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In forming the following compilation, the object has been, to furnish a copious collection of pieces of suitable character for exercises in declamation, and, at the same time, of convenient brevity for that purpose.—In doing which, it has been necessary to enter a wide field of research, but to gather with a sparing hand; for, short specimens of eloquence, which would not subject the speaker to the appearance of abruptness, are by no means abundant.
We well know how great is the influence of school exercises in the formation of young minds; and, perhaps, in no department of education does that influence operate with more force, than through the medium of exercises for recitation. The youthful speaker (if he feel at all) must feel like, and, for the time at least, become the character he attempts to personate. In this view of their importance, each extract has been the subject of inquiries like the following:—Has the piece force and spirit? Is its moral tendency unquestionable? Does it convey a complete sense, intelligible to an audience without the aid of title or note? Is the style in pure and good taste? Is it, in fine, of such a character, that a youth may enter fully into it?-Such pieces, and such only as in the opinion of the editor, possess these requisite qualities, are admitted into this work; and these without regard to the circumstance of their being introduced into prior compilations. So that, while the reader will find most of this collection to consist of new extracts, he will not be surprised, (after this explanation) if he find some, whose. merit has recommended them to the notice of former Compilers.
B. D. E. October, 1830.
The rapid sale of the first edition of the Academical Speaker has induced the publishers to issue a stereotype edition of the work. In the meantime, it has been carefully revised and enlarged. Having thus received a permanent form, it will undergo no further change; in order that those teachers, who use it as a reading Class Book, may not hereafter be incommoded, by a diversified arrangement in succeeding editions.