« PreviousContinue »
or useful and Entertaining
IMPROVEMENT of YOUTH,
Speaking, Reading, Thinking, Compofing;
and in the
CONDUCT of LIFE;
being similar in Design to
ELEGANT EXTRACTS IN PROSE.)
I Edited by Vicesimus Knox. I
PRE F. A CE.
INCE Poetry affords young perfons an innocent pleafure, a tafte for it,
den to expatiate, in imagination, over the flowery fields of Arcadia, in Elyfium, in the Ifles of the Bleft, and in the Vale of Tempè? The harmless delight which they derive from Poetry, is furely sufficient to recommend an attention to it, at an age when pleasure is the chief purfuit, even if the fweets of it were not blended with utility.
But if pleasure were the ultimate object of Poetry, there are fome who, in the rigour of auftere 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 neceffary to remind them, that Poetry has ever claimed the power of conveying inftruction in the most effectual manner, by the vehicle of pleasure.
There is reafon to believe that many young perfons 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 reafon and judgment, and not to their fancy. Through the pleasant paths of Poetry, they have been gradually led to the heights of fcience: they have been allured, on firft fetting out, by the beauty of the scene prefented to them into a delightful land, flowing with milk and honey; where, after having been nourished like the infant from the mother's breaft, they have gradually acquired ftrength enough to relish and digeft the folideft food of philofophy.
This opinion feems to be confirmed by actual experience; for the greatest men, in every liberal and honourable profeffion, have given their early years to the charms of Poetry. Many of the moft illuftrious worthies in the church and in the ftate, were allured to the land of learning by the fong of the Mufc; and they would perhaps have never entered it, if their preceptors had forbidden them to lend an ear. Of fo much confequence is Poetry to the genera advancement of learning.