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BY NICOLAS TRÜBNER. VTIONAL
TRÜBNER AND CO., 60, PATERNOSTER ROW.
XVII. Useful Arts : Architecture, Manufactures, Mechanics,
The History of the origin and progress of a book is said to be more interesting to its author than to the general reader. However this axiom may hold good in most cases, mine would seem to be an exception, and to call upon me to explain why so large a volume upon American Literature should have been compiled by a foreigner; to state the circumstances in which it originated; to point out the objects I had in view; and to define the plan upon which it has been executed.
After having devoted some years to the active duties of an American Literary Agent, I found myself, in 1854, in possession of a mass of materials relating to American Literary History, sufficient as I then thought to warrant my throwing them into a definite form. The attempt was a novel one, and it proved eminently successful. Thus encouraged, I continued my researches and extended my plan; and now, after four years' assiduous application, submit the result, trusting that it will be welcomed as affording a tolerably full and impartial survey of American literary enterprise during the first half of the nineteenth century.
My object in attempting an American Bibliographical Guide has been twofold; on the one hand, to suggest the necessity of a more perfect work of its kind by an American, surrounded as be necessarily would be with the needful appliances; and, on the other, to supply to Europeans a guide to Anglo-American literature, a branch which by its rapid rise and increasing importance, begins to force itself more and more on our attention.
It is admitted on all hands that such a work is a desideratum ; at the same time, nobody can be more alive to the disadvantages under which a foreigner must labour in attempting it than I have been. I have broken the ice; let us hope that the very deficiencies of my work will summon some competent American bibliographer into the field, who from his vantage-ground may find both time and inclination to amend my errors and supply my deficiencies.
A guide to American bibliography is, as just stated, a desideratum, called for by one of the daily increasing requirements of the age, for, bibliography, so to speak, is to the literary student what the lighthouse is to the mariner, without which he would be constantly in danger of hidden rocks and shipwreck, of disappointment and waste of energies, travelling fruitlessly perhaps over ground previously