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In preparing this volume for the press, the object in view has been not only to exalt and purify the taste of the reader, but at the same time to amuse and instruct. In all real education, the cultivation of the imagination forms a most important, if not an essential part; and this cultivation is more readily carried on by a gradual introduction to poetry than by any other means. The imagination of a child is of all the faculties of his mind the one which is developed at the earliest period, the most easily affected, and consequently swayed, by good or evil influences. During youth, therefore, the age of faith, when the wild and wondrous, the terrible, as well all that is brightly fair, of the seen or unseen world, is simply and at once believed, it is most important that the food of the mind should be both pure and invigorating.
And if the influence of poetry upon the mind of youth be thus strong, it will be scarcely less so upon that mind when it has attained the vigour of manhood, and become more familiar with the realities of the