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lull in the force and efficacy of American song. My conclusion is that we are not experiencing a decadence, but rather a diversion of imaginative energy to new forms of employment, and this not without a fair compensation. It may be well that our verse thus should escape the phase of minute realism and analysis through which modern literature is passing, and which probably will give way before a dramatic and inventive impulse by the time a second epoch of poetic achievement shall be inaugurated.

My review of the exquisite productions of Tennyson and his compeers led to consideration of the methods of poetry as an art. Apt illustrations were at hand, and my remarks often and designedly were addressed to fellows of the craft. The present work is less technical; I have more to say of the poetic temperament and the conditions that affect it; more of poetry as the music of emotion, faith, aspiration, and all the chords of life. The atmosphere in which our poets have flourished is observed, as well as their special aids and hindrances and whatever has been significant in their various careers. The personality of the noted American minstrels has been more suggestive than that of their English ontemporaries. In this respect they bear a likeness to the poets of the Georgian era. With few exceptions the Victorian brotherhood, living under advanced social and literary systems, have been neither greatly involved with the action and history of their time nor picturesquely conspicuous as individuals. Nevertheless, it is not the

INTRODUCTION.

main thing, in writing of a poet, to consider the experiences which he shares in common with other men. He must be judged by things peculiar to himself the creative gift and work that bring him within the franchise of literary criticism. The estimate, then, to a certain extent must be technical; and so far as my own comment has been addressed to the literary class, its endeavor is, as a Californian author pleases me by saying, to get down to the bed-rock of poetry as an art and to its pure gold as an inspiration. If passages occur where the agreement of polite thinkers, as to established processes and conclusions, is not assumed as a matter of course, it is because I hope this volume will be read by some who hitherto have paid slight attention to its topics. There is no good reason why a critical treatise, like any other work, should not appeal to both select and general readers, though possibly on very diverse grounds of in

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During the preparation of this work, the last of it's kind that I shall publish, I have had my share of the ills from which none are quite exempt. It has been d layed by the rarity of intervals at which I could devote a wholesome energy to its completion, and feel assured that it would betray no tinge of personal discourage ment. If injustice has been done, in the delicate task of making even the slightest reference to one's literary associates, it has not been of malice aforethought.

Acknowledgment is due to friends, especially to Messrs. Gilder, Johnson, Buel, and Carey, of "The Cen

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INTRODUCTION.

tury" office, and to Mr. G. T. Elliot, the scholarly corrector at the Riverside Press, and his assistants, for professional courtesies in aid of my labor now ended; also to my son, Arthur Stedman, for expert revision of copy and verification of names and dates. Where authorities differ, or are silent, with respect to matters of fact, I have consulted as far as practicable- the persons directly interested, except in the cases of living female writers whose dates of birth are not given already in standard compilations. E. C. S.

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NEW YORK, September, 1885.

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