The prefatory verses, in four unsigned Spenserians, describe the aims of the annual, and its combination of the sister arts of poetry and painting: "Each to the other lends a winning grace, | As features speak the soul — the soul informs the face" p. iv. They are dated "October 1827." William Harrison Ainsworth was the editor of The Keepsake.
Monthly Magazine: "The Bijou, and the Keepsake, come forward with pretensions to be very high and mighty. They begin the world by rating themselves nine shillings a volume above other people; and both are to be distinguished by the elegance of their pictorial accompaniments" NS 4 (December 1827) 587.
John Wilson: "NORTH. Then there's the Bijou, which last year was exquisite — and the Keepsake — Heaven preserve us — with all the rank, fashion, and genius of the age. It will prove the GRAND CONTUNDER. SHEPHERD. The GRAND CONTUNDER — what's that? NORTH. Masonic" Blackwood's Magazine (November 1828) Noctes Ambrosianae (1857) 3:173.
Samuel Austin Allibone: "W. Harrison Ainsworth, novelist, b. 1805, and intended for the law. In 1826, he published a novel, John Chiverton, which was commended by Sir Walter Scott. In 1834, Rookwood appeared, followed (after publication of Crichton) by another bad book of the same class, Jack Sheppard. Works of this mischievous character might be very appropriately published as a series, under the title of 'Tyburn Plutarch.' We are glad that the author has struck upon a better vein in his later works of fiction. The Tower of London, Old Saint Paul's, Windsor Castle, and St. James's Palace, are thought much more creditable to the novelist than the works above censured. Mr. Ainsworth resides in the neighbourhood of Kilburn; he edits the New Monthly, and the magazine which bears his name" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:42.
S. M. Ellis: "The new annual attracted much notice; for it was a great improvement over other books of this description, which had descended in a copious shower upon England since Ackerman introduced, from Germany, the fashion of gift-books, by the publication of the Forget-me-Not, in 1822. The Keepsake — magnificently bound in red silk and embellished with beautiful engravings — was sold at a guinea, which, considering the proprietors spent nearly twelve thousand pounds upon the production, was not excessive" W. H. Ainsworth (1911) 1:166.
The prefatory essay to this volume presents a history of the genre that makes several references to Spenser.
What is the aim with which the poet glows,
The recompense of fiction's fairy line,
The hope, that o'er the languid spirit throws
Reviving light, and makes its toils divine?
Is it, to see the smile of beauty shine
Over the fruit of solitary hours,
When fancy's wing, weary, would else decline?
It is, it is; like Spring's life-giving showers,
That smile awakes the germs of song's luxuriant flowers.
Then, because beauty is the soul of song,
We bring to thee (the beautiful), to thee,
The tributary lay of many a tongue;
Acknowledgment of beauty's sovereignty:
And, blended with thy name, prolong'd may be
The swift decaying echoes of our lyre—
The lyre of many strings, that, wildly free,
To harmonize in beauty's praise aspire—
The lyre, that many strike to one whom all admire.
Unto the beautiful is beauty due;
For thee the graver's art has multiplied
The forms the painter's touch reveals to view,
Array'd in warm imagination's pride
Of loveliness (in this to thee allied).
And well with these accord poetic lays
(Two several streams from the same urn supplied);
Each to the other lends a winning grace,
As features speak the soul — the soul informs the face.
And if this little offering, brought to thee,
Shall meet thy sight in life's hereafter hours,
Perhaps not all unwelcome it may be,
To wake the sweets of youth's declining flowers—
Blossoms, as yet unsullied by the showers
That fall from the pale urn that sorrow rears.—
Still be it so; and may Time's latter stores
Unfold for thee sweet memories of past years,
The KEEPSAKE of the soul, to guard thine eyes from tears.