MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.

Thirdly.  They are very careful never to use a word unless it is necessary; never to think a word so worthless a thing that it can be dragged in only because it sounds well.

Fourthly.  When they rouse our feelings, they do so, not that they may merely excite or amuse us, but that they may make us sympathise more fully with what they have to tell.

In these matters they are mostly alike; but in other matters you will find that they differ from each other greatly.  Our language has come from two sources.  One of these is the English language as talked by our remote ancestors, the other is the Latin language, which came to us through French, and from which we borrowed a great deal when our language was getting into the form it now has.  Many of our words and expressions, therefore, are Old English, while others are borrowed from Latin.  Some authors prefer to use, where they can, old English words and expressions, which are shorter, plainer, and more direct; others prefer the Latin words, which are more ornamental and elaborate, and perhaps fit for explaining what is obscure, and for showing us the difference between things that are very like.  This is one great contrast; and there are others which you will see for yourselves as you go on.  And while you notice carefully what is good in each, you should be careful not to imitate too exactly the peculiarities, which may be the faults, in any one.

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During the last visit Dr. Johnson paid to Lichfield, the friends with whom he was staying missed him one morning at the breakfast-table.  On inquiring after him of the servants, they understood he had set off from Lichfield at a very early hour, without mentioning to any of the family whither he was going.  The day passed without the return of the illustrious guest, and the party began to be very uneasy on his account, when, just before the supper-hour, the door opened, and the doctor stalked into the room.  A solemn silence of a few minutes ensued, nobody daring to inquire the cause of his absence, which was at last relieved by Johnson addressing the lady of the house in the following manner:—­“Madam, I beg your pardon for the abruptness of my departure from your house this morning, but I was constrained to it by my conscience.  Fifty years ago, madam, on this day, I committed a breach of filial piety, which has ever since lain heavy on my mind, and has not till this day been expiated.  My father, as you recollect, was a bookseller, and had long been in the habit of attending Lichfield market, and opening a stall for the sale of his books during that day.  Confined to his bed by indisposition, he requested me, this time fifty years ago, to visit the market, and attend the stall in his place.  But, madam, my pride prevented me from doing my duty, and I gave my father a refusal.  To do away the sin of this

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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