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This little volume owes its appearance to the popularity which a similar collection, by the same editor, entitled, The CARCANET, has attained, both in this country, and in America.
It is formed on the plan of that work; and the same care has been taken to admit only such passages as inculcate in beautiful language, principles of rational piety, morality, generosity, and virtue ; which impart a knowledge of the world, and of our own hearts; which produce habits of reflection, repress selfishness, and correct the aspirations of vanity and ambition; and, which, by leading the mind to the contemplation of Nature, and the love of Philosophy, inspire confidence in the wisdom, bounty, and goodness of Providence.
This object has it is presumed been attained, without introducing a single line of an ascetic or sectarian character. The pieces which relate to Religion, exhibit her in her true colours, -as the only sure and unfailing source of consolation and happiness ; while so attractive a picture is given of VIRTUE, by those who, from having passed their lives in her service, knew her well, that it is scarcely possible to refrain from yielding obedience to her benign laws.
Besides their own intrinsic worth, the passages alluded to derive great weight from the celebrity of their Authors, as divines, philosophers, or moralists ; for, impoverished as the literary taste of the present age has become, respect is still paid to the sentiments of Bacon, Shakespeare, Milton, Clarendon, Franklin, Addison, Blair, Johnson, Burke, and Paley.
It is not impossible that the present selections may be considered of rather a graver character than the former. If such difference does indeed exist, it must be attributed to the imperceptible change, which the addition of seven years to any period of existence, seldom fails to produce on the feelings and judgment.
The extracts in “ The Carcanet" were made during a miscellaneous course of reading in early life.
To form the present collection has been both a recreation and amusement, after hours necessarily employed in perusing works containing neither beauties of imagination nor elegance of language-a rocky and barren surface which was delved and mined for historical or legal purposes.
To revert, however, from the Compiler to the compilation-it is sufficient to add, that the passages in this volume are taken from more than two hundred authors, from Chaucer to the present time ; and, to use the words of a distinguished contemporary Poet, who has contributed many brilliant gems to the collection, it is hoped that it forms
“A grotto bright, and clear From stain or taint; in which the blameless mind May feed on thoughts, though pensive, not austere; Or, if a deeper spirit be inclined To Holy musing, it may enter here."
August 23, 1837.