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POETRY OF AMERICA
SELECTIONS FROM ONE HUNDRED AMERICAN POETS
FROM 1776 TO 1876.
WITH AN INTRODUCTORY REVIEW OF COLONIAL
AND SOME SPECIMENS OF NEGRO MELODY.
By W. J. LINTON.
LONDON: GEORGE BELL & SONS, YORK STREET,
The earliest project for a collection of Specimens of American poetry was that of James Rivington, a royalist printer of New York, who in 1773 sent out a circular to all reputed poets, requesting to be favoured with copies of their productions. The war for independence prevented the carrying out of this design; and no new attempt was made, except a small selection by Matthew Carey from nineteen writers, until 1793, when Richard Alsop printed at Litchfield, Connecticut, the first and only volume of a proposed series of American Poems, selected and original. In 1794 appeared an insignificant selection, entitled the Columbian Muse. Not till 1829 was there anything worth calling a collection. Then Mr. Samuel Kettell published in three volumes his Specimens of American Poetry, with critical and biographical notices; which was followed in 1831 by Dr. Cheever's American Common-Place Book ; in 1839 by the Poets of America in two volumes edited by Mr. Keese, and a small selection made by Mr. Bryant; and in 1842 by the Poets and Poetry of America in one large octavo two-columned 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