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HEREVER the English language is spoken, it may be said,
without exaggeration, that the name of Mary Howitt is familiar as a household word. Apart from her more considerable works, she is everywhere recognized as the Children's Favourite—as one of their happiest and most success
ful teachers ; setting before them the highest truths and most graceful fancies with all the embellishment of a polished yet simple diction.
Her “Sketches of Natural History" have long enjoyed a wide and well-deserved popularity. Seldom have the “habits” and “manners” of animals, with glimpses of rural life, and suggestions of picturesque landscapes, been brought before the young in a more attractive manner. And indeed, Mrs. Howitt being a poetess of no mean order, the following pages may be read with interest and pleasure by children of a larger growth than those for whom they were primarily intended. They are characterized by an infinite variety; and Mrs. Howitt seems equally at home when singing of the Stormy Petrel or the Lion, or when describing in sportive verse the gambols of the Monkey or the vagaries of the Carolina Parrot. She ranges at will from grave to gay, from lively to severe, and invariably carries her reader with her.
It will be observed that two or three of the poems here included are from the pen of William Howitt, the accomplished husband of an accomplished wife. And it should be added that the pieces marked in the List of Contents with an asterisk are entirely new, having been written expressly by Mrs. Howitt for the present issue of the “Sketches."
In bringing out this edition, the Publishers have been anxious to fit