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and, before a judgment is formed of them, an impartial consideration should be given to their works. Let them not be estimated according to the biassed misrepresentation of employed political partizans, whose interest it has been to set them before us in an unfavourable light; or, of a weak and superficial woman, whose mortified vanity has led her to pour out the vial of her pert contumely upon “ America and the Americans."
It has been asserted that no American poet has, as yet, produced a continued poem, capable of arresting attention, and entitled to rank among the leading poetic efforts of other countrics. This is, in some degree, true; but if we look into the peculiar circumstances of that country, we shall observe the true causes which have operated to produce this result. We shall perceive, from examining the situation of the American people, that it is less attributable to a dearth of poetic talent, than to a combination of circumstances prejudicial to its. development; and we shall perhaps conclude, from an inspection of the specimens here collected, that American intellect is not incapable of producing poetry of a very high order; and of adapting its energies to the successful prosecution of even the
most difficult enterprises of imaginative genius. We need not advert to their advancement in every branch of knowledge that can be rendered profitable by application to practical purposes-their success in the different professional departments, and their multitude of inventions and improvements in the mechanical arts; but, we maintain that, when called forth by the necessary excitements, competition, the prospect of distinction, and a suitable reward, their talents would prove (as in some brilliant instances they have proved) equally successful in every department of literature. But, amid the cares of gain, the noise, the bustle, the distractions, of agricultural, commercial, and political pursuits, which so universally, and, in some measure, necessarily, engage the undivided attention of the population of this new country,-and with boundless resources, which daily affords new fields for speculation, and new channels for every species of active enterprise, polite literature can scarcely be expected to be cultivated, except as a matter of
taste or amusement.
We cannot therefore reasonably expect that, in such leisure moments as are snatched from constant and perhaps laborious occupations, and without a
sufficient incentive of either rivalry, fame, or emolument, the American poet should, in many cases, produce poems requiring long, continued, and allengrossing mental exertion. But even under these circumstances, the Americans have exhibited considerable poetic talent, and-not to mention living authors,-Hopkins, Dwight, Barlow, Humphreys, Trumbull, Freneau, Sewell, Linn, Lathrop, Prentiss, Boyd, Clifton, Isaac Story, Allen Osborn, Spence and Brainard, have produced some performances which would be an honor to the poetical literature of any country.
It is not the intention of the Editor of this work, in the confined limits allotted to an introductory preface, to enter on a history of American poetical
• “Brainard was far superior to Kirke White as a writer, and as a man was inferior to no one that ever breathed. He wrote under every disadvantage; and, as might be expected, the faults of his writings were many. At the same time, he had the stamina of poetry. Had he received encouragement sufficient to awaken his energies, his name would have lived for ever. He was wholly unconscious of his own strength, and threw off his best pieces without hesitation or premeditation. To this carelessness his literary faults must be attributed. In this, too, he is not alone among the American poets, most of whom, it seems, write as carelessly as Brainard, though by no means as well."— Snelling's “ Truth, a Gift for Scribblers."-As one of the few truths in the satire this note is quoted.
literature, or to point out its distinguishing characteristics, and the many circumstances which variously affect the American and British poet. This would occupy a volume; and that the ignorance which prevails on this subject might be left without excuse, it should be undertaken. At the same time, he would express the hope that these specimens will not be uninteresting of the poetry of a country, where the elements of visible nature afford altogether a different local habitation for the poet's thoughts. The wide prairie with its "wild flock, that never needs a fold;" the "world of lakes," with its bright expanse of waters-the high roads of the future commerce of the world, where the navies of the earth might struggle for disputed possession, but where now
"With tawny limb,
And belt and beads in sunlight glistening,
The savage urges on his skiff like wild bird on the wing”— the interminable wood, with its savage inmates and boriginal population, where
"The forest hero, trained to wars,
Quivered, and plumed, and lithe, and tall,
Walks forth amid his reign to dare
the legendary lore and romance of Indian life
the savage exploits of Indian warfare-the characteristics of their different tribes--the fierce valour of the Peguods, the terror and scourge of the early. colonists-the number and strength of the Mohecans, Pokanokets, and Narragansetts, and the mystic superstitions of the Iroquois. The tide again of emigration, rushing with all the indomitable force of human enterprise into the hitherto impregnable fastnesses of nature's wild domains, to haunts where stood the Indian hamlet
"Look now abroad-another race has fill'd
These populous borders-wide the wood recedes, And towns shoot up, and fertile realms are till'd;
The land is full of harvests and green meads; Streams numberless, that many a fountain feeds,
Shine disembowered, and give to sun and breeze Their virgin waters; the full region leads
New colonics forth, that tow'rd the western seas, Spread like a rapid flame among the autumnal trees"
such themes as these, it is hoped, will be found more than an adequate exchange for the tamer beauties of a less luxuriant and various climate, and an over civilized and cultivated land. Moreover, the great modifying principles of human sentiment are not the same. The constitution of the American government, customs and whole polity-the man