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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
SIR ROBERT PEEL, BART., M.P.
Having received your express permission for the Dedication, conveyed to me in a very gratifying manner, through the medium of a mutual friend, I will only take leave to say that I do not address you either in your character as a politician, or as a patriot. Poetry has no politics : poets ought to merge their political tendencies in the love of their Country, and in the best interests of general humanity ; and who, among those who differ most from your own views, ever questioned your sincerity here?
When nearly arrived at the completion of the work on which I had been engaged, I looked round to consider to whom I should offer it, for, touching so largely on the arts, it seemed more particularly to require a Dedication. I consulted a literary friend of unquestioned judgment and ability :“Select the highest,” was the reply; “ political feelings he must have, but from those of party he should stand aloof.” My mind involuntarily turned to yourself; chiefly, perhaps, for a reason which had not been expressed; I felt, that, from the apparent freshness of your classical remembrances and associations, the offering might not be altogether unwelcome; for poetry, or the imaginative and reasoning faculties, when employed on such a subject as Italy, afford indeed, (to use language which was ardently responded to on a stirring occasion,*) “ a noble relaxation, “ which, while it unbends, invigorates the mind—while “ it is relieving and refreshing it from the exhaustion of “ present contention, is bracing and fortifying it from " that which is to come.”
With the highest sentiments of admiration
JOHN EDMUND READE.
* Inaugural Address delivered at Glasgow.
It has been suggested that, on the publication of a Work, on the important subject chosen, the Author should say something more of self than appears in the Preface subjoined. In compliance with this suggestion, he will devote as few words as are absolutely necessary to that ungracious subject.
From the age of eighteen to that of thirty-seven years, the aim and end of his ambition has tended towards one point-to prove himself a Poet. It was during the year 1829, having previously essayed a small volume of minor pieces, which met attention, that he published a Dramatic Poem, entitled “ Cain the Wanderer.” It appeared during the Author's absence, and in what Publishers term the dead time of the season. Rough, however, and unpolished as were
its lines, even to ruggedness, the reception which it met with surpassed the writer's expectations. Even now, the liberal spirit of one literary paper * is remembered; the first which devoted to it a leading article, the more gratifying, as its Editor was then a stranger to the Author. Various other reviewers were more generous than they were just; until, at length, the Edinburgh Review, in an article which was felt, at the time, as rather unnecessarily severe, exposed the many defects of the Drama. The article, it is possible, was designed as a rough kindness to the writer. The second edition of the Poem, already in hand, was, in consequence, immediately withdrawn, and the Author earnestly set himself to revise that which he felt he had too hastily thrown out; a task which—with subsequent productions—he is thankful he has been permitted to accomplish. A lover, even to enthusiasm, of Nature, he has everywhere exemplified its influences in his writings; feeling that, to whatever extent education and art may exalt and refine the mind, all our real images of transcendental greatness, of beauty, and of power, are drawn from that source alone.
* The Literary Gazette.