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The number of books of poetry similar to that here presented to the public, makes it a bold experiment to add another to the already long list of “Selections."
Undaunted, however, by the crowd of competitors, the Compiler of “ The Jewel" confidently—but he trusts not presumptuously-puts forth claims in his little volume worthy, it is hoped, of some share of public patronage : an object for which he has spared neither research, industry, nor care.
The ready sale which works like this obtain, proves how eagerly they are sought after by the lovers of poetry. Indeed, but for such Selections many of the efforts of our most esteemed poets would be lost, or comparatively unheeded. This arises from the high character which the periodical literature of this country has attained. The most eminent writers in each department now derive their chief emolument from periodical publications; and thus their most exquisite effusions appearing in ephemera, which are in too many instances read and immediately thrown aside, do not excite that permanent attention they deserve. Hence there is always good service to be done to the cause of literature—and particularly to that of poetical literature,—by collecting and embodying in a more permanent form, these stray beauties;by providing a home, as it were, for fugitive pieces.
To select, to the best of his judgment, such bright, but scattered gems, and to fix them in a pleasing but durable "setting,” has been the main care of the Editor of " The Jewel.”
This volume being prepared with a view to interest the minds and please the tastes of young persons, poetry of an amatory kind has not been admitted ; for while the Muse has proved most prolific in that class of composition, and although many specimens not only of beautiful imagery, but of elevated morality might be selected from it; yet, it has been thought, that the subject itself is not a proper one for youth. On the other hand, that the book may not be of too staid and sombre a cast, a collection of Romantic and Narrative pieces are inserted.
From one or two extremely beautiful pieces a few expressions have been expunged. The Editor was, for example, loth to part with the charming “ Sensitive Plant” (page 128), because of the few sins against moral taste contained in it. He, therefore, chose the alternative, of striking out the objectionable passages; hoping to be forgiven for an opinion, that the omissions enhance, rather than detract from, the beauty of the poem.
In finishing his task-which has indeed been a “ labour of love,"—the Compiler of “ The Jewel ” has only to hope that public favour will widely disseminate that pleasure among readers, which he has derived from reprinting, what his humble judgment has taught him to believe, some of the most exquisite Poems in our language.