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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by

JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY,

In the Clerk's Ofice of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts

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INTRODUCTION.

MR. MACAULAY is one of the few men of letters, who succeed in all they attempt. He became first known to the public as the writer of the most brilliant series of papers which have ever appeared in the Edinburgh Review. He was brought into the House of Commons, and there became conspicuous for the eloquence of his speeches, and the copious erudition with which he illustrated every subject on which he spoke. His ballads of Ivry and the Armada, showed poetical ability, and a great command of the characteristic rhythms of the English language. The Lays of Ancient Rome, founded upon an exact appreciation of the historical researches of Niebuhr, exhibit also a keen perception of the true character of ancient ballad poetry, and a wonderful power to express the ideas that belong to it, under modern forms. These Lays, ever since their first appearance, have held one of the highest places in the popular estimation: and their position in English literature may be considered as permanently fixed. There are many, probably, who will not go so far as Macaulay, in adopting the views of Niebuhr and his school, with regard to the history of the Kings of Rome. A reaction has already commenced against the historical scepticism for which German scholarship has been celebrated. Wolf's Homeric theory must be abandoned as untenable, in the present state of philological investigation. The existence of numerous popular ballads, however, before the Iliad and Odyssey, embodying the traditions and legends which the great Ionian poet made the basis of his Epics, must still be admitted. The outlines of the early history of Rome, will probably be restored to their place in the common belief : but criticism has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that many of the details so picturesquely narrated by Livy, are the creation of ballad-singers, working out the popular legends upon a groundplan of truth.

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