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The earliest project for a collection of Specimens of Ameri-
volume by Dr. Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In 1849 Dr. Griswold's work was by him extended and divided into two volumes, the Female Poets being placed by themselves; and additions from time to time were made by him, in several editions, down to the edition of 1855, the last issued by him. In 1872 Mr. R. H. Stoddard supplemented the work with new names to that date.
Kettell's and Griswold's are the only collections of any importance among those here enumerated. The Columbian Muse has only 22 names, 15 of which appear again in Kettell; and Keese has but five or six, those valueless, which are not in either Kettell or Griswold. Kettell's three handsome volumes (Boston, S. G. Goodrich & Co :) contain specimens of 189 poets, collected with much evident care and patient research from the “principal libraries of Boston and its neighbourhood, New York, Philadelphia, and Worcester.” Griswold speaks of about five hundred volumes of rhythmical compositions,“ nearly all of which I read.” The last edition of Griswold contains 160 names (64 of these the same as in Kettell), to which Mr. Stoddard adds 23; and his volume of Female Poets has 94 more, to which Mr. Stoddard adds 21.
From these sources, from my own reading of more than four hundred writers, and from the latest editions of the most important poets, and not sparing considerable research elsewhere, aided in several instances by the authors themselves to whom I would here acknowledge my obligation -the present volume has been compiled. To Mr. Stoddard, whose knowledge of American poetic literature is not, I believe, surpassed by that of any one, my especial thanks are due for a most friendly revision of my lists of poets and poems, for some corrections of dates, and for other valuable information helping toward the perfecting of my
work. I claim precedence for it as the first fair and comprehensive sample of American Poetry given to the old country. The American Poems of my friend Mr. W. M. Rossetti may not claim to be this, as he omits Longfellow and all humorous verse, and as, not having had before bim the last edition of Griswold (prepared by Mr. Stoddard in '72 but published only in the Fall of last year), he was apparently unacquainted with much of the best poetry of the last twenty years. Or, if on this ground of completeness my work may not take the place which his would seem to assume, I may yet make good my venture as not uncalled for, even though but supplementary. Omitting as less worthy, after careful comparison of their works, 25 of Mr. Rossetti's poets, I give 61 not given by him; while of his 255 poems my choice has taken only 21: a difference not altogether to be accounted for by difference of taste or opinion, but, I think, owing partly to the wider field for selection of which I have been fortunate enough to have the range. From Griswold's own collections, containing nearly two thousand poems, I take 57 ; to Mr. Stoddard's supplements I am indebted for about as many more. The rest of my 256 poems, representing 100 poets (not including those quoted in the Review of Colonial Poetry), rewarded a further search among completer works and more recent editions. Half of my book is not to be found in any
exista ing collection of specimens.
Of course even now I must have left out some worthy names and very many excellent works: yet of all known to me I have been careful to choose the best and the most characteristic; and in making my choice have endeavoured to be as catholic as possible, to give to no one of my own favourites an undue proportion of space, but as far as possible to provide fair opportunity for the reader's judgment of all those writers who have already gained the plausive verdict of popularity, and to add other names only of those whose admission to my pages has been approved by critics not committed to my partialities. Hymns and “religious” poems, and any fragments of poems too long to be given entire, have been purposely excluded as out of place in such a collection as this. With these exceptions, I have been careful to assemble as many varieties as possible of thought and expression-humorous as well as serious—anti-English as well as pro-EnglishSouthern as well as Northern ;—adding some few subjects, such as the Star-spangled Banner, for the sake of timehonoured associations; some, as Whitman's Dresser, because indicative of the character and experience of the writer. And here it may be well to note that of a hundred poets, chosen with no reference whatever to place of birth or opinions, but one-tenth can be fairly classed as Southerners; a very few belong by birth or residence to the West; the remainder are of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and the New England States. There was no withstanding this majority: nevertheless I have done my best to make my book truly representative of American feeling as uttered in verse, a fair and full presentment of
the quality of American Song, both emotional and artistic. If I have failed, it has not been from want of diligence and conscientious effort, nor through being heedless of the impartiality which should rule a critical collector.
In some dates and names and other matters of fact in which I differ from Mr. Rossetti, I have only noted the difference after careful inquiry, personal as well as in biographies and obituaries, which justifies me, though I may be wrong sometimes, in asserting my general correct.
I may particularly refer to Poe. Mr. Stoddard is clear that Poe was born in 1809, not in 1811 as usually stated; and not at Baltimore, but very probably in New York.
Of biographical notice, beyond place and date of birth, and death, the little that can be given within the limits of a work like this must be so unsatisfactory, vague and often incorrect, that I have deemed it best not even to attempt it. I also refrain from criticism, as I refrain from leading toward a judgment. To print the whole score of Poe's poetical amusements (so considered by himself) would not advance him nearer to those higher heavens where only the Dii Majores can securely sit; and I prefer giving the challenge of works that can be compared, to offering any argument on the claims of Lowell to his throne among the best, the best not only of his contemporaries in America, but of those in England too. My scheme indeed admits only some shorter poems: but Hercules may be known by his foot-prints.
This only, and out of no captious spirit, in remonstrance against what seems to me an unjust leading,