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[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1842, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.]
C. D. TRANSFER OCT - 1940
In compiling this work my principal object has been to combine recreation with truly useful instruction; and I indulge the hope that it will be found a most valuable family book, and an agreeable traveling companion.
The collection is by far the most complete ever offered to this community; and in truth, whether any work of this kind, as to the form, variety and arrangement of matter, has ever been published in any country at all, I have not been able to ascertain.
Indeed, had it been intended only for those already conversant with the French language, I would have dispensed with writing this preface, because the opening of the volume will fully display to their eyes the rich harvest it contains; but the work having been also adapted to the use of students of French, not sufficiently advanced to judge for themselves, it is just that they should know what it comprises, and this induces me to give a brief statement in English.
The work, small as it appears, not only forms a complete course of French literature, but also exhibits the i history of the language from its origin, together with the
biography of above ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY of the principal French writers, (both in prose and poetry) of the last four centuries, with samples of the writings of ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-six of them.
The name of each Author, and the place of his birth and death, together with the dates, are placed at the head of a sample of his own writings, accompanied by biographical and critical notes on his life and principal works.
The whole is chronologically arranged according to the time in which the author florished, from the fourteenth century to the latter part of the eighteenth.
At the present time when the French language has acquired so great an importance in this country, as well as among all other civilized nations, I believe that such a publication is very much needed, and trust it will prove
not only very interesting, but also most useful to all classes of French readers of both sexes, whatever be their taste, profession, religion or politics. All will here find inexhaustible subjects of reflection and conversation, together with ample means of acquiring an extensive knowledge of French literature, in a few hours.
Those also who are desirous of purchasing French works, will find this a good direction in their object.
As a school book, I firmly believe nobody will question the immense advantages it possesses over all those now in use, in this country, for the same purpose. The endless variety of subjects, from so many pens, cannot fail to excite the interest and curiosity of the pupil, which must necessarily turn to his own advantage by accelerating
Those who study a language, and who are but little advanced in it, especially young people, soon become tired of the same subject: they cannot read a whole work with pleasure nor with profit, because they do not read fast enough, and discouragement follows tediousness.
And besides, in order to acquire a thorough knowledge of a language, it is not sufficient to study a single author, nor even two or three; for each has his peculiar style. Whatever the language may be, he who has studied or read but one author, can have but a very imperfect knowledge of it; and especially is this the case with the French language, in which there has been so many writers, and, consequently, so great a diversity of style. It does not even suffice to study a few of the most celebrated authors, because, whatever may be their celebrity or excellence, their works do not constitute the whole language ; and in fact, we can only judge of their superiority by the inferiority of others.
The present publication contains standards of prose and poetry of the most varied kinds from the style of the highest eloquence, to that of letters, notes, conversation, etc. And among the innamerable articles composing the work, there are very few, I believe, which do not contain some useful lesson. Thus, it may be expected, that, in learning French, the young student will be led to many
fruitful reflections, and impress upon his mind some important truths, which may be useful to him in the course of life.
In short, to extend the thoughts, to enlighten the mind, to embellish the imagination and give it a proper direction, to raise the soul, to cultivate and improve the heart, to teach man the duties of man; such, I believe, ought to be the object of all those who publish books for the purpose of instruction or for the use of the young, and such is the object I have had in view in the compilation of this work; may it be as truly profitable and beneficial as I dare expect, and I shall consider it as the fairest recompense for
N. B. I wish the young reader to understand that I am very far from having exhausted the list of French writers; indeed I could have easily filled this volume with their names only. The field of French literature is so extensive and so exuberant, that the number of authors who have swarmed in it since the fifth century, is nearly incredible; and yet, in those former times, there were as many, and perhaps more, who wrote in Latin.
The authors who have written only on Sciences, Arts, Jurisprudence, etc., could not be admitted into this collection, which is devoted to literature alone.
If circumstances permit, I shall have the pleasure some day to continue my labor, and make the readers acquainted with the French writers of the present age.
TABLE DES MATIÈRES,
PAR ORDRE ALPHABÉTIQUE DES AUTEURS.
ABBADIE.—Vérité de la religion,