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PREFACE.                                   ix
almost incredible amount of ignorance, in this respect, on the part of the public.
It can hardly be doubted that a correct knowledge of metrical laws, and the relative bearings and soundings of poetic breadth and depth, such as a careful perusal of a work of this kind affords, would tend to minimise this waste of effort, by diminish­ing the output, and improving the quality. It would, at least, accustom the beginner to the proper use of his feet before trusting himself to untried ivings. As many an amateur actor has aspired to the role of Hamlet as his maiden effort, so the youthful poet oft dashes into the composition of an epic at the first motive impulse of the Muses. A preliminary course of Orthometry would doubt­less save him a world of disappointment, by induc­ing him to try his 'prentice hand upon a ballad, say. a rondeau, or a sonnet. While it is not given to more than a dozen men in a century to create a poem that will live ages after them, pleasing and graceful verses may be produced by anyone who has the requisite taste, knowledge, and patience.
Again, I venture to look forward with expectancy to a more widespread appreciation of literary excellence in the near future. Culture is no longer the privilege of the wealthy. The study of our poets has now happily obtained a footing in the curriculum of nearly all our public schools and colleges; while the millions who attend our elemen-