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The Lake English Classics
LINDSAY TODD DAMON, A.B. Instructor in English in The University of Chicago
6 u og fl.Cam
1- 20-44 far
Julius Cæsar and Lord Macaulay have been much abused writers. They did not mean to write immortal works, least of all did they mean to write immortal exercises for the school-room. But when a man writes—just as he would fight, on the field of battle or in the political arenawith what Quintilian describes as “force, point, and vehemence of style,” he must expect the school-boy to devour his pages. This is right,this is not abuse; the abuse is done when live literature is transformed into dead rhetoric, a thing for endless exercises in etymologies and constructions, until the very name of the author becomes odious. Perhaps it is late for this complaint; we flatter ourselves that we are coming to reason and balance in our methods. Certainly I should not try to discourage study, and liberal study, of the mechanics of composition. And there is no better medium for such study than Macaulay's Essays. But I trust that every teacher to whom the duty of conducting such study falls will not at the same time forget that literature is an art which touches life very closely, and has its springs far back in the human spirit.
With the hope of encouraging this attitude I have ventured to assume the responsibility of setting afloat one more annotated text of Macaulay. Realizing that, in dealing with the work of a writer whose affiliations with literature are chiefly formal (Introduction, 19), there is no escape from considerations of style, I have frankly put the matter foremost. But I have tried to take a broad view of its significance, and in particular I have tried to do Macaulay justice. Altogether too many pupils have carried away from the study of him the narrow idea that his great achievement consisted in using one or two very patent (but, if they only knew it, very petty) rhetorical devices. It has been the primary aim of my Introduction to set these matters in their right perspective. I have not outlined specific methods of study, which are to be found everywhere by those who value them, but both Introduction and Notes contain many suggestions. It seems better to stop at this. Even the few illustrations I have used have been preferably drawn from essays not here printed. No editor should wish to take from teacher or pupil the profit of investigation or the stimulus of discovery.
There is another matter in which I should like to counsel vigilance, and that is the habit of requiring pupils to trace allusions, quotations, etc. The practice has been much abused, and a warning seems especially necessary in the study of a writer