It is dedicated, by the Publisher, to her Grace the Duchess of Bedford—and he is anxious that it may be found worthy of her patronage.
The original French work was first published in 1688; and the earliest English translation appeared in 1707. This translation, which was by Dr. Hickes, I have never seen. In the year 1797, another [anonymous] English translation was printed at Hull, in a duodecimo volume. In this performance there is so close an adherence to the idiom of the French language, that almost every page abounds with gallicisms. It is not, however, entirely destitute of merit; but it appears, on the whole, to have been hastily executed for the purpose of ensuring a cheap and extensive sale.
The present translation is offered to the public, with a full conviction of its inadequacy to give a just idea of the beauty and force of the original. The author of "Telemaque" and "De l'Education des Filles" appears, on a comparison of these two performances, very unlike the same writer. In the former, his periods are flowing and luxuriant; in the latter, they are sententious and logical; and nearly as difficult to clothe in an English-dress as those of the philosophical Tacitus.
It will be seen, therefore, that a literal translation has not been attempted; and a still greater deviation will be observable, from a wish to distinguish it from the translation of 1797. Whether this has always been done for the better, the reader will determine for himself.
The Original Chapter "on religious studies" has been submitted to those, whose opinions, matured by experience, I have been anxious to obtain; and it has received the sanction of their approbation.
If the Work fail of success, it will not be from the want of spirit in the Publisher; for it is accompanied with considerable beauty of type and paper, and elegance of ornament.
The design is every way worthy of the ingenious artist by whom it was executed, and who has long been known to the world from the taste and fidelity of his pencil. The engraving, by Mr. Freeman, will convince the public that he requires only to be known, to be more generally encouraged.