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TO THE AMERICAN EDITION.
TEACHERS have long complained of the want of a selection of the most useful and interesting parts of Ovid's Metamorphoses, which should be cheap, and free from any sentiments of a licentious tendency. Their wishes, it is hoped, will be gratified by the publication of this selection, which contains as much of Ovid's Metamorphoses as is usually read at school. It was originally made for the use of the ancient and celebrated classical school of Eton, in England, and has been long and generally read in the public grammar schools throughout Britain.
English translations of Latin authors are beginning to be generally and justly rejected in our most respectable seminaries. To the use of translations, both of Greek and Roman authors, there are many strong objections, which cannot however be stated in this place.
Notes are a kind of assistance to the classical student, which, in the opinion of masters of the greatest eminence, may be allowed with advantage. They are almost indispensably necessary to boys in reading many Greek and Latin books; and, if judiciously selected, may in all cases be rendered convenient and useful.
They ought not, however, like the tedious notes of the editions In Usum Delphini, to explain every point at large, and often explain it wrong; but, like the concise remarks in some of the selections for the use of Eton school, they should briefly explain the sense of a difficult passage, and point out to the student the various allusions to mythology, to history, or to science. They should only assist, not prevent, the labour of reflection and research: they should not so much inform the reader of whatever he wants to know, as where it may be found.
This selection was originally made, and the explanatory notes at the end of it were written, by Dr. Willymnotte, an eminent master of a grammar school in England, and afterwards Vice-provost of King's College, Cambridge. The book was adopted and recommended by that famous scholar and grammarian T. Ruddiman, A. M., who published a new edition of it with many additions.
The following account of this work is extracted from the preface of Ruddiman's edition, from which this first American edition is printed.
“ It is the opinion of men of the greatest judgment and experience in the matter of education, that amidst the vast variety of Annotations and Commentaries which have been written on the common school authors, there are few or none which seem so well accommodated to the capacities of youth, as those English Notes not long since published on some of them by the learned and ingenious Mr. Willymotte. For, besides that they contain
the sense and meaning of those authors, in a language which is familiar to the learner, they likewise furnish him with proper and agreeable English for those passages which are hardest to be rendered, and that ofttimes word for word, and always as close as the different genius of the two languages will permit.
« Because there is nothing more universally taught, and in which Mr. Willymotte hath better acquitted himself, than the Metamorphoses of Ovid, I thought it would be an acceptable piece of service done to the schools of our country, to give them a new edition of his Decerpta, together with his notes thereupon. As I was going to set about this impression, it was suggested to me that Mr. Willymotte's Decerpta seemed to bear too small a proportion to all the Metamorphoses, and that there were several of the most beautiful Fables, and those frequently taught in our schools, which he had omitted. Besides, it was told me that it would be agreeable to some masters to have a larger field of variety allowed them, that they might not always be obliged to teach the same things. Therefore, to supply these defects, I was with some difficulty prevailed upon to enlarge the work, by adding thereto a great many other choice Fables, and inserting them in their proper places, with notes subjoined according to Mr. Willy motte's method."
The following remarks of a teacher of great experience and celebrity deserve the serious attention of all persons who are engaged in the arduous and important business of academical education.
“ I have often wondered, and indeed often lamented,
ADVERTISEMENT. that what have been called Editioncs Expurgate of all the classical authors usually read in our schools, have not long since been published, and universally adopted. What I wish to see are editions, from which not only obscenity and immorality should be excluded, but where the less important or less attractive parts of the author's works should also be wholly omitted; and where only a few concise notes, adapted to the use of schoolboys, should be inserted; so that the book should be at once very moderate in its size and price, and free from every thing likely to corrupt the morals of the student.
« Our sons can seldom read the whole of a classical author at school; and the selection from his writings might, for several reasons, be made with more advantage by a judicious editor in the first instance, than by the taste or the caprice of each particular master. The Eton Selection from the Metamorphoses of Ovid approaches the nearest to my ideas on the subject: and were all such Odes, Satires, and epistles of Horace excluded, as are either unimportant in themselves or polluted by obscenity, a school book would still be left of sufficient length, and much more eligible than any copy of his works now exhibits. The same experiment might be made with nearly the same advantage on Juvenal, Lacian, Aristophanes, and every other author, of whose works it is desirable that our sons should read a certain portion at school; but which are either too voluminous and expensive, or occasionally too licentious, for perusal during their education.
“ Were such editions brought forward by any man of