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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 33 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 33 of 38)
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15 language, there is no such thing as a finished education.
The most successful student that ever left a school, or took
his degree at college, never arrived at a good place to stop,
in his intellectual course.

In fact, the further he goes the more desirous will he feel

20 to go on ; and if you wish to find an instance of the great-
est eagerness and interest w^th which the pursuit of knowl-
edge is prosecuted, you will find it undoubtedly in the case
of the most accomplished and thorough scholar that the
country can furnish, one who has spent a long life in study,

25 and who finds that the further he goes the more and more
widely does the boundless field of intelligence open before
him.

Give up, then, at once, all idea of finishing your educa-
tion. The sole object of the course of discipline at any

30 literary institution, in our land, is not to finish, but just to
show you how to begin ; to give you an impulse and a
direction upon that course which you ought to pursue with
unabated and uninterrupted ardor as long as you have
being.

35 It is unquestionably true, that every person, whatever
are his circumstances or condition in life, ought at all times
to be making some steady efforts to enlarge his stock of
knowledge, to increase his mental powers, and thus to ex-



EX. XCVn.] RHETORICAL READING. 375

pand the field of his intellectual vision. I suppose most
of my readers are convinced of this, and are desirous, if
the way can only be distinctly pointed out, of making such
efforts.
5 In fact, no inquiry is more frequently made by intelligent

roung persons than this : — " What course of reading shall
pursue ? What books shall I select, and what plan in
reading them shall I adopt ? " These inquiries I now pro-
pose to answer. The objects of study are of several kinds ;
10 some of the most important I shall enumerate.

To increase our intellectual powers. — Every one knows
that there is a difference of ability in different minds, but
it is not so distinctly understood that every one's abilities
may be increased or strengthened by a kind of culture
15 adapted expressly to this purpose ; — I mean a culture
which is intended not to add to the stock of knowledge,
but only to increase intellectual power.

Suppose, for example, that when Robinson Crusoe on

his desolate island had first found Friday the savage, he

20 had said to himself as follows : — " This man looks wild

and barbarous enough ; he is to stay with me and help me

in my various plans ; but he could help me much more

effectually if he were more of an intellectual being and

less of a mere animal. Now I can increase his intellectual

25 power by culture, and 1 will. But what shall I teach him ? "

On reflecting a little further upon the subject, he would

say to himself as follows : — "I must not always teach him

things necessary for him to know in order to assist me in

my work, but I must try to teach him to think for himself.

30 Then he will be far more valuable as a servant than if he

has to depend upon me for everything he does."

Accordingly, some evening when the two, master and
man, have finished the labors of the day, Robinson is
walking upon the sandy beach, with the wild savage by
35 his side, and he concludes to give him his first lesson in
mathematics. He picks up a slender and pointed shell,
and with it draws carefully a circle upon the sand.
"What is that? " says Friday. " It is what we call a cir-
cle," says Robinson. " I want you now to come and stand
40 here, and attentively consider what I am going to tell you
about it."

Now Friday has, we will suppose, never given his seri-
ous attention to anything, or rather he has never made a
serious mental effort upon any subject for five minutes at



376 Parker's exercises in ]^ex. xcvii.

a tiute in his life. The simplest mathematical principle is
a complete labyrinth of perplexity to him. He comes up
and looks at the smooth and beautiful curve which his
master has drawn in the sand with a gaze of stupid amaze-
5 ment.

" Now listen carefully to what I say," says Robinson,
" and see if you can understand it. Do you see this little
point I make in the middle of the circle ? " Friday says
he does, and wonders what is to come from the magic

10 character which he sees before him. " This," continues
Robinson, " is a circle, and that point is the centre. Now,
if I draw lines from the centre in any direction to the out-
side, these lines will all be equal."

So saying, he draws several lines. He sets Friday to

15 measuring them. Friday sees that they are equal, and is
pleased from two distinct causes ; one, that he has success-
fully exercised his thinking powers, and the other, that he
has learned something which he never knew before.

I wish now that the reader would understand that Rob-

20 inson does not take this course with Friday because he
wishes him to understand the nature of the circle. Sup-
pose we were to say to him, " Why did you choose such a
lesson as that for your savage ? You can teach him
much more useful things than the properties of the circle.

25 What good will it do him to know how to make circles ?
Do you expect him to draw geometrical diagrams for you,
or to calculate and project eclipses ? "

"No," Robinson would reply; "I do not care to make
Friday understand the properties of the circle. But I

30 would have him to be a thinking being; and if I can induce
him to think half an hour steadily and carefully, it is of no
consequence upon what subject his thoughts are employed.
I chose the circle because that seemed easy and distinct —
suitable for the first lesson. I do not know that he will

35 ever have occasion to make use of the fact, that the radii
of a circle are equal, as long as he shall live — but he will
have occasion for the power of patient attention and thought,
which he acquired while attempting to understand that
subject."

40 This would unquestionably be sound philosophy, and a
savage who should study suah a lesson on the beach of his
own wild island would forever after be less of a savage
than before. The effect upon his mental powers of one
single effort like that would last; and a series of such



EX. XCVni.] RHETORICAL READING. 377

efforts would transform him from a fierce and ungovernable,
but stupid animal, to a cultivated and intellectual man.

Thus it is with all education. One great object is to
increase the powers, and this is entirely distinct from the
5 acquisition of knowledge. Scholars very often ask, when
pursuing some difficult study, " What good will it do me
to know this ? " But that is not the question. They ought
to ask, " What good will it do me to learn it ? What effect
upon my habits of thinking, and upon my intellectual powers,

10 will be produced by the efforts to examine and to conquer
these difficulties ? "

A very fine example of this is the study of conic sections,
a difficult branch of the course of mathematics pursued in
college ; a study which, from its difiiculty and its apparent

15 uselessness, is often very unpopular in the class pursuing
it. The question is very often asked, " What good will it
ever do us in after-life to understand all these mysteries of
the parabola, and the hyperbola, and the ordinates, and
abscissas, and asymtotes ? "

20 The answer is, that the knowledge of the facts which
you acquire will probably do you no good whatever. That
is not the object, and every college officer knows full well
that the mathematical principles which this science demon-
strates are not brought into use in after-life by one scholar

25 in ten. But every college officer, and every intelligent
student who will watch the operations of his own mind
and the influences which such exercises exert upon it,
knows equally well that the study of the higher mathe-
matics produces an effect in enlarging and disciplining the

30 intellectual powers, which the whole of life will not oblit-
erate.

Do not shrink, then, from difficult work in your efforts at
intellectual improvement. You ought, if you wish to se-
cure the greatest advantage, to have some difficult work,

35 that you may acquire habits of patient research, and in-
crease and strengthen your intellectual powers. — /. Abbott.



EXERCISE XCVin.

T?ie World compared to a Stage.

All the world 's a stage ;
And all the men and women merely players.
32*



378 Parker's exercises in [ex. xclx«

They have their exits and their entrances ;

And one man, in his time, plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages.

At first, the infant;
5 Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

And then the whining school-boy ; with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail,

Unwillingly, to school. And then, the lover;

Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad
10 Made to his mistress' eye-brow. Then, a soldier ;

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard ;

Jealous in honor ; sudden and quick in quarrel ;

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon's mouth.
15 And then, the justice;

With fair round belly, with good capon lined ;

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut ;

Full of wise saws and modern instances ;

And so he plays his part.
20 The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon ;

With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side ;

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank ; and his big manly voice,
25 Turning again towards childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound.

Last scene of all,

That ends this strange, eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion ;
30 Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Shakspeare.



EXERCISE XCIX.

Woman.

The first and necessary relation of woman is that of
daughter. From this relation numerous duties arise, for
the performance of which every woman should be edu-
cated. A daughter is the natural companion, friend and
35 stay, of her parents. A man leaves his father and mother,
and marries into the family of his wife. But hi our own
and other free countries, a woman, whether single or mar-
ried, more frequently remains with her earliest affections
in or near the mansion of her parents.



EX. XCIX.] RHETORICAL READING. 379

It is to her that they naturally look for the tender affec-
tions which will soothe them in their declining years. It
is for her to temper the rough winds of adversity, and ren-
der brighter the sunshine of prosperity. She is their com-
5 forter, physician, and nurse. When their voice has become
tremulous, and their eye dim with age, and the stores of
memory have been closed, it is for her to bring forth the
pleasures of consolation, to make the sound of gladness
still be heard in their dwelling, and to fill it with a cheer-

10 ful, and — if she have been rightly educated — a holy
light.

I need not speak particularly of the relation of the sister :
not that I undervalue the importance of her duties ; but
because I believe that the woman who is well educated for

15 the more important ones of daughter and wife cannot fail
to be a faithful sister and friend. We have merely time to
glance at the numerous duties of the mistress of a family.
Enter the humblest dwelling under the prudent manage-
ment of a discreet and well-educated female, and observe

20 the simplicity and good taste which pervade it. The wise
mistress has nothing gaudy in her dress or furniture ; for
she is above the silly ambition of surpassing her neighbors
in show. Her own best ornaments are cheerfulness and
contentment ; and those of her house are neatness, good

25 order and cleanliness, which make a plain house and mod-
est apartments seem better than they are.

She has not the selfish vanity which would make her
strive to appear above her circumstances. She knows
what are, and what ought to be, the expenses of her fam-

30 ily ; and she is not ashamed of her economy. It gives her
the means of being liberal in her charity ; and hers is a
charity which reaches round the earth, and embraces the
poor and unfortunate everywhere.

Her domestics, if she have any, look to her for advice

35 in doubt, and counsel in difficulties ; they respect her judg-
ment, for she has shown herself wise and disinterested ;
they see that she cares for them, and they have felt her
sympathy in their sorrows : in return, they make her inter-
est their own, anticipate her wishes, and show the willing-

40 ness of their service by their cheerful alacrity.

She knows the virtue of pure air, and the excellence of
scrupulous cleanliness ; she can judge of the qualities of
wholesome food, and knows how easily it may be poisoned
by careless or unskilful cooking. Her knowledge and care



380 Parker's exercises in [ex. c.

shine in the happy and healthful faces of her children. No
harsh sounds are heard in her dwelling ; for her gentleness
communicates itself to all around her.

Her husband hastens home ; and whatever may have
5 been his fortune abroad, enters his house with a cheerful
step. He has experienced the pleasure of seeing kind
faces brightening at his approach ; and, contented with
what he finds at home, has no inducement to seek for
happiness abroad. Nor is she satisfied with consulting
10 the present gratification of those around her. By her ex-
ample and gentle influence, she leads them onward to what
is better and more enduring hereafter. Few know the
noiseless and real happiness which such a woman sheds
around her, as if she were the sun of a little world.

George B. Emerson.



EXERCISE C.
^^ Passing Away"

15 Was it the chime of a tiny bell,

That came sa sweet to my dreaming ear, —
Like the silvery tones of a fairy's shell,
That he winds on the beach so mellow and clear,
When the winds and the waves lie together asleep,

20 And the moon and the fairy are watching the deep,
She dispensing her silvery light,
And he, his notes as silvery quite.
While the boatman listens and ships his oar,
To catch the music that comes from the shore ? —

25 Hark ! the notes on my ear that play

Are set to words ; — as they float they say,
" Passing away ! passing away ! "

Bat no ! it was not a fairy's shell
Blown on the beach so merry and clear ;

30 Nor was it the tongue of a silver bell,
Striking the hour, that filled my ear.
As I lay in my dream ; yet was it a chime
That told of the flow of the stream of time.
For a beautiful clock from the ceiling hung,

35 And a plump little girl for a pendulum swung ;
(As you 've sometimes seen, in a little ring
That hangs in his cage, a canary-bird swing ;)



EX. C] RHETORICAL READING. 381

And she held to her bosom a budding bouquet,
And as she enjoyed it, she seemed to say,
" Passing away ! passing away ! "

O, how bright were the wheels, that told
5 Of the lapse of time, as they moved round slow !
And the hands, as they swept o'er the dial of gold.
Seemed to point to the girl below.
And lo ! she had changed ; — in a few short hours
Her bouquet had become a garland of flowers,

10 That she held in her outstretched hands, and flung
This way and that, as she dancing swung
In the fulness and grace of womanly pride,
That told me she soon was to be a bride : —
Yet then, when expecting her happiest day,

15 In the same sweet voice I heard her say,
" Passing away ! passing away ! "

While I gazed at that fair one's cheek, a shade
Of thought, or care, stole softly over,
Like thafby a cloud in a summer day made,

20 Looking down on a field of blossoming clover.
The rose yet lay on her cheek, but its flush
Had something lost of its brilliant blush ;
And the light in her eye, and the light on the wheels,
That marched so calmly round above her,

25 Was a little dimmed, — as when evening steals

Upon noon's hot face : — yet one could n't but love her,
For she looked like a mother, whose first babe lay.
Rocked on her breast, as she swung all day ; —
And she seemed, in the same silver tone, to say,

30 " Passing away ! passing away ! "

While yet I looked, what a change there came !
Her eye was quenched, and her cheek was wan :
Stooping and staffed was her withered frame.
Yet just as busily swung she on ;

35 The garland beneath her had fallen to dust ;
The wheels above her were eaten with rust ;
The hands, that over the dial swept.
Grew crooked and tarnished, but on they kept.
And still there came that silver tone

40 From the shrivelled lips of the toothless crone, —
(Let me never forget till my dying day
The tone or the burden of her lay !)
" Passing away .' passing away I " Pierpont,



382 Parker's exercises in [ex. ci.



EXERCISE CI.

Association of Ideas.

It is the law or usage of the human mind long to retain
any connexion, even of the most accidental kind, which
has once been formed between two or more thoughts or
states of feeling. If one of these linked or associated
5 ideas is brought back to the mind, the other, most often,
returns with it. No one can need instances of this sort
to be mentioned, for every moment presents them to every
mind.

It is, however, important to distinguish what may be

10 called the natural or spontaneous association of ideas,
from that which is the consequence of certain habits of
the mind. The law of spontaneous association shows
itself most completely in dreaming, when ideas of all
kinds follow one the other, in a disorderly and fantastic

15 manner ; and yet so that we can (when dreatns are recol-
lected with sufficient distinctness) often perceive the link
or tie which made one image succeed to another.

In musing or revery the same law of accidental con-
nexion makes itself apparent in the succession of ideas and

20 emotions. The prattle of children, and the idle chat of
uncultivated or frivolous persons, very commonly present
the same sort of fortuitous succession of ideas, connected
only by incidental and unimportant circumstances of sim-
ilarity or of juxtaposition, in time or place. The strength

25 and culture of the mind may be fairly estimated by the
degree in which it ordinarily yields itself to this current
of spontaneous or accidental associations.

When certain habits of mind have been formed and
settled by exercise and application, they displace and su-

80 persede, to a great extent, the law of accidental associa
tion. A mind naturally vigorous, and which has acquired
much control over its movements, and has addicted itself
to particular employments, no longer follows the fortuitous
course of ideas; but pursues, in some chosen path, the

35 real or rational connexion of ideas one with another.
That is to say, the idea which follows the one last present
to the mind will be that which, in fact and nature, is the
most nearly related to its predecessor.

Thus, if the whole series of ideas were expressed or

40 uttered, those who listened to it would not have to search



EX. CI.] RHETORICAL READING. 383

for the link which connected one thought wilh another,
but would perceive it in the very nature of the subject.

The mathematician, the mechanician, the statesman,
the poet, the artist, the man of business, each acquires his
5 proper habit of association, and each is prompt and suc-
cessful in his line just in proportion to the rationality and
the closeness of the connexions that have been formed in
his mind. This principle of the association of ideas is
sometimes, or by some writers, called the law of sugges-
10 tion. The meaning of the two phrases is much the same.

ATTENTION.

Not even the most frivolous, childish, or feeble mind, is
always or entirely governed by the fortuitous association
of ideas (spoken of in the preceding article.) Nor how
strong soever may be any particular habit of thinking, is

15 any mind absolutely incapable of breaking off its custom-
ary meditations, and of fixing itself upon another set of
ideas. Every one is conscious of possessing a power
(more or less perfect) of detaining some one thought or
class of thoughts in the mind, and of considering or view-

20 ing a particular subject successively, in all its parts and
relations. This power is called attention.

It is the proper and distinguishing excellence of the
human mind ; and, in connexion with the faculty of ab-
straction, forms the essential difference between man and

25 the brute, as well intellectually as morally. The degree
in which it is possessed distinguishes also one human
mind from another.

The exertion of this power of attention supposes some
motive or desire to be present, or some inducement to be

30 within view, which attracts the mind in one direction
rather than another. It is a great excellence in the men-
tal conformation, when a tranquil motive will insure a
high degree of attention ; and moreover, when attention
can be readily and fully transferred from one object to

35 another ; and it is a still higher excellence when attention
can be given, in an efficient degree, to several objects at
the same time.

A sluggish mind is one which can be roused to atten-
tion only by the most urgent or stimulating motives. A

40 weak mind is one that may be quickly roused to attention,
but which as quickly spends itself by the effort. An acute
mind is one that is capable of a very vigorous, momentary



384 Parker's exercises in [ex. ci.

effort. A profound mind is one capable of long-continued
attention upon the same subject, and which can sustain
its attention by motives of the most tranquil sort.

A comprehensive and efficient mind is capable both of

5 long-continued efforts of attention, and of what may be

called multifarious attention ; that is to say, it does not lose

itself in its regard to a single class of ideas, but sees all

objects in their various connexions and dependencies.

Yet whatever may be the natural power of the mind in

10 these respects, it is susceptible of vast increase and im-
provement, by a well-conducted education. Indeed the
difference between an educated and uneducated person
(supposing their natural faculties to have been equal) is
manifested in nothing so conspicuously as in the greater

15 command over its powers of attention which the former
has acquired.

ABSTRACTION.

[From Abstraho, to draw off, or to draw apart, or to separate and take away one
thing from among a number.]

Things that differ very greatly one from another are
often found to be alike in some single quality ; and when
this one quality is distinctly taken notice of, we readily

20 learn to think of it apart from the other qualities with
w^hich it may have been joined, and thus the mind acquires
the habit of drawing off certain properties of things, and
of giving names to them ; this habit is called abstraction,
and the words employed on such occasions are called ab-

25 stract terms.

There are, for instance, placed before us, a cricket-ball,
a marble, a glass bubble, an apple, and an orange ; and
we are asked if these things are alike. We answer. No :
for the first is brown, and may be indented ; the second is

30 heavy and impenetrable ; the third is transparent and frag-
ile, and light ; the fourth is green and pulpy ; the fifth is
yellow and fragrant.

But is there, then, no respect wherein they are alike ?
Yes; they are alike in shape, or form — they are round.

35 Roundness, then, is the quality or circumstance in which
these five objects agree, and which may be thought of, and
spoken of, apart from the weight, hardness, color or smell,
of these five things. Thus we have obtained two abstract
ideas — namely, that of form or figure, and that of round-

40 ness ; roundness being a particular sort of form.

Examples of this kind are «asily multiplied ; we will



EX. CI.] RHETORICAL READING. 385

take another. Water, and glass, and spirits, and diamonds,
admit the rays of light to pass through them ; so that ob-
jects may be discerned almost as clearly when they inter-
vene as when they are removed. Some other bodies
5 possess the same quality in a less degree : such as amber,
and the amethyst, and the ruby, &c. We want a name
for this property, belonging as it does to things so different
as water, glass, and stones ; and we call it transparency.
Each of the five senses has its class of abstractions :

10 that is to say, each sense separates single qualities from
other qualities, discerned by itself, or by other senses.
The eye separates redness from yellowness, or whiteness,
&c., and brightness from dulness ; — and again, separates
color from figure ; and it separates color and figure from

15 the notions obtained by the other senses, such as hardness,
or weight, or fragrancy, or fluidity. The sense of taste



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 33 of 38)