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ENGLISH READING BOOK:
EXTRACTS FROM OUR BEST AUTHORS,
Original Memoirs, and Lessons on our Language and
THOMAS TURNER, F.S.S.
270 f. 136.
To TEACHERS.—The time, happily, has passed away in which a School Reading Book is expected to do no more than present a miscellaneous collection of extracts, without either system or congruity.
The editor of this little volume has, from the commencement of the Series to which it belongs, fully recognised the importance of a well-defined purpose in each part of the course. This book is intended to impart some clear ideas of style in English Composition; and then to supply the best examples our literature affords as models for imitation.
The following distinctive features, amongst others, it is thought advisable to point out.
1. The system of graduation adopted in the series, as a whole, is maintained in each individual book; while, also, the earlier lessons overlap, as it were, some teachings of the preceding books, and thus form useful reviews of past lessons, and safer ground for future teachings. For the same reason, a strictly chronological arrangement of authors is sometimes made subordinate to more important sequences.
2. Those authors best adapted for the early formation of style are allowed the larger space; while, by a prefatory memoir, it is sought to bring the reader into more complete sympathy with the author.
3. Prominence has been given to the writers of the nineteenth, and the latter half of the eighteenth century, as those who most influence the thought of the
day. Yet sufficient examples of earlier writers are given, to show that a mine of sterling wealth and beauty exists, which will well repay the toil of the careful student.
4. The extracts are made with due regard to the general purpose of the book. The masterpiece of a writer (often hackneyed by repetition) has in some cases been passed over for a passage treating of some branch of our national literature. Thus Dr. Johnson illustrates Dryden-Leigh Hunt compares Shakspeare and Homer, etc.
While much is done to make the book elucidate and illustrate itself, much remains for the teacher to do in pointing out in detail peculiarities of style, beauties of expression or imagery, etc. If so treated, the subject will become a real and valuable mental discipline, allied in character to that of the ancient Classics.
Teachers are recommended to call the attention of their pupils to the following
PREFACE TO THE READERS. You, in common with all British youths, should make yourselves acquainted with the rich heritage you possess in our National Literature. By it you may enrich yourselves with the best thoughts of the wisest and best of our nation, of all ages.
The following pages just indicate what our language was in its infancy and youth, as well as what the manhood to which it has attained. It is hoped you will so read as to desire to know more on this interesting subject.
No extract is given that is not in its kind a model of style. The style varies with the subjects treated.
You should try to determine the class of subject which you will probably pursue in after-life; then choose, as your special model, that author who most concisely and clearly writes on that subject; then try to write so as to make his excellences your own.
Have your dictionary at hand, whenever preparing to read in class, and refer to it for any unfamiliar word not defined in the book, noting the secondary as well as the primary meanings.
Read over carefully every written exercise before you present it, remembering that self-correction is far more valuable than any other kind.
Carefully avoid ambiguous and pretentious words and phrases. All most important truths are simple, and are best expressed in simple words and plain sentences.
ASHLEY HOUSE, BRISTOL.