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THE LITTLE PEOPLE.

A DREARY place would be this earth,

Were there no little people in it ; The song of life would lose its mirth,

Were there no children to begin it ;

No little forms, like buds to grow,

And make the admiring heart surrender ; No little hands on breast and brow,

To keep the thrilling love-chords tender.

The sterner souls would grow more stern,

Unfeeling nature more inhuman, And man to stoic coldness turn,

And woman would be less than woman.

Life's song, indeed, would lose its charm,

Were there no babies to begin it ; A doleful place this world would be,

Were there no little people in it.

PREFACE.

particular poem

HAVING had occasion, some time since, to look over several volumes of selected verse intended for juvenile readers, and noticing in nearly all of them much that seemed lacking in literary merit or adaptation, it occurred to the compiler of this volume that, taking advantage of the merits as well as deficiencies of existing publications in this department, a selection might be made combining simplicity with a certain degree of literary excellence, without on the one hand descending to silliness, or, on the other rising above the average comprehension of childhood.)

How far the present volume has made this thought a reality it is not for him to decide. He can only say that it is the result of a patient examination of the accessible juvenile literature of our own and other countries. Our English tongue is peculiarly rich in the lore of home and fireside; and the editor has availed himself of selections from the folk-songs and ballads of continental Europe. Where a doubt existed in regard to any

he has not hesitated to take counsel of those whose judgment seemed to him reliable ; and, in more than one instance, he has deferred to the instinctive and natural criticisms of childhood.

It is but just to acknowledge his obligations to kind friends whose valuable suggestions have materially aided him ; and, in an especial manner, his indebtedness to Lucy LARCOM, so well known in connexion with “Our Young FOLKS,” who has given him the benefit of her cultivated taste and very thorough acquaintance with whatever is valuable in the poetical literature of Child-Life. Doubtless all readers will miss some favorite pieces which the necessity

as great a variety as possible to the compilation compelled him

He trusts, however, that a very large proportion of all that is permanently valuable will be found in these pages. He hopes and believes that no well-grounded exceptions can be taken to the character of the selections in a moral and religious point of view. He has endeavored, avoiding everything like cant and sectarianism, to find expression for the reverence, love, and grateful trust, so natural and beautiful in those whom the Divine Teacher held up as examples to His disciples: “Of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” The deep significance of His language is confirmed by the spiritual experience of all ages.

“ The paths that lead us to God's throne

of giving
to pass over.

Are worn by children's feet."

In the department of hymns and strictly devotional pieces, the number which seemed really appropriate in language and thought proved, on eramination, to be much smaller than was anticipated. Something more perhaps might have been added from Watts and Jane Taylor, but the one beautiful hymn of Faber, with which the volume closes, contains in itself the substance and spirit of all

Of course, fancy and imagination must play a prominent part in such a compilation, as they do in all healthful young minds, but the editor trusts that little will be found which can, by any possibility, leave an impression of evil, or really confuse the distinctions of truth and error. Even pure nonsense, as in the case of Lear's “Owl and Pussy Cat,” may not be without a certain moral value as a fitting caricature of the affectation of sentiment. In Hauff's “ Fortunes of Fairy-Lore,” the heroine complains, to her mother Fancy, that the world has grown uncomfortably wise, and that the very children who used to love her so dearly have become too knowing for their tender age, and, no longer capable wonder, laugh at her stories and turn their backs upon her. Poor Fairy-Lore is doubtless justified in her complaint, — the school-master and newspaper are busy with their disenchantments,— but, as there may be still left among us something of that beautiful unwisdom which once peopled the child's world with visionary shapes, it should have the benefit of such poems as Mary Howitt's “Caldon Low,” Allingham's “Fairies,” and Allan Cunningham's “Song of the Elfin Miller."

While the compiler has endeavored to accommodate his book to the especial tastes of the young, he has not been without hope that maturer readers may find something of interest in it, - something to bring back the freshness of the past,- hints and echoes from the lost world of childhood. He is happy in believing that, in this way, some noontide wayfarer may be able to discover shadowy places of memory where the dew of the morning of life has not wholly dried up, and where may still be heard the music of the birds of sunrise.

Sincerely hoping that in the selection of these poems of Child-Lise, he has not altogether misunderstood the tastes, wishes, and needs of his young readers ; he leaves it in their hands, commending to each of them the words of one who has himself written well and wisely for their class :

“Be good dear child, and let who will be clever

Do noble things, not dream them, all day long;
And so make life, death, and that vast forever

One grand sweet song."

ܕ ܕ

J. G. W.

AMESBURY, 4th Month, 1871.

CONTENTS.

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