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Page 2, line 4, insert sufficient before greatness.
IN editing this, perhaps the most famous of Macaulay's brilliant essays, the method chosen is similar to that applied some years ago to the author's Milton. The numerous allusions and outside references, in which Macaulay's writing is so profuse, and which are so puzzling to the student, are briefly explained in footnotes. Also, a map is given in explanation of the narrative. But, in so far as the essay is edited chiefly to illustrate the laws of rhetoric and composition, greater importance is attached to the notes collected at the end. In these, the editor, assuming that the treatise is chiefly valuable as a striking example of a certain kind of literary work, has repeated his attempt to analyse Macaulay's rhetorical devices and mannerisms, and has endeavoured, not merely to single out for approval the arts that a beginner in composition should have at his command for imitation when occasion offers, but to hold up for disapproval any
artifices that had better be avoided.
It must be confessed that the method here adopted has still considerable novelty, and in some quarters is not approved. Scores of able editors have prepared the great classics of our own literature for school consumption, but their annotations have taken a direction different from the present. They are either philological, discussing the derivation and history of words; or expository, ex
plaining the meaning of the text; or critical in the sense of questioning the accuracy of the facts and the soundness of the reasoning. Each of these is good in its own way ; however, in the case of Macaulay's essays we ought to begin by asking : “What is their chief utility ?” Now, although they may be useful in many directions as school books, and have had great vogue in that field, their preeminent merits are literary. The English teacher should be guided by this fact. He may use them for other purposes if he pleases, but, by the general consent of critics, it is their style that will most repay study.
As regards much of its historical information, the essay on Warren Hastings is now totally discredited. Sir James Stephen has detracted from its accuracy in the Nuncomar episodes; Sir John Strachey has recently demolished its account of the Rohilla War; while the plausible reasoning whereby Junius and Francis are identified has long since been shown to rest on insufficient premises. If, therefore, we wish our pupils to study this portion of Indian history, there are many other books that we should find more accurate, as well as more impartial. At the same time, the compactness and orderly manage
ment of the paragraphs, the skilful use of figures of speech, the art employed to present the reader with vivid pictures, the clearness of the narrative, and the interest and charm thrown round the whole subject, are as noticeable to-day as they were fifty years ago. These literary qualities are of no ordinary kind, and are not found so accessible elsewhere. Whence it follows that we should make the most of them.
Of course, Macaulay in all his work shows considerable defects, some of them glaring enough. They are patent even here: he uses of artificial devices ; he has too many short jerky sentences ; he violates the laws of logical subordination and proportion; he occasionally allows his imagination to tamper unduly with the facts. But these blemishes only increase our area for effective teaching ; they are the teacher's opportunity, and provide a salutary discipline by putting pupils on their guard and showing them what not to do.
In grammar teaching, we correct erroneous expressions, according to grammatical principles, and it is hard to see why, in the higher region of rhetoric, we should not equally censure whatever we find at variance with good order or good taste.