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ADDRESS TO THE READER.
E indulgent, Reader, to this first Specimen of the Productions of a private Press, with which my love for Literature has impelled me to amuse myself Three more Parts, sufficient to make together two Volumes, are proposed to he given at intervals, as inclination, joined with leisure, prompts my pen. Meantime, the Lee Priory Press ivill he principally employed in furnishing the Literary Collectors with Reprints of some of the curious Tracts of former days, in which there shall be an attempt to add beauty of Typography and Wood-engraving, to the interest of the matter selected, from the rarities of the Black Letter Stores.
Lee Priory, Sept. 30, 18IS.
"An■l this our life, exempt from public haunt,
July 80, 1813.
I Ret1re with satisfaction and delight to the peace
and silence of the woods of , after a bustling
season of noise and clamour, and distracted thoughts, amid the crowded concourse of public life.
It is with "The shadowy tribes of mind" that I would be more familiar, than with the manners and sentiments of human nature in its most practical shape, struggling with all the selfishness and all the passions of multiplied and elbowing society. Man has not " leisure to be good," or to be elevated, in the hum and stir of congregated cities.
If intellect be that which most distinguishes us above the beings of this creation, they stand highest of their order, whose conversance with intellectual objects most predominates over their conversance with those which are materials
It is among solitary trees, under the shade of dark oaks, amid the whispers which a gentle wind wakes through the leaves, that Spirits of Wisdom and Fancy deign to hold intercourse with a few of the more favoured sons of earth.
Of all the beautiful creation, that which the eye sees, and the ear hears, and the hand touches, is only a part; and not the part most worthy of our admiration or gratitude. It is the train of images and sentiments that the mind associates with objects that gives them their most striking and powerful interest.
The Sylvan Wanderer will endeavour to cultivate a familiarity with this visionary world. The attempt is perilous; but the glory of the aim will justify the adventure. How noble, yet how daring, and almost hopeless, to strive to fix those transitory thoughts which dart their rays in different directions, and then vanish like the rapid coruscations of the northern lights.
These studies are not necessary to him who is in pursuit of wealth, or political importance, or the consecjuence of a worldling. They would rather impede his career; at any rate they would disturb his self-complacence, and make him doubt the rectitude of his ambition.
But there are, it is hoped, many, to whom The Sylvan Wanderer may bring consolation, sympathy, and pleasure; who want encouragement in the lonely hours, which have fallen to their lot, to cherish those endowments of nature and possessions of the mind, that are far above the riches and worldly notice denied to them.
Perhaps it is only in retirement, that the best; part of our nature has room to play. In active life, good is so intermixed with evil, the duties performed are so counterbalanced by the faults committed, that Virtue is too much exposed to temptation, and undergoes too hard a task to give a fair chance of success: and, if she should be successful, at the loss of how many of her graces, and how many of her most attractive and amiable qualities will she have succeeded!
The great danger of retirement is its tendency to indolence. It is too apt to want the spur to exertion, which the collision and rivalry of society generates. To indulge in slumbers of which only the trees and fields are conscious, to ruminate with• out effort, and think without examining or registering the thoughts, is so gratifying to ease, that it requires the restless name of strong genius to counteract it.
Many possess the seeds of fancy, which they cannot themselves expand; but which it requires the breath of genius to form into life. Thus awakened, the train of ideas contiues in animation, as long as the master-workman prolongs his impulse. These persons are dependent on others for the consolations of solitude, which without books is to them a mental desert.
A search into the history of mankind proves to us that the genius, the man of creative powers, is much more rare than may at first be believed. Even of those who enjoy the fame of poets, many exhibit those powers but in very faint degrees.