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Graduated Series of Five Reading-Lesson Books—continued.
is easy of comprehension because it exhibits a scarcity of unusual words and constructions. A sentence which may be uttered and grammatically analysed with great facility, may present a very hard problem to the intellect. This is a consideration of the utmost consequence. In graduating the lessons of the present series, the editor has had reference, not only to their verbal and grammatical peculiarities, but also to the general calibre of mind requisite to understand and appreciate the ideas which they express. As to the subject-matter he has been guided by no arbitrary standard, but by a wish to present to juvenile readers that kind of intellectual food which experience has declared to be suitable for the various stages of growth to which tbe volumes separately address themselves. Most of
the present reading-lessons either consist of compendious and unadorned outlines of some of the departments of art and the branches of natural science, or they abound in abstract essays and rhetorical or poetical common-places. With reference to the former, the distinction between general information and special instruction in matters of fact, which is of a purely didactic nature, has not hitherto been steadily kept in view. It has been too often forgotten that the communication of this sort of knowledge, however useful it may be, is secondary in importance to the cultivation of a taste for reading, and to the training of the power and the habit of independent thinking and observation. But it is be. ginning to be recognised, that one of the most infallible ways of creating å distaste for inquiry into the construction and phenomena of the material universe, is to burden the mind with a mass of technical facts; that such facts are not necessarily wholesome food merely because they bear upon subjects which are familiar to every one; and that the question whether they are available in an educational point of view, must always depend on the form and style in which they are presented to the intellect, and on the relation in which they stand to antecedent know. ledge. Again, the range of thought to which abstract and rhetorical extracts appeal is generally wider and deeper than a youth can compass. It is obvious that the pupil should be made to read of things which awaken bis sympathy, not of tbings which lie beyond the sphere of his sympathy. In short, the joint elements of intelligibility and attractiveness are indispensable in every reading-lesson.
The charge of encouraging desultory and immethodical thinking is frequently and with justice preferred against the employment of books of miscellaneous extracts for educational purposes. A strenuous endeavour has been made by the editor of the Graduated Series to obviate this charge. He has by no means attempted to exhaust subjects systematically: but he has striven so to select and arrange, that each lessou will either prepare the way for something which follows, or throw addi. tional light on something which goes before. In other words, he has throughout aimed at a certain continuity in the treatment of topics. Beginning with sketches, which rouse rather than gratify the appetite, he has endeavoured to lead the pupil, by gradations as imperceptible as possible, to a somewhat deliberate and special survey of the great departments of human knowledge, and to an approximate estimate of their relations and proportions.
While most of the selections have been carefully abridged, and otherwise adapted for the present series, the peculiarities
of thought and expression of the originals have been retained ; and, for obvious reasons, any effort to originate directions for emphasis, modulation, &c., has been considered superfluous. In this stage of advancement, such directions at once discourage individual effort on the part of the reader, and deprive the teacher of a valuable test for measuring the comparative capacities of his pupils : they are therefore diametrically opposed to the aim and object of reading. For a similar reason, the editor has abstained from supplying such indirect information as a competent teacher may be presumed to be acquainted with.
London : LONGMAN, GREEN, and CO. Paternoster Row,