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OF THE

PROFICIENCE AND ADVANCEMENT

OF

LEARNING.

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PREFACE.

THIS

THIS little book is sent forth in pursuance of a plan

(begun about a twelvemonth since by the reprint of the first book of Hooker) of issuing at intervals in a cheap form some of the chief works of our great English writers. That something of the kind is needed, will be allowed by every one who is acquainted with the general neglect of our own tongue which still prevails in our schools. It may be safely aft,ned, that there are few which a boy may not pass almost entirely through without ever reading a line of the works of any English writer of eminence. In those professedly devoted to the study of the classics this is a matter of less consequence, since men who have read Sophocles and Plato to any good purpose will not neglect Shakspeare and Bacon. But in English schools (so called) this disregard of the best models of writing in our own mother tongue is a very serious evil, for it practically amounts to omitting to direct the attention of the learner to the study of any good authors at all, except perhaps a few scraps in books of miscellaneous extracts, as great a curse to literature as epitomes. It seems to be taken for granted in many

schools that none but inferior books are fit for the capacity of boys; or if a good author is chosen for their perusal, that his works must be defaced by expurgations, commentaries, and various kinds of assistance, intended, as

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