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THE work now presented to the public, is chiefly intended for the perusal of those whose critical studies are yet in their commencement. To younger students, and to such as have not access to more extensive works, it may, perhaps, convey some useful instruc tion it is not intruded upon those who are already conversant in polite literature. Should it be found a suitable introduction to this liberal study, the compiler will have attained the summit of his ambition.
Though it was my principal object to treat of prose composition, yet a few observations on poetry incidentally occur. The remarks which have been suggested with regard to the nature of figurative language, apply equally to prose and to poetry but the poets have furnished me with the most copious and beautiful illustrations.
The rules of criticism are more successfully inculcated by particular examples than by general precepts. I have, therefore, endeavoured to collect abundance of apposite quotations, in order to illustrate every branch of the subject. In many instances this was an easy task; but in the classification of the different characters of style, it was attended with the utmost difficulty. To refer the compositions of an author to a particular class, and produce examples from them in support of this decision, will always be found a hazardous