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THE HON. MARSHALL PINCKNEY WILDER,
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY,
PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN POMOLOGICAL SOCIETY,
TO WHOM, BY TITLE OF HIS LONG, INTELLIGENT, GENEROUS, AND SUCCESSFUL EXERTIONS,
ALL LOVERS OF NATURE AND HER CULTURE ACCORD A FOREMOST PLACE
AS THE FRIEND OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL ART ;
And also to
THE MEMBERS GENERALLY
OF THE ABOVE-NAMED USEFUL AND HONORED NATIONAL SOCIETIES;
AS TO THOSE WHO WILL BEST APPRECIATE,
AND WHO BEST DESERVE THE PLACE OF PATRONS TO,
A PAINSTAKING ENTERPRISE, CONCEIVED IN A SPIRIT KINDRED TO THEIR OWN,
This Volume of Rural Poetry
IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,
BY US AND THEIR OBEDIENT HUMBLE SERVAST,
J. W. JEYKS.
Those nations that have the most taste for explain, the associations, correspondences, or analrural pursuits must ever rank highest ; for they ogies, which even yet, in these iron ages, give have the greatest number of happy homes, where life to the landscape and language to its elements. that individuality and strength of character may Each leaf and stone, each form and function, be produced which isolation among natural scenes may thus become a companion, or a lesson ; and creates and nurtures ; - homes, where dwell the with this advantage over pictures and statues, virtues which make strong the foundations of a that, while the heart prone to depravity may be state. Now, the cultivation of rural tastes through corrupted by them, nature has no sights nor poetry and poetic fancies, by making country sounds which can minister to vice, for all her homes more attractive, tends to render these home influences are elevating and purifying. influences more powerful, by rendering them more It was under the impulse of such thoughts delightful. We may instance that in such a cul- that the compiler conceived the design, a decade tivation, investing with correspondent forms, all of years since, of bringing into one volume, in charming objects of a charming clime, lay much an attractive form, the chief rural poems of the of the beautiful strength of the Greek character, language ; that thus he might fulfil a part of that whose impress is so strong on all European, and, obligation we are all under to leave society better of course, on our own civilization.
than we found it. Should this volume contribute Americans, indeed, in the absence of pictures to awaken, cultivate, or gratify, the rural tastes and statues, consequent upon the newness of our of his countrymen and countrywomen, he will surroundings, are in a manner compelled to re- not regret the time and drudgery it has cost him sort to nature for images of beauty which shall collect, arrange, paragraph, and index, these cultivate and perfect the taste. Nowhere, how- choice portions of that legacy of English literature, ever, does man less need the appliances of the which is the common inheritance of the two pictorial and statuary arts than in our own wide mightiest empires of mind. country, where nature lavishes so much of beauty A glance at the volume will explain its conand grandeur.
veniences. How often, in a few moments of leiWe are frequently told, that, for the æsthetic sure, snatched from the busy hours of a busy cultivation so necessary to a lofty civilization, people, do we, in taking up a book of poetry to our country lacks the venerable ruins of time- solace ourselves with a favorite passage, vainly honored antiquity, round which float hallowed turn over the leaves, run our eye along page after ideas, that enlarge humanity by extending its | page, read much that we care not for, and, after life into the past of our race, and aggrandize an harassing search, give up the passage in desits heart with an inheritance of the accumulated pair, as we find the halcyon moments we could sympathies of many generations. But, in the abandon to its charms have forever fled ; - how lack of mouldering ruins, we may supply their often do we close the book in a disagreeable state place by hallowing with poetry the antiquities of of mind, the memory of which prevents us from nature, - our solemn forests of undated age, and soon opening its pages again! But, in the arour rocks, hoary with the mosses of primeval rangement (which the editor believes to be entirely time. These antedate the oldest of man's mon- original) adopted in this volume, what with the uments, and are coëval with that heavenly infancy minute division into conspicuous paragraphs, acof humanity when the works of God were a suffi- cording to topics, with copious and exact captions, cient chronology, and dates were kept, not of selfish the ' arguments' heading each separate book or deeds of renown, but of progress in the formation canto of a poem, and the very full index at the of character. The people of that Golden Age end, - any favorite passage, and indeed any raised no pyramids, temples, nor towers ; they sought-for sentiment, name, precept, description, passed easily to heaven from simple tents pitched or allusion, may be turned to without the loss of upon mountains, beside lovely springs and a moment. We thus find with ease what we streams, or in forest glades, under the shade of are in the mood of reading, minister at once to whose trees they enjoyed the companionship of the good tastes we are cultivating, and put aside angels, innocent like themselves, and, like them- the book with a sense of improvement and pleasselves, in love with everything beautiful and good. ure which spreads its zest over many an otherwise
Rural poetry should therefore be held in honor, weary and profitless hour. because it tends to heighten, purify, multiply, and
J. W. J. Bostox, June, 1856.