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THE following work contains the substance of a Course of Lectures, which I have occasionally read to my pupils during the last twelve years. The satisfaction which they expressed on hearing them has encouraged me to hope, that they will not prove unac. ceptable.to those, for whose use they are now made public.
To assert a claim to originality in such a work as this would perhaps only be equivalent to a confession of its demerit. My pretensions to public regard must depend in no small degree upon the manner in which I have clothed old ideas in a new dress, and upon my skill in compressing within a moderate compass the substance of large and voluminous works. Upon all my subjects I have endeavoured to reflect light from every quarter which my reading would afford. My references will show the sources from which I have derived my principal information; but it would be almost an endless, and perhaps a very ostentatious task, to enumarate all my literary obligations.
There are a few topics indeed, with 'espect to which I think I may be allowed to assert si e claims to no. velty. For many of my remarks on the Greek Lan. guage I am indebted principally to my own observations upon its nature and comparative merits; the History of Chivalry, important as the influence of that remarkable institution has been upon manners, is a subject upon which I have not been able to collect much information from English authors; and the History of the Revival of Classical Learning, although a topic of the strongest interest to every man of letters, has never been fully treated by any writer, with whose works I am acquainted.
Many of my Quotations are selected from such works, as, either from their size, number of volumes, or scarceness, do not frequently come within the reach of young men. If some of them are borrowed from more obvious and popular works, their peculiar beauty, strength, and appositeness, it is presumed, will justify their introduction. But elegant as my quotations may be in point of style, conclusive as to reasoning, or striking as to the impression they are calculated to make; they will not completely answer the intended purpose, if, while they raise a high opinion of the merit of their authors, they do not excite an eager cu. riosity to peruse more of their works.
If I should be fortunate enough to succeed in procuring for eminent writers any additional degree of regard ; if I should excite a more ardent and more active attention to any branches of useful knowledge; and if the variety of my topics should contribute to diffuse more widely the light of general information and useful truth; I shall have the satisfaction to reflect that my
time has not been sacrificed to a frivolous purpose by thus endeavouring, in conformity with the occupations of the most valuable portion of my life, to instruct the rising generation.
TRINITY COLLEGE, OXFORD,
May 12, 1802.
TO THE FOURTH EDITION
The increasing demand for my work calls upon me for adequate endeavours to merit the public approbation. I have therefore revised the whole, and made some useful alterations and additions. TRINITY College, OXFORD,
May 20, 1803.
TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
A few paragraphs and notes have been omitted in this edition, which seem to have been written for a particular purpose, but would not be useful or interesting to the American reader.
By the advice of competent judges the Appendix, containing a long list of books, has been omitted, because it would increase the size and price of the work, and would not be generally useful in this country. A considerable part of the list consists of Greek and Latin books, of which a complete account may be found in Dibdin's Introduction to the Classics, 8vo, or the Bibliographical Dictionary, 7 vols, 12mo. Both these works are said to have merit; and will be acceptable to those who desire to know the characters of the various editions of the Greek and Roman Classics. A list of
the best professional books can always be obtained from professors and professional men.
A few paragraphs have been supplied in the second volume from books of merit.
The publishers have no intention to bestow indiscriminate praise upon this work. They know that it contains some imperfections. But still they believe that it will be useful to the generality of readers, and especially to those who are designed for business, and have not received what is commonly termed a liberal education. It will be useful to all as an outline or plan of study, which may be more conveniently prosecuted by the assistance of such a guide.
Few books have been so favourably received in Bri. tain as this, five editions having been published from May 12, 1802, to some time in 1803. This edition is printed from the fifth English edition,