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whole book. It now claims to convey a fair general impression-derived from all sources within the author's reach of Literature in the United States, from the establishment of the first English settlements on the North American Continent till near the present time. The, still, limited compass of the work prevents its making any pretence to completeness : it disclaims assuming to be a catalogue even of all the writers who, in their own country, have, on various grounds, attained importance. It has been my wish rather to discuss, in some detail, the authors who most conspicuously represent the main periods or departments of their nation's artistic activity ;' to illustrate their position, by reference to the history and politics of the time ; and to give my views, founded in those cases on direct personal study, of their position and influence. It will perhaps be conceded that if a distant critic suffers by greater risks of omission or error, there is some compensating advantage in his being removed from the suspicion of the partialities of friendship, or their reverse. Minor authors, whose aggregate works it would be the task and waste of a life to attempt to master, I have been content to judge by extracts, and the collation of the verdicts of independent reviewers who have devoted to one or more of these a special attention. By notes and references, I have been careful to avow my principal obligations in this direction; but I must add a further acknowledgment of my debts to Mr. Griswold and Mr. Curtis, to Duyckinck's Cyclopædia; above all to the two recent volumes by Professor Coit Tyler of Michigan, without the free use of which the chapter on the Colonial Period could not have been written. I must also refer to the assistance which,
1 The reader is warned not to look for even a general estimate of the numerous scientific and scholastic works of this and the previous century.
in the historical portion of the work, I have derived from the materials accumulated by my father, Professor J. P. Nichol (during and after his visit to the States in 1848), in preparation for a philosophical review of American politics and society, unhappily interrupted by his death in 1859. Finally, in the spirit of the motto prefixed to these pages, I shall be only grateful for corrections or suggestions, whether to omit or to add, that-friendly or otherwise—may proceed from any well-informed source.
Bryant-Longfellow-Edgar A. Poe-Walt Whitman Joaquin Miller