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the thought before he can put it into words, is but ill qualı. fied to judge whether the expression be sufficiently clear to others: in that particular, he cannot avoid the taking on him to judge for the reader, who can much better judge for himself
The present edition of Lord Kames' Criticisms was prepared, and is now offered to the public, with a view of facilitating the use of the work, and of rendering it more acceptable to general readers. To effect the former object, an analysis has been placed at the head of each chapter; and to effect the latter, translations, either original or selected, have been affixed to the numerous passages introduced as illustrations, from the Latin and Italian languages.
The editor deems it unnecessary to enter into any process of argument, by which to justify the course he has pursued in the preparation of the present work; as in all matters of practical utility, the only just judgment that can possibly be formed must necessarily rest on practical effects: and though he would be sorry to arrogate any superiority to himself, or to his own observation, yet there may, perhaps, be no impropriety in saying, that the result of the experience of many years arduously devoted to the business of instruction, is, a thorough conviction that only by presenting a subject to the 'mind in its leading features, and as one whole, can students obtain a clear and comprehensive view of it. Too much dependence however, in the use of the work, must not be placed upon the analyses; for it is by no means intended that because of them is less of the work to be learned:
their principal object is, as before stated,' to render the instruction of classes less irksome, and less difficult. The editor would, therefore, recommend to professors and teachers, uniformly to insist that scholars, at the commencement of their recitations, be prepared to repeat, with perfect clearness, the subject of each chapter or section, by its respective analysis; and from it to conduct the recitation of the class. He is aware, however, that to teachers not familiar with the subject, this would be impossible; but where is the teacher to be found, determined to excel in his profession, who would not, from considerations, both of duty and of interest, study to acquire that familiarity by which alone, he cap secure to himself, the confidence and respect of his scholars, and ultimate success in his calling!
That in works for general reading, and especially in text books, translations should be uniformly affixed to passages introduced from the ancient classics, as illustrations, the editor does not hesitate to say must be the conviction of every candid and intelligent mind: as to scholars who may be familiar with those languages, they can certainly be no hinderance; while to those who have not enjoyed the advantages of a classical education, they are indispensably necessary. It is true that many persons still seem to think it bordering almost on presumption for any one to pretend to taste or elegant scholarship in the Belles Lettres, who can not read Latin and Greek; but though the advantages of a knowledge of these languages, in forming one's taste, must ever be acknowledged to be immensely great, yet it by no means follows, that those who may not understand them have not it in their power to cultivate theirs. The principles of taste, and the perception of the Sublime and the Beautiful, exist, in a greater or less degree, in every mind; and as every man fami
liar with the subject, must be sensible that English literature is enriched with its full share of the most exquisite productions, both in poetry and prose; so it would seem to follow, that if these be devotedly studied, their beauties will be properly ascertained, and duly appreciated.
Besides, it must not be forgotten, that the pursuits of elegant literature form the most important part of the course of instruction at the present time pursued in every well regulated femaleschool, both in this country and in Great Britain; and as cases very rarely occur, in which young ladies are to be found with sufficient acquaintance with the ancient classics to study works filled with illustrations taken from them, that their studies may not be constantly interrupted, every beauty should be presented in such a form that they may immediately perceive it.
It is by no means pretended, however, that the force and spirit of the original poetry, is uniformly retained in the translations. This, when the dissimilarity that exists between the two languages is borne in mind, will at once be perceived to be impossible; but as the greater part of the translations here introduced, are from translators of acknowledged celebrity, the editor feels confident that, though accuracy principally was aimed at in preparing them, yet they will be found sufficiently elegant not to mar, at least, the interest of the work.
With regard to the body of the work, the editor has been at great pains to preserve it in as pure a state, and as nearly as it originally came from the pen of the celebrated author, as possible. To effect this purpose, the present edition is printed, with the utmost accuracy, from a copy of an edition published in Edinburgh before the author's death, and which received his last revision.
Having thus briefly stated the character of the work, and the improvements tha are proposed to have been added to it, the editor leaves the public to decide how far his labors may be considered commendable; and should the objects mentioned in the commencement of these remarks, be found to have been atlained, he will feel himself abundantly compensated.