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Verum illi persuasione sua fruantur, qui hominibus, ut sint oratores, satis putant nasci.
HENRY MANDEVILLE, D.D.,
FORMERLY PROFESSOR OF MORAL SCIENCE AND BELLES LETTRES IN
HAMILTON COLLEGE, NEW YORK.
NEW EDITION, REVISED AND CORRECTED.
D. APPLETON & COMPANY, 200 BROADWAY.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849,
Br D. APPLETON & COMPANY, In toe Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District
of New York,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1850,
BY D. APPLETON & COMPANY, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District
of New York.
Of all the departments of learning in our schools, there is none which, by general concession, is more important than that of reading and speaking; and yet, there is none in which the instruction given is at once so arbitrary, 80 vague, so unprofitable. In every other, there exists some recognised standard of propriety, tangible, and always at hand, by reference to which, the student can accurately prepare himself for recitation beforehand; and by reference to which, should he make a mistake, while the recitation is in progress, his teacher can intelligibly correct him: make him clearly comprehend the nature of the error into which he has fallen, and effectually guard him against a repetition of it. In writing, he must imitate his copy in geography, he must implicitly receive the statements of his text-book and studiously conform to the delineations of his map: in arithmetic, every process has its rule, which offers itself to him as an infallible guide, through all the intricacies and mazes of numbers : in reading and speaking alone, he is left to acquire a correct and graceful delivery as he may, with such imperfect light as his teacher, whose judgment may be riper, but whose scources of information are not better than his own, can throw upon his path. In truth, the only means by which either of them can determine, that a given passage should be delivered in one way rather than in another, is a mere supposition; namely, that such is the way in which it would be delivered by an artless speaker; or, to adopt the cant phraseology of the day on this subject, such is the natural way; or the way in which one would deliver it, who conforms to nature: a supposition, which, considering the inexperience of the parties forming it, the extensive observation and comparison of the best models of delivery, the cultivated judgment, and the nice critical tact necessary to form it, and withal the prevalence of bad examples even at the Bar and in the Pulpit, to say nothing of the vicious elocution of the multitude, is as liable to be false as true ; and whether false or true, it can be neither denied nor affirmed; since there is nothing beyond itself, in the shape of an authorized standard, with which it may be compared. To conform to nature, or rather to know when we conform to nature, we should previously know what that nature is: what it prescribes : what it excludes.
The inadequacy, I had almost said, the absurdity, of such a method of instruction in grammar, if method it may be called, would be apparent to the most indifferent thinker in the land. Imagine a student endeavoring to acquire a knowledge of its principles without a nomenclature, designating and describing the parts of speech: without examples, illustrating