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THE REV. R. CATTERMOLE, B. D.
WHITTAKER & CO. AVE-MARIA LANE; SIMPKIN & MARSHALL,
It is an error, common to some who believe themselves lovers of Poetry, with many who disregard and, perhaps, despise it, that the purpose of this department of literature is merely to afford an elegant pastime, or to supply a pleasing but aimless excitement. This mistake, so fatal to the just inHuence of some of the noblest efforts of the human mind, we may expect to find prevailing in an age distinguished at once by the love of pleasure, and an eager devotion to the affairs of life. The delicate slaves of luxury, contented with the stimulus which animated verse applies to the imagination, and the edge it imparts to sensibility, willingly rest here in their appreciation of its worth: the enjoyment, and still more the application, of what lies beyond, demands an exertion of the higher faculties of the mind to which they are unaccustomed, and which they therefore decline with disgust. The active worldly man, on the other hand, who bounds his aims and desires to the acquisition of wealth and power,-perceiving that the pursuit of these is not advanced, but rather moderated and checked, by the ingenuous discipline of the muses, looks upon it with suspicion or contempt. Now, in the present age, the prodigious development of the mechanical sciences, and the impulse imparted by this and other causes to civilization, as distinguished from mental culture, have greatly enlarged the proportionate number of both sensualists and worldlings, by widening, beyond all precedent, the spheres of ordinary enjoyment and gainful exertion. In these considerations, therefore, we are in some degree supplied with the means of accounting for the diminished esteem in which the noblest and most intellectual of the fine arts is held, in an age which puts forth peculiar claims to intelligence and philosophy; and for the measure of encouragement it continues to receive, being lavished chiefly upon the least worthy of its productions.
Among the causes of the comparative neglect into which the higher kinds of poetry, and, with them, of philosophy, seem to have fallen, may likewise be mentioned the absorbing interest attached, in our days, to all questions that relate to political rights and the proceedings of governments. The politician-he who is such by taste and temper, not from duty and the necessity of