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But the range of the work is wider still. The book is, indeed, a sort of History of Literature. Here, accordingly, will be found, in the form of Notes, numerous original sketches of literary character, brief, though comprehensive, as the space requires, but all in the spirit of truth and fairness; while longer sketches, drawn by the ablest hands, and tracing with precision the subtle shades of literary mcrit, find place, as well they may, among the Exercises to be read in regular course.
These sketches—even the best of them—are not, of course, exhaustive. They mark the main points, however, and cannot fail—even the poorest of them—to awaken that interest which always attends the perusal of a piece whose author is known to the reader by something more than the mere announcement of his name. They show how, as in the case of Cowper, labor imparts a finish which no time can wear off, and how, as in the same beautiful example, wit, humor, and gayety may be found in close alliance with all that is pure in sentiment and refined in language; how worth, in spite of obstacles, rises slowly, it may be, but surely, to its own proper level; how the walls of a prison, as in the case of Bunyan, and even total blindness, as in that of Milton, seem rather to quicken than to hinder the free movements of genius; how even genius itself, however transcendent, without the salutary check of goodness, is, after all, only what the ignorant deem of a comet—a mighty messenger of mischief; and how, in short, opportunities, the best and the worst, are alike unavailing, if the disposition be wanting to reach honorable achievement.
With these few words respecting the plan, purpose, matter, and execution of the work, the Union RHETORICAL READEB is respectfully submitted to the judgment of teachers
New YORK, Sept. 1862.
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