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21 9085

J. M'Creery, Tooks Court,
Chancery Lane, London.

PREFACE.

The literary history of America furnishes an ample field for curious inquiry. Even in its present state of infancy, it is full of interest; while its futuré progress affords a subject for the widest speculation. America is an anomaly in the history of letters. There is no other instance of a nation starting at once into independence and dominion, She commenced her career, not like the Empires of the ancient world, in obscurity and ignorance, but possessing all the arts of life, and all the intelligence and knowledge of an old nation. She was a portion of England, detached indeed from our island, and severed from it by the Ocean, but she carried with her our literature, our sciences, and our arts, and, more than all, that spirit of freedom, which ultimately secured her independence. The basis of all she possesses is English, and indeed, it may be asserted, that every thing that is excellent, and every thing that is evil in her government, her laws, her literature, and her manners, may be attributed mainly to the operation of English principles and feelings.

occur.

To those who are intimately acquainted with the two nations, numerous proofs of this truth will

In the establishment of the American government, the working of that strong democratic spirit, which is supposed to influence one branch of our own constitution, is clearly visible; and amongst the descendants of the original settlers, we may observe the same shades of political character, which distinguished a large body of our fellow-countrymen during the seventeenth century. But while the Americans, in the formation of their new Empire, thus appropriated many of the institutions of their mother country, they in some cases received them, perhaps necessarily, subject to all their weaknesses, and all their vices. A more remarkable instance of this cannot be mentioned, than the practice of slavery, which is still retained amongst them-a strange contradiction to their principles and professions. It cannot be denied, that this reproach descended upon them from ourselves; but as we have at length obliterated the ignominious stains, we are at liberty to express our regret and astonishment, that a nation which lays

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