PREFACE TO THE FOURTH EDITION.
IN the year 1841 this little work was put forth by
the Author with fear and trembling, with uncertainty as to its fitness for
the public eye. It is gratifying to remember, that its appearance
attracted immediate attention in the neighbourhood of its publication. Warmly commended by a few generous and intellectual friends, and
encouragingly noticed by the public journals, both in this country and in
America, it gained a popularity which far exceeded the Author's expectations. Not the least flattering of its results, are, the
kindly aid and good will which have been extended to him, by gentlemen
whose rank, benevolence, and genius, have given them an elevated and
influential position in society. A combination of these favourable
circumstances, perhaps, rather than any commanding merit in the Author's
effusions, has brought the work to a Fourth Edition.
Nearly all the poems contained in the volume were written for, and
addressed to, the humble and industrious classes: but the price of the
former impressions being beyond their means of purchase, a neat edition
for the people has been projected and ventured upon at a large cost, and
at the smallest remunerative price, in the hope and desire that it may be
widely diffused among that class to which the Author belongs, that
peaceful order of workers and readers, whose wishes prompt them to solace
and cultivate their minds by such productions as win by their
truthfulness, yet endanger not by their harshness of language, or their
violence of thought.
The work has been carefully and conscientiously revised, and for some
verses of a trifling and unimportant character, most of them the Auther's
boyish efforts, have been substituted poems never before published, which,
it is hoped, will be found an acceptable feature in the edition.
In conclusion; that the ensuing pages, read by the evening fire of the
industrious artizan, to a friend, to a wife, a child, may have some effect
in awakening thought in the thoughtless, arousing the listless to useful
action, steadying the reckless, reforming the rude, solacing the sad,
inspiring with hope and endeavour the desponding, or in any way dropping a
flower, or shedding a gleam of light, on the poor man's heart and hearth,
is the sincere wish of their friend and brother,
January 1, 1847.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.
THE demand for a Third Edition of "Hours with the Muses" imposes upon
the Author a debt of gratitude, which he feels utterly incapable of
discharging. He is wanting in forms of expression, which would adequately
describe his own feelings; and he will not attempt to supply the want, by
borrowing the common place phrases of acknowledgment. He can only beseech
his generous patrons to be assured, that insensibility to their
extraordinary kindness forms no part of his character.
The present volume contains many additional poems, to the extent of forty
pages of letter press; they are distinguished in the Table of Contents by
an asterisk. The Author hopes that neither in sentiment nor composition,
will they be considered such as to call for the forfeiture of that public
favour, which has hitherto been so abundantly showered upon his efforts.
Manchester, 20th September, 1842.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
THE publication of a Second Edition of "Hours with
the Muses" affords the Author an opportunity to tender, in a more formal
and express manner than he has been hitherto enabled to adopt, his
grateful acknowledgments for the extraordinary interest which has been
manifested, and the efforts which have been made, on his behalf, since the
appearance of the first edition of his Poems. That this gratifying
circumstance is in any material degree, attributable to the merits of the
Poems themselves, the Author certainly has not the vanity to imagine: he
rather ascribes it—as being much more consonant with his feelings—to the
design which he trusts is obvious in the principal Poems,—that of
advocating the rights, and elevating the tastes and pursuits, of his
labouring fellow, countrymen; and to a generous desire, on the part of
the public, to aid the Author in those struggles with poverty, and its
many attendant evils, which have so far been his portion through life.
The Author feels inadequate to the due expression of his feelings for the
kindness which has been so liberally bestowed upon him by the Public
Press. To one highly gifted member of that Press, Mr. John Harland, of the
Manchester Guardian, he is especially indebted, as it is owing to that
gentleman's eloquent advocacy, that the Author has enjoyed so large a
portion of public favour, and without which kind interference he feels
that he might, like many far more deserving objects in his own rank of
life, have remained uncared for and unknown.
To the generous friends who have promptly come forward to provide the
means of putting his Poems a second time through the Press;—to those who
have exerted themselves so strenuously to obtain subscribers for the
second edition;—the Author can only say, that he sincerely hopes, the
present edition will be found to possess stronger claims to their
approval, than those presented by the former edition.
Having now discharged, though imperfectly, a most pleasing debt of
gratitude, the Author begs to refer briefly to the circumstances of the
publication. Fearful of incurring a responsibility which he was by no
means able to bear, and not having the slightest anticipation of the
success with which his efforts have—owing to the causes already alluded
to—since been attended, he limited the impression of the first edition to
almost the precise number of subscribers obtained at the time the first
sheets were put to press. By the efforts of kind friends, however, such a
further addition of subscribers was obtained in the course of the printing
of the volume, that upon its issue, the impression was found to fall short
of the subscription list, by upwards of three hundred copies. The list was
further increased after the publication to such an extent, that the Author
was soon placed in a position to require another and a much larger
edition; and, further, was as speedily relieved, by the generous zeal of
friends, from the anxiety attendant upon a speculation so far beyond his
own pecuniary means.
A careful perusal of the Poems in print, (after the excitement of their
composition was over), and the suggestions of friends, soon made the
author aware that there were some passages therein, in which the forms of
expression adopted might warrant an interpretation far different from that
which he intended. These passages have been strictly revised, so as to
obviate the objections to which they were fairly liable. Several stanzas
have been added to "The Poet's Sabbath;" and many additional poems,
including some of the longest in the collection, appear in this edition: so
as, to a considerable extent, to impart to the book a new feature. The
Author hopes, also, that the superior style of this edition, as to the
arrangement, verbal correctness, and typographical execution, will render
the volume more attractive.
With these remarks and a renewal of his grateful acknowledgments, the
Author respectfully takes his leave. It may be many years ere he meets his
kind friends again in the character of an Author; but however his future
lot may be cast, he can never revert to the circumstances upon which he
has now been dwelling, without feelings of the most heartfelt gratitude.
Manchester, 6th October, 1841.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
ALTHOUGH a Preface may, by some, be considered an
almost useless appendage to a book, yet the Author of the following pages
deems it necessary to inform his readers, that his Poems have been
composed at all times and in all places;—some to lighten his weary
wanderings in a foreign land; and others as a relief to poverty and toil
on his own shore. These disadvantages, together with his total want of
even a moderate education, will, he trusts, entitle him to some
consideration from the candid critic,—some allowance for the defects
which such circumstances were likely to produce.
Several of his productions have received the approbation of private
friends, and been favoured with a place in highly respectable journals;
and he has thus been induced to submit them, in a collective form, to the
more general and impartial judgment of public opinion, satisfied that its
decision will be just and conclusive.
That his effusions contain numerous and glaring faults, the Author is
fully aware; but he trusts that their merits, though few, are such as will
preserve his little work from utter condemnation. He consoles himself with
the thought that, if he succeed in fostering the slightest taste for the
ineffable beauties of Nature,—in awakening one moral sentiment—one
generous feeling—one thrill of liberty in the mind of any human being, he
will not have written idly, nor in vain.
To those literary friends who have honoured him with their advice and
experience, the Author takes this opportunity of acknowledging the
obligation, and assuring them that he has adopted their hints, as far as
was consistent with his own ideas of principle and independence. At the
same time he hopes that they will not withhold their assistance should he
venture, a second time, to become a candidate for poetic fame.
Manchester, July, 1841.