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DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, SS.
District Clerk's Office. Be it remembered, that on the seventh day of November, A.D. 1826, and in the fifty-first year of the Independence of the United States of America, John H. A. Frost, of the said District, has deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit:
• The Class Book of American Literature; consisting principally of Selections in the Departments of History, Biography, Prose Fiction, Travels, the Drama, Popular Eloquence, and Poetry; from the best Writers of our own country. Designed to be used as a Reading Book in American Schools. By John Frost.'
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled ' An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned. And also to an Act, entitled An Act, supplementary to an Act, entitled an Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.'
JNO. W. DAVIS,
Clerk of the District of Massachusetts.
The objects of the present publication are to improve youth in the art of elocution, and to cherish the love of liberty, of virtue, and our country. A reading book for schools may promote all these objects. It furnishes a daily exercise ; and the truths and sentiments contained in it, so far as they are understood, become indelibly impressed on the minds of the pupils, and exert an important influence on their subsequent moral and intellectual character.
It is under an impression, of the high responsibility incurred by such an undertaking, that the subscriber has made the following compilation.. There are some respects, in which it differs from any preceding one. He hopes, that these changes may not be deemed inconsistent with the prevailing spirit of improvement in education.
All the pieces are taken from the works of our native writers; they relate principally to the history, the literature and the scenery of our own country; the historical pieces are arranged with reference to the order of time and interspersed with dialogues, speeches, and miscellaneous extracts; and care has been taken, to select such pieces as are intelligible and interesting, to most of the classes in a school or academy.
The compiler is by no means desirous to exclude from our schools the classical writers of Great Britain: He only wishes to have our own presented to the young collectively; and when it is remembered that there is a period during the liberal education of every youth in this country, in which he is required to devote himself exclusively, to the classical writers of Greece and Rome; and another, in which the more accomplished scholar acquaints himself with those of France, Italy, and Germany; while a man can scarcely claim to be intelligent, who is not
well acquainted with the history and literature of England; it will surely not be thought unreasonable, that there should be one stage in the course even of common education, in which the brightest periods in the history and the finest specimens in the literature of our own country, should claim the exclusive attention of the young, by being presented to them in a daily reading manual.
These are the subjects, which have the most powerful interest for our youth. There is nothing, at which they so readily kindle into that emotion, which is absolutely necessary to a good elocution, as at whatever relates to our own country, and especially, to its glorious and heroick age. The teacher has only to present an American boy with an eloquent passage relating to some brilliant event of that period, and his eyes will sparkle, and his voice instantly assume the true intonations of feeling.
The compiler does not subscribe to the doctrine, that elocution is an improper subject of written instruction. He thinks that Cicero and Quintilian could hardly have mistaken the matter, so far as to attempt the composition of treatises on elocution, if the art were necessarily incapable of being treated with the pen.
It is true that some writers on the subject have multiplied rules and directions so far as to expose themselves to the censure of reducing to a mechanical process, an art which is purely intellectual. They have endeavoured to supply the want of oral by written instruction. The correct practice, probably, lies between the opposite extremes of using a multitude of rules, and using none; and the happiest effects will undoubtedly result from the union of a few simple directions with the example of a good reader. For unless some general principles are communicated to the pupil, his knowledge of the art will extend little farther than to the very examples which he has heard his instructer tecite. He may give admirable imitations, but never an original reading.
It will hardly be denied, that a youth who is capable of understanding Grammar and Arithmetick, may be taught to apply general principles, to the true conception and correct reading of other writers and the eloquent delivery of his own sentiments.
The compiler had intended to prefix to this volume, a brief introduction, comprising some established principles in elocution, but has omitted it on being apprized, that a separate work of this kind is in preparation, by a gentleman, who devotes himself to instruction in that particular branch of education in this city. *
If the compilation is deficient, in literary merit, the fault lies wholly with the compiler, for he has had an ample field before him—a sound literature, whose foundations like those of the best of antiquity, were laid in the love of civil liberty, whose most vigorous and manly productions, were called forth in defence of that liberty, and whose fairest ornaments are those works, which bear the strongest marks of true national feeling.
J. FROST. Boston, November 6, 1826.
* The above mentioned work, prepared by Mr. William Russell, contains, besides the rules requisite for learners, directions for the guidance of teachers. It is now nearly through the press. At the request of Mr. Russell, some alterations in the present work have been made expressly for the purpose of furnishing a course of exercises to accompany his rules.