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Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1875,
BY HENRY N. HUDSON, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
J. F. Loughlin, Book, Job, and Music Printer, 18 Post-Office Square, Boston.
It is really as important that people should be disposed to read what is good, as it is that they should know how to read. For the ability to converse with books is as liable to abuse as any other gift, and is in fact as much abused at this very time, and that too to the injury of the readers themselves, both in mind and heart. It is abundantly in proof that, of the books now appearing from day to day, the meanest and the worst, those made up of the cheapest and the foulest sensational sh, are read a great deal the most. The reason of this surely must be that, while people are taught to read, due care is not taken to plant and cherish in them right intellectual and literary tastes. In our education, therefore, it is of prime concern that such tastes should be early set or quickened in the mind; that while we are giving people the ability to converse with books, no pains should be spared to inspire them with the love of books that are good. Once possess them with a genuine, hearty love of a few first-rate authors, and then their culture in all its parts, so far as books can minister to it, is duly cared for; that love, those tastes, will become a sort of instinct, to prompt and guide them to what is wholesome and pure. And in this, as in other things, the ways of purity and health are also the ways of lasting and ever-growing pleasure and delight. The abiding, uncloying sweetness, the living, unwithering freshness of books in which conscience presides, truth illuminates, and genius inspires, are the proper food and delectation of a chaste and well-ordered mind; and to have a due sense and relish of those qualities, is at once the proof and the pledge of moral and intellectual health: for here it may with special fitness be affirmed that "love is an unerring light, and joy its own security."
It is on this principle, it is with a constant view to this end, that I have worked in selecting and ordering the contents of the present volume. These are the thoughts that prompted, and have throughout governed, the undertaking. In my own teaching, I have long felt the want of such a text-book, and have supplied the lack thereof as I best could. As for the reading-books, of which so many are in common use, I neither could nor would have any thing to do with them. I have no faith in them whatsoever: the very principle of