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THE BEST FRENCH AUTHORS:
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ES,
HISTORICAL, GEOGRAPHICAL, LITERARY & GRAMMATICAL
CHARLES JEAN DELILLE,
(Membre de l'Athénée des Arts, de la Société Grammaticale. et de l'Institut Historique de Paris.)
Profegsor of the French Language in Christ's Hospital, the City of London School,
Honorary French Master at King's Collège. and
The style of those compositions which form our first study in learning a language, becomes firmly impressed upon the memory, and supplies, as it were, the moulds or forms into which thought afterwards runs when it is attempted to be expressed. "Les choses qu'on apprend par cœur," says Rollin, "s'impriment dans la mémoire, et sont comme des moules ou des formes que les pensées prennent lorsqu'on les veut exprimer." Hence the importance of selecting from the literature of the language to which we devote our attention, the compositions of those writers who offer the purest models for imitation. By this means we are habituated to a correct and elegant phraseology, and at the same time enrich our minds with just and noble sentiments.
Under the influence of this conviction, my object in the Répertoire is to present a series of extracts from the works of Fénelon, Pascal, Massillon, Bossuet, La Bruyère, Buffon, Bernardin de St.-Pierre, Barthélemy, and other illustrious writers who have adorned the literature of France from the Augustan age of Louis XIV. to the present day. The compilation exhibits also the variety and peculiar characteristics of the new school, the Romantique, developed in a succession of eloquent tableaux, from the recent and celebrated productions of Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo, &c. The Narrations, Descriptions, and Morceaux oratoires are chiefly intended for the practice of Recitation, which, of all auxiliaries in instruction, is the most conducive to the acquirement of the delicate inflexions of pure pronunciation and accent.
Portions from Gil Bias, and Scenes from the best Comedies of Molière, have been introduced, with a view to supply a store of idiomatic expressions for familiar conversation. The Notes, which are intended to remove grammatical difficulties, will be found at the end of the book. Critical explanations of the text, biographical and historical notices, &c. are given in French at the end of each extract; and the various quotations which illustrate the passages from Télémaque, Les voyages d'Anacharsis en Grèce, Le voyage de Polyclète, ou Lettres romaines, &c, showing the connexion between French and Ancient Literature, wiuSremind the pupil that he still treads on classic ground.
The orthography adopted in the recent edition of the Dictionary of the French Academy* has been strictly adhered to; consequently this work may be considered as stamped with the highest lexicographical authority, being modelled on the standard of the present day.
* Institut De France. Dictionnaire De L'académie Française, sixième édition, publiée en 1835. Nota.—Dans cette nouvelle édition, l'Académie a sanctionné l'orthographe dite de Voltaire, c'est-à-dire qu'elle remplace l'o par l'a dans les mots Faible, monnaie, connaître, paraître, Français, Anglais, &c, ainsi que dans la terminaison des imparfaits et des conditionnels: Je voulais, je voudrais, &c. Elle a également décidé que les mots terminés en ant ou en ent, tels que Puissant, élément, &c, retiendraient le t au pluriel: Puissants, éléments, &c.
In this edition, many of the choicest morceaux from the modern literature of France have been introduced, in order more fully to exemplify the idioms used in the French language of the present day. The selections are intended, by the variety of their style and subject, to serve as models for composition, and as text for recitation, reading and conversation; they include also numerous quotations on history, geography, statistics, &c, taken from the best and most recent authorities. The whole of the Bépertoire has undergone a complete revision, each extract having been carefully collated with the original text in the best Paris edition of the work from which it has been selected, and thus every endeavour made to ensure the most precise orthographical accuracy. Typographical correctness also has been most diligently attended to. These important objects could only be effected by much labour and expense, but the favour with which the former edition was received has created an anxious desire to offer to the public a production vying with the best and most useful of the kind ever published in this country.
For the purpose of exemplifying the most advantageous mode of using the present work, I trust I may not be consi