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ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847, by
WILEY & PUTNAM,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
B CaaraBEAD'S Power Press,
11 Fulton Street
That the glorious old masters of English Song are so little known to the American people, is the source of real regret to the present writer. Save Shakspeare—whose mighty and universal genius has burst the trammels of time and circumstance—there is scarcely one of this noble galaxy, whose mere name is tolerably well known, or whose labors are universally appreciated. Upon a favored few indeed, does their melody fall
“ Like a silent dew;
They hoard their sayings, weep over their pathof, laugh over their rich and varied humor, are startled and astounded by the power of their descriptions and the gorgeousness of their imaginations. However favored they may be, unlike the votaries of Mammon or Fashion, these are neither selfish nor exclusive; but being ardently desirous of widening the territory of Delight, and of multiplying the number of those with whom they may meet in sympathy and gratulation, they dispense with burning tongue and liberal hand, the bounties of which they have themselves partaken.
If our reading public—we do not merely mean those who gorge themselves with an unlimited number of Novels and Tales per annum; nor that fastidious circle who lisp the monthly twaddle of our magazine literature-if these but knew of the many rare gems that might here be had, not by patient delving in the coarse and flinty earth, but for the mere plucking from fair trees, from whose boughs they hang in rich and tempting clusters; if they knew that “Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers old poets have done; neither with so pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nor whatsoever may make the too-much loved Earth more lovely:" then perhaps the eager rush for possession and enjoyment would be an ample apology for the present apathetic ignorance.
The ignorance and apathy of which we complain occasion the mor poignant regret, because their objects are the wells from whence the great poets of England and our own land have drawn so freely, and with such salutary consequences. Years are wrecked by the mechanic who, unheeding the experience of the past, pits the inventions and combinations of his single mind against the thousands, his equals or superiors, that have gone before him; and who travels on, trusting to his own native genius for enlightenment and success. With the Artist the same holds equally true. He that is content with or trusts solely upon his own mind, and rejects or neglects the study of the past, may be sure of an insignificant mediocrity. So with the Poet; the pure fire of Genius may have been kindled upon the hearth-stone of his Imagination; but if it be not fostered and nurtured by the strong and wise counsel of those who now sleep with their perfect fame wrapped about them, it will only glimmer sadly and die. And as there is in the bosom of this broad land of ours, many rich veins of ore—either of lead, or iron, or gold—that only wait for the hand of art to hale them into the light of the sun, and to diffuse their blessings among the children of men: so may there not be among our millions, many a true child of Song in whose bosom glimmers the fire of Poesy, and who only waits till the plastic hand of education shall transform the glimmering spark into a fixed star ?
When we speak of a poet's education, it is another thing from that which we every day call by the name. For a poet's education must be
1 Sir Philip Sidney, Def. Poesy, p. 10.