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BY HUGH BLAIR, D.D. F.R.S. E.
ONE OF THE MINISTERS OF THE HIGH CHURCH, AND PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC
The following LECTURES were read in the University of Edinburgh for twenty-four years. The publication of them, at present, was not altogether a matter of choice. Imperfect copies of them, in manuscript, from notes taken by students who heard them read, were first privately handed about; and afterward frequently exposed to public sale. When the author saw them circulate so currently, as even to be quoted in print,* and found himself often threatened with surreptitious publications of them, he judged it to be high time that they should proceed from his own hand, rather than come into public view under some very defective and erroneous form.
They were originally designed for the initiation of youth into the study of Belles Lettres, and of Composition. With the same intention they are now published; and therefore, the form of Lectures, in which they were at first composed, is still retained. The author gives them to the world, neither as a work wholly original, nor as a compilation from the writings of others. Onevery subject contained in them, he has thought for himself. He consulted his own ideas and reflections : and a great part of what will be found in these Lectures is entirely his own. At the same time, he availed himself of the ideas and reflections of others, as far as he thought them proper to be adopted. To proceed in this manner, was his duty as a public professor. It was incumbent on him, to convey to his pupils all the knowledge that could improve them; to deliver not merely what was new, but what might be useful, from whatever quarter it came. He hopes, that to such as are studying to cultivate their taste, to form their style, or to prepare themselves for public speaking or composition, his Lectures will afford a more comprehensive view of what relates to these subjects, than, as far as he knows, is to be received from any one book in our language.
* Biographia Britannica, Article Addisor.