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And as composition is far from being the only business of an orator ; so I heartily wish, that not only tutors, but school. masters, whose character and conduct, by the way, is of vast importance to our interest, would make a very serious business of teaching lads, who are designed for the ministry, to read well, and to pronounce properly and handsomely. Thus an early remedy would be provided on the one hand, against those unnatural tones and gestures, which, as you well observe,“ are a grand cause of our reproach and contempt* ;" and on the other, against that cold insensible air, which sometimes, amongst strangers at least, affects even the moral character of the preacher.
I think some care should be taken, both at the school and the academy, to engage students to a genteel and complaisant behaviour, not only as what is apparently conducive to their mutual ease and pleasure, and the convenience of the family where they are ; but as what may render them more agreeable and useful in life, to persons of superior rank, and even to the populace themselves. For a well-bred man knows how to con. descend, in the most obliging way; and the common people, such is either their good sense or their humour, are peculiarly pleased with the visits and converse of those, who they know may be welcome to greater company.
And now, Sir, I have done with my subject, and must conclude, with assuring you, that it is not the design of one line which I have writ, merely to prove, that you are mistaken in any thing that you have asserted; and therefore I have purposely avoided many citations from your letter, which might easily have been connected with what I have said. You will infer, from what you have read, that I differ from you in some other particulars, which are not mentioned, but they apparently depend on what I have debated at large; and I chose to omit them, not only because my letter is already longer than I intended, but from a general observation, which I have had frequent occasion to make; that if a man desires to do good by what he says, he must oppose and contradict as little as possible. If I am mistaken in what I have advanced, I shall be heartily thankful for better information; and, if it come from you, it will be peculiarly agreeable, as I shall have nothing to fear from your reproaches, and much to hope from your arguments.
I am, Sir, your most humble Scrvant,
* Enq. p. 43. * This was printed in 1729, being the first piece the Doctor published.
IN PLAIN AND EASY VERSE,
DIVIDED INTO SHORT LESSONS, FOR THE USE
CHILDREN AND YOUTII.
JOHN xxi, 15.
JESUS SAID UNTO PETER, LOVEST THOU ME-FEED MY LAMBS.
The little verses now before the reader were written at the desire of my most worthy and honoured friend, the reverend Mr. Clark of St. Albans, and are published at his request, as what, he hopes, may by the divine blessing do some good in the rising generation. I was the more willing to undertake the task because I had often observed, with how much ease and pleasure children learn verses by heart, how fond they are of repeating them, and hy consequence, how much longer they retain them, than they do what they learn in prose.
In this view Dr. Watts's songs for children have been a singular blessing to our land : And it is but justice to that great yet condescending writer to own, that if this light essay be of any service in it, a great part of the thanks will be due to him, who had digested the chief heads of christianity in so natural a method, and expressed them in such easy yet comprehensive language, in the first part of his second set of catechisms, that he had left me very little more to do under many of the articles, than to translate them into rhyme ; for I can hardly presume to call it poetry.
That simplicity and ease, which may suit children, I have been always careful to maintain ; and have endeavoured here and there, where I conveniently could, to strike the fancy with a little imagery, and especially to affect the heart of my dear little scholars, by giving a serious and practical turn to the several truths, which are delivered. It has also been my great care to insert nothing into these verses, but what I apprehend, the generality of serious christians believe, so that I hope they will suit different denominations; as indeed I could wish, the rising age might be instructed, in what is like to unite, rather than divide us. Their own comfort, as well as the credit of our common christianity, is much concerned in it.
Some will, no doubt, think this a trifling performance : But I have been told, that the familiar system of religion, which Grotius drew up in easy verse for the use of the Dutch sailors, was esteemed by him and others, one of his most useful works: And if I had not the patronage of such illustrious names, as have gone before me in such humble labours, I should think myself unworthy the honour of calling Jesus my Master, if I thought it beneath me to be desirous of doing good to the least child of the poorest of the people.
No nation under heaven appears to me so well furnished with helps for the christian education of children, as our own. I heartily pray, that parents may be diligent in using them, and that they may inforce their good instructions with a suitable example; and then I doubt not, but, through the divine blessing, the happy fruits will be visible: Nor will a gracious God, who taketh pleasure in the prosperity of his people, forget the least pious and benevolent attempt for promoting so good a work.
P. DODDRIDGE. Northampton, October 31, 1743.