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A D V E R T IS E M E N T
TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
the use of young persons of both sexes, copious beyond former examples, singularly various in its contents, selected from writers whose charaēlers are established without controversy, abounding with entertainment and useful information, inculcating the purest principles of morality and rcligion, and displaying excellent models of style and language, must contribute most effeEtually to the improvement of the RISING GENERATION in knowledge, taste, and virtue. It must form at once the elegant scholar and the enlightened member of civil society. The public have indeed already felt and acknowledged by the least fallible proof, their general reception of it, its great utility. It has been difused throughout all the most reSpectable places of education in the kingdom, and doubtless down the seeds of excellence, which may one day arrive at maturity, and add to the happiness of the community and of human nature. Infusing virtuous and liberal ideas at the most susceptible age into the minds of a whole nation, its effet must be in the highest degree falutary, on the rising race, and on lete posterity.
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 defektive even in places moft celebrated for clasic discipline; and boys were often enabled to read Latin perfeélly, and write it tolerably, who, from disuse of 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 it svas certainly preposterous, 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 Cicero, and a total franger to Addison ; to have Homer and Horace by heart, and 10 know little more than the names of Milton and POPE.
Learning, thus defcetive in a point so obvious to detection, incurred the imputation of pedantry. It was obferved to asume great pride, the important air of super riority, 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 improved in the school of cxperience. Persons who had never drunk at the classic fountains, but had been confined in their education to English, triumphed over the Scholar į and learning often hid her head in confusion, when pointed at as pedantry by the finger of a DUNCE.
It became highly expedient trerefore to introduce more of English 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 daily use: but there was no school book, copious and various enough, calculated entirely for this purpose. The Grecian and Roman History, the Speclators, and Plutarch's Lives, were indeed sometimes introduced, and certainly with great advantage. But fill, an uniformity of English books in schools, was a defideratum. It was desirable that all the students of the same class, provided with the same book, containing the proper variety, might be enabled to read it 19gether, and thus benefit each other by the emulous ftudy of the same subject or composition, at the same time, under the eye of their common master.
For this important purpose, the large collections entitled “ ELEGANT EXTRACTS,” both in Prose and Verse, were projected and completed by the present Editor. Their reception is the fullest testimony in favour both of the design and its execution. Several editions, consisting of very numerous impressions, have been rapidly circulated, and a new one is now demanded. Public encouragement has not operated on the Editor as a seduction to indolence, but as a Spur to fresh exertion ; and as the press proceeded, great additions, alterations, and improvements, have been made in every Edition, without regard to encreasing expence or trouble. The advantage has hitherto chiefly redounded to the public; for those who are able to.estimate the expence of such works as these, and are acquainted with the embarrassments that sometimes impede their progress, or render zhem unproductive, will readily believe it may happen, that the reward of the Projector, Editor, and Establisher, Mall be little more than the amusement arising from his invention and superintendance.
The labour of a Compiler of a book like this is indeed humble; but its utility is extinjve; and he feels a pride and pleasure in the reflection that he has been serving his country most effectually, in serving the rising generation by such books as this, without facrificing either to avarice or to, vanity. The renown attending a public work, is indeed sildom proportioned to its utility. Glitter is not always the most brilliant on the surface of the most valuable fubfiance. The loadjlone is plain and unattractive in its appearance, while the paste on the finger of the beau sparkles with envied luftre. The Spade, the plough, the fhuttle, have rio ornament bestowed on them, while the sword is decorated with ribbands, gold, and ivory. Yet REASON, undazzled in her decisions, darcs to pronounce, while fre holds the scales, that the USEFUL, though little praised, preponderates, and that the sheury and insubstantial kicks the beam of the balance, while it attracts the eye of inconsiderate admiration,
Things intrinsically good and valuable have however the advantage of securing permanent esteem, though they may lose the eclat of temporary applause. They carry with them to the closet their own letters of recommendation. This volume confidently claims the character of good and valuable, and therefore wants net the pasport of praise. Every page speaks in its own favour, in the modest language of merit, which has no occasion to boast, though it cannot renounce its right to just esteem. The most valuable woods ised in the fine cabinet work of the artisan, require neither paint nor varnisli; but appear beautiful by their own variegated veins and colours.
As it is likely that the student who reads this volume of Prose with pleasure, may also possess a taste for Poetry, it is right to mention in this place, that there is published by the fame Proprietors, a volume of Poetry, similar in size and form ; and as he may also wish to improve himself in the very useful art of Letter-Writing, that there is provided a moft copious volume of Letters from the best authors, under the title of ELEGANT EPISTLES,
This whole Set of Collections, more copious, convenient, and valuable, than any which have preceded it, certainly conduces in a very high degree, to that great national object, the PUBLIC INSTRUCTION.