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Upon the whole there cannot be a doubt but that a Book, like this, purposely compiled for the use of young persons of both sexes, singularly various in its subjects, containing selections from writers whose characters are established without controversy, abounding with entertainment and useful information, inculcating the purest principles of morality and religion, and displaying excellent models of style and language, must effectually contribute to the improvement of the rising generation in knowledge, taste, and virtue. The Public have, indeed, already felt, and acknowledged its utility, by the least fallible proof, their general reception of it. It has been adopted in all the most respectable places of education, and has scattered, far and wide, the seeds of excellence, which may one day arrive at maturity, and add to the happiness both of the community and of human nature.
What English book similar to this volume, calculated entirely for the use of young students at schools, and under private tuition, was to be found in the days of our fathers ? None, certainly. The consequence was, that the English part of education (to many the most important part) was defective even in-places most celebrated for classic discipline ; and boys were often enabled to read Latin perfectly, and write it tolerably, who, from the disuse or the want of models for practice, were wretchedly qualified to do either in their native language.- From this unhappy circumstance, classical education was brought into some degree of disgrace; and preposterous it certainly was, to study, during many of the best years of life, foreign and dead languages, with the most scrupulous accuracy, and at the same time entirely to neglect that mother tongue, which is in daily and hourly requisition ; to be well read in Tully, and a total stranger to Addison ; to have Homer and Horace by heart, and to know little more than the names of Milton and Pope.
Classical learning, thus defective in a point so obvious to detection, incurred the imputation of pedantry. It was observed to assume an important air of superiority, without displaying, to the common observer, any just pretensions to it. It even appeared with marks of inferiority, when brought into occasional collision with well-informed understandings, cultivated by English literature alone, but greatly proficient in the school of experience. Persons who had never extended their views to ancient and classic lore, but had been confined in their education to English, triumphed, in the common intercourse of society, over the academical scholar; and learning often hid her head in confusion, when pointed at, as pedantry, by the finger of a loquacious dunce.
It became highly expedient therefore to introduce mone or EnglisI READING into our classical schools; that those who went out into the world with their coffers richly stored with the golden medals of antiquity, might at the same time be furnished with a sufficiency of current coin from the modern mint, for the commerce of ordinary life; but there was no school-book, copious and various enough, entirely calculated for this purpose. The Grecian and Roman History, the Spectators, and Plutarch's Lives, were indeed sometimes introduced, and certainly with great advantage. But still, an uniformity of English books, in schools, was a desideratum. It was desirable that all the students of the same class, provided with copies of the same book, containing the proper variety, might be enabled to read it together; and thus benefit each other by an emulous study of the same subject or composition, at the same time, and under the eye of their common master.
For this important purpose, the large collections, entitled “ELEGANT EXTRACTS,” both in Prose and Verse, and the Volume of Letters, from the best English Writers, under the title of “ ELEGANT Epistles," were projected. Their reception is the fullest testimony in favour both of the design and its execution.
This whole Set of EXTRACTS, though now reduced for the purpose of rendering it more convenient in its size, is yet more copious and valuable in its materials, than any other publication of the same kind, and certainly must conduce, in a very high degree, to that great national object, the public instruction of the middle and higher orders of society, to promote which was the primary, and indeed the sole object of the original Compiler.
4 Preseni Life conducive to the Happiness 48 Beginnings of Evil to be resisted Blair. 51
10 Duty of Children to their Parents 16 | 54 Suppression of criminal Thoughts
is useful to Mankind
109 Duties owing to particular Persons 122 | 136 - Joshua
21 Simplicity, different kinds of
from Attention to Thought
Spence. 210 108 Of Herodotus and Thucydides
87 Greek and Roman Writers compared 240 162 The subordinate Classics not to be
98 - Metaphors and Similitudes
247 170 Modern Philosophical and Histo-
103 Rules of Order and Proportion 249 173 On Translators
181 On Numerous Composition
Synesius’s subsequent Ac-
299 212 Universal Ideas of Natural Beauty 916
188 The Constituent Parts of every
214 Progressions of Art disgustful, the
190 Advice to Readers
4 Oration of Pericles
Thucyd. 379 33 MR. ERSKINE's Speech on the same
10 Callisthenes's Reproof of Cleon
14 Micipsa to Jugurtha
Sallust. 389 38 MR. CURRAN's Speech in Defence of
16 Hannibal to the Carthaginian Army 391 39
in Defence of
31 MR. BURKE's Conclusion of his
62 Character of Richard I.
Speech to the Electors of Bristol 411 63 Another