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of such men. Every extract which is made in it, has some. thing of a like second-purpose, beyond what appears on its face. There is amusement for those who require nothing more, and instruction in the shape of amusement for those who choose to find it. We only hope that the “knowing reader will not think we have assisted inquiry too often. We hate, with our friends the little boys, nothing so much as the “ Moral” that officiously treads the heels of the great Æsop, and which assumes that the sage has not done his work when he has told his story. It is bad enough to be forced to interpret wisdom of any kind; but to talk after such transparent lessons as those, is overweeningness horrible. The little boys will find nothing of the sort to frighten them in this book; and they need not look at the prefaces, if they have no mind for them. It is beautiful to think how ignorant our grown memories are of prefaces to books of amusement that were put into our hands when young, and how intensely we remember the best extracts. What grown up people in general know anything of good Dr. Enfield or didactic Dr. Knox, or even of Percy, the editor of Ancient Reliques ? Yet who that has read the Speaker and Elegant Extracts ever forgot the soliloquy in Hamlet, Goldsmith's Beau Tibbs and Contented Beggar, or the story of Robin Hood ?
Those exquisite humours of Goldsmith, and the story of Robin Hood, we have omitted, with a hundred others, partly because we had not room for an abundance of things which we admired, chiefly because they did not fall within a certain idea of our plan. The extremely familiar knowledge also which readers have of-them might have been another objection, even in a work consisting chiefly of favourite pássages ;-things, which imply a certain amount of familiar knowledge, if not in the public at large, yet among
readers in general. If any persons should object that some of these also are too familiar, the answer is, that they are of a nature which rendered it impossible for us, consistently with our plan, to omit thein, and that readers in general would have missed them. We allude, in particular, to the Elegy in a Country Church-Yard and the Ode on the Prospect of Eton College. It is the privilege of fine writers, when happy in their treatment of a universal subject of thought or feeling, to leave such an impression of it in the reading world as almost to identify it with everybody's own reflections, or constitute it a sort of involuntary mental quotation. Of this kind are Gray's reflections in the church-yard, and his memories of school-boy happiness. Few people who know these passages by heart, ever think of a church-yard or a school-ground without calling them to mind.
The nature and the amount of the reader's familiarity with many other extracts are the reasons why we have extracted them. They constitute part of the object and essence of the book ; for the familiarity is not a vulgar and repulsive one, but that of a noble and ever-fresh companion, whose society we can the less dispense with, the more we are accustomed to it. The book in this respect resembles a set of pictures which it delights us to live with, or a collection of favourite songs and pieces of music, which we bind up in volumes in order that we may always have them at hand, or know where to find them. Who, in such a room full of pictures, would object to his Raphael or Titian? Or in such a collection of music, to his Beethoven, Rossini, or Paisiello ? Our book may have little novelty in the least sense of the word; but it has the best in the greatest sense; that is to say, never-dying novelty ;-antiquity hung with ivy-blossoms and rose-buds; old friends with the evernew faces of wit, thought, and affection. Time has proved the genius with which it is filled. " Age cannot wither it," nor" custom stale its variety." We ourselves have read, and shall continue to read it to our dying day; and we should not say thus much, especially on such an occasion, if we did not know that hundreds and thousands would do the same, whether they read it in this collection or not.
Letter to a Pew-baru Child.
BY CATHERINE TALBOT.
This lady, whose posthumous “Essays ” and “Reflections” were ad. mired in their day, was niece of Thomson's friend, Lord Chancellor
Talbot; and the “very young correspondent” to whom her pleasant letter is addressed, was daughter of the Chancellor's third son, John, afterwards a Welsh judge, ancestor of the present Earl Talbot. What became of the little lady is not mentioned. Miss Talbot had very delicate health, which she bore with great sweetness of temper. She led a maiden life, and died in the year 1770, aged forty-nine.
the happiness it can give, and bestow enough on all your friends to answer fully the impatience with which you have been expected. May you grow up to have every accomplishment that your good friend, the Bishop of Derry,* can already imagine in you; and in the meantime, may you have a nurse with a tuneable voice, that may not talk an immoderate deal of nonsense to you. You are at present, my dear, in a very philosophical disposition; the gaieties and .follies of life have no attraction for you; its sorrows you kindly commiserate! but, however, do not suffer them to
* Thomas Rundle, another friend of Thomson's and the Chancellor's. See the note ensuing.