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LONGMAN, BROWN, CREEN, AND LONGMANS, LONDON.
The substance of the Introduction to this Compilation was originally given by me in the form of a lecture, to the Teachers in the Training Establishment of the Board of National Education in Ireland; and in order that it might be of permanent use to them after leaving the Establishment, I readily, at their request, furnished them with copies of it in print. I did not however publish it; nor was it my intention that it should circulate beyond our own schools.*
* In the original preface it is stated: "I have, at your desire, had it printed; and I have now only to request your earnest and immediate attention to the principles and directions which it contains. It contains, as you will find, the fullest, and I may add, the best information that has as yet been given on the subject of School Reading. The opinions of the eminent writers introduced into it, and the copious extracts which have been given from their works, fully justify me in making this statement.
"But while it will supply you with full and accurate information on the Art of Reading, it will also convince you, I hope, of this important truth—that in order to make good readers of your pupils, it will be necessary for you to be good readers yourselves. I do not say, that it will be absolutely necessary for you to be what is called accomplished readers. This may be beyond your power. In fact, few persons, comparatively speaking, are possessed of the natural qualifications which an accomplished reader requires; such as a good voice, a varied and pleasing intonation, and an easy and graceful delivery. But you should at least he intelligible and correct readers. For how is it possible for a person to exemplify what he teaches if there be any defects in his articulation, or vulgarity in his pronunciation? Even a strong provincial accent disqualifies him as a teacher of reading; for his pupils would be sure to imitate every peculiarity in his tone and manner. The vulgar proverb, * As the old cock crows the young one learns,' is so applicable to this branch of teaching, that I may be excused for quoting it. Though a homely, it is, in fact, a perfect illustration of the subject; for reading is a truly imitative art.
"I trust, then, that the Teachers of our Schools will see the necessity for qualifying themselves for this very important part of their duty. Many of them, it is true, will find it next to impossible to divest themselves of their native provincialism of tone and accent; but they should at least, be able to give every word its proper pronunciation, and to read with ease, intelligence, and expression. To enable them to do this, I
I have now, however, been induced by the recommendation of several educational friends, to increase its utility by publishing it in connexion with a Class Book On Reading.* The great number of excellent Reading Books which have been published of late years, seems to render a new one on the subject uncalled for, and unnecessary; but I have long been of opinion, that in almost all of these class books there is a great deficiency in Literary Selections. That Compilations of this kind (particularly when they are intended for the use of the children in Popular or National Schools) should contain as much information as possible on scientific and useful subjects is certainly very desirable; but still the literature of our language should have its due place in them;f or at least, there should be, in addition to them, some other class books to supply this deficiency. With this view I have compiled the present volume; and should I be spared, it is probable that I may at no very distant period bring out an additional one, to which I shall prefix a short Introduction to English Literature. In the meantime, a glance over the Contents of this volume will show that it contains a far greater portion of the literature of our language than its size would seem to indicate. Besides, the Exercises On Reading, which are not specified in the Contents, will be found to contain a copious selection of the choicest and most beautiful specimens of our best and most approved writers. These exercises extend from page 170 to page 232. R. S.
have already* placed before them all the words in the language of difficult or irregular pronunciation. I have also furnished them with practical rules for the pronunciation of such words; and in this Introduction I have shown them, how even a defective articulation may, in most cases, be remedied."
* It is a matter of record that all my little works on Education, were originally written to supply wants which I had observed in the Irish National Schools.
f See in connexion with these observations, note page 233.
• In the Introduction to the English Dictionary.