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[162] couplets are as conventional as could be desired, and, together with the verses written by other members of his circle, they recall the dominant hand of Pope. Intrinsically unimportant as was all the verse written in Philadelphia in this early period, it must have done its work in creating a literary atmosphere and in establishing traditions; for this city remained throughout the entire century the centre both for the writing and the publishing of American poetry.

During the whole of the eighteenth century the long poem, didactic, descriptive, and philosophic, flourished in England, and during the latter half of the same century its imitative progeny flourished in America. There could be no justification for cataloguing these imitative efforts, since not one of them still lives in our literature, and very few of them show any distinctive American traits. In the main, their method, their ideas, their imagery are as English as those of their prototypes; their heroic couplet is that of Pope or Goldsmith; their blank verse is that of Thomson or Young.

The tide set in with imitations of Pomfret, whose Choice (1700) appeared in at least four editions in America between 1751 and 1792. In 1747 William Livingston, who was to become the famous governor of New Jersey, expressed his ideal of existence in a direct imitation of Pomfret which he called Philosophic solitude, or the choice of a rural life. Ten years later a second imitation of Pomfret followed in The choice by Dr. Benjamin Church of Boston, who longs for a home in the country, the right kind of wife, congenial friends, and leisure to read his favourite poets-Milton, Dryden, Gay, “awful Pope, unequalled bard,” and “nature-limning Thomson.” Though dwelling in a small American town, he sighs for solitude as longingly as he might have done in the midst of a world capital. Livingston and Church are half a century late in their sporadic imitations; and for a while Americans were simply catching up with almost a hundred years of English didactic poetry; but after the tide once turned, about the middle of the century, imitation was much more prompt and general and, after the Revolution, immediate and universal.

Goldsmith reached Americans almost at once, and appeared in nine editions between 1768 and 1791. His numerous imitators are all alike in using his method, his style, and

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