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PREFACE.

THE Selections in prose and verse made for practice in the following pages are cautiously chosen, for their purity of sentiment, or innocent humour, as well as their elegance and force of language: the habit of reading them aloud cannot fail, of itself, to improve the taste as well as the Elocution of the reader.

The short Treatise prefixed to the Selections, with some general practical instructions, will be found advantageous to both teacher and pupil; to the former it is believed they will be of valuable assistance in his or her course of instruction. If the pupil be made thoroughly to understand them, she cannot fail to reap their benefit in practice.

Teachers who may desire to enter fully into the theory of Elocution and its highest practice, are referred to my work, entitled “ The Art of Elocution as an Essential Part of Rhetoric,” &c.

G. VANDENHOFF.

11, Orchard Street, Portman Square, W.

December, 1861.

THE LADY'S READER

IN PROSE AND VERSE.

GRACE of speech is particularly attractive in woman. The speaking of her native language with purity and elegance of pronunciation, in an agreeable tone of voice, with a sparkling accentuation and an easy, fluent, utterance, are distinguishing marks of a good education, and carry with them the prestige of refinement and high breeding. Like a good appearance and manner, they are an immediate recommendation of the possessor ; indeed, no lady's manner can be said to be completely comme il faut if her utterance, in ordinary conversation, be defective or inelegant.

Poets have made grace of utterance in woman the theme of frequent praise.

The Epicurean Horace, the fastidious poet of the Augustan age, singles out grace of speech as one of the chief fascinations of the charming lady of his love ; her empire over his heart is main

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tained by her sweet smiles, and her graceful speech

“ Dulce ridentem, Lalagen amabo,

Dulce loquentem.”
“Sweetly smiling, sweetly speaking Lalage

I'll love." Of the angelic Cordelia (to use Mrs. Jamieson's epithet), Shakspere makes Lear say

“Her voice was ever soft
And low,—an excellent thing in woman !"

Romeo, when he hears his Juliet call him, exclaims“How silver sweet sound lovers' tongues by night!

Like softest music to attending ears !”

The same great master and observer, Shakspere, makes his Venus place her grace of speech in the foremost rank of her accomplishments,

“Bid me discourse, I will enchant thine ear!”

In fine, it may be said, without exaggeration, that correctness and grace of utterance are as requisite distinctions of a lady's conversation as grammatical accuracy ; and that a slovenly style of speech is as great a blemish as inelegant and ungrammatical language.

Then, what an accomplishment it is to be able to read well, clearly, intelligently, and with a feeling of the sentiment of the poet or the author; and yet how few possess it! Is there any acquire

ment more domestic, more peculiarly feminine? I am far from meaning that it is desirable for a lady to seek for opportunities of display, by an exhibition of her powers of recitation; by no means. HOME, the domestic circle, is the legitimate scene of a woman's accomplishments; and an attainment which can add the charms of intellectual entertainment to the other attractions of her fireside, is certainly worthy of particular attention in a system of female education. No instrument more sweet than the voice of woman. The voice of Eve was the sweetest sound that met the ear of our first parent in the garden of Eden ; and when that sweet music of nature's giving, modulated and regulated by art, and instinct with expression, is wedded to the melody of language, and lends itself to give breath to the inspirations of the poet, and the rhythm of his verse, the charm is complete.

Every lady should be able to take up a book of prose or poetry, and read any passage in it smoothly, intelligently, and musically, without aiming at effect or display, but in a sensible, pleasing, and graceful manner.

The capability to do this ought to be so generally possessed as to deprive it of the name of an accomplishment; and yet how rare a one it is! How many ladies there are who can play and sing the most elaborate music of Mendelssohn, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, with taste, elegance, and effect; and yet how few who can read aloud with clearness, sentiment, and expression the musical language of Shakspere, Gray, Campbell, Tennyson, and others

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