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[158] other New England versifier of his period could have originated or even improved any form of verse.


The years between the close of the seventeenth century and the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 form a transition period in the development of American verse. It is interesting to note that the passing of the old century coincided almost exactly with the passing of the old models. About 1700 new literary influences came from England; the old forms of verse were discarded for others more polished; Quarles and Sylvester gave way, first to Waller, then to Pope. But the change was not one of form alone. The decline of clerical influence, the increase of security and comfort in the conditions of life, the more frequent intercourse with England-all these and other changes were reflected also in the subject-matter, the purpose, and the spirit of the new verse.

New England poets before 1700 learned nothing from the English poets of the latter half of the seventeenth century; for New England seems to have placed all the literature of the Restoration period under a rigorous embargo. There is no sufficient evidence that Dryden was known in America before 1700, in spite of some fairly regular quatrains by Michael Wigglesworth and an occasional polished couplet by Cotton Mather and Benjamin Tompson. If they knew even Milton they perhaps saw in him only the champion of divorce and of other heresies. But there are other and obvious reasons for this ignorance or neglect of Dryden and Milton. Although John Cotton had some correspondence with Quarles, there was not much literary communication of any kind between the colonies and England before the eighteenth century. New England was complete in itself.

Dr. Benjamin Colman (1673-1747), upon his return from England in 1699, brought with him both Blackmore and Waller. This decisive event in the history of American verse marked the beginning of a new era, that of the heroic couplet. But though Colman praises Waller and Blackmore and recommends both to his daughter Jane Turell, he himself, when he wrote his Elijah's translation (1707) on the death of the Rev. Samuel Willard, imitated Dryden in his heroic couplets and his method of applying a Bible story as in Absalom and

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