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THE NEW YORK
ASTOR, LENOX AND
Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1852, by
WILLIS P. HAZARD,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
STEREOTYPED BY S. DOUGLAS wYETH AGT., NO 7 PEAR STREET.
The thought of this volume grew from the belief that it was needed; and its execution lies in the maxim, "Do the duty that is nearest thee." It was originally intended only as a Reading Book for schools; but in ranging through extensive fields of Literature, so many golden grains were harvested, that the plan was varied; and "The Wheat-Sheaf" was the result of abundant resources, which it has been a pleasant labour to arrange in accordance with the dictates of her own taste, and the experience of a more matured judgment
The selections have been made with particular reference to the inculcation of sound and truthful principles, and the spirit and aim of the book is to encourage a love for the good, the pure and the beautiful.
Philadelphia, 10th Month, 1852.
It was an observation of one who has been justly regarded as the wisest of men, that "of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh." Happily for the cause of human improvement, the facility with which books are made, has been wonderfully increased since the days of Solomon. Probably no single product of inventive genius has ever effected more in accelerating the march of the human mind, than the simple, yet wonderful art by which books are indefinitely multiplied. That the fervid eloquence poured forth in a British parliament, or an American congress, should be caught as it flows, and that before the orator had recovered from the fatigue which his exertions produced, his very words should be stamped in permanent characters, on thousands of sheets, and spread over the land in every direction, indicates a perfection of art, which probably never presented to the imagination, grasping and comprehensive as it was, of Israel's most sagacious monarch. And we may reflect that as the facility of making books, has been incalculably increased, so the labour and study of reading have been greatly diminished, since.Solomon enlightened the world with his three thousand proverbs, and his thousand and five songs. Inconceivable must have been the labour of spelling out the words couched in the continuous lines of the ancient chirography, when contrasted with the lucid arrangement of modern printing.
But as natural evils are attended with some compensating advantages, so our modern improvements are not without their counterpoising evils. The facility with which books can be both made and
read, has .unquestionably contributed to the inundation of light and vi
unprofitable literature, for which the passing age is distinguished While we admit the force and correctness of the maxim above quoted the concluding observation is too much or too generally overlooked. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.
The practical inference deducible from this latter admonition is not in any degree inimical to the cultivation of those powers, intellectual or physical, which are divinely bestowed upon man; but it leads to such cultivation as to render those endowments conducive to the purposes for which they were conferred. The numerous improvements in science and art, bequeathed to us by the generations that have passed, and are passing away, have not only afforded facilities in the acquisition of knowledge, by the production of books, to which our ancestors were strangers, but, by the use of machinery, have given such impetus to the power of production, as to afford much more ample leisure for intellectual culture. And may we not indulge the belief that the advancing light of civilization and ehristianity, is slowly but certainly spreading the conviction that peace and brotherhood are the true policy of nations; and that the safety and happiness, both of individuals and communities are most effectually secured by imbibing the spirit, and conforming to the maxims which the great Founder of christianity, has offered to our acceptance? And we cannot fail to perceive that in proportion as the day advances, which was so eloquently described by the evangelical prophet, under the figure of the wolf drinking with the lamb, and the leopard lying down with the kid, the means and the opportunity of cultivating the intellect must be increased.
The improvement and expansion of the understanding, if pursued with a due regard to religious considerations, so far from nourishing pride, have a powerful influence of an opposite character. The more deeply we search either into the wonders of creation, or into