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ESSAYS ON THINGS HOMELY AND BEAUTIFUL.
AUTHOR OF RUSTIC ADORNMENTS FOR HOMES OF TASTE," "THE TOWN GARDEN," ETC., ETC.
"The common, the terrestrial, thou may'st see,
I trust thee and believe thee! But whate'er,
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
THOUGH Somewhat miscellaneous in subject, the reader will perceive a consonance of purpose in the various Essays contained in this volume. The papers were written at various times during the intervals of severe, though not uncongenial duties, and are but several expressions of the same sentiment. That sentiment is the love of Nature, and more especially of that portion of Nature which is represented in the out-door life of "green things," embodying, as they do, a thousand suggestions of their relations to the life of man, closely woven and encircled as he is by a network of beauty, which gives a joy to his calmer hours, and enables him to perceive, both by reason and analogy, his position in the general scheme of creation. If the love of simple things does no more for us than to quicken our perceptions, and enlarge the circle of our pleasures, it is certainly a love which, in that direction, exalts us, and gives us many whisperings of the greatness of the Power under whose control the worlds perform their ceaseless march, and the seasons observe the times appointed them. If we can now and then turn aside from the common-place of daily life-a life fraught with tendencies to deaden the finer sympathies of our nature-if we can now and then turn aside to breathe and enjoy the cool air of mountain groves, and to listen to the music of falling waters, and
the murmurs of many voices-we shall thereby enlarge the circle of our emotions, and quicken our sense of appreciation for things which lie around and above us.
This ministration of dew-drops and red sunsets is not appointed in vain; it is a ministration to the heart rather than to the brain of man, and teaches him the lesson of his moral life, of which, under the excitement of worldly avocations, he too often becomes oblivious.
These papers, such as they are, are expressions of thoughts arising out of the observation of natural changes and simple things, all of which, viewed through the imagination with the help of thought, afford us an insight into the poetical uses of natural forms and phenomena, and add to our life solaces and resources, for the augmentation of our earthly joy,
The merits and demerits of " BRAMBLES AND BAY LEAVES" are equally to be attributed to enthusiasm; and should my enthusiasm, as expressed herein, prove welcome to a few congenial spirits, I shall have the satisfaction of having added to the enjoyments of those who see in a wayside pebble, or a green leaf, a subject for meditation not to be exhausted at one effort.
PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.
WHEN the first edition of "BRAMBLES AND BAY LEAVES" had been committed to the press, a dark cloud overspread my domestic life, and rendered me altogether careless whether the book should find readers, or make its way silently and secretly to the trunkmaker or cheesemonger. The cloud has not cleared away, but has changed its form, and acquired a few additional touches of blackness; though, thank God, it has a golden fringe, so that there are gleams of light afar off. I name this fact to explain that not the slightest effort was ever made to give publicity to the work, and but one single guinea was expended in advertising it. Yet the edition has been sold, and a new one demanded; making good an observation, which I think Mr. Dickens is the author of, that a good book will find readers, even if privately printed, and utterly denied the assistance of an art known in the book trade as "pushing." It is no doubt bold of me to take credit to myself that this is "a good book;" but I may as well confess that I so regard it, else why should I publish it? In truth, the sale of the edition is to be attributed solely to the kindness of reviewers, who made it known for me, when I simply contented myself to place it on a publisher's shelf; and their generous recommendations of it demand from me this acknowledgment and record of thanks.