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But if a composition becomes insipid after two or three perusals, or if the meaning of any of its parts cannot be apprehended without great difficulty, the progress of the scholar is retarded, and his mind may even receive an influence whose bad effects shall last through life. But if he goes through the exercise rationally and with interest, many of the minor excellencies of a good reader will be attained. Children are usually led to employ bad inflections, by being compelled to read what they do not understand. If they take that interest in the exercise, which is the result of thoroughly understanding it, the tones are almost invariably well modulated and natural.
Entertaining these views, we have attempted in the Analytical Reader, but more especially in the Sequel, to present some Reading Lessons, which will not lie open to the objections, which we have pointed out.
For this purpose we have confined the text of nearly all our selections to the left hand page, thus reserving one half of the space to the various objects whieh we will now proceed to designate.
One prominent purpose, to which we have devoted the right hand page, is definitions. All the words, which were attended with any difficulty, we have transferred to this page, and appended to them their meaning. In this way, no rećörrence will be necessary to the pages of a dictionary. The words are explained according to their connection, and thereby shades of meaning elicited, which the dictionary would not contain. In many instances, combinations of words, or phrases, are defined by corresponding words or phrases. And sometimes, when the original term was easily understood, a more difficult synonymous phrase has been inserted, in order that the pupil might acquire a larger compass of language and phraseology, and especially, that he might accurately understand the various idioms of his mother tongue.
Thus, in the course of the volume, a large amount of words has been defined, connected with almost every department of human knowledge. Many technical and scientific terms, which are coming more and more into daily use, are explained, where otherwise a recurrence to several volumes would be necessary. Instead of satisfying the curiosity of the student, and preventing an examination of the pages of a dictionary or the text book of a particular science, in the course of reading or study in after life, it is believed that it will excite him to further and larger inquiries. He has understood what he has read. He has learned the exact meaning of many words and terms; which will of course show him in what manner to define others, and when to be satisfied with a meaning.
In some cases where a word has a variety of significations, perhaps of contrary import, the whole number has been attached. This, it is thought, will be a profitable exercise to the powers of comparison and judgment. It will cultivate the important habit of discrimination, while it brings into view, in some measure, the copiousness and extent of the English Language.
The system of questioning is intended to aid both the teacher and the scholar. The teacher is furnished with hints and queries, which he wil!
pursue at pleasure. The scholar may find questions beyond his ability to answer, or some answers not perfectly satisfactory. These doubts may lead him to inquire of his teacher, and thereby a most important object will be gained. If he is excited to ask half a dozen questions, it will be of more permanent and practical benefit to him, than as many pages of ex. planations from his instructer. It nurtures an inquiring spirit. It shows that his intellectual powers are in motion. It creates a mutual responsibility in the business of reading. The scholar feels, that he must understand if possible the ideas, whose representatives pass before his eyes ; the teacher, that it is his duty to be faithful in guiding and animating the labors of his pupils—while on all hands the amount of pleasure is greatly enhanced.
In this exercise some reference has been had to the beauties of style and thought, or lo matters of mere taste. Where it could be done, with. out too manifest digression, we wished to pick up a flower, and show its tints to our youthful friends in their passage through the volume.
In the course of the book, we have occupied considerable space in the explanation of figurative language. Several of the selections, especially lowards the close of the volume, are of a description of poetry which seemed to demand considerable attention. Without destroying the pleasure to be derived from an elevated poetical extract, we have allempted to bring down its metaphorical language, so that childreu could understand and rel. ish it. Where the body of the work did not contair sufficient space for a full explanation, we have transferred our remarks to an Appenulix. Into the Appendix likewise, we have thrown considerable information in regard to a variety of topics, which we thought might be apposite and useful. Especially where proper names in Geography or History occur, we have given a considerable account of them, in alphabetical order.
The most difficult words in orthography are also transferred to the right hand page. Experience has convinced us, that spelling ought always lo accompany reading. The scholar should learn to spell the word as he sees il, in the connection in which he will ever afterwards see it. He should be taught to connect the form with the meaning, rather than to associate in bis mind long columns of words, which have no connection except in sound. It has been declared by a sensible writer of the present day, “ that the ose of the Spelling Book is the greatest barrier now existing to intellectual improvement; that the great reason, why men are so ignorant is, that they were taught by this mechanical method-a method, which, like the destruclive mildew, has blasted the unfolding germs of many a rising genius." Without adopting to its full extent the strong language of this extract, we still think the old method to be attended with many inconveniences. A selection of words for spelling, which has passed before the eye of the scholar, and whose sense and connection he has associated with the appearance and sound, is attended with decided and manifest advantages.
With regard to the rules, which have governed us in our selection of pieces, we have but few words to say. Whenever we have found a com
position, which we thought calculated to interest the minds of children and youth, and which at the same time conveyed correct moral sentiments, we have adopted it.
Simplicity of style and directness of language, when united in the narrative form, present the strongest attractions to immature and expanding minds. At the same time we have carefully excluded every thing written in a style of loose morality or bad taste. All the moral effect of the book, we earnestly hope, will be on the side of virtue and religion. As the pupil is learning to pronounce words correctly, and is treasuring up useful thoughts, and materials for reflection, a more important object will be gained, if his heart becomes deeply interested in the cause of humanity, and in the principles of the Christian religion.
We had nearly completed our labors, when we first saw a copy of the “Classical Reader" of Messrs. Greenwood of- Emerson. We immediately availed ourselves of two or three extracts from this valuable and highly interesting selection, for which we return our acknowledgments to the Compilers.
Our book, whatever be its excellencies or defects, we submit to the can. dor of an intelligent public. In our humble capacity we have attempted something for the great cause of popular education. With the excellencies of the plan we are fully satisfied. What its execution is, must be left to the decision of those interested.