Richard Green Parker.

Exercises in rhetorical reading : with a series of introductory lessons, particularly designed to familiarize readers with the pauses and other marks in general use, and lead them to the practice of modulation and inflection of the voice online

. (page 1 of 38)
Online LibraryRichard Green ParkerExercises in rhetorical reading : with a series of introductory lessons, particularly designed to familiarize readers with the pauses and other marks in general use, and lead them to the practice of modulation and inflection of the voice → online text (page 1 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

^^\ '%::?♦?!
























Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of

New York,

Stereotyped by






Cor. John and Dutch-streets, N. Y.


The principal difficulty, in teaching the art of Reading, lies in conveying
to the pupil a clear idea of tone, modulation, and inflection of the voice. II
the teacher can induce the pupil to inflect his voice at all, he will find little
difficulty in teaching him to modulate it rightly. Nature directs every one
in this, in common conversation, with unerring precision. It is only, there
fore, by " holding the mirror up to Nature,'^ that the teacher can expect to see
her as she is. Few teachers have not noticed the animation and correctness
with which even young children will modulate the colloquial parts of their
story-books. But the same children almost invariably fall into a lifeless,
monotonous manner, when performing their portioned tasks in their reading-
books at school. This arises from no want of excellent selections for exer-
cises in Reading. But a wide distinction is to be drawn between a lesson
and an exercise. We have many selections abounding in all the beauties of
taste, learning, and judgment ; which may, with great advantage, be put
into the hands of the pupil, after he has been taught the art of reading; but
I have met with none, designed for the general classes of learners, which
have combined instruction with practice. It has been thought that directions
for the management of the voice in reading would be lost upon young learn-
ers, and that they are suitable for them only whose riper powers and more
matured intellect better fit them for their reception. But it seems to have
been forgotten, how easily children are taught to imitate. If, in connexion
with some colloquial sentence, another of less obvious import be given,
requiring tfie same modulations and inflections of the voice, the child natur-
ally catches the true manner of modulating the latter, from the former. It is
upon this principle of imitation and analogy combined, that many of the
lessons in this volume are founded. The author has been convinced, by
experience, in the institution under his charge, that the principle is a good
one ; and experience, he thinks, does not often deceive. Whether the details
of the plan are judiciously executed, is for others to decide.

Such being the plan of the work, the author has thought it inexpedient to
encumber its pages with rules, definitions, or explanatory details ; because it
has been fully proved that how simple soever a rule may be, the pupil will
not readily apply it, unless particularly directed by the teacher ; and if nature
and analogy will direct him to a correct and rhetorical modulation, rules and
definitions become superfluous.

A great dcfiriency in all our reading-books remaius to be supplied. The



Spelling-book and the Grammar furnish copious explanations ol the pauses
and other marks used in written language. But there is no elementary
work, designed for common schools, which affords particular exercises for the
management of those important marks. The author has endeavored, in the
first part of this volume, to supply this remarkable defect ; and he believes,
that, how much soever others may differ from him in the analogies which he
has traced, in the subsequent lessons, between "<Ae models" and the exer-
cises under the models, he is justly entitled to the credit of having originated
the two important principles above mentioned, upon which the plan of the
work is founded ; and he is encouraged, not only by experience, but by the
confident opinion of many judicious friends, to whom the plan has been
unfolded, to believe that this volume, assisted by the familiar explanations
of the teacher, will serve as a better introduction to the art of Reading
than a more labored treatise formed on rhetorical rule. A lesson is first
devoted to each of the respective pauses and other marks, and the pupil is
then led by progressive steps, in the subsequent lessons, from the simplest
sentences, requiring little attention to pause, emphasis, or inflection of the
voice, to those which involve the highest exertions of taste and intellect.
Lilac Lodge, Dedham, Mass., June, 1849.


As a large portion of this volume is devoted to a consideration of the
pauses and other marks usually employed in written language, and the
notice which should be taken of them in the correct and judicious enun-
ciation of the sentences in which they are respectively used, a few intro-
ductory remarks respecting their nature and the origin of their names
may not, perhaps, be deemed superfluous by those who use the book.

Punctuation is peculiar to the modern languages of Europe. It was
wholly unknown to the Greeks and Romans ; and the languages of the
East, although they have certain marks or signs to indicate tones, have
no regular system of punctuation. The Romans and the Greeks also,
it is true, had certain points, which, like those of the languages of the
East, were confined to the delivery and pronunciation of words ; but the
pauses were indicated by breaking up the matter into lines or para-
graphs, not by marks resembling those in the modern system of punc-
tuation. Hence, in the responses of the ancient oracles, which were
generally written down by the priests and delivered to the inquirers, the
ambiguity — intentional, doubtless — which the want of punctuation
caused, saved the credit of the oracle, whether the expected event was
favorable or unfavorable. As an instance of this kind, may be cited that
remarkable response which was given on a well known occasion when
the oracle was consulted with regard to the success of a certain military

"Ibis et redibis nunquam peribis in bello." Written, as it was,
without being pointed, it might be translated either " Thou shalt go,
and shalt never return, thou shalt perish in battle," or " Thou shalt go
and shalt return, thou shalt never perish in battle." The correct trans-
lation depends on the placing of a comma after the word nunquam, or
after redibis.

The invention of the modem system of punctuation has been attrib-
uted to the Alexandrian grammarian Aristophanes, after whom it was
improved by succeeding grammarians ; but it was so entirely lost in the
time of Charlemagne that he found it necessary to have it restored by
Warnefried and Alcuin. It consisted at first of only one point, used in
three ways, and sometimes of a stroke, both being formed in several
ways. But as no particular rules were followed in the use of these signs,
punctuation was exceedingly uncertain, until the end of the fifteenth



century, when the learned Venetian printers, the Manutii, increased the
number of the signs, and established some fixed rules for their applica-
tion. These were so generally adopted, that we may consider thenn as
the inventors of the present method of punctuation ; and although mod-
ern grammarians have introduced some improvements, nothing but some
particular rules have been added since that time.

The design of the system of Manutius was purely grammatical, and
had no further reference to enunciation, than to remove ambiguity in
the meaning and to give precision to the sentence. This, therefore, is
the object of punctuation, and although the marks employed in written
language may sometimes denote the difierent pauses and tones of voice
which the sense and an accurate pronunciation require, yet they are
more generally designed to mark the grammatical divisions of a sen-
tence, and to show the dependence and relation of words and members
which are separated by the intervening clauses. The teacher, therefore,
who directs his pupils to "mind their pauses in reading,^' gives but an
unintelligible direction to those who are unversed in the rules of analysis.
A better direction would be to disregard the pauses, and endeavor to read
the sentence with just such pauses and tones as they would employ if
the sentence were their own, and they were uttering it in common con-
versation. The truth of this remark will abundantly appear by a refer-
ence to the ninth lesson of this volume, and the directions given in
relation to the comma. Indeed it is often the case that correct and
tasteful reading requires pauses, and those too of a considerable length,
to be made, where such pauses are indicated in written language by no
mark whatever. [See Lesson X.]

In like manner it will appear, from an inspection of the latter part of
the ninth lesson, that it is not unfrequently the case that the sense will
allow no pause whatever to be made in cases where, if the marks alone
were observed, it would seem that a pause of considerable length is
required. The pupil, therefore, who has been taught to mind his pauses,
must first be taught to unlearn this direction, and endeavor to understand
the sentence which he is to read before he attempts to enunciate it.

The characters employed in written language are the following :

The Comma,


The Hyphen,

The Semicolon,


The Breve,

The Colon,

The Apostrophe,

The Period,

The Dash,

The Brace,

The Exclamation,


The Acute Accent,

The Interrogation,


The Grave Accent,

The Quotation Marks,

IC "

The Circumflex Accent,


The Dia;resis,

The Caret,


The Crotchets,

( )

The Cedilla,


The Brackets,


The Asterisk,



The Section, ^

The Paragraph, ji

The Obelisk or Dagger, f

The Double Obelisk or Double | ^

The Parallels,

The Ellipsis, sometimes expressed by Periods, thus,

« " sometimes by Hyphens, thus,

" " sometimes by Asterisks or Stars, thus, #**###
" " sometimes by a Dash prolonged, thus,

These characters, when judiciously employed, Jix the meaning and
give precision to the signification of sentences, which, in a written form,
would be ambiguous or indefinite without them. Thus, " I said that he
is dishonest it is true and I am sorry for it." Now the meaning of this
sentence can be ascertained only by a correct punctuation. If it be
punctuated as follows : " I said that he is dishonest, it is true, and I
am sorry for it ;" the meaning will be, that it is true that I said he was
dishonest, and I am sorry that I said so. But if it be punctuated thus,
" I said that he was dishonest ; it is true ; and I am sorry for it j" the
meaning will be, I said that he was dishonest ; it is true that he was
dishonest, and I am sorry that he was so.

Again, the following sentence, as here punctuated, is an innocent re-
mark : " Believing Richard Brothers to be a prophet sent by God, I have
painted his portrait." But the sentence as it was originally written by
its author, with the comma after sent, instead of after God, was a piece
of horrid profanity.

A further instance of the importance of correct punctuation was
afibrded by a late advertisement, in which the commissioner for lighting
one of the most commercial cities of Europe, by the misplacing of a
comma in his advertisement, would have contracted for the supply of
but half the required light. The advertisement represented the lamps
as " 4050 in number, having two spouts each, composed of not less than
twenty threads of cotton." This expression implied that the lamps had
each two spouts, and that the two spouts had twenty threads, that is,
each spout had ten threads. But the meaning that the commissioner
intended to convey was, that each spout had twenty threads ; and his
advertisement should have had the comma after " spouts,^^ instead of
after " eadt," thus: The lamps have two spouts, each composed of
twenty threads, <Scc.

These instances will suflice to illustrate the nature and the importance
of correct punctuation.

But although the meaning of a sentence is thus materially affected by
the punctuation, it will be seen in the following lessons that the punc-
tuation alone is an unsafe guide to follow in the enunciation of any
collection of words. For, in many cases, these marks indicate no pause,
emphasis, or other remarkable circumstance requiring notice in the enun-
ciation of the sentence. [See Lesson IX., latter part.]

The nature of the marks used in written language may also be under-
stood by a reference to the origin of their names.


The word Comma is derived from the Greek language, and properly
designates a segment, section, or part cut off from a complete sentence.
In its usual acceptation, it signifies the point which marks the smaller
segments or portions of a period. It therefore represents the shortest
pause, and consequently marks the least constructive, or most dependent
parts of a sentence.

The word colon is from the Greek, and signifies a member, and the
Latin prefix semi means half. A Semicolon is used for the purpose of
pointing out those parts of a compound sentence, which, although they
each constitute a distinct proposition, have yet a dependence upon each
other, or on some common clause.

The Colon is used to divide a sentence into two or more parts, which,
although the sense be complete in each, are not independent.

The word Period is derived from the Greek, and means a circuit.
When the circuit of the sense is completed, with all its relations, the
mark bearing this name is used to denote this completion.

The word Interrogation is derived from the Latin, and means a ques

The word Exclamation is from the same language, and means a pas
sionate utterance.

The word Parenthesis is derived from the Greek language, and means
an insertion. A sentence, clause, or phrase, inserted between the parts
of another sentence for the purpose of explanation, or of calling particu-
lar attention, is properly called a parenthesis.

It is to be remarked, however, that the name parenthesis belongs only
to the sentence inserted between brackets or crotchets, and not to those
marks themselves.

The word Hyphen is derived from the Greek language, and signifies
under one, that is, together; and is used to imply that the letters or sylla
bles between which it is placed are to be taken together as one word.

The hyphen, when placed over a vowel, to indicate the long sound of
the vowel, is called the Macron, from the Greek, signifying long.

The mark called a Breve, indicating the short sound of the vowel, is
from the Latin, signifying short.

The word Ellipsis, also from the Greek, means an omission, and prop-
erly refers to the words, the members, or the sentences which are omitted,
and not to the marks which indicate the omission.

The word Apostrophe, also from the Greek, signifies the turning away,
or the omission of one letter or more.*

The word Diceresis is also from the Greek, and signifies the taking
apart, or the separation of the vowels, which would otherwise be pro-
nounced as one syllable.

The term Accent is derived from the Latin language, and implies the
tone of the voice with which a word or syllable is to be pronounced.

* The word Apostrophe, aa hera used, must not be confounded with the same word as
the name of a rhetorical figure.


The word Section, derived also from the Latin, signifies a cutting, or
a division. The character virhich denotes a section seems to be com-
posed of 55, and to be an abbreviation of the words signum sectionis, or
the sign of a section. This character, which was formerly used as the
sign of the division of a discourse, is now rarely used except as a refer-
ence to a note at the bottom of the page.

The word Paragraph is derived from the Greek language, and signi-
fies an ascription in the margin. This mark, like that of the section,
was formerly used to designate those divisions of a section which are
now indicated by unfinished lines or blank spaces. This mark, as well
as the section, is now rarely used except as a reference.

It may further be remarked, that notes at the bottom of the page, on
the margin, or at the end of the book, are often indicated by figures, or
by letters, instead of the marks which have already been enumerated.

The word Caret is from the Latin, and signifies it is wanting. This
mark is used only in manuscript.

The Cedilla is a mark placed under the letters c and g to indicate the
soft sound of those letters.

The Asterisk, Obelisk, Double Obelisk, and Parallels, with the section
and paragraph, are merely arbitrary marks to call attention to the notes
at the bottom of the page.

As these marks which have now been enumerated all have a meaning,
and are employed for some special purpose, it is recommended to the
teacher never to allow the pupil to pass by them without being assured
that he or she understands what that purpose is. Correct and tasteful
reading can never be attained without a full appreciation of the meaning
which the author intended to convey ; and that meaning is often to be
ascertained by the arbitrary marks employed for the purpose of giving
definiteness to an expression. At the same time the teacher should be
careful that the pupil shall consider these marks as his guide to the
meaning only, not to the enunciation, of a sentence. Correct delivery
must be left to the guidance of taste and judgment only.

In many excellent selections for lessons in reading, the pieces have
been arranged in regular order, according to the nature of their respective
subjects, under the heads of Narrative, Descriptive, Didactic, Argument-
ative and Pathetic pieces. Public Speeches, Promiscuous pieces, the
Eloquence of the Bar, of the Pulpit, and of the Forum.

By Narrative pieces is meant those pieces only which contain a simple
narration. Descriptive pieces are those in which something is described.
Didactic pieces are those designed to convey some particular kind of
instruction, whether moral, religious, or scientific. Argumentative
pieces are those in which some truth is designed to be proved. Pathetic
pieces are those by which the feelings of pity, love, admiration and other
passions, are excited. Promiscuous pieces are those which fall under
none of the classes which have been enumerated, or consist of a mixture
of those classes. The Eloquence of the Bor consists of speeches (or


pitas, as they are technically called) made by distinguished lawyers in
the courts of justice in favor of or against a supposed criminal. The
Eloquence of the Pulpit consists of sermons or discourses delivered on
religious occasions. The Eloquence of the Forum consists in the
speeches, addresses, orations, &;c., addressed to political or promiscuous

To many, this information may seem superfluous or puerile. But as
this volume is designed for the young and the unlettered, it must not be
forgotten that their sources of information are few, and that they will
not always take the pains to inform themselves of the meaning of words,
even when they are familiar to their eyes in capital letters, and in the
running titles of the books before them every day. It is often the case,
that the teacher also, taking for granted that his pupils are familiar with
the meaning of words so often presented to their eyes, neglects to ques-
tion them on the subject ; and in riper years it becomes a matter of
surprise to the pupil himself, that, in early life, words which he had
heard sounded almost every day at school presented no idea to his mind
beyond that of an unmeaning, or rather an unintelligible sound.

The object of all education is not so much to fill the mind with knowl-
edge as to strengthen its powers, and enlarge its capacity. Those exer-
cises, therefore, are always most beneficial, in all education, which tend
most effectually to this result. There is, perhaps, no branch of study
connected with popular education, which, when properly pursued,
is more highly subservient to this end than the study of correct
and tasteful reading, as an art. It necessarily involves a complete
knowledge of the subject to be read, the relation and dependences of
the phrases, clauses, and members of the sentences, the proper mean-
ing of the words employed, and the connexion between the sentences
themselves. This cannot be acquired without a vigorous employment
of the perceptive powers, aided by those of comparison, of analysis, of
reasoning, of judgment, of taste, and of discrimination. Subordinate
and auxiliary to the acquisition of this important art, on the part of the
pupil, it is here recommended that the teacher should exercise also the
power of classification, by requiring his pupils, while studying a reading
lesson, (which, by the way, always should be studied, previous to practis-
ing it,) to ascertain and to inform his teacher under which of the above
mentioned classes, whether narrative, descriptive, didactic, &c., the piece
he is about to read belongs. The teacher who thus employs the faculties
of his pupils cannot fail to see a vigorous growth of intellect springing
up under his culture, and will be amply compensated for such mortifica-
tions as may occasionally arise during formal examinations, from the
treachery of the youthful memory, or the want of a proper command
over its stores.

One of the best selections of reading lessons which has been in use
in the common schools of this country is that of Mr. Lindley Murray,
called " The English Eeader." Whether estimated by its moral and


religious tone, or by the taste and beauty of the selections, it must
equally command the approbation of all to whom the subject of educa-
tion is consigned. It is true that the compiler had not learnt the modern
art of selecting from the productions of editors, members of school com
mittees, and others, whose vanity might, perhaps, aid the circulation of
his work, — but he has made ample amends for this kind of neglect, by
presenting the choicest gems of English literature, selected from the
brightest stars of that galaxy familiarly known as the British classics.
His introductory tract, for many of the observations in which he has
acknowledged his indebtedness to Dr. Blair and to the Encyclopedia
Britannica, contains so much valuable instruction on the art of reading,
that the author of this work is persuaded that he cannot render better
service than by presenting it entire. Many of the suggestions, it will be
seen, are followed out in the introductory lessons in this volume; but as
all information becomes the better Jized hy repetition, such repetition will,
to say the least, he pardonable, even though it may be deemed superfluous.


" To read with propriety is a pleasing and important attainment ,
productive of improvement both to the understanding and the heart. It
is essential to a complete reader, that he minutely perceive the ideas,
and enter into the feelings of the author, whose sentiments he professes
to repeat : for how is it possible to represent clearly to others, what we
have but faint or iiiaccurate conception of ourselves ? If there were no
other benefits resulting from the art of reading well, than the necessity
it lays us under of precisely ascertaining the meaning of what we read,
and the habit thence acquired of doing this with facility, both when
reading silently and aloud, ihey would constitute a sufficient compensa-
tion for all the labor we can bestow upon the subject. But the pleasure
derived to ourselves and others from a clear communication of ideas
and feelings, and the strong and durable impressions made thereby on
the minds of the reader and the audience, are considerations which give
additional importance to the study of this necessary and useful art.
The perfect attainment of it doubtless requires great attention and prac-

Online LibraryRichard Green ParkerExercises in rhetorical reading : with a series of introductory lessons, particularly designed to familiarize readers with the pauses and other marks in general use, and lead them to the practice of modulation and inflection of the voice → online text (page 1 of 38)