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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand PREFACE.
eight hundred and sixty-three, by
HARPER & BROTHERS,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.
The present volume is one of a series of Text-books, contemplated by the Publishers, for the study of the leading modern languages, and designed to meet the growing demands of this branch of literary culture in our colleges and seminaries of learning.
The division into two parts was intended to furnish, conjointly with the Grammar, a consecutive course in the French language and literature, which, with skillful instructors, should leave little to be desired by the mass of students in this department.
The selections contained in Part First are characterized by purity and simplicity of style, dramatic interest, and acknowledged excellence. Fable, History, Poetry, Memoirs, Epistolary Correspondence, Dialogue, and Oratory are represented in suitable proportion, embracing only the most prominent names which have adorned the literature during the past two hundred years. Particular care has been taken to secure models of style, as well as to exclude all expressions or allusions incompatible with the lecture-room and with good taste and propriety.
In this part a few foot-notes are added, giving a solution of the more difficult idioms; and occasional references to rules or explanations in the author's French Grammar are indicated by figures inserted in the text.
Part Second introduces the more advanced student among the master-pieces of the literature. With, perhaps, the single exception of the Bourgeois Gentilhomme, this division furnishes what nearly all critics are agreed in pronouncing the most perfect specimens of French composition. The Phædra of Racine, the famous Ninth Satire and Epistle of Despréaux, together with that Code of Parnassus -the Art of Poetry—will ever be held, as now, the literary prodigies of the age of Louis XIV. We have admitted one of Molière's best prose comedies, to give an extended model in that species of writing,
and especially to furnish a basis for conversation, for which the play in question affords abundant material.
From the eighteenth century we have selected Voltaire, who has been aptly styled its representative, and of whose Théâtre the Zaïre is, without doubt, the most touching.
We would here take the liberty of suggesting that, in colleges, where the time devoted to French is of necessity limited, select portions in Part First be read, and that subsequently the pupil be transferred to the second part—a course which will secure a good basis for lectures on the history of the literature, and lead the mind of the classical student to a higher appreciation of the genius of the great authors.
The Biographical Notices, it is hoped, will tend to augment the usefulness of the book. They have been selected from such living writers as enjoy a good reputation for correct style and critical taste.
Finally, in the Vocabulary, we have taken care to give, not only the various significations of a word as it occurs in different parts of the work, but we have also placed every essential idiom or peculiar expression under that word which differs from the English use. We have also added the régime preposition, with its English equivalent, after those verbs, participles, adjectives, etc., which seemed to require ita feature which the young student will not be slow to appreciate.
As to the figured pronunciation, it is but just to ourself to say that it was introduced, at the request of the Publishers, to guide that class of learners who do not have the advantages of competent instruction. To these it will certainly prove useful.
Hamilton, N. Y., April 20th, 1863.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.