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for thus we rob them of present, and defraud them of future pleasure. Beside the hazard of disgusting them with poetry, there is danger of inducing servile imitation, and of habituating their minds to admire with out choice or discrimination. The world of literature now abounds with copiers of copyists, who, varying merely the arrangement of the words, run the changes eternally upon the same set of ideas. Probably this want of originality of thought, and this perpetual sameness of expression, may in some measure arise from the veneration which is early impressed
upon the mind for certain standards of excellence ; veneration independent of reason, which disposes the young student to admire and imitate, without instructing him how to analyze or combine. Whoever attends to the observations made by children upon poetry, will soon discover “ that their admiration is usually excited by quaint and uncommon expressions, rather than by natural sentiments, or lively pictures of reality. They hear that the sublime is veiled in obscurity, and they are inclined to venerate whatever is obscure, as if it were necessarily sublime. Not only chil.
dren, but poets themselves, are inclined to this mistake. Gray says, that the language of the age the language of poetry ; and he was so much pleased with certain obsolete expressions in Dryden, that he made a list of them for his own prac tice, such as museful mopings, roundelay of love,ếireful mood,furbished for the field,--foiled doddered oaks. Without stopping to examine whether these ornaments be truly poetic, we may safely assert, that no one, merely by using them, ean become a poet : lackeys do not become gentlemen by strutting in the
cast clothes of their masters, Gray seems, however, to have planned with one taste, and to have executed with another. The Elegy in a Country Churchyard, and his Ode on Eton College, the most simple of his poetry, are perhaps the most generally esteemed ; and his Hymn to Adversity does not seem to require the aid of uncouth phraseology to make it equal to “ Ruin seize thee, ruthless king!” or the Song of Odin.
To form a poetic taste, very different means must be employed.: The attention must be early directed to those circumstances in nature, which
are capable of exciting ideas either of the sublime or beautiful ; and to such books as may assist in awakening the mind to observation. Perhaps the first introduction to poetry should be obtained from prose. Many short sentences of true poetry have been selected for children from the Old Testament. Many may be found in books of natural history. White of Selbourne describes the various flight of birds in the following manner :
“ Swallows sweep over the surface of the ground and water, and distinguish themselves by quick evolutions ; the king-fisher darts along