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DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, to wit :
District Clerk's Office. BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the fourth day of April, A. D. 1829, in the fifty third year of the Independence of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Š. G. Goodrich & Co. of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit :
“Specimens of American Poetry, with Critical and Biographical Notices. In Three Volumes. By SAMUEL KETTELL.”
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned ;” and also to an act, entitled, “An act supplementary to an act, entitled, an act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints."
JNO. W. DAVIS, } Clerk als the District of
The following work is the result of an attempt to do something for the cause of American literature, by calling into notice and preserving a portion of what is valuable and characteristic in the writings of our native poets. As a pursuit of mere literary curiosity, there exist no ordinary inducements to the prosecution of such an enterprise, but when we take into view the influence which an endeavor like this, to rescue from oblivion the efforts of native genius must necessarily have upon the state of letters among us, we shall have occasion to wonder that an undertaking of the kind has not sooner been entered upon. The truth is, that our neglect upon this point is in some degree a matter of reproach to us.
The literary productions of our fathers have been held in unwarrantable disesteem by their descendants, who have reason to pride themselves upon the monuments of genius and learning left them by preceding generations. What though our early literature cannot boast of a Dante or a Chaucer, it can furnish such testimonials of talent and mental cultivation as are highly creditable
to the country, and of sufficient interest to call upon the attention of those who are desirous of tracing the general history of letters, and their connexion with the development of the moral and intellectual character of a people ; while to us, as Americans, they possess a double value, and deserve to be cherished as the inheritance of a race whose virtues have consecrated whatever they have left behind them. Again, everything published among us must have some value, if not on account of its intrinsic merits, at least as affording some insight into the spirit and temper of the times, and illustrating the degree of social and mental improvement in the community. Hitherto we have paid too little regard to our native literature in this last relation, and while the polite letters of foreign countries have been studied in such a philosophical view by the most accomplished scholars of our land, the same interesting field of observation at home has been overlooked. We have known men familiar with the details of Tiraboschi, Bouterwek and Sismondi, who had hardly bestowed a thought upon the most gifted spirits of the soil where they were born and bred : as if the poets of the western world could not bear some characteristic traits of their day and generation as well as the Minnesingers and Trouvéres; or as if a lay of the pilgrim fathers of New England could not illustrate a point of national or individual character as effectually as the Gongorism of the Castilian rhymesters of old. This is surely a preposterous state of things. What has been produced in the shape of literature among us merits regard. It must furnish something worthy of
note in respect to the intellectual character of our nation. If it exhibit no marks of originality, it must show something of imitation, and it cannot but interest us to know the fact, for even that must have its significance.
The object, therefore, of the work which I here present to the public, is to answer, so far as my opportunities would enable me to do it, the demand which has already been manifested, to know in a general and comprehensive view, what has been done in the department of poetry by American writers. Thus far we have seen no such thing as a collection of American poetry designed for such a purpose, nor a treatise designating with fulness and accuracy, the character of the various performances in verse of our native authors, nor even a tolerably complete list of their
We are now becoming a literary people, and are already inquisitive upon all matters connected with our character and prospects in that relation. We begin to show a national spirit in letters, and deem it important not only to exhibit to the world what manner of men we are, but to cast an eye upon those who preceded us in the career of literary improvement, and look seriously into the grounds of the insinuation thrown out some years ago by our neighbors across the ocean, that there was no such thing as an American book worthy of being read. Our countrymen have done sufficient since that period to free us from the apprehension that the charge will be repeated; still it is a matter of interest to inquire whether nothing had been