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almost incredible amount of ignorance, in this respect, on the part of the public.
It can hardly be doubted that a correct knowledge of metrical laws, and the relative bearings and soundings of poetic breadth and depth, such as a careful perusal of a work of this kind affords, would tend to minimise this waste of effort, by diminishing the output, and improving the quality. It would, at least, accustom the beginner to the proper use of his feet before trusting himself to untried wings. As many an amateur actor has aspired to the role of Hamlet as his maiden effort, so the youthful poet oft dashes into the composition of an epic at the first motive impulse of the Muses. A preliminary course of Orthometry would doubtless save him a world of disappointment, by inducing him to try his 'prentice hand upon a ballad, say, a rondeau, or a sonnet. While it is not given to more than a dozen men in a century to create a poem that will live ages after them, pleasing and graceful verses may be produced by anyone who has the requisite taste, knowledge, and patience.
Again, I venture to look forward with expectancy to a more widespread appreciation of literary excellence in the near future. Culture is no longer the privilege of the wealthy. The study of our poets has now happily obtained a footing in the curriculum of nearly all our public schools and colleges; while the millions who attend our elemen
tary schools have suitable poetic passages indelibly impressed upon their memory in youth. All but pessimists anticipate the good results of this early training upon the tastes and recreative pleasures of young England of the twentieth century. The horizon is already aglow, here and there, with promising indications of a brighter day. I fully trust and believe that this universal acquaintance in early life, be it ever so superficial, with noble thoughts and generous sentiments, clothed in choice language, will contribute in no small degree to the moral and intellectual development of the young democracy.
If by this treatise I have assisted, even to a slight degree, in the formation of a truer conception of good verse, fostered a liking for poetry generally, and enabled those who possess natural gifts for poetical composition to overcome the initial difficulties presented by the technicalities of their art, this ‘labour of love' will not have been in vain.
I have now only to express my indebtedness to Mr. Robert D. Blackman for his many valuable suggestions embodied in the work.
R. F. B.