Imagini ale paginilor

badly. The first and most important is, "Be sure you understand what you read." If you do not yourself conceive the sentiments of the author, it is utterly impossible that you should give them expression. But, if you perfectly understand your author, you will know where to make the proper pauses, and lay the proper emphasis that the subject requires 159. Take, for instance, the following couplet :

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

Man never is, but always to be blest.

The last line, carelessly read, would be nearly nonsense; or, if it had any meaning, it would be, that "man exists always for the enjoyment of happiness." But the intention of the poet is, that "man does not enjoy any present happiness, but always looks forward to future bliss." To express this meaning, the emphasis must be thrown on the words is and to be, and the line be read as if printed

Man never is, but always to be blest.

160. The next point to which the young reader's attention should be directed is the metrical structure of the verse. With this he should s far familiarize his ear that he can readily mark by a slight stress the accented syllables. Be careful in doing this not to fall into that sing-song habit which is so offensive. A good way to avoid it is to adhere to your habitual speaking voice; you may thus, by a little practice, read poetry metrically, without converting it into a bad tune.

161. A single line of poetry is properly called a verse; two lines are called a couplet; four verses, of which the rhymes may or may not be alternate, are called a quatrain or stanza. The term stanza, which is of Italian origin and literally signifies a station or resting-pluce, is also used to designate any regularly recurring number of verses into which a poem may be divided.


162. Almost every verse admits of a pause in or near the middle, which pause is called the Cæsura (from the Latin word Credo, I cut). The following mark (") is usually adopted to denote this pause. On its right disposition depends, in a great degree, the harmony of the verse. Cæsural pause may, but must not of necessity, coincide with a pause in the sense. It may take place after the fourth syllable; as in Pealed their first notes" to sound the march of Time.

Or it may come after the fifth syllable; as in

If Greece must perish," we thy will obey.

Or after the sixth syllable; as in

To Him who gives us all" I yield a part.

Or two Cesuras may divide the verse into three portions; as in

His food the fruits", his drink" the crystal well.

163. The introduction of semi-Casural pauses frequently increases the melodious flow of the verse; as

Warms' in the sun", refreshes' in the breeze,
Glows' in the stars", and blossoms in the trees,

Lives' through all life", extends' through all extent,

Spreads' undivided", operates' unspent.

164. The Casural pauses, and the pauses at the end of each line, must be made by suspending, not dropping, the breath; and they must be so short as not to cause any interruption in the sense.

165. In regard to the Parenthesis, the 6th rule under ¶ 134 gives directions applicable to poetry as well as to prose, respecting the tone in which a parenthesis and a similë should be read.

166. The Ellipsis (from a Greek word signifying to leave or pass by) is, in Grammar, an omission of one or more words, which the reader is supposed to recognize as understood; as, "There are who love the hunt," for "There are those," &c. ; "The horse I rode," for "The horse which I rode." The Ellipsis is more used in poetry than in prose. An “ elliptical phrase" is one in which the Ellipsis is used.

167. In conclusion, we would say with Dr. Blair, merely extending his meaning from oratory or public speaking to school and family reading, that nothing is more necessary for those who would excel than "to cultivate habits of the several virtues, and to refine and improve all their moral feelings. Whenever these become dead or callous, they may be assured that they will read and speak with less power and less success.

168. "The sentiments and dispositions particularly requisite for them to cultivate are the love of justice and order, and indignation at insolence and oppression; the love of honesty and truth, and detestation of fraud, meanness, and corruption; magnanimity of spirit; the love of liberty, of their country, and the public; zeal for all great and noble designs, and reverence for all worthy and heroic characters. A cold an 1 sceptical turn of mind is extremely adverse to eloquence, whether of reading or of speech; and no less so is that cavilling disposition which takes pleasure in depreciating what is great, and ridiculing what is generally admired. 169 "Such a disposition bespeaks one not very likely to excel in any. thing, but least of all in oratory. A true orator should be a person of generous sentiments, of warm feelings, and of a mind turned towards the admiration of all those great and high objects which mankind are naturally formed to admire. Joined with the manly virtues, he should at the same time possess strong and tender sensibility to all the injuries, distresses and sorrows, of his fellow-creatures; a heart that can readily enter into the circumstances of others, and can make their case his own."

QUESTIONS.-155. How is a sing-song habit of reading verse induced? 156. What is one of the great peculiarities of poetry? 157, 158. What is the first and most important rule in reading? 159. Illustrate the importance of understanding what you read. 160. Ought the ear to be familiarized with the metrical structure of the verse you are reading. 161. What is a Verse? a Couplet? a Quatrain? a Stanza? 162. What is the Cæsura? 103. How must the Cæsural and other pauses be made? 165. What is the rule in regard to the reading of a parenthesis? a similë? 167, 168. What, in the opinion of Dr. Blair, is necessary for those who would excel in elocution?





*** Small figures placed at the terminations of words in the following Exercises refer to Paragraphs in Part I., numbered with corresponding figures; the letters similarly placed indicate that the words thus distinguished may be found in the Explanatory Index at the end of the volume.

Pupils should be required to attend to these marks of reference, and to answer questions from the teacher upon the information thus pointed out. To enable them to do this, they should have an opportunity of reading to themselves every Exercise before reading any part of it aloud.

The names of the authors of pieces, although not designated by any mark of reference, will be found in the Explanatory Index.


1. IN Memphis, the capital of ancient Egypt, there was a celebrated academy, one of the rules of which was as follows: "Members will meditate much, write little, and talk the least possible." The institution was known as "The Silent Academy;" and there was not a person of any literary distinction in Egypt who was not ambitious of belonging to it.

2. Akmed, a young Egyptian of great erudition and exquisite judgment, was the author of an admirable treatise, entitled "The Art of Brevity." It was a masterpiece of condensation and precision, and he was laboring to compress it still more, when he learned, in his provincial seclusion, that there was a place vacant in the Silent Academy.

3. Although he had not yet completed his twenty-third year, and although a great number of competitors were intriguing for the vacant place, he went and presented himself as a candidate at the door of the celebrated academy. A crowd of gossiping loungers in the portico speedily gathered around the taciturn stranger, and plied him, all at once, with a multitude of ques

tions, a species of inquisition to which new comers were gen erally subjected.

4. Without proffering a word in reply, Akmed proceeded directly to the object he had in view, and, approaching one of the ushers, placed in his hands a letter, addressed to the President of the august78 institution, and containing these words: "Akmed humbly solicits the vacant place." The usher delivered the letter at once; but Akmed and his application had arrived too late. The place was already filled.

5. By a system of intrigue and management," which even academies sometimes find irresistible, the favorite candidate of a certain rich man had been elected. The members of the Silent Academy were much chagrined when they learned what they had lost in consequence. The new member was a glib and garrulous pretender, whose verbose Jargon was as unprofitable as it was wearisome; whereas Akmed, the scourge of all babblers, never gave utterance to a word which was not sententious and suggestive.

6. How should they communicate to the author of "The Art of Brevity" the unpleasant intelligence of the failure of his application? They were at a loss for the best mode of proceeding, when the President hit upon this expedient: he filled a goblet with water, but so full that a single drop more would have caused it to overflow. Then he made a sign that the candidate should be introduced.

7. Akmed entered the hall, where the academicians were all assembled. With slow and measured steps, and that genuine modesty of demeanor which ever accompanies true merit, he advanced. At his approach, the President politely rose, and, without uttering a word, pointed out to him, with a gesture of regret, the fatal token of his exclusion.

8. Smiling at the emblem, the significance of which he at once comprehended, the young Egyptian was not in the least disconcerted. Persuaded that the admission of a supernumerary member would be productive of no harm to the academy, and would violate no essential law, he picked up a rose-leaf which he saw lying at his feet, and placed it on the surface of the water so gently that it floated without causing the slightest drop to overflow.

9. At this ingenious and readily intelligible response, à general clapping of hands spoke the applauding admiration of the assembled members of the academy. By unanimous consent they suspended their rules so as to make an exception in favor of Akmed's admission. They handed him their registry of names, and he inscribed his own name at the end

10. It now only remained for him to pronounce, according to custom, an address of thanks; but he was resolved to act consistently with that principle of the academy which enjoined the utmost parsimony of words. On the margin of the column where he had written his name, he traced the number 100, representing his brethren of the academy and the number to which they had been limited. Then placing a cipher before the figure 1 (thus, 0100), he wrote underneath: "Their number has been neither diminished nor increased."

11. Delighted at the laconic ingenuity and becoming modesty of Akmed, the President shook him affectionately by the hand; and then, substituting the figure 1 for the cipher which preceded the number 100 (thus, 1100), he appended these words: Their number has been increased ten-fold."

[ocr errors]



1. MR. JAMES BURFORD, a Bristol merchant, becoming bankrupt through unforeseen misfortunes, retired into Wales while his affairs were in the way of being arranged, and there lived for some time on the small income arising from his wife's fortune, practising the greatest economy, and hopeful that as soon as he could obtain a discharge from his creditors he would be taken into partnership by Sir James Amberry, a London merchant. Mr. Burford had a daughter, named Amelia, who was sixteen years of age, and who, having been brought up indulgently by her grandmother, could not bear to think that her father and other relations were now poor people.

2. Travelling in a stage-coach to her father's cottage, in company with three gentlemen, Amelia spoke of herself as one who still lived in affluence; talked of her maid, her little carriage, and the fine house in which her father dwelt. It chanced that two of the gentlemen were creditors of her father, and had all along suspected him of retaining much of his former means, so that they had hitherto refused to sign his discharge. Hearing his daughter talk thus, they were confirmed in their suspicions; but, to make sure, they inquired if her father was Mr. Burford, the bankrupt merchant, and if he really lived in the fine style she spoke of.

3. She would now have denied what she formerly said, if she could have done it without confessing herself to be a boasting and lying girl not having the candor to make this confession, she

« ÎnapoiContinuă »