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In offering the accompanying little volume to the members of the Percy Society, the Editor is anxious to avail himself of the introductory leaves to apologise for the incompleteness of its chronological arrangement—an error which may perhaps be considered by no means a light one by the exact antiquary. The fact is that a few curious ballads were discovered after the first sheets were worked off, which properly ought to have been included in them; and the necessity of inserting these out of their proper places induced the Editor, in preference to forming an appendix, to follow no order whatever in the subsequent part, and thus to preclude the possibility of a casual reference to the book being interrupted by any specified order of the dates of the several ballads.
Of the collection itself it is not necessary to speak, further than to remark that instead of a selection of the best ballads on naval subjects, which would have been comprised in a very brief compass, the Editor has found it expedient to insert every one that he could discover which could possibly be included in his collection, and the reader will perceive that this plan has not been the means of forming a volume by any means commensurate in size with the national interest of the subject.
If, however, a thought worthy of the British tars of old should ever by these means be generated on the wide ocean in the breast of a modern disciple of Neptune, the Editor apprehends that the purpose of those who suggested the idea of such a publication, and carried it into execution, will be fully answered. At all events, the triumphs of our marine power cannot be too frequently recalled to our memories, and a novelty in time may produce a corresponding change in the directions of the thoughts so indued.
The Editor has found it necessary to omit a few ballads of the sea, which might have been introduced, owing to their occasional grossness. He is aware that this fault is not generally considered sufficiently valid to exclude documents of any value, but daily experience convinces him of the necessity of making some attempt to restore that Platonic respect which is due to literature, and the immediate progenitors of its influences. Those principles of utili