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PREFACE

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THE compilers of this volume have long felt that declamation should receive more attention in the upper grammar grades and in the first year of the high school than has been the custom in recent years. Much of the declamation of fifty years ago was no doubt ridiculous, but the old schoolmaster who gave too high a place to the subject was nearer right than the new schoolmaster who eliminates it almost entirely. Oratory is the natural gift of many primitive races; and the boy is rare who does not at some time in his career aspire to be an orator. Oratory is almost, if not quite, an instinct. If this natural impulse is not utilized at the period when it is in the ascendant, there is a distinct pedagogical loss. Such neglect might lead in some cases to the arrest of the development of a valuable talent. In all cases it would deprive the teacher of a valuable aid in bringing a secondary interest to the study of history and literature.

The chief mistakes in teaching declamation in the past have been caused by the choice of improper selections. These have been chosen largely on account of their rhetorical character, without paying sufficient attention to their intrinsic value or significance. Again, little thought has been given to the question whether any given selection was suitable to the child's stage of development. The compilers have felt that the choice of significant selections would be made easier if the

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