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HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
THE BEQUEST OF
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and sixty-seven,
BY A. S. BARNES & Co., in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, for the
Southern District of New York.
THE author, having annotated five of the English Poets-Milton, Young, Thomson, Cowper and Pollokthe volumes of which are extensively used in the process of education, an application was made to him a short time since by an earnest and experienced Teacher, to take up some of the older English Prose Classics, and perform a somewhat similar service in reference to them, with a view, chiefly, to make them useful in Schools for philological purposes—for acquiring a better knowledge and command of the English Language and Literature.
He writes: We have a very large class of young people, who, after remaining in the Common Schools as long as they can advance there, spend one, two, and often more years in some higher School, attending exclusively to English studies. These in after life, by reason of their intelligence and their numbers, constitute a very influential part of all our communities. These persons, for various reasons neglecting the study of foreign languages, eminently need some better facilities for obtaining classical culture in their own language than are now furnished.'
• The end I propose, then, is briefly this :-To furnish to the English student the best practicable substitute for that classical training which is ordinarily obtained through the study of Latin and Greek. And I scarcely Deed observe, that all but the smallest fraction of those
who receive the advantages of a Collegiate Course are sadly wanting in a just appreciation and mastery of their own language. .
We have many
valuable works about the English language, and literature, and enough of instruction how to interpret what we read. To give a higher value to these, we need critically to read and interpret more good English in our Schools ; and particularly (as you suggest), more of that English which is unlike that of our current speech and literature.'
After presenting (according to request) some details of the plan of the work which he desired to be prepared (and which, to a large extent, is attempted to be carried out by the Author), he says "I have written very freely. My plea in mitigation is, that I write about what I have fell the want of in my daily work for years. I hope that enough of the plan will strike you favorably to lead you to undertake something of the kind."
For the purposes named above, no book seems better adapted, as a foundation, than LORD Bacon's Essays -abounding in classical learning, in occasional great felicities of style, in solid, weighty and ingenious thought ; also in forms of expression antiquated, obselete and obscure ; in sentences sometimes elegant, sometimes decidedly the reverse, and these, in many instances, not well arranged as to length or structure, or distribution into paragraphs of suitable length. On these, and other accounts, these Essays are admirably adapted for critical purposes, for the culture of judgment and taste, for the comparison of older forms of expression with those approved at the present day, and as a preparation for the intelligent and appreciative reading of the great English authors of the seventeenth century, so rich in thought, in learning, and in genius.