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Previous William Thomas Sherman Info Page postings, quotes, observations, etc.


"...After this view of the qualities necessary to the didactic poet, and of the difficulties attending the plan and the execution of didactic poetry; with the examples before me, of those great masters of genius, and of science, who have trodden its rugged paths with the toil and patience of years, I have ventured with the haste, eagerness and rashness of youth, to invoke the same muse who has rewarded their toils, and to direct my course amidst regions hitherto unexplored....May I hope to be heard?"
~ John Blair Linn (17771804) in the preface to his The Powers of Genius (1800)

I am most pleased to announce a NEW addition to THE LIBRARY OF EARLY AMERICAN LITERATURE, that being:


with the complete texts of:
The Charms of Fancy (1788) by Richard Alsop
The Lay Preacher (1796, and 1817 posthumous compilation) by Joseph Dennie
The Powers of Genius (1802), with additional brief poems by John Blair Linn
"The Father" (1789) and "The Archers" (1796) by William Dunlap
"Edwin and Angelina" (1797) by Elihu Hubbard Smith
~Plus "A Sketch of the Life and Character of John Blair Linn" (1805) by Charles Brockden Brown.

As explained at the beginning of the volume:
"By 'Federal Literati,' broadly, is meant: literary artists of the Federal period 1789-1801. While among them there is a pronounced leaning, say, more toward Washington rather than Thomas Paine (and then somewhat by default Thomas Jefferson), except for Joseph Dennie (and Alsop later on in his career), none of the authors chosen for this anthology was actively political in their writings. Elihu Hubbard Smith, for instance, in a letter to Sally Pierce (25 Dec. 1796, see Diary, Cronin ed., p. 277) states: 'A Federalist, & a Democrat in the party-acceptation of those terms, are equally detestable.' So that, again speaking generally and by comparison, they saw education, culture, and or religion (note particularly the pro-church Dennie and Blair [Brockden Brown's brother-in-law] amidst the enlightenment deists) as preferred social and national solutions over, though not necessarily at the exclusion of, contemporary party politics; which last aspired or pretended to ideals, but (as far as the 'Literati' were inclined) were all too human and necessarily utilitarians of the moment in practice."

All the authors in this anthology knew each other or else were all in some way connected to Elihu Hubbard Smith's Friendly Club in New York city. Except for William Dunlap, all died at a very young or else relatively young age; with their works being quickly superseded by the likes of Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant, et al. Moreover, and except by specialists, these writings have been largely passed by not long after they first appeared. Consequently, it is no little gratifying to me now to give these "Federalist Literati" a second chance. Though I would not expect a wide interest in this book; yet among those who follow the history of the early United States and or early American literature, these works are good to better both as instructive and enjoyable reads, and at the same time worth having as a collection. I feel that way at any rate, and for one am very glad to have them available in this newly revived form.


The book's cover portrait is of Joseph Dennie.