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useful and entertaining
PIECES of POETRY,
Selected for the Improvement
being similar in Design to
ELEGANT EXTRACTS IN PROSE.
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SINCE Poetry affords young persons an innocent pleasure, a taste for it, under certain limitations, should be indulged. Why should they be forbidden to ex- · patiate, in imagination, over the flowery fields of Arcadia, in Elysium, in the Isles of the Blest, and in the Vale of Tempe? The harmless delight which they derive from Poetry, is surely sufficient to recommend an attention to it, at an age when pleasure is the chief pursuit, even if the sweets of it were not blended with utility.
If indeed pleasure were the ultimate object of Poetry, there are some who, in the rigor of austere wisdom, would maintain that the precious days of youth might be more advantageously employed than in cultivating a taste for it. To obviate their objections, it is necessary to remind them, that Poetry has ever claimed the power of conveying instruction, in the most effectual manner, by the vehicle of pleasure.
There is reason to believe that many young persons of natural genius would have given very little attention to learning of any kind, if they had been introduced to it by books appealing only to their reason and judgement, and not to their fancy. Through the pleasant paths of Poetry they have been gradually led to the heights of science: they have been allured, on first setting out, by the beauty of the scene presented to them, into a delightful land, flowing with milk and honey; where, after having been nourished like the infant at the mother's breast, they have gradually acquired strength enough to relish and digest the solidest food of philosophy.
This opinion seems to be confirmed by actual experience; for the greatest men, in every liberal and honorable profession, gave their early years to the charms of Poetry. Many of the most illustrious worthies in the church and in the state were allured to the land of learning by the song of the Muse; and they