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NUMEROUS as are the volumes of Poetical Selections, Elegant Extracts, and the like, which have issued from the Press of this country, there is not one, that we are aware of, in which the most beautiful and striking, as well as the most familiar of the shorter passages from the English and Foreign Poets, may be found so arranged as to facilitate reference, and enable the reader at once to select a quotation upon any required subject, or to verify the correctness and authorship of one he may be desirous of using. Such a book, then, would seem to be a desideratum, which we have undertaken to supply, in a form at once elegant, cheap, and portable—a volume which, while it will be an ornament to the Library shelves or the Drawing-room table, may be carried without inconvenience in the hand or the pocket of the Pedestrian, or the Railway Traveller, and serve to heighten his enjoyment of the beauties of Nature,
by associating with them those of the Mind and the Imagination; or to beguile the tedium of an otherwise dull journey, by storing the memory with the noble and exalted thoughts—truly “thoughts that breathe," embodied in "words that burn," which we have taken the pains to collect for his pleasure and edification.
We do not, like a certain old author named Lyly, present to our readers “a mingle-mangle,” and hope to be excused “because the whole world has become a hotch-poteh,” but a carefully-selected, digested, and arranged book of Poetical Quotations, each of them embodying a sentiment, enforcing a moral, illustrating a point of character, or a position in life, or describing a mental or physical beauty or deformity, for admiration, or reprobation, or pity, or sympathy, as the case may be.
Bearing in mind the truth uttered by Chaucer, that
“Out of old fields, as men saith,
Cometh all this new corn from year to year;
Cometh all this new science that men lere,"
that is, learn, we have gone much to old books for our selections; especially have we drawn from those deep and copious wells of thought, feeling, and fancy, the elder dramatists: Shakspere, of course, has furnished us with a large proportion of very choice passages; nor have we, as we believe, done injustice to the later bards, from Milton and his contemporaries, down to Wordsworth and those of the present day, whether dead or living.-
“Gladdening the hearts of weary wayfarers
Upwards of half a century ago the Poet Crabbe
“A time like this, a busy, bustling time,
Suits ill with writers, very ill with rhyme;"
and by Poets, both before and after the advent of this
“Sternest of nature's painters, and her best,"
the same sentiment has been frequently repeated; and yet have they not, on that account, ceased to give shape and substance to the thronging thoughts within them—not the less full and copious has been
the stream of Poesy poured forth by those in whose bosoms it welled up, like the waters of an irrepressible, ever-gushing fountain. Like the old minstrel, Conrad of Wursburgh, and the nightingale to which he likens himself, they must sing, whether they have listeners or not; and that listeners in all times have been, and will be found, however stormy and untoward to the influences of the hour, who
“Fit audience, though few,”
was all that the greatest Poet of the present day asked for, or expected: fit audience he has had, and more than few in number are those who now listen to the calm and thoughtful music of his lyre. Many there be that turn aside from the crowded mart and the busy workshop, the counting-house and the factory, into some quiet nook, where
"The inner spirit keepeth holiday,
there to delight themselves with the beauties of some favourite author—to walk with Poesy in her serene retreats, and to indulge in those "sweet