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THE chief aim of this book is to instruct. Those for whose use it is primarily designed, form that large and increasing number of the youth of both sexes, whose cultivated taste leads them to the study of our poets, and often, by original versemaking, to their imitation.
Although numerous works on Versification have been published of late years, the subject is treated in them, for the most part, in fragmentary fashion, rather than as a complete whole. Canons are laid down without adequate illustration, and generally with no discussion of principles. Other works, again, are too scholarly for general use, and are, in some cases, devoted to the elaboration of a pet theory. No one work, as far as I am aware, has yet been issued which embraces full and accurate information respecting the technicalities of poetry and verse-making, such as the student requires; and to obtain which he has hitherto had to search through a number of separate authors.
In the preparation of this book, to impart sound and useful knowledge has been the aim rather than to parade originality, and therefore I have not scrupled, in some cases, to avail myself of the views, and even the expressions, of previous writers on the subject, whenever they seemed best suited to the purpose. Clear and simple exposition, logical arrangement, and copious illustration have been used throughout, while the student's interest in the subject is stimulated and increased by the intrinsic beauty of the selected examples.
Publishers of books and editors of serial literature have just cause of complaint at the onerous labour imposed upon them by the perusal of the mass of poetical composition continually submitted to them. The general public has no conception of the enormous quantity of material of this kind which is sentenced to oblivion every year by the high priests and princes of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, largely on account of the ignorance of the first principles of Orthometry displayed by the writers. If it were fully realised that the only sure passport to success is good work, this common dream of struggling into print by clinging to those whose very position compels them to sift the golden grain from the chaff, would cease to cause bitter disappointment. Indeed, the various agencies which profess to introduce amateur writers to the notice of editors and publishers can exist only by reason of an