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Extract from Paradise Lost.
Fitz James and Roderick Dhu
Address to the Mummy
Irruption of Hyder Ali
READING. ITS CONNEXION WITH SPEAKING.
DELIVERY, in the most general sense, is the communication of our thoughts to others, by oral language. The importance of this, in professions where it is the chief instrument by which one mind acts on others, is so obvious as to have given currency to the maxim, that an indifferent composition well delivered, is better received in any popular assembly, than a superior one, delivered badly.. In no point is public sentiment more united than in this, that the usefulness of one whose main business is public speaking, depends greatly on an impressive elocution. This taste is not peculiar to the learned or the ignorant; it is the taste of all men.
But the importance of the subject, is by no means limited to public speakers. In this country, where literary institutions of every kind are springing up; and where the advantages of education are open to all, no one is qualified to hold a respectable rank in well-bred society, who is unable at least to read, in an interesting manner, the works of others. They who regard this as
a polite accomplishment merely, forget to how many purposes of business, of rational entertainment, and of religious duty, the talent may be applied. Of the multitudes who are not called to speak in public, including the whole of one sex, and all but comparatively a few of the other, there is no one to whom the art of reading in a graceful and impressive manner, may not be of great value.
Besides, as the prevalent faults of public speakers arise chiefly from early habits contracted in reading, the correction of those faults should begin by learning to read well.
Reading then, like style, may be considered as of two sorts, the correct, and the rhetorical.
Correct reading respects merely the sense of what is read. When performed audibly, for the benefit of others, it is still only the same sort of process which one performs silently, for his own benefit, when he casts his eye along the page, to ascertain the meaning of its author. The chief purpose of the correct reader is to be intelligible and this requires an accurate perception of grammatical relation in the structure of sentences; a due regard to accent and pauses, to strength of voice, and clearness of utterance. This manner is generally adopted in reading plain, unimpassioned style, such as that which we find to a considerable extent in those Psalms of David, and Proverbs of Solomon, where the sentences are short, without emphasis. It often prevails too in the reading of narrative, and of public documents in legislative and judicial transactions. The character and purpose of a composition may be such, that it would be as preposterous to read it with tones of emotion, as it would to announce a pro