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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by
GEORGE S. HILLARD,
ELECTROTYPED AT THE
The aim and purpose of this compilation are briefly indicated in the title page. The extracts of which it is composed have been selected with special reference to the wants and capacity of the most advanced classes in public and private schools. Nothing has been admitted which seemed beyond their comprehension; and pains have been taken to exclude every thing which was even doubtful in regard to morai sentiment, or which could offend the nicest sense of decorum.
This is exclusively a reading book. Pieces suitable for declamation have been inserted only incidentally and occasionally. The range of English and American literature is now so wide, that it could not have been made a book of extracts for both reading and speaking, without expanding it to an inconvenient and unreasonable size.
In making the selections, exclusive reference has been had to the moral and intellectual training of the young persons for whose use the work is intended, and especially to the formation of a correct literary taste. Nothing has been admitted solely because it was the work of a great writer. Fitness for the objects proposed has been the guiding principle in making the selections. The range of choice has been made as wide as was consistent with a strict adherence to this rule. Most of the extracts have never before appeared in compilations of this kind. Selections having reference, directly or indirectly, to our own country, and informed with the spirit of our own times, have been taken, as a general rule, in preference to others.
No rigorous law has been adhered to in the order or succession of the extracts; but abrupt transitions have been avoided, as far as was possible. The first part of the volume is mainly occupied with pieces which tell a story, or present a picture to the eye of the mind; most of the didactic passages are thrown into the last part; and in the intermediate portion are found the historical sketches and characters.
Much time and care have been given to the preparation of the introductory biographical and critical notices — more than would have been required had they been longer. It is hoped that this feature of the work may commend it to the favorable regard of teachers. It is not intended that these introductions should be read aloud; and they have been made as simple as was consistent with their aim and purpose.
In order to adapt the selections to the use of young readers, frequent omissions have been made, and words have occasionally been changed. This is something of a liberty to take with authors of distinguished reputation ; but no teacher requires to be told that without it the range of selection is brought within very narrow and very unattractive limits.
The compiler of a book like this can claim no higher praise than that which is accorded to judgment and taste. It has been prepared under a strong sense of the responsibility which rests upon every one who aspires, in however humble a way, to take part in the moral and mental training of the youth of our country. Should this volume result in any good to the great cause of education - should it help to touch the heart, to kindle the mind, and train the moral sense of the coming generation - it will be a permanent source of grateful reflection to the compiler.
G. 8. HILLARD Boston, December, 1855.