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It is hard for an editor of a book designed for formal study to determine precisely what parts of the learning that has gathered about his subject should be offered directly, by way of annotation, to young students. Two methods of treatment at once suggest themselves. He may annotate the text very sparingly, on the assumption that an intelligent boy knows enough to read ordinary English prose literature understandingly, and should be forced to find out for himself the meaning of words or allusions that he does not comprehend. Or he may annotate profusely, on the much sounder assumption that boys and girls are not living dictionaries and encyclopædias, and scarcely ought to be expected to interrupt reading which they are encouraged to enjoy in order to search various volumes for information that might just as well be put at once before them. Both extremes the editor of the present volume has tried to avoid. He has endeavored to give the pupil such facts as will enable him to read rapidly and understandingly; he has endeavored also to stimulate in the pupil an intelligent curiosity with regard to matters worth further investigation and further knowledge. It is his belief, however, that in the editing of text-books, as in all other parts of the teacher's delicate task, unchecked devotion to any theory of work, sound though it be, may very well lead to disaster to some pupils. He hopes, therefore, that those of his colleagues who use this book will understand that he has tried to prepare it for various uses, thinking of different classes
of pupils, at different periods of ripeness. If the annotation is for any purpose too full, it is far easier to neglect any excess than to supply a real and painful deficiency that might arise in reading Macaulay under the ordinary conditions of the classroom.
This edition of Macaulay's essays follows the authoritative text, of which Longmans, Green, and Co. are the publishers.
J. G. C.
[The essays on Milton and Addison form a convenient introduction to the study of Macaulay's writings; they serve also the immediate purpose of this series, by illustrating the lives of two authors whose works are to be studied during the course preparatory for college. Moreover, they have a general interest as being well-constructed and brilliantly successful "review-articles." This type of essay-writing one may almost assert to have been invented by the Edinburgh Reviewers, of which famous coterie Macaulay was one of the greatest, and these are classic specimens of the type.
Macaulay was not one of the founders of that periodical. It originated in 1802 among a number of young men of the generation before him, whose interests-social, literary, and political,-brought them together in Edinburgh. The most famous were Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, the witty divine who instigated the enterprise, Henry Brougham, and Francis Horner. They were Liberals or "Whigs" in politics, and full of fight for their side in all public questions. The merit of the work of these talented young "journalists," the novelty of the enterprise, and what was thought to be the daring of the views expressed in these articles on various questions of the day, made the Edinburgh a rallying point for the popular party in English politics, and gave to the "Buff and Blue" magazine a wide circulation. The Tory party started the Quarterly Review to meet it, and the Westminster Review was begun later by a new set of young "Radicals,” who found the Edinburgh too slow for them; both thus paying it the flattery of imitation. Even to the present day the form of these essays is, to a great degree, followed in certain periodicals, especially in this particular, which it will interest young students to notice.
It was thought needful by the Edinburgh writers, while they were treating their subjects, in truth, in the most general way, to connect their discursive harangues with a criticism of some definite book lately published. Thus, Macaulay begins his essay on Milton with some