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HARYARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
JANUARY 26, 1924
Copyright, 1882, by J. B. LIPPINCOTT & Co.
It will be observed by those wbo bave examined the preceding books, and who notice the plan of the present number, that we have deferred, to the very last, the formal consideration of the subject of Elocution. Occasionally, however, in the early books, we have indicated some of the more important empbatie words and inflections, by their appropriate signs; and this we believe to be all that is desirable for the supposed age and capacity of the pupils. Some object to any use, whatever, of italics and inflection marks in Reading Books; but they should remember that the modulations indicated by such signs are just as natural, and just as important, as are the pauses which have their signs to indicate the grammatical construction.
In order to make the elocutionary portions of the present Reader the more available, we have adapted them to the purposes of regular reading lessons, in which we have endeavored to present, and exemplify, the leading principles of vocal expression by a great variety of appropriate selections, rather than by laying down rules tbat are seemingly arbitrary, and to which, from the nature of the subject, there must be numerous exceptions.
We would recommend that these elocutionary lessons be read, as occasional class exercises, perhaps alternating with the regular reading lessons in the body of the work.
When pupils can read at sight, fluently and naturally, and when they have some adequate appreciation of the higher beauties of language, they may study the principles of elocution and rhetoric with profit, and apply them intel
ligently to the set pieces in which they find their most striking illustrations; but to introduce, earlier, anything more than the mere elements of these subjects, when their higher principles cannot be comprehended, usually tends to destroy that natural ease and grace in reading wbich are its greatest charm, and to introduce, in their stead, an affected mannerism, which is always the result of a rigid adherence to rules and system,—to which the natural expression of sentiments and emotions can never be reduced.
We believe that the greatest advantage to be derived from the study of elocution is, that it will give the student -or ought to give him-a more just idea, than he would otherwise obtain, of the vast scope and versatility of both written and spoken language, and of the wonderful power of the latter to express all possible varieties and shades of thought and emotion. Let the student be indoctrinated with correct ideas of the nature of such thoughts and emotions, rather than with arbitrary rules for expressing them ; thon, when he reads aloud, let him put aside all directions laid down in the books, and simply endeavor to give expression, in the most natural manner possible, to what he supposes the author intended to embody in his writings. His elocutionary studies will then be an aid to him, instead of being a detriment as they frequently are.
The notices, herein, of some of the most distinguished authors in our language have been written from an historical stand-point, and are presented in chronological order for the sake of unity of view; and we bave made them part of the reading lessons, with intermediate chapters of selections from other writers for the purpose of introducing greater variety thereby. We have also thought it desirable to give, in this prefatory manner, a very brief outline of the prominent characteristic features of English literature, as it will serve as an introduction to the biographical sketches, and may be a useful guide to teachers and pupils in their future reading
INTRODUCTORY OUTLINE OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.
1.—The Feudal Epoch. The Feudal epoch of English literature embraces an early but indefinite period of English history, in which what may be called the Gothic forms of art prevailed; but it had its great splendor during the reign of Edward the Third (1327–1377), whose feudal court Chaucer illuminated with the Canterbury Tales, and Froissart with his pageants of Chivalry. Chaucer bas been compared to the appearance of “a genial day in spring, preceded and followed by dark clouds and wintry blasts.” After Chaucer there is a barren period of more than a century, when, says an old historian, is the bells in the church steeples were not heard for the sound of drums and trumpets."
II.—The Renaissance Period. With the foregoing exception, English literature may be said to begin with the time of Elizabeth (1558-1603). Then it burst upon the world with magnificent grandeur, beginning the period of the Renaissance. This term is used to indicate that revival of letters and the fine arts wbich ensued upon the dispersion of the Greeks through Western Europe, at the fall of Constantinople (in 1453), and upon the recovery, through them, of the works of the ancient authors. The influence of classical Greek upon Europe was prodigious. Like a boy with new-found treasure, the age was overjoyed with its acquisition. It did not criticise its new possession, nor ask its value or tendency, but it revelled in the parade of it. The descendant of the lightbaired, blue-eyed, warlike worshipper of Odin put on the classical garment and thought himself a Greek; he filled his mind with legends of Hellas; be larded his speech with classical allusions; he masked his pageants as Grecian -spectacles. He did not imitate, he mimicked; but he
could not revive the ancient life. Though he ransacked its recesses, to bring out and use its garniture, he was still a sturdy, tempestuous Goth.
During the Renaissance period, the two forms of literature—the classic and the Gothic—were not kept distinct, but were welded together by the ardent enthusiasm of youth. The Gothic genius is strongest in Shakspeare, who is the creator of tbe new type of art. He has no prototype, he obeyed no prescription. He was a law unto him. self. When he enters the domain of classical legend and story, wherever his scenes may lie, or whatever garb his charactors may wear, be draws for us the unconventionalized, passion-tossed child of English skies. In the vigorous sweep of his imagination anachronisms are nothing, incongruities are nothing, abrupt transitions in time and space are nothing. Metaphor is piled on metaphor, Comedy arrests the course of Tragedy, and Tragedy makes Comedy serious. His audacious spirit roams the world for themes. He overwbelms us with the prodigality of his genius.
Milton is the last great poet of the Renaissance. His wealth of learning is amazing; his mind is filled with classical images and epithets; his verse betrays the influence of ancient measures; but he is prodigal of thought, and heedless of incongruous things. If his imagination is not so wide-reaching as Shakspeare's, it dares loftier flights, and descends to greater depths. No guise of classical speech can conceal from us the soul of the invincible Puritan, the insatiable English spirit. Under the Renaissance, imagination and feeling are everything: classical learning only furnishes new illustrations and new modes of expression.
III.— The Classical School. The second great epoch in English literature begins with the restoration of the Stuarts (1660), and Dryden marks the transition. This age became critical, and began to formulate rules for composition. Dryden was one of the first