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from his aunt
NTRODUCTORY ESSAY, *
BY HENRY T. TUCKERMAN.
It is sometimes both pleasing and profitable to recur to those characters in literary history who are emphatically favorites, and to glance at the causes of their popularity. Such speculations frequently afford more important results than the mere gratification of curiosity. They often lead to a clearer perception of the true tests of genius, and indicate the principle and methods by which the common mind may be most successfully addressed. The advantage of such retrospective inquiries is still greater at a period like the present, when there is such an obvious tendency to innovate upon some of the best established theories of tastę; when the passion for novelty seeks for such unlicensed indulgence, and invention seems to exhaust itself rather upon forms than ideas. In literature, especially, we appear to be daily losing one of the most valuable elements — simplicity. The prevalent taste is no longer gratified with the natural. There is a growing appetite for what is startling and peculiar, seldom accompanied by any discriminating demand for the true and original; and yet, experience has fully proved that these last are the only permanent elements of literature; and no healthy mind, cognizant of its own history, is unaware that the only intellectual aliment
* From “ Thoughts on the Poets,” by H. T. T.