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This collection of Mr. Hood's serious Poems is made in fulfilment of his own desire. It was among his last instructions to those who were dearest to him.
If its reception should justify the earnest hope which the writer had allowed himself to entertain, it will be followed by a volume composed of the more thoughtful pieces in his Poems of wit and humor.
It is believed that the most sacred duty which his friends owed to his memory will thus have been discharged ; and that in any future recital of the names of writers who have contributed to the stock of genuine English poetry, Thomas Hood will find honorable mention.
Some minor pieces printed for the first time are placed at the commencement of the Volume.
To these few and touching words of the London Preface, the American publishers have only to add that the sacredness of Hood's dying request has been religiously observed in the reprint-not a line of the Poems having been omitted. All will be found either in the present volume or in the recently published " Prose and Verse” in the Library. In the latter collection are included that wonderful composition the Legend of Miss Killmansegg, the Elm Tree, the Dream of Eugene Aram, various Odes and Ballads, the Song of the Shirt, and the chief of the humanitarian poems by which Hood in his last days became so endeared to the world.
The London Press has but one voice in speaking of Mr. Hood and his writings--admiration mingled with pathetic regret. Says the Daily News (no doubt Mr. DICKENS himself holding the pen) in language echoed by many others:
6 • This collection of Mr. Hood's serious poems is made in fulfilment of his own desire. It was among his last instructions to those who were dearest to him.'
“Much is expressed in this opening paragraph of the brief and unaffected preface to this book. Around the death-bed of the great genius whose name it bears, consoling recollections of the thoughtful exercise of high powers diffused peace and resignation. No wish to blot one line in these, his best and worthiest efforts, troubled his repose. But, arrived at the last sad test and trial of all that is good and durable in life, he could contemplate his legacy to mankind, and thank God for its Christian spirit, and look with hope and trust to its results, when he should be no more.
Pity for the erring, mercy to the weak, scorn of hypocrisy and bigotry; the preservation, through a rough life, of every humanising and tender thought to which its youth gave birth, were the sustaining impulses to this desire, as they are the spirit of these poems. If any man can read THE BRIDGE OF Sighs, without the deepest sympathy and compassion, or THE SONG OF A Suirtwithout being touched to the soul, in his awakened sorrow for the miseries in which so many of his fellow-creatures pine and wear away their lives, let him
Pray Heaven for a human heart,
that he may come, in time, to have some portion in the last bequest of Thomas Hood.
Passing from these productions as being widely known of late, and (for the same reason) from The DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM, THE HAUNTED House, and THE GOLDEN LEGEND OF Miss KILLMANSEGG (all of extraordinary merit), we will confine our extracts to two minor pieces, with which our readers may be less acquainted. There is, in the first, a sentiment so touching and so universal, that there will probably be no collection of poems in the English tongue for centuries to come, in which it will not find a place :
Farewell Life! my senses swim,
Welcome Life! the Spirit strives !
The next (the ODE ON A DISTANT PROSPECT OF CLAPHAM ACADEMY) is of a different class, but who has not this poem in his mind and his experience ?