Initial Studies in American Letters by Beers, Henry A. (Henry Augustin)
INITIAL STUDIES IN AMERICAN LETTERS
HENRY A. BEERS
New York Chautauqua Press C. L. S. C. Department, 150 Fifth Avenue
The required books of the C. L. S. C. are recommended by a Council of Six. It must, however, be understood that recommendation does not involve an approval by the Council, or by any member of it, of every principle or doctrine contained in the book recommended.
This volume is intended as a companion to the historical sketch of English literature, entitled _From Chaucer to Tennyson_, published last year for the Chautauqua Circle. In writing it I have followed the same plan, aiming to present the subject in a sort of continuous essay rather than in the form of a "primer" or elementary manual. I have not undertaken to describe, or even to mention, every American author or book of importance, but only those which seemed to me of most significance. Nevertheless I believe that the sketch contains enough detail to make it of some use as a guide-book to our literature. Though meant to be mainly a history of American _belles-lettres_, it makes some mention of historical and political writings, but hardly any of philosophical, scientific, and technical works.
A chronological rather than a topical order has been followed, although the fact that our best literature is of recent growth has made it impossible to adhere as closely to a chronological plan as in the English sketch. In the reading courses appended to the different chapters I have named a few of the most important authorities in American literary history, such as Duyckinck, Tyler, Stedman, and Richardson. My thanks are due to the authors and publishers who have kindly allowed me the use of copyrighted matter for the appendix, especially to Mr. Park Godwin and Messrs. D. Appleton & Co. for the passages from Bryant; to Messrs. A. O. Armstrong & Son for the selections from Poe; to the Rev. E. E. Hale and Messrs. Roberts Brothers for the extract from _The Man Without a Country_; to Walt Whitman for his two poems; and to Mr. Clemens and the American Publishing Co. for the passage from _The Jumping Frog_.
HENRY A. BEERS.
CHAPTER I. THE COLONIAL PERIOD, 1607-1765
CHAPTER II. THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD, 1765-1815
CHAPTER III. THE ERA OF NATIONAL EXPANSION, 1815-1837
CHAPTER IV. THE CONCORD WRITERS, 1837-1861
CHAPTER V. THE CAMBRIDGE SCHOLARS, 1837-1861
CHAPTER VI. LITERATURE IN THE CITIES, 1837-1861
CHAPTER VII. LITERATURE SINCE 1861
INITIAL STUDIES IN AMERICAN LETTERS.
THE COLONIAL PERIOD.
The writings of our colonial era have a much greater importance as history than as literature. It would be unfair to judge of the intellectual vigor of the English colonists in America by the books that they wrote; those "stern men with empires in their brains" had more pressing work to do than the making of books. The first settlers, indeed, were brought face to face with strange and exciting conditions--the sea, the wilderness, the Indians, the flora and fauna of a new world--things which seem stimulating to the imagination, and incidents and experiences which might have lent themselves easily to poetry or romance. Of all these they wrote back to England reports which were faithful and sometimes vivid, but which, upon the whole, hardly rise into the region of literature. "New England," said Hawthorne, "was then in a state incomparably more picturesque than at present." But to a contemporary that old New England of the seventeenth century doubtless seemed any thing but picturesque, filled with grim, hard, work-day realities. The planters both of Virginia and Massachusetts were decimated by sickness and starvation, constantly threatened by Indian Wars, and troubled by quarrels among themselves and fears of disturbance from England. The wrangles between the royal governors and the House of Burgesses in the Old Dominion, and the theological squabbles in New England, which fill our colonial records, are petty and wearisome to read of. At least, they would be so did we not bear in mind to what imperial destinies those conflicts were slowly educating the little communities which had hardly yet secured a foothold on the edge of the raw continent.
Even a century and a half after the Jamestown and Plymouth settlements, when the American plantations had grown strong and flourishing, and commerce was building up large towns, and there were wealth and generous living and fine society, the "good old colony days when we lived under the king," had yielded little in the way of literature that is of any permanent interest. There would seem to be something in the relation of a colony to the mother-country which dooms the thought and art of the former to a helpless provincialism. Canada and Australia are great provinces, wealthier and more populous than the thirteen colonies at the time of their separation from England. They have cities whose inhabitants number hundreds of thousands, well-equipped universities, libraries, cathedrals, costly public buildings, all the outward appliances of an advanced civilization; and yet what have Canada and Australia contributed to British literature?
American literature had no infancy. That engaging _naïveté_ and that heroic rudeness which give a charm to the early popular tales and songs of Europe find, of course, no counterpart on our soil. Instead of emerging from the twilight of the past the first American writings were produced under the garish noon of a modern and learned age. Decrepitude rather than youthfulness is the mark of a colonial literature. The poets, in particular, instead of finding a challenge to their imagination in the new life about them, are apt to go on imitating the cast-off literary fashions of the mother-country. America was settled by Englishmen who were contemporary with the greatest names in English literature. Jamestown was planted in 1607, nine years before Shakespeare's death, and the hero of that enterprise, Captain John Smith, may not improbably have been a personal acquaintance of the great dramatist. "They have acted my fatal tragedies on the stage," wrote Smith. Many circumstances in _The Tempest_ were doubtless suggested by the wreck of the _Sea Venture_ on "the still vext Bermoothes," as described by William Strachey in his _True Repertory of the Wrack and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates_, written at Jamestown, and published at London in 1610. Shakespeare's contemporary, Michael Drayton, the poet of the _Polyolbion_, addressed a spirited valedictory ode to the three shiploads of "brave, heroic minds" who sailed from London in 1606 to colonize Virginia, an ode which ended with the prophecy of a future American literature:
"And as there plenty grows Of laurel every-where-- Apollo's sacred tree-- You it may see A poet's brows To crown, that may sing there."
Another English poet, Samuel Daniel, the author of the _Civil Wars_, had also prophesied in a similar strain:
"And who in time knows whither we may vent The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores . . . What worlds in the yet unformed Occident May come refined with accents that are ours?"
It needed but a slight movement in the balances of fate, and Walter Raleigh might have been reckoned among the poets of America. He was one of the original promoters of the Virginia colony, and he made voyages in person to Newfoundland and Guiana. And more unlikely things have happened than that when John Milton left Cambridge in 1632 he should have been tempted to follow Winthrop and the colonists of Massachusetts Bay, who had sailed two years before. Sir Henry Vane, the younger, who was afterward Milton's friend--
"Vane, young in years, but in sage counsel old"--
came over in 1635, and was for a short time governor of Massachusetts. These are idle speculations, and yet, when we reflect that Oliver Cromwell was on the point of embarking for America when he was prevented by the king's officers, we may, for the nonce, "let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise," and fancy by how narrow a chance _Paradise Lost_ missed being written in Boston. But, as a rule, the members of the literary guild are not quick to emigrate. They like the feeling of an old and rich civilization about them, a state of society which America has only begun to reach during the present century.
Virginia and New England, says Lowell, were the "two great distributing centers of the English race." The men who colonized the country between the Capes of Virginia were not drawn, to any large extent, from the literary or bookish classes in the old country. Many of the first settlers were gentlemen--too many, Captain Smith thought, for the good of the plantation. Some among these were men of worth and spirit, "of good means and great parentage." Such was, for example, George Percy, a younger brother of the Earl of Northumberland, who was one of the original adventurers, and the author of _A Discourse of the Plantation of the Southern Colony of Virginia_, which contains a graphic narrative of the fever and famine summer of 1607 at Jamestown. But many of these gentlemen were idlers, "unruly gallants, packed thither by their friends to escape ill destinies," dissipated younger sons, soldiers of fortune, who came over after the gold which was supposed to abound in the new country, and who spent their time in playing bowls and drinking at the tavern as soon as there was any tavern. With these was a sprinkling of mechanics and farmers, indented servants, and the on-scourings of the London streets, fruit of press-gangs and jail deliveries, sent over to "work in the plantations."
Nor were the conditions of life afterward in Virginia very favorable to literary growth. The planters lived isolated on great estates which had water-fronts on the rivers that flow into the Chesapeake. There the tobacco, the chief staple of the country, was loaded directly upon the trading vessels that tied up to the long, narrow wharves of the plantations. Surrounded by his slaves, and visited occasionally by a distant neighbor, the Virginia country gentleman lived a free and careless life. He was fond of fox-hunting, horse-racing, and cock-fighting. There were no large towns, and the planters met each other mainly on occasion of a county court or the assembling of the Burgesses. The court-house was the nucleus of social and political life in Virginia as the town-meeting was in New England. In such a state of society schools were necessarily few, and popular education did not exist. Sir William Berkeley, who was the royal governor of the colony from 1641 to 1677, said, in 1670, "I thank God there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years." In the matter of printing this pious wish was well-nigh realized. The first press set up in the colony, about 1681, was soon suppressed, and found no successor until the year 1729. From that date until some ten years before the Revolution one printing-press answered the needs of Virginia, and this was under official control. The earliest newspaper in the colony was the _Virginia Gazette_, established in 1736.
In the absence of schools the higher education naturally languished. Some of the planters were taught at home by tutors, and others went to England and entered the universities. But these were few in number, and there was no college in the colony until more than half a century after the foundation of Harvard in the younger province of Massachusetts. The college of William and Mary was established at Williamsburg chiefly by the exertions of the Rev. James Blair, a Scotch divine, who was sent by the Bishop of London as "commissary" to the Church in Virginia. The college received its charter in 1693, and held its first commencement in 1700. It is perhaps significant of the difference between the Puritans of New England and the so-called "Cavaliers" of Virginia, that while the former founded and supported Harvard College in 1636, and Yale in 1701, of their own motion and at their own expense, William and Mary received its endowment from the crown, being provided for in part by a deed of lands and in part by a tax of a penny a pound on all tobacco exported from the colony. In return for this royal grant the college was to present yearly to the king two copies of Latin verse. It is reported of the young Virginian gentlemen who resorted to the new college that they brought their plantation manners with them, and were accustomed to "keep race-horses at the college, and bet at the billiard or other gaming-tables." William and Mary College did a good work for the colony, and educated some of the great Virginians of the Revolutionary era, but it has never been a large or flourishing institution, and has held no such relation to the intellectual development of its section as Harvard and Yale have held in the colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Even after the foundation of the University of Virginia, in which Jefferson took a conspicuous part, Southern youths were commonly sent to the North for their education, and at the time of the outbreak of the civil war there was a large contingent of Southern students in several Northern colleges, notably in Princeton and Yale.
Naturally, the first books written in America were descriptions of the country and narratives of the vicissitudes of the infant settlements, which were sent home to be printed for the information of the English public and the encouragement of further immigration. Among books of this kind produced in Virginia the earliest and most noteworthy were the writings of that famous soldier of fortune, Captain John Smith. The first of these was his _True Relation_, namely, "of such occurrences and accidents of note as hath happened in Virginia since the first planting of that colony," printed at London in 1608. Among Smith's other books the most important is perhaps his _General History of Virginia_ (London, 1624), a compilation of various narratives by different hands, but passing under his name. Smith was a man of a restless and daring spirit, full of resource, impatient of contradiction, and of a somewhat vainglorious nature, with an appetite for the marvelous and a disposition to draw the longbow. He had seen service in many parts of the world, and his wonderful adventures lost nothing in the telling. It was alleged against him that the evidence of his prowess rested almost entirely on his own testimony. His truthfulness in essentials has not, perhaps, been successfully impugned, but his narratives have suffered by the embellishments with which he has colored them; and, in particular, the charming story of Pocahontas saving his life at the risk of her own--the one romance of early Virginian history--has passed into the realm of legend.
Captain Smith's writings have small literary value apart from the interest of the events which they describe and the diverting but forcible personality which they unconsciously display. They are the rough-hewn records of a busy man of action, whose sword was mightier than his pen. As Smith returned to England after two years in Virginia, and did not permanently cast in his lot with the settlement of which he had been for a time the leading spirit, he can hardly be claimed as an American author. No more can Mr. George Sandys, who came to Virginia in the train of Governor Wyat, in 1621, and completed his excellent metrical translation of Ovid on the banks of the James, in the midst of the Indian massacre of 1622, "limned" as he writes "by that imperfect light which was snatched from the hours of night and repose, having wars and tumults to bring it to light instead of the muses." Sandys went back to England for good probably as early as 1625, and can, therefore, no more be reckoned as the first American poet, on the strength of his paraphrase of the _Metamorphoses_, than he can be reckoned the earliest Yankee inventor because he "introduced the first water-mill into America."
The literature of colonial Virginia, and of the southern colonies which took their point of departure from Virginia, is almost wholly of this historical and descriptive kind. A great part of it is concerned with the internal affairs of the province, such as "Bacon's Rebellion," in 1676, one of the most striking episodes in our ante-revolutionary annals, and of which there exist a number of narratives, some of them anonymous, and only rescued from a manuscript condition a hundred years after the event. Another part is concerned with the explorations of new territory. Such were the "Westover Manuscripts," left by Colonel William Byrd, who was appointed in 1729 one of the commissioners to fix the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina, and gave an account of the survey in his _History of the Dividing Line_, which was printed only in 1841. Colonel Byrd is one of the most brilliant figures of colonial Virginia, and a type of the Old Virginia gentleman. He had been sent to England for his education, where he was admitted to the bar of the Middle Temple, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and formed an intimate friendship with Charles Boyle, the Earl of Orrery. He held many offices in the government of the colony, and founded the cities of Richmond and Petersburg. His estates were large, and at Westover--where he had one of the finest private libraries in America--he exercised a baronial hospitality, blending the usual profusion of plantation life with the elegance of a traveled scholar and "picked man of countries." Colonel Byrd was rather an amateur in literature. His _History of the Dividing Line_ is written with a jocularity which rises occasionally into real humor, and which gives to the painful journey through the wilderness the air of a holiday expedition. Similar in tone were his diaries of _A Progress to the Mines_ and _A Journey to the Land of Eden_ in North Carolina.
The first formal historian of Virginia was Robert Beverly, "a native and inhabitant of the place," whose _History of Virginia_ was printed at London in 1705. Beverly was a rich planter and large slave-owner, who, being in London in 1703, was shown by his bookseller the manuscript of a forthcoming work, Oldmixon's _British Empire in America_. Beverly was set upon writing his history by the inaccuracies in this, and likewise because the province "has been so misrepresented to the common people of England as to make them believe that the servants in Virginia are made to draw in cart and plow, and that the country turns all people black"--an impression which lingers still in parts of Europe. The most original portions of the book are those in which the author puts down his personal observations of the plants and animals of the New World, and particularly the account of the Indians, to which his third book is devoted, and which is accompanied by valuable plates. Beverly's knowledge of these matters was evidently at first hand, and his descriptions here are very fresh and interesting. The more strictly historical part of his work is not free from prejudice and inaccuracy. A more critical, detailed, and impartial, but much less readable, work was William Stith's _History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia_, 1747, which brought the subject down only to the year 1624. Stith was a clergyman, and at one time a professor in William and Mary College.
The Virginians were stanch royalists and churchmen. The Church of England was established by law, and non-conformity was persecuted in various ways. Three missionaries were sent to the colony in 1642 by the Puritans of New England, two from Braintree, Massachusetts, and one from New Haven. They were not suffered to preach, but many resorted to them in private houses, until, being finally driven out by fines and imprisonments, they took refuge in Catholic Maryland. The Virginia clergy were not, as a body, very much of a force in education or literature. Many of them, by reason of the scattering and dispersed condition of their parishes, lived as domestic chaplains with the wealthier planters, and partook of their illiteracy and their passion for gaming and hunting. Few of them inherited the zeal of Alexander Whitaker, the "Apostle of Virginia," who came over in 1611 to preach to the colonists and convert the Indians, and who published in furtherance of those ends _Good News from Virginia_, in 1613, three years before his death by drowning in the James River.
The conditions were much more favorable for the production of a literature in New England than in the southern colonies. The free and genial existence of the "Old Dominion" had no counterpart among the settlers of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, and the Puritans must have been rather unpleasant people to live with for persons of a different way of thinking. But their intensity of character, their respect for learning, and the heroic mood which sustained them through the hardships and dangers of their great enterprise are amply reflected in their own writings. If these are not so much literature as the raw materials of literature, they have at least been fortunate in finding interpreters among their descendants, and no modern Virginian has done for the memory of the Jamestown planters what Hawthorne, Whittier, Longfellow, and others have done in casting the glamour of poetry and romance over the lives of the founders of New England.
Cotton Mather, in his _Magnalia_, quotes the following passage from one of those election sermons, delivered before the General Court of Massachusetts, which formed for many years the great annual intellectual event of the colony:
"The question was often put unto our predecessors, _What went ye out into the wilderness to see_? And the answer to it is not only too excellent but too notorious to be dissembled. . . . We came hither because we would have our posterity settled under the pure and full dispensations of the Gospel, defended by rulers that should be of ourselves." The New England colonies were, in fact, theocracies. Their leaders were clergymen, or laymen whose zeal for the faith was no whit inferior to that of the ministers themselves. Church and State were one. The freeman's oath was only administered to church members, and there was no place in the social system for unbelievers or dissenters. The pilgrim fathers regarded their transplantation to the New World as an exile, and nothing is more touching in their written records than the repeated expressions of love and longing toward the old home which they had left, and even toward that Church of England from which they had sorrowfully separated themselves. It was not in any light or adventurous spirit that they faced the perils of the sea and the wilderness. "This howling wilderness," "these ends of the earth," "these goings down of the sun," are some of the epithets which they constantly applied to the land of their exile. Nevertheless they had come to stay, and, unlike Smith and Percy and Sandys, the early historians and writers of New England cast in their lots permanently with the new settlements. A few, indeed, went back after 1640--Mather says some ten or twelve of the ministers of the first "classis" or immigration were among them--when the victory of the Puritanic party in Parliament opened a career for them in England, and made their presence there seem in some cases a duty. The celebrated Hugh Peters, for example, who was afterward Oliver Cromwell's chaplain, and was beheaded after the Restoration, went back in 1641, and in 1647 Nathaniel Ward, the minister of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and author of a quaint book against toleration, entitled _The Simple Cobbler of Agawam_; written in America and published shortly after its author's arrival in England. The civil war, too, put a stop to further emigration from England until after the Restoration in 1660.
The mass of the Puritan immigration consisted of men of the middle class, artisans and husbandmen, the most useful members of a new colony. But their leaders were clergymen educated at the universities, and especially at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, the great Puritan college; their civil magistrates were also in great part gentlemen of education and substance, like the elder Winthrop, who was learned in law, and Theophilus Eaton, first governor of New Haven, who was a London merchant of good estate. It is computed that there were in New England during the first generation as many university graduates as in any community of equal population in the old country. Almost the first care of the settlers was to establish schools. Every town of fifty families was required by law to maintain a common school, and every town of a hundred families a grammar or Latin school. In 1636, only sixteen years after the landing of the Pilgrims on Plymouth Rock, Harvard College was founded at Newtown, whose name was thereupon changed to Cambridge, the General Court held at Boston on September 8, 1630, having already advanced 400 pounds "by way of essay towards the building of something to begin a college." "An university," says Mather, "which hath been to these plantations, for the good literature there cultivated, _sal Gentium_, . . . and a river without the streams whereof these regions would have been mere unwatered places for the devil." By 1701 Harvard had put forth a vigorous offshoot, Yale College at New Haven, the settlers of New Haven and Connecticut plantations having increased sufficiently to need a college at their own doors. A printing-press was set up at Cambridge in 1639, which was under the oversight of the university authorities, and afterward of licensers appointed by the civil power. The press was no more free in Massachusetts than in Virginia, and that "liberty of unlicensed printing" for which the Puritan Milton had pleaded in his _Areopagitica_, in 1644, was unknown in Puritan New England until some twenty years before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. "The Freeman's Oath" and an almanac were issued from the Cambridge press in 1639, and in 1640 the first English book printed in America, a collection of the psalms in meter, made by various ministers, and known as the _Bay Psalm Book_. The poetry of this version was worse, if possible, than that of Sternhold and Hopkins's famous rendering; but it is noteworthy that one of the principal translators was that devoted "Apostle to the Indians," the Rev. John Eliot, who, in 1661-63, translated the Bible into the Algonquin tongue. Eliot hoped and toiled a life-time for the conversion of those "salvages," "tawnies," "devil-worshipers," for whom our early writers have usually nothing but bad words. They have been destroyed instead of converted; but his (so entitled) _Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God naneeswe Nukkone Testament kah wonk Wusku Testament_--the first Bible printed in America--remains a monument of missionary zeal and a work of great value to students of the Indian languages.
A modern writer has said that, to one looking back on the history of old New England, it seems as though the sun shone but dimly there, and the landscape was always dark and wintry. Such is the impression which one carries away from the perusal of books like Bradford's and Winthrop's Journals, or Mather's _Wonders of the Invisible World_--an impression of gloom, of flight and cold, of mysterious fears besieging the infant settlements scattered in a narrow fringe "between the groaning forest and the shore." The Indian terror hung over New England for more than half a century, or until the issue of King Philip's War, in 1670, relieved the colonists of any danger of a general massacre. Added to this were the perplexities caused by the earnest resolve of the settlers to keep their New-England Eden free from the intrusion of the serpent in the shape of heretical sects in religion. The Puritanism of Massachusetts was an orthodox and conservative Puritanism. The later and more grotesque out-crops of the movement in the old England found no toleration in the new. But these refugees for conscience' sake were compelled in turn to persecute Antinomians, Separatists, Familists, Libertines, Anti-pedobaptists, and later, Quakers, and still later, Enthusiasts, who swarmed into their precincts and troubled the churches with "prophesyings" and novel opinions. Some of those were banished, others were flogged or imprisoned, and a few were put to death. Of the exiles the most noteworthy was Roger Williams, an impetuous, warm-hearted man, who was so far in advance of his age as to deny the power of the civil magistrate in cases of conscience, or who, in other words, maintained the modern doctrine of the separation of Church and State. Williams was driven away from the Massachusetts colony--where he had been minister of the church at Salem--and with a few followers fled into the southern wilderness and settled at Providence. There, and in the neighboring plantation of Rhode Island, for which he obtained a charter, he established his patriarchal rule and gave freedom of worship to all comers. Williams was a prolific writer on theological subjects, the most important of his writings being, perhaps, his _Bloody Tenent of Persecution_, 1644, and a supplement to the same called out by a reply to the former work from the pen of Mr. John Cotton, minister of the First Church at Boston, entitled _The Bloody Tenent Washed and made White in the Blood of the Lamb_. Williams was also a friend to the Indians, whose lands, he thought, should not be taken from them without payment, and he anticipated Eliot by writing, in 1643, a _Key into the Language of America_. Although at odds with the theology of Massachusetts Bay, Williams remained in correspondence with Winthrop and others in Boston, by whom he was highly esteemed. He visited England in 1643 and 1652, and made the acquaintance of John Milton.
Besides the threat of an Indian war and their anxious concern for the purity of the Gospel in their churches, the colonists were haunted by superstitious forebodings of the darkest kind. It seemed to them that Satan, angered by the setting up of the kingdom of the saints in America, had "come down in great wrath," and was present among them, sometimes even in visible shape, to terrify and tempt. Special providences and unusual phenomena, like earth quakes, mirages, and the northern lights, are gravely recorded by Winthrop and Mather and others as portents of supernatural persecutions. Thus Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, the celebrated leader of the Familists, having, according to rumor, been delivered of a monstrous birth, the Rev. John Cotton, in open assembly, at Boston, upon a lecture day, "thereupon gathered that it might signify her error in denying inherent righteousness." "There will be an unusual range of the devil among us," wrote Mather, "a little before the second coming of our Lord. The evening wolves will be much abroad when we are near the evening of the world." This belief culminated in the horrible witchcraft delusion at Salem in 1692, that "spectral puppet play," which, beginning with the malicious pranks of a few children who accused certain uncanny old women and other persons of mean condition and suspected lives of having tormented them with magic, gradually drew into its vortex victims of the highest character, and resulted in the judicial murder of over nineteen people. Many of the possessed pretended to have been visited by the apparition of a little black man, who urged them to inscribe their names in a red book which he carried--a sort of muster-roll of those who had forsworn God's service for the devil's. Others testified to having been present at meetings of witches in the forest. It is difficult now to read without contempt the "evidence" which grave justices and learned divines considered sufficient to condemn to death men and women of unblemished lives. It is true that the belief in witchcraft was general at that time all over the civilized world, and that sporadic cases of witch-burnings had occurred in different parts of America and Europe. Sir Thomas Browne, in his _Religio Medici_, 1635, affirmed his belief in witches, and pronounced those who doubted of them "a sort of atheist." But the superstition came to a head in the Salem trials and executions, and was the more shocking from the general high level of intelligence in the community in which these were held. It would be well if those who lament the decay of "faith" would remember what things were done in New England in the name of faith less than two hundred years ago. It is not wonderful that, to the Massachusetts Puritans of the seventeenth century, the mysterious forest held no beautiful suggestion; to them it was simply a grim and hideous wilderness, whose dark aisles were the ambush of prowling savages and the rendezvous of those other "devil-worshipers" who celebrated there a kind of vulgar Walpurgis night.
The most important of original sources for the history of the settlement of New England are the journals of William Bradford, first governor of Plymouth, and John Winthrop, the second governor of Massachusetts, which hold a place corresponding to the writings of Captain John Smith in the Virginia colony, but are much more sober and trustworthy. Bradford's _History of Plymouth Plantation_ covers the period from 1620 to 1646. The manuscript was used by later annalists but remained unpublished, as a whole, until 1855, having been lost during the War of the Revolution and recovered long afterward in England. Winthrop's Journal, or _History of New England_, begun on shipboard in 1630, and extending to 1649, was not published entire until 1826. It is of equal authority with Bradford's, and perhaps, on the whole the more important of the two, as the colony of Massachusetts Bay, whose history it narrates, greatly outwent Plymouth in wealth and population, though not in priority of settlement. The interest of Winthrop's Journal lies in the events that it records rather than in any charm in the historian's manner of recording them. His style is pragmatic, and some of the incidents which he gravely notes are trivial to the modern mind, though instructive as to our forefathers' way of thinking. For instance, of the year 1632: "At Watertown there was (in the view of divers witnesses) a great combat between a mouse and a snake, and after a long fight the mouse prevailed and killed the snake. The pastor of Boston, Mr. Wilson, a very sincere, holy man, hearing of it, gave this interpretation: that the snake was the devil, the mouse was a poor, contemptible people, which God had brought hither, which should overcome Satan here and dispossess him of his kingdom." The reader of Winthrop's Journal comes every-where upon hints which the imagination has since shaped into poetry and romance. The germs of many of Longfellow's _New England Tragedies_, of Hawthorne's _Maypole of Merrymount_, and _Endicott's Red Cross_, and of Whittier's _John Underhill_ and _The Familists' Hymn_ are all to be found in some dry, brief entry of the old Puritan diarist. "Robert Cole, having been oft punished for drunkenness, was now ordered to wear a red D about his neck for a year," to wit, the year 1633, and thereby gave occasion to the greatest American romance, _The Scarlet Letter_. The famous apparition of the phantom ship in New Haven harbor, "upon the top of the poop a man standing with one hand akimbo under his left side, and in his right hand a sword stretched out toward the sea," was first chronicled by Winthrop under the year 1648. This meteorological phenomenon took on the dimensions of a full-grown myth some forty years later, as related, with many embellishments, by Rev. James Pierpont, of New Haven, in a letter to Cotton Mather. Winthrop put great faith in special providences, and among other instances narrates, not without a certain grim satisfaction, how "the _Mary Rose_, a ship of Bristol, of about 200 tons," lying before Charleston, was blown in pieces with her own powder, being twenty-one barrels, wherein the judgment of God appeared, "for the master and company were many of them profane scoffers at us and at the ordinances of religion here." Without any effort at dramatic portraiture or character-sketching, Winthrop managed in all simplicity, and by the plain relation of facts, to leave a clear impression of many prominent figures in the first Massachusetts immigration. In particular there gradually arises from the entries in his diary a very distinct and diverting outline of Captain John Underhill, celebrated in Whittier's poem. He was one of the few professional soldiers who came over with the Puritan fathers, such as John Mason, the hero of the Pequot War, and Miles Standish, whose _Courtship_ Longfellow sang. He had seen service in the Low Countries, and in pleading the privilege of his profession "he insisted much upon the liberty which all States do allow to military officers for free speech, etc., and that himself had spoken sometimes as freely to Count Nassau." Captain Underhill gave the colony no end of trouble, both by his scandalous living and his heresies in religion. Having been seduced into Familistical opinions by Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, who was banished for her beliefs, he was had up before the General Court and questioned, among other points, as to his own report of the manner of his conversion. "He had lain under a spirit of bondage and a legal way for years, and could get no assurance, till, at length, as he was taking a pipe of tobacco, the Spirit set home an absolute promise of free grace with such assurance and joy as he never since doubted of his good estate, neither should he, though he should fall into sin. . . . The Lord's day following he made a speech in the assembly, showing that as the Lord was pleased to convert Paul as he was in persecuting, etc., so he might manifest himself to him as he was taking the moderate use of the creature called tobacco." The gallant captain, being banished the colony, betook himself to the falls of the Piscataquack (Exeter, N.H.), where the Rev. John Wheelwright, another adherent of Mrs. Hutchinson, had gathered a congregation. Being made governor of this plantation, Underhill sent letters to the Massachusetts magistrates, breathing reproaches and imprecations of vengeance. But meanwhile it was discovered that he had been living in adultery at Boston with a young woman whom he had seduced, the wife of a cooper, and the captain was forced to make public confession, which he did with great unction and in a manner highly dramatic. "He came in his worst clothes (being accustomed to take great pride in his bravery and neatness), without a band, in a foul linen cap, and pulled close to his eyes, and standing upon a form, he did, with many deep sighs and abundance of tears, lay open his wicked course." There is a lurking humor in the grave Winthrop's detailed account of Underhill's doings. Winthrop's own personality comes out well in his Journal. He was a born leader of men, a _conditor imperii_, just, moderate, patient, wise; and his narrative gives, upon the whole, a favorable impression of the general prudence and fair-mindedness of the Massachusetts settlers in their dealings with one another, with the Indians, and with the neighboring plantations.
Considering our forefathers' errand and calling into this wilderness, it is not strange that their chief literary staples were sermons and tracts in controversial theology. Multitudes of these were written and published by the divines of the first generation, such as John Cotton, Thomas Shepard, John Norton, Peter Bulkley, and Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford, of whom it was finely said that "when he was doing his Master's business he would put a king into his pocket." Nor were their successors in the second or the third generation any less industrious and prolific. They rest from their labors and their works do follow them. Their sermons and theological treatises are not literature: they are for the most part dry, heavy, and dogmatic, but they exhibit great learning, logical acuteness, and an earnestness which sometimes rises into eloquence. The pulpit ruled New England, and the sermon was the great intellectual engine of the time. The serious thinking of the Puritans was given almost exclusively to religion; the other world was all their art. The daily secular events of life, the aspects of nature, the vicissitude of the seasons, were important enough to find record in print only in so far as they manifested God's dealings with his people. So much was the sermon depended upon to furnish literary food that it was the general custom of serious-minded laymen to take down the words of the discourse in their note-books. Franklin, in his _Autobiography_, describes this as the constant habit of his grandfather, Peter Folger; and Mather, in his life of the elder Winthrop, says that "tho' he wrote not after the preacher, yet such was his _attention_ and such his _retention_ in hearing, that he repeated unto his family the sermons which he had heard in the congregation." These discourses were commonly of great length; twice, or sometimes thrice, the pulpit hour-glass was silently inverted while the orator pursued his theme even unto "fourteenthly."
The book which best sums up the life and thought of this old New England of the seventeenth century is Cotton Mather's _Magnalia Christi Americana_. Mather was by birth a member of that clerical aristocracy which developed later into Dr. Holmes's "Brahmin Caste of New England." His maternal grandfather was John Cotton. His father was Increase Mather, the most learned divine of his generation in New England, minister of the North Church of Boston, President of Harvard College, and author, _inter alia_, of that characteristically Puritan book, _An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences_. Cotton Mather himself was a monster of erudition and a prodigy of diligence. He was graduated from Harvard at fifteen. He ordered his daily life and conversation by a system of minute observances. He was a book-worm, whose life was spent between his library and his pulpit, and his published works number upward of three hundred and eighty. Of these the most important is the _Magnalia_, 1702, an ecclesiastical history of New England from 1620 to 1698, divided into seven parts: I. Antiquities; II. Lives of the Governors; III. Lives of Sixty Famous Divines; IV. A History of Harvard College, with biographies of its eminent graduates; V. Acts and Monuments of the Faith; VI. Wonderful Providences; VII. The Wars of the Lord--that is, an account of the Afflictions and Disturbances of the Churches and the Conflicts with the Indians. The plan of the work thus united that of Fuller's _Worthies of England_ and _Church History_ with that of Wood's _Athenae Oxonienses_ and Fox's _Book of Martyrs_.
Mather's prose was of the kind which the English Commonwealth writers used. He was younger by a generation than Dryden; but, as literary fashions are slower to change in a colony than in the mother-country, that nimble English which Dryden and the Restoration essayists introduced had not yet displaced in New England the older manner. Mather wrote in the full and pregnant style of Taylor, Milton, Brown, Fuller, and Burton, a style ponderous with learning and stiff with allusions, digressions, conceits, anecdotes, and quotations from the Greek and the Latin. A page of the _Magnalia_ is almost as richly mottled with italics as one from the _Anatomy of Melancholy_, and the quaintness which Mather caught from his favorite Fuller disports itself in textual pun and marginal anagram and the fantastic sub-titles of his books and chapters. He speaks of Thomas Hooker as having "_angled_ many scores of souls into the kingdom of heaven," anagrammatizes Mrs. Hutchinson's surname into "the non-such;" and having occasion to speak of Mr. Urian Oakes's election to the presidency of Harvard College, enlarges upon the circumstance as follows:
"We all know that _Britain_ knew nothing more famous than their ancient sect of DRUIDS; the philosophers, whose order, they say, was instituted by one _Samothes_, which is in English as much as to say, an heavenly man. The _Celtic_ name, _Deru_, for an Oak was that from whence they received their denomination; as at this very day the _Welch_ call this tree _Drew_, and this order of men _Derwyddon_. But there are no small antiquaries who derive this oaken religion and philosophy from the _Oaks of Mamre_, where the Patriarch _Abraham_ had as well a dwelling as an _altar_. That _Oaken-Plain_ and the eminent OAK under which _Abraham_ lodged was extant in the days of _Constantine_, as _Isidore_, _Jerom_, and _Sozomen_ have assured us. Yea, there are shrewd probabilities that _Noah_ himself had lived in this very _Oak-plain_ before him; for this very place was called _Ogge_ [see Transcriber's Note #1 at end of chapter], which was the name of _Noah_, so styled from the _Oggyan_ (_subcineritiis panibus_) sacrifices, which he did use to offer in this renowned _Grove_. And it was from this example that the ancients, and particularly that the Druids of the nations, chose _oaken_ retirements for their studies. Reader, let us now, upon another account, behold the students of _Harvard College_, as a rendezvous of happy _Druids_, under the influences of so rare a president. But, alas! our joy must be short-lived, for on _July_ 25, 1681, the stroke of a sudden death felled the _tree_,
"Qui tantum inter caput extulit omnes Quantum lenta solent inter viberna cypressi.
"Mr. _Oakes_ thus being transplanted into the better world the presidentship was immediately tendered unto _Mr. Increase Mather_."
This will suffice as an example of the bad taste and laborious pedantry which disfigured Mather's writing. In its substance the book is a perfect thesaurus; and inasmuch as nothing is unimportant in the history of the beginnings of such a nation as this is and is destined to be, the _Magnalia_ will always remain a valuable and interesting work. Cotton Mather, born in 1663, was of the second generation of Americans, his grandfather being of the immigration, but his father a native of Dorchester, Mass. A comparison of his writings and of the writings of his contemporaries with the works of Bradford, Winthrop, Hooker, and others of the original colonists, shows that the simple and heroic faith of the Pilgrims had hardened into formalism and doctrinal rigidity. The leaders of the Puritan exodus, notwithstanding their intolerance of errors in belief, were comparatively broad-minded men. They were sharers in a great national movement, and they came over when their cause was warm with the glow of martyrdom and on the eve of its coming triumph at home. After the Restoration, in 1660, the currents of national feeling no longer circulated so freely through this distant member of the body politic, and thought in America became more provincial. The English dissenters, though socially at a disadvantage as compared with the Church of England, had the great benefit of living at the center of national life, and of feeling about them the pressure of vast bodies of people who did not think as they did. In New England, for many generations, the dominant sect had things all its own way--a condition of things which is not healthy for any sect or party. Hence Mather and the divines of his time appear in their writings very much like so many Puritan bishops, jealous of their prerogatives, magnifying their apostolate, and careful to maintain their authority over the laity. Mather had an appetite for the marvelous, and took a leading part in the witchcraft trials, of which he gave an account in his _Wonders of the Invisible World_, 1693. To the quaint pages of the _Magnalia_ our modern authors have resorted as to a collection of romances or fairy tales. Whittier, for example, took from thence the subject of his poem _The Garrison of Cape Anne_; and Hawthorne embodied in _Grandfather's Chair_ the most elaborate of Mather's biographies. This was the life of Sir William Phipps, who, from being a poor shepherd boy in his native province of Maine, rose to be the royal governor of Massachusetts, and the story of whose wonderful adventures in raising the freight of a Spanish ship, sunk on a reef near Port de la Plata, reads less like sober fact than like some ancient fable, with talk of the Spanish main, bullion, and plate and jewels and "pieces of eight."
Of Mather's generation was Samuel Sewall, Chief-Justice of Massachusetts, a singularly gracious and venerable figure, who is intimately known through his Diary, kept from 1673 to 1729. This has been compared with the more famous diary of Samuel Pepys, which it resembles in its confidential character and the completeness of its self-revelation, but to which it is as much inferior in historic interest as "the petty province here" was inferior in political and social importance to "Britain far away." For the most part it is a chronicle of small beer, the diarist jotting down the minutiae of his domestic life and private affairs, even to the recording of such haps as this: "March 23, I had my hair cut by G. Barret." But it also affords instructive glimpses of public events, such as King Philip's War, the Quaker troubles, the English Revolution of 1688, etc. It bears about the same relation to New England history at the close of the seventeenth century as Bradford's and Winthrop's Journals bear to that of the first generation. Sewall was one of the justices who presided at the trial of the Salem witches; but for the part which he took in that wretched affair he made such atonement as was possible, by open confession of his mistake and his remorse in the presence of the Church. Sewall was one of the first writers against African slavery, in his brief tract, _The Selling of Joseph_, printed at Boston in 1700. His _Phenomena Quaedam Apocalyptica_, a mystical interpretation of prophecies concerning the New Jerusalem, which he identifies with America, is remembered only because Whittier, in his _Prophecy of Samuel Sewall_, has paraphrased one poetic passage which shows a loving observation of nature very rare in our colonial writers.
Of poetry, indeed, or, in fact, of pure literature, in the narrower sense--that is, of the imaginative representation of life--there was little or none in the colonial period. There were no novels, no plays, no satires, and--until the example of the _Spectator_ had begun to work on this side the water--no experiments even at the lighter forms of essay-writing, character-sketches, and literary criticism. There was verse of a certain kind, but the most generous stretch of the term would hardly allow it to be called poetry. Many of the early divines of New England relieved their pens, in the intervals of sermon-writing, of epigrams, elegies, eulogistic verses, and similar grave trifles distinguished by the crabbed wit of the so-called "metaphysical poets," whose manner was in fashion when the Puritans left England; the manner of Donne and Cowley, and those darlings of the New-English muse, the _Emblems_ of Quarles and the _Divine Week_ of Du Bartas, as translated by Sylvester. The _Magnalia_ contains a number of these things in Latin and English, and is itself well bolstered with complimentary introductions in meter by the author's friends. For example:
_Tuos Tecum Ornasti_.
"While thus the dead in thy rare pages rise _Thine, with thyself thou dost immortalize_. To view the odds thy learned lives invite 'Twixt Eleutherian and Edomite. But all succeeding ages shall despair A fitting monument for thee to _rear_. Thy own rich pen (peace, silly Momus, peace!) Hath given them a lasting _writ of ease_."
The epitaphs and mortuary verses were especially ingenious in the matter of puns, anagrams, and similar conceits. The death of the Rev. Samuel Stone, of Hartford, afforded an opportunity of this sort not to be missed, and his threnodist accordingly celebrated him as a "whetstone," a "loadstone," an "Ebenezer"--
"A stone for kingly David's use so fit As would not fail Goliath's front to hit," etc.
The most characteristic, popular, and widely circulated poem of colonial New England was Michael Wigglesworth's _Day of Doom_ (1663), a kind of doggerel _Inferno_, which went through nine editions, and "was the solace," says Lowell, "of every fireside, the flicker of the pine-knots by which it was conned perhaps adding a livelier relish to its premonitions of eternal combustion." Wigglesworth had not the technical equipment of a poet. His verse is sing-song, his language rude and monotonous, and the lurid horrors of his material hell are more likely to move mirth than fear in a modern reader. But there are an unmistakable vigor of imagination and a sincerity of belief in his gloomy poem which hold it far above contempt, and easily account for its universal currency among a people like the Puritans. One stanza has been often quoted for its grim concession to unregenerate infants of "the easiest room in hell"--a _limbus infantum_ which even Origen need not have scrupled at.
The most authoritative expounder of New England Calvinism was Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), a native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yale, who was minister for more than twenty years over the church in Northampton, Mass., afterward missionary to the Stockbridge Indians, and at the time of his death had just been inaugurated president of Princeton College. By virtue of his _Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will_, 1754, Edwards holds rank as the subtlest metaphysician of his age. This treatise was composed to justify, on philosophical grounds, the Calvinistic doctrines of fore-ordination and election by grace, though its arguments are curiously coincident with those of the scientific necessitarians, whose conclusions are as far asunder from Edwards's "as from the center thrice to the utmost pole." His writings belong to theology rather than to literature, but there is an intensity and a spiritual elevation about them, apart from the profundity and acuteness of the thought, which lift them here and there into the finer ether of purely emotional or imaginative art. He dwelt rather upon the terrors than the comfort of the word, and his chosen themes were the dogmas of predestination, original sin, total depravity, and eternal punishment. The titles of his sermons are significant: _Men Naturally God's Enemies_, _Wrath upon the Wicked to the Uttermost_, _The Final Judgment_, etc. "A natural man," he wrote in the first of these discourses, "has a heart like the heart of a devil. . . . The heart of a natural man is as destitute of love to God as a dead, stiff, cold corpse is of vital heat." Perhaps the most famous of Edwards's sermons was _Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God_, preached at Enfield, Conn., July 8, 1741, "at a time of great awakenings," and upon the ominous text, _Their foot shall slide in due time_. "The God that holds you over the pit of hell," runs an oft-quoted passage from this powerful denunciation of the wrath to come, "much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. . . . You are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. . . . You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it. . . . If you cry to God to pity you he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case that he will only tread you under foot. . . . He will crush out your blood and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments so as to stain all his raiment." But Edwards was a rapt soul, possessed with the love as well as the fear of the God, and there are passages of sweet and exalted feeling in his _Treatise Concerning Religious Affections_, 1746. Such is his portrait of Sarah Pierpont, "a young lady in New Haven," who afterward became his wife and who "will sometimes go about from place to place singing sweetly, and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her." Edwards's printed works number thirty-six titles. A complete edition of them in ten volumes was published in 1829 by his great grandson, Sereno Dwight. The memoranda from Edwards's note-books, quoted by his editor and biographer, exhibit a remarkable precocity. Even as a school-boy and a college student he had made deep guesses in physics as well as metaphysics, and, as might have been predicted of a youth of his philosophical insight and ideal cast of mind, he had early anticipated Berkeley in denying the existence of matter. In passing from Mather to Edwards we step from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century. There is the same difference between them in style and turn of thought as between Milton and Locke, or between Fuller and Bryden. The learned digressions, the witty conceits, the perpetual interlarding of the text with scraps of Latin, have fallen off, even as the full-bottomed wig and the clerical gown and bands have been laid aside for the undistinguishing dress of the modern minister. In Edwards's English all is simple, precise, direct, and business-like.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-90), who was strictly contemporary with Edwards, was a contrast to him in every respect. As Edwards represents the spirituality and other-worldliness of Puritanism, Franklin stands for the worldly and secular side of American character, and he illustrates the development of the New England Englishman into the modern Yankee. Clear rather than subtle, without ideality or romance or fineness of emotion or poetic lift, intensely practical and utilitarian, broad-minded, inventive, shrewd, versatile, Franklin's sturdy figure became typical of his time and his people. He was the first and the only man of letters in colonial America who acquired a cosmopolitan fame and impressed his characteristic Americanism upon the mind of Europe. He was the embodiment of common sense and of the useful virtues, with the enterprise but without the nervousness of his modern compatriots, uniting the philosopher's openness of mind to the sagacity and quickness of resource of the self-made business man. He was representative also of his age, an age of _aufklärung_, _eclaircissement_, or "clearing up." By the middle of the eighteenth century a change had taken place in American society. Trade had increased between the different colonies; Boston, New York, and Philadelphia were considerable towns; democratic feeling was spreading; over forty newspapers were published in America at the outbreak of the Revolution; politics claimed more attention than formerly, and theology less. With all this intercourse and mutual reaction of the various colonies upon one another, the isolated theocracy of New England naturally relaxed somewhat of its grip on the minds of the laity. When Franklin was a printer's apprentice in Boston, setting type on his brother's _New England Courant_, the fourth American newspaper, he got hold of an odd volume of the _Spectator_, and formed his style upon Addison, whose manner he afterward imitated in his _Busy-Body_ papers in the Philadelphia _Weekly Mercury_. He also read Locke and the English deistical writers, Collins and Shaftesbury, and became himself a deist and free-thinker; and subsequently when practicing his trade in London, in 1724-26, he made the acquaintance of Dr. Mandeville, author of the _Fable of the Bees_, at a pale-ale house in Cheapside, called "The Horns," where the famous free-thinker presided over a club of wits and boon companions. Though a native of Boston, Franklin is identified with Philadelphia, whither he arrived in 1723, a runaway 'prentice boy, "whose stock of cash consisted of a Dutch dollar and about a shilling in copper." The description in his _Autobiography_ of his walking up Market Street munching a loaf of bread, and passing his future wife, standing on her father's doorstep, has become almost as familiar as the anecdote about Whittington and his cat.
It was in the practical sphere that Franklin was greatest, as an originator and executor of projects for the general welfare. The list of his public services is almost endless. He organized the Philadelphia fire department and street-cleaning service, and the colonial postal system which grew into the United States Post Office Department. He started the Philadelphia public library, the American Philosophical Society, the University of Pennsylvania, and the first American magazine, _The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle_; so that he was almost singly the father of whatever intellectual life the Pennsylvania colony could boast. In 1754, when commissioners from the colonies met at Albany, Franklin proposed a plan, which was adopted, for the union of all the colonies under one government. But all these things, as well as his mission to England in 1757, on behalf of the Pennsylvania Assembly in its dispute with the proprietaries; his share in the Declaration of Independence--of which he was one of the signers--and his residence in France as embassador of the United Colonies, belong to the political history of the country; to the history of American science belong his celebrated experiments in electricity; and his benefits to mankind in both of these departments were aptly summed up in the famous epigram of the French statesman Turgot:
"_Eripuit coelo fulmen sceptrumque tyranniis_."
Franklin's success in Europe was such as no American had yet achieved, as few Americans since him have achieved. Hume and Voltaire were among his acquaintances and his professed admirers. In France he was fairly idolized, and when he died Mirabeau announced, "The genius which has freed America and poured a flood of light over Europe has returned to the bosom of the Divinity."
Franklin was a great man, but hardly a great writer, though as a writer, too, he had many admirable and some great qualities. Among these were the crystal clearness and simplicity of his style. His more strictly literary performances, such as his essays after the _Spectator_, hardly rise above mediocrity, and are neither better nor worse than other imitations of Addison. But in some of his lighter bagatelles there are a homely wisdom and a charming playfulness which have won them enduring favor. Such are his famous story of the _Whistle_, his _Dialogue between Franklin and the Gout_, his letters to Madame Helvetius, and his verses entitled _Paper_. The greater portion of his writings consists of papers on general politics, commerce, and political economy, contributions to the public questions of his day. These are of the nature of journalism rather than of literature, and many of them were published in his newspaper, the _Pennsylvania Gazette_, the medium through which for many years he most strongly influenced American opinion. The most popular of his writings were his _Autobiography_ and _Poor Richard's Almanac_. The former of these was begun in 1771, resumed in 1788, but never completed. It has remained the most widely current book in our colonial literature. _Poor Richard's Almanac_, begun in 1732 and continued for about twenty-five years, had an annual circulation of ten thousand copies. It was filled with proverbial sayings in prose and verse, inculcating the virtues of industry, honesty, and frugality. Some of these were original with Franklin, others were selected from the proverbial wisdom of the ages, but a new force was given them by pungent turns of expression. Poor Richard's saws were such as these: "Little strokes fell great oaks;" "Three removes are as bad as a fire;" "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise;" "Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day;" "What maintains one vice would bring up two children;" "It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright."
Now and then there are truths of a higher kind than these in Franklin, and Sainte-Beuve, the great French critic, quotes, as an example of his occasional finer moods, the saying, "Truth and sincerity have a certain distinguishing native luster about them which cannot be counterfeited; they are like fire and flame that cannot be painted." But the sage who invented the Franklin stove had no disdain of small utilities; and in general the last word of his philosophy is well expressed in a passage of his _Autobiography_: "Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune, that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day; thus, if you teach a poor young man to shave himself and keep his razor in order, you may contribute more to the happiness of his life than in giving him a thousand guineas."
1. Captain John Smith. _A True Relation of Virginia_, Deane's edition. Boston: 1866.
2. Cotton Mather. _Magnalia Christi Americana_. Hartford: 1820.
3. Samuel Sewall. _Diary_. Massachusetts Historical Collections. Fifth Series. Vols. v, vi, and vii. Boston: 1878.
4. Jonathan Edwards. _Eight Sermons on Various Occasions_. Vol. vii of Edwards's Works. Edited by Sereno Dwight. New York: 1829.
5. Benjamin Franklin. _Autobiography_. Edited by John Bigelow. Philadelphia: 1869. [J. B. Lippincott & Co.]
6. _Essays and Bagatelles_. Vol. ii of Franklin's Works. Edited by Jared Sparks. Boston: 1836.
7. Moses Coit Tyler. _A History of American Literature_. 1607-1765. New York: 1878. [G. P. Putnam's Sons.]
_The Way to Wealth, Plan for Saving One Hundred Thousand Pounds, Rules of Health, Advice to a Young Tradesman, The Way to Make Money Plenty in Every Man's Pocket_, etc.
[Transcriber's Note: The word "Ogge" was transliterated from the Greek characters Omicron, gamma, gamma, eta.]
THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD.
It will be convenient to treat the fifty years which elapsed between the meeting at New York, in 1765, of a Congress of delegates from nine colonies to protest against the Stamp Act, and the close of the second war with England, in 1815, as, for literary purposes, a single period. This half-century was the formative era of the American nation. Historically, it is divisible into the years of revolution and the years of construction. But the men who led the movement for independence were also, in great part, the same who guided in shaping the Constitution of the new republic, and the intellectual impress of the whole period is one and the same. The character of the age was as distinctly political as that of the colonial era--in New England at least--was theological; and literature must still continue to borrow its interest from history. Pure literature, or what, for want of a better term, we call _belles lettres_, was not born in America until the nineteenth century was well under way. It is true that the Revolution had its humor, its poetry, and even its fiction; but these were strictly for the home market. They hardly penetrated the consciousness of Europe at all, and are not to be compared with the contemporary work of English authors like Cowper and Sheridan and Burke. Their importance for us to-day is rather antiquarian than literary, though the most noteworthy of them will be mentioned in due course in the present chapter. It is also true that one or two of Irving's early books fall within the last years of the period now under consideration. But literary epochs overlap one another at the edges, and these writings may best be postponed to a subsequent chapter.
Among the most characteristic products of the intellectual stir that preceded and accompanied the Revolutionary movement were the speeches of political orators like Samuel Adams, James Otis, and Josiah Quincy, in Massachusetts, and Patrick Henry in Virginia. Oratory is the art of a free people, and as in the forensic assemblies of Greece and Rome and in the Parliament of Great Britain, so in the conventions and congresses of Revolutionary America it sprang up and flourished naturally. The age, moreover, was an eloquent, not to say a rhetorical, age; and the influence of Johnson's orotund prose, of the declamatory _Letters of Junius_, and of the speeches of Burke, Fox, Sheridan, and the elder Pitt is perceptible in the debates of our early Congresses. The fame of a great orator, like that of a great actor, is largely traditionary. The spoken word transferred to the printed page loses the glow which resided in the man and the moment. A speech is good if it attains its aim, if it moves the hearers to the end which is sought. But the fact that this end is often temporary and occasional, rather than universal and permanent, explains why so few speeches are really literature. If this is true, even where the words of an orator are preserved exactly as they were spoken, it is doubly true when we have only the testimony of contemporaries as to the effect which the oration produced. The fiery utterances of Adams, Otis, and Quincy were either not reported at all or very imperfectly reported, so that posterity can judge of them only at second-hand. Patrick Henry has fared better, many of his orations being preserved in substance, if not in the letter, in Wirt's biography. Of these the most famous was the defiant speech in the Convention of Delegates, March 28, 1775, throwing down the gauge of battle to the British ministry. The ringing sentences of this challenge are still declaimed by school-boys, and many of them remain as familiar as household words. "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. . . . Gentlemen may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. . . . Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" The eloquence of Patrick Henry was fervid rather than weighty or rich. But if such specimens of the oratory of the American patriots as have come down to us fail to account for the wonderful impression that their words are said to have produced upon their fellow-countrymen, we should remember that they are at a disadvantage when read instead of heard. The imagination should supply all those accessories which gave them vitality when first pronounced--the living presence and voice of the speaker; the listening Senate; the grave excitement of the hour and of the impending conflict. The wordiness and exaggeration; the highly Latinized diction; the rhapsodies about freedom which hundreds of Fourth-of-July addresses have since turned into platitudes--all these coming hot from the lips of men whose actions in the field confirmed the earnestness of their speech--were effective in the crisis and for the purpose to which they were addressed.
The press was an agent in the cause of liberty no less potent than the platform, and patriots such as Adams, Otis, Quincy, Warren, and Hancock wrote constantly, for the newspapers, essays and letters on the public questions of the time signed "Vindex," "Hyperion," "Independent," "Brutus," "Cassius," and the like, and couched in language which to the taste of to-day seems rather over-rhetorical. Among the most important of these political essays were the _Circular Letter to each Colonial Legislature_, published by Adams and Otis in 1768; Quincy's _Observations on the Boston Port Bill_, 1774, and Otis's _Rights of the British Colonies_, a pamphlet of one hundred and twenty pages, printed in 1764. No collection of Otis's writings has ever been made. The life of Quincy, published by his son, preserves for posterity his journals and correspondence, his newspaper essays, and his speeches at the bar, taken from the Massachusetts law reports.
Among the political literature which is of perennial interest to the American people are such State documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the messages, inaugural addresses, and other writings of our early presidents. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, and the father of the Democratic party, was the author of the Declaration of Independence, whose opening sentences have become commonplaces in the memory of all readers. One sentence in particular has been as a shibboleth, or war-cry, or declaration of faith among Democrats of all shades of opinion: "We hold these truths to be self-evident--that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Not so familiar to modern readers is the following, which an English historian of our literature calls "the most eloquent clause of that great document," and "the most interesting suppressed passage in American literature." Jefferson was a Southerner, but even at that early day the South had grown sensitive on the subject of slavery, and Jefferson's arraignment of King George for promoting the "peculiar institution" was left out from the final draft of the Declaration in deference to Southern members.
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty, in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative by suppressing every legislative attempt to restrain this execrable commerce. And, that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms against us and purchase that liberty of which he deprived them by murdering the people upon whom he obtruded them, and thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people by crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another."
The tone of apology or defense which Calhoun and other Southern statesman afterward adopted on the subject of slavery was not taken by the men of Jefferson's generation. Another famous Virginian, John Randolph of Roanoke, himself a slave-holder, in his speech on the militia bill in the House of Representatives, December 10, 1811, said: "I speak from facts when I say that the night-bell never tolls for fire in Richmond that the mother does not hug her infant more closely to her bosom." This was said _apropos_ of the danger of a servile insurrection in the event of a war with England--a war which actually broke out in the year following, but was not attended with the slave-rising which Randolph predicted. Randolph was a thorough-going "State rights" man, and, though opposed to slavery on principle, he cried "Hands off!" to any interference by the general government with the domestic institutions of the States. His speeches read better than most of his contemporaries'. They are interesting in their exhibit of a bitter and eccentric individuality, witty, incisive, and expressed in a pungent and familiar style which contrasts refreshingly with the diplomatic language and glittering generalities of most congressional oratory, whose verbiage seems to keep its subject always at arm's-length.
Another noteworthy writing of Jefferson's was his Inaugural Address of March 4, 1801, with its programme of "equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights; . . . absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority; . . . the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense; freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the _habeas corpus_, and trial by juries impartially selected."
During his six years' residence in France, as American minister, Jefferson had become indoctrinated with the principles of French democracy. His main service and that of his party--the Democratic, or, as it was then called, the Republican party--to the young republic was in its insistence upon toleration of all beliefs and upon the freedom of the individual from all forms of governmental restraint. Jefferson has some claims to rank as an author in general literature. Educated at William and Mary College in the old Virginia capital, Williamsburg, he became the founder of the University of Virginia, in which he made special provision for the study of Anglo-Saxon, and in which the liberal scheme of instruction and discipline was conformed, in theory, at least, to the "university idea." His _Notes on Virginia_ are not without literary quality, and one description, in particular, has been often quoted--the passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge--in which is this poetically imaginative touch: "The mountain being cloven asunder, she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small catch of smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in the plain country, inviting you, as it were, from the riot and ytumult roaring around, to pass through the breach and participate of the calm below."
After the conclusion of peace with England, in 1783, political discussion centered about the Constitution, which in 1788 took the place of the looser Articles of Confederation adopted in 1778. The Constitution as finally ratified was a compromise between two parties--the Federalists, who wanted a strong central government, and the Anti-Federals (afterward called Republicans, or Democrats), who wished to preserve State sovereignty. The debates on the adoption of the Constitution, both in the General Convention of the States, which met at Philadelphia in 1787, and in the separate State conventions called to ratify its action, form a valuable body of comment and illustration upon the instrument itself. One of the most notable of the speeches in opposition was Patrick Henry's address before the Virginia Convention. "That this is a consolidated government," he said, "is demonstrably clear; and the danger of such a government is, to my mind, very striking." The leader of the Federal party was Alexander Hamilton, the ablest constructive intellect among the statesmen of our Revolutionary era, of whom Talleyrand said that he "had never known his equal," whom Guizot classed with "the men who have best known the vital principles and fundamental conditions of a government worthy of its name and mission." Hamilton's speech _On the Expediency of Adopting the Federal Constitution_, delivered in the Convention of New York, June 24, 1788, was a masterly statement of the necessity and advantages of the Union. But the most complete exposition of the constitutional philosophy of the Federal party was the series of eighty-five papers entitled the _Federalist_, printed during the years 1787-88, and mostly in the _Independent Journal_ of New York, over the signature "Publius." These were the work of Hamilton, of John Jay, afterward, chief-justice, and of James Madison, afterward president of the United States. The _Federalist_ papers, though written in a somewhat ponderous diction, are among the great landmarks of American history, and were in themselves a political education to the generation that read them. Hamilton was a brilliant and versatile figure, a persuasive orator, a forcible writer, and as secretary of the treasury under Washington the foremost of American financiers. He was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr, at Weehawken, in 1804.
The Federalists were victorious, and under the provisions of the new Constitution George Washington was inaugurated first President of the United States, on March 4, 1789. Washington's writings have been collected by Jared Sparks. They consist of journals, letters, messages, addresses, and public documents, for the most part plain and business-like in manner, and without any literary pretensions. The most elaborate and the best known of them is his _Farewell Address_, issued on his retirement from the presidency in 1796. In the composition of this he was assisted by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay. It is wise in substance and dignified, though somewhat stilted in expression. The correspondence of John Adams, second President of the United States, and his _Diary_, kept from 1755-85, should also be mentioned as important sources for a full knowledge of this period.
In the long life-and-death struggle of Great Britain against the French Republic and its successor, Napoleon Bonaparte, the Federalist party in this country naturally sympathized with England, and the Jeffersonian Democracy with France. The Federalists, who distrusted the sweeping abstractions of the French Revolution and clung to the conservative notions of a checked and balanced freedom, inherited from English precedent, were accused of monarchical and aristocratic leanings. On their side they were not slow to accuse their adversaries of French atheism and French Jacobinism. By a singular reversal of the natural order of things, the strength of the Federalist party was in New England, which was socially democratic, while the strength of the Jeffersonians was in the South, whose social structure--owing to the system of slavery--was intensely aristocratic. The War of 1812 with England was so unpopular in New England, by reason of the injury which it threatened to inflict on its commerce, that the Hartford Convention of 1814 was more than suspected of a design to bring about the secession of New England from the Union. A good deal of oratory was called out by the debates on the commercial treaty with Great Britain negotiated by Jay in 1795, by the Alien and Sedition Law of 1798, and by other pieces of Federalist legislation, previous to the downfall of that party and the election of Jefferson to the presidency in 1800. The best of the Federalist orators during those years was Fisher Ames, of Massachusetts, and the best of his orations was, perhaps, his speech on the British treaty in the House of Representatives, April 18, 1796. The speech was, in great measure, a protest against American chauvinism and the violation of international obligations. "It has been said the world ought to rejoice if Britain was sunk in the sea; if where there are now men and wealth and laws and liberty there was no more than a sand-bank for sea-monsters to fatten on; space for the storms of the ocean to mingle in conflict. . . . What is patriotism? Is it a narrow affection for the spot where a man was born? Are the very clods where we tread entitled to this ardent preference because they are greener? . . . I see no exception to the respect that is paid among nations to the law of good faith. . . . It is observed by barbarians--a whiff of tobacco-smoke or a string of beads gives not merely binding force but sanctity to treaties. Even in Algiers a truce may be bought for money, but, when ratified, even Algiers is too wise or too just to disown and annul its obligation." Ames was a scholar, and his speeches are more finished and thoughtful, more _literary_, in a way, than those of his contemporaries. His eulogiums on Washington and Hamilton are elaborate tributes, rather excessive, perhaps, in laudation and in classical allusions. In all the oratory of the Revolutionary period there is nothing equal in deep and condensed energy of feeling to the single clause in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."
A prominent figure during and after the War of the Revolution was Thomas Paine, or, as he was somewhat disrespectfully called, "Tom Paine." He was a dissenting minister who, conceiving himself ill-treated by the British government, came to Philadelphia in 1774 and threw himself heart and soul into the colonial cause. His pamphlet, _Common Sense_, issued in 1776, began with the famous words, "These are the times that try men's souls." This was followed by the _Crisis_, a series of political essays advocating independence and the establishment of a republic, published in periodical form, though at irregular intervals. Paine's rough and vigorous advocacy was of great service to the American patriots. His writings were popular and his arguments were of a kind easily understood by plain people, addressing themselves to the common sense, the prejudices and passions of unlettered readers. He afterward went to France and took an active part in the popular movement there, crossing swords with Burke in his _Rights of Man_, 1791-92, written in defense of the French Revolution. He was one of the two foreigners who sat in the Convention; but falling under suspicion during the days of the Terror, he was committed to the prison of the Luxembourg and only released upon the fall of Robespierre July 27, 1794. While in prison he wrote a portion of his best-known work, the _Age of Reason_. This appeared in two parts in 1794 and 1795, the manuscript of the first part having been intrusted to Joel Barlow, the American poet, who happened to be in Paris when Paine was sent to prison.
The _Age of Reason_ damaged Paine's reputation in America, where the name of "Tom Paine" became a stench in the nostrils of the godly and a synonym for atheism and blasphemy. His book was denounced from a hundred pulpits, and copies of it were carefully locked away from the sight of "the young," whose religious beliefs it might undermine. It was, in effect, a crude and popular statement of the deistic argument against Christianity. What the cutting logic and persiflage--the _sourire hideux_--of Voltaire had done in France, Paine, with coarser materials, essayed to do for the English-speaking populations. Deism was in the air of the time; Franklin, Jefferson, Ethan Allen, Joel Barlow, and other prominent Americans were openly or unavowedly deistic. Free thought, somehow, went along with democratic opinions, and was a part of the liberal movement of the age. Paine was a man without reverence, imagination, or religious feeling. He was no scholar, and he was not troubled by any perception of the deeper and subtler aspects of the questions which he touched. In his examination of the Old and New Testaments he insisted that the Bible was an imposition and a forgery, full of lies, absurdities, and obscenities. Supernatural Christianity, with all its mysteries and miracles, was a fraud practiced by priests upon the people, and churches were instruments of oppression in the hands of tyrants. This way of accounting for Christianity would not now be accepted by even the most "advanced" thinkers. The contest between skepticism and revelation has long since shifted to other grounds. Both the philosophy and the temper of the _Age of Reason_ belong to the eighteenth century. But Paine's downright pugnacious method of attack was effective with shrewd, half-educated doubters; and in America well-thumbed copies of his book passed from hand to hand in many a rural tavern or store, where the village atheist wrestled in debate with the deacon or the schoolmaster. Paine rested his argument against Christianity upon the familiar grounds of the incredibility of miracles, the falsity of prophecy, the cruelty or immorality of Moses and David and other Old Testament worthies, the disagreement of the evangelists in their gospels, etc. The spirit of his book and his competence as a critic are illustrated by his saying of the New Testament: "Any person who could tell a story of an apparition, or of a man's walking, could have made such books, for the story is most wretchedly told. The sum total of a parson's learning is _a-b_, _ab_, and _hic_, _hoec_, _hoc_, and this is more than sufficient to have enabled them, had they lived at the time, to have written all the books of the New Testament."
When we turn from the political and controversial writings of the Revolution to such lighter literature as existed, we find little that would deserve mention in a more crowded period. The few things in this kind that have kept afloat on the current of time--_rari nantes in gurgite vasto_--attract attention rather by reason of their fewness than of any special excellence that they have. During the eighteenth century American literature continued to accommodate itself to changes of taste in the old country. The so-called classical or Augustan writers of the reign of Queen Anne replaced other models of style; the _Spectator_ set the fashion of almost all of our lighter prose, from Franklin's _Busybody_ down to the time of Irving, who perpetuated the Addisonian tradition later than any English writer. The influence of Locke, of Dr. Johnson, and of the parliamentary orators has already been mentioned. In poetry the example of Pope was dominant, so that we find, for example, William Livingston, who became governor of New Jersey and a member of the Continental Congress, writing in 1747 a poem on _Philosophic Solitude_ which reproduces the tricks of Pope's antitheses and climaxes with the imagery of the _Rape of the Lock_, and the didactic morality of the _Imitations from Horace_ and the _Moral Essays_:
"Let ardent heroes seek renown to arms, Pant after fame and rush to war's alarms; To shining palaces let fools resort, And dunces cringe to be esteemed at court. Mine be the pleasure of a rural life, From noise remote and ignorant of strife, Far from the painted belle and white-gloved beau, The lawless masquerade and midnight show; From ladies, lap-dogs, courtiers, garters, stars, Fops, fiddlers, tyrants, emperors, and czars."
The most popular poem of the Revolutionary period was John Trumbull's _McFingal_, published in part at Philadelphia in 1775, and incomplete shape at Hartford in 1782. It went through more than thirty editions in America, and was several times reprinted in England. _McFingal_ was a satire in four cantos, directed against the American loyalists, and modeled quite closely upon Butler's mock heroic poem, _Hudibras_. As Butler's hero sallies forth to put down May games and bear-baitings, so the tory McFingal goes out against the liberty-poles and bonfires of the patriots, but is tarred and feathered, and otherwise ill-entreated, and finally takes refuge in the camp of General Gage at Boston. The poem is written with smartness and vivacity, attains often to drollery and sometimes to genuine humor. It remains one of the best of American political satires, and unquestionably the most successful of the many imitations of _Hudibras_, whose manner it follows so closely that some of its lines, which have passed into currency as proverbs, are generally attributed to Butler. For example:
"No man e'er felt the halter draw With good opinion of the law."
"For any man with half an eye What stands before him may espy; But optics sharp it needs, I ween, To see what is not to be seen."
Trumbull's wit did not spare the vulnerable points of his own countrymen, as in his sharp skit at slavery in the couplet about the newly adopted flag of the Confederation:
"Inscribed with inconsistent types Of Liberty and thirteen stripes."
Trumbull was one of a group of Connecticut literati, who made such noise in their time as the "Hartford Wits." The other members of the group were Lemuel Hopkins, David Humphreys, Joel Barlow, Elihu Smith, Theodore Dwight, and Richard Alsop. Trumbull, Humphreys, and Barlow had formed a friendship and a kind of literary partnership at Yale, where they were contemporaries of each other and of Timothy Dwight. During the war they served in the army in various capacities, and at its close they found themselves again together for a few years at Hartford, where they formed a club that met weekly for social and literary purposes. Their presence lent a sort of _éclat_ to the little provincial capital, and their writings made it for a time an intellectual center quite as important as Boston or Philadelphia or New York. The Hartford Wits were stanch Federalists, and used their pens freely in support of the administrations of Washington and Adams, and in ridicule of Jefferson and the Democrats. In 1786-87 Trumbull, Hopkins, Barlow, and Humphreys published in the _New Haven Gazette_ a series of satirical papers entitled the _Anarchiad_, suggested by the English _Rolliad_, and purporting to be extracts from an ancient epic on "the Restoration of Chaos and Substantial Night." The papers were an effort to correct, by ridicule, the anarchic condition of things which preceded the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1789. It was a time of great confusion and discontent, when, in parts of the country, Democratic mobs were protesting against the vote of five years' pay by the Continental Congress to the officers of the American army. The _Anarchiad_ was followed by the _Echo_ and the _Political Green House_, written mostly by Alsop and Theodore Dwight, and similar in character and tendency to the earlier series. Time has greatly blunted the edge of these satires, but they were influential in their day, and are an important part of the literature of the old Federalist party.
Humphreys became afterward distinguished in the diplomatic service, and was, successively, embassador to Portugal and to Spain, whence he introduced into America the breed of merino sheep. He had been on Washington's staff during the war, and was several times an inmate of his house at Mount Vernon, where he produced, in 1785, the best-known of his writings, _Mount Vernon_, an ode of a rather mild description, which once had admirers. Joel Barlow cuts a larger figure in contemporary letters. After leaving Hartford, in 1788, he went to France, where he resided for seventeen years, made a fortune in speculations, and became imbued with French principles, writing a song in praise of the guillotine, which gave great scandal to his old friends at home. In 1805 he returned to America and built a fine residence near Washington, which he called Kalorama. Barlow's literary fame, in his own generation, rested upon his prodigious epic, the _Columbiad_. The first form of this was the _Vision of Columbus_, published at Hartford in 1787. This he afterward recast and enlarged into the _Columbiad_, issued in Philadelphia in 1807, and dedicated to Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steam-boat. This was by far the most sumptuous piece of book-making that had then been published in America, and was embellished with plates executed by the best London engravers.
The _Columbiad_ was a grandiose performance, and has been the theme of much ridicule by later writers. Hawthorne suggested its being dramatized, and put on to the accompaniment of artillery and thunder and lightning; and E. P. Whipple declared that "no critic in the last fifty years had read more than a hundred lines of it." In its ambitiousness and its length it was symptomatic of the spirit of the age which was patriotically determined to create, by _tour de force_, a national literature of a size commensurate with the scale of American nature and the destinies of the republic. As America was bigger than Argos and Troy we ought to have a bigger epic than the _Iliad_. Accordingly, Barlow makes Hesper fetch Columbus from his prison to a "hill of vision," where he unrolls before his eye a panorama of the history of America, or, as our bards then preferred to call it, Columbia. He shows him the conquest of Mexico by Cortez; the rise and fall of the kingdom of the Incas in Peru; the settlements of the English colonies in North America; the old French and Indian wars; the Revolution, ending with a prophecy of the future greatness of the new-born nation. The machinery of the _Vision_ was borrowed from the 11th and 12th books of _Paradise Lost_. Barlow's verse was the ten-syllabled rhyming couplet of Pope, and his poetic style was distinguished by the vague, glittering imagery and the false sublimity which marked the epic attempts of the Queen Anne poets. Though Barlow was but a masquerader in true heroic he showed himself a true poet in mock heroic. His _Hasty Pudding_, written in Savoy in 1793, and dedicated to Mrs. Washington, was thoroughly American, in subject at least, and its humor, though over-elaborate, is good. One couplet in particular has prevailed against oblivion:
"E'en in thy native regions how I blush To hear the Pennsylvanians call thee _Mush_!"
Another Connecticut poet--one of the seven who were fondly named "The Pleiads of Connecticut"--was Timothy Dwight, whose _Conquest of Canaan_, written shortly after his graduation from college, but not published till 1785, was, like the _Columbiad_, an experiment toward the domestication of the epic muse in America. It was written like Barlow's poem, in rhymed couplets, and the patriotic impulse of the time shows oddly in the introduction of our Revolutionary War, by way of episode, among the wars of Israel. _Greenfield Hill_, 1794, was an idyllic and moralizing poem, descriptive of a rural parish in Connecticut of which the author was for a time the pastor. It is not quite without merit; shows plainly the influence of Goldsmith, Thomson, and Beattie, but as a whole is tedious and tame. Byron was amused that there should have been an American poet christened Timothy, and it is to be feared that amusement would have been the chief emotion kindled in the breast of the wicked Voltaire had he ever chanced to see the stern dedication to himself of the same poet's _Triumph of Infidelity_, 1788. Much more important than Dwight's poetry was his able _Theology Explained and Defended_, 1794, a restatement, with modifications, of the Calvinism of Jonathan Edwards, which was accepted by the Congregational churches of New England as an authoritative exponent of the orthodoxy of the time. His _Travels in New England and New York_, including descriptions of Niagara, the White Mountains, Lake George, the Catskills, and other passages of natural scenery, not so familiar then as now, was published posthumously in 1821, was praised by Southey, and is still readable. As President of Yale College from 1795 to 1817 Dwight, by his learning and ability, his sympathy with young men, and the force and dignity of his character, exerted a great influence in the community.
The strong political bias of the time drew into its vortex most of the miscellaneous literature that was produced. A number of ballads, serious and comic, whig and tory, dealing with the battles and other incidents of the long war, enjoyed a wide circulation in the newspapers or were hawked about in printed broadsides. Most of these have no literary merit, and are now mere antiquarian curiosities. A favorite piece on the tory side was the _Cow Chase_, a cleverish parody on _Chevy Chase_, written by the gallant and unfortunate Major Andre, at the expense of "Mad" Anthony Wayne. The national song _Yankee Doodle_ was evolved during the Revolution, and, as is the case with _John Brown's Body_ and many other popular melodies, some obscurity hangs about its origin. The air was an old one, and the words of the chorus seem to have been adapted or corrupted from a Dutch song, and applied in derision to the provincials by the soldiers of the British army as early as 1755. Like many another nickname, the term Yankee Doodle was taken up by the nicknamed and proudly made their own. The stanza,
"Yankee Doodle came to town," etc.,
antedates the war; but the first complete set of words to the tune was the _Yankee's Return from Camp_, which is apparently of the year 1775. The most popular humorous ballad on the whig side was the _Battle of the Kegs_, founded on a laughable incident of the campaign at Philadelphia. This was written by Francis Hopkinson, a Philadelphian, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Hopkinson has some title to rank as one of the earliest American humorists. Without the keen wit of _McFingal_, some of his _Miscellaneous Essays and Occasional Writings_, published in 1792, have more geniality and heartiness than Trumbull's satire. His _Letter on Whitewashing_ is a bit of domestic humor that foretokens the _Danbury News_ man; and his _Modern Learning_, 1784, a burlesque on college examinations, in which a salt-box is described from the point of view of metaphysics, logic, natural philosophy, mathematics, anatomy, surgery, and chemistry, long kept its place in school-readers and other collections. His son, Joseph Hopkinson, wrote the song of _Hail Columbia_, which is saved from insignificance only by the music to which it was married, the then popular air of "The President's March." The words were written in 1798, on the eve of a threatened war with France, and at a time when party spirit ran high. It was sung nightly by crowds in the streets, and for a whole season by a favorite singer at the theater; for by this time there were theaters in Philadelphia, in New York, and even in puritanic Boston. Much better than _Hail Columbia_ was the _Star-Spangled Banner_, the words of which were composed by Francis Scott Key, a Marylander, during the bombardment by the British of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, in 1812. More pretentious than these was the once celebrated ode of Robert Treat Paine, Jr., _Adams and Liberty_, recited at an anniversary of the Massachusetts Charitable Fire Society. The sale of this is said to have netted its author over $750, but it is, notwithstanding, a very wooden performance. Paine was a young Harvard graduate, who had married an actress playing at the Old Federal Street Theater, the first play-house opened in Boston, in 1794. His name was originally Thomas, but this was changed for him by the Massachusetts Legislature, because he did not wish to be confounded with the author of the _Age of Reason_. "Dim are those names erstwhile in battle loud," and many an old Revolutionary worthy who fought for liberty with sword and pen is now utterly forgotten, or remembered only by some phrase which has become a current quotation. Here and there a line has, by accident, survived to do duty as a motto or inscription, while all its context is buried in oblivion. Few have read any thing more of Jonathan M. Sewall's, for example, than the couplet,
"No pent-up Utica contracts your powers, But the whole boundless continent is yours,"
taken from his _Epilogue to Cato_, written in 1778.
Another Revolutionary poet was Philip Freneau--"that rascal Freneau," as Washington called him, when annoyed by the attacks upon his administration in Freneau's _National Gazette_. He was of Huguenot descent, was a class-mate of Madison at Princeton College, was taken prisoner by the British during the war, and when the war was over engaged in journalism, as an ardent supporter of Jefferson and the Democrats. Freneau's patriotic verses and political lampoons are now unreadable; but he deserves to rank as the first real American poet, by virtue of his _Wild Honeysuckle_, _Indian Burying Ground_, _Indian Student_, and a few other little pieces, which exhibit a grace and delicacy inherited, perhaps, with his French blood,
Indeed, to speak strictly, all of the "poets" hitherto mentioned were nothing but rhymers; but in Freneau we meet with something of beauty and artistic feeling; something which still keeps his verses fresh. In his treatment of Indian themes, in particular, appear for the first time a sense of the picturesque and poetic elements in the character and wild life of the red man, and that pensive sentiment which the fading away of the tribes toward the sunset has left in the wake of their retreating footsteps. In this Freneau anticipates Cooper and Longfellow, though his work is slight compared with the _Leatherstocking Tales_ or _Hiawatha_. At the time when the Revolutionary War broke out the population of the colonies was over three millions; Philadelphia had thirty thousand inhabitants, and the frontier had retired to a comfortable distance from the sea-board. The Indian had already grown legendary to town dwellers, and Freneau fetches his _Indian Student_ not from the outskirts of the settlement but from the remote backwoods of the State:
"From Susquehanna's farthest springs, Where savage tribes pursue their game (His blanket tied with yellow strings), A shepherd of the forest came."
Campbell "lifted"--in his poem _O'Conor's Child_--the last line of the following stanza from Freneau's _Indian Burying Ground_:
"By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews, In vestments for the chase arrayed, The hunter still the deer pursues-- The hunter and the deer, a shade."
And Walter Scott did Freneau the honor to borrow, in _Marmion_, the final line of one of the stanzas of his poem on the battle of Eutaw Springs:
"They saw their injured country's woe, The flaming town, the wasted field; Then rushed to meet the insulting foe, They took the spear, but left the shield."
Scott inquired of an American gentleman who visited him the authorship of this poem, which he had by heart, and pronounced it as fine a thing of the kind as there was in the language.
The American drama and American prose fiction had their beginning during the period now under review. A company of English players came to this country in 1762 and made the tour of many of the principal towns. The first play acted here by professionals on a public stage was the _Merchant of Venice_, which was given by the English company at Williamsburg, Va., in 1752. The first regular theater building was at Annapolis, Md., where in the same year this troupe performed, among other pieces, Farquhar's _Beaux' Stratagem_. In 1753 a theater was built in New York, and one in 1759 in Philadelphia. The Quakers of Philadelphia and the Puritans of Boston were strenuously opposed to the acting of plays, and in the latter city the players were several times arrested during the performances, under a Massachusetts law forbidding dramatic performances. At Newport, R.I., on the other hand, which was a health resort for planters from the Southern States and the West Indies, and the largest slave-market in the North, the actors were hospitably received. The first play known to have been written by an American was the _Prince of Parthia_, 1765, a closet drama, by Thomas Godfrey, of Philadelphia. The first play by an American writer, acted by professionals in a public theater, was Royall Tyler's _Contrast_, performed in New York, in 1786. The former of these was very high tragedy, and the latter very low comedy; and neither of them is otherwise remarkable than as being the first of a long line of indifferent dramas. There is, in fact, no American dramatic literature worth speaking of; not a single American play of even the second rank, unless we except a few graceful parlor comedies, like Mr. Howell's _Elevator_ and _Sleeping-Car_. Royall Tyler, the author of _The Contrast_, cut quite a figure in his day as a wit and journalist, and eventually became chief-justice of Vermont. His comedy, _The Georgia Spec_, 1797, had a great run in Boston, and his _Algerine Captive_, published in the same year, was one of the earliest American novels. It was a rambling tale of adventure, constructed somewhat upon the plan of Smollett's novels and dealing with the piracies which led to the war between the United States and Algiers in 1815.
Charles Brockden Brown, the first American novelist of any note, was also the first professional man of letters in this country who supported himself entirely by his pen. He was born in Philadelphia in 1771, lived a part of his life in New York and part in his native city, where he started, in 1803, the _Literary Magazine and American Register_. During the years 1798-1801 he published in rapid succession six romances, _Wieland_, _Ormond_, _Arthur Mervyn_, _Edgar Huntley_, _Clara Howard_, and _Jane Talbot_. Brown was an invalid and something of a recluse, with a relish for the ghastly in incident and the morbid in character. He was in some points a prophecy of Poe and Hawthorne, though his art was greatly inferior to Poe's, and almost infinitely so to Hawthorne's. His books belong more properly to the contemporary school of fiction in England which preceded the "Waverley Novels"--to the class that includes Beckford's _Vathek_, Godwin's _Caleb Williams_ and _St. Leon_, Mrs. Shelley's _Frankenstein_, and such "Gothic" romances as Lewis's _Monk_, Walpole's _Castle of Otranto_, and Mrs. Radcliffe's _Mysteries of Udolpho_. A distinguishing characteristic of this whole school is what we may call the clumsy-horrible. Brown's romances are not wanting in inventive power, in occasional situations that are intensely thrilling, and in subtle analysis of character; but they are fatally defective in art. The narrative is by turns abrupt and tiresomely prolix, proceeding not so much by dialogue as by elaborate dissection and discussion of motives and states of mind, interspersed with the author's reflections. The wild improbabilities of plot and the unnatural and even monstrous developments of character are in startling contrast with the old-fashioned preciseness of the language; the conversations, when there are any, being conducted in that insipid dialect in which a fine woman was called an "elegant female." The following is a sample description of one of Brown's heroines, and is taken from his novel of _Ormond_, the leading character in which--a combination of unearthly intellect with fiendish wickedness--is thought to have been suggested by Aaron Burr: "Helena Cleves was endowed with every feminine and fascinating quality. Her features were modified by the most transient sentiments and were the seat of a softness at all times blushful and bewitching. All those graces of symmetry, smoothness, and luster, which assemble in the imagination of the painter when he calls from the bosom of her natal deep the Paphian divinity, blended their perfections in the shade, complexion, and hair of this lady." But, alas! "Helena's intellectual deficiencies could not be concealed. She was proficient in the elements of no science. The doctrine of lines and surfaces was as disproportionate with her intellects as with those of the mock-bird. She had not reasoned on the principles of human action, nor examined the structure of society. . . . She could not commune in their native dialect with the sages of Rome and Athens. . . . The constitution of nature, the attributes of its Author, the arrangement of the parts of the external universe, and the substance, modes of operation, and ultimate destiny of human intelligence were enigmas unsolved and insoluble by her."
Brown frequently raises a superstructure of mystery on a basis ludicrously weak. Thus the hero of his first novel, _Wieland_ (whose father anticipates "Old Krook," in Dickens's _Bleak House_, by dying of spontaneous combustion), is led on by what he mistakes for spiritual voices to kill his wife and children; and the voices turn out to be produced by the ventriloquism of one Carwin, the villain of the story. Similarly in Edgar Huntley, the plot turns upon the phenomena of sleep-walking. Brown had the good sense to place the scene of his romances in his own country, and the only passages in them which have now a living interest are his descriptions of wilderness scenery in _Edgar Huntley_, and his graphic account in _Arthur Mervyn_ of the yellow-fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793. Shelley was an admirer of Brown, and his experiments in prose fiction, such as _Zastrozzi_ and _St. Irvyne the Rosicrucian_, are of the same abnormal and speculative type.
Another book which falls within this period was the _Journal_, 1774, of John Woolman, a New Jersey Quaker, which has received the highest praise from Channing, Charles Lamb, and many others. "Get the writings of John Woolman by heart," wrote Lamb, "and love the early Quakers." The charm of this journal resides in its singular sweetness and innocence of feeling, the "deep inward stillness" peculiar to the people called Quakers. Apart from his constant use of certain phrases peculiar to the Friends Woolman's English is also remarkably graceful and pure, the transparent medium of a soul absolutely sincere, and tender and humble in its sincerity. When not working at his trade as a tailor Woolman spent his time in visiting and ministering to the monthly, quarterly, and yearly meetings of Friends, traveling on horseback to their scattered communities in the backwoods of Virginia and North Carolina, and northward along the coast as far as Boston and Nantucket. He was under a "concern" and a "heavy exercise" touching the keeping of slaves, and by his writing and speaking did much to influence the Quakers against slavery. His love went out, indeed, to all the wretched and oppressed; to sailors, and to the Indians in particular. One of his most perilous journeys was made to the settlements of Moravian Indians in the wilderness of western Pennsylvania, at Bethlehem, and at Wehaloosing, on the Susquehanna. Some of the scruples which Woolman felt, and the quaint _naïveté_ with which he expresses them, may make the modern reader smile, but it is a smile which is very close to a tear. Thus, when in England--where he died in 1772--he would not ride nor send a letter by mail-coach, because the poor post-boys were compelled to ride long stages in winter nights, and were sometimes frozen to death. "So great is the hurry in the spirit of this world that, in aiming to do business quickly and to gain wealth, the creation at this day doth loudly groan." Again, having reflected that war was caused by luxury in dress, etc., the use of dyed garments grew uneasy to him, and he got and wore a hat of the natural color of the fur. "In attending meetings this singularity was a trial to me, . . . and some Friends, who knew not from what motives I wore it, grew shy of me. . . . Those who spoke with me I generally informed, in a few words, that I believed my wearing it was not in my own will."
1. _Representative American Orations_. Edited by Alexander Johnston. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1884.
2. _The Federalist_. New York: Charles Scribner. 1863.
3. _Notes on Virginia_. By Thomas Jefferson. Boston. 1829.
4. _Travels in New England and New York_. By Timothy Dwight. New Haven. 1821.
5. _McFingal_: in Trumbull's Poetical Works. Hartford. 1820.
6. Joel Barlow's _Hasty Pudding_. Francis Hopkinson's _Modern Learning_. Philip Freneau's _Indian Student_, _Indian Burying-Ground_, and _White Honeysuckle_: in Vol. I of Duyckinck's _Cyclopedia of American Literature_. New York: Charles Scribner. 1866.
7. _Arthur Mervyn_. By Charles Brockden Brown. Boston: S. G. Goodrich. 1827.
8. _The Journal of John Woolman_. With an Introduction by John G. Whittier. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1871.
9. _American Literature_. By Charles F. Richardson. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1887.
10. _American Literature_. By John Nichol. Edinburgh: Adam & Charles Black. 1882.
THE ERA OF NATIONAL EXPANSION.
The attempt to preserve a strictly chronological order must here be abandoned. About all the American literature in existence that is of any value as _literature_ is the product of the past three quarters of a century, and the men who produced it, though older or younger, were still contemporaries. Irving's _Knickerbocker's History of New York_, 1809, was published within the recollection of some yet living, and the venerable poet Richard H. Dana--Irving's junior by only four years--survived to 1879, when the youngest of the generation of writers that now occupy public attention had already won their spurs. Bryant, whose _Thanatopsis_ was printed in 1816, lived down to 1878. He saw the beginnings of our national literature, and he saw almost as much of the latest phase of it as we see to-day in this year 1891. Still, even within the limits of a single life-time, there have been progress and change. And so, while it will happen that the consideration of writers, a part of whose work falls between the dates at the head of this chapter, may be postponed to subsequent chapters, we may in a general way follow the sequence of time.
The period between the close of the second war with England, in 1815, and the great financial crash of 1837, has been called, in language attributed to President Monroe, "the era of good feeling." It was a time of peace and prosperity, of rapid growth in population and rapid extension of territory. The new nation was entering upon its vast estates and beginning to realize its manifest destiny. The peace with Great Britain, by calling off the Canadian Indians and the other tribes in alliance with England, had opened up the North-west to settlement. Ohio had been admitted as a State in 1802; but at the time of President Monroe's tour, in 1817, Cincinnati had only seven thousand inhabitants, and half of the State was unsettled. The Ohio River flowed for most of its course through an unbroken wilderness. Chicago was merely a fort. Hitherto the emigration to the West had been sporadic; now it took on the dimensions of a general and almost a concerted exodus. This movement was stimulated in New England by the cold summer of 1816 and the late spring of 1817, which produced a scarcity of food that amounted in parts of the interior to a veritable famine. All through this period sounded the ax of the pioneer clearing the forest about his log-cabin, and the rumble of the canvas-covered emigrant-wagon over the primitive highways which crossed the Alleghanies or followed the valley of the Mohawk. S. G. Goodrich, known in letters as "Peter Parley," in his _Recollections of a Life-time_, 1856, describes the part of the movement which he had witnessed as a boy in Fairfield County, Connecticut: "I remember very well the tide of emigration through Connecticut, on its way to the West, during the summer of 1817. Some persons went in covered wagons--frequently a family consisting of father, mother, and nine small children, with one at the breast--some on foot, and some crowded together under the cover, with kettles, gridirons, feather-beds, crockery, and the family Bible, Watts's Psalms and Hymns, and Webster's Spelling-book--the lares and penates of the household. Others started in ox-carts, and trudged on at the rate of ten miles a day. . . . Many of these persons were in a state of poverty, and begged their way as they went. Some died before they reached the expected Canaan; many perished after their arrival from fatigue and privation; and others from the fever and ague, which was then certain to attack the new settlers. It was, I think, in 1818 that I published a small tract entitled, _'Tother Side of Ohio_--that is, the other view, in contrast to the popular notion that it was the paradise of the world. It was written by Dr. Hand--a talented young physician of Berlin--who had made a visit to the West about these days. It consisted mainly of vivid but painful pictures of the accidents and incidents attending this wholesale migration. The roads over the Alleghanies, between Philadelphia and Pittsburg, were then rude, steep, and dangerous, and some of the more precipitous slopes were consequently strewn with the carcasses of wagons, carts, horses, oxen, which had made shipwreck in their perilous descents."
But in spite of the hardships of the settler's life the spirit of that time, as reflected in its writings, was a hopeful and a light-hearted one.
"Westward the course of empire takes its way,"
runs the famous line from Berkeley's poem on America. The New Englanders who removed to the Western Reserve went there to better themselves; and their children found themselves the owners of broad acres of virgin soil in place of the stony hill pastures of Berkshire and Litchfield. There was an attraction, too, about the wild, free life of the frontiersman, with all its perils and discomforts. The life of Daniel Boone, the pioneer of Kentucky--that "dark and bloody ground"--is a genuine romance. Hardly less picturesque was the old river life of the Ohio boatmen, before the coming of steam banished their queer craft from the water. Between 1810 and 1840 the center of population in the United States had moved from the Potomac to the neighborhood of Clarksburg, in West Virginia, and the population itself had increased from seven to seventeen millions. The gain was made partly in the East and South, but the general drift was westward. During the years now under review the following new States were admitted, in the order named: Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan. Kentucky and Tennessee had been made States in the last years of the eighteenth century, and Louisiana--acquired by purchase from France--in 1812.
The settlers, in their westward march, left large tracts of wilderness behind them. They took up first the rich bottomlands along the river courses, the Ohio and Miami and Licking, and later the valleys of the Mississippi and Missouri and the shores of the great lakes. But there still remained backwoods in New York and Pennsylvania, though the cities of New York and Philadelphia had each a population of more than one hundred thousand in 1815. When the Erie Canal was opened, in 1825, it ran through a primitive forest. N. P. Willis, who went by canal to Buffalo and Niagara in 1827, describes the houses and stores at Rochester as standing among the burnt stumps left by the first settlers. In the same year that saw the opening of this great water-way, the Indian tribes, numbering now about one hundred and thirty thousand souls, were moved across the Mississippi. Their power had been broken by General Hamson's victory over Tecumseh at the battle of Tippecanoe, in 1811, and they were in fact mere remnants and fragments of the race which had hung upon the skirts of civilization and disputed the advance of the white man for two centuries. It was not until some years later than this that railroads began to take an important share in opening up new country.
The restless energy, the love of adventure, the sanguine anticipation which characterized American thought at this time, the picturesque contrasts to be seen in each mushroom town where civilization was encroaching on the raw edge of the wilderness--all these found expression, not only in such well-known books as Cooper's _Pioneers_, 1823, and Irving's _Tour on the Prairies_, 1835, but in the minor literature which is read to-day, if at all, not for its own sake, but for the light that it throws on the history of national development: in such books as Paulding's story of _Westward-Ho!_ and his poem, _The Backwoodsman_, 1818; or as Timothy Flint's _Recollections_, 1826, and his _Geography and History of the Mississippi Valley_, 1827. It was not an age of great books, but it was an age of large ideas and expanding prospects. The new consciousness of empire uttered itself hastily, crudely, ran into buncombe, "spread-eagleism," and other noisy forms of patriotic exultation; but it was thoroughly democratic and American. Though literature--or at least the best literature of the time--was not yet emancipated from English models, thought and life, at any rate, were no longer in bondage--no longer provincial. And it is significant that the party in office during these years was the Democratic, the party which had broken most completely with conservative traditions. The famous "Monroe doctrine" was a pronunciamento of this aggressive democracy, and though the Federalists returned to power for a single term, under John Quincy Adams (1825-29), Andrew Jackson received the largest number of electoral votes, and Adams was only chosen by the House of Representatives in the absence of a majority vote for any one candidate. At the close of his term "Old Hickory," the hero of the people, the most characteristically democratic of our presidents, and the first backwoodsman who entered the White House, was borne into office on a wave of popular enthusiasm. We have now arrived at the time when American literature, in the higher and stricter sense of the term, really began to have an existence. S. G. Goodrich, who settled at Hartford as a bookseller and publisher in 1818, says, in his _Recollections_: "About this time I began to think of trying to bring out original American works. . . . The general impression was that we had not, and could not have, a literature. It was the precise point at which Sidney Smith had uttered that bitter taunt in the _Edinburgh Review_, 'Who reads an American book?' . . . It was positively injurious to the commercial credit of a bookseller to undertake American works." Washington Irving (1783-1859) was the first American author whose books, as _books_, obtained recognition abroad; whose name was thought worthy of mention beside the names of English contemporary authors, like Byron, Scott, and Coleridge. He was also the first American writer whose writings are still read for their own sake. We read Mather's _Magnalia_, and Franklin's _Autobiography_, and Trumbull's _McFingal_--if we read them at all--as history, and to learn about the times or the men. But we read the _Sketch Book_, and _Knickerbocker's History of New York_, and the _Conquest of Granada_ for themselves and for the pleasure that they give as pieces of literary art.
We have arrived, too, at a time when we may apply a more cosmopolitan standard to the works of American writers, and may disregard many a minor author whose productions would have cut some figure had they come to light amid the poverty of our colonial age. Hundreds of these forgotten names, with specimens of their unread writings, are consigned to a limbo of immortality in the pages of Duyckinck's _Cyclopedia_ and of Griswold's _Poets of America_ and _Prose Writers of America_. We may select here for special mention, and as most representative of the thought of their time, the names of Irving, Cooper, Webster, and Channing.
A generation was now coming upon the stage who could recall no other government in this country than the government of the United States, and to whom the Revolutionary War was but a tradition. Born in the very year of the peace, it was a part of Irving's mission, by the sympathetic charm of his writings and by the cordial recognition which he won in both countries, to allay the soreness which the second war, of 1812-15, had left between England and America. He was well fitted for the task of mediator. Conservative by nature, early drawn to the venerable worship of the Episcopal Church, retrospective in his tastes, with a preference for the past and its historic associations, which, even in young America, led him to invest the Hudson and the region about New York with a legendary interest, he wrote of American themes in an English fashion, and interpreted to an American public the mellow attractiveness that he found in the life and scenery of Old England. He lived in both countries, and loved them both; and it is hard to say whether Irving is more of an English or of an American writer. His first visit to Europe, in 1804-6, occupied nearly two years. From 1815 to 1832 he was abroad continuously, and his "domicile," as the lawyers say, during these seventeen years was really in England, though a portion of his time was spent upon the Continent, and several successive years in Spain, where he engaged upon the _Life of Columbus_, the _Conquest of Granada_, the _Companions of Columbus_, and the _Alhambra_, all published between 1828 and 1832. From 1842 to 1846 he was again in Spain as American minister at Madrid.
Irving was the last and greatest of the Addisonians. His boyish letters, signed "Jonathan Oldstyle," contributed in 1802 to his brother's newspaper, the _Morning Chronicle_, were, like Franklin's _Busybody_, close imitations of the _Spectator_. To the same family belonged his _Salmagundi_ papers, 1807, a series of town-satires on New York society, written in conjunction with his brother William and with James K. Paulding. The little tales, essays, and sketches which compose the _Sketch Book_ were written in England, and published in America, in periodical numbers, in 1819-20. In this, which is in some respects his best book, he still maintained that attitude of observation and spectatorship taught him by Addison. The volume had a motto taken from Burton: "I have no wife nor children, good or bad, to provide for--a mere spectator of other men's fortunes," etc.; and "The Author's Account of Himself," began in true Addisonian fashion: "I was always fond of visiting new scenes and observing strange characters and manners."
But though never violently "American," like some later writers who have consciously sought to throw off the trammels of English tradition, Irving was in a real way original. His most distinct addition to our national literature was in his creation of what has been called "the Knickerbocker legend." He was the first to make use, for literary purposes, of the old Dutch traditions which clustered about the romantic scenery of the Hudson. Colonel T. W. Higginson, in his _History of the United States_, tells how "Mrs. Josiah Quincy, sailing up that river in 1786, when Irving was a child three years old, records that the captain of the sloop had a legend, either supernatural or traditional, for every scene, 'and not a mountain reared its head unconnected with some marvelous story.'" The material thus at hand Irving shaped into his _Knickerbocker's History of New York_, into the immortal story of _Rip Van Winkle_ and the _Legend of Sleepy Hollow_ (both published in the _Sketch Book_), and into later additions to the same realm of fiction, such as _Dolph Heyliger_ in _Bracebridge Hall_, the _Money Diggers_, _Wolfert Webber_, and _Kidd the Pirate_, in the _Tales of a Traveler_, and some of the miscellanies from the _Knickerbocker Magazine_, collected into a volume, in 1855, under the title of _Wolfert's Roost_.
The book which made Irving's reputation was his _Knickerbocker's History of New York_, 1809, a burlesque chronicle, making fun of the old Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam, and attributed, by a familiar and now somewhat threadbare device, to a little old gentleman named Diedrich Knickerbocker, whose manuscript had come into the editor's hands. The book was gravely dedicated to the New York Historical Society, and it is said to have been quoted, as authentic history, by a certain German scholar named Goeller, in a note on a passage in Thucydides. This story, though well vouched, is hard of belief; for _Knickerbocker_, though excellent fooling, has nothing of the grave irony of Swift in his _Modest Proposal_ or of Defoe in his _Short Way with Dissenters_. Its mock-heroic intention is as transparent as in Fielding's parodies of Homer, which it somewhat resembles, particularly in the delightfully absurd description of the mustering of the clans under Peter Stuyvesant and the attack on the Swedish Fort Christina. _Knickerbocker's History of New York_ was a real addition to the comic literature of the world, a work of genuine humor, original and vital. Walter Scott said that it reminded him closely of Swift, and had touches resembling Sterne. It is not necessary to claim for Irving's little masterpiece a place beside _Gulliver's Travels_ and _Tristram Shandy_. But it was, at least, the first American book in the lighter departments of literature which needed no apology and stood squarely on its own legs. It was written, too, at just the right time. Although New Amsterdam had become New York as early as 1664, the impress of its first settlers, with their quaint conservative ways, was still upon it when Irving was a boy. The descendants of the Dutch families formed a definite element not only in Manhattan, but all up along the kills of the Hudson, at Albany, at Schenectady, in Westchester County, at Hoboken, and Communipaw, localities made familiar to him in many a ramble and excursion. He lived to see the little provincial town of his birth grow into a great metropolis, in which all national characteristics were blended together, and a tide of immigration from Europe and New England flowed over the old landmarks and obliterated them utterly.
Although Irving was the first to reveal to his countrymen the literary possibilities of their early history it must be acknowledged that with modern American life he had little sympathy. He hated politics, and in the restless democratic movement of the time, as we have described it, he found no inspiration. This moderate and placid gentleman, with his distrust of all kinds of fanaticism, had no liking for the Puritans or for their descendants, the New England Yankees, if we may judge from his sketch of Ichabod Crane in the _Legend of Sleepy Hollow_. His genius was reminiscent, and his imagination, like Scott's, was the historic imagination. In crude America his fancy took refuge in the picturesque aspects of the past, in "survivals" like the Knickerbocker Dutch and the Acadian peasants, whose isolated communities on the lower Mississippi he visited and described. He turned naturally to the ripe civilization of the Old World, He was our first picturesque tourist, the first "American in Europe." He rediscovered England, whose ancient churches, quiet landscapes, memory-haunted cities, Christmas celebrations, and rural festivals had for him an unfailing attraction. With pictures of these, for the most part, he filled the pages of the _Sketch Book_ and _Bracebridge Hall_, 1822. Delightful as are these English sketches, in which the author conducts his reader to Windsor Castle, or Stratford-on-Avon, or the Boar's Head Tavern, or sits beside him on the box of the old English stage-coach, or shares with him the Yule-tide cheer at the ancient English country-house, their interest has somewhat faded. The pathos of the _Broken Heart_ and the _Pride of the Village_, the mild satire of the _Art of Book-Making_, the rather obvious reflections in _Westminster Abbey_ are not exactly to the taste of this generation. They are the literature of leisure and retrospection; and already Irving's gentle elaboration, the refined and slightly artificial beauty of his style, and his persistently genial and sympathetic attitude have begun to pall upon readers who demand a more nervous and accentuated kind of writing. It is felt that a little roughness, a little harshness, even, would give relief to his pictures of life. There is, for instance, something a little irritating in the old-fashioned courtliness of his manner toward women; and one reads with a certain impatience smoothly punctuated passages like the following: "As the vine, which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunder-bolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs, so is it beautifully ordered by Providence that woman, who is the mere dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity, winding herself into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head and binding up the broken heart."
Irving's gifts were sentiment and humor, with an imagination sufficiently fertile and an observation sufficiently acute to support those two main qualities, but inadequate to the service of strong passion or subtle thinking, though his pathos, indeed, sometimes reached intensity. His humor was always delicate and kindly; his sentiment never degenerated into sentimentality. His diction was graceful and elegant--too elegant, perhaps; and, in his modesty, he attributed the success of his books in England to the astonishment of Englishmen that an American could write good English.
In Spanish history and legend Irving found a still newer and richer field for his fancy to work upon. He had not the analytic and philosophical mind of a great historian, and the merits of his _Conquest of Granada_ and _Life of Columbus_ are rather _belletristisch_ than scientific. But he brought to these undertakings the same eager love of the romantic past which had determined the character of his writings in America and England, and the result--whether we call it history or romance--is at all events charming as literature. His _Life of Washington_--completed in 1859--was his _magnum opus_, and is accepted as standard authority. _Mahomet and His Successors_, 1850, was comparatively a failure. But of all Irving's biographies his _Life of Oliver Goldsmith_, 1849, was the most spontaneous and perhaps the best. He did not impose it upon himself as a task, but wrote it from a native and loving sympathy with his subject, and it is, therefore, one of the choicest literary memoirs in the language.
When Irving returned to America, in 1832, he was the recipient of almost national honors. He had received the medal of the Royal Society of Literature and the degree of D.C.L. from Oxford University, and had made American literature known and respected abroad. In his modest home at Sunnyside, on the banks of the river over which he had been the first to throw the witchery of poetry and romance, he was attended to the last by the admiring affection of his countrymen. He had the love and praises of the foremost English writers of his own generation and the generation which followed--of Scott, Byron, Coleridge, Thackeray, and Dickens, some of whom had been among his personal friends. He is not the greatest of American authors, but the influence of his writings is sweet and wholesome, and it is in many ways fortunate that the first American man of letters who made himself heard in Europe should have been in all particulars a gentleman.
Connected with Irving, at least by name and locality, were a number of authors who resided in the city of New York, and who are known as the Knickerbocker writers, perhaps because they were contributors to the _Knickerbocker Magazine_. One of these was James K. Paulding, a connection of Irving by marriage, and his partner in the _Salmagundi_ papers. Paulding became Secretary of the Navy under Van Buren, and lived down to the year 1860. He was a voluminous author, but his writings had no power of continuance, and are already obsolete, with the possible exception of his novel, the _Dutchman's Fireside_, 1831.
A finer spirit than Paulding was Joseph Rodman Drake, a young poet of great promise, who died in 1820, at the age of twenty-five. Drake's patriotic lyric, the _American Flag_, is certainly the most spirited thing of the kind in our poetic literature, and greatly superior to such national anthems as _Hail Columbia_ and the _Star-Spangled Banner_. His _Culprit Fay_, published in 1819, was the best poem that had yet appeared in America, if we except Bryant's _Thanatopsis_, which was three years the elder. The _Culprit Fay_ was a fairy story, in which, following Irving's lead, Drake undertook to throw the glamour of poetry about the Highlands of the Hudson. Edgar Poe said that the poem was fanciful rather than imaginative; but it is prettily and even brilliantly fanciful, and has maintained its popularity to the present time. Such verse as the following--which seems to show that Drake had been reading Coleridge's _Christabel_, published three years before--was something new in American poetry:
"The winds are whist and the owl is still, The bat in the shelvy rock is hid, And naught is heard on the lonely hill But the cricket's chirp and the answer shrill Of the gauze-winged katydid, And the plaint of the wailing whip-poor-will, Who moans unseen, and ceaseless sings Ever a note of wail and woe, Till morning spreads her rosy wings, And earth and sky in her glances glow."
Here we have, at last, the whip-poor-will, an American bird, and not the conventional lark or nightingale, although the elves of the Old World seem scarcely at home on the banks of the Hudson. Drake's memory has been kept fresh not only by his own poetry, but by the beautiful elegy written by his friend Fitz-Greene Halleck, the first stanza of which is universally known;
"Green be the turf above thee, Friend of my better days; None knew thee but to love thee, Nor named thee but to praise."
Halleck was born in Guilford, Connecticut, whither he retired in 1849, and resided there till his death in 1867. But his literary career is identified with New York. He was associated with Drake in writing the _Croaker Papers_, a series of humorous and satirical verses contributed in 1814 to the _Evening Post_. These were of a merely local and temporary interest; but Halleck's fine ode, _Marco Bozzaris_--though declaimed until it has become hackneyed--gives him a sure title to remembrance; and his _Alnwick Castle_, a monody, half serious and half playful on the contrast between feudal associations and modern life, has much of that pensive lightness which characterizes Praed's best _vers de societé_.
A friend of Drake and Halleck was James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), the first American novelist of distinction, and, if a popularity which has endured for nearly three quarters of a century is any test, still the most successful of all American novelists. Cooper was far more intensely American than Irving, and his books reached an even wider public. "They are published as soon as he produces them," said Morse, the electrician, in 1833, "in thirty-four different places in Europe. They have been seen by American travelers in the languages of Turkey and Persia, in Constantinople, in Egypt, at Jerusalem, at Ispahan." Cooper wrote altogether too much; he published, besides his fictions, a _Naval History of the United States_, a series of naval biographies, works of travel, and a great deal of controversial matter. He wrote over thirty novels, the greater part of which are little better than trash, and tedious trash at that. This is especially true of his _tendenz_ novels and his novels of society. He was a man of strongly marked individuality, fiery, pugnacious, sensitive to criticism, and abounding in prejudices. He was embittered by the scurrilous attacks made upon him by a portion of the American press, and spent a great deal of time and energy in conducting libel suits against the newspapers. In the same spirit he used fiction as a vehicle for attack upon the abuses and follies of American life. Nearly all of his novels, written with this design, are worthless. Nor was Cooper well equipped by nature and temperament for depicting character and passion in social life. Even in his best romances his heroines and his "leading juveniles"--to borrow a term from the amateur stage--are insipid and conventional. He was no satirist, and his humor was not of a high order. He was a rapid and uneven writer, and, unlike Irving, he had no style.
Where Cooper was great was in the story, in the invention of incidents and plots, in a power of narrative and description in tales of wild adventure which keeps the reader in breathless excitement to the end of the book. He originated the novel of the sea and the novel of the wilderness. He created the Indian of literature; and in this, his peculiar field, although he has had countless imitators, he has had no equals. Cooper's experiences had prepared him well for the kingship of this new realm in the world of fiction. His childhood was passed on the borders of Otsego Lake, when central New York was still a wilderness, with boundless forests stretching westward, broken only here and there by the clearings of the pioneers. He was taken from college (Yale) when still a lad, and sent to sea in a merchant vessel, before the mast. Afterward he entered the navy and did duty on the high seas and upon Lake Ontario, then surrounded by virgin forests. He married and resigned his commission in 1811, just before the outbreak of the war with England, so that he missed the opportunity of seeing active service in any of those engagements on the ocean and our great lakes which were so glorious to American arms. But he always retained an active interest in naval affairs.
His first successful novel was _The Spy_, 1821, a tale of the Revolutionary War, the scene of which was laid in Westchester County, N. Y., where the author was then residing. The hero of this story, Harvey Birch, was one of the most skillfully drawn figures on his canvas. In 1833 he published the _Pioneers_, a work somewhat overladen with description, in which he drew for material upon his boyish recollections of frontier life at Cooperstown. This was the first of the series of five romances known as the _Leatherstocking Tales_. The others were the _Last of the Mohicans_, 1826; the _Prairie_, 1827; the _Pathfinder_, 1840; and the _Deerslayer_, 1841. The hero of this series, Natty Bumpo, or "Leatherstocking," was Cooper's one great creation in the sphere of character, his most original addition to the literature of the world in the way of a new human type. This backwoods philosopher--to the conception of whom the historic exploits of Daniel Boone perhaps supplied some hints; unschooled, but moved by noble impulses and a natural sense of piety and justice; passionately attached to the wilderness, and following its westering edge even unto the prairies--this man of the woods was the first real American in fiction. Hardly less individual and vital were the various types of Indian character, in Chingachgook, Uncas, Hist, and the Huron warriors. Inferior to these, but still vigorously though somewhat roughly drawn, were the waifs and strays of civilization, whom duty, or the hope of gain, or the love of adventure, or the outlawry of crime had driven to the wilderness--the solitary trapper, the reckless young frontiersman, the officers and men of out-post garrisons. Whether Cooper's Indian was the real being, or an idealized and rather melodramatic version of the truth, has been a subject of dispute. However this be, he has taken his place in the domain of art, and it is safe to say that his standing there is secure. No boy will ever give him up.
Equally good with the _Leatherstocking_ novels, and equally national, were Cooper's tales of the sea, or at least the best two of them--the _Pilot_, 1833, founded upon the daring exploits of John Paul Jones, and the _Red Rover_, 1828. But here, though Cooper still holds the sea, he has had to admit competitors; and Britannia, who rules the waves in song, has put in some claim to a share in the domain of nautical fiction in the persons of Mr. W. Clark Russell and others. Though Cooper's novels do not meet the deeper needs of the heart and the imagination, their appeal to the universal love of a story is perennial. We devour them when we are boys, and if we do not often return to them when we are men, that is perhaps only because we have read them before, and "know the ending." They are good yarns for the forecastle and the camp-fire; and the scholar in his study, though he may put the _Deerslayer_ or the _Last of the Mohicans_ away on the top shelf, will take it down now and again, and sit up half the night over it.
Before dismissing the _belles-lettres_ writings of this period, mention should be made of a few poems of the fugitive kind which seem to have taken a permanent place in popular regard. John Howard Payne, a native of Long Island, a wandering actor and playwright, who died American consul at Tunis in 1852, wrote about 1820 for Covent Garden Theater an opera, entitled _Clari_, the libretto of which included the now famous song of _Home, Sweet Home_. Its literary pretensions were of the humblest kind, but it spoke a true word which touched the Anglo-Saxon heart in its tenderest spot, and, being happily married to a plaintive air, was sold by the hundred thousand, and is evidently destined to be sung forever. A like success has attended the _Old Oaken Bucket_, composed by Samuel Woodworth, a printer and journalist from Massachusetts, whose other poems, of which two collections were issued in 1818 and 1826, were soon forgotten. Richard Henry Wilde, an Irishman by birth, a gentleman of scholarly tastes and accomplishments, who wrote a great deal on Italian literature, and sat for several terms in Congress as Representative of the State of Georgia, was the author of the favorite song, _My Life is Like the Summer Rose_. Another Southerner, and a member of a distinguished Southern family, was Edward Coate Pinkney, who served nine years in the navy, and died in 1828, at the age of twenty-six, having published in 1825 a small volume of lyrical poems which had a fire and a grace uncommon at that time in American verse. One of these, _A Health_, beginning,
"I fill this cup to one made up of loveliness alone."
though perhaps somewhat overpraised by Edgar Poe, has rare beauty of thought and expression.
John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States (1825-29), was a man of culture and literary tastes. He published his lectures on rhetoric, delivered during his tenure of the Boylston Professorship at Harvard in 1806-9; he left a voluminous diary, which has been edited since his death in 1848; and among his experiments in poetry is one of considerable merit, entitled _The Wants of Man_, an ironical sermon on Goldsmith's text:
"Man wants but little here below, Nor wants that little long."
As this poem is a curiously close anticipation of Dr. Holmes's _Contentment_, so the very popular ballad, _Old Grimes_, written about 1818, by Albert Gorton Greene, an undergraduate of Brown University in Rhode Island, is in some respects an anticipation of Holmes's quaintly pathetic _Last Leaf_.
The political literature and public oratory of the United States during this period, although not absolutely of less importance than that which preceded and followed the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Constitution, demands less relative attention in a history of literature by reason of the growth of other departments of thought. The age was a political one, but no longer exclusively political. The debates of the time centered about the question of "State Rights," and the main forum of discussion was the old Senate chamber, then made illustrious by the presence of Clay, Webster, and Calhoun. The slavery question, which had threatened trouble, was put off for a while by the Missouri Compromise of 1820, only to break out more fiercely in the debates on the Wilmot Proviso and the Kansas and Nebraska Bill. Meanwhile the Abolition movement had been transferred to the press and the platform. Garrison started his _Liberator_ in 1830, and the Antislavery Society was founded in 1833. The Whig party, which had inherited the constitutional principles of the old Federal party, advocated internal improvements at national expense and a high protective tariff. The State Rights party, which was strongest at the South, opposed these views, and in 1832 South Carolina claimed the right to "nullify" the tariff imposed by the general government. The leader of this party was John Caldwell Calhoun, a South Carolinian, who in his speech in the United States Senate, on February 13, 1832, on Nullification and the Force Bill, set forth most authoritatively the "Carolina doctrine." Calhoun was a great debater, but hardly a great orator. His speeches are the arguments of a lawyer and a strict constitutionalist, severely logical, and with a sincere conviction in the soundness of his case. Their language is free from bad rhetoric; the reasoning is cogent, but there is an absence of emotion and imagination; they contain few quotable things, and no passages of commanding eloquence, such as strew the orations of Webster and Burke. They are not, in short, literature. Again, the speeches of Henry Clay, of Kentucky, the leader of the Whigs, whose persuasive oratory is a matter of tradition, disappoint in the reading. The fire has gone out of them.
Not so with Daniel Webster, the greatest of American forensic orators, if, indeed, he be not the greatest of all orators who have used the English tongue. Webster's speeches are of the kind that have power to move after the voice of the speaker is still. The thought and the passion in them lay hold on feelings of patriotism more lasting than the issues of the moment. It is, indeed, true of Webster's speeches, as of all speeches, that they are known to posterity more by single brilliant passages than as wholes. In oratory the occasion is of the essence of the thing, and only those parts of an address which are permanent and universal in their appeal take their place in literature. But of such detachable passages there are happily many in Webster's orations. One great thought underlay all his public life, the thought of the Union--of American nationality. What in Hamilton had been a principle of political philosophy had become in Webster a passionate conviction. The Union was his idol, and he was intolerant of any faction which threatened it from any quarter, whether the Nullifiers of South Carolina or the Abolitionists of the North. It is this thought which gives grandeur and elevation to all his utterances, and especially to the wonderful peroration of his _Reply to Hayne_, on Mr. Foot's resolution touching the sale of the public lands, delivered in the Senate on January 26, 1830, whose closing words, "Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable," became the rallying cry of a great cause. Similar in sentiment was his famous speech of March 7, 1850, _On the Constitution and the Union_, which gave so much offense to the extreme Antislavery party, who held with Garrison that a Constitution which protected slavery "was a league with death and a covenant with hell." It is not claiming too much for Webster to assert that the sentences of these and other speeches, memorized and declaimed by thousands of school-boys throughout the North, did as much as any single influence to train up a generation in hatred of secession, and to send into the fields of the civil war armies of men animated with the stern resolution to fight till the last drop of blood was shed, rather than allow the Union to be dissolved.
The figure of this great senator is one of the most imposing in American annals. The masculine force of his personality impressed itself upon men of a very different stamp--upon the unworldly Emerson, and upon the captious Carlyle, whose respect was not willingly accorded to any contemporary, much less to a representative of American democracy. Webster's looks and manner were characteristic. His form was massive; his skull and jaw solid, the under-lip projecting, and the mouth firmly and grimly shut; his complexion was swarthy, and his black, deep-set eyes, under shaggy brows, glowed with a smoldering fire. He was rather silent in society; his delivery in debate was grave and weighty, rather than fervid. His oratory was massive, and sometimes even ponderous. It may be questioned whether an American orator of to-day, with intellectual abilities equal to Webster's--if such a one there were--would permit himself the use of sonorous and elaborate pictures like the famous period which follows: "On this question of principle, while actual suffering was yet afar off, they raised their flag against a power to which, for purposes of foreign conquest and subjugation, Rome, in the height of her glory, is not to be compared--a power which has dotted over the surface of the whole globe with her possessions and military posts, whose morning drum-beat, following the sun and keeping company with the hours, circles the earth with one continuous and unbroken strain of the martial airs of England." The secret of this kind of oratory has been lost. The present generation distrusts rhetorical ornament and likes something swifter, simpler, and more familiar in its speakers. But every thing, in declamation of this sort, depends on the way in which it is done. Webster did it supremely well; a smaller man would merely have made buncombe of it.
Among the legal orators of the time the foremost was Rufus Choate, an eloquent pleader, and, like Webster, a United States senator from Massachusetts. Some of his speeches, though excessively rhetorical, have literary quality, and are nearly as effective in print as Webster's own. Another Massachusetts orator, Edward Everett, who in his time was successively professor in Harvard College, Unitarian minister in Boston, editor of the _North American Review_, member of both houses of Congress, minister to England, governor of his State, and President of Harvard, was a speaker of great finish and elegance. His addresses were mainly of the memorial and anniversary kind, and were rather lectures and Phi. B. K. prolusions than speeches. Everett was an instance of careful culture bestowed on a soil of no very great natural richness. It is doubtful whether his classical orations on Washington, the Republic, Bunker Hill Monument, and kindred themes, have enough of the breath of life in them to preserve them much longer in recollection.
New England, during these years, did not take that leading part in the purely literary development of the country which it afterward assumed. It had no names to match against those of Irving and Cooper. Drake and Halleck--slender as was their performance in point of quantity--were better poets than the Boston bards, Charles Sprague, whose _Shakespeare Ode_, delivered at the Boston theater in 1833, was locally famous; and Richard Henry Dana, whose longish narrative poem, the _Buccaneer_, 1827, once had admirers. But Boston has at no time been without a serious intellectual life of its own, nor without a circle of highly educated men of literary pursuits, even in default of great geniuses. The _North American Review_, established in 1815, though it has been wittily described as "ponderously revolving through space" for a few years after its foundation, did not exist in an absolute vacuum, but was scholarly, if somewhat heavy. Webster, to be sure, was a Massachusetts man--as were Everett and Choate--but his triumphs were won in the wider field of national politics. There was, however, a movement at this time, in the intellectual life of Boston and eastern Massachusetts, which, though not immediately contributory to the finer kinds of literature, prepared the way, by its clarifying and stimulating influences, for the eminent writers of the next generation. This was the Unitarian revolt against Puritan orthodoxy, in which William Ellery Channing was the principal leader. In a community so intensely theological as New England, it was natural that any new movement in thought should find its point of departure in the churches. Accordingly, the progressive and democratic spirit of the age, which in other parts of the country took other shapes, assumed in Massachusetts the form of "liberal Christianity." Arminianism, Socinianism, and other phases of anti-Trinitarian doctrine, had been latent in some of the Congregational churches of Massachusetts for a number of years. But about 1812 the heresy broke out openly, and within a few years from that date most of the oldest and wealthiest church societies of Boston and its vicinity had gone over to Unitarianism, and Harvard College had been captured too. In the controversy that ensued, and which was carried on in numerous books, pamphlets, sermons, and periodicals, there were eminent disputants on both sides. So far as this controversy was concerned with the theological doctrine of the Trinity it has no place in a history of literature. But the issue went far beyond that. Channing asserted the dignity of human nature against the Calvinistic doctrine of innate depravity, and affirmed the rights of human reason and man's capacity to judge of God. "We must start in religion from our own souls," he said. And in his _Moral Argument against Calvinism_, 1820, he wrote: "Nothing is gained to piety by degrading human nature, for in the competency of this nature to know and judge of God all piety has its foundation." In opposition to Edwards's doctrine of necessity he emphasized the freedom of the will. He maintained that the Calvinistic dogmas of original sin, fore-ordination, election by grace, and eternal punishment were inconsistent with the divine perfection, and made God a monster. In Channing's view the great sanction of religious truth is the moral sanction, is its agreement with the laws of conscience. He was a passionate vindicator of the liberty of the individual, not only as against political oppression, but against the tyranny of public opinion over thought and conscience: "We were made for free action. This alone is life, and enters into all that is good and great." This jealous love of freedom inspired all that he did and wrote. It led him to join the Antislavery party. It expressed itself in his elaborate arraignment of Napoleon in the Unitarian organ, the _Christian Examiner_, for 1827-28; in his _Remarks on Associations_, and his paper _On the Character and Writings of John Milton_, 1826. This was his most considerable contribution to literary criticism. It took for a text Milton's recently discovered _Treatise on Christian Doctrine_--the tendency of which was anti-Trinitarian--but it began with a general defense of poetry against "those who are accustomed to speak of poetry as light reading." This would now seem a somewhat superfluous introduction to an article in any American review. But it shows the nature of the _milieu_ through which the liberal movement in Boston had to make its way. To re-assert the dignity and usefulness of the beautiful arts was, perhaps, the chief service which the Massachusetts Unitarians rendered to humanism. The traditional prejudice of the Puritans against the ornamental side of life had to be softened before polite literature could find a congenial atmosphere in New England. In Channing's _Remarks on National Literature_, reviewing a work published in 1823, he asks the question, "Do we possess what may be called a national literature?" and answers it, by implication at least, in the negative. That we do now possess a national literature is in great part due to the influence of Channing and his associates, although his own writings, being in the main controversial, and, therefore, of temporary interest, may not themselves take rank among the permanent treasures of that literature.
1. Washington Irving. _Knickerbocker's History of New York_. _The Sketch Book_. _Bracebridge Hall_. _Tales of a Traveler_. _The Alhambra_. _Life of Oliver Goldsmith_.
2. James Fenimore Cooper. _The Spy_. _The Pilot_. _The Red Rover_. _The Leather-stocking Tales_.
3. Daniel Webster. _Great Speeches and Orations_. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1879.
4. William Ellery Channing. _The Character and Writings of John Milton_. _The Life and Character of Napoleon Bonaparte_. _Slavery_. [Vols. I and II of the _Works of William E. Channing_. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1841.]
5. Joseph Rodman Drake. _The Culprit Fay_. _The American Flag_. [_Selected Poems_. New York. 1835.]
6. Fitz-Greene Halleck. _Marco Bozzaris_. _Alnwick Castle_. _On the Death of Drake_. [Poems. New York. 1827.]
Compare Carlyle's Herr Diogenes Teufelsdröckh, in _Sartor Resartus_, the author of the famous "Clothes Philosophy."
[Transcriber's Note: Earlier in this chapter is the abbreviation "Phi. B. K.". The "Phi" replaces the actual Greek character that was in the original text.]
THE CONCORD WRITERS.
There has been but one movement in the history of the American mind which has given to literature a group of writers having coherence enough to merit the name of a school. This was the great humanitarian movement, or series of movements, in New England, which, beginning in the Unitarianism of Channing, ran through its later phase in transcendentalism, and spent its last strength in the antislavery agitation and the enthusiasms of the civil war. The second stage of this intellectual and social revolt was transcendentalism, of which Emerson wrote, in 1842: "The history of genius and of religion in these times will be the history of this tendency." It culminated about 1840-41 in the establishment of the _Dial_ and the Brook Farm Community, although Emerson had given the signal a few years before in his little volume entitled _Nature_, 1836, his Phi Beta Kappa address at Harvard on the _American Scholar_, 1837, and his address in 1838 before the Divinity School at Cambridge. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) was the prophet of the sect, and Concord was its Mecca; but the influence of the new ideas was not confined to the little group of professed transcendentalists; it extended to all the young writers within reach, who struck their roots deeper into the soil that it had loosened and freshened. We owe to it, in great measure, not merely Emerson, Alcott, Margaret Fuller, and Thoreau, but Hawthorne, Lowell, Whittier, and Holmes.
In its strictest sense transcendentalism was a restatement of the idealistic philosophy, and an application of its beliefs to religion, nature, and life. But in a looser sense, and as including the more outward manifestations which drew popular attention most strongly, it was the name given to that spirit of dissent and protest, of universal inquiry and experiment, which marked the third and fourth decades of this century in America, and especially in New England. The movement was contemporary with political revolutions in Europe and with the preaching of many novel gospels in religion, in sociology, in science, education, medicine, and hygiene. New sects were formed, like the Swedenborgians, Universalists, Spiritualists, Millerites, Second Adventists, Shakers, Mormons, and Come-outers, some of whom believed in trances, miracles, and direct revelations from the divine Spirit; others in the quick coming of Christ, as deduced from the opening of the seals and the number of the beast in the Apocalypse; and still others in the reorganization of society and of the family on a different basis. New systems of education were tried, suggested by the writings of the Swiss reformer, Pestalozzi, and others. The pseudo-sciences of mesmerism and of phrenology, as taught by Gall and Spurzheim, had numerous followers. In medicine, homeopathy, hydropathy, and what Dr. Holmes calls "kindred delusions," made many disciples. Numbers of persons, influenced by the doctrines of Graham and other vegetarians, abjured the use of animal food, as injurious not only to health but to a finer spirituality. Not a few refused to vote or pay taxes. The writings of Fourier and Saint-Simon were translated, and societies were established where co-operation and a community of goods should take the place of selfish competition.
About the year 1840 there were some thirty of these "phalansteries" in America, many of which had their organs in the shape of weekly or monthly journals, which advocated the principle of Association. The best known of these was probably the _Harbinger_, the mouth-piece of the famous Brook Farm Community, which was founded at West Roxbury, Mass., in 1841, and lasted till 1847. The head man of Brook Farm was George Ripley, a Unitarian clergyman, who had resigned his pulpit in Boston to go into the movement, and who after its failure became and remained for many years literary editor of the _New York Tribune_. Among his associates were Charles A. Dana--now the editor of the _Sun_--Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others not unknown to fame. The _Harbinger_, which ran from 1845 to 1849--two years after the break-up of the community--had among its contributors many who were not Brook Farmers, but who sympathized more or less with the experiment. Of the number were Horace Greeley, Dr. F. H. Hedge--who did so much to introduce American readers to German literature--J. S. Dwight, the musical critic, C. P. Cranch, the poet, and younger men, like G. W. Curtis and T. W. Higginson. A reader of to-day, looking into an odd volume of the _Harbinger_, will find in it some stimulating writing, together with a great deal of unintelligible talk about "Harmonic Unity," "Love Germination," and other matters now fallen silent. The most important literary result of this experiment at "plain living and high thinking," with its queer mixture of culture and agriculture, was Hawthorne's _Blithedale Romance_, which has for its background an idealized picture of the community life; whose heroine, Zenobia, has touches of Margaret Fuller; and whose hero, with his hobby of prison reform, was a type of the one-idea'd philanthropists that abounded in such an environment. Hawthorne's attitude was always in part one of reserve and criticism, an attitude which is apparent in the reminiscences of Brook Farm in his _American Note Books_, wherein he speaks with a certain resentment of "Miss Fuller's transcendental heifer," which hooked the other cows, and was evidently to Hawthorne's mind not unsymbolic in this respect of Miss Fuller herself.
It was the day of seers and "Orphic" utterances; the air was fall of the enthusiasm of humanity and thick with philanthropic projects and plans for the regeneration of the universe. The figure of the wild-eyed, long-haired reformer--the man with a panacea--the "crank" of our later terminology--became a familiar one. He abounded at non-resistance conventions and meetings of universal peace societies and of woman's rights associations. The movement had its grotesque aspects, which Lowell has described in his essay on Thoreau. "Bran had its apostles and the pre-sartorial simplicity of Adam its martyrs, tailored impromptu from the tar-pot. . . . Not a few impecunious zealots abjured the use of money (unless earned by other people), professing to live on the internal revenues of the spirit. . . . Communities were established where every thing was to be common but common sense."
This ferment has long since subsided, and much of what was then seething has gone off in vapor or other volatile products. But some very solid matters have also been precipitated, some crystals of poetry translucent, symmetrical, enduring. The immediate practical outcome was disappointing, and the external history of the agitation is a record of failed experiments, spurious sciences, Utopian philosophies, and sects founded only to dwindle away or to be re-absorbed into some form of orthodoxy. In the eyes of the conservative, or the worldly-minded, or of the plain people who could not understand the enigmatic utterances of the reformers, the dangerous or ludicrous sides of transcendentalism were naturally uppermost. Nevertheless the movement was but a new avatar of the old Puritan spirit; its moral earnestness, its spirituality, its tenderness for the individual conscience. Puritanism, too, in its day had run into grotesque extremes. Emerson bore about the same relation to the absurder out-croppings of transcendentalism that Milton bore to the New Lights, Ranters, Fifth Monarchy Men, etc., of his time. There is in him that mingling of idealism with an abiding sanity, and even a Yankee shrewdness, which characterizes the race. The practical, inventive, calculating, money-getting side of the Yankee has been made sufficiently obvious. But the deep heart of New England is full of dreams, mysticism, romance:
"And in the day of sacrifice, When heroes piled the pyre, The dismal Massachusetts ice Burned more than others' fire."
The one element which the odd and eccentric developments of this movement shared in common with the real philosophy of transcendentalism was the rejection of authority and the appeal to the private consciousness as the sole standard of truth and right. This principle certainly lay in the ethical systems of Kant and Fichte, the great transcendentalists of Germany. It had been strongly asserted by Channing. Nay, it was the starting-point of Puritanism itself, which had drawn away from the ceremonial religion of the English Church, and by its Congregational system had made each church society independent in doctrine and worship. And although Puritan orthodoxy in New England had grown rigid and dogmatic it had never used the weapons of obscurantism. By encouraging education to the utmost, it had shown its willingness to submit its beliefs to the fullest discussion and had put into the hands of dissent the means with which to attack them.
In its theological aspect transcendentalism was a departure from conservative Unitarianism, as that had been from Calvinism. From Edwards to Channing, from Channing to Emerson and Theodore Parker, there was a natural and logical unfolding; not logical in the sense that Channing accepted Edwards's premises and pushed them out to their conclusions, or that Parker accepted all of Channing's premises, but in the sense that the rigid pushing out of Edwards's premises into their conclusions by himself and his followers had brought about a moral _reductio ad absurdum_ and a state of opinion against which Channing rebelled; and that Channing, as it seemed to Parker, stopped short in the carrying out of his own principles. Thus the "Channing Unitarians," while denying that Christ was God, had held that he was of divine nature, was the Son of God, and had existed before he came into the world. While rejecting the doctrine of the "vicarious sacrifice" they maintained that Christ was a mediator and intercessor, and that his supernatural nature was testified by miracles. For Parker and Emerson it was easy to take the step to the assertion that Christ was a good and great man, divine only in the sense that God possessed him more fully than any other man known in history; that it was his preaching and example that brought salvation to men, and not any special mediation or intercession, and that his own words and acts, and not miracles, are the only and the sufficient witness to his mission. In the view of the transcendentalists Christ was as human as Buddha, Socrates, or Confucius, and the Bible was but one among the "Ethnical Scriptures" or sacred writings of the peoples, passages from which were published in the transcendental organ, the _Dial_. As against these new views Channing Unitarianism occupied already a conservative position. The Unitarians as a body had never been very numerous outside of eastern Massachusetts. They had a few churches in New York and in the larger cities and towns elsewhere, but the sect, as such, was a local one. Orthodoxy made a sturdy fight against the heresy, under leaders like Leonard Woods and Moses Stuart, of Andover, and Lyman Beecher, of Connecticut. In the neighboring State of Connecticut, for example, there was until lately, for a period of several years, no distinctly Unitarian congregation worshiping in a church edifice of its own. On the other hand, the Unitarians claimed, with justice, that their opinions had, to a great extent, modified the theology of the orthodox churches. The writings of Horace Bushnell, of Hartford, one of the most eminent Congregational divines, approach Unitarianism in their interpretation of the doctrine of the Atonement; and the "progressive orthodoxy" of Andover is certainly not the Calvinism of Thomas Hooker or of Jonathan Edwards. But it seemed to the transcendentalists that conservative Unitarianism was too negative and "cultured," and Margaret Fuller complained of the coldness of the Boston pulpits; while, contrariwise, the central thought of transcendentalism, that the soul has an immediate connection with God, was pronounced by Dr. Channing a "crude speculation." This was the thought of Emerson's address in 1838 before the Cambridge Divinity School, and it was at once made the object of attack by conservative Unitarians like Henry Ware and Andrews Norton. The latter, in an address before the same audience, on the _Latest Form of Infidelity_, said: "Nothing is left that can be called Christianity if its miraculous character be denied. . . . There can be no intuition, no direct perception, of the truth of Christianity." And in a pamphlet supporting the same side of the question he added: "It is not an intelligible error, but a mere absurdity, to maintain that we are conscious, or have an intuitive knowledge, of the being of God, of our own immortality, . . . or of any other fact of religion." Ripley and Parker replied in Emerson's defense; but Emerson himself would never be drawn into controversy. He said that he could not argue. He _announced_ truths; his method was that of the seer, not of the disputant. In 1832 Emerson, who was a Unitarian clergyman, and descended from eight generations of clergymen, had resigned the pastorate of the Second Church of Boston because he could not conscientiously administer the sacrament of the communion--which he regarded as a mere act of commemoration--in the sense in which it was understood by his parishioners. Thenceforth, though he sometimes occupied Unitarian pulpits, and was, indeed, all his life a kind of "lay preacher," he never assumed the pastorate of a church. The representative of transcendentalism in the pulpit was Theodore Parker, an eloquent preacher, an eager debater, and a prolific writer on many subjects, whose collected works fill fourteen volumes. Parker was a man of strongly human traits, passionate, independent, intensely religious, but intensely radical, who made for himself a large personal following. The more advanced wing of the Unitarians were called, after him, "Parkerites." Many of the Unitarian churches refused to "fellowship" with him; and the large congregation, or audience, which assembled in Music Hall to hear his sermons was stigmatized as a "boisterous assembly" which came to hear Parker preach irreligion.
It has been said that, on its philosophical side, New England transcendentalism was a restatement of idealism. The impulse came from Germany, from the philosophical writings of Kant, Fichte, Jacobi, and Schelling, and from the works of Coleridge and Carlyle, who had domesticated German thought in England. In Channing's _Remarks on a National Literature_, quoted in our last chapter, the essayist urged that our scholars should study the authors of France and Germany as one means of emancipating American letters from a slavish dependence on British literature. And in fact German literature began, not long after, to be eagerly studied in New England. Emerson published an American edition of Carlyle's _Miscellanies_, including his essays on German writers that had appeared in England between 1822 and 1830. In 1838 Ripley began to publish _Specimens of Foreign Standard Literature_, which extended to fourteen volumes. In his work of translating and supplying introductions to the matter selected, he was helped by Ripley, Margaret Fuller, John S. Dwight, and others who had more or less connection with the transcendental movement.
The definition of the new faith given by Emerson in his lecture on the _Transcendentalist_, 1842, is as follows; "What is popularly called transcendentalism among us is idealism. . . . The idealism of the present day acquired the name of transcendental from the use of that term by Immanuel Kant, who replied to the skeptical philosophy of Locke, which insisted that there was nothing in the intellect which was not previously in the experience of the senses, by showing that there was a very important class of ideas, or imperative forms, which did not come by experience, but through which experience was acquired; that these were intuitions of the mind itself, and he denominated them _transcendental_ forms." Idealism denies the independent existence of matter. Transcendentalism claims for the innate ideas of God and the soul a higher assurance of reality than for the knowledge of the outside world derived through the senses. Emerson shares the "noble doubt" of idealism. He calls the universe a shade, a dream, "this great apparition." "It is a sufficient account of that appearance we call the world," he wrote in _Nature_, "that God will teach a human mind, and so makes it the receiver of a certain number of congruent sensations which we call sun and moon, man and woman, house and trade. In my utter impotence to test the authenticity of the report of my senses, to know whether the impressions on me correspond with outlying objects, what difference does it make whether Orion is up there in heaven or some god paints the image in the firmament of the soul?" On the other hand, our evidence of the existence, of God and of our own souls, and our knowledge of right and wrong, are immediate, and are independent of the senses. We are in direct communication with the "Over-soul," the infinite Spirit. "The soul in man is the background of our being--an immensity not possessed, that cannot be possessed." "From within or from behind, a light shines through us upon things, and makes us aware that we are nothing, but the light is all." Revelation is "an influx of the Divine mind into our mind. It is an ebb of the individual rivulet before the flowing surges of the sea of life." In moods of exaltation, and especially in the presence of nature, this contact of the individual soul with the absolute is felt. "All mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part and particle of God." The existence and attributes of God are not deducible from history or from natural theology, but are thus directly given us in consciousness. In his essay on the _Transcendentalist_ Emerson says: "His experience inclines him to behold the procession of facts you call the world as flowing perpetually outward from an invisible, unsounded center in himself; center alike of him and of them, and necessitating him to regard all things as having a subjective or relative existence--relative to that aforesaid Unknown Center of him. There is no bar or wall in the soul where man, the effect, ceases, and God, the cause, begins. We lie open on one side to the deeps of spiritual nature, to the attributes of God."
Emerson's point of view, though familiar to students of philosophy, is strange to the popular understanding, and hence has arisen the complaint of his obscurity. Moreover, he apprehended and expressed these ideas as a poet, in figurative and emotional language, and not as a metaphysician, in a formulated statement. His own position in relation to systematic philosophers is described in what he says of Plato, in his series of sketches entitled _Representative Men_, 1850: "He has not a system. The dearest disciples and defenders are at fault. He attempted a theory of the universe, and his theory is not complete or self-evident. One man thinks he means this, and another that; he has said one thing in one place, and the reverse of it in another place." It happens, therefore, that, to many students of more formal philosophies, Emerson's meaning seems elusive, and he appears to write from temporary moods and to contradict himself. Had he attempted a reasoned exposition of the transcendental philosophy, instead of writing essays and poems, he might have added one more to the number of system-mongers; but he would not have taken that significant place which he occupies in the general literature of the time, nor exerted that wide influence upon younger writers which has been one of the stimulating forces in American thought. It was because Emerson was a poet that he is our Emerson. And yet it would be impossible to disentangle his peculiar philosophical ideas from the body of his writings and to leave the latter to stand upon their merits as literature merely. He is the poet of certain high abstractions, and his religion is central to all his work--excepting, perhaps, his _English Traits_, 1856, an acute study of national characteristics; and a few of his essays and verses, which are independent of any particular philosophical stand-point.
When Emerson resigned his parish in 1832, he made a short trip to Europe, where he visited Carlyle at Craigenputtock, and Landor at Florence. On his return he retired to his birthplace, the village of Concord, Massachusetts, and settled down among his books and his fields, becoming a sort of "glorified farmer," but issuing frequently from his retirement to instruct and delight audiences of thoughtful people at Boston and at other points all through the country. Emerson was the perfection of a lyceum lecturer. His manner was quiet but forcible, his voice of charming quality, and his enunciation clean-cut and refined. The sentence was his unit in composition. His lectures seemed to begin anywhere and to end anywhere and to resemble strings of exquisitely polished sayings rather than continuous discourses. His printed essays, with unimportant exceptions, were first written and delivered as lectures. In 1836 he published his first book, _Nature_, which remains the most systematic statement of his philosophy. It opened a fresh spring-head in American thought, and the words of its introduction announced that its author had broken with the past. "Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us and not the history of theirs?"
It took eleven years to sell five hundred copies of this little book. But the year following its publication the remarkable Phi Beta Kappa address at Cambridge, on the _American Scholar_, electrified the little public of the university. This is described by Lowell as "an event without any former parallel in our literary annals, a scene to be always treasured in the memory for its picturesqueness and its inspiration. What crowded and breathless aisles, what windows clustering with eager heads, what grim silence of foregone dissent!" To Concord come many kindred spirits, drawn by Emerson's magnetic attraction. Thither came, from Connecticut, Amos Bronson Alcott, born a few years before Emerson, whom he outlived; a quaint and benignant figure, a visionary and a mystic even among the transcendentalists themselves, and one who lived in unworldly simplicity the life of the soul. Alcott had taught school at Cheshire, Conn., and afterward at Boston on an original plan--compelling his scholars, for example, to flog _him_, when they did wrong, instead of taking a flogging themselves. The experiment was successful until his _Conversations on the Gospels_, in Boston, and his insistence upon admitting colored children to his benches, offended conservative opinion and broke up his school. Alcott renounced the eating of animal food in 1835. He believed in the union of thought and manual labor, and supported himself for some years by the work of his hands, gardening, cutting wood, etc. He traveled into the West and elsewhere, holding conversations on philosophy, education, and religion. He set up a little community at the village of Harvard, Massachusetts, which was rather less successful than Brook Farm, and he contributed _Orphic Sayings_ to the _Dial_, which were harder for the exoteric to understand than even Emerson's _Brahma_ or the _Over-soul_.
Thither came, also, Sarah Margaret Fuller, the most intellectual woman of her time in America, an eager student of Greek and German literature and an ardent seeker after the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. She threw herself into many causes--such as temperance and the higher education of women. Her brilliant conversation classes in Boston attracted many "minds" of her own sex. Subsequently, as literary editor of the _New York Tribune_, she furnished a wider public with reviews and book notices of great ability. She took part in the Brook Farm experiment, and she edited the _Dial_ for a time, contributing to it the papers afterward expanded into her most considerable book, _Woman in the Nineteenth Century_. In 1846 she went abroad, and at Rome took part in the revolutionary movement of Mazzini, having charge of one of the hospitals during the siege of the city by the French. In 1847 she married an impecunious Italian nobleman, the Marquis Ossoli. In 1850 the ship on which she was returning to America, with her husband and child, was wrecked on Fire Island beach and all three were lost. Margaret Fuller's collected writings are somewhat disappointing, being mainly of temporary interest. She lives less through her books than through the memoirs of her friends, Emerson, James Freeman Clarke, T. W. Higginson, and others who knew her as a personal influence. Her strenuous and rather overbearing individuality made an impression not altogether agreeable upon many of her contemporaries. Lowell introduced a caricature of her as "Miranda" into his _Fable for Critics_, and Hawthorne's caustic sketch of her, preserved in the biography written by his son, has given great offence to her admirers. "Such a determination to _eat_ this huge universe!" was Carlyle's characteristic comment on her appetite for knowledge and aspirations after perfection.
To Concord also came Nathaniel Hawthorne, who took up his residence there first at the "Old Manse," and afterward at "The Wayside." Though naturally an idealist, he said that he came too late to Concord to fall decidedly under Emerson's influence. Of that he would have stood in little danger even had he come earlier. He appreciated the deep and subtle quality of Emerson's imagination, but his own shy genius always jealously guarded its independence and resented the too close approaches of an alien mind. Among the native disciples of Emerson at Concord the most noteworthy were Henry Thoreau, and his friend and biographer, William Ellery Channing, Jr., a nephew of the great Channing. Channing was a contributor to the _Dial_, and he published a volume of poems which elicited a fiercely contemptous review from Edgar Poe. Though disfigured by affectation and obscurity, many of Channing's verses were distinguished by true poetic feeling, and the last line of his little piece, _A Poet's Hope_,
"If my bark sink 'tis to another sea,"
has taken a permanent place in the literature of transcendentalism.
The private organ of the transcendentalists was the _Dial_, a quarterly magazine, published from 1840 to 1844, and edited by Emerson and Margaret Fuller. Among its contributors, besides those already mentioned, were Ripley, Thoreau, Parker, James Freeman Clarke, Charles A. Dana, John S. Dwight, C. P. Cranch, Charles Emerson, and William H. Channing, another nephew of Dr. Channing. It contained, along with a good deal of rubbish, some of the best poetry and prose that has been published in America. The most lasting part of its contents were the contributions of Emerson and Thoreau. But even as a whole it was a unique way-mark in the history of our literature.
From time to time Emerson collected and published his lectures under various titles. A first series of _Essays_ came out in 1841, and a second in 1844; the _Conduct of Life_ in 1860, _Society and Solitude_ in 1870, _Letters and Social Aims_ in 1876, and the _Fortune of the Republic_ in 1878. In 1847 he issued a volume of _Poems_, and 1865 _Mayday and Other Poems_. These writings, as a whole, were variations on a single theme, expansions and illustrations of the philosophy set forth in _Nature_, and his early addresses. They were strikingly original, rich in thought, filled with wisdom, with lofty morality and spiritual religion. Emerson, said Lowell, first "cut the cable that bound us to English thought and gave us a chance at the dangers and glories of blue water." Nevertheless, as it used to be the fashion to find an English analogue for every American writer, so that Cooper was called the American Scott, and Mrs. Sigourney was described as the Hemans of America, a well-worn critical tradition has coupled Emerson with Carlyle. That his mind received a nudge from Carlyle's early essays and from _Sartor Resartus_ is beyond a doubt. They were life-long friends and correspondents, and Emerson's _Representative Men_ is, in some sort, a counterpart of Carlyle's _Hero Worship_. But in temper and style the two writers were widely different. Carlyle's pessimism and dissatisfaction with the general drift of things gained upon him more and more, while Emerson was a consistent optimist to the end. The last of his writings published during his life-time, the _Fortune of the Republic_, contrasts strangely in its hopefulness with the desperation of Carlyle's later utterances. Even in presence of the doubt as to man's personal immortality he takes refuge in a high and stoical faith. "I think all sound minds rest on a certain preliminary conviction, namely, that if it be best that conscious personal life shall continue it will continue, and if not best, then it will not; and we, if we saw the whole, should of course see that it was better so." It is this conviction that gives to Emerson's writings their serenity and their tonic quality at the same time that it narrows the range of his dealings with life. As the idealist declines to cross-examine those facts which he regards as merely phenomenal, and looks upon this outward face of things as upon a mask not worthy to dismay the fixed soul, so the optimist turns away his eyes from the evil which he disposes of as merely negative, as the shadow of the good. Hawthorne's interest in the problem of sin finds little place in Emerson's philosophy. Passion comes not nigh him, and _Faust_ disturbs him with its disagreeableness. Pessimism is to him "the only skepticism."
The greatest literature is that which is most broadly human, or, in other words, that which will square best with all philosophies. But Emerson's genius was interpretative rather than constructive. The poet dwells in the cheerful world of phenomena. He is most the poet who realizes most intensely the good and the bad of human life. But Idealism makes experience shadowy and subordinates action to contemplation. To it the cities of men, with their "frivolous populations,"
"are but sailing foam-bells Along thought's causing stream."
Shakespeare does not forget that the world will one day vanish "like the baseless fabric of a vision," and that we ourselves are "such stuff as dreams are made on;" but this is not the mood in which he dwells. Again: while it is for the philosopher to reduce variety to unity, it is the poet's task to detect the manifold under uniformity. In the great creative poets, in Shakespeare and Dante and Goethe, how infinite the swarm of persons, the multitude of forms! But with Emerson the type is important, the common element. "In youth we are mad for persons. But the larger experience of man discovers the identical nature appearing through them all." "The same--the same!" he exclaims in his essay on _Plato_. "Friend and foe are of one stuff; the plowman, the plow, and the furrow are of one stuff." And this is the thought in _Brahma_:
"They reckon ill who leave me out; When me they fly I am the wings: I am the doubter find the doubt, And I the hymn the Brahmin sings."
It is not easy to fancy a writer who holds this altitude toward "persons" descending to the composition of a novel or a play. Emerson showed, indeed, a fine power of character-analysis in his _English Traits_ and _Representative Men_ and in his memoirs of Thoreau and Margaret Fuller. There is even a sort of dramatic humor in his portrait of Socrates. But upon the whole he stands midway between constructive artists, whose instinct it is to tell a story or sing a song, and philosophers, like Schelling, who give poetic expression to a system of thought. He belongs to the class of minds of which Sir Thomas Browne is the best English example. He set a high value upon Browne, to whose style his own, though far more sententious, bears a resemblance. Browne's saying, for example, "All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God," sounds like Emerson, whose workmanship, for the rest, in his prose essays was exceedingly fine and close. He was not afraid to be homely and racy in expressing thought of the highest spirituality. "Hitch your wagon to a star" is a good instance of his favorite manner.
Emerson's verse often seems careless in technique. Most of his pieces are scrappy and have the air of runic rimes, or little oracular "voicings"--as they say at Concord--in rhythmic shape, of single thoughts on "Worship," "Character," "Heroism," "Art," "Politics," "Culture," etc. The content is the important thing, and the form is too frequently awkward or bald. Sometimes, indeed, in the clear-obscure of Emerson's poetry the deep wisdom of the thought finds its most natural expression in the imaginative simplicity of the language. But though this artlessness in him became too frequently in his imitators, like Thoreau and Ellery Channing, an obtruded simplicity, among his own poems are many that leave nothing to be desired in point of wording and of verse. His _Hymn Sung at the Completion of the Concord Monument_, in 1836, is the perfect model of an occasional poem. Its lines were on every one's lips at the time of the centennial celebrations in 1876, and "the shot heard round the world" has hardly echoed farther than the song which chronicled it. Equally current is the stanza from _Voluntaries_:
"So nigh is grandeur to our dust, So near is God to man, When Duty whispers low, 'Thou must,' The youth replies, 'I can.'"
So, too, the famous lines from the _Problem_:
"The hand that rounded Peter's dome, And groined the aisles of Christian Rome, Wrought in a sad sincerity. Himself from God he could not free; He builded better than he knew; The conscious stone to beauty grew."
The most noteworthy of Emerson's pupils was Henry David Thoreau, "the poet-naturalist." After his graduation from Harvard College, in 1837, Thoreau engaged in school-teaching and in the manufacture of lead-pencils, but soon gave up all regular business and devoted himself to walking, reading, and the study of nature. He was at one time private tutor in a family on Staten Island, and he supported himself for a season by doing odd jobs in land-surveying for the farmers about Concord. In 1845 he built, with his own hands, a small cabin on the banks of Walden Pond, near Concord, and lived there in seclusion for two years. His expenses during these years were nine cents a day, and he gave an account of his experiment in his most characteristic book, _Walden_, published in 1854. His _Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers_ appeared in 1849. From time to time he went farther afield, and his journeys were reported in _Cape Cod_, the _Maine Woods_, _Excursions_, and _A Yankee in Canada_, all of which, as well as a volume of _Letters_ and _Early Spring in Massachusetts_, have been given to the public since his death, which happened in 1862. No one has lived so close to nature, and written of it so intimately, as Thoreau. His life was a lesson in economy and a sermon on Emerson's text, "Lessen your denominator." He wished to reduce existence to the simplest terms--to
"live all alone Close to the bone, And where life is sweet Constantly eat."
He had a passion for the wild, and seems like an Anglo-Saxon reversion to the type of the Red Indian. The most distinctive note in Thoreau is his inhumanity. Emerson spoke of him as a "perfect piece of stoicism." "Man," said Thoreau, "is only the point on which I stand." He strove to realize the objective life of nature--nature in its aloofness from man; to identify himself, with the moose and the mountain. He listened, with his ear close to the ground, for the voice of the earth. "What are the trees saying?" he exclaimed. Following upon the trail of the lumberman, he asked the primeval wilderness for its secret, and
"saw beneath dim aisles, in odorous beds, The slight linnaea hang its twin-born heads."
He tried to interpret the thought of Ktaadn and to fathom the meaning of the billows on the back of Cape Cod, in their indifference to the shipwrecked bodies that they rolled ashore. "After sitting in my chamber many days, reading the poets, I have been out early on a foggy morning and heard the cry of an owl in a neighboring wood as from a nature behind the common, unexplored by science or by literature. None of the feathered race has yet realized my youthful conceptions of the woodland depths. I had seen the red election-birds brought from their recesses on my comrade's string, and fancied that their plumage would assume stranger and more dazzling colors, like the tints of evening, in proportion as I advanced farther into the darkness and solitude of the forest. Still less have I seen such strong and wild tints on any poet's string."
It was on the mystical side that Thoreau apprehended transcendentalism. Mysticism has been defined as the soul's recognition of its identity with nature. This thought lies plainly in Schelling's philosophy, and he illustrated it by his famous figure of the magnet. Mind and nature are one; they are the positive and negative poles of the magnet. In man, the Absolute--that is, God--becomes conscious of himself; makes of himself, as nature, an object to himself as mind. "The souls of men," said Schelling, "are but the innumerable individual eyes with which our infinite World-Spirit beholds himself." This thought is also clearly present in Emerson's view of nature, and has caused him to be accused of pantheism. But if by pantheism is meant the doctrine that the underlying principle of the universe is matter or force, none of the transcendentalists was a pantheist. In their view nature was divine. Their poetry is always haunted by the sense of a spiritual reality which abides beyond the phenomena. Thus in Emerson's _Two Rivers_:
"Thy summer voice, Musketaquit, Repeats the music of the rain, But sweeter rivers pulsing flit Through thee as thou through Concord plain.
"Thou in thy narrow banks art pent; The stream I love unbounded goes; Through flood and sea and firmament, Through light, through life, it forward flows.
"I see the inundation sweet, I hear the spending of the stream, Through years, through men, through nature fleet, Through passion, thought, through power and dream."
This mood occurs frequently in Thoreau. The hard world of matter becomes suddenly all fluent and spiritual, and he sees himself in it--sees God. "This earth," he cries, "which is spread out like a map around me, is but the lining of my inmost soul exposed." "In _me_ is the sucker that I see;" and, of Walden Pond,
"I am its stony shore, And the breeze that passes o'er."
"Suddenly old Time winked at me--ah, you know me, you rogue--and news had come that IT was well. That ancient universe is in such capital health, I think, undoubtedly, it will never die. . . . I see, smell, taste, hear, feel that ever-lasting something to which we are allied, at once our maker, our abode, our destiny, our very selves." It was something ulterior that Thoreau sought in nature. "The other world," he wrote, "is all my art: my pencils will draw no other; my jack-knife will cut nothing else." Thoreau did not scorn, however, like Emerson, to "examine too microscopically the universal tablet." He was a close observer and accurate reporter of the ways of birds and plants and the minuter aspects of nature. He has had many followers, who have produced much pleasant literature on out-door life. But in none of them is there that unique combination of the poet, the naturalist, and the mystic which gives his page its wild original flavor. He had the woodcraft of a hunter and the eye of a botanist, but his imagination did not stop short with the fact. The sound of a tree falling in the Maine woods was to him "as though a door had shut somewhere in the damp and shaggy wilderness." He saw small things in cosmic relations. His trip down the tame Concord has for the reader the excitement of a voyage of exploration into far and unknown regions. The river just above Sherman's Bridge, in time of flood "when the wind blows freshly on a raw March day, heaving up the surface into dark and sober billows," was like Lake Huron, "and you may run aground on Cranberry Island," and "get as good a freezing there as anywhere on the North-west coast." He said that most of the phenomena described in Kane's voyages could be observed in Concord.
The literature of transcendentalism was like the light of the stars in a winter night, keen and cold and high. It had the pale cast of thought, and was almost too spiritual and remote to "hit the sense of mortal sight." But it was at least indigenous. If not an American literature--not national and not inclusive of all sides of American life--it was, at all events, a genuine New England literature and true to the spirit of its section. The tough Puritan stock had at last put forth a blossom which compared with the warm, robust growths of English soil even as the delicate wind flower of the northern spring compares with the cowslips and daisies of old England.
In 1842 Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64), the greatest American romancer, came to Concord. He had recently left Brook Farm, had just been married, and with his bride he settled down in the "Old Manse" for three paradisaical years. A picture of this protracted honeymoon and this sequestered life, as tranquil as the slow stream on whose banks it was passed, is given in the introductory chapter to his _Mosses from an Old Manse_, 1846, and in the more personal and confidential records of his _American Note Books_, posthumously published. Hawthorne was thirty-eight when he took his place among the Concord literati. His childhood and youth had been spent partly at his birthplace, the old and already somewhat decayed sea-port town of Salem, and partly at his grandfather's farm on Sebago Lake, in Maine, then on the edge of the primitive forest. Maine did not become a State, indeed, until 1820, the year before Hawthorne entered Bowdoin College, whence he was graduated in 1825, in the same class with Henry W. Longfellow and one year behind Franklin Pierce, afterward President of the United States. After leaving college Hawthorne buried himself for years in the seclusion of his home at Salem. His mother, who was early widowed, had withdrawn entirely from the world. For months at a time Hawthorne kept his room, seeing no other society than that of his mother and sisters, reading all sorts of books and writing wild tales, most of which he destroyed as soon as he had written them. At twilight he would emerge from the house for a solitary ramble through the streets of the town or along the sea-side. Old Salem had much that was picturesque in its associations. It had been the scene of the witch trials in the seventeenth century, and it abounded in ancient mansions, the homes of retired whalers and India merchants. Hawthorne's father had been a ship captain, and many of his ancestors had followed the sea. One of his forefathers, moreover, had been a certain Judge Hawthorne, who in 1691 had sentenced several of the witches to death. The thought of this affected Hawthorne's imagination with a pleasing horror, and he utilized it afterward in his _House of the Seven Gables_. Many of the old Salem houses, too, had their family histories, with now and then the hint of some obscure crime or dark misfortune which haunted posterity with its curse till all the stock died out or fell into poverty and evil ways, as in the Pyncheon family of Hawthorne's romance. In the preface to the _Marble Faun_ Hawthorne wrote: "No author without a trial can conceive of the difficulty of writing a romance about a country where there is no shadow, no antiquity, no mystery, no picturesque and gloomy wrong, nor any thing but a commonplace prosperity in broad and simple daylight." And yet it may be doubted whether any environment could have been found more fitted to his peculiar genius than this of his native town, or any preparation better calculated to ripen the faculty that was in him than these long, lonely years of waiting and brooding thought. From time to time he contributed a story or a sketch to some periodical, such as S. G. Goodrich's annual, the _Token_, or the _Knickerbocker Magazine_. Some of these attracted the attention of the judicious; but they were anonymous and signed by various _noms de plume_, and their author was at this time--to use his own words--"the obscurest man of letters in America." In 1828 he had issued anonymously and at his own expense a short romance, entitled _Fanshawe_. It had little success, and copies of the first edition are now exceedingly rare. In 1837 he published a collection of his magazine pieces under the title, _Twice-Told Tales_. The book was generously praised in the _North American Review_ by his former classmate, Longfellow; and Edgar Poe showed his keen critical perception by predicting that the writer would easily put himself at the head of imaginative literature in America if he would discard allegory, drop short stories, and compose a genuine romance. Poe compared Hawthorne's work with that of the German romancer, Tieck, and it is interesting to find confirmation of this dictum in passages of the _American Note Books_, in which Hawthorne speaks of laboring over Tieck with a German dictionary. The _Twice-Told Tales_ are the work of a recluse, who makes guesses at life from a knowledge of his own heart, acquired by a habit of introspection, but who has had little contact with men. Many of them were shadowy, and others were morbid and unwholesome. But their gloom was of an interior kind, never the physically horrible of Poe. It arose from weird psychological situations like that of _Ethan Brand_ in his search for the unpardonable sin. Hawthorne was true to the inherited instinct of Puritanism; he took the conscience for his theme, and in these early tales he was already absorbed in the problem of evil, the subtle ways in which sin works out its retribution, and the species of fate or necessity that the wrong-doer makes for himself in the inevitable sequences of his crime. Hawthorne was strongly drawn toward symbols and types, and never quite followed Poe's advice to abandon allegory. The _Scarlet Letter_ and his other romances are not, indeed, strictly allegories, since the characters are men and women and not mere personifications of abstract qualities. Still, they all have a certain allegorical tinge. In the _Marble Faun_, for example, Hilda, Kenyon, Miriam, and Donatello have been ingeniously explained as personifications respectively of the conscience, the reason, the imagination, and the senses. Without going so far as this, it is possible to see in these and in Hawthorne's other creations something typical and representative. He uses his characters like algebraic symbols to work out certain problems with; they are rather more and yet rather less than flesh and blood individuals. The stories in _Twice-Told Tales_ and in the second collection, _Mosses from an Old Manse_, 1846, are more openly allegorical than his later work. Thus the _Minister's Black Veil_ is a sort of anticipation of Arthur Dimmesdale in the _Scarlet Letter_. From 1846 to 1849 Hawthorne held the position of surveyor of the Custom House of Salem. In the preface to the _Scarlet Letter_ he sketched some of the government officials with whom this office had brought him into contact in a way that gave some offense to the friends of the victims and a great deal of amusement to the public. Hawthorne's humor was quiet and fine, like Irving's, but less genial and with a more satiric edge to it. The book last named was written at Salem and published in 1850, just before its author's removal to Lenox, now a sort of inland Newport, but then an unfashionable resort among the Berkshire hills. Whatever obscurity may have hung over Hawthorne hitherto was effectually dissolved by this powerful tale, which was as vivid in coloring as the implication of its title. Hawthorne chose for his background the somber life of the early settlers of New England. Ho had always been drawn toward this part of American history, and in _Twice-Told Tales_ had given some illustrations of it in _Endicott's Red Cross_ and _Legends of the Province House_. Against this dark foil moved in strong relief the figures of Hester Prynne, the woman taken in adultery; her paramour, the Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale; her husband, old Roger Chillingworth; and her illegitimate child. In tragic power, in its grasp of the elementary passions of human nature and its deep and subtle insight into the inmost secrets of the heart, this is Hawthorne's greatest book. He never crowded his canvas with figures. In the _Blithedale Romance_ and the _Marble Faun_ there is the same _parti carré_ or group of four characters. In the _House of the Seven Gables_ there are five. The last mentioned of these, published in 1852, was of a more subdued intensity than the _Scarlet Letter_, but equally original, and, upon the whole, perhaps equally good. The _Blithedale Romance_, published in the same year, though not strikingly inferior to the others, adhered more to conventional patterns in its plot and in the sensational nature of its ending. The suicide of the heroine by drowning, and the terrible scene of the recovery of her body, were suggested to the author by an experience of his own on Concord River, the account of which, in his own words, may be read in Julian Hawthorne's _Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife_. In 1852 Hawthorne returned to Concord and bought the "Wayside" property, which he retained until his death. But in the following year his old college friend Pierce, now become President, appointed him consul to Liverpool, and he went abroad for seven years. The most valuable fruit of his foreign residence was the romance of the _Marble Faun_, 1860, the longest of his fictions and the richest in descriptive beauty. The theme of this was the development of the soul through the experience of sin. There is a haunting mystery thrown about the story, like a soft veil of mist, veiling the beginning and the end. There is even a delicate teasing suggestion of the preternatural in Donatello, the Faun, a creation as original as Shakespeare's Caliban or Fouque's Undine, and yet quite on this side the border-line of the human. _Our Old Home_, a book of charming papers on England, was published in 1863. Manifold experience of life and contact with men, affording scope for his always keen observation, had added range, fullness, warmth to the imaginative subtlety which had manifested itself even in his earliest tales. Two admirable books for children, the _Wonder Book_ and _Tanglewood Tales_, in which the classical mythologies were retold, should also be mentioned in the list of Hawthorne's writings, as well as the _American_, _English_, and _Italian Note Books_, the first of which contains the seed-thoughts of some of his finished works, together with hundreds of hints for plots, episodes, descriptions, etc., which he never found time to work out. Hawthorne's style, in his first sketches and stories a little stilted and "bookish," gradually acquired an exquisite perfection, and is as well worth study as that of any prose classic in the English tongue.
Hawthorne was no transcendentalist. He dwelt much in a world of ideas, and he sometimes doubted whether the tree on the bank or its image in the stream were the more real. But this had little in common with the philosophical idealism of his neighbors. He reverenced Emerson, and he held kindly intercourse--albeit a silent man and easily bored--with Thoreau and Ellery Channing, and even with Margaret Fuller. But his sharp eyes saw whatever was whimsical or weak in the apostles of the new faith. He had little enthusiasm for causes or reforms, and among so many Abolitionists he remained a Democrat, and even wrote a campaign life of his friend Pierce.
The village of Concord has perhaps done more for American literature than the city of New York. Certainly there are few places where associations, both patriotic and poetic, cluster so thickly. At one side of the grounds of the Old Manse--which has the river at its back--runs down a shaded lane to the Concord monument and the figure of the Minute Man and the successor of "the rude bridge that arched the flood." Scarce two miles away, among the woods, is little Walden--"God's drop." The men who made Concord famous are asleep in Sleepy Hollow, yet still their memory prevails to draw seekers after truth to the Concord Summer School of Philosophy, which met annually, a few years since, to reason high of "God, Freedom, and Immortality," next door to the "Wayside," and under the hill on whose ridge Hawthorne wore a path as he paced up and down beneath the hemlocks.
1. Ralph Waldo Emerson. _Nature_. _The American Scholar_. _Literary Ethics_. _The Transcendentalism_. _The Over-soul_. _Address before the Cambridge Divinity School_. _English Traits_. _Representative Men_. _Poems_.
2. Henry David Thoreau. _Excursions_. _Walden_. _A Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers_. _Cape Cod_. _The Maine Woods_.
3. Nathaniel Hawthorne. _Mosses from an Old Manse_. _The Scarlet Letter_. _The House of the Seven Gables_. _The Blithedale Romance_. _The Marble Faun_. _Our Old Home_.
4. _Transcendentalism in New England_. By O. B. Frothingham. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1875.
The Indian name of Concord River.
THE CAMBRIDGE SCHOLARS.
With few exceptions, the men who have made American literature what it is have been college graduates. And yet our colleges have not commonly been, in themselves, literary centers. Most of them have been small and poor, and situated in little towns or provincial cities. Their alumni scatter far and wide immediately after graduation, and even those of them who may feel drawn to a life of scholarship or letters find little to attract them at the home of their _alma mater_, and seek by preference the larger cities, where periodicals and publishing houses offer some hope of support in a literary career. Even in the older and better equipped universities the faculty is usually a corps of working scholars, each man intent upon his specialty and rather inclined to undervalue merely "literary" performance. In many cases the fastidious and hypercritical turn of mind which besets the scholar, the timid conservatism which naturally characterizes an ancient seat of learning, and the spirit of theological conformity which suppresses free discussion, have exerted their benumbing influence upon the originality and creative impulse of their inmates. Hence it happens that, while the contributions of American college teachers to the exact sciences, to theology and philology, metaphysics, political philosophy, and the severer branches of learning have been honorable and important, they have as a class made little mark upon the general literature of the country. The professors of literature in our colleges are usually persons who have made no additions to literature, and the professors of rhetoric seem ordinarily to have been selected to teach students how to write for the reason that they themselves have never written any thing that any one has ever read.
To these remarks the Harvard College of some fifty years ago offers some striking exceptions. It was not the large and fashionable university that it has lately grown to be, with its multiplied elective courses, its numerous faculty, and its somewhat motley collection of undergraduates; but a small school of the classics and mathematics, with something of ethics, natural science, and the modern languages added to its old-fashioned, scholastic curriculum, and with a very homogeneous _clientèle_, drawn mainly from the Unitarian families of eastern Massachusetts. Nevertheless a finer intellectual life, in many respects, was lived at old Cambridge within the years covered by this chapter than nowadays at the same place, or at any date in any other American university town. The neighborhood of Boston, where the commercial life has never so entirely overlain the intellectual as in New York and Philadelphia, has been a standing advantage to Harvard College. The recent upheaval in religious thought had secured toleration and made possible that free and even audacious interchange of ideas without which a literary atmosphere is impossible. From these, or from whatever causes, it happened that the old Harvard scholarship had an elegant and tasteful side to it, so that the dry erudition of the schools blossomed into a generous culture, and there were men in the professors' chairs who were no less efficient as teachers because they were also poets, orators, wits, and men of the world. In the seventeen years from 1821 to 1839 there were graduated from Harvard College Emerson, Holmes, Sumner, Phillips, Motley, Thoreau, Lowell, and Edward Everett Hale; some of whom took up their residence at Cambridge, others at Boston, and others at Concord, which was quite as much a spiritual suburb of Boston as Cambridge was. In 1836, when Longfellow became professor of modern languages at Harvard, Sumner was lecturing in the Law School. The following year--in which Thoreau took his bachelor's degree--witnessed the delivery of Emerson's Phi Beta Kappa lecture on the _American Scholar_ in the college chapel, and Wendell Phillips's speech on the _Murder of Lovejoy_ in Faneuil Hall. Lowell, whose description of the impression produced by the former of these famous addresses has been quoted in a previous chapter, was an under-graduate at the time. He took his degree in 1838, and in 1855 succeeded Longfellow in the chair of modern languages. Holmes had been chosen in 1847 professor of anatomy and physiology in the Medical School--a position which he held until 1882. The historians, Prescott and Bancroft, had been graduated in 1814 and 1817 respectively. The former's first important publication, _Ferdinand and Isabella_, appeared in 1837. Bancroft had been a tutor in the college in 1822-23, and the initial volume of his _History of the United States_ was issued in 1835. Another of the Massachusetts school of historical writers, Francis Parkman, took his first degree at Harvard in 1844. Cambridge was still hardly more than a village, a rural outskirt of Boston, such as Lowell described it in his article, _Cambridge Thirty Years Ago_, originally contributed to _Putnam's Monthly_ in 1853, and afterward reprinted in his _Fireside Travels_, 1864. The situation of a university scholar in old Cambridge was thus an almost ideal one. Within easy reach of a great city, with its literary and social clubs, its theaters, lecture courses, public meetings, dinner-parties, etc., he yet lived withdrawn in an academic retirement among elm-shaded avenues and leafy gardens, the dome of the Boston Statehouse looming distantly across the meadows where the Charles laid its "steel blue sickle" upon the variegated, plush-like ground of the wide marsh. There was thus, at all times during the quarter of a century embraced between 1837 and 1861, a group of brilliant men resident in or about Cambridge and Boston, meeting frequently and intimately, and exerting upon one another a most stimulating influence. Some of the closer circles--all concentric to the university--of which this group was loosely composed were laughed at by outsiders as "Mutual Admiration Societies." Such was, for instance, the "Five of Clubs," whose members were Longfellow, Sumner, C. C. Felton, professor of Greek at Harvard, and afterward president of the college; G. S. Hillard, a graceful lecturer, essayist, and poet, of a somewhat amateurish kind; and Henry R. Cleveland, of Jamaica Plain, a lover of books and a writer of them.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82), the most widely read and loved of American poets--or, indeed, of all contemporary poets in England and America--though identified with Cambridge for nearly fifty years, was a native of Portland, Maine, and a graduate of Bowdoin College, in the same class with Hawthorne. Since leaving college, in 1825, he had studied and traveled for some years in Europe, and had held the professorship of modern languages at Bowdoin. He had published several text-books, a number of articles on the Romance languages and literatures in the _North American Review_, a thin volume of metrical translations from the Spanish, a few original poems in various periodicals, and the pleasant sketches of European travel entitled _Outre-Mer_. But Longfellow's fame began with the appearance in 1839 of his _Voices of the Night_. Excepting an earlier collection by Bryant this was the first volume of real poetry published in New England, and it had more warmth and sweetness, a greater richness and variety, than Bryant's work ever possessed. Longfellow's genius was almost feminine in its flexibility and its sympathetic quality. It readily took the color of its surroundings and opened itself eagerly to impressions of the beautiful from every quarter, but especially from books. This first volume contained a few things written during his student days at Bowdoin, one of which, a blank-verse piece on _Autumn_, clearly shows the influence of Bryant's _Thanatopsis_. Most of these juvenilia had nature for their theme, but they were not so sternly true to the New England landscape as Thoreau or Bryant. The skylark and the ivy appear among their scenic properties, and in the best of them, _Woods in Winter_, it is the English "hawthorn" and not any American tree, through which the gale is made to blow, just as later Longfellow uses "rooks" instead of crows. The young poet's fancy was instinctively putting out feelers toward the storied lands of the Old World, and in his _Hymn of the Moravian Nuns of Bethlehem_ he transformed the rude church of the Moravian sisters to a cathedral with "glimmering tapers," swinging censers, chancel, altar, cowls, and "dim mysterious aisle." After his visit to Europe Longfellow returned deeply imbued with the spirit of romance. It was his mission to refine our national taste by opening to American readers, in their own vernacular, new springs of beauty in the literatures of foreign tongues. The fact that this mission was interpretive, rather than creative, hardly detracts from Longfellow's true originality. It merely indicates that his inspiration came to him in the first instance from other sources than the common life about him. He naturally began as a translator, and this first volume contained, among other things, exquisite renderings from the German of Uhland, Salis, and Müller, from the Danish, French, Spanish, and Anglo-Saxon, and a few passages from Dante. Longfellow remained all his life a translator, and in subtler ways than by direct translation he infused the fine essence of European poetry into his own. He loved
"Tales that have the rime of age And chronicles of eld."
The golden light of romance is shed upon his page, and it is his habit to borrow mediaeval and Catholic imagery from his favorite Middle Ages, even when writing of American subjects. To him the clouds are hooded friars, that "tell their beads in drops of rain;" the midnight winds blowing through woods and mountain passes are chanting solemn masses for the repose of the dying year, and the strain ends with the prayer--
"Kyrie, eleyson, Christe, eleyson."
In his journal he wrote characteristically: "The black shadows lie upon the grass like engravings in a book. Autumn has written his rubric on the illuminated leaves, the wind turns them over and chants like a friar." This in Cambridge, of a moonshiny night, on the first day of the American October! But several of the pieces in _Voices of the Night_ sprang more immediately from the poet's own inner experience. The _Hymn to the Night_, the _Psalm of Life_, _The Reaper and the Flowers_, _Footsteps of Angels_, _The Light of Stars_, and _The Beleaguered City_ spoke of love, bereavement, comfort, patience, and faith. In these lovely songs, and in many others of the same kind which he afterward wrote, Longfellow touched the hearts of all his countrymen. America is a country of homes, and Longfellow, as the poet of sentiment and of the domestic affections, became and remains far more general in his appeal than such a "cosmic" singer as Whitman, who is still practically unknown to the "fierce democracy" to which he has addressed himself. It would be hard to overestimate the influence for good exerted by the tender feeling and the pure and sweet morality which the hundreds of thousands of copies of Longfellow's writings, that have been circulated among readers of all classes in America and England, have brought with them.
Three later collections, _Ballads and Other Poems_, 1842, _The Belfry of Bruges_, 1846; and _The Seaside and the Fireside_, 1850, comprise most of what is noteworthy in Longfellow's minor poetry. The first of these embraced, together with some renderings from the German and the Scandinavian languages, specimens of stronger original work than the author had yet put forth; namely, the two powerful ballads of _The Skeleton in Armor_ and _The Wreck of the Hesperus_. The former of these, written in the swift leaping meter of Drayton's _Ode to the Cambro Britons on their Harp_, was suggested by the digging up of a mail-clad skeleton at Fall River--a circumstance which the poet linked with the traditions about the Round Tower at Newport, thus giving to the whole the spirit of a Norse viking song of war and of the sea. _The Wreck of the Hesperus_ was occasioned by the news of shipwrecks on the coast near Gloucester and by the name of a reef--"Norman's Woe"--where many of them took place. It was written one night between twelve and three, and cost the poet, he said, "hardly an effort." Indeed, it is the spontaneous ease and grace, the unfailing taste of Longfellow's lines, which are their best technical quality. There is nothing obscure or esoteric about his poetry. If there is little passion or intellectual depth, there is always genuine poetic feeling, often a very high order of imagination, and almost invariably the choice of the right word. In this volume were also included _The Village Blacksmith_ and _Excelsior_. The latter, and the _Psalm of Life_, have had a "damnable iteration" which causes them to figure as Longfellow's most popular pieces. They are by no means, however, among his best. They are vigorously expressed common-places of that hortatory kind which passes for poetry, but is, in reality, a vague species of preaching.
In _The Belfry of Bruges_ and _The Seaside and the Fireside_ the translations were still kept up, and among the original pieces were _The Occupation of Orion_--the most imaginative of all Longfellow's poems; _Seaweed_, which has very noble stanzas, the favorite _Old Clock on the Stairs_, _The Building of the Ship_, with its magnificent closing apostrophe to the Union, and _The Fire of Driftwood_, the subtlest in feeling of any thing that the poet ever wrote. With these were verses of a more familiar quality, such as _The Bridge_, _Resignation_, and _The Day Is Done_, and many others, all reflecting moods of gentle and pensive sentiment, and drawing from analogies in nature or in legend lessons which, if somewhat obvious, were expressed with perfect art. Like Keats, he apprehended every thing on its beautiful side. Longfellow was all poet. Like Ophelia in Hamlet,
"Thought and affection, passion, hell itself, _He_ turns to favor and to prettiness."
He cared very little about the intellectual movement of the age. The transcendental ideas of Emerson passed over his head and left him undisturbed. For politics he had that gentlemanly distaste which the cultivated class in America had already begun to entertain. In 1842 he printed a small volume of _Poems on Slavery_, which drew commendation from his friend Sumner, but had nothing of the fervor of Whittier's or Lowell's utterances on the same subject. It is interesting to compare his journals with Hawthorne's _American Note Books_, and to observe in what very different ways the two writers made prey of their daily experiences for literary material. A favorite haunt of Longfellow's was the bridge between Boston and Cambridgeport, the same which he put into verse in his poem, _The Bridge_. "I always stop on the bridge," he writes in his journal; "tide waters are beautiful. From the ocean up into the land they go, like messengers, to ask why the tribute has not been paid. The brooks and rivers answer that there has been little harvest of snow and rain this year. Floating sea-wood and kelp is carried up into the meadows, as returning sailors bring oranges in bandanna handkerchiefs to friends in the country." And again: "We leaned for a while on the wooden rail and enjoyed the silvery reflection on the sea, making sundry comparisons. Among other thoughts we had this cheering one, that the whole sea was flashing with this heavenly light, though we saw it only in a single track; the dark waves are the dark providences of God; luminous, though not to us; and even to ourselves in another position." "Walk on the bridge, both ends of which are lost in the fog, like human life midway between two eternities; beginning and ending in mist." In Hawthorne an allegoric moaning is usually something deeper and subtler than this, and seldom so openly expressed. Many of Longfellow's poems--the _Beleaguered City_, for example--may be definitely divided into two parts; in the first, a story is told or a natural phenomenon described; in the second, the spiritual application of the parable is formally set forth. This method became with him almost a trick of style, and his readers learn to look for the _hoec fabula docet_ at the end as a matter of course. As for the prevailing optimism in Longfellow's view of life--of which the above passage is an instance--it seems to be in him an affair of temperament, and not, as in Emerson, the result of philosophic insight. Perhaps, however, in the last analysis optimism and pessimism are subjective--the expression of temperament or individual experience, since the facts of life are the same, whether seen through Schopenhauer's eyes or through Emerson's. If there is any particular in which Longfellow's inspiration came to him at first hand and not through books, it is in respect to the aspects of the sea. On this theme no American poet has written more beautifully and with a keener sympathy than the author of _The Wreck of the Hesperus_ and of _Seaweed_.
In 1847 was published the long poem of _Evangeline_. The story of the Acadian peasant girl, who was separated from her lover in the dispersion of her people by the English troops, and after weary wanderings and a life-long search, found him at last, an old man dying in a Philadelphia hospital, was told to Longfellow by the Rev. H. L. Conolly, who had previously suggested it to Hawthorne as a subject for a story. Longfellow, characteristically enough, "got up" the local color for his poem from Haliburton's account of the dispersion of the Grand-Pré Acadians, from Darby's _Geographical Description of Louisiana_ and Watson's _Annals of Philadelphia_. He never needed to go much outside of his library for literary impulse and material. Whatever may be held as to Longfellow's inventive powers as a creator of characters or an interpreter of American life, his originality as an artist is manifested by his successful domestication in _Evangeline_ of the dactylic hexameter, which no English poet had yet used with effect. The English poet, Arthur Hugh Clough, who lived for a time in Cambridge, followed Longfellow's example in the use of hexameter in his _Bothie of Tober-na-Vuolich_, so that we have now arrived at the time--a proud moment for American letters--when the works of our writers began to react upon the literature of Europe. But the beauty of the descriptions in _Evangeline_ and the pathos--somewhat too drawn out--of the story made it dear to a multitude of readers who cared nothing about the technical disputes of Poe and other critics as to whether or not Longfellow's lines were sufficiently "spondaic" to represent truthfully the quantitative hexameters of Homer and Vergil.
In 1855 appeared _Hiawatha_, Longfellow's most aboriginal and "American" book. The tripping trochaic measure he borrowed from the Finnish epic _Kalevala_. The vague, child-like mythology of the Indian tribes, with its anthropomorphic sense of the brotherhood between men, animals, and the forms of inanimate nature, he took from Schoolcraft's _Algic Researches_, 1839. He fixed forever, in a skillfully chosen poetic form, the more inward and imaginative part of Indian character, as Cooper had given permanence to its external and active side. Of Longfellow's dramatic experiments, the _Golden Legend_, 1851, alone deserves mention here. This was in his chosen realm, a tale taken from the ecclesiastical annals of the Middle Ages, precious with martyrs' blood and bathed in the rich twilight of the cloister. It contains some of his best work, but its merit is rather poetic than dramatic, although Ruskin praised it for the closeness with which it entered into the temper of the monk.
Longfellow has pleased the people more than the critics. He gave freely what he had, and the gift was beautiful. Those who have looked in his poetry for something else than poetry, or for poetry of some other kind, have not been slow to assert that he was a lady's poet--one who satisfied callow youths and school-girls by uttering commonplaces in graceful and musical shape, but who offered no strong meat for men. Miss Fuller called his poetry thin, and the poet himself--or, rather, a portrait of the poet which frontispieced an illustrated edition of his works--a "dandy Pindar." This is not true of his poetry, or of the best of it. But he had a singing and not a talking voice, and in his prose one becomes sensible of a certain weakness. _Hyperion_, for example, published in 1839, a loitering fiction, interspersed with descriptions of European travel, is, upon the whole, a weak book, overflowery in diction and sentimental in tone.
The crown of Longfellow's achievements as a translator was his great version of Dante's _Divina Commedia_, published between 1867 and 1870. It is a severely literal, almost a line for line, rendering. The meter is preserved, but the rhyme sacrificed. If not the best English poem constructed from Dante, it is at all events the most faithful and scholarly paraphrase. The sonnets which accompanied it are among Longfellow's best work. He seems to have been raised by daily communion with the great Tuscan into a habit of deeper and more subtle thought than is elsewhere common in his poetry.
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809- ) is a native of Cambridge and a graduate of Harvard in the class of '29; a class whose anniversary reunions he has celebrated in something like forty distinct poems and songs. For sheer cleverness and versatility Dr. Holmes is, perhaps, unrivaled among American men of letters. He has been poet, wit, humorist, novelist, essayist, and a college lecturer and writer on medical topics. In all of these departments he has produced work which ranks high, if not with the highest. His father, Dr. Abiel Holmes, was a graduate of Yale and an orthodox minister of liberal temper, but the son early threw in his lot with the Unitarians; and, as was natural to a man of satiric turn and with a very human enjoyment of a fight, whose youth was cast in an age of theological controversy, he has always had his fling at Calvinism, and has prolonged the slogans of old battles into a later generation; sometimes, perhaps, insisting upon them rather wearisomely and beyond the limits of good taste. He had, even as an undergraduate, a reputation for cleverness at writing comic verses, and many of his good things in this kind, such as the _Dorchester Giant_ and the _Height of the Ridiculous_, were contributed to the _Collegian_, a students' paper. But he first drew the attention of a wider public by his spirited ballad of _Old Ironsides_--
"Ay! Tear her tattered ensign down!"--
composed about 1830, when it was proposed by the government to take to pieces the unseaworthy hulk of the famous old man-of-war, _Constitution_. Holmes's indignant protest--which has been a favorite subject for school-boy declamation--had the effect of postponing the vessel's fate for a great many years. From 1830-35 the young poet was pursuing his medical studies in Boston and Paris, contributing now and then some verses to the magazines. Of his life as a medical student in Paris there are many pleasant reminiscences in his _Autocrat_ and other writings, as where he tells, for instance, of a dinner-party of Americans in the French capital, where one of the company brought tears of homesickness into the eyes of his _sodales_ by saying that the tinkle of the ice in the champagne-glasses reminded him of the cow-bells in the rocky old pastures of New England. In 1836 he printed his first collection of poems. The volume contained, among a number of pieces broadly comic, like the _September Gale_, the _Music Grinders_, and the _Ballad of the Oyster-man_--which at once became widely popular--a few poems of a finer and quieter temper, in which there was a quaint blending of the humorous and the pathetic. Such were _My Aunt_ and the _Last Leaf_--which Abraham Lincoln found "inexpressibly touching," and which it is difficult to read without the double tribute of a smile and a tear. The volume contained also _Poetry: A Metrical Essay_, read before the Harvard Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, which was the first of that long line of capital occasional poems which Holmes has been spinning for half a century with no sign of fatigue and with scarcely any falling off in freshness; poems read or spoken or sung at all manner of gatherings, public and private, at Harvard commencements, class days, and other academic anniversaries; at inaugurations, centennials, dedications of cemeteries, meetings of medical associations, mercantile libraries, Burns clubs, and New England societies; at rural festivals and city fairs; openings of theaters, layings of corner-stones, birthday celebrations, jubilees, funerals, commemoration services, dinners of welcome or farewell to Dickens, Bryant, Everett, Whittier, Longfellow, Grant, Farragut, the Grand Duke Alexis, the Chinese embassy, and what not. Probably no poet of any age or clime has written so much and so well to order. He has been particularly happy in verses of a convivial kind, toasts for big civic feasts, or post-prandial rhymes for the _petit comité_--the snug little dinners of the chosen few; his
"The quaint trick to cram the pithy line That cracks so crisply over bubbling wine."
And although he could write on occasion a _Song for a Temperance Dinner_, he has preferred to chant the praise of the punch bowl and to
"feel the old convivial glow (unaided) o'er me stealing, The warm, champagny, old-particular-brandy-punchy feeling."
It would be impossible to enumerate the many good things of this sort which Holmes has written, full of wit and wisdom, and of humor lightly dashed with sentiment and sparkling with droll analogies, sudden puns, and unexpected turns of rhyme and phrase. Among the best of them are _Nux Postcoenatica_, _A Modest Request_, _Ode for a Social Meeting_, _The Boys_, and _Rip Van Winkle, M.D_. Holmes's favorite measure, in his longer poems, is the heroic couplet which Pope's example seems to have consecrated forever to satiric and didactic verse. He writes as easily in this meter as if it were prose, and with much of Pope's epigrammatic neatness. He also manages with facility the anapaestics of Moore and the ballad stanza which Hood had made the vehicle for his drolleries. It cannot be expected that verses manufactured to pop with the corks and fizz with the champagne at academic banquets should much outlive the occasion; or that the habit of producing such verses on demand should foster in the producer that "high seriousness" which Matthew Arnold asserts to be one mark of all great poetry. Holmes's poetry is mostly on the colloquial level, excellent society-verse, but even in its serious moments too smart and too pretty to be taken very gravely; with a certain glitter, knowingness, and flippancy about it, and an absence of that self-forgetfulness and intense absorption in its theme which characterize the work of the higher imagination. This is rather the product of fancy and wit. Wit, indeed, in the old sense of quickness in the perception of analogies, is the staple of his mind. His resources in the way of figure, illustration, allusion, and anecdote are wonderful. Age cannot wither him nor custom stale his infinite variety, and there is as much powder in his latest pyrotechnics as in the rockets which he sent up half a century ago. Yet, though the humorist in him rather outweighs the poet, he has written a few things, like the _Chambered Nautilus_ and _Homesick in Heaven_, which are as purely and deeply poetic as the _One-Hoss Shay_ and the _Prologue_ are funny. Dr. Holmes is not of the stuff of which idealists and enthusiasts are made. As a physician and a student of science, the facts of the material universe have counted for much with him. His clear, positive, alert intellect was always impatient of mysticism. He had the sharp eye of the satirist and the man of the world for oddities of dress, dialect, and manners. Naturally the transcendental movement struck him on its ludicrous side, and in his _After-Dinner Poem_, read at the Phi Beta Kappa dinner at Cambridge in 1843, he had his laugh at the "Orphic odes" and "runes" of the bedlamite seer and bard of mystery
"Who rides a beetle which he calls a 'sphinx.' And O what questions asked in club-foot rhyme Of Earth the tongueless, and the deaf-mute Time! Here babbling 'Insight' shouts in Nature's ears His last conundrum on the orbs and spheres; There Self-inspection sucks its little thumb, With 'Whence am I?' and 'Wherefore did I come?'"
Curiously enough, the author of these lines lived to write an appreciative life of the poet who wrote the _Sphinx_. There was a good deal of toryism or social conservatism in Holmes. He acknowledged a preference for the man with a pedigree, the man who owned family portraits, had been brought up in familiarity with books, and could pronounce "view" correctly. Readers unhappily not of the "Brahmin caste of New England" have sometimes resented as snobbishness Holmes's harping on "family," and his perpetual application of certain favorite shibboleths to other people's ways of speech. "The woman who calc'lates is lost."
"Learning condemns beyond the reach of hope The careless lips that speak of soap for soap. . . . Do put your accents in the proper spot: Don't, let me beg you, don't say 'How?' for 'What?' The things named 'pants' in certain documents, A word not made for gentlemen, but 'gents.'"
With the rest of "society" he was disposed to ridicule the abolition movement as a crotchet of the eccentric and the long-haired. But when the civil war broke out he lent his pen, his tongue, and his own flesh and blood to the cause of the Union. The individuality of Holmes's writings comes in part from their local and provincial bias. He has been the laureate of Harvard College and the bard of Boston city, an urban poet, with a cockneyish fondness for old Boston ways and things--the Common and the Frog Pond, Faneuil Hall and King's Chapel and the Old South, Bunker Hill, Long Wharf, the Tea Party, and the town crier. It was Holmes who invented the playful saying that "Boston Statehouse is the hub of the solar system."
In 1857 was started the _Atlantic Monthly_, a magazine which has published a good share of the best work done by American writers within the past generation. Its immediate success was assured by Dr. Holmes's brilliant series of papers, the _Autocrat of the Breakfast Table_, 1858, followed at once by the _Professor at the Breakfast Table_, 1859, and later by the _Poet at the Breakfast Table_, 1873. The _Autocrat_ is its author's masterpiece, and holds the fine quintessence of his humor, his scholarship, his satire, genial observation, and ripe experience of men and cities. The form is as unique and original as the contents, being something between an essay and a drama; a succession of monologues or table-talks at a typical American boarding-house, with a thread of story running through the whole. The variety of mood and thought is so great that these conversations never tire, and the prose is interspersed with some of the author's choicest verse. The _Professor at the Breakfast Table_ followed too closely on the heels of the _Autocrat_, and had less freshness. The third number of the series was better, and was pleasantly reminiscent and slightly garrulous, Dr. Holmes being now (1873) sixty-four years old, and entitled to the gossiping privilege of age. The personnel of the _Breakfast Table_ series, such as the landlady and the landlady's daughter and her son, Benjamin Franklin; the schoolmistress, the young man named John, the Divinity Student, the Kohinoor, the Sculpin, the Scarabaeus, and the Old Gentleman who sits opposite, are not fully drawn characters, but outlined figures, lightly sketched--as is the Autocrat's wont--by means of some trick of speech, or dress, or feature, but they are quite life-like enough for their purpose, which is mainly to furnish listeners and foils to the eloquence and wit of the chief talker.
In 1860 and 1867 Holmes entered the field of fiction with two "medicated novels," _Elsie Venner_ and the _Guardian Angel_. The first of these was a singular tale, whose heroine united with her very fascinating human attributes something of the nature of a serpent; her mother having been bitten by a rattlesnake a few months before the birth of the girl, and kept alive meanwhile by the use of powerful antidotes. The heroine of the _Guardian Angel_ inherited lawless instincts from a vein of Indian blood in her ancestry. These two books were studies of certain medico-psychological problems. They preached Dr. Holmes's favorite doctrines of heredity and of the modified nature of moral responsibility by reason of transmitted tendencies which limit the freedom of the will. In _Elsie Venner_, in particular, the weirdly imaginative and speculative character of the leading motive suggests Hawthorne's method in fiction, but the background and the subsidiary figures have a realism that is in abrupt contrast with this, and gives a kind of doubleness and want of keeping to the whole. The Yankee characters, in particular, and the satirical pictures of New England country life are open to the charge of caricature. In the _Guardian Angel_ the figure of Byles Gridley, the old scholar, is drawn with thorough sympathy, and though some of his acts are improbable, he is, on the whole, Holmes's most vital conception in the region of dramatic creation.
James Russell Lowell (1819- ), the foremost of American critics and of living American poets, is, like Holmes, a native of Cambridge, and, like Emerson and Holmes, a clergyman's son. In 1855 he succeeded Longfellow as professor of modern languages in Harvard College. Of late years he has held important diplomatic posts, like Everett, Irving, Bancroft, Motley, and other Americans distinguished in letters, having been United States minister to Spain, and, under two administrations, to the court of St. James. Lowell is not so spontaneously and exclusively a poet as Longfellow, and his popularity with the average reader has never been so great. His appeal has been to the few rather than the many, to an audience of scholars and of the judicious rather than to the "groundlings" of the general public. Nevertheless his verse, though without the evenness, instinctive grace, and unerring good taste of Longfellow's, has more energy and a stronger intellectual fiber, while in prose he is very greatly the superior. His first volume, _A Year's Life_, 1841, gave some promise. In 1843 he started a magazine, the _Pioneer_, which only reached its third number, though it counted among its contributors Hawthorne, Poe, Whittier, and Miss Barrett (afterward Mrs. Browning). A second volume of poems, printed in 1844, showed a distinct advance, in such pieces as the _Shepherd of King Admetus_, _Rhoecus_, a classical myth, told in excellent blank verse, and the same in subject with one of Landor's polished intaglios; and the _Legend of Brittany_, a narrative poem, which had fine passages, but no firmness in the management of the story. As yet, it was evident, the young poet had not found his theme. This came with the outbreak of the Mexican War, which was unpopular in New England, and which the Free Soil party regarded as a slave-holders' war waged without provocation against a sister republic, and simply for the purpose of extending the area of slavery.
In 1846, accordingly, the _Biglow Papers_ began to appear in the _Boston Courier_, and were collected and published in book form in 1848. These were a series of rhymed satires upon the government and the war party, written in the Yankee dialect, and supposed to be the work of Hosea Biglow, a home-spun genius in a down-east country town, whose letters to the editor were indorsed and accompanied by the comments of the Rev. Homer Wilbur, A.M., pastor of the First Church in Jaalam, and (prospective) member of many learned societies. The first paper was a derisive address to a recruiting sergeant, with a denunciation of the "nigger-drivin' States" and the "Northern dough-faces;" a plain hint that the North would do better to secede than to continue doing dirty work for the South; and an expression of those universal peace doctrines which were then in the air, and to which Longfellow gave serious utterance in his _Occultation of Orion_.
"Ez for war, I call it murder-- There you hev it plain an' flat; I don't want to go no furder Than my Testyment for that; God hez said so plump an' fairly, It's as long as it is broad, An' you've gut to git up airly Ef you want to take in God."
The second number was a versified paraphrase of a letter received from Mr. Birdofredom Sawin, "a yung feller of our town that was cussed fool enuff to goe atrottin inter Miss Chiff arter a dram and fife," and who finds when he gets to Mexico that
"This kind o' sogerin' aint a mite like our October trainin'."
Of the subsequent papers the best was, perhaps, _What Mr. Robinson Thinks_, an election ballad, which caused universal laughter, and was on every body's tongue.
The _Biglow Papers_ remain Lowell's most original contribution to American literature. They are, all in all, the best political satires in the language, and unequaled as portraitures of the Yankee character, with its cuteness, its homely wit, and its latent poetry. Under the racy humor of the dialect--which became in Lowell's hands a medium of literary expression almost as effective as Burns's Ayrshire Scotch--burned that moral enthusiasm and that hatred of wrong and deification of duty--"Stern daughter of the voice of God"--which, in the tough New England stock, stands instead of the passion in the blood of southern races. Lowell's serious poems on political questions, such as the _Present Crisis_, _Ode to Freedom_, and the _Capture of Fugitive Slaves_, have the old Puritan fervor, and such lines as
"They are slaves who dare not be In the right with two or three,"
and the passage beginning
"Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,"
became watchwords in the struggle against slavery and disunion. Some of these were published in his volume of 1848 and the collected edition of his poems, in two volumes, issued in 1850. These also included his most ambitious narrative poem, the _Vision of Sir Launfal_, an allegorical and spiritual treatment of one of the legends of the Holy Grail. Lowell's genius was not epical, but lyric and didactic. The merit of _Sir Launfal_ is not in the telling of the story, but in the beautiful descriptive episodes, one of which, commencing,
"And what is so rare as a day in June? Then if ever come perfect days,"
is as current as any thing that he has written. It is significant of the lack of a natural impulse toward narrative invention in Lowell that, unlike Longfellow and Holmes, he never tried his hand at a novel. One of the most important parts of a novelist's equipment he certainly possesses, namely, an insight into character and an ability to delineate it. This gift is seen especially in his sketch of Parson Wilbur, who edited the _Biglow Papers_ with a delightfully pedantic introduction, glossary, and notes; in the prose essay _On a Certain Condescension in Foreigners_, and in the uncompleted poem, _Fitz Adam's Story_. See also the sketch of Captain Underhill in the essay on _New England Two Centuries Ago_.
The _Biglow Papers_ when brought out in a volume were prefaced by imaginary notices of the press, including a capital parody of Carlyle, and a reprint from the "Jaalam Independent Blunderbuss," of the first sketch--afterward amplified and enriched--of that perfect Yankee idyl, _The Courtin'_. Between 1862 and 1865 a second series of _Biglow Papers_ appeared, called out by the events of the civil war. Some of these, as, for instance, _Jonathan to John_, a remonstrance with England for her unfriendly attitude toward the North, were not inferior to any thing in the earlier series; and others were even superior as poems, equal, indeed, in pathos and intensity to any thing that Lowell has written in his professedly serious verse. In such passages the dialect wears rather thin, and there is a certain incongruity between the rustic spelling and the vivid beauty and power and the figurative cast of the phrase in stanzas like the following:
"Wut's words to them whose faith an' truth On war's red techstone rang true metal, Who ventered life an' love an' youth For the gret prize o' death in battle? To him who, deadly hurt, agen Flashed on afore the charge's thunder, Tippin' with fire the bolt of men That rived the rebel line asunder?"
Charles Sumner, a somewhat heavy person, with little sense of humor, wished that the author of the _Biglow Papers_ "could have used good English." In the lines just quoted, indeed, the bad English adds nothing to the effect. In 1848 Lowell wrote _A Fable for Critics_, something after the style of Sir John Suckling's _Session of the Poets_; a piece of rollicking doggerel in which he surveyed the American Parnassus, scattering about headlong fun, sharp satire, and sound criticism in equal proportion. Never an industrious workman, like Longfellow, at the poetic craft, but preferring to wait for the mood to seize him, he allowed eighteen years to go by, from 1850 to 1868, before publishing another volume of verse. In the latter year appeared _Under the Willows_, which contains some of his ripest and most perfect work, notably _A Winter Evening Hymn to my Fire_, with its noble and touching close--suggested by, perhaps, at any rate recalling, the dedication of Goethe's _Faust_,
"Ihr naht euch wieder, schwankende Gestalten;"
the subtle _Footpath_ and _In the Twilight_, the lovely little poems _Auf Wiedersehen_ and _After the Funeral_, and a number of spirited political pieces, such as _Villa Franca_ and the _Washers of the Shroud_. This volume contained also his _Ode Recited at the Harvard Commemoration_ in 1865. This, although uneven, is one of the finest occasional poems in the language, and the most important contribution which our civil war has made to song. It was charged with the grave emotion of one who not only shared the patriotic grief and exultation of his _alma mater_ in the sacrifice of her sons, but who felt a more personal sorrow in the loss of kindred of his own, fallen in the front of battle. Particularly note-worthy in this memorial ode are the tribute to Abraham Lincoln, the third strophe beginning, "Many loved Truth;" the exordium, "O Beautiful! my Country! ours once more!" and the close of the eighth strophe, where the poet chants of the youthful heroes who
"Come transfigured back, Secure from change in their high-hearted ways, Beautiful evermore and with the rays Of morn on their white Shields of Expectation."
From 1857 to 1862 Lowell edited the _Atlantic Monthly_, and from 1863 to 1872 the _North American Review_. His prose, beginning with an early volume of _Conversations on Some of the Old Poets_, 1844, has consisted mainly of critical essays on individual writers, such as Dante, Chaucer, Spenser, Emerson, Shakespeare, Thoreau, Pope, Carlyle, etc., together with papers of a more miscellaneous kind, like _Witchcraft_, _New England Two Centuries Ago_, _My Garden Acquaintance_, _A Good Word for Winter_, _Abraham Lincoln_, etc., etc. Two volumes of these were published in 1870 and 1876, under the title _Among My Books_, and another, _My Study Windows_, in 1871. As a literary critic Lowell ranks easily among the first of living writers. His scholarship is thorough, his judgment keen, and he pours out upon his page an unwithholding wealth of knowledge, humor, wit, and imagination from the fullness of an overflowing mind. His prose has not the chastened correctness and "low tone" of Matthew Arnold's. It is rich, exuberant, and, sometimes overfanciful, running away into excesses of allusion or following the lead of a chance pun so as sometimes to lay itself open to the charge of pedantry and bad taste. Lowell's resources in the way of illustration and comparison are endless, and the readiness of his wit and his delight in using it put many temptations in his way. Purists in style accordingly take offense at his saying that "Milton is the only man who ever got much poetry out of a cataract, and that was a cataract in his eye," or of his speaking of "a gentleman for whom the bottle before him reversed the wonder of the stereoscope and substituted the Gascon _v_ for the _b_ in binocular," which is certainly a puzzling and roundabout fashion of telling us that he had drunk so much that he saw double. The critics also find fault with his coining such words as "undisprivacied," and with his writing such lines as the famous one--from _The Cathedral_, 1870--
"Spume-sliding down the baffled decuman."
It must be acknowledged that his style lacks the crowning grace of simplicity, but it is precisely by reason of its allusive quality that scholarly readers take pleasure in it. They like a diction that has stuff in it and is woven thick, and where a thing is said in such a way as to recall many other things.
Mention should be made, in connection with this Cambridge circle, of one writer who touched its circumference briefly. This was Sylvester Judd, a graduate of Yale, who entered the Harvard Divinity School in 1837, and in 1840 became minister of a Unitarian church in Augusta, Maine. Judd published several books, but the only one of them at all rememberable was _Margaret_, 1845, a novel of which, Lowell said, in _A Fable for Critics_, that it was "the first Yankee book with the soul of Down East in it." It was very imperfect in point of art, and its second part--a rhapsodical description of a sort of Unitarian Utopia--is quite unreadable. But in the delineation of the few chief characters and of the rude, wild life of an outlying New England township just after the close of the Revolutionary War, as well as in the tragic power of the catastrophe, there was genius of a high order.
As the country has grown older and more populous, and works in all departments of thought have multiplied, it becomes necessary to draw more strictly the line between the literature of knowledge and the literature of power. Political history, in and of itself, scarcely falls within the limits of this sketch, and yet it cannot be altogether dismissed, for the historian's art, at its highest, demands imagination, narrative skill, and a sense of unity and proportion in the selection and arrangement of his facts, all of which are literary qualities. It is significant that many of our best historians have begun authorship in the domain of imaginative literature: Bancroft with an early volume of poems; Motley with his historical romances, _Merry Mount_ and _Morton's Hope_; and Parkman with a novel, _Vassall Morton_. The oldest of that modern group of writers that have given America an honorable position in the historical literature of the world was William Hickling Prescott (1796-1859). Prescott chose for his theme the history of the Spanish conquests in the New World, a subject full of romantic incident and susceptible of that glowing and perhaps slightly overgorgeous coloring which he laid on with a liberal hand. His completed histories, in their order, are the _Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella_, 1837; the _Conquest of Mexico_, 1843--a topic which Irving had relinquished to him; and the _Conquest of Peru_, 1847. Prescott was fortunate in being born to leisure and fortune, but he had difficulties of another kind to overcome. He was nearly blind, and had to teach himself Spanish and look up authorities through the help of others, and to write with a noctograph or by amanuenses.
George Bancroft (1800-91) issued the first volume of his great _History of the United States_ in 1834, and exactly half a century later the final volume of the work, bringing the subject down to 1789. Bancroft had studied at Göttingen, and imbibed from the German historian Heeren the scientific method of historical study. He had access to original sources, in the nature of collections and state papers in the governmental archives of Europe, of which no American had hitherto been able to avail himself. His history, in thoroughness of treatment, leaves nothing to be desired, and has become the standard authority on the subject. As a literary performance merely, it is somewhat wanting in flavor, Bancroft's manner being heavy and stiff when compared with Motley's or Parkman's. The historian's services to his country have been publicly recognized by his successive appointments as secretary of the navy, minister to England, and minister to Germany.
The greatest, on the whole, of American historians was John Lothrop Motley (1814-77), who, like Bancroft, was a student at Göttingen and United States minister to England. His _Rise of the Dutch Republic_, 1856, and _History of the United Netherlands_, published in installments from 1861 to 1868, equaled Bancroft's work in scientific thoroughness and philosophic grasp, and Prescott's in the picturesque brilliancy of the narrative, while it excelled them both in its masterly analysis of great historic characters, reminding the reader, in this particular, of Macaulay's figure-painting. The episodes of the siege of Antwerp and the sack of the cathedral, and of the defeat and wreck of the Spanish Armada, are as graphic as Prescott's famous description of Cortez's capture of the city of Mexico; while the elder historian has nothing to compare with Motley's vivid personal sketches of Queen Elizabeth, Philip the Second, Henry of Navarre, and William the Silent. The _Life of John of Barneveld_, 1874, completed this series of studies upon the history of the Netherlands, a theme to which Motley was attracted because the heroic struggle of the Dutch for liberty offered, in some respects, a parallel to the growth of political independence in Anglo-Saxon communities, and especially in his own America.
The last of these Massachusetts historical writers whom we shall mention is Francis Parkman (1823- ), whose subject has the advantage of being thoroughly American. His _Oregon Trail_, 1847, a series of sketches of prairie and Rocky Mountain life, originally contributed to the _Knickerbocker Magazine_, displays his early interest in the American Indians. In 1851 appeared his first historical work, the _Conspiracy of Pontiac_. This has been followed by the series entitled _France and England in North America_, the six successive parts of which are as follows: the _Pioneers of France in the New World_, the _Jesuits in North America_; _La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West_; the _Old Régime in Canada_; _Count Frontenac and New France_; and _Montcalm and Wolfe_. These narratives have a wonderful vividness, and a romantic interest not inferior to Cooper's novels. Parkman made himself personally familiar with the scenes which he described, and some of the best descriptions of American woods and waters are to be found in his histories. If any fault is to be found with his books, indeed, it is that their picturesqueness and "fine writing" are a little in excess.
The political literature of the years from 1837 to 1861 hinged upon the antislavery struggle. In this "irrepressible conflict" Massachusetts led the van. Garrison had written in his _Liberator_, in 1830, "I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. I am in earnest; I will not equivocate; I will not excuse; I will not retreat a single inch; and I will be heard." But the Garrisonian abolitionists remained for a long time, even in the North, a small and despised faction. It was a great point gained when men of education and social standing, like Wendell Phillips (1811-84) and Charles Sumner (1811-74), joined themselves to the cause. Both of these were graduates of Harvard and men of scholarly pursuits. They became the representative orators of the antislavery party, Phillips on the platform and Sumner in the Senate. The former first came before the public in his fiery speech, delivered in Faneuil Hall December 8, 1837, before a meeting called to denounce the murder of Lovejoy, who had been killed at Alton, Ill., while defending his press against a pro-slavery mob. Thenceforth Phillips's voice was never idle in behalf of the slave. His eloquence was impassioned and direct, and his English singularly pure, simple, and nervous. He is perhaps nearer to Demosthenes than any other American orator. He was a most fascinating platform speaker on themes outside of politics, and his lecture on the _Lost Arts_ was a favorite with audiences of all sorts.
Sumner was a man of intellectual tastes, who entered politics reluctantly and only in obedience to the resistless leading of his conscience. He was a student of literature and art; a connoisseur of engravings, for example, of which he made a valuable collection. He was fond of books, conversation, and foreign travel, and in Europe, while still a young man, had made a remarkable impression in society. But he left all this for public life, and in 1851 was elected as Webster's successor to the Senate of the United States. Thereafter he remained the leader of the abolitionists in Congress until slavery was abolished. His influence throughout the North was greatly increased by the brutal attack upon him in the Senate chamber in 1856 by "Bully Brooks" of South Carolina. Sumner's oratory was stately and somewhat labored. While speaking he always seemed, as has been wittily said, to be surveying a "broad landscape of his own convictions." His most impressive qualities as a speaker were his intense moral earnestness and his thorough knowledge of his subject. The most telling of his parliamentary speeches are perhaps his speech _On the Kansas-Nebraska Bill_, of February 3, 1854, and _On the Crime against Kansas_, May 19 and 20, 1856; of his platform addresses, the oration on the _True Grandeur of Nations_.
1. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. _Voices of the Night_. _The Skeleton in Armor_. _The Wreck of the Hesperus_. _The Village Blacksmith_. _The Belfry of Bruges, and Other Poems_ (1846). _By the Seaside_. _Hiawatha_. _Tales of a Wayside Inn_.
2. Oliver Wendell Holmes. _Autocrat of the Breakfast Table_. _Elsie Venner_. _Old Ironsides_. _The Last Leaf_. _My Aunt_. _The Music Grinders_. _On Lending a Punch-Bowl_. _Nux Postcoenatica_. _A Modest Request_. _The Living Temple_. _Meeting of the Alumni of Harvard College_. _Homesick in Heaven_. _Epilogue to the Breakfast Table Series_. _The Boys_. _Dorothy Q_. _The Iron Gate_.
3. James Russell Lowell. _The Biglow Papers_ (two series). _Under the Willows, and Other Poems_ (1868). _Rhoecus_. _The Shepherd of King Admetus_. _The Vision of Sir Launfal_. _The Present Crisis_. _The Dandelion_. _The Birch Tree_. _Beaver Brook_. _Essays on Chaucer_. _Shakespeare Once More_. _Dryden_. _Emerson, the Lecturer_. _Thoreau_. _My Garden Acquaintance_. _A Good Word for Winter_. _A Certain Condescension in Foreigners_.
4. William Hickling Prescott. _The Conquest of Mexico_.
5. John Lothrop Motley. _The United Netherlands_.
6. Francis Parkman. _The Oregon Trail_. _The Jesuits in North America_.
7. _Representative American Orations_, volume v. Edited by Alexander Johnston. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1884.
[Transcriber's note: In the poem fragment "soap for soap" the o's in each "soap" must be rendered with Unicode to appear correctly--in the first "soap", o-breve (Ux014F); in the second, o-macron (Ux014D).]
LITERATURE IN THE CITIES.
Literature as a profession has hardly existed in the United States until very recently. Even now the number of those who support themselves by purely literary work is small, although the growth of the reading public and the establishment of great magazines, such as _Harper's_, the _Century_, and the _Atlantic_, have made a market for intellectual wares which forty years ago would have seemed a godsend to poorly paid Bohemians like Poe or obscure men of genius like Hawthorne. About 1840, two Philadelphia magazines--_Godey's Lady's Book_ and _Graham's Monthly_--began to pay their contributors twelve dollars a page, a price then thought wildly munificent. But the first magazine of the modern type was _Harper's Monthly_, founded in 1850. American books have always suffered, and still continue to suffer, from the want of an international copyright, which has flooded the country with cheap reprints and translations of foreign works, with which the domestic product has been unable to contend on such uneven terms. With the first ocean steamers there started up a class of large-paged weeklies in New York and elsewhere, such as _Brother Jonathan_, the _New World_, and the _Corsair_, which furnished their readers with the freshest writings of Dickens and Bulwer and other British celebrities within a fortnight after their appearance in London. This still further restricted the profits of native authors and nearly drove them from the field of periodical literature. By special arrangement the novels of Thackeray and other English writers were printed in _Harper's_ in installments simultaneously with their issue in English periodicals. The _Atlantic_ was the first of our magazines which was founded expressly for the encouragement of home talent, and which had a purely Yankee flavor. Journalism was the profession which naturally attracted men of letters, as having most in common with their chosen work and as giving them a medium, under their own control, through which they could address the public. A few favored scholars, like Prescott, were made independent by the possession of private fortunes. Others, like Holmes, Longfellow, and Lowell, gave to literature such leisure as they could get in the intervals of an active profession or of college work. Still others, like Emerson and Thoreau, by living in the country and making their modest competence--eked out in Emerson's case by lecturing here and there--suffice for their simple needs, secured themselves freedom from the restraints of any regular calling. But, in default of some such _pou sto_, our men of letters have usually sought the cities and allied themselves with the press. It will be remembered that Lowell started a short-lived magazine on his own account, and that he afterward edited the _Atlantic_ and the _North American_. Also that Ripley and Charles A. Dana betook themselves to journalism after the break-up of the Brook Farm Community.
In the same way William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), the earliest American poet of importance, whose impulses drew him to the solitudes of nature, was compelled to gain a livelihood, by conducting a daily newspaper; or, as he himself puts it, was
"Forced to drudge for the dregs of men, And scrawl strange words with the barbarous pen."
Bryant was born at Cummington, in Berkshire, the western-most county of Massachusetts. After two years in Williams College he studied law, and practiced for nine years as a country lawyer in Plainfield and Great Barrington. Following the line of the Housatonic Valley, the social and theological affiliations of Berkshire have always been closer with Connecticut and New York than with Boston and eastern Massachusetts. Accordingly, when in 1825 Bryant yielded to the attractions of a literary career, he betook himself to New York city, where, after a brief experiment in conducting a monthly magazine, the _New York Review and Athenaeum_, he assumed the editorship of the _Evening Post_, a Democratic and free-trade journal, with which he remained connected till his death. He already had a reputation as a poet when he entered the ranks of metropolitan journalism. In 1816 his _Thanatopsis_ had been published in the _North American Review_, and had attracted immediate and general admiration. It had been finished, indeed, two years before, when the poet was only in his nineteenth year, and was a wonderful instance of precocity. The thought in this stately hymn was not that of a young man, but of a sage who has reflected long upon the universality, the necessity, and the majesty of death. Bryant's blank verse when at its best, as in _Thanatopsis_ and the _Forest Hymn_, is extremely noble. In gravity and dignity it is surpassed by no English blank verse of this century, though in rich and various modulation it falls below Tennyson's _Ulysses_ and _Morte d'Arthur_. It was characteristic of Bryant's limitations that he came thus early into possession of his faculty. His range was always a narrow one, and about his poetry, as a whole, there is a certain coldness, rigidity, and solemnity. His fixed position among American poets is described in his own _Hymn to the North Star_:
"And thou dost see them rise, Star of the pole! and thou dost see them set. Alone, in thy cold skies, Thou keep'st thy old, unmoving station yet, Nor join'st the dances of that glittering train, Nor dipp'st thy virgin orb in the blue western main."
In 1821 he read _The Ages_, a didactic poem, in thirty-five stanzas, before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge, and in the same year brought out his first volume of poems. A second collection appeared in 1832, which was printed in London under the auspices of Washington Irving. Bryant was the first American poet who had much of an audience in England, and Wordsworth is said to have learned _Thanatopsis_ by heart. Bryant was, indeed, in a measure, a scholar of Wordsworth's school, and his place among American poets corresponds roughly, though not precisely, to Wordsworth's among English poets. With no humor, with somewhat restricted sympathies, with little flexibility or openness to new impressions, but gifted with a high, austere imagination, Bryant became the meditative poet of nature. His best poems are those in which he draws lessons from nature, or sings of its calming, purifying, and bracing influences upon the human soul. His office, in other words, is the same which Matthew Arnold asserts to be the peculiar office of modern poetry, "the moral interpretation of nature." Poems of this class are _Green River_, _To a Water-fowl_, _June_, the _Death of the Flowers_, and the _Evening Wind_. The song, "O fairest of the rural maids," which has more fancy than is common in Bryant, and which Poe pronounced his best poem, has an obvious resemblance to Wordsworth's "Three years she grew in sun and shade," and both of these nameless pieces might fitly be entitled--as Wordsworth's is in Mr. Palgrave's _Golden Treasury_--"The Education of Nature."
Although Bryant's career is identified with New York his poetry is all of New England. His heart was always turning back fondly to the woods and streams of the Berkshire hills. There was nothing of that urban strain in him which appears in Holmes and Willis. He was, in especial, the poet of autumn, of the American October and the New England Indian Summer, that season of "dropping nuts" and "smoky light," to whose subtle analogy with the decay of the young by the New England disease, consumption, he gave such tender expression in the _Death of the Flowers_, and amid whose "bright, late quiet" he wished himself to pass away. Bryant is our poet of "the melancholy days," as Lowell is of June. If, by chance, he touches upon June, it is not with the exultant gladness of Lowell in meadows full of bobolinks, and in the summer day that is
"simply perfect from its own resource, As to the bee the new campanula's Illuminate seclusion swung in air."
Rather, the stir of new life in the clod suggests to Bryant by contrast the thought of death; and there is nowhere in his poetry a passage of deeper feeling than the closing stanzas of _June_, in which he speaks of himself, by anticipation, as of one
"Whose part in all the pomp that fills The circuit of the summer hills Is--that his grave is green."
Bryant is, _par excellence_, the poet of New England wild flowers, the yellow violet, the fringed gentian--to each of which he dedicated an entire poem--the orchis and the golden-rod, "the aster in the wood and the yellow sunflower by the brook." With these his name will be associated as Wordsworth's with the daffodil and the lesser celandine, and Emerson's with the rhodora.
Except when writing of nature he was apt to be commonplace, and there are not many such energetic lines in his purely reflective verse as these famous ones from _The Battle-Field_:
"Truth crushed to earth shall rise again; The eternal years of God are hers; But Error, wounded, writhes in pain, And dies among his worshipers."
He added but slowly to the number of his poems, publishing a new collection in 1840, another in 1844, and _Thirty Poems_ in 1864. His work at all ages was remarkably even. _Thanatopsis_ was as mature as any thing that he wrote afterward, and among his later pieces the _Planting of the Apple Tree_ and the _Flood of Years_ were as fresh as any thing that he had written in the first flush of youth. Bryant's poetic style was always pure and correct, without any tincture of affectation or extravagance. His prose writings are not important, consisting mainly of papers of the _Salmagundi_ variety contributed to the _Talisman_, an annual published in 1827-30; some rather sketchy stories, _Tales of the Glauber Spa_, 1832; and impressions of Europe, entitled _Letters of a Traveler_, issued in two series, in 1849 and 1858. In 1869 and 1871 appeared his blank-verse translations of the _Iliad_ and _Odyssey_, a remarkable achievement for a man of his age, and not excelled, upon the whole, by any recent metrical version of Homer in the English tongue. Bryant's half-century of service as the editor of a daily paper should not be overlooked. The _Evening Post_, under his management, was always honest, gentlemanly, and courageous, and did much to raise the tone of journalism in New York.
Another Massachusetts poet, who was outside the Boston coterie, like Bryant, and, like him, tried his hand at journalism, was John Greenleaf Whittier (1807- ). He was born in a solitary farm-house near Haverhill, in the valley of the Merrimack, and his life has been passed mostly at his native place and at the neighboring town of Amesbury. The local color, which is very pronounced in his poetry, is that of the Merrimack from the vicinity of Haverhill to its mouth at Newburyport, a region of hill-side farms, opening out below into wide marshes--"the low, green prairies of the sea," and the beaches of Hampton and Salisbury. The scenery of the Merrimack is familiar to all readers of Whittier: the cotton-spinning towns along its banks, with their factories and dams, the sloping pastures and orchards of the back country, the sands of Plum Island and the level reaches of water meadow between which glide the broad-sailed "gundalows"--a local corruption of gondola--laden with hay. Whittier was a farmer lad, and had only such education as the district school could supply, supplemented by two years at the Haverhill Academy. In his _School Days_ he gives a picture of the little old country school-house as it used to be, the only _alma mater_ of so many distinguished Americans, and to which many others who have afterward trodden the pavements of great universities look back so fondly as to their first wicket gate into the land of knowledge.
"Still sits the school-house by the road, A ragged beggar sunning; Around it still the sumachs grow And blackberry vines are running.
"Within the master's desk is seen, Deep-scarred by raps official, The warping floor, the battered seats, The jack-knife's carved initial."
A copy of Burns awoke the slumbering instinct in the young poet, and he began to contribute verses to Garrison's _Free Press_, published in Newburyport, and to the _Haverhill Gazette_. Then he went to Boston, and became editor for a short time of the _Manufacturer_. Next he edited the _Essex Gazette_, at Haverhill, and in 1830 he took charge of George D. Prentice's paper, the _New England Weekly Review_, at Hartford, Conn. Here he fell in with a young Connecticut poet of much promise, J. G. C. Brainard, editor of the _Connecticut Mirror_, whose "Remains" Whittier edited in 1832. At Hartford, too, he published his first book, a volume of prose and verse, entitled _Legends of New England_, 1831, which is not otherwise remarkable than as showing his early interest in Indian colonial traditions--especially those which had a touch of the supernatural--a mine which he afterward worked to good purpose in the _Bridal of Pennacook_, the _Witch's Daughter_, and similar poems. Some of the _Legends_ testify to Brainard's influence and to the influence of Whittier's temporary residence at Hartford. One of the prose pieces, for example, deals with the famous "Moodus Noises" at Haddam, on the Connecticut River, and one of the poems is the same in subject with Brainard's _Black Fox of Salmon River_. After a year and a half at Hartford Whittier returned to Haverhill and to farming.
The antislavery agitation was now beginning, and into this he threw himself with all the ardor of his nature. He became the poet of the reform as Garrison was its apostle, and Sumner and Phillips its speakers. In 1833 he published _Justice and Expediency_, a prose tract against slavery, and in the same year he took part in the formation of the American Antislavery Society at Philadelphia, sitting in the convention as a delegate of the Boston abolitionists. Whittier was a Quaker, and that denomination, influenced by the preaching of John Woolman and others, had long since quietly abolished slavery within its own communion. The Quakers of Philadelphia and elsewhere took an earnest though peaceful part in the Garrisonian movement. But it was a strange irony of fate that had made the fiery-hearted Whittier a friend. His poems against slavery and disunion have the martial ring of a Tyrtaeus or a Körner, added to the stern religious zeal of Cromwell's Ironsides. They are like the sound of the trumpet blown before the walls of Jericho, or the psalms of David denouncing woe upon the enemies of God's chosen people. If there is any purely Puritan strain in American poetry it is in the war-hymns of the Quaker "Hermit of Amesbury." Of these patriotic poems there were three principal collections: _Voices of Freedom_, 1849; _The Panorama, and Other Poems_, 1856; and _In War Time_, 1863. Whittier's work as the poet of freedom was done when, on hearing the bells ring for the passage of the constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, he wrote his splendid _Laus Deo_, thrilling with the ancient Hebrew spirit:
"Loud and long Lift the old exulting song, Sing with Miriam by the sea-- He has cast the mighty down, Horse and rider sink and drown, He hath triumphed gloriously."
Of his poems distinctly relating to the events of the civil war, the best, or at all events the most popular, is _Barbara Frietchie_. _Ichabod_, expressing the indignation of the Free Soilers at Daniel Webster's seventh of March speech in defense of the Fugitive Slave Law, is one of Whittier's best political poems, and not altogether unworthy of comparison with Browning's _Lost Leader_. The language of Whittier's warlike lyrics is biblical, and many of his purely devotional pieces are religious poetry of a high order and have been included in numerous collections of hymns. Of his songs of faith and doubt, the best are perhaps _Our Master_, _Chapel of the Hermits_, and _Eternal Goodness_; one stanza from the last of which is familiar;
"I know not where his islands lift Their fronded palms in air, I only know I cannot drift, Beyond his love and care."
But from politics and war Whittier turned gladly to sing the homely life of the New England country-side. His rural ballads and idyls are as genuinely American as any thing that our poets have written, and have been recommended, as such, to English working-men by Whittier's co-religionist, John Bright. The most popular of these is probably _Maud Muller_, whose closing couplet has passed into proverb. _Skipper Ireson's Ride_ is also very current. Better than either of them, as poetry, is _Telling the Bees_. But Whittier's masterpiece in work of a descriptive and reminiscent kind is _Snow-Bound_, 1866, a New England fireside idyl which in its truthfulness recalls the _Winter Evening_ of Cowper's _Task_ and Burns's _Cotter's Saturday Night_, but in sweetness and animation is superior to either of them. Although in some things a Puritan of the Puritans, Whittier has never forgotten that he is also a Friend, and several of his ballads and songs have been upon the subject of the early Quaker persecutions in Massachusetts. The most impressive of these is _Cassandra Southwick_. The latest of them, the _King's Missive_, originally contributed to the _Memorial History of Boston_ in 1880, and reprinted the next year in a volume with other poems, has been the occasion of a rather lively controversy. The _Bridal of Pennacook_, 1848, and the _Tent on the Beach_, 1867, which contain some of his best work, were series of ballads told by different narrators, after the fashion of Longfellow's _Tales of a Wayside Inn_. As an artist in verse, Whittier is strong and fervid, rather than delicate or rich. He uses only a few metrical forms--by preference the eight-syllabled rhyming couplet--
"Maud Muller on a summer's day Raked the meadow sweet with hay," etc.
and the emphatic tramp of this measure becomes very monotonous, as do some of Whittier's mannerisms, which proceed, however, never from affectation, but from a lack of study and variety, and so, no doubt, in part from the want of that academic culture and thorough technical equipment which Lowell and Longfellow enjoyed. Though his poems are not in dialect, like Lowell's _Biglow Papers_, he knows how to make an artistic use of homely provincial words, such as "chore," which give his idyls of the hearth and the barnyard a genuine Doric cast. Whittier's prose is inferior to his verse. The fluency which was a besetting sin of his poetry, when released from the fetters of rhyme and meter, ran into wordiness. His prose writings were partly contributions to the slavery controversy, partly biographical sketches of English and American reformers, and partly studies of the scenery and folk-lore of the Merrimack Valley. Those of most literary interest were the _Supernaturalism of New England_, 1847, and some of the papers in _Literary Recreations and Miscellanies_, 1854.
While Massachusetts was creating an American literature other sections of the Union were by no means idle. The West, indeed, was as yet too raw to add any thing of importance to the artistic product of the country. The South was hampered by circumstances which will presently be described. But in and about the sea-board cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Richmond many pens were busy filling the columns of literary weeklies and monthlies; and there was a considerable output, such as it was, of books of poetry, fiction, travel, and miscellaneous light literature. Time has already relegated most of these to the dusty top shelves. To rehearse the names of the numerous contributors to the old _Knickerbocker Magazine_, to _Godey's_, and _Graham's_, and the _New Mirror_, and the _Southern Literary Messenger_, or to run over the list of authorlings and poetasters in Poe's papers on the _Literati of New York_, would be very much like reading the inscriptions on the head-stones of an old grave-yard. In the columns of these prehistoric magazines and in the book notices and reviews away back in the thirties and forties, one encounters the handiwork and the names of Emerson, Holmes, Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Lowell embodied in this mass of forgotten literature. It would have required a good deal of critical acumen, at the time, to predict that these and a few others would soon be thrown out into bold relief, as the significant and permanent names in the literature of their generation, while Paulding, Hirst, Fay, Dawes, Mrs. Osgood, and scores of others who figured beside them in the fashionable periodicals, and filled quite as large a space in the public eye, would sink into oblivion in less than thirty years. Some of these latter were clever enough people; they entertained their contemporary public sufficiently, but their work had no vitality or "power of continuance." The great majority of the writings of any period are necessarily ephemeral, and time by a slow process of natural selection is constantly sifting out the few representative books which shall carry on the memory of the period to posterity. Now and then it may be predicted of some undoubted work of genius, even at the moment that it sees the light, that it is destined to endure. But tastes and fashions change, and few things are better calculated to inspire the literary critic with humility than to read the prophecies in old reviews and see how the future, now become the present, has quietly given them the lie.
From among the professional _littérateurs_ of his day emerges, with ever sharper distinctness as time goes on, the name of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49). By the irony of fate Poe was born at Boston, and his first volume, _Tamerlane, and Other Poems_, 1827, was printed in that city and bore upon its title-page the words, "By a Bostonian." But his parentage, so far as it was any thing, was Southern. His father was a Marylander who had gone upon the stage and married an actress, herself the daughter of an actress and a native of England. Left an orphan by the early death of both parents, Poe was adopted by a Mr. Allan, a wealthy merchant of Richmond, Va. He was educated partly at an English school, was student for a time in the University of Virginia, and afterward a cadet in the Military Academy at West Point. His youth was wild and irregular; he gambled and drank, was proud, bitter, and perverse, finally quarreled with his guardian and adopted father--by whom he was disowned--and then betook himself to the life of a literary hack. His brilliant but underpaid work for various periodicals soon brought him into notice, and he was given the editorship of the _Southern Literary Messenger_, published at Richmond, and subsequently of the _Gentlemen's_--afterward _Graham's_--_Magazine_ in Philadelphia. These and all other positions Poe forfeited through his dissipated habits and wayward temper, and finally, in 1844, he drifted to New York, where he found employment on the _Evening Mirror_ and then on the _Broadway Journal_. He died of delirium tremens at the Marine Hospital in Baltimore. His life was one of the most wretched in literary history. He was an extreme instance of what used to be called the "eccentricity of genius." He had the irritable vanity which is popularly supposed to accompany the poetic temperament, and was so insanely egotistic as to imagine that Longfellow and others were constantly plagiarizing from him. The best side of Poe's character came out in his domestic relations, in which he displayed great tenderness, patience, and fidelity. His instincts were gentlemanly, and his manner and conversation were often winning. In the place of moral feeling he had the artistic conscience. In his critical papers, except where warped by passion or prejudice, he showed neither fear nor favor, denouncing bad work by the most illustrious hands and commending obscure merit. The "impudent literary cliques" who puffed each other's books; the feeble chirrupings of the bardlings who manufactured verses for the "Annuals;" and the twaddle of the "genial" incapables who praised them in flabby reviews--all these Poe exposed with ferocious honesty. Nor, though his writings are unmoral, can they be called in any sense immoral. His poetry is as pure in its unearthliness as Bryant's in its austerity.
By 1831 Poe had published three thin books of verse, none of which had attracted notice, although the latest contained the drafts of a few of his most perfect poems, such as _Israfel_, the _Valley of Unrest_, the _City in the Sea_, and one of the two pieces inscribed _To Helen_. It was his habit to touch and retouch his work until it grew under his more practiced hand into a shape that satisfied his fastidious taste. Hence the same poem frequently re-appears in different stages of development in successive editions. Poe was a subtle artist in the realm of the weird and the fantastic. In his intellectual nature there was a strange conjunction; an imagination as spiritual as Shelley's, though, unlike Shelley's, haunted perpetually with shapes of fear and the imagery of ruin; with this, an analytic power, a scientific exactness, and a mechanical ingenuity more usual in a chemist or a mathematician than in a poet. He studied carefully the mechanism of his verse and experimented endlessly with verbal and musical effects, such as repetition and monotone and the selection of words in which the consonants alliterated and the vowels varied. In his _Philosophy of Composition_ he described how his best-known poem, the _Raven_, was systematically built up on a preconceived plan in which the number of lines was first determined and the word "nevermore" selected as a starting-point. No one who knows the mood in which poetry is composed will believe that this ingenious piece of dissection really describes the way in which the _Raven_ was conceived and written, or that any such deliberate and self-conscious process could _originate_ the associations from which a true poem springs. But it flattered Poe's pride of intellect to assert that his cooler reason had control not only over the execution of his poetry, but over the very well-head of thought and emotion. Some of his most successful stories, like the _Gold Bug_, the _Mystery of Marie Roget_, the _Purloined Letter_, and the _Murders in the Rue Morgue_, were applications of this analytic faculty to the solution of puzzles, such as the finding of buried treasure or of a lost document, or the ferreting out of a mysterious crime. After the publication of the _Gold Bug_ he received from all parts of the country specimens of cipher-writing, which he delighted to work out. Others of his tales were clever pieces of mystification, like _Hans Pfaall_, the story of a journey to the moon, or experiments at giving verisimilitude to wild improbabilities by the skillful introduction of scientific details, as in the _Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar_ and _Von Kempelen's Discovery_. In his narratives of this kind Poe anticipated the detective novels of Gaboriau and Wilkie Collins, the scientific hoaxes of Jules Verne, and, though in a less degree, the artfully worked up likeness to fact in Edward Everett Hale's _Man Without a Country_, and similar fictions. While Dickens's _Barnaby Rudge_ was publishing in parts Poe showed his skill as a plot-hunter by publishing a paper in _Graham's Magazine_ in which the very tangled intrigue of the novel was correctly raveled and the finale predicted in advance.
In his union of imagination and analytic power Poe resembled Coleridge, who, if any one, was his teacher in poetry and criticism. Poe's verse often reminds one of _Christabel_ and the _Ancient Mariner_, still oftener of _Kubla Khan_. Like Coleridge, too, he indulged at times in the opium habit. But in Poe the artist predominated over every thing else. He began not with sentiment or thought, but with technique, with melody and color, tricks of language, and effects of verse. It is curious to study the growth of his style in his successive volumes of poetry. At first these are metrical experiments and vague images, original, and with a fascinating suggestiveness, but with so little meaning that some of his earlier pieces are hardly removed from nonsense. Gradually, like distant music drawing nearer and nearer, his poetry becomes fuller of imagination and of an inward significance, without ever losing, however, its mysterious aloofness from the real world of the senses. It was a part of Poe's literary creed--formed upon his own practice and his own limitations, but set forth with a great display of _a priori_ reasoning in his essay on the _Poetic Principle_ and elsewhere--that pleasure and not instruction or moral exhortation was the end of poetry; that beauty and not truth or goodness was its means; and, furthermore, that the pleasure which it gave should be indefinite. About his own poetry there was always this indefiniteness. His imagination dwelt in a strange country of dream--a "ghoul-haunted region of Weir," "out of space, out of time"--filled with unsubstantial landscapes and peopled by spectral shapes. And yet there is a wonderful, hidden significance in this uncanny scenery. The reader feels that the wild, fantasmal imagery is in itself a kind of language, and that it in some way expresses a brooding thought or passion, the terror and despair of a lost soul. Sometimes there is an obvious allegory, as in the _Haunted Palace_, which is the parable of a ruined mind, or in the _Raven_, the most popular of all Poe's poems, originally published in the _American Whig Review_ for February, 1845. Sometimes the meaning is more obscure, as in _Ulalume_, which, to most people, is quite incomprehensible, and yet to all readers of poetic feeling is among the most characteristic, and, therefore, the most fascinating, of its author's creations.
Now and then, as in the beautiful ballad _Annabel Lee_, and _To One in Paradise_, the poet emerges into the light of common human feeling and speaks a more intelligible language. But in general his poetry is not the poetry of the heart, and its passion is not the passion of flesh and blood. In Poe the thought of death is always near, and of the shadowy borderland between death and life.
"The play is the tragedy 'Man,' And its hero the Conqueror Worm."
The prose tale, _Ligeia_, in which these verses are inserted, is one of the most powerful of all Poe's writings, and its theme is the power of the will to overcome death. In that singularly impressive poem, _The Sleeper_, the morbid horror which invests the tomb springs from the same source, the materiality of Poe's imagination, which refuses to let the soul go free from the body.
This quality explains why Poe's _Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque_, 1840, are on a lower plane than Hawthorne's romances, to which a few of them, like _William Wilson_, and _The Man of the Crowd_, have some resemblance. The former of these, in particular, is in Hawthorne's peculiar province, the allegory of the conscience. But in general the tragedy in Hawthorne is a spiritual one, while Poe calls in the aid of material forces. The passion of physical fear or of superstitious horror is that which his writings most frequently excite. These tales represent various grades of the frightful and the ghastly, from the mere bugaboo story like the _Black Cat_, which makes children afraid to go in the dark, up to the breathless terror of the _Cask of Amontillado_, or the _Red Death_. Poe's masterpiece in this kind is the fateful tale of the _Fall of the House of Usher_, with its solemn and magnificent close. His prose, at its best, often recalls, in its richly imaginative cast, the manner of De Quincey in such passages as his _Dream Fugue_, or _Our Ladies of Sorrow_. In descriptive pieces like the _Domain of Arnheim_, and stories of adventure like the _Descent into the Maelstrom_, and his long sea-tale, _The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym_, 1838, he displayed, a realistic inventiveness almost equal to Swift's or De Foe's. He was not without a mocking irony, but he had no constructive humor, and his attempts at the facetious were mostly failures.
Poe's magical creations were rootless flowers. He took no hold upon the life about him, and cared nothing for the public concerns of his country. His poems and tales might have been written _in vacuo_ for any thing American in them. Perhaps for this reason, in part, his fame has been so cosmopolitan. In France especially his writings have been favorites. Charles Baudelaire, the author of the _Fleurs du Mal_, translated them into French, and his own impressive but unhealthy poetry shows evidence of Poe's influence. The defect in Poe was in character--a defect which will make itself felt in art as in life. If he had had the sweet home feeling of Longfellow or the moral fervor of Whittier he might have been a greater poet than either.
"If I could dwell Where Israfel Hath dwelt, and he where I, He might not sing so wildly well A mortal melody, While a bolder note than this might swell From my lyre within the sky!"
Though Poe was a Southerner, if not by birth, at least by race and breeding, there was nothing distinctly Southern about his peculiar genius, and in his wandering life he was associated as much with Philadelphia and New York as with Baltimore and Richmond. The conditions which had made the Southern colonies unfruitful in literary and educational works before the Revolution continued to act down to the time of the civil war. Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton-gin in the closing years of the last century gave extension to slavery, making it profitable to cultivate the now staple by enormous gangs of field-hands working under the whip of the overseer in large plantations. Slavery became henceforth a business speculation in the States furthest south, and not, as in Old Virginia and Kentucky, a comparatively mild domestic system. The necessity of defending its peculiar institution against the attacks of a growing faction in the North compelled the South to throw all its intellectual strength into politics, which, for that matter, is the natural occupation and excitement of a social aristocracy. Meanwhile immigration sought the free States, and there was no middle class at the South. The "poor whites" were ignorant and degraded. There were people of education in the cities and on some of the plantations, but there was no great educated class from which a literature could proceed. And the culture of the South, such as it was, was becoming old-fashioned and local, as the section was isolated more and more from the rest of the Union and from the enlightened public opinion of Europe by its reactionary prejudices and its sensitiveness on the subject of slavery. Nothing can be imagined more ridiculously provincial than the sophomorical editorials in the Southern press just before the outbreak of the war, or than the backward and ill-informed articles which passed for reviews in the poorly supported periodicals of the South.
In the general dearth of work of high and permanent value, one or two Southern authors may be mentioned whose writings have at least done something to illustrate the life and scenery of their section. When in 1833 the Baltimore _Saturday Visitor_ offered a prize of a hundred dollars for the best prose tale, one of the committee who awarded the prize to Poe's first story, the _MS. Found in a Bottle_, was John P. Kennedy, a Whig gentleman of Baltimore, who afterward became secretary of the navy in Fillmore's administration. The year before he had published _Swallow Barn_, a series of agreeable sketches of country life in Virginia. In 1835 and 1838 he published his two novels, _Horse-Shoe Robinson_ and _Rob of the Bowl_, the former a story of the Revolutionary War in South Carolina, the latter an historical tale of colonial Maryland. These had sufficient success to warrant reprinting as late as 1852. But the most popular and voluminous of all Southern writers of fiction was William Gilmore Simms, a South Carolinian, who died in 1870. He wrote over thirty novels, mostly romances of Revolutionary history, Southern life, and wild adventure, among the best of which were the _Partisan_, 1835, and the _Yemassee_. Simms was an inferior Cooper, with a difference. His novels are good boys' books, but are crude and hasty in composition. He was strongly Southern in his sympathies, though his newspaper, the _Charleston City Gazette_, took part against the Nullifiers. His miscellaneous writings include several histories and biographies, political tracts, addresses, and critical papers contributed to Southern magazines. He also wrote numerous poems, the most ambitious of which was _Atlantis, a Story of the Sea_, 1832. His poems have little value except as here and there illustrating local scenery and manners, as in _Southern Passages and Pictures_, 1839. Mr. John Esten Cooke's pleasant but not very strong _Virginia Comedians_ was, perhaps, in literary quality the best Southern novel produced before the civil war.
When Poe came to New York the most conspicuous literary figure of the metropolis, with the possible exception of Bryant and Halleck, was N. P. Willis, one of the editors of the _Evening Mirror_, upon which journal Poe was for a time engaged. Willis had made a literary reputation, when a student at Yale, by his _Scripture Poems_, written in smooth blank verse. Afterward he had edited the _American Monthly_ in his native city of Boston, and more recently he had published _Pencillings by the Way_, 1835, a pleasant record of European saunterings; _Inklings of Adventure_, 1836, a collection of dashing stories and sketches of American and foreign life; and _Letters from Under a Bridge_, 1839, a series of charming rural letters from his country place at Owego, on the Susquehanna. Willis's work, always graceful and sparkling, sometimes even brilliant, though light in substance and jaunty in style, had quickly raised him to the summit of popularity. During the years from 1835 to 1850 he was the most successful American magazinist, and even down to the day of his death, in 1867, he retained his hold upon the attention of the fashionable public by his easy paragraphing and correspondence in the _Mirror_ and its successor, the _Home Journal_, which catered to the literary wants of the _beau monde_. Much of Willis's work was ephemeral, though clever of its kind, but a few of his best tales and sketches, such as _F. Smith_, _The Ghost Ball at Congress Hall_, _Edith Linsey_, and the _Lunatic's Skate_, together with some of the _Letters from Under a Bridge_, are worthy of preservation, not only as readable stories, but as society studies of life at American watering-places like Nahant and Saratoga and Ballston Spa half a century ago. A number of his simpler poems, like _Unseen Spirits_, _Spring_, _To M---- from Abroad_, and _Lines on Leaving Europe_, still retain a deserved place in collections and anthologies.
The senior editor of the _Mirror_, George P. Morris, was once a very popular song-writer, and his _Woodman, Spare that Tree_, still survives. Other residents of New York city who have written single famous pieces were Clement C. Moore, a professor in the General Theological Seminary, whose _Visit from St. Nicholas_--"'Twas the Night Before Christmas," etc.--is a favorite ballad in every nursery in the land; Charles Fenno Hoffman, a novelist of reputation in his time, but now remembered only as the author of the song _Sparkling and Bright_, and the patriotic ballad of _Monterey_; Robert H. Messinger, a native of Boston, but long resident in New York, where he was a familiar figure in fashionable society, who wrote _Give Me the Old_, a fine ode with a choice Horatian flavor; and William Allen Butler, a lawyer and occasional writer, whose capital satire of _Nothing to Wear_ was published anonymously and had a great run. Of younger poets, like Stoddard and Aldrich, who formerly wrote for the _Mirror_ and who are still living and working in the maturity of their powers, it is not within the limits and design of this sketch to speak. But one of their contemporaries, Bayard Taylor, who died American minister at Berlin, in 1878, though a Pennsylvanian by birth and rearing, may be reckoned among the "literati of New York." A farmer lad from Chester County, who had learned the printer's trade and printed a little volume of his juvenile verses in 1844, he came to New York shortly after with credentials from Dr. Griswold, the editor of _Graham's_, and obtaining encouragement and aid from Willis, Horace Greeley, and others, he set out to make the tour of Europe, walking from town to town in Germany and getting employment now and then at his trade to help pay the expenses of the trip. The story of these _Wanderjahre_ he told in his _Views Afoot_, 1846. This was the first of eleven books of travel written during the course of his life. He was an inveterate nomad, and his journeyings carried him to the remotest regions--to California, India, China, Japan, and the isles of the sea, to Central Africa and the Soudan, Palestine, Egypt, Iceland, and the "by-ways of Europe." His head-quarters at home were in New York, where he did literary work for the _Tribune_. He was a rapid and incessant worker, throwing off many volumes of verse and prose, fiction, essays, sketches, translations, and criticisms, mainly contributed in the first instance to the magazines. His versatility was very marked, and his poetry ranged from _Rhymes of Travel_, 1848, and _Poems of the Orient_, 1854, to idyls and home ballads of Pennsylvania life, like the _Quaker Widow_ and the _Old Pennsylvania Farmer_; and on the other side, to ambitious and somewhat mystical poems, like the _Masque of the Gods_, 1872--written in four days--and dramatic experiments like the _Prophet_, 1874, and _Prince Deukalion_, 1878. He was a man of buoyant and eager nature, with a great appetite for new experience, a remarkable memory, a talent for learning languages, and a too great readiness to take the hue of his favorite books. From his facility, his openness to external impressions of scenery and costume and his habit of turning these at once into the service of his pen, it results that there is something "newspapery" and superficial about most of his prose. It is reporter's work, though reporting of a high order. His poetry too, though full of glow and picturesqueness, is largely imitative, suggesting Tennyson not unfrequently, but more often Shelley. His spirited _Bedouin Song_, for example, has an echo of Shelley's _Lines to an Indian Air_:
"From the desert I come to thee On a stallion shod with fire; And the winds are left behind In the speed of my desire. Under thy window I stand, And the midnight hears my cry; I love thee, I love but thee, With a love that shall not die."
The dangerous quickness with which he caught the manner of other poets made him an admirable parodist and translator. His _Echo Club_, 1876, contains some of the best travesties in the tongue, and his great translation of Goethe's _Faust_, 1870-71--with its wonderfully close reproduction of the original meters--is one of the glories of American literature. All in all, Taylor may unhesitatingly be put first among our poets of the second generation--the generation succeeding that of Longfellow and Lowell--although the lack in him of original genius self-determined to a peculiar sphere, or the want of an inward fixity and concentration to resist the rich tumult of outward impressions, has made him less significant in the history of our literary thought than some other writers less generously endowed.
Taylor's novels had the qualities of his verse. They were profuse, eloquent, and faulty. _John Godfrey's Fortune_, 1864, gave a picture of bohemian life in New York. _Hannah Thurston_, 1863, and the _Story of Kennett_; 1866, introduced many incidents and persons from the old Quaker life of rural Pennsylvania, as Taylor remembered it in his boyhood. The former was like Hawthorne's _Blithedale Romance_, a satire on fanatics and reformers, and its heroine is a nobly conceived character, though drawn with some exaggeration. The _Story of Kennett_, which is largely autobiographic, has a greater freshness and reality than the others, and is full of personal recollections. In these novels, as in his short stories, Taylor's pictorial skill is greater on the whole than his power of creating characters or inventing plots.
Literature in the West now began to have an existence. Another young poet from Chester County, Pa., namely, Thomas Buchanan Read, went to Cincinnati, and not to New York, to study sculpture and painting, about 1837, and one of his best-known poems, _Pons Maximus_, was written on the occasion of the opening of the suspension bridge across the Ohio. Read came East, to be sure, in 1841, and spent many years in our sea-board cities and in Italy. He was distinctly a minor poet, but some of his Pennsylvania pastorals, like the _Deserted Road_, have a natural sweetness; and his luxurious _Drifting_, which combines the methods of painting and poetry, is justly popular. _Sheridan's Ride_--perhaps his most current piece--is a rather forced production, and has been overpraised. The two Ohio sister poets, Alice and Phoebe Cary, were attracted to New York in 1850, as soon as their literary success seemed assured. They made that city their home for the remainder of their lives. Poe praised Alice Cary's _Pictures of Memory_, and Phoebe's _Nearer Home_ has become a favorite hymn. There is nothing peculiarly Western about the verse of the Cary sisters. It is the poetry of sentiment, memory, and domestic affection, entirely feminine, rather tame and diffuse as a whole, but tender and sweet, cherished by many good women and dear to simple hearts.
A stronger smack of the soil is in the Negro melodies like _Uncle Ned_, _O Susanna_, _Old Folks at Home_, _'Way Down South_, _Nelly was a Lady_, _My Old Kentucky Home_, etc., which were the work, not of any Southern poet, but of Stephen C. Foster, a native of Allegheny, Pa., and a resident of Cincinnati and Pittsburg. He composed the words and music of these, and many others of a similar kind, during the years 1847 to 1861. Taken together they form the most original and vital addition which this country has made to the psalmody of the world, and entitle Foster to the first rank among American song-writers.
As Foster's plaintive melodies carried the pathos and humor of the plantation all over the land, so Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe's _Uncle Tom's Cabin_, 1852, brought home to millions of readers the sufferings of the Negroes in the "black belt" of the cotton-growing States. This is the most popular novel ever written in America. Hundreds of thousands of copies were sold in this country and in England, and some forty translations were made into foreign tongues. In its dramatized form it still keeps the stage, and the statistics of circulating libraries show that even now it is in greater demand than any other single book. It did more than any other literary agency to rouse the public conscience to a sense of the shame and horror of slavery; more even than Garrison's _Liberator_, more than the indignant poems of Whittier and Lowell or the orations of Sumner and Phillips. It presented the thing concretely and dramatically, and in particular it made the odious Fugitive Slave Law forever impossible to enforce. It was useless for the defenders of slavery to protest that the picture was exaggerated, and that planters like Legree were the exception. The system under which such brutalities could happen, and did sometimes happen, was doomed. It is easy now to point out defects of taste and art in this masterpiece, to show that the tone is occasionally melodramatic, that some of the characters are conventional, and that the literary execution is in parts feeble and in others coarse. In spite of all, it remains true that _Uncle Tom's Cabin_ is a great book, the work of genius seizing instinctively upon its opportunity and uttering the thought of the time with a power that thrilled the heart of the nation and of the world. Mrs. Stowe never repeated her first success. Some of her novels of New England life, such as the _Minister's Wooing_, 1859, and the _Pearl of Orr's Island_, 1862, have a mild kind of interest, and contain truthful portraiture of provincial ways and traits; while later fictions of a domestic type, like _Pink and White Tyranny_ and _My Wife and I_, are really beneath criticism.
There were other Connecticut writers contemporary with Mrs. Stowe: Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, for example, a Hartford poetess, formerly known as "the Hemans of America," but now quite obsolete; and J. G. Percival, of New Haven, a shy and eccentric scholar, whose geological work was of value, and whose memory is preserved by one or two of his simpler poems, still in circulation, such as _To Seneca Lake_ and the _Coral Grove_. Another Hartford poet, Brainard--already spoken of as an early friend of Whittier--died young, leaving a few pieces which show that his lyrical gift was spontaneous and genuine, but had received little cultivation. A much younger writer than either of these, Donald G. Mitchell, of New Haven, has a more lasting place in our literature, by virtue of his charmingly written _Reveries of a Bachelor_, 1850, and _Dream Life_, 1852, stories which sketch themselves out in a series of reminiscences and lightly connected scenes, and which always appeal freshly to young men because they have that dreamy outlook upon life which is characteristic of youth. But, upon the whole, the most important contribution made by Connecticut in that generation to the literary stock of America was the Beecher family. Lyman Beecher had been an influential preacher and theologian, and a sturdy defender of orthodoxy against Boston Unitarianism. Of his numerous sons and daughters, all more or less noted for intellectual vigor and independence, the most eminent were Mrs. Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, the great pulpit orator of Brooklyn. Mr. Beecher was too busy a man to give more than his spare moments to general literature. His sermons, lectures, and addresses were reported for the daily papers and printed in part in book form; but these lose greatly when divorced from the large, warm, and benignant personality of the man. His volumes made up of articles in the _Independent_ and the _Ledger_, such as _Star Papers_, 1855, and _Eyes and Ears_, 1862, contain many delightful _morceaux_ upon country life and similar topics, though they are hardly wrought with sufficient closeness and care to take a permanent place in letters. Like Willis's _Ephemera_ they are excellent literary journalism, but hardly literature.
We may close our retrospect of American literature before 1861 with a brief notice of one of the most striking literary phenomena of the time--the _Leaves of Grass_ of Walt Whitman, published at Brooklyn in 1855. The author, born at West Hills, Long Island, in 1819, had been printer, school-teacher, editor, and builder. He had scribbled a good deal of poetry of the ordinary kind, which attracted little attention, but finding conventional rhymes and meters too cramping a vehicle for his need of expression, he discarded them for a kind of rhythmic chant, of which the following is a fair specimen:
"Press close, bare-bosom'd night! Press close, magnetic, nourishing night! Night of south winds! night of the few large stars! Still, nodding night! mad, naked, summer night!"
The invention was not altogether a new one. The English translation of the psalms of David and of some of the prophets, the _Poems of Ossian_, and some of Matthew Arnold's unrhymed pieces, especially the _Strayed Reveller_, have an irregular rhythm of this kind, to say nothing of the old Anglo-Saxon poems, like _Beowulf_, and the Scripture paraphrases attributed to Caedmon. But this species of _oratio soluta_, carried to the lengths to which Whitman carried it, had an air of novelty which was displeasing to some, while to others, weary of familiar measures and jingling rhymes, it was refreshing in its boldness and freedom. There is no consenting estimate of this poet. Many think that his so-called poems are not poems at all, but simply a bad variety of prose; that there is nothing to him beyond a combination of affectation and indecency; and that the Whitman _culte_ is a passing "fad" of a few literary men, and especially of a number of English critics like Rossetti, Swinburne, Buchanan, etc., who, being determined to have something unmistakably American--that is, different from any thing else--in writings from this side of the water, before they will acknowledge any originality in them, have been misled into discovering in Whitman "the poet of democracy." Others maintain that he is the greatest of American poets, or, indeed, of all modern poets; that he is "cosmic," or universal, and that he has put an end forever to puling rhymes and lines chopped up into metrical feet. Whether Whitman's poetry is formally poetry at all or merely the raw material of poetry, the chaotic and amorphous impression which it makes on readers of conservative tastes results from his effort to take up into his verse elements which poetry has usually left out--the ugly, the earthy, and even the disgusting; the "under side of things," which he holds not to be prosaic when apprehended with a strong, masculine joy in life and nature seen in all their aspects. The lack of these elements in the conventional poets seems to him and his disciples like leaving out the salt from the ocean, making poetry merely pretty and blinking whole classes of facts. Hence the naturalism and animalism of some of the divisions in _Leaves of Grass_, particularly that entitled _Children of Adam_, which gave great offense by its immodesty, or its outspokenness, Whitman holds that nakedness is chaste; that all the functions of the body in healthy exercise are equally clean; that all, in fact, are divine, and that matter is as divine as spirit. The effort to get every thing into his poetry, to speak out his thought just as it comes to him, accounts, too, for his way of cataloguing objects without selection. His single expressions arc often unsurpassed for descriptive beauty and truth. He speaks of "the vitreous pour of the full moon, just tinged with blue," of the "lisp" of the plane, of the prairies, "where herds of buffalo make a crawling spread of the square miles." But if there is any eternal distinction between poetry and prose, the most liberal canons of the poetic art will never agree to accept lines like these:
"And [I] remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles; He stayed with me a week before he was recuperated, and passed north."
Whitman is the spokesman of democracy and of the future; full of brotherliness and hope, loving the warm, gregarious pressure of the crowd and the touch of his comrade's elbow in the ranks. He liked the people--multitudes of people; the swarm of life beheld from a Broadway omnibus or a Brooklyn ferry-boat. The rowdy and the Negro truck-driver were closer to his sympathy than the gentleman and the scholar. "I loaf and invite my soul," he writes; "I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world." His poem _Walt Whitman_, frankly egotistic, simply describes himself as a typical, average man--the same as any other man, and therefore not individual but universal. He has great tenderness and heartiness--"the good gray poet;" and during the civil war he devoted himself unreservedly to the wounded soldiers in the Washington hospitals--an experience which he has related in the _Dresser_ and elsewhere. It is characteristic of his rough and ready comradery to use slang and newspaper English in his poetry, to call himself Walt instead of Walter, and to have his picture taken in a slouch hat and with a flannel shirt open at the throat. His decriers allege that he poses for effect; that he is simply a backward eddy in the tide, and significant only as a temporary reaction against ultra civilization--like Thoreau, though in a different way. But with all his shortcomings in art there is a healthy, virile, tumultuous pulse of life in his lyric utterance and a great sweep of imagination in his panoramic view of times and countries. One likes to read him because he feels so good, enjoys so fully the play of his senses, and has such a lusty confidence in his own immortality and in the prospects of the human race. Stripped of verbiage and repetition, his ideas are not many. His indebtedness to Emerson--who wrote an introduction to the _Leaves of Grass_--is manifest. He sings of man and not men, and the individual differences of character, sentiment, and passion, the _dramatic_ elements of life, find small place in his system. It is too early to say what will be his final position in literary history. But it is noteworthy that the democratic masses have not accepted him yet as their poet. Whittier and Longfellow, the poets of conscience and feeling, are the darlings of the American people. The admiration, and even the knowledge of Whitman, are mostly esoteric, confined to the literary class. It is also not without significance as to the ultimate reception of his innovations in verse that he has numerous parodists, but no imitators. The tendency among our younger poets is not toward the abandonment of rhyme and meter, but toward the introduction of new stanza forms and an increasing carefulness and finish in the _technique_ of their art. It is observable, too, that in his most inspired passages Whitman reverts to the old forms of verse; to blank verse, for example, in the _Man-of-War-Bird_:
"Thou who hast slept all night upon the storm, Waking renewed on thy prodigious pinions," etc.;
and elsewhere not infrequently to dactylic hexameters and pentameters:
"Earth of shine and dark, mottling the tide of the river! . . . Far-swooping, elbowed earth! rich, apple-blossomed earth."
Indeed, Whitman's most popular poem, _My Captain_, written after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, differs little in form from ordinary verse, as a stanza of it will show:
"My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won. Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! But I, with mournful tread, Walk the deck, my captain lies Fallen, cold and dead."
This is from _Drum Taps_, a volume of poems of the civil war. Whitman has also written prose having much the same quality as his poetry: _Democratic Vistas_, _Memoranda of the Civil War_, and, more recently, _Specimen Days_. His residence of late years has been at Camden, New Jersey, where a centennial edition of his writings was published in 1876.
1. William Cullen Bryant. _Thanatopsis_. _To a Water-fowl_. _Green River_. _Hymn to the North Star_. _A Forest Hymn_. "_O Fairest of the Rural Maids_." _June_. _The Death of the Flowers_. _The Evening Wind_. _The Battle-Field_. _The Planting of the Apple-tree_. _The Flood of Years_.
2. John Greenleaf Whittier. _Cassandra Southwick_. _The New Wife and the Old_. _The Virginia Slave Mother_. _Randolph of Roanoke_. _Barclay of Ury_. _The Witch of Wenham_. _Skipper Ireson's Ride_. _Marguerite_. _Maud Muller_. _Telling the Bees_. _My Playmate_. _Barbara Frietchie_. _Ichabod_. _Laus Deo_. _Snow-Bound_.
3. Edgar Allan Poe. _The Raven_. _The Bells_. _Israfel_. _Ulalume_. _To Helen_. _The City in the Sea_. _Annabel Lee_. _To One in Paradise_. _The Sleeper_. _The Valley of Unrest_. _The Fall of the House of Usher_. _Ligeia_. _William Wilson_. _The Cask of Amontillado_. _The Assignation_. _The Masque of the Red Death_. _Narrative of A. Gordon Pym_.
4. N. P. Willis. _Select Prose Writings_. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1886.
5. Mrs. H. B. Stowe. _Uncle Tom's Cabin_. _Oldtown Folks_.
6. W. G. Simms, _The Partisan_. _The Yemassee_.
7. Bayard Taylor. _A Bacchic Ode_. _Hylas_. _Kubleh_. _The Soldier and the Pard_. _Sicilian Wine_. _Taurus_. _Serapion_. _The Metempsychosis of the Pine_. _The Temptation of Hassan Ben Khaled_. _Bedouin Song_. _Euphorion_. _The Quaker Widow_. _John Reid_. _Lars_. _Views Afoot_. _By-ways of Europe_. _The Story of Kennett_. _The Echo Club_.
8. Walt Whitman. _My Captain_. "_When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloomed_." _Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking_. _Pioneers, O Pioneers_. _The Mystic Trumpeter_. _A Woman at Auction_. _Sea-shore Memoirs_. _Passage to India_. _Mannahatta_. _The Wound Dresser_. _Longings for Some_.
9. _Poets of America_. By E. C. Stedman. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1885.
LITERATURE SINCE 1861.
A generation has nearly passed since the outbreak of the civil war, and although public affairs are still mainly in the hands of men who had reached manhood before the conflict opened, or who were old enough at that time to remember clearly its stirring events, the younger men who are daily coming forward to take their places know it only by tradition. It makes a definite break in the history of our literature, and a number of new literary schools and tendencies have appeared since its close. As to the literature of the war itself, it was largely the work of writers who had already reached or passed middle age. All of the more important authors described in the last three chapters survived the Rebellion except Poe, who died in 1849, Prescott, who died in 1859, and Thoreau and Hawthorne, who died in the second and fourth years of the war, respectively. The final and authoritative history of the struggle has not yet been written, and cannot be written for many years to come. Many partial and tentative accounts have, however, appeared, among which may be mentioned, on the Northern side, Horace Greeley's _American Conflict_, 1864-66; Vice-President Wilson's _Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America_, and J. W. Draper's _American Civil War_, 1868-70; on the Southern side Alexander H. Stephens's _Confederate States of America_, Jefferson Davis's _Rise and Fall of the Confederate States of America_, and E. A. Pollard's _Lost Cause_. These, with the exception of Dr. Draper's philosophical narrative, have the advantage of being the work of actors in the political or military events which they describe, and the disadvantage of being, therefore, partisan--in some instances passionately partisan. A store-house of materials for the coming historian is also at hand in Frank Moore's great collection, the _Rebellion Record_; in numerous regimental histories of special armies, departments, and battles, like W. Swinton's _Army of the Potomac_; in the autobiographies and recollections of Grant and Sherman and other military leaders; in the "war papers," lately published in the _Century_ magazine, and in innumerable sketches and reminiscences by officers and privates on both sides.
The war had its poetry, its humors, and its general literature, some of which have been mentioned in connection with Whittier, Lowell, Holmes, Whitman, and others, and some of which remain to be mentioned, as the work of new writers, or of writers who had previously made little mark. There were war-songs on both sides, few of which had much literary value excepting, perhaps, James R. Randall's Southern ballad, _Maryland, My Maryland_, sung to the old college air of _Lauriger Horatius_, and the grand martial chorus of _John Brown's Body_, an old Methodist hymn, to which the Northern armies beat time as they went "marching on." Randall's song, though spirited, was marred by its fire-eating absurdities about "vandals" and "minions" and "Northern scum," the cheap insults of the Southern newspaper press. To furnish the _John Brown_ chorus with words worthy of the music, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe wrote her _Battle-Hymn of the Republic_, a noble poem, but rather too fine and literary for a song, and so never fully accepted by the soldiers. Among the many verses which voiced the anguish and the patriotism of that stern time, which told of partings and home-comings, of women waiting by desolate hearths, in country homes, for tidings of husbands and sons who had gone to the war; or which celebrated individual deeds of heroism or sang the thousand private tragedies and heartbreaks of the great conflict, by far the greater number were of too humble a grade to survive the feeling of the hour. Among the best or the most popular of them were Kate Putnam Osgood's _Driving Home the Cows_, Mrs. Ethel Lynn Beers's _All Quiet Along the Potomac_; Forceythe Willson's _Old Sergeant_, and John James Piatt's _Riding to Vote_. Of the poets whom the war brought out, or developed, the most noteworthy were Henry Timrod, of South Carolina, and Henry Howard Brownell, of Connecticut. During the war Timrod was with the Confederate Army of the West, as correspondent for the _Charleston Mercury_, and in 1864 he became assistant editor of the _South Carolinian_, at Columbia. Sherman's "march to the sea" broke up his business, and he returned to Charleston. A complete edition of his poems was published in 1873, six years after his death. The prettiest of all Timrod's poems is _Katie_, but more to our present purpose are _Charleston_--written in the time of blockade--and the _Unknown Dead_, which tells
"Of nameless graves on battle plains, Wash'd by a single winter's rains, Where, some beneath Virginian hills, And some by green Atlantic rills, Some by the waters of the West, A myriad unknown heroes rest."
When the war was over a poet of New York State, F. M. Finch, sang of these and of other graves in his beautiful Decoration Day lyric, _The Blue and the Gray_, which spoke the word of reconciliation and consecration for North and South alike.
Brownell, whose _Lyrics of a Day_ and _War Lyrics_ were published respectively in 1864 and 1866, was private secretary to Farragut, on whose flag-ship, the _Hartford_, he was present at several great naval engagements, such as the "Passage of the Forts" below New Orleans, and the action off Mobile, described in his poem, the _Bay Fight_. With some roughness and unevenness of execution Brownell's poetry had a fire which places him next to Whittier as the Körner of the civil war. In him, especially, as in Whittier, is that Puritan sense of the righteousness of his cause which made the battle for the Union a holy war to the crusaders against slavery:
"Full red the furnace fires must glow That melt the ore of mortal kind; The mills of God are grinding slow, But ah, how close they grind!
"To-day the Dahlgren and the drum Are dread apostles of his name; His kingdom here can only come By chrism of blood and flame."
One of the earliest martyrs of the war was Theodore Winthrop, hardly known as a writer until the publication in the _Atlantic Monthly_ of his vivid sketches of _Washington as a Camp_, describing the march of his regiment, the famous New York Seventh, and its first quarters in the Capitol at Washington. A tragic interest was given to these papers by Winthrop's gallant death in the action of Big Bethel, June 10, 1861. While this was still fresh in public recollection his manuscript novels were published, together with a collection of his stories and sketches reprinted from the magazines. His novels, though in parts crude and immature, have a dash and buoyancy--an out-door air about them--which give the reader a winning impression of Winthrop's personality. The best of them is, perhaps, _Cecil Dreeme_, a romance that reminds one a little of Hawthorne, and the scene of which is the New York University building on Washington Square, a locality that has been further celebrated in Henry James's novel of _Washington Square_.
Another member of this same Seventh Regiment, Fitz James O'Brien, an Irishman by birth, who died at Baltimore in 1862 from the effects of a wound received in a cavalry skirmish, had contributed to the magazines a number of poems and of brilliant though fantastic tales, among which the _Diamond Lens_ and _What Was It?_ had something of Edgar A. Poe's quality. Another Irish-American, Charles G. Halpine, under the pen-name of "Miles O'Reilly," wrote a good many clever ballads of the war, partly serious and partly in comic brogue. Prose writers of note furnished the magazines with narratives of their experience at the seat of war, among papers of which kind may be mentioned Dr. Holmes's _My Search for the Captain_, in the _Atlantic Monthly_, and Colonel T. W. Higginson's _Army Life in a Black Regiment_, collected into a volume in 1870.
Of the public oratory of the war, the foremost example is the ever-memorable address of Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The war had brought the nation to its intellectual majority. In the stress of that terrible fight there was no room for buncombe and verbiage, such as the newspapers and stump-speakers used to dole out in _ante bellum_ days. Lincoln's speech is short--a few grave words which he turned aside for a moment to speak in the midst of his task of saving the country. The speech is simple, naked of figures, every sentence impressed with a sense of responsibility for the work yet to be done and with a stern determination to do it. "In a larger sense," it says, "we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us; that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Here was eloquence of a different sort from the sonorous perorations of Webster or the polished climaxes of Everett. As we read the plain, strong language of this brief classic, with its solemnity, its restraint, its "brave old wisdom of sincerity," we seem to see the president's homely features irradiated with the light of coming martyrdom--
"The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man, Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame, New birth of our new soil, the first American."
Within the past quarter of a century the popular school of American humor has reached its culmination. Every man of genius who is a humorist at all is so in a way peculiar to himself. There is no lack of individuality in the humor of Irving and Hawthorne and the wit of Holmes and Lowell, but although they are new in subject and application they are not new in kind. Irving, as we have seen, was the literary descendant of Addison. The character-sketches in _Bracebridge Hall_ are of the same family with Sir Roger de Coverley and the other figures of the Spectator Club. _Knickerbocker's History of New York_, though purely American in its matter, is not distinctly American in its method, which is akin to the mock heroic of Fielding and the irony of Swift in the _Voyage to Lilliput_. Irving's humor, like that of all the great English humorists, had its root in the perception of character--of the characteristic traits of men and classes of men, as ground of amusement. It depended for its effect, therefore, upon its truthfulness, its dramatic insight and sympathy, as did the humor of Shakespeare, of Sterne, Lamb, and Thackeray. This perception of the characteristic, when pushed to excess, issues in grotesque and caricature, as in some of Dickens's inferior creations, which are little more than personified single tricks of manner, speech, feature, or dress. Hawthorne's rare humor differed from Irving's in temper but not in substance, and belonged, like Irving's, to the English variety. Dr. Holmes's more pronouncedly comic verse does not differ specifically from the _facetiae_ of Thomas Hood, but his prominent trait is wit, which is the laughter of the head as humor is of the heart. The same is true, with qualifications, of Lowell, whose _Biglow Papers_, though humor of an original sort in their revelation of Yankee character, are essentially satirical. It is the cleverness, the shrewdness of the hits in the _Biglow Papers_, their logical, that is, _witty_ character, as distinguished from their drollery, that arrests the attention. They are funny, but they are not so funny as they are smart. In all these writers humor was blent with more serious qualities, which gave fineness and literary value to their humorous writings. Their view of life was not exclusively comic. But there has been a class of jesters, of professional humorists, in America, whose product is so indigenous, so different, if not in essence, yet at least in form and expression, from any European humor, that it may be regarded as a unique addition to the comic literature of the world. It has been accepted as such in England, where Artemus Ward and Mark Twain are familiar to multitudes who have never read the _One Hoss-Shay_ or _The Courtin'_. And though it would be ridiculous to maintain that either of these writers takes rank with Lowell and Holmes, or to deny that there is an amount of flatness and coarseness in many of their labored fooleries which puts large portions of their writings below the line where real literature begins, still it will not do to ignore them as mere buffoons, or even to predict that their humors will soon be forgotten. It is true that no literary fashion is more subject to change than the fashion of a jest, and that jokes that make one generation laugh seem insipid to the next. But there is something perennial in the fun of Rabelais, whom Bacon called "the great jester of France," and though the puns of Shakespeare's clowns are detestable the clowns themselves have not lost their power to amuse.
The Americans are not a gay people, but they are fond of a joke. Lincoln's "little stories" were characteristically Western, and it is doubtful whether he was more endeared to the masses by his solid virtues than by the humorous perception which made him one of them. The humor of which we are speaking now is a strictly popular and national possession. Though America has never, or not until lately, had a comic paper ranking with _Punch_ or _Charivari_ or the _Fliegende Blätter_, every newspaper has had its funny column. Our humorists have been graduated from the journalist's desk and sometimes from the printing-press, and now and then a local or country newspaper has risen into sudden prosperity from the possession of a new humorist, as in the case of G. D. Prentice's _Courier Journal_, or more recently of the _Cleveland Plaindealer_, the _Danbury News_, the _Burlington Hawkeye_, the _Arkansaw Traveller_, the _Texas Siftings_, and numerous others. Nowadays there are even syndicates of humorists, who co-operate to supply fun for certain groups of periodicals. Of course, the great majority of these manufacturers of jests for newspapers and comic almanacs are doomed to swift oblivion. But it is not so certain that the best of the class, like Clemens and Browne, will not long continue to be read as illustrative of one side of the American mind, or that their best things will not survive as long as the _mots_ of Sydney Smith, which are still as current as ever. One of the earliest of them was Seba Smith, who, under the name of "Major Jack Downing," did his best to make Jackson's administration ridiculous. B. P. Shillaber's "Mrs. Partington"--a sort of American Mrs. Malaprop--enjoyed great vogue before the war. Of a somewhat higher kind were the _Phoenixiana_, 1855, and _Squibob Papers_, 1856, of Lieutenant George H. Derby, "John Phoenix," one of the pioneers of literature on the Pacific coast at the time of the California gold fever of '49. Derby's proposal for _A New System of English Grammar_, his satirical account of the topographical survey of the two miles of road between San Francisco and the Mission Dolores, and his picture gallery made out of the conventional houses, steam-boats, rail-cars, runaway Negroes, and other designs which used to figure in the advertising columns of the newspapers, were all very ingenious and clever. But all these pale before Artemus Ward--"Artemus the delicious," as Charles Reade called him--who first secured for this peculiarly American type of humor a hearing and reception abroad. Ever since the invention of Hosea Biglow, an imaginary personage of some sort, under cover of whom the author might conceal his own identity, has seemed a necessity to our humorists. Artemus Ward was a traveling showman who went about the country exhibiting a collection of wax "figgers" and whose experiences and reflections were reported in grammar and spelling of a most ingeniously eccentric kind. His inventor was Charles F. Browne, originally of Maine, a printer by trade and afterward a newspaper writer and editor at Boston, Toledo, and Cleveland, where his comicalities in the _Plaindealer_ first began to attract notice. In 1860 he came to New York and joined the staff of _Vanity Fair_, a comic weekly of much brightness, which ran a short career and perished for want of capital. When Browne began to appear as a public lecturer, people who had formed an idea of him from his impersonation of the shrewd and vulgar old showman were surprised to find him a gentlemanly-looking young man, who came upon the platform in correct evening dress, and "spoke his piece" in a quiet and somewhat mournful manner, stopping in apparent surprise when any one in the audience laughed at any uncommonly outrageous absurdity. In London, where he delivered his _Lecture on the Mormons_, in 1806, the gravity of his bearing at first imposed upon his hearers, who had come to the hall in search of instructive information and were disappointed at the inadequate nature of the panorama which Browne had had made to illustrate his lecture. Occasionally some hitch would occur in the machinery of this and the lecturer would leave the rostrum for a few moments to "work the moon" that shone upon the Great Salt Lake, apologizing on his return on the ground, that he was "a man short" and offering "to pay a good salary to any respectable boy of good parentage and education who is a good moonist." When it gradually dawned upon the British intellect that these and similar devices of the lecturer--such as the soft music which he had the pianist play at pathetic passages--nay, that the panorama and even the lecture itself were of a humorous intention, the joke began to take, and Artemus's success in England became assured. He was employed as one of the editors of _Punch_, but died at Southampton in the year following.
Some of Artemus Ward's effects were produced, by cacography or bad spelling, but there was genius in the wildly erratic way in which he handled even this rather low order of humor. It is a curious commentary on the wretchedness of our English orthography that the phonetic spelling of a word, as for example, _wuz_ for _was_, should be in itself an occasion of mirth. Other verbal effects of a different kind were among his devices, as in the passage where the seventeen widows of a deceased Mormon offered themselves to Artemus.
"And I said, 'Why is this thus? What is the reason of this thusness?' They hove a sigh--seventeen sighs of different size. They said:
"'O, soon thou will be gonested away.'
"I told them that when I got ready to leave a place I wentested.
"They said, 'Doth not like us?'
"I said, 'I doth--I doth.'
"I also said, 'I hope your intentions are honorable, as I am a lone child--my parents being far--far away.'
"They then said, 'Wilt not marry us?'
"I said, 'O no, it cannot was.'
"When they cried, 'O cruel man! this is too much!--O! too much,' I told them that it was on account of the muchness that I declined."
It is hard to define the difference between the humor of one writer and another, or of one nation and another. It can be felt and can be illustrated by quoting examples, but scarcely described in general terms. It has been said of that class of American humorists of which Artemus Ward is a representative that their peculiarity consists in extravagance, surprise, audacity, and irreverence. But all these qualities have characterized other schools of humor. There is the same element of surprise in De Quincey's anti-climax, "Many a man has dated his ruin from some murder or other which, perhaps, at the time he thought little of," as in Artemus's truism that "a comic paper ought to publish a joke now and then." The violation of logic which makes us laugh at an Irish bull is likewise the source of the humor in Artemus's saying of Jeff Davis, that "it would have been better than ten dollars in his pocket if he had never been born;" or in his advice, "Always live within your income, even if you have to borrow money to do so;" or, again, in his announcement that "Mr. Ward will pay no debts of his own contracting." A kind of ludicrous confusion, caused by an unusual collocation of words, is also one of his favorite tricks, as when he says of Brigham Young, "He's the most married man I ever saw in my life;" or when, having been drafted at several hundred different places where he had been exhibiting his wax figures, he says that if he went on he should soon become a regiment, and adds, "I never knew that there was so many of me." With this a whimsical understatement and an affectation of simplicity, as where he expresses his willingness to sacrifice "even his wife's relations" on the altar of patriotism; or where, in delightful unconsciousness of his own sins against orthography, he pronounces that "Chaucer was a great poet but he couldn't spell," or where he says of the feast of raw dog, tendered him by the Indian chief, Wocky-bocky, "It don't agree with me. I prefer simple food." On the whole, it may be said of original humor of this kind, as of other forms of originality in literature, that the elements of it are old, but their combinations are novel. Other humorists, like Henry W. Shaw ("Josh Billings") and David R. Locke ("Petroleum V. Nasby"), have used bad spelling as a part of their machinery; while Robert H. Newell ("Orpheus C. Kerr"), Samuel L. Clemens ("Mark Twain"), and more recently "Bill Nye," though belonging to the same school of low or broad comedy, have discarded cacography. Of these the most eminent, by all odds, is Mark Twain, who has probably made more people laugh than any other living writer. A Missourian by birth (1835), he served the usual apprenticeship at type-setting and editing country newspapers; spent seven years as a pilot on a Mississippi steam-boat, and seven years more mining and journalizing in Nevada, where he conducted the Virginia City _Enterprise_; finally drifted to San Francisco, and was associated with Bret Harte on the _Californian_, and in 1867 published his first book, _The Jumping Frog_. This was succeeded by the _Innocents Abroad_, 1869; _Roughing It_, 1872; _A Tramp Abroad_, 1880, and by others not so good.
Mark Twain's drolleries have frequently the same air of innocence and surprise as Artemus Ward's, and there is a like suddenness in his turns of expression, as where he speaks of "the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces." If he did not originate, he at any rate employed very effectively that now familiar device of the newspaper "funny man," of putting a painful situation euphemistically, as when he says of a man who was hanged, that he "received injuries which terminated in his death." He uses to the full extent the American humorist's favorite resources of exaggeration and irreverence. An instance of the former quality may be seen in his famous description of a dog chasing a coyote, in _Roughing It_, or in his interview with the lightning-rod agent in Mark Twain's _Sketches_, 1875. He is a shrewd observer, and his humor has a more satirical side than Artemus Ward's, sometimes passing into downright denunciation. He delights particularly in ridiculing sentimental humbug and moralizing cant. He runs atilt, as has been said, at "copy-book texts," at the temperance reformer, the tract distributer, the Good Boy of Sunday-school literature, and the women who send bouquets and sympathetic letters to interesting criminals. He gives a ludicrous turn to famous historical anecdotes, such as the story of George Washington and his little hatchet; burlesques the time-honored adventure, in nautical romances, of the starving crew casting lots in the long-boat, and spoils the dignity of antiquity by modern trivialities, saying of a discontented sailor on Columbus's ship, "He wanted fresh shad." The fun of _Innocents Abroad_ consists in this irreverent application of modern, common sense, utilitarian, democratic standards to the memorable places and historic associations of Europe. Tried by this test the Old Masters in the picture galleries become laughable, Abelard was a precious scoundrel, and the raptures of the guide-books are parodied without mercy. The tourist weeps at the grave of Adam. At Genoa he drives the _cicerone_ to despair by pretending never to have heard of Christopher Columbus, and inquiring innocently, "Is he dead?" It is Europe vulgarized and stripped of its illusions--Europe seen by a Western newspaper reporter without any "historic imagination."
The method of this whole class of humorists is the opposite of Addison's or Irving's or Thackeray's. It does not amuse by the perception of the characteristic. It is not founded upon truth, but upon incongruity, distortion, unexpectedness. Every thing in life is reversed, as in opera bouffe, and turned topsy-turvy, so that paradox takes the place of the natural order of things. Nevertheless they have supplied a wholesome criticism upon sentimental excesses, and the world is in their debt for many a hearty laugh.
In the _Atlantic Monthly_ for December, 1863, appeared a tale entitled _The Man Without a Country_, which made a great sensation, and did much to strengthen patriotic feeling in one of the darkest hours of the nation's history. It was the story of one Philip Nolan, an army officer, whose head had been turned by Aaron Burr, and who, having been censured by a court-martial for some minor offense; exclaimed petulantly, upon mention being made of the United States government, "Damn the United States! I wish that I might never hear the United States mentioned again." Thereupon he was sentenced to have his wish, and was kept all his life aboard the vessels of the navy, being sent off on long voyages and transferred from ship to ship, with orders to those in charge that his country and its concerns should never be spoken of in his presence. Such an air of reality was given to the narrative by incidental references to actual persons and occurrences that many believed it true, and some were found who remembered Philip Nolan, but had heard different versions of his career. The author of this clever hoax--if hoax it may be called--was Edward Everett Hale, a Unitarian clergyman of Boston, who published a collection of stories in 1868, under the fantastic title, _If, Yes, and Perhaps_, indicating thereby that some of the tales were possible, some of them probable, and others might even be regarded as essentially true. A similar collection, _His Level Best, and Other Stories_, was published in 1873, and in the interval three volumes of a somewhat different kind, the _Ingham Papers_ and _Sybaris and Other Homes_, both in 1869, and _Ten Times One Is Ten_, in 187l. The author shelters himself behind the imaginary figure of Captain Frederic Ingham, pastor of the Sandemanian Church at Naguadavick, and the same characters have a way of re-appearing in his successive volumes as old friends of the reader, which is pleasant at first, but in the end a little tiresome. Mr. Hale is one of the most original and ingenious of American story-writers. The old device of making wildly improbable inventions appear like fact by a realistic treatment of details--a device employed by Swift and Edgar Poe, and more lately by Jules Verne--became quite fresh and novel in his hands, and was managed with a humor all his own. Some of his best stories are _My Double and How He Undid Me_, describing how a busy clergyman found an Irishman who looked so much like himself that he trained him to pass as his duplicate, and sent him to do duty in his stead at public meetings, dinners, etc., thereby escaping bores and getting time for real work; the _Brick Moon_, a story of a projectile built and launched into space, to revolve in a fixed meridian about the earth and serve mariners as a mark of longitude; the _Rag Man and Rag Woman_, a tale of an impoverished couple who made a competence by saving the pamphlets, advertisements, wedding-cards, etc., that came to them through the mail, and developing a paper business on that basis; and the _Skeleton in the Closet_, which shows how the fate of the Southern Confederacy was involved in the adventures of a certain hoop-skirt, "built in the eclipse and rigged with curses dark." Mr. Hale's historical scholarship and his habit of detail have aided him in the art of giving _vraisemblance_ to absurdities. He is known in philanthropy as well as in letters, and his tales have a cheerful, busy, practical way with them in consonance with his motto, "Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand."
It is too soon to sum up the literary history of the last quarter of a century. The writers who have given it shape are still writing, and their work is therefore incomplete. But on the slightest review of it two facts become manifest; first, that New England has lost its long monopoly; and, secondly, that a marked feature of the period is the growth of realistic fiction. The electric tension of the atmosphere for thirty years preceding the civil war, the storm and stress of great public contests, and the intellectual stir produced by transcendentalism seem to have been more favorable to poetry and literary idealism than present conditions are. At all events there are no new poets who rank with Whittier, Longfellow, Lowell, and others of the elder generation, although George H. Boker, in Philadelphia, R. H. Stoddard and E. C. Stedman, in New York, and T. B. Aldrich, first in New York and afterward in Boston, have written creditable verse; not to speak of younger writers, whose work, however, for the most part, has been more distinguished by delicacy of execution than by native impulse. Mention has been made of the establishment of _Harper's Monthly Magazine_, which, under the conduct of its accomplished editor, George W. Curtis, has provided the public with an abundance of good reading. The old _Putnam's Monthly_, which ran from 1853 to 1858, and had a strong corps of contributors, was revived in 1868, and continued by that name till 1870, when it was succeeded by _Scribner's Monthly_, under the editorship of Dr. J. G. Holland, and this in 1881 by the _Century_, an efficient rival of _Harper's_ in circulation, in literary excellence, and in the beauty of its wood-engravings, the American school of which art these two great periodicals have done much to develop and encourage. Another New York monthly, the _Galaxy_, ran from 1866 to 1878, and was edited by Richard Grant White. Within the last few years a new _Scribner's Magazine_ has also taken the field. The _Atlantic_, in Boston, and _Lippincott's_, in Philadelphia, are no unworthy competitors with these for public favor.
During the forties began a new era of national expansion, somewhat resembling that described in a former chapter, and, like that, bearing fruit eventually in literature. The cession of Florida to the United States in 1845, and the annexation of Texas in the same year, were followed by the purchase of California in 1847, and its admission as a State in 1850. In 1849 came the great rush to the California gold fields. San Francisco, at first a mere collection of tents and board shanties, with a few adobe huts, grew with incredible rapidity into a great city--the wicked and wonderful city apostrophized by Bret Harte in his poem, _San Francisco_:
"Serene, indifferent of fate, Thou sittest at the Western Gate; Upon thy heights so lately won Still slant the banners of the sun. . . . I know thy cunning and thy greed, Thy hard, high lust and willful deed."
The adventurers of all lands and races who flocked to the Pacific coast, found there a motley state of society between civilization and savagery. There were the relics of the old Mexican occupation, the Spanish missions, with their Christianized Indians; the wild tribes of the plains--Apaches, Utes, and Navajoes; the Chinese coolies and washermen, all elements strange to the Atlantic sea-board and the States of the interior. The gold-hunters crossed, in stages or caravans, enormous prairies, alkaline deserts dotted with sage-brush and seamed by deep canons, and passes through gigantic mountain ranges. On the coast itself nature was unfamiliar: the climate was subtropical; fruits and vegetables grew to a mammoth size, corresponding to the enormous redwoods in the Mariposa groves and the prodigious scale of the scenery in the valley of the Yosemite and the snow-capped peaks of the sierras. At first there were few women, and the men led a wild, lawless existence in the mining camps. Hard upon the heels of the prospector followed the dram-shop, the gambling-hell, and the dance-hall. Every man carried his "Colt," and looked out for his own life and his "claim." Crime went unpunished or was taken in hand, when it got too rampant, by vigilance committees. In the diggings shaggy frontiersmen and "pikes" from Missouri mingled with the scum of eastern cities and with broken-down business men and young college graduates seeking their fortune. Surveyors and geologists came of necessity, speculators in mining stock and city lots set up their offices in the town; later came a sprinkling of school-teachers and ministers. Fortunes were made in one day and lost the next at poker or loo. To-day the lucky miner who had struck a good "lead" was drinking champagne out of pails and treating the town; to-morrow he was "busted," and shouldered the pick for a new onslaught upon his luck. This strange, reckless life was not without fascination, and highly picturesque and dramatic elements were present in it. It was, as Bret Harte says, "an era replete with a certain heroic Greek poetry," and sooner or later it was sure to find its poet. During the war California remained loyal to the Union, but was too far from the seat of conflict to experience any serious disturbance, and went on independently developing its own resources and becoming daily more civilized. By 1868 San Francisco had a literary magazine, the _Overland Monthly_, which ran until 1875, and was revived in 1883. It had a decided local flavor, and the vignette on its title-page was a happily chosen emblem, representing a grizzly bear crossing a railway track. In an early number of the _Overland_ was a story entitled the _Luck of Roaring Camp_, by Francis Bret Harte, a native of Albany, N. Y. (1835), who had come to California at the age of seventeen, in time to catch the unique aspects of the life of the Forty-niners, before their vagabond communities had settled down into the law-abiding society of the present day. His first contribution was followed by other stories and sketches of a similar kind, such as the _Outcasts of Poker Flat_, _Miggles_, and _Tennessee's Partner_; and by verses, serious and humorous, of which last, _Plain Language from Truthful James_, better known as the _Heathen Chinee_, made an immediate hit, and carried its author's name into every corner of the English-speaking world. In 1871 he published a collection of his tales, another of his poems, and a volume of very clever parodies, _Condensed Novels_, which rank with Thackeray's _Novels by Eminent Hands_. Bret Harte's California stories were vivid, highly colored pictures of life in the mining camps and raw towns of the Pacific coast. The pathetic and the grotesque went hand in hand in them, and the author aimed to show how even in the desperate characters gathered together there--the fortune-hunters, gamblers, thieves, murderers, drunkards, and prostitutes--the latent nobility of human nature asserted itself in acts of heroism, magnanimity, self-sacrifice, and touching fidelity. The same men who cheated at cards and shot each another down with tipsy curses were capable on occasion of the most romantic generosity and the most delicate chivalry. Critics were not wanting who held that, in the matter of dialect and manners and other details, the narrator was not true to the facts. This was a comparatively unimportant charge; but a more serious question was the doubt whether his characters were essentially true to human nature; whether the wild soil of revenge and greed and dissolute living ever yields such flowers of devotion as blossom in _Tennessee's Partner_ and the _Outcasts of Poker Flat_. However this may be, there is no question as to Harte's power as a narrator. His short stories are skillfully constructed and effectively told. They never drag, and are never overladen with description, reflection, or other lumber.
In his poems in dialect we find the same variety of types and nationalities characteristic of the Pacific coast: the little Mexican maiden, Pachita, in the old mission garden; the wicked Bill Nye, who tries to cheat the Heathen Chinee at eucher and to rob Injin Dick of his winning lottery ticket; the geological society on the Stanislaw who settle their scientific debates with chunks of old red sandstone and the skulls of mammoths; the unlucky Mr. Dow, who finally strikes gold while digging a well, and builds a house with a "coopilow;" and Flynn, of Virginia, who saves his "pard's" life, at the sacrifice of his own, by holding up the timbers in the caving tunnel. These poems are mostly in monologue, like Browning's dramatic lyrics, exclamatory and abrupt in style, and with a good deal of indicated action, as in _Jim_, where a miner comes into a bar-room, looking for his old chum, learns that he is dead, and is just turning away to hide his emotion when he recognizes Jim in his informant:
"Well, thar--Good-bye-- No more, sir--I-- Eh? What's that you say?-- Why, dern it!--sho!-- No? Yea! By Jo! Sold! Sold! Why, you limb! You ornery, Derned old Long-legged Jim!"
Bret Harte had many imitators, and not only did our newspaper poetry for a number of years abound in the properties of Californian life, such as gulches, placers, divides, etc., but writers further east applied his method to other conditions. Of these by far the most successful was John Hay, a native of Indiana and private secretary to President Lincoln, whose _Little Breeches_, _Jim Bludso_, and _Mystery of Gilgal_ have rivaled Bret Harte's own verses in popularity. In the last-named piece the reader is given to feel that there is something rather cheerful and humorous in a bar-room fight which results in "the gals that winter, as a rule," going "alone to singing school." In the two former we have heroes of the Bret Harte type, the same combination of superficial wickedness with inherent loyalty and tenderness. The profane farmer of the South-west, who "doesn't pan out on the prophets," and who had taught his little son "to chaw terbacker, just to keep his milk-teeth white," but who believes in God and the angels ever since the miraculous recovery of the same little son when lost on the prairie in a blizzard; and the unsaintly and bigamistic captain of the _Prairie Belle_, who died like a hero, holding the nozzle of his burning boat against the bank
"Till the last galoot's ashore."
The manners and dialect of other classes and sections of the country have received abundant illustration of late years. Edward Eggleston's _Hoosier Schoolmaster_, 1871, and his other novels are pictures of rural life in the early days of Indiana. _Western Windows_, a volume of poems by John James Piatt, another native of Indiana, had an unmistakable local coloring. Charles G. Leland, of Philadelphia, in his Hans Breitmann ballads, in dialect, gave a humorous presentation of the German-American element in the cities. By the death, in 1881, of Sidney Lanier, a Georgian by birth, the South lost a poet of rare promise, whose original genius was somewhat hampered by his hesitation between two arts of expression, music and verse, and by his effort to co-ordinate them. His _Science of English Verse_, 1880, was a most suggestive, though hardly convincing, statement of that theory of their relation which he was working out in his practice. Some of his pieces, like the _Mocking Bird_ and the _Song of the Chattahoochie_, are the most characteristically Southern poetry that has been written in America. Joel Chandler Harris's _Uncle Remus_ stories, in Negro dialect, are transcripts from the folk-lore of the plantations, while his collection of stories, _At Teague Poteet's_, together with Miss Murfree's _In the Tennessee Mountains_ and her other books, have made the Northern public familiar with the wild life of the "moonshiners," who distill illicit whiskey in the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. These tales are not only exciting in incident, but strong and fresh in their delineations of character. Their descriptions of mountain scenery are also impressive, though, in the case of the last-named writer, frequently too prolonged. George W. Cable's sketches of French Creole life in New Orleans attracted attention by their freshness and quaintness when published, in the magazines and re-issued in book form as _Old Creole Days_, in 1879. His first regular novel, the _Grandissimes_, 1880, was likewise a story of Creole life. It had the same winning qualities as his short stories and sketches, but was an advance upon them in dramatic force, especially in the intensely tragic and powerfully told episode of "Bras Coupé." Mr. Cable has continued his studies of Louisiana types and ways in his later books, but the _Grandissimes_ still remains his masterpiece. All in all, he is, thus far, the most important literary figure of the New South, and the justness and delicacy of his representations of life speak volumes for the sobering and refining agency of the civil war in the States whose "cause" was "lost," but whose true interests gained even more by the loss than did the interests of the victorious North.
The four writers last mentioned, have all come to the front within the past eight or ten years, and, in accordance with the plan of this sketch, receive here a mere passing notice. It remains to close our review of the literary history of the period since the war with a somewhat more extended account of the two favorite novelists whose work has done more than any thing else to shape the movement of recent fiction. These are Henry James, Jr., and William Dean Howells. Their writings, though dissimilar in some respects, are alike in this, that they are analytic in method and realistic in spirit. Cooper was a romancer pure and simple; he wrote the romance of adventure and of external incident. Hawthorne went much deeper, and with a finer spiritual insight dealt with the real passions of the heart; and with men's inner experiences. This he did with truth and power; but, although himself a keen observer of whatever passed before his eyes, he was not careful to secure a photographic fidelity to the surface facts of speech, dress, manners, etc. Thus the talk of his characters is book-talk, and not the actual language of the parlor or the street, with its slang, its colloquial ease and the intonations and shadings of phrase and pronunciation which mark different sections of the country and different grades of society. His attempts at dialect, for example, were of the slenderest kind. His art is ideal, and his romances certainly do not rank as novels of real life. But with the growth of a richer and more complicated society in America fiction has grown more social and more minute in its observation. It would not be fair to classify the novels of James and Howells as the fiction of manners merely; they are also the fiction of character, but they aim to describe people not only as they are, in their inmost natures, but also as they look and talk and dress. They try to express character through manners, which is the way in which it is most often expressed in the daily existence of a conventional society. It is a principle of realism not to select exceptional persons or occurrences, but to take average men and women and their average experiences. The realists protest that the moving incident is not their trade, and that the stories have all been told. They want no plot and no hero. They will tell no rounded tale with a _denouement_, in which all the parts are distributed, as in the fifth act of an old-fashioned comedy; but they will take a transcript from life and end when they get through, without informing the reader what becomes of the characters. And they will try to interest this reader in "poor real life" with its "foolish face." Their acknowledged masters are Balzac, George Eliot, Turgénieff, and Anthony Trollope, and they regard novels as studies in sociology, honest reports of the writers' impressions, which may not be without a certain scientific value even.
Mr. James's peculiar province is the international novel, a field which he created for himself, but which he has occupied in company with Howells, Mrs. Burnett, and many others. The novelist received most of his schooling in Europe, and has lived much abroad, with the result that he has become half denationalized and has engrafted a cosmopolitan indifference upon his Yankee inheritance. This, indeed, has constituted his opportunity. A close observer and a conscientious student of the literary art, he has added to his intellectual equipment the advantage of a curious doubleness in his point of view. He looks at America with the eyes of a foreigner and at Europe with the eyes of an American. He has so far thrown himself out of relation with American life that he describes a Boston horse-car or a New York hotel table with a sort of amused wonder. His starting-point was in criticism, and he has always maintained the critical attitude. He took up story-writing in order to help himself, by practical experiment, in his chosen art of literary criticism, and his volume on _French Poets and Novelists_, 1878, is by no means the least valuable of his books. His short stories in the magazines were collected into a volume in 1875, with the title, _A Passionate Pilgrim, and Other Stories_. One or two of these, as the _Last of the Valerii_ and the _Madonna of the Future_, suggest Hawthorne, a very unsympathetic study of whom James afterward contributed to the "English Men of Letters" series. But in the name-story of the collection he was already in the line of his future development. This is the story of a middle-aged invalid American who comes to England in search of health, and finds, too late, in the mellow atmosphere of the mother-country, the repose and the congenial surroundings which he has all his life been longing for in his raw America. The pathos of his self-analysis and his confession of failure is subtly imagined. The impressions which he and his far-away English kinsfolk make on one another, their mutual attraction and repulsion, are described with that delicate perception of national differences which makes the humor and sometimes the tragedy of James's later books, like _The American_, _Daisy Miller_, _The Europeans_, and _An International Episode_. His first novel was _Roderick Hudson_, 1876, not the most characteristic of his fictions, but perhaps the most powerful in its grasp of elementary passion. The analytic method and the critical attitude have their dangers in imaginative literature. In proportion as this writer's faculty of minute observation and his realistic objectivity have increased upon him, the uncomfortable coldness which is felt in his youthful work has become actually disagreeable, and his art--growing constantly finer and surer in matters of detail--has seemed to dwell more and more in the region of mere manners and less in the higher realm of character and passion. In most of his writings the heart, somehow, is left out. We have seen that Irving, from his knowledge of England and America, and his long residence in both countries, became the mediator between the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race. This he did by the power of his sympathy with each. Henry James has likewise interpreted the two nations to one another in a subtler but less genial fashion than Irving, and not through sympathy, but through contrast, by bringing into relief the opposing ideals of life and society which have developed under different institutions. In his novel, _The American_, 1877, he has shown the actual misery which may result from the clashing of opposed social systems. In such clever sketches as _Daisy Miller_, 1879, the _Pension Beaurepas_, and _A Bundle of Letters_, he has exhibited types of the American girl, the American business man, the aesthetic feebling from Boston, and the Europeanized or would-be denationalized American campaigners in the Old World, and has set forth the ludicrous incongruities, perplexities, and misunderstandings which result from contradictory standards of conventional morality and behavior. In _The Europeans_, 1879, and _An International Episode_, 1878, he has reversed the process, bringing Old World standards to the test of American ideas by transferring his _dramatis personae_ to republican soil. The last-named of these illustrates how slender a plot realism requires for its purposes. It is nothing more than the history of an English girl of good family who marries an American gentleman and undertakes to live in America, but finds herself so uncomfortable in strange social conditions that she returns to England for life, while, contrariwise, the heroine's sister is so taken with the freedom of these very conditions that she elopes with another American and "goes West." James is a keen observer of the physiognomy of cities as well as of men, and his _Portraits of Places_, 1884, is among the most delightful contributions to the literature of foreign travel.
Mr. Howells's writings are not without "international" touches. In _A Foregone Conclusion_ and the _Lady of the Aroostook_, and others of his novels, the contrasted points of view in American and European life are introduced, and especially those variations in feeling, custom, dialect, etc., which make the modern Englishman and the modern American such objects of curiosity to each other, and which have been dwelt upon of late even unto satiety. But in general he finds his subjects at home, and if he does not know his own countrymen and countrywomen more intimately than Mr. James, at least he loves them better. There is a warmer sentiment in his fictions, too; his men are better fellows and his women are more lovable. Howells was born in Ohio. His early life was that of a western country editor. In 1860 he published, jointly with his friend Piatt, a book of verse--_Poems of Two Friends_. In 1861 he was sent as consul to Venice, and the literary results of his sojourn there appeared in his sketches, _Venetian Life_, 1865, and _Italian Journeys_, 1867. In 1871 he became editor of the _Atlantic Monthly_, and in the same year published his _Suburban Sketches_. All of these early volumes showed a quick eye for the picturesque, an unusual power of description, and humor of the most delicate quality; but as yet there was little approach to narrative. _Their Wedding Journey_ was a revelation to the public of the interest that may lie in an ordinary bridal trip across the State of New York, when a close and sympathetic observation is brought to bear upon the characteristics of American life as it appears at railway stations and hotels, on steam-boats and in the streets of very commonplace towns. _A Chance Acquaintance_, 1873, was Howells's first novel, though even yet the story was set against a background of travel-pictures. A holiday trip on the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, with descriptions of Quebec and the Falls of Montmorenci, etc., rather predominated over the narrative. Thus, gradually and by a natural process, complete characters and realistic novels, such as _A Modern Instance_, 1882, and _Indian Summer_, evolved themselves from truthful sketches of places and persons seen by the way.
The incompatibility existing between European and American views of life, which makes the comedy or the tragedy of Henry James's international fictions, is replaced in Howells's novels by the repulsion between differing social grades in the same country. The adjustment of these subtle distinctions forms a part of the problem of life in all complicated societies. Thus in _A Chance Acquaintance_ the heroine is a bright and pretty Western girl, who becomes engaged during a pleasure tour to an irreproachable but offensively priggish young gentleman from Boston, and the engagement is broken by her in consequence of an unintended slight--the betrayal on the hero's part of a shade of mortification when he and his betrothed are suddenly brought into the presence of some fashionable ladies belonging to his own _monde_. The little comedy, _Out of the Question_, deals with this same adjustment of social scales; and in many of Howells's other novels, such as _Silas Lapham_ and the _Lady of the Aroustook_, one of the main motives may be described to be the contact of the man who eats with his fork with the man who eats with his knife, and the shock thereby ensuing. In _Indian Summer_ the complications arise from the difference in age between the hero and heroine, and not from a difference in station or social antecedents. In all of these fictions the misunderstandings come from an incompatibility of manners rather than of character, and, if any thing were to be objected to the probability of the story, it is that the climax hinges on delicacies and subtleties which, in real life, when there is opportunity for explanations, are readily brushed aside. But in _A Modern Instance_ Howells touched the deeper springs of action. In this, his strongest work, the catastrophe is brought about, as in George Eliot's great novels, by the reaction of characters upon one another, and the story is realistic in a higher sense than any mere study of manners can be. His nearest approach to romance is in _The Undiscovered Country_, 1880, which deals with the Spiritualists and the Shakers, and in its study of problems that hover on the borders of the supernatural, in its out-of-the-way personages and adventures, and in a certain ideal poetic flavor about the whole book, has a strong resemblance to Hawthorne, especially to Hawthorne in the _Blithedale Romance_, where he comes closer to common ground with other romancers. It is interesting to compare the _Undiscovered Country_ with Henry James's _Bostonians_, the latest and one of the cleverest of his fictions, which is likewise a study of the clairvoyants, mediums, woman's rights advocates, and all varieties of cranks, reformers, and patrons of "causes," for whom Boston has long been notorious. A most unlovely race of people they become under the cold scrutiny of Mr. James's cosmopolitan eyes, which see more clearly the charlatanism, narrow-mindedness, mistaken fanaticism, morbid self-consciousness, disagreeable nervous intensity, and vulgar or ridiculous outside peculiarities of the humanitarians, than the nobility and moral enthusiasm which underlie the surface.
Howells is almost the only successful American dramatist, and this in the field of parlor comedy. His little farces, the _Elevator_, the _Register_, the _Parlor-Car_, etc., have a lightness and grace, with an exquisitely absurd situation, which remind us more of the _Comedies et Proverbes_ of Alfred de Musset, or the many agreeable dialogues and monologues of the French domestic stage, than of any work of English or American hands. His softly ironical yet affectionate treatment of feminine ways is especially admirable. In his numerous types of sweetly illogical, inconsistent, and inconsequent womanhood he has perpetuated with a nicer art than Dickens what Thackeray calls "that great discovery," Mrs. Nickleby.
1. Theodore Winthrop. _Life in the Open Air_. _Cecil Dreeme_.
2. Thomas Wentworth Higginson. _Life in a Black Regiment_.
3. _Poetry of the Civil War_. Edited by Richard Grant White. New York. 1866.
4. Charles Farrar Browne. _Artemus Ward--His Book_. _Lecture on the Mormons_. _Artemus Ward in London_.
5. Samuel Langhorne Clemens. _The Jumping Frog_. _Roughing It_. _The Mississippi Pilot_.
6. Charles Godfrey Leland. _Hans Breitmann's Ballads_.
7. Edward Everett Hale. _If, Yes, and Perhaps_. _His Level Best, and Other Stories_.
8. Francis Bret Harte. _Outcasts of Poker Flat, and Other Stories_. _Condensed Novels_. _Poems in Dialect_.
9. Sidney Lanier. _Nirvana_. _Resurrection_. _The Harlequin of Dreams_. _Song of the Chattahoochie_. _The Mocking Bird_. _The Stirrup-Cup_. _Tampa Robins_. _The Bee_. _The Revenge of Hamish_. _The Ship of Earth_. _The Marshes of Glynn_. _Sunrise_.
10. Henry James, Jr. _A Passionate Pilgrim_. _Roderick Hudson_. _Daisy Miller_. _Pension Beaurepas_. _A Bundle of Letters_. _An International Episode_. _The Bostonians_. _Portraits of Places_.
11. William Dean Howells. _Their Wedding Journey_. _Suburban Sketches_. _A Chance Acquaintance_. _A Foregone Conclusion_. _The Undiscovered Country_. _A Modern Instance_.
12. George W. Cable. _Old Creole Days_. _Madame Delphine_. _The Grandissimes_.
13. Joel Chandler Harris. _Uncle Remus_. _Mingo, and Other Sketches_.
14. Charles Egbert Craddook (Miss Murfree). _In the Tennessee Mountains_.
CAPTAIN PHIPS AND THE SPANISH WRECK.
[From _Magnalia Christi Americana_.]
Captain Phips, arriving with a ship and a tender at Port de la Plata, made a stout canoe of a stately cotton-tree, so large as to carry eight or ten oars, for the making of which periaga (as they call it) he did, with the same industry that he did every thing else, employ his own hand and adze, and endure no little hardship, lying abroad in the woods many nights together. This periaga with the tender, being anchored at a place convenient, the periaga kept busking to and again, but could only discover a reef of rising shoals thereabouts, called "The Boilers," which, rising to be within two or three feet of the surface of the sea, were yet so steep that a ship striking on them would immediately sink down, who could say how many fathom, into the ocean. Here they could get no other pay for their long peeping among the Boilers, but only such as caused them to think upon returning to their captain with the bad news of their total disappointment. Nevertheless, as they were upon their return, one of the men, looking over the side of the periaga into the calm water, he spied a sea-feather growing, as he judged, out of a rock; whereupon he bade one of their Indians to dive and fetch this feather, that they might, however, carry home something with them, and make at least as fair a triumph as Caligula's. The diver, bringing up the feather, brought therewithal a surprising story, that he perceived a number of great guns in the watery world where he had found his feather; the report of which great guns exceedingly astonished the whole company, and at once turned their despondencies for their ill success into assurances that they had now lit upon the true spot of ground which they had been looking for; and they were further confirmed in these assurances when, upon further diving, the Indian fetched up a sow, as they styled it, or a lump of silver worth perhaps two or three hundred pounds. Upon this they prudently buoyed the place that they might readily find it again; and they went back unto their captain, whom for some while they distressed with nothing but such bad news as they formerly thought they must have carried him. Nevertheless, they so slipped in the sow of silver on one side under the table, where they wore now sitting with the captain, and hearing him express his resolutions to wait still patiently upon the providence of God under these disappointments, that when he should look on one side he might see that odd thing before him. At last he saw it. Seeing it he cried out with some agony, "Why! what is this? Whence comes this?" And then, with changed countenances, they told him how and where they got it. "Then," said he, "thanks be to God! We are made," and so away they went all hands to work; wherein they had this one further piece of remarkable prosperity, that whereas if they had first fallen upon that part of the Spanish wreck where the pieces of eight had been stowed in bags among the ballast they had seen a more laborious and less enriching time of it; now, most happily, they first fell upon that room in the wreck where the bullion had been stored up; and they so prospered in this new fishery that in a little while they had, without the loss of any man's life, brought up thirty-two tuns of silver; for it was now come to measuring of silver by tuns. Besides which, one Adderly, of Providence, who had formerly been very helpful to Captain Phips in the search of this wreck, did, upon former agreement, meet him now with a little vessel here; and he with his few hands, took up about six tuns of silver; whereof, nevertheless, he made so little use that in a year or two he died at Bermudas, and, as I have heard, he ran distracted some while before he died.
Thus did there once again come into the light of the sun a treasure which had been half an hundred years groaning under the waters; and in this time there was grown upon the plate a crust-like limestone, to the thickness of several inches; which crust being broken open by iron contrived for that purpose, they knocked out whole bushels of rusty pieces of eight; which were grown thereinto. Besides that incredible treasure of plate in various forms thus fetched up from seven or eight fathom under water, there were vast riches of gold, and pearls, and jewels, which they also lit upon; and, indeed, for a more comprehensive invoice, I must but summarily say, "All that a Spanish frigate uses to be enriched withal."
 Passing to and fro.
 The Roman emperor who invaded Britain unsuccessfully and made his legionaries gather sea-shells to bring back with them as evidences of victory.
 One of Mather's puns.
 Spanish piasters, formerly divided into eight reals. The piaster=an American dollar.
THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS.
[From the author's Personal Narrative.]
Holiness, as I then wrote down some of my contemplations on it, appeared to me to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature; which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness, and ravishment to the soul. In other words, that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers; enjoying a sweet calm and the gently vivifying beams of the sun. The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the year; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun's glory; rejoicing, as it were, in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly in the midst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun. There was no part of creature-holiness that I had so great a sense of its loveliness as humility, brokenness of heart, and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for. My heart panted after this--to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be all; that I might become as a little child.
THE WRATH OF GOD.
[From _Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God_.]
Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noonday; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different, unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell that there is nothing to make it appear that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man at any moment. . . . Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead and to tend downward with great weight and pressure toward hell; and, if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. . . . There are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor. The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course when once it is let loose. . . .
Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might and majesty and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you in the ineffable strength of your torments; you shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb; and, when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. "And it shall come to pass, that from one moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."
It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment: but you must suffer it to all eternity; there will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery; when you look forward you shall see along forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this Almighty merciless vengeance; and then, when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. . . . If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing it would be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But alas! Instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell! And it would be a wonder if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here in some seats of this meeting-house in health, and quiet, and secure, should be there before to-morrow morning.
FRANKLIN'S ARRIVAL AT PHILADELPHIA.
[From _The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Written by Himself_.]
I was in my working dress, my best clothes being to come round by sea. I was dirty from my journey; my pockets were stuffed out with shirts and stockings, and I knew no soul nor where to look for lodging. I was fatigued with traveling, rowing, and want of rest; I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted of a Dutch dollar and about a shilling in copper. The latter I gave the people of the boat for my passage, who at first refused it, on account of my rowing; but I insisted on their taking it, a man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps through fear of being thought to have but little.
Then I walked up the street, gazing about, till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to, in Second Street, and asked for biscuit, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia. Then I asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So, not considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater cheapness, nor the names of his bread, I had him give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up Market Street as far as Fourth Street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father, when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut Street and part of Walnut Street, eating my roll all the way and, coming round, found myself again at Market Street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.
Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and thereby was led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking 'round a while and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when one was kind enough to rouse me. This was, therefore, the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia.
Walking down again toward the river, and looking in the faces of the people, I met a young Quaker man whose countenance I liked, and, accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get lodging. We were near the sign of the Three Mariners. "Here," says he, "is one place that entertains strangers, but it is not a reputable house; if thee wilt walk with me, I'll show thee a better." He brought me to the Crooked Billet in Water Street. Here I got a dinner.
PAYING TOO DEAR FOR THE WHISTLE.
[From Correspondence with Madame Britton.]
I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the meantime, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for _whistles_, for to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.
You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.
When I was a child of seven years old my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and, being charmed with the sound of a _whistle_, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my _whistle_, but disturbing all the family. My brothers and sisters and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money, and laughed at me so much for my folly that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the _whistle_ gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind, so that often when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, _Don't give too much for the whistle_; and I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who _gave too much for the whistle_.
When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends to attain it, I have said to myself, _This man gives too much for his whistle_.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, _He pays, indeed_, said I, _too much for his whistle_. . . .
If I see one fond of appearance or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts and ends his career in a prison, _Alas_! say I, _he has paid dear, very dear for his whistle_. . . .
In short, I conceive that a great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things and by their _giving too much for their whistles_.
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the _whistle_.
THE INDIAN BURYING-GROUND.
In spite of all the learned have said, I still my old opinion keep: The posture that we give the dead Points out the soul's eternal sleep.
Not so the ancients of these lands: The Indian, when from life released, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast.
His imaged birds and painted bowl And venison, for a journey dressed, Bespeak the nature of the soul, Activity that knows no rest.
His bow for action ready bent, And arrows with a head of stone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the finer essence gone.
Thou, stranger that shalt come this way. No fraud upon the dead commit-- Observe the swelling turf and say, They do not _lie_, but here they _sit_.
Here still a lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace (Now wasted half by wearing rains) The fancies of a ruder race.
Here still an aged elm aspires, Beneath whose far-projecting shade (And which the shepherd still admires) The children of the forest played.
There oft a restless Indian queen (Pale Sheba with her braided hair), And many a barbarous form is seen To chide the man that lingers there.
By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews, In vestments for the chase arrayed, The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer--a shade!
And long shall timorous Fancy see The painted chief and pointed spear, And Reason's self shall bow the knee To shadows and delusions here.
[From the _Reply to Hayne_, January 25, 1830.]
I profess, sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of the whole country, and the preservation of our Federal Union. It is to that Union we owe our safety at home and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that Union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our country. That Union we readied only by the discipline of our virtues in the severe school of adversity. It had its origin in the necessities of disordered finance, prostrate commerce, and ruined credit. Under its benign influences these great interests immediately awoke as from the dead and sprang forth with newness of life. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its utility and its blessings; and although our territory has stretched out wider and wider and our population spread farther and farther, they have not outrun its protection or its benefits. It has been to us all a copious fountain of national, social, and personal happiness.
I have not allowed myself, sir, to look beyond the Union to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion to see whether with my short sight I can fathom the depth of the abyss below, nor could I regard him as a safe counselor in the affairs of this government whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering not how the Union may be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it should be broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day at least that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies beyond! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, not a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as "What is all this worth?" nor those other words of delusion and folly, "Liberty first; and Union afterward;" but every-where, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment dear to every true American heart--Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!
SOUTH CAROLINA AND MASSACHUSETTS.
[From the same.]
When I shall be found, sir, in my place here in the Senate, or elsewhere, to sneer at public merit because it happens to spring up beyond the little limits of my own State or neighborhood; when I refuse, for any such cause, or for any cause, the homage due to American talent, to elevated patriotism, to sincere devotion to liberty and the country; or, if I see an uncommon endowment of Heaven, if I see extraordinary capacity and virtue, in any son of the South; and if, moved by local prejudices or gangrened by State jealousy, I get up here to abate the tithe of a hair from his just character and just fame, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!
Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections; let me indulge in refreshing remembrances of the past; let me remind you that, in early times, no States cherished greater harmony, both of principle and feeling, than Massachusetts and South Carolina. Would to God that harmony might again return! Shoulder to shoulder they went through the Revolution, hand in hand they stood round the administration of Washington, and felt his own great arm lean on them for support. Unkind feeling, if it exist, alienation and distrust are the growth, unnatural to such soils, of false principle; since sown. They are weeds, the seeds of which that same great arm never scattered.
Mr. President, I shall enter upon no encomium of Massachusetts; she needs none. There she is. Behold her and judge for yourselves. There is her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill; and there they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, falling in the great struggle for independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every State from New England to Georgia, and there they will lie forever. And, sir, where American liberty raised its first voice, and where its youth was nurtured and sustained, there it still lives, in the strength of its manhood, and full of its original spirit. If discord and disunion shall wound it, if party strife and blind ambition shall hawk at and tear it, if folly and madness, if uneasiness under salutary and necessary restraint shall succeed in separating it from that Union by which alone its existence is made sure, it will stand, in the end, by the side of that cradle in which its infancy was rocked; it will stretch forth its arm with whatever of vigor it may still retain, over the friends who gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the profoundest monuments of its own glory, and on the very spot of its origin.
THE STORM SHIP.
[From _Bracebridge Hall_.]
In the golden age of the province of the New Netherlands, when under the sway of Wouter Van Twiller, otherwise called the Doubter, the people of the Manhattoes were alarmed one sultry afternoon, just about the time of the summer solstice, by a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning. The rain fell in such torrents as absolutely to spatter up and smoke along the ground. It seemed as if the thunder rattled and rolled over the very roofs of the houses; the lightning was seen to play about the Church of St. Nicholas, and to strive three times in vain to strike its weather-cock. Garrett Van Horne's new chimney was split almost from top to bottom; and Boffne Mildeberger was struck speechless from his bald-faced mare just as he was riding into town. . . . At length the storm abated; the thunder sank into a growl, and the setting sun, breaking from under the fringed borders of the clouds, made the broad bosom of the bay to gleam like a sea of molten gold.
The word was given from the fort that a ship was standing up the bay. . . . She was a stout, round, Dutch-built vessel, with high bow and poop, and bearing Dutch colors. The evening sun gilded her bellying canvas as she came riding over the long waving billows. The sentinel who had given notice of her approach declared that he first got sight of her when she was in the center of the bay; and that she broke suddenly on his sight, just as if she had come out of the bosom of the black thunder-clouds. . . . The ship was now repeatedly hailed, but made no reply, and, passing by the fort, stood on up the Hudson. A gun was brought to bear on her, and, with some difficulty, loaded and fired by Hans Van Pelt, the garrison not being expert in artillery. The shot seemed absolutely to pass through the ship, and to skip along the water on the other side; but no notice was taken of it! What was strange, she had all her sails set, and sailed right against wind and tide, which were both down the river. . . . Thus she kept on, away up the river, lessening and lessening in the evening sunshine, until she faded from sight like a little white cloud melting away in the summer sky. . . .
Messengers were dispatched to various places on the river, but they returned without any tidings--the ship had made no port. Day after day, week after week elapsed, but she never returned down the Hudson. As, however, the council seemed solicitous for intelligence they had it in abundance. The captains of the sloops seldom arrived without bringing some report of having seen the strange ship at different parts of the river--sometimes near the Palisades, sometimes off Croton Point, and sometimes in the Highlands; but she never was reported as having been seen above the Highlands. The crews of the sloops, it is true, generally differed among themselves in their accounts of these apparitions; but that may have arisen from the uncertain situations in which they saw her. Sometimes it was by the flashes of the thunder-storm lighting up a pitchy night, and giving glimpses of her careering across Tappan Zee or the wide waste of Haverstraw Bay. At one moment she would appear close upon them, as if likely to run them down, and would throw them into great bustle and alarm, but the next flash would show her far off, always sailing against the wind. Sometimes, in quiet moonlight nights, she would be seen under some high bluff of the Highlands; all in deep shadow, excepting her top-sails glittering in the moonbeams; by the time, however, that the voyagers reached the place no ship was to be seen; and when they had passed on for some distance and looked back, behold! there she was again with her top-sails in the moonshine! Her appearance was always just after or just in the midst of unruly weather; and she was known among the skippers and voyagers of the Hudson by the name of "The Storm Ship."
These reports perplexed the governor and his council more than ever; and it would be useless to repeat the conjectures and opinions uttered on the subject. Some quoted cases in point of ships seen off the coast of New England navigated by witches and goblins. Old Hans Van Pelt, who had been more than once to the Dutch Colony at the Cape of Good Hope, insisted that this must be the _Flying Dutchman_ which had so long haunted Table Bay, but being unable to make port had now sought another harbor. Others suggested that if it really was a supernatural apparition, as there was every natural reason to believe, it might be Hendrik Hudson and his crew of the _Half-Moon_, who, it was well known, had once run aground in the upper part of the river in seeking a north-west passage to China. This opinion had very little weight with the governor, but it passed current out of doors; for indeed it had always been reported that Hendrik Hudson and his crew haunted the Kaatskill Mountains; and it appeared very reasonable to suppose that his ship might infest the river where the enterprise was baffled, or that it might bear the shadowy crew to their periodical revels in the mountain. . . .
People who live along the river insist that they sometimes see her in summer moonlight, and that in a deep still midnight they have heard the chant of her crew, as if heaving the lead; but sights and sounds are so deceptive along the mountainous shores, and about the wide bays and long reaches of this great river, that I confess I have very strong doubts upon the subject. It is certain, nevertheless, that strange things have been seen in these Highlands in storms, which are considered as connected with the old story of the ship. The captains of the river craft talk of a little bulbous-bottomed Dutch goblin, in trunk hose and sugar-loafed hat, with a speaking-trumpet in his hand, which, they say, keeps about the Dunderberg. They declare that they have heard him, in stormy weather, in the midst of the turmoil, giving orders in Low Dutch for the piping up of a fresh gust of wind or the rattling off of another thunder-clap; that sometimes he has been seen surrounded by a crew of little imps in broad breeches and short doublets, tumbling head-over-heels in the rack and mist, and playing a thousand gambols in the air, or buzzing like a swarm of flies about Anthony's Nose; and that, at such times, the hurry-scurry of the storm was always greatest. One time a sloop, in passing by the Dunderberg, was overtaken by a thunder-gust that came scouring round the mountain, and seemed to burst just over the vessel. Though light and well ballasted she labored dreadfully, and the water came over the gunwale. All the crew were amazed when it was discovered that there was a little white sugar-loaf hat on the masthead, known at once to be the hat of the Herr of the Dunderberg. Nobody, however, dared to climb to the mast-head and get rid of this terrible hat. The sloop continued laboring and rocking, as if she would have rolled her mast overboard, and seemed in continual danger either of upsetting or of running on shore. In this way she drove quite through the Highlands, until she had passed Pollopol's Island, where, it is said, the jurisdiction of the Dunderberg potentate ceases. No sooner had she passed this bourn than the little hat spun up into the air like a top, whirled up all the clouds into a vortex, and hurried them back to the summit of the Dunderberg, while the sloop righted herself and sailed on as quietly as if in a mill-pond. Nothing saved her from utter wreck but the fortunate circumstance of having a horse-shoe nailed against the mast--a wise precaution against evil spirits, since adopted by all the Dutch captains that navigate this haunted river.
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER.
[From _The Deerslayer_.]
In the position in which the ark had now got, the castle was concealed from view by the projection of a point, as, indeed, was the northern extremity of the lake itself. A respectable mountain, forest-clad, and rounded like all the rest, limited the view in that direction, stretching immediately across the whole of the fair scene, with the exception of a deep bay that passed its western end, lengthening the basin for more than a mile. The manner in which the water flowed out of the lake, beneath the leafy arches of the trees that lined the sides of the stream, has already been mentioned, and it has also been said that the rock, which was a favorite place of rendezvous throughout all that region, and where Deerslayer now expected to meet his friend, stood near this outlet and no great distance from the shore. It was a large isolated stone that rested on the bottom of the lake, apparently left there when the waters tore away the earth from around it, in forcing for themselves a passage down the river, and which had obtained its shape from the action of the elements during the slow progress of centuries. The height of this rock could scarcely equal six feet, and, as has been said, its shape was not unlike that which is usually given to bee-hives or to a hay-cock. The latter, indeed, gives the best idea, not only of its form, but of its dimensions. It stood, and still stands, for we are writing of real scenes, within fifty feet of the bank, and in water that was only two feet in depth, though there were seasons in which its rounded apex, if such a term can properly be used, was covered by the lake. Many of the trees stretched so far forward as almost to blend the rock with the shore, when seen from a little distance; and one tall pine in particular overhung it in a way to form a noble and appropriate canopy to a seat that had held many a forest chieftain, during the long succession of ages in which America and all it contained existed apart in mysterious solitude, a world by itself, equally without a familiar history and without an origin that the annals of man can catch.
When distant some two or three hundred feet from the shore Deerslayer took in his sail, and he dropped his grapnel as soon as he found the ark had drifted in a line that was directly to windward of the rock. The motion of the scow was then checked, when it was brought head to wind by the action of the breeze. As soon as this was done Deerslayer "paid out line," and suffered the vessel to "set down" upon the rock as fast as the light air would force it to leeward. Floating entirely on the surface, this was soon affected, and the young man checked the drift when he was told that the stern of the scow was within fifteen or eighteen feet of the desired spot.
In executing this maneuver, Deerslayer had proceeded promptly; for while he did not in the least doubt that he was both watched and followed by the foe, he believed he had distracted their movements by the apparent uncertainly of his own, and he knew they could have no means of ascertaining that the rock was his aim, unless, indeed, one of the prisoners had betrayed him--a chance so improbable in itself as to give him no concern. Notwithstanding the celerity and decision of his movements, he did not, however, venture so near the shore without taking due precautions to effect a retreat, in the event of its becoming necessary. He held the line in his hand, and Judith was stationed at a loop on the side of the cabin next the shore, where she could watch the beach and the rocks and give timely notice of the approach of either friend or foe. Hetty was also placed on watch, but it was to keep the trees overhead in view, lest some enemy might ascend one, and, by completely commanding the interior of the scow, render the defenses of the hut or cabin useless.
The sun had disappeared from the lake and valley when Deerslayer checked the ark in the manner mentioned. Still it wanted a few minutes to the true sunset, and he knew Indian punctuality too well to anticipate any unmanly haste in his friend. The great question was, whether, surrounded by enemies as he was known to be, he had escaped their toils. The occurrences of the last twenty-four hours must be a secret to him, and, like himself, Chingachgook was yet young on a war-path. It was true he came prepared to encounter the party that withheld his promised bride, but he had no means of ascertaining the extent of the danger he ran or the precise positions occupied by either friends or foes. In a word, the trained sagacity and untiring caution of an Indian were all he had to rely on amid the critical risks he unavoidably ran.
"Is the rock empty, Judith?" inquired Deerslayer, as soon as he had checked the drift of the ark, deeming it imprudent to venture unnecessarily near. "Is any thing to be seen of the Delaware chief?"
"Nothing, Deerslayer. Neither rock, shore, tree, nor lake seems to have ever held a human form."
"Keep close, Judith--keep close, Hetty--a rifle has a prying eye, a nimble foot, and a desperate fatal tongue. Keep close, then, but keep up act_y_ve looks, and be on the alart. 'Twould grieve me to the heart did any harm befall either of you."
"And _you_, Deerslayer!" exclaimed Judith, turning her handsome face from the loop, to bestow a gracious and grateful look on the young man; "do _you_ 'keep close' and have a proper care that the savages do not catch a glimpse of you! A bullet might be as fatal to you as to one of us, and the blow that you felt would be felt by all."
"No fear of me, Judith--no fear of me, my good gal. Do not look this-a-way, although you look so pleasant and comely, but keep your eyes on the rock and the shore and the--"
Deerslayer was interrupted by a slight exclamation from the girl, who, in obedience to his hurried gestures, as much as in obedience to his words, had immediately bent her looks again in the opposite direction.
"What is't?--what is't, Judith?" he hastily demanded. "Is any thing to be seen?"
"There is a man on the rock!--an Indian warrior in his paint, and armed!"
"Where does he wear his hawk's feather?" eagerly added Deerslayer, relaxing his hold of the line, in readiness to drift nearer to the place of rendezvous. "Is it fast to the warlock, or does he carry it above the left ear?"
"'Tis as you say, above the left ear; he smiles, too, and mutters the word 'Mohican.'"
"God be praised, 'tis the Sarpent at last!" exclaimed the young man, suffering the line to slip through his hands until, hearing a light bound in the other end of the craft, he instantly checked the rope and began to haul it in again under the assurance that his object was effected.
At that moment the door of the cabin was opened hastily, and a warrior darting through the little room stood at Deerslayer's side, simply uttering the exclamation "Hugh!" At the next instant Judith and Hetty shrieked, and the air was filled with the yell of twenty savages, who came leaping through the branches down the bank, some actually falling headlong into the water in their haste.
"Pull, Deerslayer," cried Judith, hastily barring the door, in order to prevent an inroad by the passage through which the Delaware had just entered; "pull for life and death--the lake is full of savages wading after us!"
The young men--for Chingachgook immediately came to his friend's assistance--needed no second bidding, but they applied themselves to their task in a way that showed how urgent they deemed the occasion. The great difficulty was in suddenly overcoming the _vis inertiae_ of so large a mass; for, once in motion, it was easy to cause the scow to skim the water with all the necessary speed.
"Pull, Deerslayer, for heaven's sake!" cried Judith, again at the loop. "These wretches rush into the water like hounds following their prey! Ah! The scow moves! and now the water deepens to the armpits of the foremost; still they rush forward and will seize the ark!"
A slight scream and then a joyous laugh followed from the girl; the first produced by a desperate effort of their pursuers, and the last by its failure, the scow, which had now got fairly in motion, gliding ahead into deep water with a velocity that set the designs of their enemies at naught. As the two men were prevented by the position of the cabin from seeing what passed astern, they were compelled to inquire of the girls into the state of the chase.
"What now, Judith?--what next? Do the Mingoes still follow, or are we quit of 'em for the present?" demanded Deerslayer when he felt the rope yielding, as if the scow was going fast ahead, and heard the scream and the laugh of the girl almost in the same breath.
"They have vanished!--one, the last, is just burying himself in the bushes of the bank--there! he has disappeared in the shadows of the trees! You have got your friend and we are all safe!"
 Otsego Lake.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
TO A WATERFOWL.
Whither, 'midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly seen against the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean side?
There is a power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast-- The desert and illimitable air-- Lone wandering but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned, At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, Though the dark night is near.
And soon, that toil shall end; Soon, shalt thou find a summer home and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright.
THE DEATH OF THE FLOWERS.
The melancholy days are come, The saddest of the year, Of wailing winds and naked woods, And meadows brown and sere. Heaped in the hollows of the grove, The autumn leaves lie dead; They rustle to the eddying gust, And to the rabbit's tread. The robin and the wren are flown, And from the shrubs the jay, And from the wood-top calls the crow Through all the gloomy day.
Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, That lately sprang and stood In brighter light and softer airs, A beauteous sisterhood? Alas! they all are in their graves; The gentle race of flowers Are lying in their lowly beds With the fair and good of ours. The rain is falling where they lie, But the cold November rain Calls not, from out the gloomy earth, The lovely ones again.
The wind-flower and the violet, They perished long ago, And the brier-rose and the orchis died Amid the summer glow; But on the hill the golden-rod, And the aster in the wood, And the yellow sun-flower by the brook In autumn beauty stood, Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, As falls the plague on men, And the brightness of their smile was gone From upland, glade, and glen.
And now when comes the calm, mild day, As still such days will come, To call the squirrel and the bee From out their winter home; When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, Though all the trees are still, And twinkle in the smoky light The waters of the rill, The south wind searches for the flowers Whose fragrance late he bore, And sighs to find them in the wood And by the stream no more.
And then I think of one who in Her youthful beauty died, The fair meek blossom that grew up And faded by my side; In the cold, moist earth we laid her, When the forest cast the leaf, And we wept that one so lovely Should have a life so brief. Yet not unmeet it was that one, Like that young friend of ours, So gentle and so beautiful, Should perish with the flowers.
THE UNIVERSAL TOMB.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone, nor could'st thou wish Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world--with kings, The powerful of the earth--the wise, the good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulcher. The hills, Rock-ribb'd and ancient as the sun,--the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods--rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,-- Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death, Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom. Take the wings Of morning, traverse Barca's desert sands, Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound Save his own dashings--yet the dead are there: And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep--the dead reign there alone.
* * * * * *
So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan, which moves To that mysterious realm, where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
NATURE'S MINISTRY OF BEAUTY.
To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says, He is my creature, and mauger all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life is always a child. In the woods is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God a decorum and sanctity reigns, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life--no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground--my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space--all mean egotism vanishes, I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds there foreign and accidental; to be brothers, to be acquaintances--master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.
The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. . . .
I see the spectacle of morning from the hill-top over against my house, from daybreak to sunrise, with emotions which an angel might share. The long slender bars of cloud float like fishes in the sea of crimson light. From the earth, as a shore, I look out into that silent sea. I seem to partake its rapid transformations; the active enchantment reaches my dust, and I dilate and conspire with the morning wind. How does Nature deify us with a few and cheap elements! Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. The dawn is my Assyria; the sunset and moonrise my Paphos, and unimaginable realms of faerie; broad noon shall be my England of the senses and the understanding; the night shall be my Germany of mystic philosophy and dreams.
Not less excellent, except for our less susceptibility in the afternoon, was the charm, last evening, of a January sunset. The western clouds divided and subdivided themselves into pink flakes modulated with tints of unspeakable softness; and the air had so much life and sweetness that it was a pain to come within doors. What was it that Nature would say? Was there no meaning in the live repose of the valley behind the mill, and which Homer or Shakespeare could not re-form for me in words? The leafless trees become spires of flame in the sunset, with the blue east for their background, and the stars of the dead calices of flowers, and every withered stem and stubble ruined with frost, contribute something to the mute music.
[From the same.]
To the senses and the unrenewed understanding belongs a sort of instinctive belief in the absolute existence of nature. In their view man and nature are indissolubly joined. Things are ultimates, and they never look beyond their sphere. The presence of Reason mars this faith. . . . Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us. Certain mechanical changes, a small alteration in our local position, apprises us of a dualism. We are strangely affected by seeing the shore from a moving ship, from a balloon, or through the tints of an unusual sky. The least change in our point of view gives the whole world a pictorial air. A man who seldom rides needs only to get into a coach and traverse his own town, to turn the street into a puppet-show. The men, the women--talking, running, bartering, fighting--the earnest mechanic, the lounger, the beggar, the boys, the dogs are unrealized at once, or at least wholly detached from all relation to the observer, and seen as apparent, not substantial, beings. What new thoughts are suggested by seeing a face of country quite familiar, in the rapid movement of the railway car! Nay, the most wonted objects (make a very slight change in the point of vision) please us most. In a camera obscura the butcher's cart and the figure of one of our own family amuse us. So a portrait of a well-known face gratifies us. Turn the eyes upside down, by looking at the landscape through your legs, and how agreeable is the picture, though you have seen it any time these twenty years!
In these cases, by mechanical means, is suggested the difference between the observer and the spectacle, between the man and nature. Hence arises a pleasure mixed with awe; I may say, a low degree of the sublime is felt from the fact, probably, that man is hereby apprised, that whilst the world is a spectacle, something in himself is stable.
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes, I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods, Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook, To please the desert and the sluggish brook. The purple petals, fallen in the pool, Made the black water with their beauty gay; Here might the red bird come his plumes to cool, And court the flower that cheapens his array. Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why This charm is wasted on the earth and sky, Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, Then Beauty is its own excuse for being: Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose, I never thought to ask, I never knew: But, in my simple ignorance, suppose The self-same power that brought me there brought you.
 On being asked, Whence is the flower?
[Sung at the completion of the Concord Monument, April 19, 1836.]
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone; That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, and leave their children free, Bid time and nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.
THE HAUNTED MIND.
What a singular moment is the first one, when you have hardly begun to recollect yourself, after starting from midnight slumber! By unclosing your eyes so suddenly you seem to have surprised the personages of your dream in full convocation round your bed and catch one broad glance at them before they can flit into obscurity. Or, to vary the metaphor, you find yourself, for a single instant, wide awake in that realm of illusions whither sleep has been the passport, and behold its ghostly inhabitants and wondrous scenery with a perception of their strangeness such as you never attain while the dream is undisturbed. The distant sound of a church clock is borne faintly on the wind. You question with yourself, half seriously, whether it has stolen to your waking ear from some gray tower that stood within the precincts of your dream. While yet in suspense, another clock flings its heavy clang over the slumbering town with so full and distinct a sound, and such a long murmur in the neighboring air, that you are certain it must proceed from the steeple at the nearest corner. You count the strokes--one--two, and there they cease, with a booming sound, like the gathering of a third stroke within the bell.
If you could choose an hour of wakefulness out of the whole night it would be this. Since your sober bed-time, at eleven, you have had rest enough to take off the pressure of yesterday's fatigue; while before you till the sun comes from "far Cathay" to brighten your window there is almost the space of a summer night; one hour to be spent in thought, with the mind's eye half shut, and two in pleasant dreams, and two in that strangest of enjoyments, the forgetfulness alike of joy and woe. The moment of rising belongs to another period of time, and appears so distant that the plunge out of a warm bed into the frosty air cannot yet be anticipated with dismay. Yesterday has already vanished among the shadows of the past; to-morrow has not yet emerged from the future. You have found an intermediate space, where the business of life does not intrude, where the passing moment lingers and becomes truly the present; a spot where Father Time, when he thinks nobody is watching him, sits down by the way-side to take breath, O that he would fall asleep and let mortals live on without growing older!
Hitherto you have lain perfectly still, because the slightest motion would dissipate the fragments of your slumber. Now, being irrevocably awake, you peep through the half-drawn window-curtain and observe that the glass is ornamented with fanciful devices in frost-work, and that each pane presents something like a frozen dream. There will be time enough to trace out the analogy while waiting the summons to breakfast. Seen through the clear portion of the glass, where the silvery mountain peaks of the frost scenery do not ascend, the most conspicuous object is the steeple, the white spire of which directs you to the wintry luster of the firmament. You may almost distinguish the figures on the clock that has just tolled the hour. Such a frosty sky, and the snow-covered roofs, and the long vista of the frozen street, all white, and the distant water hardened into rock, might make you shiver, even under four blankets and a woolen comforter. Yet look at that one glorious star! Its beams are distinguishable from all the rest, and actually cast the shadow of the casement on the bed with a radiance of deeper hue than moonlight, though not so accurate an outline.
You sink down and muffle your head in the clothes, shivering all the while, but less from bodily chill than the bare idea of a polar atmosphere. It is too cold even for the thoughts to venture abroad. You speculate on the luxury of wearing out a whole existence in bed, like an oyster in its shell, content with the sluggish ecstasy of inaction, and drowsily conscious of nothing but delicious warmth, such as you now feel again. Ah! that idea has brought a hideous one in its train. You think how the dead are lying in their cold shrouds and narrow coffins through the drear winter of the grave, and cannot persuade your fancy that they neither shrink nor shiver when the snow is drifting over their little hillocks and the bitter blast howls against the door of the tomb. That gloomy thought will collect a gloomy multitude and throw its complexion over your wakeful hour.
In the depths of every heart there is a tomb and a dungeon, though the lights, the music, and revelry above may cause us to forget their existence, and the buried ones or prisoners whom they hide. But sometimes, and oftenest at midnight, these dark receptacles are flung wide open. In an hour like this, when the mind has a passive sensibility, but no active strength; when the imagination is a mirror, imparting vividness to all ideas without the power of selecting or controlling them, then pray that your griefs may slumber and the brotherhood of remorse not break their chain. It is too late! A funeral train comes gliding by your bed, in which Passion and Feeling assume bodily shape and things of the mind become dim specters to the eye. There is your earliest Sorrow, a pale young mourner, wearing a sister's likeness to first love, sadly beautiful, with a hallowed sweetness in her melancholy features and grace in the flow of her sable robe. Next appears a shade of ruined loveliness, with dust among her golden hair and her bright garments all faded and defaced, stealing from your glance with drooping head, as fearful of reproach; she was your fondest Hope, but a delusive one; so call her Disappointment now. A sterner form succeeds, with a brow of wrinkles, a look and gesture of iron authority; there is no name for him unless it be Fatality, an emblem of the evil influence that rules your fortunes; a demon to whom you subjected yourself by some error at the outset of life, and were bound his slave forever, by once obeying him. See! those fiendish lineaments graven on the darkness, the writhed lip of scorn, the mockery of that living eye, the pointed finger, touching the sore place in your heart! Do you remember any act of enormous folly, at which you would blush, even in the remotest cavern of the earth? Then recognize your Shame.
Pass, wretched band! Well for the wakeful one if, riotously miserable, a fiercer tribe do not surround him, the devils of a guilty heart, that holds its hell within itself. What if Remorse should assume the features of an injured friend? What if the fiend should come in woman's garments, with a pale beauty amid sin and desolation, and lie down by your side? What if he should stand at your bed's foot, in the likeness of a corpse, with a bloody stain upon the shroud? Sufficient without such guilt is this nightmare of the soul; this heavy, heavy sinking of the spirits; this wintry gloom about the heart; this indistinct horror of the mind, blending itself with the darkness of the chamber. . . . Now comes the peal of the distant clock, with fainter and fainter strokes as you plunge farther into the wilderness of sleep. It is the knell of a temporary death. Your spirit has departed, and strays like a free citizen, among the people of a shadowy world, beholding strange sights, yet without wonder or dismay. So calm, perhaps, will be the final change, so undisturbed, as if among familiar things. The entrance of the soul to its eternal home!
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
THE BELEAGUERED CITY.
I have read, in some old marvelous tale, Some legend strange and vague, That a midnight host of specters pale Beleaguered the walls of Prague.
Beside the Moldau's rushing stream, With the wan moon overhead, There stood, as in an awful dream, The army of the dead.
White as a sea-fog, landward-bound, The spectral camp was seen, And, with a sorrowful deep sound, The river flowed between.
No other voice nor sound was there, No drum, nor sentry's pace; The mist-like banners clasped the air, As clouds with clouds embrace.
But when the old cathedral bell Proclaimed the morning prayer, The white pavilions rose and fell On the alarmèd air.
Down the broad valley fast and far The troubled army fled; Up rose the glorious morning star, The ghastly host was dead.
I have read in the marvelous heart of man, That strange and mystic scroll, That an army of phantoms vast and wan Beleaguer the human soul.
Encamped beside Life's rushing stream, In Fancy's misty light, Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam Portentous through the night.
Upon its midnight battle-ground The spectral camp is seen, And, with a sorrowful deep sound, Flows the River of Life between.
No other voice nor sound is there, In the army of the grave; No other challenge breaks the air, But the rushing of life's wave.
And when the solemn and deep church-bell Entreats the soul to pray, The midnight phantoms feel the spell, The shadows sweep away.
Down the broad Vale of Tears afar The spectral camp is fled; Faith shineth as a morning star, Our ghastly fears are dead.
THE OCCULTATION OF ORION.
I saw, as in a dream sublime, The balance in the hand of Time. O'er East and West its beam impended; And day, with all its hours of light, Was slowly sinking out of sight, While, opposite, the scale of night Silently with the stars ascended.
Like the astrologers of eld, In that bright vision I beheld Greater and deeper mysteries. I saw, with its celestial keys, Its chords of air, its frets of fire, The Samian's great Aeolian lyre, Rising through all its sevenfold bars, From earth unto the fixèd stars. And through the dewy atmosphere, Not only could I see, but hear, Its wondrous and harmonious strings, In sweet vibration, sphere by sphere, From Dian's circle light and near, Onward to vaster and wider rings, Where, chanting through his beard of snows, Majestic, mournful Saturn goes, And down the sunless realms of space Reverberates the thunder of his bass.
Beneath the sky's triumphal arch This music sounded like a march, And with its chorus seemed to be Preluding some great tragedy. Sirius was rising in the east; And, slow ascending one by one, The kindling constellations shone. Begirt with many a blazing star, Stood the great giant, Algebar, Orion, hunter of the beast! His sword hung gleaming by his side, And, on his arm, the lion's hide Scattered across the midnight air The golden radiance of its hair.
The moon was pallid, but not faint; And beautiful as some fair saint, Serenely moving on her way In hours of trial and dismay. As if she heard the voice of God, Unharmed with naked feet she trod Upon the hot and burning stars, As on the glowing coals and bars That were to prove her strength, and try Her holiness and her purity.
Thus moving on, with silent pace, And triumph in her sweet, pale face, She reached the station of Orion. Aghast he stood in strange alarm! And suddenly from his outstretched arm Down fell the red skin of the lion Into the river at his feet. His mighty club no longer beat The forehead of the bull; but he Reeled as of yore beside the sea, When, blinded by Oenopion, He sought the blacksmith at his forge, And, climbing up the mountain gorge, Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun, Then through the silence overhead, An angel with a trumpet said, "Forever more, forever more, The reign of violence is o'er." And, like an instrument that flings Its music on another's strings, The trumpet of the angel cast Upon the heavenly lyre its blast, And on from sphere to sphere the words Re-echoed down the burning chords,-- "For evermore, for evermore, The reign of violence is o'er!"
Tuscan, that wanderest through the realms of gloom, With thoughtful pace, and sad, majestic eyes, Stern thoughts and awful from thy thoughts arise, Like Farinata from his fiery tomb. Thy sacred song is like the trump of doom; Yet in thy heart what human sympathies. What soft compassion glows, as in the skies The tender stars their clouded lamps relume! Methinks I see thee stand, with pallid cheeks, By Fra Hilario in his diocese, As up the convent wall, in golden streaks, The ascending sunbeams mark the day's decrease. And, as he asks what there the stranger seeks, Thy voice along the cloister whispers, "Peace!"
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER.
RANDOLPH OF ROANOKE.
O Mother Earth! upon thy lap Thy weary ones receiving, And o'er there, silent as a dream, Thy grassy mantle weaving, Fold softly in thy long embrace That heart so worn and broken, And cool its pulse of fire beneath Thy shadows old and oaken.
Shut out from him the bitter word And serpent hiss of scorning; Nor let the storms of yesterday Disturb his quiet morning. Breathe over him forgetfulness Of all save deeds of kindness, And, save to smiles of grateful eyes, Press down his lids in blindness.
There, where with living ear and eye, He heard Potomac's flowing, And, through his tall ancestral trees Saw autumn's sunset glowing, He sleeps--still looking to the West, Beneath the dark wood shadow, As if he still would see the sun Sink down on wave and meadow.
Bard, Sage, and Tribune--in himself All moods of mind contrasting-- The tenderest wail of human woe, The scorn like lightning blasting; The pathos which from rival eyes Unwilling tears could summon, The stinging taunt, the fiery burst Of hatred scarcely human!
Mirth, sparkling like a diamond shower, From lips of life-long sadness; Clear picturings of majestic thought Upon a ground of madness; And over all Romance and Song A classic beauty throwing, And laureled Clio at his side Her storied pages showing.
All parties feared him: each in turn Beheld its schemes disjointed, As right or left his fatal glance And spectral finger pointed. Sworn foe of cant, he smote it down With trenchant wit unsparing, And, mocking, rent with ruthless hand The robe Pretense was wearing.
Too honest or too proud to feign A love he never cherished, Beyond Virginia's border line His patriotism perished. While others hailed in distant skies Our eagle's dusky pinion, He only saw the mountain bird Stoop o'er his Old Dominion.
Still through each change of fortune strange, Racked nerve, and brain all burning, His loving faith in mother-land Knew never shade of turning; By Britain's lakes, by Neva's wave, Whatever sky was o'er him, He heard her rivers' rushing sound, Her blue peaks rose before him.
He held his slaves, yet made withal No false and vain pretenses, Nor paid a lying priest to seek For scriptural defenses. His harshest words of proud rebuke, His bitterest taunt and scorning, Fell fire-like on the Northern brow That bent to him in fawning.
He held his slaves, yet kept the while His reverence for the Human, In the dark vassals of his will He saw but man and woman. No hunter of God's outraged poor His Roanoke valley entered; No trader in the souls of men Across his threshold ventured.
And when the old and wearied man Lay down for his last sleeping, And at his side, a slave no more, His brother-man stood weeping, His latest thought, his latest breath, To freedom's duty giving, With failing tongue and trembling hand The dying blest the living.
O! never bore his ancient State A truer son or braver; None trampling with a calmer scorn On foreign hate or favor. He knew her faults, yet never stooped His proud and manly feeling To poor excuses of the wrong Or meanness of concealing.
But none beheld with clearer eye, The plague-spot o'er her spreading, None heard more sure the steps of Doom Along her future treading. For her as for himself he spake, When, his gaunt frame up-bracing, He traced with dying hand "REMORSE!" And perished in the tracing.
As from the grave where Henry sleeps, From Vernon's weeping willow, And from the grassy pall which hides The Sage of Monticello, So from the leaf-strewn burial-stone Of Randolph's lowly dwelling, Virginia! o'er thy land of slaves A warning voice is swelling.
And hark! from thy deserted fields Are sadder warnings spoken, From quenched hearths, where thy exiled sons Their household gods have broken. The curse is on thee--wolves for men, And briers for corn-sheaves giving! O! more than all thy dead renown Were now one hero living.
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down! Long has it waved on high, And many an eye has danced to see That banner in the sky; Beneath it rung the battle shout, And burst the cannon's roar; The meteor of the ocean air Shall sweep the clouds no more.
Her deck, once red with heroes' blood, Where knelt the vanquished foe, When winds were hurrying o'er the flood, And waves were white below, No more shall feel the victor's tread, Or know the conquered knee,-- The harpies of the shore shall pluck The eagle of the sea.
O, better that her shattered hulk Should sink beneath the wave; Her thunders shook the mighty deep, And there should be her grave; Nail to the mast her holy flag, Set every threadbare sail, And give her to the god of storms, The lightning and the gale!
THE LAST LEAF.
I saw him once before, As he passed by the door, And again The pavement stones resound, As he totters o'er the ground With his cane.
They say that in his prime, Ere the pruning-knife of time Cut him down, Not a better man was found By the Crier on his round Through the town.
But now he walks the streets, And he looks at all he meets Sad and wan, And he shakes his feeble head, That it seems as if he said, "They are gone."
The mossy marbles rest On the lips that he has pressed In their bloom, And the names he loved to hear Have been carved for many a year On the tomb.
My grandmamma has said-- Poor old lady, she is dead Long ago-- That he had a Roman nose, And his cheek was like a rose In the snow.
But now his nose is thin, And it rests upon his chin Like a staff, And a crook is in his back, And a melancholy crack In his laugh.
I know it is a sin For me to sit and grin At him here; But the old three-cornered hat, And the breeches, and all that, Are so queer!
And if I should live to be The last leaf upon the tree In the spring, Let them smile, as I do now, At the old forsaken bough Where I cling.
My aunt! my dear, unmarried aunt! Long years have o'er her flown; Yet still she strains the aching clasp That binds her virgin zone; I know it hurts her, though she looks As cheerful as she can; Her waist is ampler than her life, For life is but a span.
My aunt! my poor deluded aunt! Her hair is almost gray; Why will she train that winter curl In such a spring-like way? How can she lay her glasses down, And say she reads as well, When, through a double convex lens, She just makes out to spell?
Her father--grandpapa! forgive This erring lip its smiles-- Vowed she should make the finest girl Within a hundred miles; He sent her to a stylish school; 'Twas in her thirteenth June; And with her, as the rules required, "Two towels and a spoon."
They braced my aunt against a board, To make her straight and tall; They laced her up, they starved her down, To make her light and small; They pinched her feet, they singed her hair, They screwed it up with pins; O, never mortal suffered more In penance for her sins.
So when my precious aunt was done, My grandsire brought her back (By daylight, lest some rabid youth Might follow on the track); "Ah!" said my grandsire, as he shook Some powder in his pan, "What could this lovely creature do Against a desperate man?"
Alas! nor chariot, nor barouche, Nor bandit cavalcade, Tore from the trembling father's arms His all-accomplished maid. For her how happy had it been! And Heaven had spared to me To see one sad ungathered rose On my ancestral tree.
EDGAR ALLAN POE.
Helen, thy beauty is to me Like those Nicean barks of yore, That gently, o'er a perfumed sea, The weary, wayworn wanderer bore To his own native shore.
On desperate seas long wont to roam, Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face, Thy Naiad airs have brought me home To the glory that was Greece And the grandeur that was Rome.
Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche How statue-like I see thee stand, The agate lamp within thy hand! Ah! Psyche, from the regions which Are Holy Land!
TO ONE IN PARADISE.
Thou wast that all to me, love, For which my soul did pine: A green isle in the sea, love, A fountain and a shrine All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers, And all the flowers were mine.
Ah, dream too bright to last! Ah, starry hope! that did'st arise But to be overcast! A voice from out the future cries On! on! But o'er the past (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies, Mute, motionless, aghast!
For, alas! alas! with me The light of life is o'er. "No more--no more--no more--" (Such language holds the solemn sea To the sands upon the shore) Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree, Or the stricken eagle soar!
And all my days are trances, And all my nightly dreams Are where thy dark eye glances, And where thy footstep gleams,-- In what ethereal dances, By what eternal streams!
FROM "THE FALL OP THE HOUSE OF USHER."
At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a moment paused; for it appeared to me (although I at once concluded that my excited fancy had deceived me)--it appeared to me that, from some very remote portion of the mansion there came, indistinctly, to my ears what might have been, in its exact similarity of character, the echo (but a stifled and dull one certainly) of the very cracking and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so particularly described. It was, beyond doubt, the coincidence alone which had arrested my attention; for amid the rattling of the sashes of the casements, and, the ordinary commingled noises of the still-increasing storm, the sound, in itself, had nothing, surely, which should have interested or disturbed me. I continued the story.
* * * * * * * *
Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild amazement--for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound, the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up for the dragon's unnatural shriek, as described by the romancer. Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of this second and most extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand conflicting sensations, in which wonder and extreme terror were predominant, I still retained sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting, by any observation, the sensitive nervousness of my companion. I was by no means certain that he had noticed the sounds in question; although, assuredly, a strange alteration had, during the last few minutes, taken place in his demeanor. From a position fronting my own he had gradually brought round his chair so as to sit with his face to the door of the chamber, and thus I could but partially perceive his features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if he were murmuring inaudibly. His head had dropped upon his breast; yet I knew that he was not asleep, from the wide and rigid opening of the eye as I caught a glance of it in profile. The motion of his body, too, was at variance with this idea; for he rocked from side to side with a gentle yet constant and uniform sway. Having rapidly taken notice of all this I resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot.
* * * * * * * *
No sooner had these syllables passed my lips than--as if a shield of brass had indeed, at the moment, fallen heavily upon a floor of silver--I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled, reverberation. Completely unnerved, I leaped to my feet; but the measured, rocking movement of Usher was undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in which he sat. His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and throughout his whole countenance there reigned a stony rigidity. But as I placed my hand upon his shoulder there came a strong shudder over his whole person; a sickly smile quivered about his lips; and I saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering manner, as if unconscious of my presence. Bending closely over him, I at length drank in the hideous import of his words.
"Not hear it? Yes, I hear it, and _have_ heard it. Long--long--long--many minutes, many hours, many days have I heard it--yet I _dared_ not--O, pity me, miserable wretch that I am!--I _dared_ not--I dared not speak! _We have put her living in the tomb_! Said I not that my senses were acute? I _now_ tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard them many, many days ago--yet I dared not--I _dared not speak_! And now--to-night--Ethelred--ha! ha!--the breaking of the hermit's door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangor of the shield!--say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of the vault! O, whither shall I fly? Will she not be here anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? Madman!"--here he sprang furiously to his feet and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were giving up his soul--"_Madman! I tell you that she now stands without the door_!"
As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell, the huge antique panels to which the speaker pointed threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust; but then without those doors there _did_ stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the Lady Madeline of Usher. There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold--then, with a low, moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and, in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated.
From that chamber and from that mansion I fled aghast. The storm was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued, for the vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that; of the full, setting, and blood-red moon, which now shone vividly through that once barely discernible fissure of which I have before spoken as extending from the roof of the building, in a zigzag direction, to the base. While I gazed this fissure rapidly widened; there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind--the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight--my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder--there was a long, tumultuous, shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters--and the deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the House of Usher.
NATHANIEL PARKER WILLIS.
The shadows lay along Broadway, 'Twas near the twilight tide-- And slowly there a lady fair Was walking in her pride. Alone walked she; but, viewlessly, Walked spirits at her side.
Peace charmed the street beneath her feet, And Honor charmed the air; And all astir looked kind on her, And called her good as fair-- For all God ever gave to her She kept with chary care.
She kept with care her beauties rare From lovers warm and true; For her heart was cold to all but gold, And the rich came not to woo, But honored well are charms to sell, If priests the selling do.
Now walking there was one more fair-- A slight girl, lily-pale; And she had unseen company To make the spirit quail-- 'Twixt Want and Scorn she walked forlorn, And nothing could avail.
No mercy now can clear her brow For this world's peace to pray; For, as love's wild prayer dissolved in air, Her woman's heart gave way! But the sin forgiven by Christ in heaven By man is cursed alway.
Here we are, then, in the "Swallow's Cave." The floor descends by a gentle declivity to the sea, and from the long dark cleft stretching outward you look forth upon the Atlantic--the shore of Ireland the first _terra firma_ in the path of your eye. Here is a dark pool, left by the retreating tide for a refrigerator; and with the champagne in the midst we will recline about it like the soft Asiatics of whom we learned pleasure in the East, and drink to the small-featured and purple-lipped "Mignons" of Syria--those fine-limbed and fiery slaves adorable as peris, and by turns languishing and stormy, whom you buy for a pinch of piastres (say 5L 5s.) in sunny Damascus. Your drowsy Circassian, faint and dreamy, or your crockery Georgian--fit dolls for the sensual Turk--is, to him who would buy _soul_, dear at a penny the hecatomb.
We recline, as it were, in an ebon pyramid with a hundred feet of floor and sixty of wall, and the fourth side open to the sky. The light comes in mellow and dim, and the sharp edges of the rocky portal seem let into the pearly heaven. The tide is at half-ebb, and the advancing and retreating waves, which at first just lifted the fringe of crimson dulse at the lip of the cavern, now dash their spray-pearls on the rock below, the "tenth" surge alone rallying as if in scorn of its retreating fellow, and, like the chieftain of Culloden Moor, rushing back singly to the contest. And now that the waters reach the entrance no more, come forward and look on the sea! The swell lifts! Would you not think the bases of the earth rising beneath it? It falls! Would you not think the foundation of the deep had given way? A plain, broad enough for the navies of the world to ride at large, heaves up evenly and steadily as if it would lie against the sky, rests a moment spell-bound in its place, and falls again as far--the respiration of a sleeping child not more regular and full of slumber. It is only on the shore that it chafes. Blessed emblem! it is at peace with itself! The rocks war with a nature so unlike their own, and the hoarse din of their border onsets resounds through the caverns they have rent open; but beyond, in the calm bosom of the ocean, what heavenly dignity! what godlike unconsciousness of alarm! I did not think we should stumble on such a moral in the cave!
By the deeper bass of its hoarse organ the sea is now playing upon its lowest stops, and the tide is down. Hear how it rushes in beneath the rocks, broken and stilled in its tortuous way, till it ends with a washing and dull hiss among the sea-weed, and, like a myriad of small tinkling bells, the dripping from the crags is audible. There is fine music in the sea!
And now the beach is bare. The cave begins to cool and darken, and the first gold tint of sunset is stealing into the sky, and the sea looks of a changing opal, green, purple, and white, as if its floor were paved with pearl, and the changing light struck up through the waters. And there heaves a ship into the horizon like a white-winged bird, lying with dark breast on the waves, abandoned of the sea-breeze within sight of port, and repelled even by the spicy breath that comes with a welcome off the shore. She comes from "Merry England." She is freighted with more than merchandise. The home-sick exile will gaze on her snowy sail as she sets in with the morning breeze, and bless it, for the wind that first filled it on its way swept through the green valley of his home! What links of human affection brings she over the sea? How much comes in her that is not in her "bill of lading," yet worth to the heart that is waiting for it a thousand times the purchase of her whole venture!
_Mais montons nous_! I hear the small hoofs of Thalaba; my stanhope waits; we will leave this half bottle of champagne, that "remainder biscuit," and the echoes of our philosophy to the Naiads who have lent us their drawing-room. Undine, or Egeria! Lurly, or Arethusa! whatever thou art called, nymph of this shadowy cave! adieu!
Slowly, Thalaba! Tread gingerly down this rocky descent! So! Here we are on the floor of the vasty deep! What a glorious race-course! The polished and printless sand spreads away before you as far as the eye can see, the surf comes in below breast-high ere it breaks and the white fringe of the sliding wave shoots up the beach, but leaves room for the marching of a Persian phalanx on the sands it has deserted. O, how noiselessly runs the wheel, and how dreamily we glide along, feeling our motion but in the resistance of the wind and in the trout-like pull of the ribands by the excited animal before us. Mark the color of the sand! White at high-water mark, and thence deepening to a silvery gray as the water has evaporated less, a slab of Egyptian granite in the obelisk of St. Peter's not more polished and unimpressible. Shell or rock, weed or quicksand, there is none; and, mar or deface its bright surface as you will, it is ever beaten down anew, and washed even of the dust of the foot of man by the returning sea. You may write upon its fine-grained face with a crow-quill--you may course over its dazzling expanse with a troop of chariots.
Most wondrous and beautiful of all, within twenty yards of the surf, or for an hour after the tide has left the sand, it holds the water without losing its firmness, and is like a gay mirror, bright as the bosom of the sea. (By your leave, Thalaba!) And now lean over the dasher and see those small fetlocks striking up from beneath--the flying mane, the thoroughbred action, the small and expressive head, as perfect in the reflection as in the reality; like Wordsworth's swan, he
"_Trots_ double, _horse_ and shadow."
You would swear you were skimming the surface of the sea; and the delusion is more complete as the white foam of the "tenth wave" skims in beneath wheel and hoof, and you urge on with the treacherous element gliding away visibly beneath you.
HENRY DAVID THOREAU.
THE WINTER WOODS.
There is a slumbering subterranean fire in nature which never goes out, and which no cold can chill. It finally melts the great snow, and in January or July is only buried under a thicker or thinner covering. In the coldest day it flows somewhere, and the snow melts around every tree. This field of winter rye which sprouted late in the fall and now speedily dissolves the snow is where the fire is very thinly covered. We feel warmed by it. In the winter warmth stands for all virtue, and we resort in thought to a trickling rill, with its bare stones shining in the sun, and to warm springs in the woods, with as much eagerness as rabbits and robins. The steam which rises from swamps and pools is as dear and domestic as that of our own kettle. What fire could ever equal the sunshine of a winter's day, when the meadow-mice come out by the wall-sides, and the chickadee lisps in the defiles of the wood? The warmth comes directly from the sun, and is not radiated from the earth as in summer; and when we feel his beams on our backs as we are treading some snowy dell we are grateful as for a special kindness, and bless the sun which has followed us into that by-place.
This subterranean fire has its altar in each man's breast, for in the coldest day, and on the bleakest hill, the traveler cherishes a warmer fire within the folds of his cloak than is kindled on any hearth. A healthy man, indeed, is the complement of the seasons, and in winter summer is in his heart. There is the South. Thither have all birds and insects migrated, and around the warm springs in his breast are gathered the robin and the lark.
At length, having reached the edge of the woods and shut out the gadding town, we enter within their covert as we go under the roof of a cottage, and cross its threshold, all ceiled and banked up with snow. They are glad and warm still, and as genial and cheery in winter as in summer. As we stand in the midst of the pines, in the flickering and checkered light which straggles but little way into their maze, we wonder if the towns have ever heard their simple story. It seems to us that no traveler has ever explored them, and notwithstanding the wonders which science is elsewhere revealing every day, who would not like to hear their annals? Our humble villages in the plain are their contribution. We borrow from the forest the boards which shelter and the sticks which warm us. How important is their evergreen to the winter, that portion of the summer which does not fade, the permanent year, the unwithered grass. Thus simply and with little expense of altitude is the surface of the earth diversified. What would human life be without forests, those natural cities? From the tops of mountains they appear like smooth-shaven lawns; yet whither shall we walk but in this taller grass?
In this glade covered with bushes of a year's growth see how the silvery dust lies on every seared leaf and twig, deposited in such infinite and luxurious forms as by their very variety atone for the absence of color. Observe the tiny tracks of mice around every stem, and the triangular tracks of the rabbit. A pure elastic heaven hangs over all, as if the impurities of the summer sky, refined and shrunk by the chaste winter's cold, had been winnowed by the heavens upon the earth.
Mature confounds her summer distinctions at this season. The heavens seem to be nearer the earth. The elements are less reserved and distinct. Water turns to ice; rain to snow. The day is but a Scandinavian night. The winter is an arctic summer.
How much more living is the life that is in nature, the furred life which still survives the stinging nights, and, from amidst fields and woods covered with frost and snow, sees the sun rise!
"The foodless wilds Pour forth their brown inhabitants."
The gray squirrel and rabbit are brisk and playful in the remote glens, even on the morning of the cold Friday. Here is our Lapland and Labrador; and for our Esquimaux and Knistenaux, Dog-ribbed Indians, Novazemblaites, and Spitzbergeners, are there not the ice-cutter and wood-chopper, the fox, musk-rat, and mink?
Still, in the midst of the arctic day we may trace the summer to its retreats and sympathize with some contemporary life. Stretched over the brooks, in the midst of the frost-bound meadows, we may observe the submarine cottages of the caddice-worms, the larvae of the Plicipennes. Their small cylindrical cases built around themselves, composed of flags, sticks, grass, and withered leaves, shells and pebbles, inform and color like the wrecks which strew the bottom, now drifting along over the pebbly bottom, now whirling in tiny eddies and dashing down steep falls, or sweeping rapidly along with the current, or else swaying to and fro at the end of some grass-blade or root. Anon they will leave their sunken habitations, and, crawling up the stems of plants or to the surface like gnats, as perfect insects henceforth, flutter over the surface of the water or sacrifice their short lives in the flame of our candle at evening. Down yonder little glen the shrubs are drooping under their burden, and the red alder-berries contrast with the white ground. Here are the marks of a myriad feet which have already been abroad. The sun rises as proudly over such a glen as over the valley of the Seine or Tiber, and it seems the residence of a pure and self-subsistent valor such as they never witnessed, which never knew defeat or fear. Here reign the simplicity and purity of a primitive age and a health and hope far remote from towns and cities. Standing quite alone, far in the forest, while the wind is shaking down snow from the trees, and leaving the only human tracks behind us, we find our reflections of a richer variety than the life of cities. The chickadee and nut-hatch are more inspiring society than statesmen and philosophers, and we shall return to these last as to more vulgar companions. In this lonely glen, with the brook draining the slopes, its creased ice and crystals of all hues, where the spruces and hemlocks stand up on either side, and the rush and sere wild oats in the rivulet itself, our lives are more serene and worthy to contemplate.
As the day advances, the heat of the sun is reflected by the hill-sides, and we hear a faint but sweet music where flows the rill released from its fetters, and the icicles are melting on the trees, and the nut-hatch and partridge are heard and seen. The south wind melts the snow at noon, and the bare ground appears with its withered grass and leaves, and we are invigorated by the perfume which exhales from it as by the scent of strong meats.
Let us go into this deserted woodman's hut, and see how he has passed the long winter nights and the short and stormy days. For here man has lived under this south hill-side, and it seems a civilized and public spot. We have such associations as when the traveler stands by the ruins of Palmyra or Hecatompolis. Singing birds and flowers perchance have begun to appear here, for flowers as well as weeds follow in the footsteps of man. These hemlocks whispered over his head, these hickory logs were his fuel, and these pitch-pine roots kindled his fire; yonder fuming rill in the hollow, whose thin and airy vapor still ascends as busily as ever, though he is far off now, was his well. These hemlock boughs, and the straw upon this raised platform, were his bed, and this broken dish held his drink. But he has not been here this season, for the phoebes built their nest upon this shelf last summer. I find some embers left, as if he had but just gone out, where he baked his pot of beans; and while at evening he smoked his pipe, whose stemless bowl lies in the ashes, chatted with his only companion, if perchance he had any, about the depth of the snow on the morrow, already falling fast and thick without, or disputed whether the last sound was the screech of an owl or the creak of a bough, or imagination only; and through this broad chimney-throat, in the late winter evening, ere he stretched himself upon the straw, he looked up to learn the progress of the storm, and, seeing the bright stars of Cassiopeia's chair shining brightly down upon him, fell contentedly asleep.
See how many traces from which we may learn the chopper's history. From this stump we may guess the sharpness of his ax, and from the slope of the stroke, on which side he stood, and whether he cut down the tree without going round it or changing hands; and from the flexure of the splinters, we may know which way it fell. This one chip contains inscribed on it the whole history of the wood-chopper and of the world. On this scrap of paper, which held his sugar or salt perchance, or was the wadding of his gun, sitting on a log in the forest, with what interest we read the tattle of cities, of those larger huts, empty and to let, like this, in High Streets and Broadways.
THE MIRACLES OF NATURE.
[From _Leaves of Grass_.]
To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, Every inch of space is a miracle, Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the same.
* * * * * * * *
To me the sea is a continual miracle, The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?
* * * * * * * *
I was thinking the day most splendid, till I saw what the not-day exhibited; I was thinking this globe enough, till there tumbled upon me myriads of other globes; O, how plainly I see now that this life cannot exhibit all to me--as the day cannot; O, I see that I am to wait for what will be exhibited by death.
* * * * * * * *
O Death! O, the beautiful touch of Death, soothing and benumbing a few moments, for reasons.
* * * * * * * *
The earth never tires, The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first-- Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first; Be not discouraged--keep on--there are divine things, well enveloped; I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
O captain! my captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: But O heart! heart! heart! Leave you not the little spot Where on the deck my captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
O captain! my captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills; For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding; For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; O captain! dear father! This arm I push beneath you; It is some dream that on the deck You've fallen cold and dead.
My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still; My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will; But the ship, the ship is anchored safe, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! But I, with silent tread, Walk the spot my captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
Zekle crep' up, quite unbeknown, An' peeked in thru the winder, An' there sot Huldy all alone, 'ith no one nigh to hender.
Agin the chimbly crooknecks hung, An' in amongst 'em rusted The ole queen's arm thet Gran'ther Young Fetched back from Concord busted.
The wannut logs shot sparkles out Toward the pootiest, bless her! An' leetle fires danced all about The chiny on the dresser.
The very room, coz she wuz in, Looked warm from floor to ceilin', An' she looked full ez rosy agin Ez th' apples she wuz peelin'.
She heerd a foot an' knowed it, tu, A-raspin' on the scraper; All ways to once her feelin's new Like sparks in burnt-up paper.
He kin' o' l'itered on the mat, Some doubtfle o' the seekle; His heart kep' goin' pitypat, But hern went pity Zekle.
THE PIOUS EDITOR'S CREED.
[From _Biglow Papers_.]
I du believe in Freedom's cause, Ez fur away as Paris is; I love to see her stick her claws In them infarnal Pharisees; It's wal enough agin a king To dror resolves an' triggers-- But libbaty's a kind o' thing Thet don't agree with niggers.
I du believe the people want A tax on teas an' coffees, Thet nothin' aint extravygunt, Pervidin' I'm in office; Fer I hev loved my country sence My eye-teeth filled their sockets, An' Uncle Sam I reverence-- Partic'larly his pockets.
I du believe in any plan O' levyin' the taxes, Ez long ez, like a lumberman, I git jest wut I axes; I go free-trade thru thick an' thin, Because it kind o' rouses The folks to vote--an' keeps us in Our quiet custom-houses.
* * * * * * * *
I du believe with all my soul In the gret Press's freedom, To pint the people to the goal An' in the traces lead 'em; Palsied the arm thet forges jokes At my fat contracts squintin', An' withered be the nose that pokes Inter the gov'ment printin'!
I du believe thet I should give Wut's his'n unto Caesar, Fer it's by him I move an' live, Frum him my bread and cheese air; I du believe thet all o' me Doth bear his souperscription,-- Will, conscience, honor, honesty, An' things o' thet description.
I du believe in prayer an' praise To him thet hez the grantin' O' jobs,--in every thin' that pays, But most of all in CANTIN'; This doth my cup with marcies fill, This lays all thought o' sin to rest,-- I _don't_ believe in princerple, But, O, I _du_ in interest.
I du believe in bein' this Or thet, ez it may happen One way or t'other hendiest is To ketch the people nappin'; It aint by princerples nor men My preudent course is steadied,-- I scent wich pays the best; an' then Go into it baldheaded.
I du believe thet holdin' slaves Comes nat'ral tu a Presidunt, Let 'lone the rowdedow it saves To hev a wal-broke precedunt; Fer any office, small or gret, I couldn't ax with no face, Without I'd ben, thru dry an' wet, Th' unrizzost kind o' doughface.
I du believe wutever trash 'll keep the people in blindness,-- Thet we the Mexicuns can thrash Right inter brotherly kindness; Thet bombshells, grape, an' powder 'n' ball Air good-will's strongest magnets; Thet peace, to make it stick at all, Must be druv in with bagnets.
In short, I firmly du believe In Humbug generally, Fer it's a thing that I perceive To hev a solid vally; This heth my faithful shepherd ben, In pasturs sweet heth led me, An' this 'll keep the people green To feed ez they hev fed me.
EDWARD EVERETT HALE.
[From _The Man Without a Country_.]
The rule adopted on board the ships on which I have met "the man without a country" was, I think, transmitted from the beginning. No mess liked to have him permanently, because his presence cut off all talk of home or of the prospect of return, of politics or letters, of peace or of war--cut off more than half the talk men liked to have at sea. But it was always thought too hard that he should never meet the rest of us except to touch hats, and we finally sank into one system. He was not permitted to talk with the men unless an officer was by. With officers he had unrestrained intercourse, as far as he and they chose. But he grew shy, though he had favorites; I was one. Then the captain always asked him to dinner on Monday. Every mess in succession took up the invitation in its turn. According to the size of the ship, you had him at your mess more or less often at dinner. His breakfast he ate in his own state-room--he always had a state-room--which was where a sentinel or somebody on the watch could see the door. And whatever else he ate or drank, he ate or drank alone. Sometimes, when the marines or sailors had any special jollification, they were permitted to invite "Plain-Buttons," as they called him. Then Nolan was sent with some officer, and the men were forbidden to speak of home while he was there. I believe the theory was that the sight of his punishment did them good. They called him "Plain-Buttons" because, while he always chose to wear a regulation army uniform, he was not permitted to wear the army button, for the reason that it bore either the initials or the insignia of the country he had disowned.
I remember soon after I joined the navy I was on shore with some of the older officers from our ship and from the _Brandywine_, which we had met at Alexandria. We had leave to make a party and go up to Cairo and the Pyramids. As we jogged along (you went on donkeys then), some of the gentlemen (we boys called them "Dons," but the phrase was long since changed) fell to talking about Nolan, and some one told the system which was adopted from the first about his books and other reading. As he was almost never permitted to go on shore, even though the vessel lay in port for months, his time at the best hung heavy; and every body was permitted to lend him books, if they were not published in America, and made no allusion to it. These were common enough in the old days, when people in the other hemisphere talked of the United States as little as we do of Paraguay. He had almost all the foreign papers that came into the ship, sooner or later; only somebody must go over them first, and cut out any advertisement or stray paragraph that alluded to America. This was a little cruel sometimes, when the back of what was cut might be as innocent as Hesiod. Right in the midst of one of Napoleon's battles, or one of Canning's speeches, poor Nolan would find a great hole, because on the back of the page of that paper there had been an advertisement of a packet for New York, or a scrap from the President's message. I say this was the first time I ever heard of this plan, which afterward I had enough and more than enough to do with. I remember it, because poor Phillips, who was of the party, as soon as the allusion to reading was made, told a story of something which happened at the Cape of Good Hope on Nolan's first voyage; and it is the only thing I ever knew of that voyage. They had touched at the Cape, and had done the civil thing with the English admiral and the fleet, and then, leaving for a long cruise up the Indian Ocean, Phillips had borrowed a lot of English books from an officer, which, in those days, as indeed in these, was quite a windfall. Among them, as the devil would order, was the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, which they had all of them heard of, but which most of them had never seen. I think it could not have been published long. Well, nobody thought there could be any risk of any thing national in that, though Phillips swore old Shaw had cut out the "Tempest" from Shakespeare before he let Nolan have it, because he said "the Bermudas ought to be ours, and, by Jove, should be one day." So Nolan was permitted to join the circle one afternoon when a lot of them sat on deck smoking and reading aloud. People do not do such things so often now; but when I was young we got rid of a great deal of time so. Well, so it happened that in his turn Nolan took the book and read to the others; and he read very well, as I know. Nobody in the circle knew a line of the poem, only it was all magic and border chivalry, and was ten thousand years ago. Poor Nolan read steadily through the fifth canto, stopped a minute and drank something, and then began without a thought of what was coming:
"Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said"--
It seemed impossible to us that any body ever heard this for the first time; but all these fellows did then, and poor Nolan himself went on, still unconsciously or mechanically:
"This is my own, my native land!"
Then they all saw something was to pay; but he expected to get through, I suppose, turned a little pale, but plunged on:
"Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned, As home his footsteps he hath turned From wandering on a foreign strand?-- If such there breathe, go, mark him well."
By this time the men were all beside themselves, wishing there was any way to make him turn over two pages; but he had not quite presence of mind for that; he gagged a little, colored crimson, and staggered on:
"For him no minstrel raptures swell; High though his titles, proud his name, Boundless his wealth as wish can claim, Despite these titles, power, and pelf, The wretch, concentered all in self;"--
and here the poor fellow choked, could not go on, but started up, swung the book into the sea, vanished into his state-room. "And by Jove," said Phillips, "we did not see him for two months again. And I had to make up some beggarly story to that English surgeon why I did not return his Walter Scott to him."
See page 195.
[From _Marco Bozzaris_.]
Come to the bridal-chamber, Death! Come to the mother's when she feels For the first time her first-born's breath; Come when the blessed seals That close the pestilence are broke, And crowded cities wail its stroke; Come in consumption's ghastly form, The earthquake shock, the ocean-storm; Come when the heart beats high and warm, With banquet-song, and dance, and wine: And thou art terrible--the tear, The groan, the knell, the pall, the bier; And all we know, or dream, or fear Of agony, are thine.
But to the hero, when his sword Has won the battle for the free, Thy voice sounds like a prophet's word; And in its hollow tones are heard The thanks of millions yet to be. Come, when his task of fame is wrought-- Come, with her laurel-leaf, blood-bought-- Come in her crowning hour--and then Thy sunken eye's unearthly light To him is welcome as the sight Of sky and stars to prisoned men; Thy grasp is welcome as the hand Of brother in a foreign land; Thy summons welcome as the cry That told the Indian isles were nigh To the world-seeking Genoese, When the land-wind, from woods of palm, And orange-groves, and fields of balm, Blew o'er the Haytian seas.
Bozzaris! with the storied brave Greece nurtured in her glory's time, Rest thee--there is no prouder grave, Even in her own proud clime. She wore no funeral weeds for thee, Nor bade the dark hearse wave its plume, Like torn branch from death's leafless tree In sorrow's pomp and pageantry, The heartless luxury of the tomb; But she remembers thee as one Long loved, and for a season gone; For thee her poet's lyre is wreathed, Her marble wrought, her music breathed; For thee she rings the birthday bells; Of thee her babes' first lisping tells; For thine her evening prayer is said, At palace couch and cottage bed; Her soldier, closing with the foe, Gives for thy sake a deadlier blow; His plighted maiden, when she fears For him, the joy of her young years, Thinks of thy fate and checks her tears. And she, the mother of thy boys, Though in her eye and faded cheek Is read the grief she will not speak, The memory of her buried joys, And even she who gave thee birth, Will by their pilgrim-circled hearth Talk of thy doom without a sigh: For thou art Freedom's now and Fame's, One of the few, the immortal names, That were not born to die.
ON THE DEATH OF JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE.
Green be the turf above thee, Friend of my better days! None knew thee but to love thee, Nor named thee but to praise.
Tears fell, when thou wert dying, From eyes unused to weep, And long where thou art lying Will tears the cold turf steep.
When hearts, whose truth was proven Like thine, are laid in earth, There should a wreath be woven To tell the world their worth;
And I, who woke each morrow To clasp thy hand in mine, Who shared thy joy and sorrow, Whose weal and woe were thine--
It should be mine to braid it Around thy faded brow; But I've in vain essayed it, And feel I cannot now.
While memory bids me weep thee, Nor thoughts nor words are free, The grief is fixed too deeply That mourns a man like thee.
CHARLES FARRAR BROWNE.
[From _Lecture on the Mormons_.]
Brother Kimball is a gay and festive cuss, of some seventy summers, or some'er's there about. He has one thousand head of cattle and a hundred head of wives. He says they are awful eaters.
Mr. Kimball had a son, a lovely young man, who was married to ten interesting wives. But one day while he was absent from home these ten wives went out walking with a handsome young man, which so enraged Mr. Kimball's son--which made Mr. Kimball'a son so jealous--that he shot himself with a horse-pistol.
The doctor who attended him--a very scientific man--informed me that the bullet entered the parallelogram of his diaphragmatic thorax, superinducing hemorrhage in the outer cuticle of his basilicon thaumaturgist. It killed him. I should have thought it would.
I hope this sad end will be a warning to all young wives who go out walking with handsome young men. Mr. Kimball's son is now no more. He sleeps beneath the cypress, the myrtle, and the willow. The music is a dirge by the eminent pianist for Mr. Kimball's son. He died by request.
I regret to say that efforts were made to make a Mormon of me while I was in Utah.
It was leap-year when I was there, and seventeen young widows, the wives of a deceased Mormon, offered me their hearts and hands. I called on them one day, and, taking their soft white hands in mine, which made eighteen hands altogether, I found them in tears, and I said, "Why is this thus? What is the reason of this thusness?"
They hove a sigh--seventeen sighs of different size. They said:
"O, soon thou wilt be gonested away!"
I told them that when I got ready to leave a place I wentested.
They said, "Doth not like us?"
I said, "I doth--I doth."
I also said, "I hope your intentions are honorable, as I am a lone child, my parents being far--far away."
Then they said, "Wilt not marry us?"
I said, "O, no, it cannot was!"
Again they asked me to marry them, and again I declined, when they cried,
"O, cruel man! this is too much! O, too much!"
I told them that it was on account of the muchness that I declined. . . .
(_Pointing to Panorama_)
A more cheerful view of the desert.
The wild snow-storms have left us and we have thrown our wolf-skin overcoats aside. Certain tribes of far-western Indians bury their distinguished dead by placing them high in air and covering them with valuable furs. That is a very fair representation of those mid-air tombs. Those animals are horses. I know they are, because my artist says so. I had the picture two years before I discovered the fact. The artist came to me about six months ago and said, "It is useless to disguise it from you any longer, they are horses."
It was while crossing this desert that I was surrounded by a band of Ute Indians. They were splendidly mounted. They were dressed in beaver-skins, and they were armed with rifles, knives, and pistols.
What could I do? What could a poor old orphan do? I'm a brave man. The day before the battle of Bull's Run I stood in the highway while the bullets--those dreadful messengers of death--were passing all around me thickly--in wagons--on their way to the battle-field. But there were too many of these Injuns. There were forty of them, and only one of me, and so I said:
"Great chief, I surrender."
His name was Wocky-bocky. He dismounted and approached me. I saw his tomahawk glisten in the morning sunlight. Fire was in his eye. Wocky-bocky came very close
(_Pointing to Panorama_)
to me and seized me by the hair of my head. He mingled his swarthy fingers with my golden tresses, and he rubbed his dreadful tomahawk across my lily-white face. He said:
"Torsha arrah darrah mishky bookshean!"
I told him he was right.
Wocky-bocky again rubbed his tomahawk across my face, and said:
Says I, "Mr. Wocky-bocky," says I, "Wocky, I have thought so for years, and so's all our family."
He told me I must go to the tent of the Strong Heart and eat raw dog. It don't agree with mo. I prefer simple food. I prefer pork-pie, because then I know what I'm eating. But as raw dog was all they proposed to give to me I had to eat it or starve. So at the expiration of two days I seized a tin plate and went to the chief's daughter, and I said to her in a silvery voice--in a kind of German-silvery voice--I said:
"Sweet child of the forest, the pale-face wants his dog."
There was nothing but his paws. I had paused too long--which reminds me that time passes--a way which time has. I was told in my youth to seize opportunity. I once tried to seize one. He was rich; he had diamonds on. As I seized him he knocked me down. Since then I have learned that he who seizes opportunity sees the penitentiary.
SAMUEL LANGHORNE CLEMENS.
THE JUMPING FROG OF CALAVERAS COUNTY.
"Well, there was a feller here once by the name of Jim Smiley in the winter of '49, or may be it was the spring of '50--I don't recollect exactly, somehow, though what makes me think it was one or the other is because I remember the big flume warn't finished when he first come to the camp. But any way, he was the curiousest man about, always betting on anything that turned up you ever see, if he could get any body to bet on the other side; and if he couldn't he'd change sides. Any way that suited the other side would suit _him_--any way just so's he got a bet _he_ was satisfied. But still he was lucky, uncommon lucky; he most always came out winner. He was always ready and laying for a chance. There couldn't be no solit'ry thing mentioned but that feller'd offer to bet on it and take any side you please, as I was just telling you. If there was a horse-race you'd find him flush or you'd find him busted at the end of it. If there was a dog-fight, he'd bet on it; if there was a cat-fight, he'd bet on it; if there was a chicken-fight, he'd bet on it. Why, if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first. Or if there was a camp-meeting, he would be there reg'lar to bet on Parson Walker, which he judged to be the best exhorter about here, and so he was, too, and a good man. If he even see a straddle-bug start to go anywheres he would bet you how long it would take him to get to--to wherever he was going to; and if you took him up he would follow that straddle-bug to Mexico but what he would find out where he was bound for and how long he was on the road. Lots of the boys here has seen that Smiley, and can tell you about him. Why, it never made no difference to _him_, he'd bet _any_ thing--the dangdest feller. Parson Walker's wife laid very sick once for a good while, and it seemed as if they warn't going to save her; but one morning he come in and Smiley up and asked him how she was, and he said she was consid'able better--thank the Lord for his inf'nit mercy!--and coming on so smart that, with the blessing of Providence, she'd get well yet; and Smiley, before he thought, says, 'Well, I'll resk two-and-a-half she don't, any way.'"
* * * * * * * *
"Well, this yer Smiley had rat-terriers, and chicken-cocks, and tom-cats, and all them kind of things till you couldn't rest, and you couldn't fetch nothing for him to bet on but he'd match you. He ketched a frog one day and look him home, and said he cal'lated to educate him, and so he never done nothing for three months but set in his back-yard and learn that frog to jump. And you bet you he _did_ learn him, too. He'd give him a little punch behind, and the next minute you'd see that frog whirling in the air like a doughnut--see him turn one summerset, or may be a couple, if he got a good start, and come down flat-footed and all right, like a cat. He got him up so in the matter of ketching flies, and kep' him in practice so constant, that he'd nail a fly every time as fur as he could see him. Smiley said all a frog wanted was education and he could do 'most any thing, and I believe him. Why, I've seen him set Dan'l Webster down here on this floor--Dan'l Webster was the name of the frog--and sing out, 'Flies, Dan'l, flies!' and quicker'n you could wink he'd spring straight up and snake a fly off'n the counter there and flop down on the floor ag'in as solid as a gob of mud, and fall to scratching the side of his head with his hind foot as indifferent as if he hadn't no idea he'd been doin' any more'n any frog might do. You never see a frog so modest and straightfor'ard as he was, for all he was so gifted. And when it come to fair and square jumping on a dead level he could get over more ground at one straddle than any animal of his breed you ever see. Jumping on a dead level was his strong suit, you understand, and when it come to that, Smiley would ante up money on him, as long as he had a red. Smiley was monstrous proud of his frog, and well he might be, for fellers that had traveled and been every-wheres all said he laid over any frog that ever _they_ see.
"Well, Smiley kep' the beast in a little lattice-box, and he used to fetch him down-town sometimes and lay for a bet. One day a feller--a stranger in the camp he was--come acrost him with his box and says:
"'What might it be that you've got in the box?'
"And Smiley says, sorter indifferent like, 'It might be a parrot, or it might be a canary, may be, but it ain't--it's only just a frog.'
"And the feller took it, and looked at it careful, and turned it round this way and that, and says, 'H'm--so 'tis. Well, what's _he_ good for?'
"'Well,' Smiley says, easy and careless, 'he's good enough for _one_ thing, I should judge--he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.'
"The feller took the box again and took another long, particular look and give it back to Smiley, and says, very deliberate; 'Well,' he says, 'I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'
"'May be you don't,' Smiley says. 'May be you understand frogs, and may be you don't understand 'em; may be you've had experience, and may be you aint only a amature, as it were. Anyways, I've got my opinion, and I'll resk forty dollars that he can outjump any frog in Calaveras County.'
"And the feller studied a minute, and then says, kinder sad like,
"'Well, I'm only a stranger-here, and I aint got no frog; but if I had a frog I'd bet you!'
"And then Smiley says, 'That's all right--that's all right; if you'll hold my box a minute I'll go and get you a frog.' And so the feller took the box, and put up his forty dollars along with Smiley's, and set down to wait.
"So he set there a good while, thinking and thinking to hisself; and then he got the frog out and pried his mouth open, and took a teaspoon and filled him full of quail-shot--filled him pretty near up to his chin--and set him on the floor. Smiley, he went to the swamp and slopped around in the mud for a long time, and finally he ketched a frog, and fetched him in, and give him to this feller, and says, 'Now, if you're ready, set him along-side of Dan'l, with his forepaws just even with Dan'l, and I'll give the word.' Then he says, 'One--two--three--_git_!' and him and the feller touched up the frogs from behind, and the new frog hopped off lively, but Dan'l give a heave, and hysted up his shoulders--so--like a Frenchman, but it warn't no use--he couldn't budge; he was planted as solid as a church, and wouldn't no more stir than if he was anchored out. Smiley was a good deal surprised, and he was disgusted too, but he didn't have no idea what the matter was, of course.
"The feller took the money and started away; but when he was going out at the door he sorter jerked his thumb over his shoulder--so--at Dan'l, and says again, very deliberate, 'Well,' he says, 'I don't see no p'ints about that frog that's any better'n any other frog.'
"Smiley, he stood scratching his head and looking down at Dan'l a long time; and at last he says, 'I do wonder what in the nation that frog throwed off for. I wonder if there aint something the matter with him--he 'pears to look mighty baggy, somehow.' And he ketched Dan'l by the nap of the neck, and hefted him, and says, 'Why, blame my cats if he don't weigh five pound!' and turned him upside down, and he belched out a double handful of shot. And then he see how it was, and he was the maddest man. He set the frog down and took out after the feller, but he never ketched him."
_An Index to the American Authors and Writings and the Principal American Periodicals mentioned in this Volume_.
Abraham Lincoln, 143. Adams and Liberty, 60. Adams, John, 49. Adams, J. Q., 72, 85. Adams, Samuel, 43, 44. After-Dinner Poem, 135. After the Funeral, 142. Age of Reason, The, 51-53, 60. Ages, The, 153. Alcott, A. B., 93, 104. Aldrich, T. B., 170, 197. Algerine Captive, The, 63. Algic Researches, 130. Alhambra, The, 74. All Quiet Along the Potomac, 184. Alnwick Castle, 81. Alsop, Richard, 55, 56. American, The, 206. American Civil War, The, 182. American Conflict, The, 182. American Flag, The, 80. American Note-Books, 95, 114, 116, 119, 128. American Scholar, The, 93, 104, 123. Ames, Fisher, 50, 51. Among My Books, 143. Anabel Lee, 165. Anarchiad, The, 55. Army Life in a Black Regiment, 186. Army of the Potomac, The, 183. Art of Book-Making, The, 77. "Artemus Ward," 188, 189-193, 194. Arthur Mervyn, 63, 65. At Teague Poteet's, 203. Atlantic Monthly, The, 136, 143, 150, 151, 185, 186, 195, 197, 208. Atlantis, 169. Auf Wiedersehen, 142. Autobiography, Franklin's, 28, 38, 39, 40, 73. Autocrat of the Breakfast Table, The, 132, 136, 137. Autumn, 125.
Backwoodsman, The, 72. Ballad of the Oysterman, 133. Ballads and Other Poems, 126. Bancroft, George, 123, 138, 145, 146. Barbara Frietchie, 158. Barlow, Joel, 51, 52, 55-58. Battle Hymn of the Republic, 183. Battle of the Kegs, 59. Battlefield, The, 154. Bay Fight, The, 184. Bay Psalm Book, The, 21. Bedouin Song, 172. Beecher, H. W., 175, 176. Beecher, Lyman, 98, 175. Beers, Mrs. E. L., 184. Beleaguered City, The, 126, 129. Belfry of Bruges, The, 126, 127. Beverly, Robert, 17. Biglow Papers, The, 139-142, 159, 188. "Bill Nye," 193. Black Cat, The, 166. Black Fox of Salmon River, The, 157. Blair, James, 14. Blithedale Romance, The, 95, 118, 172, 209. Bloody Tenent of Persecution, The, 22, 23. Blue and the Gray, The, 184. Boker, G. H., 197. Bostonians, The, 209. Boys, The, 134. Bracebridge Hall, 75, 76, 187. Bradford's Journal, 21, 24, 25, 31, 33. Brahma, 105, 109. Brainard, J. G. C., 156, 157, 175. Brick Moon, The, 196. Bridal of Pennacook, The, 157, 159. Bridge, The, 129. Broken Heart, The, 77. Brown, C. B., 63-65. Browne, C. F. (See "Artemus Ward.") Brownell, H. H., 184, 185. Bryant, W. C., 68, 80, 124, 125, 133, 151-155, 162, 169. Buccaneer, The, 89. Building of the Ship, The, 127. Bundle of Letters, A, 206. Burnett, Mrs. F. H., 205. Bushnell, Horace, 99. Busy-Body, The, 38, 53, 74. Butler, W. A., 170. Byrd, Wm., 16, 17.
Cable, G. W., 203. Calhoun, J. C., 46, 86. Cambridge Thirty Years Ago, 123. Cape Cod, 111. Capture of Fugitive Slaves, 140. Cary, Alice, 173. Cary, Phoebe, 173. Cask of Amontillado, The, 166. Cassandra Southwick, 159. Cathedral, The, 144. Cecil Dreeme, 185. Century Magazine, The, 150, 183, 197. Chambered Nautilus, The, 135. Chance Acquaintance, A, 208. Channing, W. E., 73, 90-92, 93, 97-100, 106. Channing, W. E., Jr., 106, 110, 119. Channing, W. H., 106. Chapel of the Hermits, The, 158. Character of Milton, The, 91. Charleston, 184. Children of Adam, 177. Choate, Rufus, 89, 90. Christian Examiner, The, 91. Circular Letters, by Otis and Quincy, 44. City in the Sea, The, 162. Clara Howard, 63. Clari, 84. Clarke, J. F., 105, 106. Clay, Henry, 86. Clemens, S. L. (See "Mark Twain.") Columbiad, The, 56, 57. Common Sense, 51. Companions of Columbus, 74. Condensed Novels, 200. Conduct of Life, The, 107. Confederate States of America, The, 182. Conquest of Canaan, 57. Conquest of Granada, 73, 74, 78. Conquest of Mexico, 145. Conquest of Peru, 145. Conspiracy of Pontiac, The, 147. Constitution and the Union, The, 87. Constitution of the United States, The, 45, 85. Contentment, 85. Contrast, The, 63. Conversations on the Gospels, 104. Conversations on Some of the Old Poets, 143. Cooke, J. E., 169. Cooper, J. F., 61, 71, 73, 81-84, 89, 107, 130, 147, 168, 204. Coral Grove, The, 175. Cotton, John, 22, 23, 28, 29. Count Frontenac and New France, 147. Courtin', The, 141, 188. Courtship of Miles Standish, The, 26. Cow Chase, The, 59. Cranch, C.P., 95, 106. Crime against Kansas, The, 149 Crisis, The, 51. Croaker Papers, The, 81. Culprit Fay, The, 80. Curtis, G. W., 95, 197.
Daisy Miller, 206. Dana, C. A., 95, 106, 151. Dana, R. H., 68, 89. Danbury News Man, 59, 189. Dante, Longfellow's, 131. Davis, Jefferson, 182. Day is Done, The, 128. Day of Doom, The, 34. Death of the Flowers, The, 153, 154. Declaration of Independence, The, 45, 59, 85. Deerslayer, The, 83, 84. Democratic Vistas, 180. Derby, G. H., 190. Descent into the Maelstrom, 166. Deserted Road, The, 173. Dial, The, 93, 98, 105, 106. Dialogue Between Franklin and the Gout, 39. Diamond Lens, The, 186. Discourse of the Plantation of Virginia, A, 12. Dolph Heyliger, 75. Domain of Arnheim, The, 166. Dorchester Giant, The, 132. Drake, J. R., 80, 81, 89. Draper, J. W., 182. Dream Life, 175. Drifting, 173. Driving Home the Cows, 184. Drum Taps, 180. Dutchman's Fireside, The, 79. Dwight, J. S., 95, 100, 106. Dwight, Theodore, 55, 56. Dwight, Timothy, 55, 57, 58.
Early Spring in Massachusetts, 111. Echo, The, 56. Echo Club, The, 172. Edgar Huntley, 63, 65. Edith Linsey, 170. Edwards, Jonathan, 35-37, 58, 91, 97, 99. Eggleston, Edward, 202. Elevator, The, 63, 210. Eliot, John, 21, 23. Elsie Venner, 137. Emerson, Charles, 106. Emerson, R. W., 88, 93, 96-113, 119, 122, 123, 128, 129, 138, 151, 154, 160, 179. Endicott's Red Cross, 25, 118. English Note-Books, 119. English Traits, 103, 109. Ephemerae, 176. Epilogue to Cato, 60. Eternal Goodness, 158. Ethan Brand, 117. Europeans, The, 206, 207. Evangeline, 129, 130. Evening Wind, The, 153. Everett, Edward, 89, 90, 133, 138, 189. Excelsior, 127. Excursions, 111. Expediency of the Federal Constitution, 48. Eyes and Ears, 176.
F. Smith, 170. Fable for Critics, A, 105, 142, 144. Facts in the case of M. Valdemar, The, 164. Fall of the House of Usher, The, 166. Familists' Hymn, The, 25. Fanshawe, 116. Farewell Address, Washington's, 49. Faust, Taylor's, 172. Federalist, The, 48, 49. Ferdinand and Isabella, 123, 145. Final Judgment, The, 35. Finch, F. M., 184. Fire of Driftwood, The, 128. Fireside Travels, 123. Fitz Adam's Story, 141. Flint, Timothy, 72. Flood of Years, The, 155. Footpath, The, 142. Footsteps of Angels, 126. Foregone Conclusion, A, 207. Forest Hymn, 152. Fortune of the Republic, 107. Foster, S. C., 173, 174. France and England in North America, 147. Franklin, Ben., 28, 37, 40, 52, 53, 73, 74. Freedom of the Will, 35. French Poets and Novelists, 205. Freneau, Philip, 60-62. Fuller, Margaret, 93, 95, 99, 100, 105, 106, 109, 119, 131.
Galaxy Magazine, The, 197. Garrison, W. L., 26, 87, 147, 156, 157, 174. Garrison of Cape Ann, The, 32. Geography of the Mississippi Valley, 72. Georgia Spec, The, 63. Ghost Ball at Congress Hall, The, 170. Give Me the Old, 170. Godey's Lady's Book, 150, 160. Godfrey, Thomas, 63. Gold Bug, The, 163. Golden Legend, The, 130. Good News from Virginia, 18. Good Word for Winter, A, 143. Goodrich, S. G., 69, 72, 116. Graham's Magazine, 150, 160, 162, 164, 171. Grandfather's Chair, 32. Grandissimes, The, 203. Greeley, Horace, 95, 171, 182. Green River, 153. Greene, A. G., 85. Greenfleld Hill, 58. Guardian Angel, The, 137, 138.
Hail, Columbia! 59, 60, 80. Hale, E. E., 122, 164, 195, 196. Halleck, F. G., 80, 81, 89, 109. Halpine, C. G., 186. Hamilton, Alexander, 48, 49, 51, 87. Hannah Thurston, 172. Hans Breitmann Ballads, 202. Hans Pfaall, 163. Harbinger, The, 94, 95. Harper's Monthly Magazine, 150, 151, 197. Harris, J. C., 202. Harte, F. B., 193, 198-202. Hasty Pudding, 57. Haunted Palace, The, 165. Hawthorne, Julian, 118. Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 9, 18, 25, 32, 56, 63, 93, 95, 105, 106, 108, 114-120, 124, 128, 129, 137, 138, 150, 160, 166, 172, 182, 185, 187, 188, 204, 205, 209. Hay, John, 201, 202. Health, A, 85. Heathen Chinee, The, 200. Hedge, F. H., 95. Height of the Ridiculous, The, 132. Henry, Patrick, 43, 44, 48. Hiawatha, 61, 130. Higginson, T. W., 75, 95, 105, 186. His Level Best, 195. History of New England, Winthrop's, 24-27. History of Plymouth Plantation, Bradford's, 24, 25. History of the Dividing Line, 16, 17. History of the United Netherlands, 146. History of the United States, Bancroft's, 123, 146; Higginson's, 75. History of Virginia, Beverly's, 17; Smith's, 15; Stith's, 17. Hoffman, C. F., 170. Holland, J. G., 197. Holmes, O. W., 29, 85, 93, 94, 122, 123, 131-138, 141, 151, 153, 160, 183, 186, 187, 188. Home, Sweet Home, 84. Homesick in Heaven, 135. Hooker, Thomas, 28, 30, 31, 99. Hoosier Schoolmaster, The, 202. Hopkins, Lemuel, 55. Hopkinson, Francis, 59. Hopkinson, Joseph, 59. Horse-Shoe Robinson, 168. House of the Seven Gables, The, 115, 118. Howe, Mrs. J. W., 183. Howells, W. D., 63, 203-205, 207-210. Humphreys, David, 55, 56. Hymn at the Completion of Concord Monument, 110. Hymn of the Moravian Nuns, 125. Hymn to the Night, 126. Hymn to the North Star, 152. Hyperion, 131.
Ichabod, 158. If, Yes, and Perhaps, 195. Iliad, Bryant's, 155. Illustrious Providences, 29. In the Tennessee Mountains, 203. In the Twilight, 142. In War Time, 157. Independent, The, 176. Indian Bible, Eliot's, 21. Indian Burying-Ground, The, 61. Indian Student, The, 61. Indian Summer, 208, 209. Ingham Papers, 195. Inklings of Adventure, 169. Innocents Abroad, 193, 194. International Episode, An, 206, 207. Irving, Washington, 42, 53, 68, 71, 73-82, 89, 117, 138, 187, 188, 194, 206. Israfel, 162. Italian Journeys, 208. Italian Note-Books, 119.
James, Henry, 185, 203-210. Jane Talbot, 63. Jay, John, 48, 49. Jefferson, Thomas, 14, 45-48, 50, 52, 61. Jesuits in North America, The, 147. Jim, 201. Jim Bludso, 201. John Brown's Body, 59, 183. John Godfrey's Fortune, 172. "John Phoenix," 190. John Underhill, 25. Jonathan to John, 141. "Josh Billings," 193. Journey to the Land of Eden, A, 17. Judd, Sylvester, 144. Jumping Frog, The, 193. June, 153, 154. Justice and Expediency, 157.
Kansas and Nebraska Bill, The, 149. Katie, 184. Kennedy, J. P., 168. Key into the Language of America, A, 23. Key, F. S., 60. Kidd, the Pirate, 75. King's Missive, The, 159. Knickerbocker Magazine, The, 75, 79, 116, 147, 160. Knickerbocker's History of New York, 68, 73, 75, 76, 187.
Lady of the Aroostook, The, 207, 209. Lanier, Sidney, 202. La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West, 147. Last Leaf, The, 85, 133. Last of the Mohicans, The, 83, 84. Last of the Valerii, The, 205. Latest Form of Infidelity, The, 99. Laus Deo, 158. Leatherstocking Tales, 61, 83, 84. Leaves of Grass, 176, 177, 179. Lecture on the Mormons, 190-192. Legend of Brittany, 138. Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 75, 77. Legends of New England, 156, 157. Legends of the Province House, 118. Leland, C. G., 202. Letter on Whitewashing, 59. Letters and Social Aims, 107. Letters from Under a Bridge, 169, 170. Letters of a Traveler, 155. Liberator, The, 86, 147, 174. Life of Columbus, Irving's, 74, 78. Life of Goldsmith, 79. Life of John of Barneveld, 146. Life of Washington, Irving's, 78. Ligeia, 165. Light of Stars, The, 126. Lincoln, Abraham, 51, 133, 180, 186, 189. Lines on Leaving Europe, 170. Lippincott's Magazine, 197. Literary Recreations, 160. Literati of New York, 160. Little Breeches, 201. Livingston, William, 53. Locke, David R., 193. Longfellow, H. W., 18, 25, 26, 61, 115, 116, 123-131, 133, 138, 139, 141, 142, 151, 159, 160, 162, 167, 172, 179, 197. Lost Arts, 148. Lost Cause, The, 182. Lowell, J. R., 12, 93, 96, 104, 105, 107, 122, 123, 138-144, 151, 154, 159, 160, 172, 174, 183, 187, 188, 197. Luck of Roaring Camp, The, 199. Lunatic's Skate, The, 170. Lyrics of a Day, 184.
MacFingal, 54, 55, 59, 73. Madison, James, 48, 49, 61. Madonna of the Future, The, 205. Magnalia Christi Americana, 19, 28-34,73. Mahomet and his Successors, 78. Maine Woods, The, 111. "Major Jack Downing," 189. Man of the Crowd, The, 166. Man-of-War Bird, The, 179. Man Without a Country, The, 164, 195. Marble Faun, The, 115, 117, 118, 119. Marco Bozzaris, 81. Margaret, 144. "Mark Twain," 188, 189, 193, 194. Maryland, My Maryland, 183. Masque of the Gods, The, 171. Masque of the Red Death, 166. Mather, Cotton, 19, 20, 21, 23, 26, 28-34, 36, 73. Mather, Increase, 29, 31. Maud Muller, 158. May-Day, 107. Maypole of Merrymount, The, 25. Memoranda of the Civil War, 180. Memorial History of Boston, 159. Men Naturally God's Enemies, 35. Merry Mount, 145. Messenger, R. H., 170. Miggles, 200. "Miles O'Reilly," 186. Minister's Black Veil, The, 117. Minister's Wooing, The, 175. Mitchell, D. G., 175. Mocking Bird, The, 202. Modern Instance, A, 208, 209. Modern Learning, 59. Modest Request, A, 134. Money Diggers, The, 75. Montcalm and Wolfe, 147. Monterey, 170. Moore, C. C., 170. Moore, Frank, 183. Moral Argument Against Calvinism, The, 90. Morris, G. P., 170. Morton's Hope, 145. Mosses from an Old Manse, 114, 117. Motley, J. L., 123, 138, 145, 146. Mount Vernon, 56. "Mrs. Partington," 189. MS. Found In a Bottle, 168. Murder of Lovejoy, The, 123. Murders in the Rue Morgue, The, 163. Murfree, Mary N., 203. Music-Grinders, The, 133. My Aunt, 133. My Captain, 180. My Double and How He Undid Me, 196. My Garden Acquaintance, 143. My Lite is Like the Summer Rose, 85. My Old Kentucky Home, 173. My Search for the Captain, 186. My Study Windows, 143. My Wife and I, 175. Mystery of Gilgal, The, 201. Mystery of Marie Roget, The, 163.
Narrative of A. Gordon Pym, The, 166. Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife, 118. Nature, 93, 101, 103, 107. Naval History of the United States, 81. Nearer Home, 173. Negro Melodies, 173. Nelly was a Lady, 173. New England Tragedies, 25. New England Two Centuries Ago, 141, 143. New System of English Grammar, A, 190. New York Evening Post, The, 152, 155. New York Tribune, The, 95, 171. Newell, R. H., 193. North American Review, The, 89, 116, 124, 143, 151, 152. Norton, Andrews, 99. Notes on Virginia, 47. Nothing to Wear, 170. Nux Postcoenatica, 134.
O, Susanna, 173. O'Brien, F. J., 185. Observations on the Boston Port Bill, 44. Occultation of Orion, The, 127, 139. Ode at the Harvard Commemoration, 142. Ode for a Social Meeting, 134. Ode to Freedom, 140. Odyssey, Bryant's, 155. Old Clock on the Stairs, The, 127. Old Creole Days, 203. Old Folks at Home, 173. Old Grimes, 85. Old Ironsides, 132. Old Oaken Bucket, The, 84. Old Pennsylvania Farmer, The, 171. Old Régime in Canada, The, 147. Old Sergeant, The, 184. On a Certain Condescension in Foreigners, 141. One Hoss Shay, The, 135, 188. Oregon Trail, The, 147. Ormond, 63, 64. "Orpheus C. Kerr," 193. Orphic Sayings, 105. Osgood, Mrs. K. P., 184. Otis, James, 43-45. Our Master, 158. Our Old Home, 119. Out of the Question, 209. Outcasts of Poker Flat, The, 199, 200. Outre-Mer, 124. Overland Monthly, The, 199. Over-Soul, The, 105.
Paine, R. T., 60. Paine, Tom, 51-53. Panorama, The, 157. Paper, 39. Parker, Theodore, 97-100, 106. Parkman, Francis, 123, 145, 146, 147. Parlor Car, The, 210. Partisan, The, 168. Passionate Pilgrim, A, 305. Pathfinder, The, 83. Paulding, J. K., 72, 74, 79,80. Payne, J. H., 84. Pearl of Orr's Island, The, 175. Pencilings by the Way, 169. Pension Beaurepas, The, 206. Percival, J. G., 175. Percy, George, 12, 19. "Peter Parley," 69. "Petroleum V. Nasby," 193. Phenomena Quaedam Apocalyptica, 33. Phillips, Wendell, 122, 123, 147, 148, 157, Philosophic Solitude, 53. Philosophy of Composition, 163. Phoenixiana, 189. Piatt, J. J., 184, 202, 208. Pictures of Memory, 173. Pilot, The, 84. Pink and White Tyranny, 175. Pinkney, E. C., 85. Pioneer, The, 138. Pioneers, The, 71, 83. Pioneers of France in the New World, 147. Plain Language from Truthful James, 200 Planting of the Apple-Tree, The, 155. Plato, Emerson on, 108. Poe, E. A., 63, 80, 85, 106, 116, 117, 130, 138, 150, 153, 160-169, 182, 186, 196. Poems of the Orient, 171. Poems of Two Friends, 208. Poems on Slavery, 128. Poet at the Breakfast Table, The, 136. Poetic Principle, The, 164. Poetry: A Metrical Essay, 133. Poet's Hope, A, 105. Political Green House, The, 56. Pollard, E. A., 182. Pons, Maximus, 173. Poor Richard's Almanac, 39, 40. Portraits of Places, 207. Prairie, The, 83. Prentice, G. D., 156, 189. Prescott, W. H., 123, 145, 146, 151, 182. Present Crisis, The, 140. Pride of the Village, The, 77. Prince Deukalion, 171. Prince of Parthia, The, 63. Problem, The, 110. Professor at the Breakfast Table, The, 136, 137. Progress to the Mines, A, 17. Prologue, The, 135. Prophecy of Samuel Sewell, The, 33. Prophet, The, 171. Psalm of Life, The, 126, 127. Purloined Letter, The, 163. Putnam's Monthly, 123, 197.
Quaker Widow, The, 171. Quincy, Josiah, 43-45.
Rag Man and Rag Woman, The, 196. Randall, J. R., 183. Randolph, John, 46. Raven, The, 163, 165. Read, T. B., 173. Reaper and the Flowers, The, 126. Rebellion Record, The, 183. Recollections of a Life-time, 69, 72. Red Rover, The, 84. Register, The, 210. Remarks on Associations, 91. Remarks on National Literature, 91, 100. Reply to Hayne, Webster's, 87. Representative Men, 102, 107, 109. Resignation, 128. Reveries of a Bachelor, 175. Rhoecus, 138. Rhymes of Travel, 171. Riding to Vote, 184. Rights of the British Colonies, 45. Ripley, George, 95, 99, 100, 106, 151. Rip Van Winkle, 75. Rip Van Winkle, M.D., 134. Rise and Fall of the Confederate States, 182. Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 182. Rise of the Dutch Republic, 146. Rob of the Bowl, 168. Roderick Hudson, 206. Roughing It, 193, 194.
Salmagundi, 74, 79, 155. Sandys, George, 16, 19. San Francisco, 198. Scarlet Letter, The, 35, 117, 118. School Days, 156. Schoolcraft, H. R., 130. Science of English Verse, 202. Scribner's Monthly, 197. Scripture Poems, 169. Seaside and Fireside, 126, 127. Seaweed, 127, 129. Selling of Joseph, The, 33. September Gale, The, 133. Sewall, J, M., 60. Sewall, Samuel, 32, 33. Shakespeare, Ode, 89. Shaw, H. W., 193. Shepherd of King Admetus, The, 138. Sheridan's Ride, 173. Shillaber, B. P., 189. Sigourney, Mrs. L. H., 107, 175. Silas, Lapham, 209. Simms, W. G., 168. Simple Cobbler of Agawam, The, 20. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 35. Skeleton in Armor, The, 127. Skeleton in the Closet, The, 196. Sketch Book, The, 73-75, 77. Skipper Ireson's Ride, 158. Sleeper, The, 165. Sleeping Car, The, 63. Smith, Elihu, 55. Smith, John, 11, 12, 15, 19, 24. Smith, Seba, 189. Snow-Bound, 159. Society and Solitude, 107. Song for a Temperance Dinner, 134. Song of the Chattahoochie, 202. Southern Literary Messenger, The, 160, 162. Southern Passages and Pictures, 169. Sparkling and Bright, 170. Specimen Days, 180. Specimens of Foreign Standard Literature, 100. Sphinx, The, 135. Sprague, Charles, 89. Spring, 170. Spy, The, 83. Squibob Papers, 180. Star Papers, 176. Star-Spangled Banner, The, 60, 80. Stedman, E. C., 197. Stephens, A. H., 182. Stith, William, 17. Stoddard, R. H., 170, 197. Story of Kennett, The, 172. Stowe, Mrs. H. B., 174, 175. Strachey, William, 11. Stuart, Moses, 98. Suburban Sketches, 208. Sumner, Charles, 122, 132, 124, 142, 148, 157, 174. Supernaturalism in New England, 160. Swallow Barn, 168. Swinton, W., 183. Sybaris and Other Homes, 195.
Tales of a Traveler, 75. Tales of a Wayside Inn, 159. Tales of the Glauber Spa, 155. Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, 166. Tamerlane, 161. Tanglewood Tales, 119. Taylor, Bayard, 170-173. Telling the Bees, 159. Ten Times One is Ten, 195. Tennessee's Partner, 200. Tent on the Beach, The, 159. Thanatopsis, 68, 80, 125, 152, 153, 155. Their Wedding Journey, 208. Theology, Dwight's, 58. Thirty Poems, 154. Thoreau, H. D., 93, 96, 106, 109, 110, 114, 119, 122, 123, 125, 151, 179, 182. Timrod, Henry, 184. To a Waterfowl, 153. To Helen, 162. To M---- from Abroad, 170. To One in Paradise, 165. To Seneca Lake, 175. Tour on the Prairies, A, 71. Tramp Abroad, A, 193. Transcendentalist, The, 101, 102. Travels, Dwight's, 53. Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, 36. Triumph of Infidelity, 58. True Grandeur of Nations, The, 149. True Relation, Smith's, 15. True Repertory of the Wrack of Sir Thomas Gates, 11. Trumbull, John, 54, 55, 73. Twice-Told Tales, 115, 117, 118. Two Rivers, 112. Tyler, Royall, 63.
Ulalume, 165. Uncle Ned, 173. Uncle Remus, 202. Uncle Tom's Cabin, 174. Under the Willows, 142. Undiscovered Country, The, 209. Unknown Dead, The, 184. Unseen Spirits, 170.
Valley of Unrest, The, 162. Vanity Fair, 190. Vassall Morton, 145. Venetian Life, 208. Views Afoot, 171. Villa Franca, 142. Village Blacksmith, The, 127. Virginia Comedians, The, 196. Vision of Columbus, The, 56, 57. Vision of Sir Launfal, The, 140, 141. Visit from St. Nicholas, A, 170. Voices of Freedom, 157. Voices of the Night, 124, 126. Voluntaries, 110. Von Kempelen's Discovery, 154.
Walden, 111. Wants of Man, The, 85. War Lyrics, 184. Ward, Nathaniel, 20. Ware, Henry, 99. Washers of the Shroud, The, 142. Washington, George, 49, 51. Washington as a Camp, 185. Washington Square, 185. 'Way Down South, 173. Webster, Daniel, 73, 86-89, 90, 158, 187. Webster's Spelling-Book, 69. Week on the Concord and Merrimac Rivers, A, 111. Western Windows, 202. Westminster Abbey, 77. Westover MSS., The, 16. Westward Ho! 72. What Mr. Robinson thinks, 140. What was It?, 186. Whistle, The, 39. Whitaker, Alexander, 18. White, R. G., 197. Whitman, Walt, 126, 176-180, 183. Whittier, J. G., 18, 25, 26, 32, 33, 93, 133, 138, 155-160, 167, 174, 175, 179, 183, 185, 197. Wieland, 63, 65. Wigglesworth, Michael, 34. Wild Honeysuckle, The, 61. Wilde, R. H., 84. William Wilson, 166. Williams, Roger, 22, 23. Willis, N. P., 71, 153, 169, 171, 176. Willson Forceythe, 184. Wilson, Henry, 182. Winter Evening Hymn to My Fire, 142, Winthrop, John, 12, 21, 23-28, 31, 33. Winthrop, Theodore, 184. Witchcraft, 143. Witch's Daughter, The, 157. Wolfert's Roost, 75. Wolfert Webber, 75. Woman in the Nineteenth Century, 105. Wonder Book, 119. Wonders of the Invisible World, 21, 32. Woods, Leonard, 98. Woods in Winter, 125. Woodman, Spare that Tree, 170. Woodworth, Samuel, 84. Woolman's Journal, 65, 66, 157. Wound-Dresser, The, 178. Wrath Upon the Wicked, 35. Wreck of the Hesperus, The, 127, 129.
Yankee Doodle, 59. Yankee in Canada, 111. Year's Life, A, 138. Yemassee, The, 168.