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even high intellect is found helpless ; the childish sentiment has become part of themselves, and with great detriment to themselves, because reverence for a bad model induces a liking for things of the same sort. Now this association, which is so strong for inferior things, is equally strong for the best ; and though an early attachment may but seldom develop into adult judgment, yet in the absence of that rare mature aesthetic appreciation it is the best substitute for it.
And no one surely would deem it an accident that the nation whose language was the most prevalent throughout the world should be the nation which had the best living poetry : an honour which we can assume without prejudice, and value it not more as a badge of youthful prowess than a lively means of continuous health and advancement. And only by loving familiarity with it can we securely guard our expanding and wandering speech from all that sort of outward contamination and indiscriminate mutation whereby its old nobility might easily become estranged from the understanding of our descendants—lest Shakespeare should ever be to them as Homer is to the modern Greeks, more of a pitiful boast than a living glory : and it has been both a credit and profit to us that our nineteenth-century poets stood so high in the scale of excellence, and preserved so well the accent of our older poetry, that there is no gap in the train of song, and to-day (except where our gentler manners are offended) no word of Shakespeare need be changed when his plays are acted to a London audience.
In this guardianship of our speech we shall find our best security by enforcing and maintaining a high standard of English in our school-books, which should be the same for all classes : since the changes that must come in our language will be made by the common practice of the folk, who, if they are unfamiliar with sound tradition, will develop usages out of all relation to it and, indulging in the spontaneous accidental fashions of their unrelated environments, must break up into a hundred divergent dialects mutually unintelligible.
Dialects have always existed, and always will exist, and they should be fostered in their several habitatstheir separate existence as living forces of original character is not incompatible with the preservation of the purity of the main stock, nor with that sense of touch with it which would keep them from eccentricities and distortion. Now if these two desirable things are to be assu
sured, a schooling for all in the main or mother dialect is imperative.
And yet it has seemed to me that a lamentable disruption of our speech, which would eventually rob the British race of their noblest inheritance, might reasonably be predicted as its natural catastrophe beyond the scope of any prevision to remedy or avert, were it not for the recent astonishing inventions of Science, whereby the spoken word can be transmitted all over the world. Every man will wish to hear and understand the best speakers ; and all that we most needed and desired seems promised to us in the simplest solution of that problem, namely, that all, whatever dialect they speak at home, should hear the language of our great literature in wireless broadcasting, and through their normal schooling be familiar with it.
May our democracies have intelligence to make a right use of God's good gifts, and not leave this
paramount and imperial means of national culture to be squandered in the selfish interests of commercialism !
The Editor and Publishers are very grateful to the living authors who have allowed their poems to be printed in this book; and they thank them individually for their generosity.
They also beg to express their gratitude to the following publishers and holders of copyrights :-to Messrs. William Heinemann, Ltd., for No. 41 from Mr. Swinburne’s ‘Songs before Sunrise,' and No. 198 from Mr. Binyon's "Auguries': to Mrs. Bourdillon for No. 128 from Mr. Bourdillon's 'MothWings': to Messrs. Sidgwick and Jackson, Ltd., for No. 212 from Mr. Rupert Brooke's 'Poems, 1911-1914': to Mr. R. Cobden-Sanderson for No. 152 from Mr. Clare's 'Poems': to Mr. Jonathan Cape for No. 163 from Mr. W. H. Davies' ' Farewell to Poesy and Other Pieces': to Messrs. Constable and Co., Ltd., for Nos. 54, 90, and 148 from Mr. Walter de la Mare's Poems : to Mr. Elkin Mathews for No. 153 from Canon R. W. Dixon's 'Songs and Odes': to Messrs. Martin Secker, Ltd., for No. 142 from Mr. J. E. Flecker’s ‘ Collected Poems': to Messrs. Macmillan and Co., Ltd., for No. 12 from Mr. Thomas Hardy's ' Later Lyrics and Earlier, No. 208 from Mr. Ralph Hodgson's 'Poems,’ No. 77 from Mr. Rudyard Kipling's ‘Songs from Books, and No. 49 from Mr. James Stephens' 'Songs from the Clay': to Messrs. Methuen and Co., Ltd., for No. 74 from Mr. Rudyard Kipling's “The Five Nations, and No. 79 from Mr. Rudyard Kipling's “ The Years Between’: to Mrs. Lang for No. 120 from Mr. Andrew Lang’s ‘Poetical Works': to “The Incorporated Society of Authors, Playwrights, and Composers' for No. 141 from Mr. John Masefield's 'Ballads and Poems': to Messrs. Chatto and Windus and Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, for Nos. 18 and 102 from Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Songs of Travel,' and Nos. 30 and 186 from Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson's ‘Underwoods': to Messrs. T. Fisher Unwin, Ltd., for Nos. 37 and 161 from Mr. W. B. Yeats' 'Poems': to Sir Henry Newbolt for No. 19 from Miss M. E. Coleridge's 'Poems.'