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rather, I should say, one of the lithographers, for the title-page was drawn three times before I was satisfied with it—was rather more encouraging, for, complimenting. me on the design supplied to him, he expressed an opinion that it might be made very available for somebody else, as for instance, for a trade almanack or the title-page of a magazine. I quite agreed with him so far, but stated that as I had devoted much time, thought, and labour to prepare it for my own distinctive purpose, I was not desirous to have it appropriated for any other; and I subsequently took the necessary measures to prevent such a course. To one gentleman I mentioned a certain quarter in which it was my intention to give away some copies, and I was met with the rejoinder that people generally valued least that which cost them nothing. This was indeed a gloomy prospect : to be unable to sell one's productions was bad enough, but to be unable even to give them away was worse than bad ; and it seemed that the only alternative to warehousing them in perpetuity, was to distribute them broadcast amongst reviewers. There was, I felt, no fear of these worthies refusing a book because of its demerits, as apparently they are never more in their element than when they are belabouring one they do not like with their fierce denunciations, or artistically vivisecting it with the glittering scalpel of satire. It seemed only fitting for consistency's sake that in the case of this volume, the reviewers should be of the same class as one I have heard of who, in lecturing to young men--presumably with a view to their encouragement in perseverance, and in following the lecturer's own example in their struggles in life—told them of the time when he used to review books at a remuneration of a shilling apiece, of which, however, he never read one !
In mentioning the foregoing circumstances to any who may be entertaining the idea of purchasing a copy of the work, I shall be at least exonerated from the charge of being less candid with them than were the publishers in their dealings with myself; and to the end that no person may be led into spending money in a way which he would eventually have reason to regret, I distinctly state that the book is but “a drug in the market,” containing as it does, “some of the Songs of Zion that are not wanted.”
The words “some—that are not wanted” are necessary, as every-day experience demonstrates that the term “not wanted” is not universally applicable to the Songs of Zion, many of which are in constant demand; and this brings me to state a second reason for the first portion of the title.
The world around is full of sin-sick and sorrow-sick souls ; spiritual as well as physical maladies require the curative skill of the Great Physician, and thousands can testify that in their own case He has used some song of Zion as “the drug” by which “ He healed all their diseases.” The remarks of the Rev. Robert H. Baynes, M.A., on this subject in the Introduction of “The Illustrated Book of Sacred Poems," published by Messrs. Cassell and Co., are very noticeable and to the point. He says: “It is now nearly six years since I ventured to use the following language in regard to Hymns, and the influence they exert amongst the widely-scattered members of the one great family of God: It would be almost impossible to overrate the value of really good hymns for private as well as public use. Next to the Bible itself, hymns have done more to influence our views, and mould our theology, than any other instrumentality whatever. There is a power in hymns which never dies. Easily learned in the days of childhood and youth ; often repeated; seldom, if ever, forgotten; they abide with us, a most precious heritage amid all the changes of earthly life. They form a fitting and most welcome expression for every kind of deep religious feeling ; they are with us to speak of faith and hope in hours of trial and sorrow; with us to animate to all Christian effort; with us as the rich consolation of individual hearts, and as one common bond of fellowship between the living members of Christ's mystical Body. I feel now far more strongly than ever the simple truth of these words, and if any proof were needed of the statements they contain, it would be found abundantly in the ever-multiplying collections of hymns and sacred songs which issue from the press, and in the favourable way
in which such collections—if they have the least claim to any worth at all—are continually being received. And if it be true in regard to all real poetry that it directly tends to elevate the mind, and to fill it with new images of beauty and fresh thoughts of truth, it is especially the case with sacred poetry, that while it soothes it strengthens, and effectually helps us in the work and warfare of our daily life.”
In the sentiments expressed in these remarks, I heartily concur, and therefore, notwithstanding the various adverse circumstances through which this “ drug” has had to contend in its efforts to get into the “market,” I am not wholly without hope that sooner or later—somewhere-somehow—the Great Physician by Whose aid it has been produced may deign to make use of it, to some small extent at least, for “the healing of the nations,” to their eternal welfare and His own eternal glory.
In preparing the proofs, the following omissions and errors have unfortunately escaped detection. On page 40 should appear the words, “ See Note F, page 84”; on page 55, “See Note I, page 85”; on page 66, “See Note J, page 92”; on page 67, “See Note K, page 93”; and on page 79, “ See Note L, page 94.” On page 94, “Preface page " should read “ Preface, page iii”; and from page 34 should have been expunged “ See Note L, page 93.'
PRIMROSE POSTSCRIPT. The reader will not fail to observe how often the primrose is introduced into this book, as a floral emblem of the resurrection from the dead; and it was my wish to bring it forward as conspicuously as possible that the Christian Church might make much of it on Easter Day—the chief day of the whole year to those who look forward to a glorious resurrection through the Divine work which may be said to have been consummated on the first Easter morning. I was therefore not a little chagrined to find that while the MS. was yet in the hands of the printer, the beautiful spring flower had been suddenly called into demand for a different and, as it appeared to me, very inferior purpose, namely, that it might be associated with the day of the death of a creature, instead of, as I had contemplated, with the day of the resurrection of the Creator ! There is no reason, however, why, as the season of Easter comes at a comparatively early period of the year, the flower in question should not be used extensively for decorative purposes, and that Easter Sunday—the real PRIMROSE Dar-should be but the commencement of a primrose season which should terminate only with that other solemn, but so little regarded, day—the anniversary of our blessed Master's ascension into Heaven.
THE WOOER AND THE WOOED.
“ WHO LOVETH WAR TO CÆSAR POUR
Your MARTIAL ADULATIONS !
YOUR INCENSE AND LIBATIONS !
OF HERCULES AND Samson !
MORE THAN A ROYAL RANSOM !
YOUR HOMAGE PAY TO Cresus!
THE MATCHLESS NAME OF JESUS!”