When two members consisting of single words commence a sentence, the first has the falling, the second the rising inflection; as,
Idlèness and ignorance are inseparable companions. Rule 7. The final pause, or that which denotes the sense to be finished, requires the falling inflection; as,
Lovè, jóy, peace; long-suffering, gentlenéss, goodnòss, faith', meekness', and temperánce, are the fruits of the Spirit. Rule 8. Tender emotions require the rising inflection ; as,
Jesus saith unto her, Máry.
You too, Brútus. Rule 9. The circumflex is generally applied to phrases that are of a hy. pothetic nature, and to negations contrasted with affirmations; as,
If ye lóve mé, keep my commandments.
PAUSES. Pauses are distinguished into two kinds; viz. The Grammatical Pause, designated by points, and addressed to the eye; and the Rhetorical Pause, dictated by the sense, and therefore addressed to the ear.
It is taken for granted that the learner is already acquainted with the first, which renders it unnecessary to give any explanation of it here.
The Rhetorical Pause is that cessation of the voice which the reader or speaker makes after some important word in a sentence, and upon which he wishes to fix the attention of the hearer.
When a proper name, or a word which stands for the subject of a discourse, begins a sentence, it requires a pause after it, although the granamatical relation would allow no visible punctuation; as
Hypocrisy is a homage that vice pays to virtue.
Homer was the greater génius; Virgil the better artist. Here, although the grammatical relation would admit no visible pause after the words in Italic, yet the ear demands one, which no good reader would fail to make. The following examples are marked to show more fully the use of this pause.
Some-place the bliss in action, some-in ease;
Thou art the man.
Memoryis the purveyor of reason.
The great pursuit of man—is after happiness. The good reader will perceive the propriety of pausing after the first word, as the subject of the sentence. By this pause the mind is fixed upon the principal object of attention, and prepared to proceed with clearness and deliberation to the reception of what follows.
PITCH OF VOICE. By Pitch of Voice is meant those high and low tones which prevail in speaking. Every person has three pitches of voice, which are easily distinguished; viz.—the natural or middle pitch,--the high pitch, -and the loro pitch. The natural or middle pitch is that which is heard in common conversation. The high pitch is used in calling to one at a distance. The low pitch is employed when we speak to one quite near, and who, though surrounded by many, is the only one supposed to hear.
The learner must be informed here, that high and loud, and low and soft, have not the least affinity. To render the different pitches of the voice clear and intelligible to the learner, the following diagram is inserted, exhibiting to the eye a scale of speaking tones, similar to that used in music.
Let the learner commence in as low a bass-key as possible, and count up the diagram, rising a tone* each number, the same as sounding the eight notes in music, and he will easily discover that the degrees of pitch in speaking, are the same as those in singing: This scale of speaking tones, may seem difficult at first, but a very little practice will render it easy.. Let the learner speak one in as low a bass-key as possible—then troo, &c. and he will find that he can speak these with as much ease and correctness as he can sing them. When he has acquired a knowledge of these different pitches and tones-let him take a sentence and read it on the lowest note—then read it on a note higher, and so on, till he has reached the highest note of his voice. Take the following line.
“ On--on-to the just and glorious strife.” The Semitone between the 3 and 4 is not noticed here, being unnecessary in the present case.