and the formation of an English style which, like all true and great styles, is peculiar to the language and can not be reproduced in any other. This is not the place, nor would it be feasible within any reasonable limits to narrate the history of English prose. But in these selections it is possible to follow its gradual advance from the first rude and crude attempts through the splendid irregularities of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to the establishment of a standard of style in the eighteenth and thence onward to the modifications and changes in that standard which extend to our own time.
The purpose of this collection is not didactic. If it were it would be a school-book and not an anthology in the Greek sense, where the first principle was to seek what was of literary value, artistic in expression, and noble in thought. Yet the mere bringing together of examples of prose from the writings of the great masters of style can not but teach a lesson never more needed than now.
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