« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
As the design of learning is to render persons agreeable companions to themselves, and useful members of society; to support solitude with pleasure, and to pass through promiscuous temptations with prudence, 'tis presumed this compilation will not be unacceptable; being composed of pieces selected from the most celebrated moral writers in the English language, equally calculated to promote the principles of religion, and to render youth vigilant in discharging the social and relative duties in the several stations of life; by instilling into their minds such maxims of virtue and good-breeding, as tend to eradicate local prejudices and rusticity of manners; and at the same time, habituate them to an elegant manner of expressing themselves either in Writing or Speaking.
And as the first impression made on the minds of youth is the most lasting, great care should be taken to furnish them with such seeds of reason and philosophy, as may rectify and sweeten every part of their future lives; by marking out a proper behaviour both with respect to themselves and others, and exhibiting every virtue to their view which claims their attention, and every vice which they ought to avoid. Instead of this, we generally see youth suffered to read romances, which impress on their minds such notions of fairies, goblins, &c. that exist only in the imagination, and, being strongly imbibed, take much time to eradicate, and very often baffle all the pow ers of philosophy. If books abounding with moral instructions, conveyed in a proper manner, were given in their stead, the frequent reading of them would implant in their minds such ideas and sentiments, as would enable them to guard against those prejudices so frequently met with amongst the ignorant.
Nor is it possible that any person can speak or write with elegance and propriety, who has not been taught to read well, and in such books where the sentiments are just and the language pure.
An insipid fiatness and languor is almost the universal fault in reading; often uttering their words so faint and feeble,that they appear neither to feel nor understand what they read, nor have any desire it should be understood or felt by others. In order to acquire a forcible manner of pronouncing words, let the pupils inure themselves, while reading, to draw in as much air as their lungs can contain with ease, and to expel it with vehemence in uttering those sounds which require an emphatical pronunciation, and read aloud with all the exertion they can command; let all the consonant sounds be expressed with a full im pulse of the breath, and a forcible action of the organs employed in forming them; and all the vowel sounds have a full and bold utterance.
These reasons, and to inspire youth with noble sentiments, just expression, to ease the teacher, and to render abook cheap and convenient for schools, as well as private persons, who have neither time nor opportunity to peruse the works of those celebrated authors from whence this collection is made, was the cause of the following compilation.
And as the speeches in both houses of parliament, pleading at the bar, instructions in the pulpit, and commercial correspondence,are delivered and carried on in the English language; the cloathing our thoughts with proper expressions, and conveying our ideas, either in writing or speaking, agreeably, cannot fail of making an impression upon the hearer or reader. For a man's knowledge is of little use to the world, when he is not able to convey it properly to others, which is the case of many who are endowed with excellent parts, but are either afraid or ashamed of writing or speaking in public, being conscious of their own deficiency of expressing themselves in proper terms.
In order to remedy these defects, and to ease the teacher, I would advise, that several young gentlemen read in a class, each a sentence in this book (it being divided into small portions for that purpose) as often as convenient: and let him who reads best, be advanced to the head, or have some pecuniary reward; and every inferior one according to his merit; this will create emulation among them, and facilitate their improvement much more than threats or corrections,which stupifics and intimidates them,
and often ends in contempt of their teachers, and learning in general. This will draw forth those latent abilities, which otherwise might lie dormant forever.
It may not be improper for the teacher, or some good reader, to read a sentence or two first, that the learners may gain the proper emphasis, and read without that monotony so painful to a good ear: for they will improve more by imitating a good reader, than any rules that can be laid down to them. When they come to read gracefully, let them stand up in the school and read aloud, in order to take off that bashfulness generally attending those who are called upon either to read or speak in public.
The next thing I would recommend, is the English Grammar (the best I know of is Buchanan's syntax) the knowledge of which is absolutely necessary, as it is the solid foundation upon which all other science rests. After they have run over the rules of syntax, the teacher may dictate to them one or more sentences in false English, which they may correct by their grammar rules, and also the various significations of each word in the dictionary; by which means they will soon acquire a copious vocabulary, and become acquainted not with words only, but with things themselves. Let them get those sentences by heart to speak extempore; which will, in some measure, be delivering their own compositions, and may be repeated as often as convenient. This will soon give the young gentlemen an ideaof the force, elegance, and beauty of the English language.
The next thing I would gladly recommend, is that of letter-writing, a branch of education, which seems to me of the utmost utility, and in which most of our youth are deficient at their leaving school; being suffered to form their own style by chance, or imitate the first wretched model that falls in their way, before they know what is faulty, or can relish the beauties of a just simplicity.
For their improvement in this particular, the teacher may cause every young gentleman to have a slate or paper before him on Saturdays, and then dictate a letter to them, either of his own composition, or taken out of some book, and turn it into false English, to exercise them in the grammar rules if he thinks proper,which they shall all
write down, and then correct and transcribe it fairly in their books.
After the young gentlemen have been accustomed to this some time, a supposed correspondence may be fixt between every two of them, and write to one another under the inspection of the teacher, who may correct and shew their faults when he sees occasion; by such a method he will soon find them improve in epistolary writing. The same may be observed with regard to young ladies, who are very often deficient, not only in orthography, but every other part of grammar.
If something similar to this method be pursued, it will soon reflect honour on the teacher, give the highest satisfaction to judicious parents, and entail upon the scholar a pleasing and lasting advantage.