Rufus Griswold

I, The Reverend Dr. Rufus Wilmot Griswold, am a man of letters. My reputation as a discerning critic and editor, to say nothing of my own skill as a poet, made me very influential in literary circles, but this prominence occasioned many to fear the weight of my opinions. Often I was the object of scorn and mistreatment as a result of my labors; some have suggested that I elevated the works of those endeared to me while condemning those not in my favor. Others more malicious have accused me of puffing books for remuneration or to elicit the goodwill of those positioned to enhance my own notoriety. Of these and other imputations of a similar character I am wholly innocent. The solitary motivation for all of my judgments was the exaltation of Americas literary prestige. I was perhaps not always delicate in my handling of works submitted for publication in journals of which I had editorial control. My criticisms may have sometimes seemed insensitive; some have said savage, but this country's literary fortitude far outweighs the egos of so-called writers who refuse to apprehend their own mediocrity. I offer no apologies to these unremarkable scribes who distinguish themselves only by their tartuffery; those haranguing the loudest regarding my iniquity were the quickest to turn sycophantic upon the publication of my 1842 anthology "The Poets and Poetry of America". This volume was the first of its kind, encompassing the finest poetical work of my countrymen since the landing at Plymouth Rock. These selfsame slavering scriveners immediately emerged in an effort to ingratiate themselves with me in anticipation of my next compilation. I am unmoved, however, by flattery, and my subsequent anthologies were compiled in the same incorruptible fashion. My professional integrity is far more precious to me than the oily obsequeties of those who fancy themselves literary men but are unequal to the task of mere transcription.


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