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some of the topics that are of living interest to men and women of the present day; while not professing to represent all the great writers in any department of letters, it should include selections from so large a proportion of them as to give some notion of the extent, variety, and richness of the literature of our language; and, lastly, it should in itself be a work of art, the study of which, like looking at a fine painting or listening to good music, touches the heart and ennobles the understanding. With such an ideal book in mind, the editor of this series has prepared Harper's Fifth and Sixth Readers.
The articles included in this volume have been chosen and arranged with great care, and it is believed that the best results will generally be attained by studying them consecutively from the beginning of the book to the end. Pursuing the plan adopted in the lower numbers of the series, the lessons have been so arranged that the more difficult—those requiring deeper thought as well as greater reading ability-follow, as a rule, those which are easier. Nor has there been anything hap-hazard in the placing of any article. For example, the selections pertaining to modern history (Articles I., XXII., XXV., XXVI., XXXI., XXXIX., XLII., XLIX., L., LII., LIV., LXII., LXIII., LXIX.) occur in chronological order; so, also, do the articles on Roman history, life, and manners (Articles XVII., XVIII., XXVII., XXXVI.). Among the lessons on subjects of a social or economic character it will be observed that there is a long step between Smiles's pleasant essay on “ Town and Country” (II.), and Carlyle’s dissertation on “Work” (LXXV.); but the passage is made gradual through the reading of Articles V., VI., IX., XXXII., LIII., LX., LXXII., LXXIII., and LXXV. Arranged with equal care, and generally with reference to a similar method of gradation, are other classes of subjects, viz.: selections having relation to questions of morals or of personal duty (Articles XI., XII., XVI., XXI., XXIII., XXXII., XXXVII., XL., XLIV., XLV., LXXI., LXXVIII., etc.); selections relating directly to literature and literary subjects (Articles XIII., XX., XXXV., XXXIX., XLIII., XLVIII., LI.); selections of especial value as illustrating different styles of descriptive composition (Articles IV., VIII., XIV., XXXIV., XXXVIII., XLII., LIX., LXV., etc.: examples of some of the best work in fiction or story-telling, or illustrations of the humorous in British literature (Articles VII., XV., XXI., XXII., XXIV., XXV., XXIX., XXX., XXXIII., XLI., LIV., LVII, LXIX., etc.). Tbe patriotic lessons in the Fourth and Fifth Readers find here their continuation in selections presenting the opinions of some famous foreign scholars and statesmen concerning our American institutions (Articles LXIV., LXX., LXXXI., LXXXIV., etc.); and questions of similar vital interest are discussed from an English stand-point in other lessons (see Articles LX., LXVI., LXXIII., etc.) And, finally, notwithstanding the admission of so many selections entirely new to School Readers, room has been found for a large number of the acknowledged classics of our language (see Articles VI., X., XI., XVIII., XXIV., XXXIV., XXXVIII., XLI., XLIII., XLVI., XLIX.,LIII., LVI., LVIII., LXI., LXII., LXVII., LXVIII., LXXI., LXXIV., LXXVI., LXXIX., LXXXIII.). The Notes at the end of the volume are intended to be both helpful and suggestive. The biographical notes will prove valuable in connection with any study of English literature; and the suggestions for additional reading are intended to assist teachers and pupils in the choice of good supplementary reading-matter, and to aid in pointing the way to a more extensive knowledge and a fuller appreciation of the best works in our language, American as well as British.
TO TEACHERS AND PUPILS.
The means of acquiring the ability to read well, through the assistance of this text-book, may be briefly indicated as follows:
1st. Endeavor to grasp the idea intended to be conveyed by the author. Study the selection as a whole; then study each paragraph and each sentence in detail. Refer to the Notes at the end of the volume. Refer to the dictionary for the meaning of every word not already clearly understood. Study carefully every peculiar mode of expression, and try to interpret the author's meaning in sentences of your own. Study the style of each author, and compare it with that of other authors previously studied.
2d. Endeavor to enter into sympathy with the thoughts expressed. Be sure that you have grasped the idea. Study every allusion contained in the lesson, and try, if possible, to understand all the circumstances connected with the composition of the selection.
3d. Endeavor to be heard. Practice reading aloud to yourself. Study the correct pronunciation of each new word. Should any word or combination of letters be difficult of articulation, practice pronouncing it until it can be spoken promptly, accurately, and without special effort. Sit or stand with the head erect and the chest expanded, and endeavor to acquire the habit of breathing easily, freely, and naturally while reading.
4th. Endeavor to be understood. First, be sure that you yourself understand. Remember that reading is but conversing from a book, and avoid all inflections or intonations which would seem strained or unnatural in conversation. Imagine yourself in the place of the listener, and ask yourself whether you would understand if you had not the printed page before you.
5th. Endeavor not only to enter into complete sympathy with the thoughts expressed, but to render them in such a manner that you shall cause the hearer to be moved by them. Have in mind the beauty, the truthfulness, the appropriateness of that which you read. Forget yourself in the expression of the thoughts which you are interpreting.
Thus, and thus only, is it possible for one to become A GOOD READER.
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