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struction of youth, the compiler of the selections contained in the present volumes has arranged in a popular and attractive form, a series of the most finished specimens of the British poets from Chaucer to the present time. It will be observed, that an effort has been made to increase the value of this work, by directing the attention of the reader to the great productions of our early literature, which it has been too much the fashion to regard with coldness and indifference, amfdst, the more showy and superficial effusions of many modern poets. The compiler has also deemed it right to avail himself of the rich treasures which the poetical literature of the Continent and of America so abundantly affords. Many of the most interesting •specimens are, therefore, taken from the poetical works of America, Germany, and France. A preference has been given, in all cases, to those productions which are calculated to lay the foundation of a refined taste, to convey some useful truth, to implant a love for virtue, and to inspire devotional feelings.
The plan of the work combines with the order of time a division of subjects. This system has been generally adopted in our old collections of poetry for the use of schools. It is unquestionably open to the objection, that the selections cannot be invariably placed under their appropriate classifications. The subjects of poetical compositions run so much into each other, that several different kinds are often unavoidably embodied in the same "piece. This method, however, has its peculiar advantages. It has enabled the compiler of the presenjf volumes to exhibit, in several hundreds of specimen^, the various beauties of style and sentiment of the" same authors in writing upon the same subject, and to present his readers with facilities for tracing the progress of our language and literature.
The poetical selections have been divided under the following heads: Sacred, Didactic, and Moral; DeScriptive, with several subdivisions, comprising PastoRal, the Seasons and Months; Natural Phenomena; Characters; Natural History, including Flowers and Plants, Birds, Insects, and Animals; Narrative anc1 Pathetic; Elegiac and Lyric; together with a fe select poems on the Domestic and Social Affection and on the Love Of Home And Country. It was ij tended to insert a limited number of Dramatic Dii logues, and of amusing extracts from the Comic poet: but it was found impracticable to carry out this compr< hensive plan without enlarging the work much beyori' the prescribed limits. It therefore closes with a snial collection of Sonnets from the best of our English poets
The Introductions, prefixed to each division, ar designed to explain the different species of poetry, anc to give a brief account of those great masters of the art in whose works the various forms of poetical compos! tion have been most successfully exemplified. It is hoped that these explanatory prefaces will supply the teachers with much useful and interesting informatiorj respecting the nature and character of English poetry; that the numerous quotations given from celebrated authors will add to their store of literary information; and that they may be thereby induced to consult the original productions of our standard writers.
The first volume of the work is devoted almost ex> clusively to Sacred, Moral, and Didactic poetry. The examples selected under these departments have been taken from authors entertaining various theological opinions. The primary object in compiling so many pieces of a serious character has been to make strong religious impressions on the youthful mind, without introducing topics that might be offensive to the members of any religious communion. The second volume presents a wider range of subjects than the first, and will afford a greater variety of instruction. The application of Natural History to poetry can be rendered eminently useful as an important ingredient in the education of youth. It has, therefore, been thought desirable to place under this head many interesting selections.
Descriptions of the seasons; the revolutions of day and night; the sublime phenomena of nature; the charms of beautiful scenery; the various occupations and modes of life; the social and domestic affections; the love of fatherland; portraits of eminent characters;
lyric and ballad poetry; all these fertile topics open up a copious source of knowledge and intellectual gratification to readers of different ages, and of every variety of taste. For these reasons the compiler has quoted largely from those delightful and improving departments of our poetical literature. "The great tendency of poetry," says Channing, in his masterly essay on Milton, "is, to cariy the mind beyond and above the beaten, dusty, weary walks of ordinary life; to lift it into a purer element; and to breathe into it more profound and generous emotion. It reveals to us the loveliness of nature, brings back the freshness of youthful feeling, revives the relish of simple pleasures, keeps unquenched the enthusiasm which warmed the springtime of our being, strengthens our interests in human nature by vivid delineations of its tenderest and loftiest feelings, knits us by new ties with universal beings, and through the brightness of its prophetic visions, helps faith to lay hold on the future life."
Independently of the advantages arising from the study of poetry, to which reference has been made, its importance must not be overlooked as a means of strengthening the memory, of improving youth in the art of reading, and of qualifying them for a profitable study of their mother tongue. A few remarks on the method which, it is suggested, should be adopted by teachers in using this work, will exemplify the importance of learning to read and recite poetical composition with power and expression. To explain the different modes of reading applicable to the several kinds of poetry, does not come within the object of the present undertaking. It is sufficient to observe, that the art of reading poetry aloud and well, and with due regard to emphasis and intonation, is one of no ordinary difficulty; it demands careful and accurate instruction ; it requires a diversity of qualifications, and the observance of a few general rules; it constitutes an essential branch of a good education ; and yet it is too generally neglected, even in our best schools.
The folio wing remarks are submitted for the guidance of those who are engaged in the office of tuition. It is recommended that they should set apart a portion time, at least of one day in each week, during the hou of ordinary instruction, for the reading of poetry, particular lesson should be chosen alternately fro! one of the divisions. This should be first read by it teacher in a distinct tone of voice, and with approprial emphasis and expression, before a class of his pupil; He should, at the same time, read apart of the biogn phical sketch of the author, from whose works the e? tract is taken, and of the introduction to the species c poetry to which the piece belongs. He should then es plain the meaning of any allusions that may appea ambiguous; point out the words and passages of whicl the delivery should be peculiarly emphatic; and convey to the children, in simple and intelligible language, th< meaning which the lesson is intended to convey, and the object sought to be accomplished by the writer, This may be followed up by a few leading questions on his history, as given in the volume of Biographical Sketches; his name; the date and place of his birth and death; his character; the most important events in his life; the titles of his principal productions ; the department of poetry in which he was most distinguished; the names of the eminent writers who have criticised his works; the nature of the judgment they have pronounced upon their merits and defects; and the rank they have assigned to him amongst his brother poets. These interrogatories may be put by an intelligent teacher in the simplest language, and be made to embrace a wide circle of useful information, without occupying too much time. Each of the pupils should then be required to read, either the whole, or a portion of the piece, which has been previously explained by the teacher, and the class should be afterwards questioned on the several points embraced in his examination. Occasionally, short pieces should be committed to memory, and recited in presence of the entire school, not with the view of encouraging declamation in a theatrical style, which has an injurious tendency, but of cultivating a natural, easy, and correct delivery. A judicious and well-informed teacher will be also ena
Wed to render the reading lessons in poetry a valuable •auxiliary, in communicating information to his scholars on the history and peculiarities of our language, and in instructing them how to parse, with facility and accuracy, the most intricate passages in the works of our poets. The suggestions here made, if improved arpon, as experience and practice would point out, could ecarcely fail to invigorate the intellectual faculties of llie pupils, sharpen their critical perceptions, exercise their memories, improve their taste for reading, and •call their moral powers into vigorous action.*
It may be said that many of the teachers are not qualified to adopt this minute and systematic course of instruction. It is to be feared that there are grounds for this apprehension. Under these circumstances, they are earnestly recommended to peruse, with attention, after School hours, the Biographical Sketches of the Poets, the Selections from their works, and the explanatory Introductions to the different species of poetry. They should also, occasionally, read poetry aloud in their private apartments. The work, as now prepared in three volumes, will, it is expected, be thought worthy of an attentive perusal in the closet, and in the society xif family and friends. Mrs. Ellis, in the preface to her admirable selections, recently published, under the title of" The Young Ladies' Reader," has observed, that " it may seem but a little thing to speak of social reading in connexion with the patriot's love of home; but that cannot be a little thing which tends, however slightly, to the strengthening of family union, the harmonizing of kindred minds, and the supply of unfailing sources •of refreshment and delight, in which the narrow views of self-interest have no part whatever." She adds :— "When all the necessary requisites for a good reader are taken into account, we wonder not so much that this accomplishment is neglected, as that it does not constitute, with all who look upon education in its true
* The "Suggestive Hints towards Improved Secular Instruction," by the Rev. Richard Dawes, A.m , contain some excellent practical instructions to teachers, on the best method of examining their pupils in th«lessons on poetry.—See pages 15 to 19 of that admirable work.