Something should be said of Mr. Pierpont
's place as a writer of poetry, something also as a compiler of one of the best anthologies of our English literature.
It was while he was a member of the school committee of Boston
that he felt the need in the higher schools of a collection of the best literature, which led to his compilation known as the ‘American First Class Book,’ which passed through many editions and was widely useful in introducing to minds approaching maturity much that is best in our English tongue.
It proves his familiarity with our literature that he was able to make such choice selection, and it must have had what he desired, a profound influence in shaping the mind of youth by means of pure sentiment expressed in the finest style of the great masters of classic speech.
He thought also that it would be an influence in the formation of character, saying in the preface, ‘The book will fulfil my hopes, if, while it helps the young on towards the end of their scholastic labors—the general improvement of their minds it shall enable them better to understand and discharge their duties in life and lead them to contemplate with pleasure and religious reverence the character of the Great Author of their being as discovered in his works, his providence and his word; and thus help them to attain the end of their Christian faith, the salvation of their souls.’
As early as 1812, Mr. Pierpont
delivered a poem before the Washington Benevolent Society
, named ‘The Portrait.’
It is a contrast of Washington
, and other heroes of our early history, with what he esteemed the mock military heroes of the war with England
It is a pessimistic poem, so deeply marked with the bias of the time in which it was written, that in the edition of his poems published in 1840, he says, in a foot-note: ‘Both the text and the notes of this poem occasionally show the warmth of political feeling, and the strength of party prejudice of the time when it was written.
Both text and notes are ’