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“ WHILE PASSING DOWN TAE SERIES OF SUCCEEDING YEARS, AS THROUGH THE INTERIOR OF SOME ANCIENT TEMPLE, WHIC:1 DISPLAYS ON EITHER DASD THE STATUES OF DISTINGUISHED FRIENDS AND BENEFACTORS, WE 6HJULD STAY FOR A MOMENT IN THE PRESENCE OF EACA, DOING JUSTICE TO THE HCMBLE, ILLUSTRATING THE OBSCURE, PLACING IN A TRUE LIGHT THE MODEST, AND XOTING RAPIDLY THE MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL TRAITS, WHICH TIME HAS SPARED; TO THE EXD THAT INGRATITUDE, THE PROVERBIAL BIN OF REPUBLICA, MAY NOT ATTACH TO THE REPUBLIC OF LETTERS; AND THAT WHOEVER FEEDS THE LANP OF SCIENCE, HOWEVER OBSCURELY, HOWEVER SCANTILY, NAY KNOW, THAT SOONER OR LATER, HIS NAME AND VIRTUES SHALL BE MADE CONSPICUOUS BY ITS LIGHT, AND THROUGHOUT ALL TIME ACCOMPANY ITS LUSTRE."
Josiau QUINCY's History of Harvard University, I. 6.
In submitting the following work to the Public, it may not be amiss, though the numerous articles of which it is composed must speak separately for themselves, to offer a few words of general introduction, setting forth the intent, the necessary limitations, and presenting a few suggestions, which may give unity to the apparent variety.
The design of the Cyclopædia is to bring together as far as possible in one book convenient for perusal and reference, memorials and records of the writers of the country and their works, from the earliest period to the present day. In the public and private library it is desirable to have at hand the means of information on a number of topics which associate themselves with the lives of persons connected with literature. There are numerous points of this kind, not merely relating to authorship, but extending into the spheres of social and political life, which are to be sought for in literary biography, and particularly in the literary biography of America, where the use of the pen has been for the most part incidental to other pursuits. The history of the literature of the country involved in the pages of this work, is not so much an exhibition of art and invention, of literature in its immcdiate and philosophical sense, as a record of mental progress and cultivation, of facts and opinions, which derives its main interest from its historical rather than its critical value. It is important to know what books have been produced, and by whom; whatever the books may have been or whoever the men.
It is in this light that we have looked upon the Cyclopædia of American Literature, a term sufficiently comprehensive of the wide collection of authors who are here included under it. The study and practice of criticism may be pursued elsewhere : here, as a matter of history, we seek to know in general under what forms and to what extent Jiterature has been developed. It is not the purpose to sit in judgment, and admit or exclude writers according to individual taste, but to welcome all guests who come reasonably well introduced, and, for our own part, perform the character of a host as quietly and efficiently as practicable.
A glance at the contents of this work will show that an endeavor has been made to include as wide a range of persons and topics as its liberal limits will permit. It has been governed by one general design, to exhibit and illustrate the products of the pen on American soil.
This is connected more closely here, than in the literature of other countries, with biographical details not immediately relating to books or authorship; since it is only of late that a class of authors by profession has begun to spring up. The book-producers of the country have mostly devoted their lives to other callings. They have been divines, , physicians, lawyers, college-professors, politicians, orators, editors, active military men, travellers, and, incidentally, authors. It is necessary, therefore, in telling their story, to include many details not of a literary character, to exhibit fairly the proportion which literature bore in their lives.
As the work has not been restricted to professed authors, of whom very few would havo been found, noither has it been limited to writers born in the country, It is sufficient