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A TABLE of the LESSONS; and an INDEX of the various
Neque vero mihi quidquam præftabilius videtur, quam poffe
The SEVENTH EDITION.
Printed for T. LONGMAN, T. FIELD, C. DILLY,
M. DCC. XCII.
HAT oratory is an art of great confequence, will,
thofe, (if any are fo ignorant) who do not know, that it has been taught, and ftudied, in all countries, where learning has gained any ground, ever fince the days of Ariftotle. That the manner or addrefs of a speaker, is of the utmost importance, and that a just and pleafing manner in delivering either one's own compofitions, or thofe of others, is difficult of acquifition, and but too much neglected amongst us, feems unquestionable from the deficiencies we fo commonly obferve in the addrefs of our public fpeakers, much more than in the matter uttered by them, and from the little effect produced by their labours.
Of the learning neceffary for furnishing matter, and of the art of arranging it properly; of invention, compofition, and ftyle, various writers among the Greeks, Romans, French, Italians, and English, have treated very copioufly. It is not my defign to trouble the world with any thing on thefe branches of oratory. I fhall confine myself merely to what the prince of orators pronounced to be the first, fecond, and third
third part, or all that is most important in the art, viz. delivery, comprehending what every gentleman ought to be mafter of refpecting gefture, looks, and command of voice.
What is true of most of the improvements, which are made by study, or culture, is peculiarly fo of the art of Speaking. If there is not a foundation laid for it in the earlier part of life, there is no reasonable ground of expectation, that any great degree of skill in it fhould ever be attained. As it depends upon, and confifts in practice, more than theory, it requires the earlier initiation: that practice may have its full scope, before the time of life arrives, in which there may be occafion for public exhibition. Mankind muft peak from the beginning, therefore ought, from the beginning, to be taught to fpeak rightly; elfe they may acquire a habit of fpeaking wrong. And whoever knows the difficulty of breaking through bad habits, will avoid that labour by prevention. There is a great difference between Speaking and writing. Some, nay moft of mankind, are never to be writers. All are speakers. Young perfons ought not to be put upon writing (from their own funds, I mean) till they have furnished their minds with thoughts, that is, till they have gotten funds: but they cannot be kept from fpeaking.
Suppofe a youth to have no profpect either of fitting in parliament, of pleading at the bar, of appearing upon the stage, or in the pulpit; does it follow, that he need beftow no pains in learning to fpeak properly his native language? Will he never have occafion to read in a company of his friends, a copy of verfes, a paffage of a book, or news-paper? Muft he never read a difcourfe of Tillotson, or a chapter of the Whole Duty of Man, for the inftruction of his children and servants? Cicero justly obferves, that address in fpeaking is highly ornamental, as well as useful, even in private life. The limbs are parts of the body much lefs noble than the tongue: Yet no gentleman grudges a confiderable expence of time and money to have his fon taught to use them properly. Which is very commendable. And is there no attention to be paid to the ufe of the tongue, the glory of man?
Suppofing a perfon to be ever fo fincere and zealous a lover of virtue, and of his country; without a competent skill and addrefs in Speaking, he can only fit ftill, and fee them wronged, without having it in his power to prevent, or redrefs, the evil. Let an artful and eloquent statefman ha
Cic. de ORAT. L. i. p. 83.
rangute the house of commons upon a point of the utmost confequence to the public good. He has it greatly in his power to mislead the judgment of the house. And he, who jees through the delufion, if he be aukward in delivering himfelf, can do nothing toward preventing the ruinous fchemes, proposed by the other, from being carried into execution, but give his fingle vote against them, without fo much as explaining to the house his reafons for doing fo. The cafe is the fame in other smaller affemblies and meetings, in which volubility of tongue, and steadiness of countenance, often carry it against folid reafons, and important confiderations.
To offer a help toward the improvement of youth in the ufeful and ornamental accomplishment of fpeaking properly their mother-tongue, is the defign of this publication; to fet about which I have been the more excited by experiencing, in my own practice, a want of fuch a collection, as the following. What I propofed to myself at first, was only to put together a competent variety of paffages out of fome of the beft writers in profe and verfe, for exercifing youth in adapting their general manner of delivery to the spirit or humour of » the various matter they may have occafion to pronounce. Such a collection, I thought, might be acceptable to the public, in confideration of its furnishing, at an easy expence, a general variety of examples for practice, chofen and pointed out, without trouble to mafters. A defign, which as far as I know, has not before been executed *. On farther confideration, it occurred to me, that it might render fuch a publication more useful, if I prefixed fome general obfervations on the method of teaching pronunciation, and put the emphatical words in italics, and marginal notes fhewing the various humours or paffions, in the feveral examples, as they change from one to another, in the course of the fpeeches. All mafters of places of education are not, I fear, fufficiently aware of the extent of this part of their duty; nor of the number of particulars to be attended to, which render it fo difficult to bring a young perfon to deliver, in a completely proper manner, a fpeech containing a confiderable
The PRECEPTOR, a work in two volumes 8vo, has fome leffons for practice; but not the variety of humours, or paffions, which my defign takes in; nor the notes of direction for expreffing them properly. Befides that the PRECEPTOR is a book of price, and fitter for the master's ufe, than the pupil's; fo that I do not think it anfwers the purpose I had in view in this publication. If it did, I should have used it. Otherwife, I think it an ufeful book, and am glad to find that it is well received.