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CUSTOM has rendered it almost necessary to say something by way of Preface even to the most trifling pubi lications; but as I have no occasion to speak in behalf of this Collection, nearly the whole having been already laid before the public by their respective authors; I shall therefore by way of Apology, for republishing them, only observe, that my idea of printing such a book was simply this, that it might be entertaining and instructive to Youth in general, and particularly in Schools.
I could wish, and indeed it is almost necessary (if it were only for the advantages it would give them in reading with propriety), that every youth should be a little acquainted with the charming graces of Poetry: they would then see, and understand, what delightful harmony may be given to language : and besides those advantages, Poetry has frequently paved the way to far more important acquisitions. Many a youth, from the pleasure he has found in the charms of Poetry, has taken such an inclination to reading, as, by opening the mind, has facilitated his attainment of more useful knowledge. I might add, in its favour, that every proper subject, when clothed in the beauties of poetical language, appears a thousand times more charming; and applies to the mind with a force almost irresistible. I hope then, these will be considered as sufficient reasons for putting such a Book into the hands of Youth : those who know the difficulties that attend the business of education, or who are well acquainted with the human mind, well know the necessity of rendering the paths to knowledge as delightful as possible; and if, by strewing a few flowers over their asperities, they may be invited to proceed with pleasure, an important point will consequently be gained.
It is true, there are many collections of poetry already in the hands of the public; but they are mostly too expensive for school books; it has therefore been long my wish, to see a small Collection of elegant Poetry, such an one as might include a well selected variety at a little expence. This purpose well effected, I conceived, would make it valuable as a School Book, and in short to many who are lovers of Poetry, but who have not leisure for, voluminous reading. It may be no great presumption to think such a book would be an agreeable travelling companion for the pocket, for a walking amusement, or proper furniture for the parlour window, to fill up a vacant hour. · I have not introduced any extracts from the great works of Milton, Thomson, Young, &c. except The Morning Hymn from Paradise Lost ; as my opinion is, that, in order to enter into the spirit and to taste the sublime beauties of their great and masterly performances, a person ought to be acquainted with the design, and to read the whole of each in connexion.