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9N THE PLAN of THE AUTHOR’s “coypeNDIUM of ENGLISH LITERATURE,”
in the Clerk’s Office of the district Court of the United States for the Fastern District of Pennsylvania.
Soon after the publication of my “English Literature on , Nineteenth Century,”—seven years ago, the publishers announced the present work; and in about a year after, nearly half of it was done. But I found that, with the arduous duties of my school, I was working too hard, and I therefore suspended my labors upon the book, and for four or five years (residing for a greater part of the time in the country) I wrote not a line for it. But as, in consequence of its early announcement, it was continually inquired for, I determined, a year ago, to complete the work as soon as I could, and as best I might be able. The result is now before the public. I have deemed it but simple justice to myself, as well as to my publishers, to state these facts, lest it might be supposed that I had been laboring upon my book for the whole seven years, thus raising expectations, as to the completeness and finish, which I fear the volume itself will not justify. Moreover, one who has an onerous scholastic charge might be supposed to have enough to employ his time, without engaging in such outside literary labors as seem more befitting the professed author. I say these things, not to deprecate criticism upon my work,+on the contrary, I cordially invite it, but as a partial apology for its deficiencies.
In the preparation of all works of this character, there are difficulties which those only who have been engaged in such labors “an appreciate. But in this work the difficulties are peculiar: First, from the two questions that must, at the very outset, be answered:—What is American Literature ? and, When does it begin? Second, from the vast amount of material to select from, At times absolutely overwhelming. And, third, from the impossibility of giving entire satisfaction either to living authors, or to the friends and kindred of those who are deceased.
Respecting the question, what is American Literature, I would *mark that, in my view, it would be absurd to apply this term to the occasional and transient literary effusions which appeared on this side of the Atlantic for a century after the settlement of the °ountry. Colonies of Great Britain, speaking the same language, §overned by the same laws, manufacturing but little for ourselves, "ut dependent on the mother country for a large portion of Our