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ON THE ORIGINAL PLAN OF
THE SCHOOL AND FAMILY SERIES;
EMBRACING, IN BRIEF, THE PRINCIPLES OF
RHETORIC, CRITICISM, ELOQUENCE,
AS APPLIED TO BOTH
PROSE AND POETRY.
THE WHOLE ADAPTED TO
BY MARCIUS WILLSON,
AUTHOR OF "PRIMARY HISTORY,'
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
THE present work, which is designed to succeed either the regular FOURTH READER of the "School and Family Series," or the Intermediate Fourth, has been prepared with special reference to Rhetorical and Elocutionary Instruction, through the medium of the reading lessons which it embraces.
If we study Nature, the only true guide to a correct elocution, we shall find that all the essentials of good reading and speaking, such as the time, the force, the pitch, the emphasis, the quantity and quality of the tones, and the inflections—all, in fine, that go to make up expression—vary, in the thousand shades of meaning which they picture forth, according to the character of what is read or spoken; for a true elocution is the natural expression, in words, of thoughts, sentiments, and feelings.
In plain narration and description, and in writings purely didactic, in which emotion bears no part, the principles and rules of expression are few, simple, and easy; but the writings, even in these three departments, are very few into which emotional appeals do not enter; and, when we pass beyond the very plainest kind of prose composition, we find figures of speech and figures of thought, which are intended to give force, expression, ornament, and grace to style, scattered in endless profusion throughout all language. If we know not the meaning of such figures, how shall we be certain that we give to them their proper expression? If they are really the chief exponents of the thoughts and feelings designed to be expressed by written language, we may well ask, what thoughts and feelings are they intended to express? And as they are all based upon truly philosophical principles in human nature, it becomes those who would use them aright—that is, who would either read or write understandingly—to know what their fundamental principles are.
In our Intermediate Fourth Reader we were careful to introduce reading lessons that contained numerous examples of the more prominent figures of speech and of thought, such as the Simile, Allegory, Personification, Apostrophe, etc., with such brief explanations of them, and of other principles of figurative language, as we thought adapted to pupils of the class for whom that Reader was intended, designing thus to prepare the way for the present more systematic elucidation of the whole subject. In the present work we have aimed to take up, in their natural order, the leading kinds of composition as they are affected by figurative language. Hence Narrative, Descriptive, and Didactic writings are briefly explained, and reading lessons in them are first introduced, inasmuch as these three departments stand in the