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Title: A History of American Literature
Author: Boynton, Percy H.
Language: English
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                         A HISTORY OF AMERICAN
                               LITERATURE

                                   BY

                            PERCY H. BOYNTON

                       THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

       AUTHOR OF "PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION," "LONDON IN ENGLISH
                LITERATURE," EDITOR OF "AMERICAN POETRY"

                            GINN AND COMPANY

                  BOSTON · NEW YORK · CHICAGO · LONDON
              ATLANTA · DALLAS · COLUMBUS · SAN FRANCISCO



                  COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY PERCY H. BOYNTON

                      ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL

                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

                                 419.11

                       _The Athenæum Press_

                    GINN AND COMPANY · PROPRIETORS ·
                            BOSTON · U.S.A.



                                PREFACE


The general purpose in the preparation of this book has been to
eliminate negligible detail and to subordinate or omit authors of minor
importance in order to stress the men and the movements that are most
significant in American intellectual history. The book has therefore
been written with a view to showing the drift of American thought as
illustrated by major writers or groups and as revealed by a careful
study of one or two cardinal works by each. In this sequence of thought
the growth of American self-consciousness and the changing ideals of
American patriotism have been kept in mind throughout. The attempt
is made to induce _study_ of representative classics and _extensive
reading_ of the American literature which illuminates the past of the
country--chiefly, of course, in reminiscent fiction, drama, and poetry.

As an aid to the student, there are appended to each chapter (except
the last three) topics and problems for study, and book lists which
summarize the output of each man, indicate available editions, and
point to the critical material which may be used as a supplement, but
not as a substitute, for first-hand study. This critical material
has been selected with a view, also, to suggesting books which might
reasonably be included in libraries of normal schools and colleges, as
well as in universities.

As further aids to the student, there have been included two
maps, three chronological charts, and, in an appendix, a brief
characterization of the American periodicals which have been most
significant in stimulating American authorship by providing a market
for fiction, poetry, and the essay.

In the writing of the book the author's chief obligation has naturally
been to the many university classes who have stimulated its
preparation, not only by their attention but by their free discussion.
Special acknowledgment is gratefully made to Mr. William W. Ellsworth
for a careful reading of all the manuscript and to Miss Marie
Gulbransen for the initial work in formulating the appendix on the
American magazines.

Acknowledgment is due to the publishers of _The Nation_ and _The New
Republic_ for portions of the chapters on Crèvecoeur, the Poetry of
the Revolution, Emerson, Lowell, Whitman, Sill, and Miller, which
originally appeared in these weeklies.

                                                       PERCY H. BOYNTON



                                CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                          PAGE

       I. THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY                                     1

      II. THE EARLIEST VERSE                                         17

     III. THE TRANSITION TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY                   27

      IV. JONATHAN EDWARDS AND BENJAMIN FRANKLIN                     41

       V. CRÈVECOEUR, THE "AMERICAN FARMER"                          59

      VI. THE POETRY OF THE REVOLUTION AND PHILIP FRENEAU            69

     VII. THE EARLY DRAMA                                            89

    VIII. CHARLES BROCKDEN BROWN                                    100

      IX. IRVING AND THE KNICKERBOCKER SCHOOL                       110

       X. JAMES FENIMORE COOPER                                     141

      XI. WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT                                     158

     XII. EDGAR ALLAN POE                                           173

    XIII. THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS                                    190

     XIV. RALPH WALDO EMERSON                                       199

      XV. HENRY DAVID THOREAU                                       221

     XVI. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE                                       236

    XVII. JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER                                   252

   XVIII. HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW                                267

     XIX. JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL                                      282

      XX. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE                                     299

     XXI. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES                                     310

    XXII. SOME METROPOLITAN POETS                                   324

   XXIII. THE POETRY OF THE SOUTH                                   343

    XXIV. WALT WHITMAN                                              362

     XXV. THE WEST AND MARK TWAIN                                   380

    XXVI. THE WEST IN SILL AND MILLER                               396

   XXVII. THE RISE OF FICTION; WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS                 411

  XXVIII. CONTEMPORARY DRAMA                                        437

    XXIX. THE LATER POETRY                                          453

  INDEX TO LEADING NINETEENTH-CENTURY PERIODICALS                   487

  INDEX                                                             503



                         A HISTORY OF AMERICAN
                               LITERATURE


                          THE COLONIAL PERIOD



                               CHAPTER I

                        THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY


In its beginnings American literature differs from the literatures
of most other great nations; it was a transplanted thing. It sprang
in a way like Minerva, full-armed from the head of Jove,--Jove in
this case being England, and the armor being the heritage which the
average American colonist had secured in England before he crossed
the Atlantic. In contrast, Greek, Roman, French, German, English,
and the other less familiar literatures can all be more or less
successfully traced back to primitive conditions. Their early life was
interwoven with the growth of the language and the progress of a rude
civilization, and their earliest products which have come down to us
were not results of authorship as we know it to-day. They were either
folk poetry, composed perhaps and certainly enjoyed by the people in
groups and accompanied by group singing and dancing,--like the psalms
and the simpler ballads,--or they were the record of folk tradition,
slowly and variously developed through generations and finally
collected into a continuous story like the Iliad, the Æneid, the "Song
of Roland," the "Nibelungenlied," and "Beowulf." They were composed by
word of mouth and not reduced to writing for years or generations, and
they were not put into print until centuries after they were current in
speech or transcribed by monks and scholars.

The one great story-poem of this sort in American literature is the
"Song of Hiawatha," but this is the story of a conquered and vanishing
race; it has nothing basic to do with the Americans of to-day; it is
far less related to them than the earlier epics of the older European
nations to whom we trace our ancestry. Except for a few place-names
even the language of America owes nothing to that of the Indians,
for the English tongue is a compound of Greek and Latin and French
and German. Our literary beginnings, then, go back to two groups of
educated English colonists, or immigrants, and our knowledge of them
to conditions in the divided England from which they first came to
Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607 and to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620.

       *       *       *       *       *

The English of the early seventeenth century were an eager, restless,
driving people. The splendid reign of Queen Elizabeth was just past.
The country was secure from foreign enemies and confident in its
strength. Great naval leaders had brought new honors to her name;
great explorers had planted her flag on mysterious and new-discovered
coasts; a group of dramatists had made the theater as popular as the
moving-picture house of to-day; a great architect was adorning London
with his churches; poets and novelists, preachers and statesmen,
scientists and scholars, were all working vividly and keenly. There
was an active enthusiasm for the day's doings, a kind of living assent
to Hamlet's commentary, on "this goodly frame, the earth, ... this
most excellent canopy, the air, ... this brave o'erhanging firmament,
this majestical roof fretted with golden fire"; and to the exclamation
that follows: "What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how
infinite in faculty! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in
action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty
of the world! the paragon of animals!" And under a strong and tactful
monarch the nation had been kept at peace with itself.

Yet in this fallow soil the seeds of controversy had been steadily
taking root; and when Elizabeth was followed on the throne by the vain
and unregal James I, the crop turned out to be a harvest of dragons'
teeth. Puritan democrats and cavalier Royalists fought with each other
over the body of England till it was prostrate and helpless. What
followed was the rise of Puritan power, culminating with the execution
of Charles II and the establishment of the Commonwealth under the
Cromwells from 1649 to 1660, and the peaceful restoration of monarchy
at the latter date. It was during the mid-stages of these developments
that the first settlements were made in English America. Both factions
included large numbers of vigorous individuals of the pioneer type.
The Puritans were technically called "dissenters" and "nonconformists"
because of their attitude toward the established Church of England; but
the Royalists who came over to America were simply nonconformists of
another type who preferred doing things out on the frontier to living
conventional lives at home.

The Royalists, who settled in the South, came away, like other
travelers and explorers of their day, to settle new English territory
as a landed aristocracy. They were a mixed lot, but on the whole they
were not an irreligious lot. They believed in the established church
as they did in the established government, and they persecuted with a
good will those who tried to follow other forms of worship than their
own. They were, however, chiefly fortune hunters, just as were the
men who surged out to California in 1849 or those who went to Alaska
fifty years later; they hoped to make their money in the west and to
spend it back in the east, and they had little thought of literature,
either as a thing to enjoy or as a thing to create. When they wrote
they did so to give information about the country, the Indians, and the
new conditions of living, or to keep in touch with relatives, legal
authorities, or sources of money supply; and always they had in mind
the thought of attracting new settlers, for they needed labor more than
anything else. They made no attempt at general education, adopting
the now-abandoned aristocratic theory that too much knowledge would
be a dangerous source of discontent among the working people. Some
few individuals wrote accounts and descriptions that are interesting
to the modern reader, but these were not representative of the people
as a whole. They were Englishmen away from home, living temporarily
in _Virgin_-ia (the province of the virgin queen, Elizabeth), in
_James_-town, in the _Carolinas_ (from the Latin for Charles), in
_Mary_-land, and, even as late as 1722, in _George_-ia.

The nonconformists whom adverse winds drove to the North in 1620 were
a very different folk. They were predominantly Puritan in prejudice
and in upbringing. Many of their leaders were graduates of Cambridge
University who had gone into the Church of England, only to be driven
out of it because of their unorthodox preaching--born leaders who
were brave enough to risk comfort and safety for conscience' sake.
They came over to America in order, as Mrs. Hemans put it, to have
"freedom to worship God," but not to give this freedom to others.
They had endured so much for their religious faith that they wanted
a place where this, and this only, should be tolerated. So they
became, not illogically, the fiercest kind of persecutors, practicing
with a vengeance the lessons in oppression that they had learned in
England at the cost of blood and suffering. They settled in compact
towns where they could believe and worship together; they put up
"meetinghouses" where they could listen to the preacher on the Lord's
Day and where they could transact public business, with the same man
as "moderator," on week days. He was the controlling power--"pastor,"
or shepherd, and "dominie," or master, of the community. And when the
meetinghouses were finished, the settlers erected as their next public
buildings the schoolhouses, where the children might learn to read the
Scriptures so that they could "foil the ould deluder, Satan." Education
became compulsory as well as public. The Puritans' place-names were
Indian--Massachusetts and Agawam; derived from England of Puritan
associations, like Boston, Plymouth, and Falmouth; or quaintly
Scriptural, like Marthas Vineyard, Providence, and Salem. These people,
unlike the settlers in the South, came over to live and die here. They
wrote for the same social and business reasons that the Virginians did,
but they also wrote much about their religion, compiled the "Bay Psalm
Book," published sermons, and recorded their struggles, which began
very early and were doomed to final failure, to keep their New England
free from "divers religions." At first their writings were sent to
England for publication, but before long, in 1638, they had their own
printing press, and the things that were printed on it were not so much
the sayings of individual men as the opinions of the community.

The history of the migrations to the North and to the South during
the seventeenth century is one with the history of the civil struggle
in England. Up to 1640 colonization was slow and consistent at both
points. From 1640 to 1660 it increased rapidly in the South and
declined in the North, for in those years the grip of the Puritans
on the old country relieved them from persecution there and from the
consequent need to avoid it and, at the same time, made many Royalists
glad of a chance to escape to some more peaceful spot. From 1660
on, with the return of the Royalists to power in England, Puritan
migration was once more started to the North, and the home country was
again secure for the followers of the king. But the real characters
of the two districts were unchanged. They were firmly established in
the earliest years, and they have persisted during the intervening
centuries clear up to the present time. The America of to-day is a
compound whose basic native qualities are inherited from the oldest
traditions of aristocratic Virginia and the oldest traits of democratic
and Puritan Massachusetts.

In dealing with the early periods of any literature the exercise
of artistic judgment is always very charitable. Rough, uncouth,
fragmentary pieces are taken into account because they serve as
a bridge to the remoter past. Harsh critics of colonial American
literature seem to forget this practice when they rule out of court
everything produced in this country before the days of Irving and
Cooper. A great deal of the earlier writing should, of course, be
considered only as source material for the historian; but some of it
has the same claim to attention as the old chronicles, plays, and
ballads in English literary history. It deserves study if it portrays
or criticizes or even unconsciously reflects the life and thought of
the times, and it is significant as an American product if in form
or content or point of view it clearly belongs to this side of the
Atlantic.

The nature of settlement and the neglect of popular education led to an
early lapse in authorship in the Southern colonies, so that in a survey
as brief as this chapter their writers do not come into view until they
find expression in the oratory and statesmanship of the Revolutionary
period. Their narratives and descriptions of colonial life, as long as
they wrote them at all, were quite like most of the earliest Northern
writings of the sort. The one outstanding difference is that in
whatever they wrote, the religious motive for settlement and the belief
in a personal Providence were less insistently recorded than by the
Puritans. Thus where John Smith was content with the general phrase "it
pleased God," Anthony Thacher, saved from shipwreck in Boston Harbor,
wrote devoutly, "the Lord directed my toes into a crevice in the rock";
and where Smith's companions hoped for the benevolent favor of the
Most High, Thacher's fellow-worshipers were perfectly certain that
every step they took was ordained by God, so that even their apparent
misfortunes were His punishments for misconduct.

In all the great mass of Puritan writing in the first century of
residence in America one definite current appears, and that is the
quiet but irresistible current of change in human thought. The Puritans
had made the profound but constantly repeated mistake of assuming
that after thousands of years of groping by mankind, they had at last
discovered the "ultimate truth"; that for the rest of time men need do
nothing but follow the precepts which God had revealed to them about
life here and life hereafter. They were, in their own serious way,
happy in their confident possession of truth and sternly resolved to
bestow it or, if necessary, impose it on all whom they could control.
Their failure was recorded with their earliest attempts, and it came,
not because of their particular weakness or the strength of their
particular adversaries, but because they were trying to obstruct the
progress of human thought, which is as inexorable as any other force
of nature. They might as well have entered into an argument with
gravitation or the tides. The most interesting and the best-written
pieces of seventeenth-century New England literature all give evidence
of this rearguard action against the advancing forces of truth.

The Puritanism against which this rising tide of dissent developed was
admirably embodied in William Bradford (1590-1657), the _Mayflower_
Pilgrim who was more than thirty times governor of his colony and the
author of "A History of Plimouth Plantation." He was a brave, sober,
devout leader with an abiding sense of the holy cause in which he was
enlisted. His journal of the first year in America and his history
are clearly and sometimes finely written, and give ample proof of his
stalwart character--"fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," and free
from the personal narrowness which is often mistakenly ascribed to all
Puritans. In his account, for example, of the reasons for the Pilgrims'
removal from Leyden the chronicle tells of the hardships under which
they had lived there, the encroachments of old age, the disturbing
effects of the life on the children, and, lastly, the great hope they
entertained of advancing the church of Christ in some remote part
of the world. It recounts many of the objections advanced against
attempting settlement in America, and concludes:

  It was answered, that all great and honorable actions are accompanied
  with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome
  with answerable courages. It was granted the dangers were great, but
  not desperate; the difficulties were many, but not invincible. For
  though there were many of them likely, yet they were not certain; it
  might be sundry of the things feared might never befall; others, by
  provident care and the use of good means, might in a great measure
  be prevented; and all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude
  and patience, might either be borne or overcome. True it was, that
  such attempts were not to be made and undertaken without good ground
  and reason; not rashly or lightly, as many have done for curiosity
  or hope of gain, etc. But their condition was not ordinary; their
  ends were good and honorable; their calling lawful and urgent; and
  therefore they might expect the blessing of God in their proceeding.
  Yea, though they should lose their lives in this action, yet might
  they have comfort in the same, and their endeavors would be honorable.

Unhappily this heroic trait of Puritanism was coupled with a desperate
religious bigotry which the world is even yet slow to forgive.

One of the earliest local dissenters was Thomas Morton (1575?-1646),
author of the "New English Canaan," published in London, 1637. It is a
half-pathetic fact that this should stand out to-day beyond anything
else written in the same decade in America, for the best of it--the
third book--is a savage satire on the Puritans in Massachusetts.
Morton, it is needless to say, was not a Puritan himself. He was a
restless, dishonest, unscrupulous gentleman-adventurer from London
who gave the best part of his life to fighting the Puritans on their
own grounds. He started a fur-trading post at "Merry Mount," just
southeast of Boston, sold the Indians liquor and firearms, consorted
with their women, and in wanton mockery set up a Maypole there and
taught the Indians the English games and dances which were particularly
offensive to the grave residents of Plymouth and Boston. If he had
not written his book, he would be remembered now only as one of the
chief trouble-makers whom the Puritans had to fight down; but he did
them more damage with his pen than with all his active misbehavior.
He undermined their influence by not treating them soberly. He made
fun of their costume, derided their speech, ridiculed their religious
formalities, and held the valiant Miles Standish up to scorn by
nicknaming him Captain Shrimp. He went further, and questioned their
motives and their honesty, their integrity in business, and their
sincerity in religion. A great deal of what he wrote about them was
libelously unfair; he should never be taken as an authority for facts
unless supported by other writers of his day. But underneath all his
clever abuse of them and their ways, there is an evident basis of truth
which is confirmed by the sober study of history. Although the Puritans
were brave, strong, self-denying servants of the stern God whom they
worshiped, they were sometimes sanctimonious, sometimes cruelly
vengeful, and all too often so eager to achieve His ends on earth that
they were regardless of the means they took. At the very beginning of
their life in America, Thomas Morton held these characteristics up to
public scorn; and in so doing he made his book an omen of the long,
losing battle they were destined to fight. Morton's effectiveness as
a writer lies in the fact that however ill-behaved he may have been,
he was attractively--maybe dangerously--genial in character. He was in
truth "a cheerful liar"; but he lied like the writer of fiction who
disregards the exact facts because he is telling a good story as well
as he can and because that good story is based on real life. The next
New Englander to give proof that the Puritans were not having an easy
time in their "new English Canaan" was Nathaniel Ward (1578-1652?),
author of "The Simple Cobler of Aggawam." In character and convictions
he was as different from Morton as a man could be. When he wrote this
book, which was published in London in 1647, he was an irascible old
Puritan who had suffered much for his faith, and was still fighting
for it, although very near to his threescore years and ten. He had been
graduated at Cambridge, gone into the Church of England, been hounded
there for his liberalism, come to America, and served a pastorate
at Agawam (now Ipswich), Massachusetts. He had withdrawn on account
of ill health, but later had served the state so well that he was
granted six hundred acres as a reward, and had lived on there until his
return to England at the age of seventy. He believed fiercely in the
righteousness of the Puritan doctrines and in the wickedness of any
departure from them; and his book was a valiant protest against any
relaxation on the part of the faithful. It was written with reference
to conditions in England, but it was composed after fifteen years'
residence in America, and showed his unrest at conditions in the new
country as well as in the old.

The book is a strange compound. In thought it is a piece of
dyed-in-the-wool old fogyism, but in form and literary style it is
vigorous, jaunty, and amusing. The full title is "The Simple Cobler of
Aggawam in America; willing to help Mend his Native Country, lamentably
tattered, both in the upper-Leather and sole, with all the honest
stitches he can take. And as willing never to be paid for his work by
Old English wonted pay. It is his Trade to patch all the year long,
gratis. Therefore I Pray Gentlemen keep your Purses." He feared all
innovations, but most of all the doctrine that men should enjoy liberty
of conscience. "Let all the wits under the Heavens lay their heads
together and find an Assertion worse than this [and] I will Petition
to be chosen the universal Ideot of the World." "Since I knew what
to fear, my timorous heart hath dreaded three things: a blazing Star
appearing in the Air; a State Comet, I mean a favourite, rising in a
kingdom; a new Opinion spreading in Religion." The second section of
the book is devoted to fashions of dress, an evergreen subject for the
satirist. Ward's attitude toward woman as an inferior creature was
almost as primitive as that of the cave man, and apparently he would
have liked it better if the "bullymong drossock" had dressed with
the simplicity of a cave woman. As it was he felt that the lady of
fashion was "the very gizzard of a trifle, the product of the quarter
of a cypher, the epitome of Nothing"; and he had equal contempt for
tailors who "spend their lives in making fidle-cases for futulous
Women's phansies; which are the very pettitoes of Infirmity, the
giblets of perquisquilian toyes." The remainder of the work is given
to a discussion of affairs of English state, written with the same
aggressive positiveness. The most interesting bit of it is the portion
which proclaims his belief in savage oppression of the Irish, summing
up the essence of the wrong-headed stupidity which has made the history
of Ireland so lamentable a story even to the present time. What the
old gentleman wrote is striking at points, because it seems so timely.
But Ward was never up to date, in the sense of being prophetic. When
he said things that apply to the twentieth century, they apply either
because, like the question of extravagance in dress, the topic is a
persistent trait in human nature or because, like the Irish problem,
matters which should long ago have been settled have been allowed for
centuries to confuse and complicate life. Yet Ward wrote with odd and
striking effectiveness; and his book is far more than the "curiosity"
which many critics have agreed to call it, for it is one of the best
surviving records of the Puritan attempt to maintain a strangle hold on
human thought.

The belief in the righteousness of persecuting dissenters was the
particular ground for attack by a younger and equally vigorous man,
Roger Williams (1604-1683). Williams, before he was forty years
old, had been thrown out of two church establishments--first in
Protestant England and then in Puritan Massachusetts. He represented
what Macaulay termed the very "dissidence of dissent." And now, in a
long and laborious argument lasting from 1644 to 1652, he fought out
the issue with the Reverend John Cotton. Only by the most generous
interpretation can the lengthening chain of this printed controversy
be considered as literature, yet it has the same right to inclusion as
the English disquisitions of Wyclif, Jeremy Taylor, and John Wesley.
An English prisoner in Newgate, assailing persecution for cause of
conscience, had been answered by John Cotton. Then followed Williams's
"The Bloody Tenent of Persecution for cause of Conscience, discussed
in a Conference between Truth and Peace" (1644); Cotton's reply "The
Bloody Tenent washed and made white in the Blood of the Lamb" (1647);
and Williams's rejoinder, "The Bloody Tenent yet More Bloody: by Mr.
Cottons endeavor to wash it white in the Blood of the Lambe" (1652).
The whole process of argument by both the reverend gentlemen was to
set their literal English minds to work at analyzing and expounding
Biblical passages which were full of oriental richness of imagery.
It was, all things considered, rather less reasonable than it would
be for the chancellors of the British and German empires to base an
argument about the freedom of the seas upon definite citations from the
"Rubaiyat" of Omar Khayyam.

The chief grounds of offense in the sinful unorthodoxy of Roger
Williams were that he asserted two things which have become axioms
to-day, and two more which will be admitted by every thoughtful and
honest person. The first two were that religion should not be professed
by those who did not believe it in their hearts, and that the power of
the magistrates extended only to the bodies and the property of the
subjects and not to their religious convictions. The second two were
that America belonged to the Indians and not to the king of England,
and that the established church was necessarily corrupt. By this last
he meant simply that any human organization that is given complete
authority, and need not fear either competition or overthrow by public
opinion, is certain to decay from within. It was the idea beneath
Tennyson's lines

      The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
      And God fulfils himself in many ways,
      Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Yet these opinions, preached and practiced by Williams, resulted in
his being expelled from the community. The attempt was made to send
him back to England, but he managed to get a permanent foothold in
Rhode Island, where he opposed the still more liberal Quakers almost as
violently as the churchmen of old and new England had opposed him. To
his credit be it said, however, that he did not invoke the law against
them. In action as well as in belief he marked the progress of liberal
thought.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  EGGLESTON, EDWARD. The Transit of Civilization.

  FISKE, JOHN. Beginnings of New England. Chaps. ii, iii.

  HART, A. B. American History told by Contemporaries. Vol. I, pp.
     200-272, 313-393.

  RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature. Chaps. i-iii.

  TYLER, M. C. History of American Literature. Colonial Period. Vol. I,
     chaps. i-ix.

  WENDELL, BARRETT. A Literary History of America. Bk. I, chaps. i-iv.

=_Individual Authors_=

  CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH. A True Relation (London, 1608); A Map of
     Virginia, with a Description of the Country (Oxford, 1612); A
     Description of New England (London, 1616).

     =Available Editions=

       FORCE. Historical Tracts, Vol. II, Nos. 1 and 2. 1883.
       _Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., Ser.3, Vol. VI_.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 1-18.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 1-8, 33-43.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. I,
         pp. 3-17.

       Narratives of Early Virginia. L. G. Tyler, editor. 1907.

       Sailors Narratives. G. P. Winship, editor. 1905.

  WILLIAM BRADFORD. History of Plimouth Plantation. First published in
     _Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., Ser. 4, Vol. III_.

     =Available Editions=

       Charles Deane, editor. 1896.

       W. T. Davis, editor. 1912.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 27-44.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. I,
         pp. 93-130.

  THOMAS MORTON. New English Canaan, or New Canaan. Amsterdam, 1637.

     =Available Editions=

       FORCE. Historical Tracts, Vol. II, No. 5. 1883. C. F. Adams,
         editor.

       _Prince Historical Society Publications._ 1888. C. F. Adams,
         editor.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 60-72.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 28-30.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. I,
         pp. 147-156.

  NATHANIEL WARD. The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America. London, 1647.

     =Available Editions=

       FORCE. Historical Tracts, Vol. III, No. 8. 1906.

       Ipswich Historical Society of Ipswich, Mass. _Publications_.

     =Biography=

       A Memoir of Nathaniel Ward. J. W. Dean. 1868.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 112-124.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 18-20.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. I,
         pp. 147-156.

  ROGER WILLIAMS. Works. Edited by members of the Narragansett Club.
     Providence, 1866-1874. 6 vols. Contains likewise J. Cotton's
     contributions to the controversy with Williams, together with a
     bibliography of Williams's works.

     =Available Edition=

       Letters from 1632 to 1675. _Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., Ser. 4, Vol.
         VI_.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       CARPENTER, E. J. Roger Williams; a Study of the Life, etc.
         _Grafton History Series_. 1909.

       MASSON, DAVID. Life of John Milton, Vols. II, III.

       STRAUS, OSCAR S. Roger Williams, the Pioneer of Religious
         Liberty. 1894.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 94-111.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 32-38.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. I,
         pp. 246-253.

=_Literary Treatment of the Period_=

     =Drama=

       BARKER, J. N. The Indian Princess; an Operatic Melodrama (1808),
         in _Representative Plays by American Dramatists_ (edited by
         M.J. Moses), Vol. I. 1918.

       CUSTIS, G. W. P. Pocahontas, or The Settlers of Virginia; a
         National Drama (1830), in _Representative American Plays_
         (edited by A.H. Quinn). 1917.

     =Essays=

       EMERSON, R. W. Discourse at Concord, 200th Anniversary. Works,
         Vol. XI.

       LOWELL, J. R. New England Two Centuries Ago. Works, Vol. II.

       WHITTIER, J. G. A Chapter of History, in _Literary Recreations
         and Miscellanies_.

     =Fiction=

       AUSTIN, MRS. J. G. Standish of Standish.

       AUSTIN, MRS. J. G. Betty Alden (sequel).

       AUSTIN, MRS. J. G. David Alden's Daughter.

       HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. The Gray Champion and The Maypole of Merry
         Mount, in _Twice-Told Tales_.

       HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. Young Goodman Brown, in _Mosses from an
         Old Manse_.

       HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. The Scarlet Letter.

       JOHNSTON, MARY. By Order of the Company.

       JOHNSTON, MARY. The Old Dominion.

       MOTLEY, J. L. Merry Mount.

     =Poetry=

       Poems of American History (edited by B.E. Stevenson), pp. 36-56.

       American History by American poets (edited by N.U. Wallington).
         Vol. I, pp. 39-92.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the "New English Canaan," Bk. III, with a view to deciding how far
Morton's evident prejudice discredited his account of the Puritans;
examine it again for its specifically literary qualities.

Read from Bradford's "History of Plimouth Plantation" for the admirable
traits of Puritanism and see, also, if you find grounds for any of
Morton's strictures.

Read the Hawthorne selections in the Book List--Literary Treatment
of the Period--and decide how far he may have sympathized with the
attitude of Morton in the "New English Canaan."

Read from "The Simple Cobler of Aggawam" for any evidence of Nathaniel
Ward's residence in America; decide on the degree to which the work is
English and the degree to which it is colonial.

Compare the attitude toward Ireland of Nathaniel Ward in this work and
of Jonathan Swift in his "Modest Proposal."

Make comparisons in diction from a corresponding number of pages in
"The Simple Cobler" and in Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus."



                               CHAPTER II

                           THE EARLIEST VERSE


Although it is generally said of the Puritans that they were actually
hostile to all the arts, there is abundant proof that they had a
liking for verse and a widespread inclination to try their hands at
it. They wrote memorial verses of the most intricate and ingenious
sorts, sometimes carving them in stone as epitaphs. There is less verse
sprinkled through the unregenerate Morton's "Canaan" than there is in
the intolerant Ward's "Cobler." The old conservative never wrote more
wisely than in this so-called "song":

      They seldom lose the field, but often win,
      Who end their Warres, before their Warres begin.

      Their Cause is oft the worse, that first begin,
      And they may lose the field, the field that win.

      In Civil Warres 'twixt Subjects and their King,
      There is no conquest got, by conquering.

      Warre ill begun, the onely way to mend,
      Is t'end the Warre before the Warre do end.

      They that will end ill Warres, must have the skill,
      To make an end by Rule, and not by Will.

      In ending Warres 'tween Subjects and their Kings,
      Great things are sav'd by losing little things.

The first whole volume in English printed in the Western Hemisphere
(printing of Spanish books in Mexico had long preceded) was "The Bay
Psalm Book," Cambridge, 1640. This represented a conscientious attempt
to put into the service of worship a literal translation of the Psalms.
The worst passages are all too frequently cited as evidence of the
inability of the Puritans to compose or appreciate good verse. And this
in spite of the often-quoted and charmingly written prose comment in
the editors' preface:

  If therefore the verses are not alwayes so smooth and elegant as
  some may desire or expect; let them consider that God's Altar needs
  not our pollishings: Ex. 20. for wee have respected rather a plaine
  translation, then to smooth our verses with the sweetness of any
  paraphrase, and soe have attended Conscience rather than Elegance,
  fidelity rather then poetry, in translating the hebrew words into
  english language, and David's poetry into english meetre; that soe
  wee may sing in Sion the Lords songs of prayse according to his owne
  will; untill hee take us from hence and wipe away all our teares, &
  bid us enter into our masters joye to sing eternall Halleluliahs.

Some historians, moreover, seem to derive satisfaction from quoting
passages from Michael Wigglesworth's (1631-1705) "Day of Doom" as
added proof that the Puritans were never able to write verse that was
beautiful or even graceful. It must be admitted that this grave and
pretentious piece of work was hardly more lovely than the name of the
author. Wigglesworth was a devoted Puritan who came to America at the
age of seven; graduated from Harvard College; qualified to practice
medicine; and then became a preacher, serving, with intermissions of
ill health, as pastor in Malden, Massachusetts, from 1657 until his
death in 1705. He was a gentle, kindly minister, unfailing in his care
for both the bodies and the souls of his parishioners.

He had the "lurking propensity" for verse-writing which was common
among the men of his time, but instead of venting it merely in the
composing of acrostics, anagrams, and epitaphs, he dedicated it to the
Lord in the writing of a sort of rimed sermon on the subject of the Day
of Judgment. The full title reads, "The Day of Doom or, a Description
Of the Great and Last Judgment with a short discourse about Eternity.
Eccles. 12. 14. For God shall bring every work into judgment with
every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." It
was printed, probably in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1662. The poem
is composed of two hundred and twenty-four eight-line stanzas. After
an invocation and the announcement of the day of doom, the dead come
from their graves before the throne of Christ. There the "sheep" who
have been chosen for salvation are placed on the right, and the wicked
"goats" come in groups to hear the judge's verdict. These include
hypocrites, civil, honest men, those who died in youth before they were
converted, those who were misled by the example of the good, those who
did not understand the Bible, those who feared martyrdom more than
hell-torment, those who thought salvation was hopeless, and, finally,
those who died as babes. All are sternly answered from the throne, and
all are swept off to a common eternal doom except the infants, for whom
is reserved "the easiest room in hell."

Two facts should be remembered in criticizing "The Day of Doom" as
poetry. The first is that Wigglesworth wrote it consciously as a
teacher and preacher and not as a poet. In his introduction he said:

          Reader, I am a fool
          And have adventurèd
          To play the fool this once for Christ,
          The more his fame to spread.
          If this my foolishness
          Help thee to be more wise,
          I have attainèd what I seek,
          And what I only prize.

The second point is that in writing a rimed sermon for Christian
worshipers he had a model supplied him in the popular "Bay Psalm Book,"
which had appeared some twenty years before and which was familiar to
all the people who were likely to be his readers. The translators of
the 121st Psalm wrote, for example:

          1  I to the hills lift up mine eyes,
               from whence shall come mine aid
          2  Mine help doth from Jehovah come,
               which heav'n and earth hath made.

And Wigglesworth took up the strain with

          No heart so bold, but now grows cold,
            and almost dead with fear;
          No eye so dry but now can cry,
            and pour out many a tear.

To any modern reader the use of this light-footed meter for so grave
a subject seems utterly ill-considered, and the whole idea of the day
of doom as he presented it seems so unnatural as to be amusing. But
Wigglesworth was trying to write a rimed summary of what everybody
thought, in a meter with which everybody was familiar, and he was
unqualifiedly successful. A final verdict on Michael Wigglesworth is
often superciliously pronounced on the basis of this one poem, or,
if any further attention is conceded him, the worst of his remaining
output is produced for evidence that he and all Puritan preachers were
clumsy and prosaic verse-writers.

Yet in the never-quoted lines immediately following "The Day of
Doom"--a poem without a title, on the vanity of human wishes--Michael
Wigglesworth gave proofs of human kindliness and of poetic power. In
these earnest lines Wigglesworth showed a mastery of fluent verse, a
control of poetic imagery, and a gentle yearning for the souls' welfare
of his parishioners which is the utterance of the pastor rather than
of the theologian. For a moment God ceases to be angry, Christ stands
pleading without the gate, and the good pastor utters a poem upon the
neglected theme "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you":

      Fear your great Maker with a child-like awe,
      Believe his Grace, love and obey his Law.
      This is the total work of man, and this
      Will crown you here with Peace and there with Bliss.

"The Day of Doom," however, was far more popular than the better poetry
that Wigglesworth wrote at other times. It was the most popular book
of the century in America. People memorized its easy, jingling meter
just as they might have memorized ballads or, at a later day, Mother
Goose rimes; and the grim description became "the solace," as Lowell
says, "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." The popularity of "The Day of Doom" shows
that in the very years when the Royalists were returning to power in
England the Puritans were greatly in the majority in New England. The
reaction marked by Morton, Ward, and Roger Williams was only beginning.
Moreover, if it had been the only "poetry" of the period, we should
have to admit that the Puritans were almost hopelessly unpoetical.

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) proves the contrary, and in doing so she
proves how the love of beauty can manage to bloom under the bleakest
skies. Her talent was assuredly a "flower in a crannied wall." She
was born in England in 1612 and was married at the age of sixteen, as
girls often were in those days, to a man several years older, Simon
Bradstreet. In 1630 she came to Massachusetts with her husband and
her father. Both became eminent in the affairs of the colony. In the
family they were doubtless sober and probably dull. Mrs. Bradstreet
kept house under pioneer conditions in one place after another, and
when still less than forty years old had become the mother of eight
children. Yet somewhere in the rare moments of her crowded days--and
one can imagine how far apart those moments must have been--she put
into verse "a compleat Discourse and Description of The Four Elements,
Constitutions, Ages of Man, Seasons of the Year; Together with an exact
Epitome of the four Monarchies, viz., the Assyrian, Persian, Grecian,
Roman" [this means _five_ long poems, and not two]; "also a dialogue
between Old England and New concerning the late troubles; with divers
other pleasant and serious poems." All these she wrote without apparent
thought of publication, for the purely artistic reason that she enjoyed
doing so; and in 1650--halfway between "The Bay Psalm Book" and "The
Day of Doom"--they were taken over to London by a friend, and there put
into print as the work of "The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America."

Poetry was more than a diversion for Anne Bradstreet; it must have been
a passion. As a girl she had been allowed to read in the library of
the Puritan Earl of Lincoln, over whose estate her father was steward.
And here she had fallen under the spell of the lesser poets of her
age, naturally not the dramatists, whom the Puritans opposed. So,
after their fashion, and particularly in the fashion of a Frenchman,
Du Bartas, whose works were popular in an English translation, she
wrote her quaint "quarternions," or poems on the four elements, the
four seasons, the four ages, and the four "humours," and capped them
all with the four monarchies. These are interesting to the modern
reader only as examples of how the human mind used to work. Chaucer
had juggled with the same materials; Ben Jonson had been fascinated
with them. It was a literary tradition to develop them one by one, to
set them in debate against each other, and to interweave them into
corresponding groups: childhood, water, winter, phlegm; youth, air,
spring, blood; manhood, fire, summer, choler; and old age, earth,
autumn, melancholy.

Yet her chief claim on our interest is founded on the shorter poems,
in which she took least pride. In these she showed her real command
of word and measure to express poetic thought. Her "Contemplations,"
for example, is as poetic in thought as Bryant's "Thanatopsis," or
as Lanier's "The Marshes of Glynn," to which it stands in suggestive
contrast (see pp. 161 and 357). The former two are on the idea that
nature endures but man passes away. This was never long absent from the
Puritan mind, but when it came to the ordinary Puritan it was likely to
be cast into homely and prosaic verse, as in the epitaph:

      The path of death it must be trod
      By them that wish to walk with God.

Anne Bradstreet, taking the same observation, wrote with noble dignity:

      O Time the fatal wrack of mortal things,
      That draws oblivions curtain over kings,
      Their sumptuous monuments, men know them not,
      Their names without a Record are forgot,
      Their parts, their ports, their pomp's all laid in th' dust
      Nor wit, nor gold, nor buildings, scape time's rust;
      But he whose name is grav'd in the white stone[1]
      Shall last and shine when all of these are gone.

  [1] Rev. ii, 17.

Yet as a strictly Puritan poetess she did only one part of her work.
She was even more interesting as an early champion of her sex. She did
not go so far as to assert equality of the sexes; that was too far in
advance of the age for her imagination. But she did contend that women
should be given credit for whatever was worth "small praise." This
appears again and again in her shorter poems.

      Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are
      Men have precedency and still excell,
      It is but vain unjustly to wage warre;
      Men can do best, and women know it well;
      Preheminence in all and each is yours;
      Yet grant some small acknowledgment of ours.

Naturally she was full of pride in the achievements of Queen Elizabeth,
a pride which she expressed in a fine song "In Honour of that High and
Mighty Princess":

      From all the Kings on earth she won the prize.
      Nor say I more then duly is her due,
      Millions will testifie that this is true.
      She hath wip'd off th' aspersion of her Sex,
      That women wisdom lack to play the Rex:
      Spains Monarch, sayes not so, nor yet his host:
      She taught them better manners, to their cost.
      The Salique law, in force now had not been,
      If France had ever hop'd for such a Queen.
      But can you Doctors now this point dispute,
      She's Argument enough to make you mute.
      Since first the sun did run his nere run race,
      And earth had once a year, a new old face,
      Since time was time, and man unmanly man,
      Come shew me such a _Phoenix_ if you can?

Then follows a recital of Elizabeth's proudest triumphs, and assertions
of how far she surpassed Tomris, Dido, Cleopatra, Zenobya, and the
conclusion:

      Now say, have women worth? or have they none?
      Or had they some, but with our Queen is't gone?
      Nay Masculines, you have thus taxt us long,
      But she, though dead, will vindicate our wrong.
      Let such as say our Sex is void of Reason,
      Know tis a Slander now, but once was Treason.

Anne Bradstreet foreshadowed the "woman's movement" of to-day by two
full centuries, and thus showed how even the daughter of one Puritan
governor of Massachusetts and the wife of another could be thinking and
aspiring far in advance of her times.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  OTIS, W. B. American Verse, 1625-1807. 1909. (A full and valuable
     bibliography appended.)

  TUCKER, S. M. In chap. ix of Cambridge History of American
     Literature, Vol. I, Bk. I.

  TYLER, M. C. A History of American Literature. Colonial Period
     (1607-1765), Vol. I, chaps. x, xi. 1878.

=_Individual Authors_=

  The Bay Psalm Book. The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated
     into English Metre, etc. 1640.

     =Available Editions=

       A Reprint, 1862.

       Facsimile Reprint for the New England Society in the City of New
         York, 1903.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 73-81.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 16-18.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. I,
         pp. 211-216.

  MICHAEL WIGGLESWORTH. The Day of Doom; or, a Description of the
     Great and Last Judgment, etc. (1662). Meat out of the Eater:
     or, Meditations concerning the necessity, end and usefulness of
     Afflictions unto God's Children, etc. (1670). God's Controversy
     with New England (1662). Vanity of Vanities (appended to 3d
     edition of The Day of Doom).

     =Available Editions=

       The Day of Doom, 1867.

       God's Controversy with New England. _Proceedings of the Mass.
         Hist. Soc._, 1871.

     =Biography=

       Memoir of Michael Wigglesworth. J. W. Dean. 1871. See also M.
         W.,* earliest poet among Harvard graduates. _Proceedings of
         the Mass. Hist. Soc._, 1895.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 18-23, 598-600.

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 163-177.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 57-59.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. II,
         pp. 3-19.

  ANNE BRADSTREET. The Tenth Muse lately sprung up in America, or
     Several Poems, compiled with great Variety of Wit and Learning,
     full of Delight--by a Gentlewoman in those parts. 1650.

     =Available Editions=

       The Club of Odd Volumes, 1897.

       The Works of Anne Bradstreet, in Prose and Verse. J. H. Ellis,
         editor. 1867. This contains a valuable memoir.

       The Works of Mrs. Anne Bradstreet, together with her prose
         remains, and with an introduction by Charles Eliot Norton.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       CAMPBELL, HELEN. Anne Bradstreet and her Time. 1891.

       TYLER, M. C. American Literature. Colonial Period, Vol. I, chap.
         x.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 1-8, 594-598.

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 146-164.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 47-52.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. I,
         pp. 311-315.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Confirm the comparison of meters in the "Bay Psalm Book" and "The Day
of Doom."

       *       *       *       *       *

Read the opening and closing passages in "The Day of Doom" (Boynton,
"American Poetry," pp. 18-21) for the genuinely poetic material.
Compare with Milton's use of the same material in "Paradise Lost," Bk.
I.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Anne Bradstreet's verses to Queen Elizabeth, the Prologue to the
long poems, the rimed epistles to her husband, and the tributary poems
of Nathaniel Ward and others (Boynton, "American Poetry," pp. 1-13
passim) for the difference--even with her liberalism--between her point
of view and that of the modern woman.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read "Contemplations" and a passage of equal length from "The Faerie
Queene" for likenesses and differences in versification.

       *       *       *       *       *

Compare the ideas of God and of nature in "Contemplations" (of the
later seventeenth century), "Thanatopsis" (of the early nineteenth), and
"The Marshes of Glynn" (of the later nineteenth) and note how far they
are personal to Anne Bradstreet, Bryant, and Lanier and how far they
represent the spirit of their respective periods.



                              CHAPTER III

                THE TRANSITION TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY


As the end of the seventeenth century approached, the Puritans were
still in an overwhelming majority in New England, but the hold of the
churchmen on the government of the colonies was, nevertheless, being
slowly and reluctantly relaxed. Government in America has always, in
its broad aspects, reflected the will of the people. If legislators
and legislation have been vicious, it has been because the majority of
the people have not cared enough about it to see that good men were
chosen. If stupid and blundering laws have been passed, it has been
because the people were not wide awake enough to analyze them. On the
other hand old laws, unadjusted to modern conditions, have often become
"dead letters" because the majority did not wish to have them enforced,
even though they were on the statute books; and new and progressive
legislation has been imposed on reluctant lawmakers by the pressure
of public opinion. Now the Puritan uprising in England had been a
democratic movement by a people who wanted to have a hand in their own
government. It was a religious movement, because in England Church
and State are one and because the oppression in religious matters had
been particularly offensive. And in England it had been on the whole
successful in spite of the restoration of kingship in 1660, for from
that time on the arbitrary power of king and council were steadily and
increasingly curbed. As a consequence there was a parallel movement
in the democracy across the sea. American colonists with a highly
developed sense of justice resented a bad royal governor like Andros,
and were able to force his withdrawal; and they resented unreasonable
domination by the clergy, and were independent enough to shake it
off. Between 1690 and 1700 Harvard College became for the first time
something more than a training school for preachers; the right to vote
in Boston was made to depend on moral character and property ownership
instead of on membership in the church; and in the midst of the Salem
witchcraft hysteria judges and grand-jurymen caught their balance and
refused any longer to act as cat's-paws of the clergy. The passage to
the eighteenth century was therefore a time of transition in common
thinking; and the record of the change is clearly discernible in the
literary writings of the old-line conservatives Cotton and Increase
Mather, in the Diary of Samuel Sewall, who was able to see the light
and to change slowly with his generation, and in the Journal of Sarah
Kemble Knight, who represented the silent unorthodoxy of hundreds of
other well-behaved and respectable people.

The Mathers, Increase (1639-1723) and Cotton (1663-1728), were the
second and third of a succession of four members of one family who
were so popular and influential as to deserve the nickname which is
sometimes given them of the "Mather Dynasty." These two were both born
in America, educated in Boston and at Harvard, and made church leaders
while still young men. In age they were only twenty-four years apart,
and from 1682 to 1723 they worked together to uphold and increase the
power of the church in New England. Because of their prominence as
preachers they inherited the "good will" which had belonged to their
greatest predecessors, and by their own industry, learning, eloquence,
and general vigor they added to their ecclesiastical fortunes like
skillful business men. Their congregations were large and respectfully
attentive; scores of their sermons were reprinted by request; on
all public occasions and in all public discussions they were at the
forefront. They were great popular favorites, and in the end they
suffered the fate of many another popular favorite. For the deference
which was given to them year after year made them vain and domineering;
they talked too much and too long and too confidently, and they made
the mistakes of judgment which men who talk all the time are bound to
make. When Increase Mather lost the presidency of Harvard in 1701 they
both acted like spoiled children; their prestige was already on the
wane, for when the reaction had followed the witchcraft delusion, to
which they had fanned the flames, the caution which they had advised
was forgotten, and the encouragement which they had given was held
up against them. To the ends of their lives, in 1723 and 1728, they
were proudly unrelenting, but their last years were embittered by the
knowledge that their power was departed from them.

The bulk of their authorship was prodigious, even though most of
it was in the form of pamphlets or booklets, for it amounted in
the case of Increase to about one hundred and fifty titles, and in
the case of Cotton to nearly four hundred. But they are chiefly
remembered for three books: "An Essay for the recording of Illustrious
Providences," by the elder; and "The Wonders of the Invisible World"
and the "Magnalia Christi Americana: Or the Ecclesiastical History of
New-England," by the younger. The first two of these are unintended
explanations to the twentieth-century reader as to how a whole
community could ever have been swept into the Salem witchcraft excesses
of 1692. Any educated man who should advance the theories to-day which
were soberly expounded by these two really learned men would be held up
to scorn and very possibly be made subject of a sanity investigation.
Yet two hundred years ago the world was ignorant of the commonplaces
of science. Popular superstition therefore ran riot; and the belief
that God would interpose in the affairs of daily individual life, and
that a personal devil was walking up and down the earth seeking whom
he might devour, added to the confusion. Medicine in those days was
hardly a science even in the broadest sense of the word. Physicians
depended for honest effects on a few simple herb remedies and on
powerful emetics and the letting of blood. The populace believed in
curatives which still are resorted to only by children and the most
ignorant of grown-ups--like anointing implements with which they had
been injured, in order to heal cuts and bruises, or like being touched
by the monarch as a remedy for scrofula, the "king's evil." Sir Kenelm
Digby, a well-known subject of Charles II, reported that he overcame a
persistent illness by having the fumes of camomile poured into his ear.
The same sort of speculation prevailed in all the other sciences; and
side by side with it superstition flourished. Between 1560 and 1600 in
the little kingdom of Scotland, which had a population no larger than
that of Massachusetts to-day, there were eight thousand executions for
witchcraft,--an average of nearly four a week; and James I, who was
Scotland's gift to England, was the author of a work on demonology.

What the New Englanders, and among them the Mathers, believed was,
therefore, not unusual at the time. In fact the Mathers were both
somewhat less credulous than their fellows, but they only substituted
one superstition for another. Their way of casting off the old and
vulgar beliefs which were pagan in origin was to contend that these
vain and foolish ideas were put into Christian minds by Satan and his
emissaries. Said Increase Mather in his "Illustrious Providences":

  Some also have believed that if they should cast Lead into the Water,
  then _Saturn_ would discover to them the thing they inquired after.
  It is not _Saturn_ but _Satan_ that maketh the discovery, when
  anything is in such a way revealed. And of this sort is the foolish
  Sorcery of those Women that put the white of an Egg into a Glass of
  Water, so that they may be able to divine of what Occupation their
  future husbands shall be. It were much better to remain ignorant
  than thus to consult with the Devil. These kind of practices appear
  at first blush to be Diabolical; so that I shall not multiply Words
  in evincing the evil of them. It is noted that _the Children of
  Israel did secretly those things that are not right against the Lord
  their God_ 2 King. 17. 9. I am told there are some who do secretly
  practice such Abominations as these last mentioned, unto whom the
  Lord in mercy give deep and unfeigned Repentance and pardon for their
  grievous Sin.

These preachers thus turned superstition into an enemy of the true
religion, as it assuredly is; but they regarded it not as the fruit
of ignorance, to be remedied by education and intelligence, but as a
device of Satan which could be offset by preaching and prayer. The
two books are cut from the same cloth, so that an indication of the
contents of the one just mentioned will give an idea of them both.
The chapter headings run as follows: Of Remarkable Sea Deliverances;
Preservations; Lightening; Philosophical Meditations; Things
Preternatural [voices of invisible speakers and doings of mysterious
mischief-makers]; That there are Daemons and Possessed Persons [three
main arguments: (1) Scripture forbade witchcraft, therefore there must
be such a thing; (2) experience has made it manifest; (3) convicted
maldoers have confessed it]; Apparitions; Conscience; Deaf and Dumb
Persons; Tempests; Earthquakes; and Judgments. As a whole the book is a
collection of curious anecdotes taken on almost any hearsay, but almost
all at second or third hand. They resemble some of the most popular of
the atrocity stories which have been told during every war that history
chronicles, but which no investigator has been able to run down in
any single instance. In point of superstition the Mathers, to repeat,
should be considered in two lights: compared with educated men of the
twentieth century they were almost incredibly primitive in what they
were willing to believe, but considered with reference to their own
generation they fought the wiles of the devil as soldiers of the Lord.

The most ambitious work that either produced was Cotton Mather's
"Magnalia," a history of the Church in New England. This was a bulky
two-volume effort, divided into seven parts, or books. As a matter
of fact it was really a general history of the region by a man who
regarded the existence of New England as identical with the existence
of the Church. In this basic assumption as well as in many of his
details Cotton Mather revealed himself as a hopeless conservative of
his day--hopeless because it was already evident to all but him and his
kind that the State was shaking off the control of the Church leaders.
One can get a fair idea of the bias of the book from the opening
paragraph:

  It is the Opinion of some, though 'tis _but_ an _Opinion_, and
  _but_ of _some_ Learned Men, That when the Sacred Oracles of Heaven
  assure us, _The Things under the Earth_ are some of those, _whose
  Knees are to bow in the Name of Jesus_, by those _Things_ are meant
  the Inhabitants of _America_, who are Antipodes to those of the
  other _Hemispheres_. I would not quote any words of _Lactantius_,
  though there are _some_ to countenance this Interpretation, because
  of their being so _Ungeographical_: nor would I go to strengthen
  the Interpretation by reciting the Words of the _Indians_ to the
  first _White Invaders_ of their Territories, _We hear you are come
  from under the World, to take our World from us._ But granting the
  _uncertainty_ of such an Exposition, I shall yet give the Church of
  God a certain account of these _Things_, which in _America_ have
  been Believing and Adoring the glorious _Name_ of Jesus; and of that
  Country in America, where those _Things_ have been attended with
  Circumstances most remarkable.

The "Magnalia" is really an attempt at a general history of New England
from 1620 to 1698, containing classified material on the governors,
magistrates, and preachers, a history of Harvard, a collection of
reports of church transactions, an account of the Indian Wars, and "A
Faithful Record of many Illustrious Wonderful Providences." Yet for
historical data it is almost as unreliable as the libelous "New English
Canaan" of Thomas Morton. For Morton was no more eager to turn the
facts to the discredit of the Puritans than Mather was to interpret
them to the glory of the Church; and the consequence was that neither
could be absolutely trusted. The historians have abandoned Mather as a
safe authority. His sin has found him out, even though he committed it
in the name of the Lord.

The man in this period in whom complete faith can be put is Samuel
Sewall, who did not profess to be an author except in an incidental
way. He lived from 1652 to 1730 and kept a very full diary from 1673
to 1729. This was written with no thought of publication, and actually
was not printed until a hundred and fifty years later, when it was
given to the world by the Massachusetts Historical Society. In American
literature Sewall's Diary occupies a place almost exactly parallel to
that of John Evelyn's in English letters. Their lives and their long
diaries covered about the same years, and they held corresponding
positions in the communities. Both were educated men--Sewall was a
graduate of Harvard--and both were highly respected and trusted.
Sewall held a minor position at Harvard connected with the library,
was prominent in church affairs, and was a judge, officiating at the
time of the Salem witchcraft trials. An informal journal written
without prejudice, by such a man as he, gives material of the greatest
value for a picture of the times. It is material of course and not
the picture itself, for it lacks anything in the way of composition,
just as do the facts of ordinary daily life in the order of their
occurrence. But out of it two main threads of interest may be unwoven.
One is the sober but not unrelieved background of the times, itself a
composite of various strands. Religion was its strongest fiber. Few
weeks pass in which there is no record of sermon, fast, christening,
wedding, funeral, or special celebration. These were among the chief
social happenings of the calendar. Funerals as well as more festive
occasions were accompanied with gifts of gloves and rings; refreshments
were ample if not lavish; and the bill for strong drinks was always a
heavy item, for it must be remembered that prohibition is of recent
origin, and that among the Puritans self-control made drunkenness as
infrequent as drinking was common. Against frivolity too they set their
minds; and Sewall's Diary gives a protest at "tricks" and dancing and
May festivals, and even Christmas and Easter, which were triply hated
because they had their origins in pagan tradition and had come to the
present through the Church of Rome and the Church of England. Yet the
objections to these practices and festivals show that they were real
disturbances in Sewall's Boston, as were the roistering of sailors and
other strangers in town.

The other and more important thread is the revelation of the inner
mind of a flesh-and-blood colonial American. It takes patient reading
to recreate the real man; but he is here in these pages, with all the
inconsistencies that make up life out of story-books. He was all in all
a fine, devout, broad-gauge man--and this is what any biographer would
tell of him--with a moderate supply of littleness and petty vanity,
which the biographer would be almost certain to suppress. And he was
in himself a record of the public opinion of his generation. He wrote
two other things besides his Diary. One is a theological treatise which
was as uninspired as the quoted paragraph from Mather's "Magnalia,"
and on much the same theme. It shows him to be an apparently hopeless
old fogy. The other is a pamphlet called "The Selling of Joseph,"
which was probably the first antislavery utterance printed in America,
and implies that Samuel Sewall was centuries ahead of the times.
There is at second glance nothing perplexing in this contradiction.
Sewall was a normal man who stood between the oldest-fashioned and the
newest-fashioned thinkers. Sometimes he leaned backward, and sometimes
forward; but on the whole he was inclined to advance. Of this he gave
one famous proof. Five years after the Salem trials he had the honesty
to admit to himself that he had been all wrong in his judgment, and the
courage to make a public confession of his repentance. He chose one of
the hardest ways of doing it. Among the "curious punishments of bygone
days," one was the humiliation of disreputable persons by forcing
them to sit at the foot of the church pulpit while the minister read
a public reproof. On Fast Day, 1697, Samuel Sewall of his own choice
posted a bill which could be read by any who would, and, giving a copy
of it to the Reverend Mr. Willard, stood up at the reading before the
congregation. The method of atoning for his mistake proves that he was
still a devout and faithful Puritan worshiper, but the fact that he did
so at all shows that he could confess errors, even when they had been
committed in behalf of the Church. The Mathers could neither have seen
nor acknowledged such mistakes. They were too cocksure of being always
right. So life passed on, leaving them by the wayside; and Samuel
Sewall was with the quiet majority who sadly left them behind.

A third representative of the attitudes of mind at the changing of the
centuries was a genial woman, Mrs. Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727).
She was not in any sense a public figure, like the preachers and
the judge just mentioned, nor did she pursue the habit of writing a
continued diary like Sewall's. Most emphatically she was not given
to the unwholesome recording, like many other women in her day, of
"itineraries of daily religious progress, aggravated by overwork,
indigestion, and a gospel of gloom." But there was one itinerary which
she did record for her own satisfaction and which was published more
than a century later, in 1825,--her "Journal of a Journey from Boston
to New York in 1704." At this time a vigorous woman of thirty-eight,
a wife and a mother, she set out alone on the ten-day journey, taking
such guides as she could engage from one stage to the next. The
hardships were considerable and the discomforts and inconveniences
very great; and the striking fact about them is that she bore up under
them in a good-humored, matter-of-fact, sort of twentieth-century
way. An accident was an accident and not a visitation from on high; a
disagreeable or churlish or even a dishonest person was somebody to
be put up with and not to be moralized on as unscriptural. The worst
innkeeper she encountered was a man to avoid in the future rather than
a man to convert; she did not seem shocked by a drunken quarrel late
one night, but she was annoyed, because she wanted to go to sleep.

She was at times positively frivolous and irreverent in her allusions.
Crossing a river one day she was very near to being tipped over.

  The canoe was very small and shallow, so that when we were in [it]
  seemed ready to take in water, which greatly terrified me, and caused
  me to be very circumspect, sitting with my hands fast on each side,
  my eyes steady, not daring so much as to lodge my tongue a hair's
  breadth more on one side of my mouth than t' other, nor so much as to
  think on Lot's wife; for a wry thought would have overset our wherry.

Her jests about the name of the innkeeper, Mr. Devil, would have landed
her in the stocks had she made them publicly in Boston.

  The post encouraged me by saying we should be well accommodated at
  Mr. Devil's, a few miles further; but I questioned whether we ought
  to go to the Devil to be helped out of affliction. However, like the
  rest of the deluded souls that post to the infernal den, we made all
  possible speed to this Devil's habitation; where, alighting in good
  assurance of good accommodations, we were going in.

The accommodations turned out to be anything but good; and she left her
host with a sigh of relief, and the thought "He differed only in this
from the old fellow in t' other country--he let us depart," following
the observation with a rimed warning for subsequent travelers to avoid
this earthly hell. These are quoted not because they are admirable or
worthy of imitation but because they give an indication of what was
going on under one very respectable bonnet when Mrs. Knight was sitting
decorously in her Boston pew. She was a highly respected woman in the
Puritan community. She was accustomed to its ways. There is no word of
motherly regret that she was away from her little daughter on Christmas
Day, for Christmas was not a festal day in her calendar. Of the people
who were coming into manhood and womanhood when Sarah Kemble Knight
was born, Hawthorne wrote in "The Scarlet Letter": "The generation
next to the early immigrants wore the blackest shade of Puritanism,
and so darkened the national visage with it, that all the subsequent
years have not sufficed to clear it up. We have yet to learn again the
forgotten art of gayety."

It was men like the author of the "Magnalia" who had darkened the
national visage, but women here and there, like the writer of this
Journal, who had already returning gleams of gayety. Of the three
people whom we have taken as types of New-England thought at this
period, Cotton Mather may fairly be regarded as representing the
faith of a declining theology, Samuel Sewall the hope of a broader
and more generous civic attitude, and Mrs. Knight as the flicker of
charity or warm-hearted and genial fellow-feeling which had been almost
extinguished in the seventeenth century.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  CHAMBERLAIN, N. H. Samuel Sewall and the World he Lived in. 1897.

  COBB, S. H. Rise of Religious Liberty in America. 1902.

  DEXTER, HENRY M. The Congregationalism of the Last Three Hundred
     Years as Seen in its Literature. With a bibliographical
     appendix. 1880. (An excellent history, and indispensable for its
     bibliographical information.)

  EARLE, ALICE MORSE. Child Life in Colonial Days. 1904.

  EARLE, ALICE MORSE. Curious Punishments of Bygone Days. 1896 and 1907.

  EARLE, ALICE MORSE. Customs and Fashions in Old New England. 1893.

  EARLE, ALICE MORSE. Home Life in Colonial Days. 1898.

  EARLE, ALICE MORSE. Stage-Coach and Tavern Days. 1900.

  FISKE, JOHN. New France and New England, chap. v.

  MASSON, DAVID. Life of John Milton. 1859-1880. 6 vols. (Valuable for
     the English backgrounds of Puritanism.)

  RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature, chap. iv.

  TYLER, M. C. A History of American Literature. Colonial Period. Vol.
     I, chaps. xii, xiii.

  WALKER, W. Ten New England Leaders. 1901.

  WENDELL, BARRETT. Literary History of America, Bk. I, chap. V. 1901.

=_Individual Authors_=

  INCREASE MATHER. An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious
     Providences. 1684.

     =Available Edition=

       With introductory preface by George Offor. London, 1890.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 199-216.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, p. 59.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. A Library of American Literature, Vol.
         II, pp. 75-106.

       COTTON MATHER. The Wonders of the Invisible World. 1693.
         Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History of
         New England, 1620-1698. 1702.

     =Available Editions=

       Magnalia. With notes, translations, and life. 1853. The Wonders,
         etc. Reprints, Cambridge, 1861, 1862. */

     =Biography and Criticism=

       MARVIN, Rev. A. P. The Life and Times of Cotton Mather. 1892.

       PARRINGTON, V. L. Cambridge History of American Literature. Vol.
         I, Bk. I, in chap iii.

       SPRAGUE, W. B. Annals of the American Pulpit, Vol. I, pp.
         189-195. 1857.

       TYLER, M. C. History of American Literature. Colonial Period.
         Vol. I, chaps. xii, xiii.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 217-237.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 59-66.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. II,
         pp. 114-166.

       SAMUEL SEWALL. Diary from 1673 to 1729. The only edition is
         _Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., Ser. 5, Vols. VI-VIII_.

     =Collections=

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 238-251.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. II,
         pp. 188-200.

     =History and Criticism=

       CHAMBERLAIN, N. H. (See General References.)

       TYLER, M. C. (See General References.)

       SARAH KEMBLE KNIGHT. Journals of Madame Knight. From the
         original manuscripts written in 1704. T. Dwight, editor. 1825.

     =Available Editions=

       A Reprint, Albany, 1865.

       A Reprint, Norwich, Conn., 1901.

     =Collection=

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. II,
         pp. 248-264.

     =History and Criticism=

       TYLER, M. C. (See General References.)

_Literary Treatment of the Period_

     =Drama=

       BARKER, J. N. Superstition, a Tragedy (1824), in _Representative
         American Plays_ (edited by A. H. Quinn). 1917.

       LONGFELLOW, H. W. The New England Tragedies.

       WILKINS, MARY E. Giles Corey, Yeoman.

     =Essays=

       LOWELL, J. R. Witchcraft. Works, Vol. V.

       WHITTIER, J. G. Charms and Fairy Faith, and Magicians and Witch
         Folk in _Literary Recreations and Miscellanies_.

     =Fiction=

       AUSTIN, MRS. J. G. A Nameless Nobleman.

       AUSTIN, MRS. J. G. Dr. Le Baron and his Daughter (sequel).

       COOPER, J. F. The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish.

       SIMMS, W. GILMORE. The Yemassee.

       WILKINS, MARY E. The Heart's Highway.

     =Poetry=

       Poems of American History (edited by B. E. Stevenson), pp. 71-97.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the introduction to the "Magnalia" or a chapter from "Illustrious
Providences," or "The Wonders of the Invisible World," for evidence
of superstition based on Scriptural authority and of vulgar, or folk,
superstition.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the _Nation_ of August 17, 1918, pp. 173-175, there is an article
in review of five new books under the title "Spirit Communication."
Establish the differences and the likenesses between the modern
attitude and the attitude of the seventeenth century toward "the
invisible world."

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Fitz-Greene Halleck's "Connecticut," stanzas xiii-xxvi, and
Whittier's "The Double-Headed Snake of Newbury," ll. 71-85, as well as
Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (see p. 129 in this volume), for
typical literary expressions of aversion to Cotton Mather.

       *       *       *       *       *

The best method of approaching Samuel Sewall's Diary is to read some
fifty pages--preferably between 1680 and 1710--for the references to a
definite topic. This may best be selected from promising suggestions in
the first few pages of reading. If none appears, look for any of the
following or others like them: Sunday observance; funerals, weddings,
and christenings; the pastor and his people; holidays; parents
and children; self-analysis; religious discipline; law and order.
Comparisons on a given topic with the entries for the same period in
Evelyn or for an equal number of pages in Pepys are fruitful.

       *       *       *       *       *

A similar approach may be made to Mrs. Knight's compact and consecutive
Journal. Her humor, irreverence, tolerance, independence, timidity, or
her use of exaggeration, mock-heroics, Scriptural allusion, personal
description, social analysis, are rich in their possibilities.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read in Andrew Macphail's "Essays in Puritanism" the essay on John
Winthrop, and then the exchange of opinions between Messrs. White and
Hackett in the _New Republic_, May 17, 1919. Do either or both throw
light on the chief characters discussed in this chapter?



                               CHAPTER IV

                 JONATHAN EDWARDS AND BENJAMIN FRANKLIN


The danger in drawing conclusions about a whole century, as we have
been doing, is that the facts may be forced to seem far simpler than
they were. It should be kept in mind that these are only certain broad
currents of thought, tendencies which were obscured by all sorts of
cross waves and chop seas. And it should be mentioned that the Puritan
with the greatest mind of them all, Jonathan Edwards, was only a year
old when Mrs. Knight made her journey to New York, and that to the end
of his life, in 1758, he struggled in vain to keep alive the logic of
the old religious doctrines.

He was born in 1703 with a rich heritage from the learned aristocracy.
As a youth he showed extraordinary precocity, which appeared in his
early excursions into philosophy and natural science and developed
further in the unfulfilled promise of religious radicalism.

  From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against
  the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to
  eternal life, and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally
  to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear
  like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well,
  when I seemed to be convinced, and fully satisfied, as to this
  sovereignty of God.... I have often, since that first conviction,
  had quite another kind of sense of God's sovereignty than I had
  then. I have often since had not only a conviction, but a delightful
  conviction. The doctrine has very often appeared exceedingly
  pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to
  ascribe to God. But my first conviction was not so.

[Illustration: POINTS OF LITERARY INTEREST IN NEW ENGLAND]

  The first instance that I remember of that sort of inward, sweet
  delight in God and divine things that I have lived much in since, was
  on reading those words, 1 Tim. i. 17, _Now unto the King eternal,
  immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever
  and ever, Amen._ As I read the words, there came into my soul, and
  was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the
  Divine Being....

  Not long after I first began to experience these things, I gave an
  account to my father of some things that had passed in my mind. I was
  pretty much affected by the discourse we had together; and when the
  discourse was ended, I walked abroad alone, in a solitary place in my
  father's pasture, for contemplation. And as I was walking there, and
  looking up on the sky and clouds, there came into my mind so sweet a
  sense of the glorious _majesty_ and _grace_ of God, that I know not
  how to express. I seemed to see them both in a sweet conjunction;
  majesty and meekness joined together; it was a sweet and gentle, and
  holy majesty; and also a majestic meekness; an awful sweetness; a
  high, and great, and holy gentleness.

The striking fact about Edwards's later development, however, is
that he passed entirely from poetic mysticism to a championship of
the theology of Calvin. His great period of influence was during
his pastorate in Northampton, Massachusetts, from 1727 to 1750, and
during his following six years at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He was
a preacher of extraordinary power--the more extraordinary because his
command of audiences was obtained by the sheer quality of his discourse
and not, as in the case of John Cotton and the Mathers, by pulpit
presence or flights of eloquence. His sermons were at once irresistible
in their logic (provided his auditors were willing to start with his
assumptions) and, at the same time, irresistibly cogent in their
simple, concrete methods of illustration. His most famous discourse,
"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," is a complete illustration
of his method. Notwithstanding his sincerity and his talents as a
preacher his ministerial experience was ended with a tragic downfall.
His parishioners could not endure the rigor of his teachings, agreeing
perversely with Dr. Johnson's later dictum on his "Freedom of the
Will"--that all theory might be for it but all experience was against
it. During his residence in Stockbridge he continued with the writing
of discourses which philosophers have agreed at once to applaud and
reject. He died in 1758 shortly after his inauguration as president of
the College of New Jersey.

His failure lay in the fact that his religion was a religion of logic
rather than of faith. It was based on what learned men had theorized
out from the Bible, and in a great many cases from the least important
passages of the Bible, and it sternly rejected what many other equally
learned men had found in the same book. Moreover, it was concerned
with life on earth chiefly as a prelude to a future life of reward
or punishment. In all the tide of human event which was making the
eighteenth century each year more interesting as a matter of present
living, men could not go on indefinitely looking everywhere but at life
itself. Oliver Wendell Holmes summed up the situation in his "Wonderful
'One-Hoss Shay'" (see p. 305). This is a pleasant story for children,
but a comment on life for grown-ups; and to the grown-ups Holmes
addressed his concluding couplet:

      End of the wonderful one-hoss shay:
      _Logic_ is _logic_. That's all I say.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) is the man who reflected better and
earlier than other Americans the complete change from the Puritan point
of view--reflecting it so unqualifiedly that he must be understood as
an extreme case and not a typical one. In education and character he
offered a succession of contrasts to the leaders of seventeenth-century
New England. He did not come of a cultured family; he was not a college
man; he did not enter any of the learned professions--ministry, law, or
teaching; he was not an active supporter of the church; he did not live
in the New England where he was born. In fact he was one of the first
to act on the much-quoted principle, "Boston is a very good place--to
come from."

Franklin was born in Boston in 1706, the youngest son of a
tallow-chandler and the fifteenth of seventeen children. He was
industrious and bookish as a boy, and before he was seventeen years
old he had trained himself to write in the fashion of the English
essayist Joseph Addison, had been apprenticed in his brother's printing
shop, and had written many articles published in his brother's paper,
_The New England Courant_. In 1723, as the result of troubles with his
brother, he ran away to Philadelphia. From there he went to London
for two years, on the promise of the irresponsible Governor Keith
to set him up in the printing business on his return. The failure
of the governor to keep his word did him no harm in the end, for he
established his own printing house in 1728, and in 1748, at the age of
forty-two, he was able to retire with a moderate fortune. During this
time he had not only succeeded in Philadelphia but had combined with
partners in New York, Newport, Lancaster (Pennsylvania), Charleston
(South Carolina), Kingston, Jamaica, and Antigua.

The activities of his life were so crowded and interwoven that they
may best be summarized under a few simple heads. As a public-spirited
citizen of Philadelphia he organized a debating society, the Junto, in
1727; published _The Pennsylvania Gazette_ in 1729; founded the first
circulating library in America in 1731; conducted _Poor Richard's
Almanac_ from 1732 to 1748; organized the American Philosophical
Society in 1744; and in 1749 founded the academy which developed
into the University of Pennsylvania. As an inventor he perfected the
Franklin stove in 1742 and contrived methods of street paving and
lighting which were widely adopted. As a scientist he proved the
identity of lightning and electricity in 1752, and went on from that to
further investigations which sooner or later brought him election to
the Royal Academy of London and their Copley gold medal, an appointment
as one of the eight foreign associates of the French Academy of
Sciences, and medals and diplomas from other societies in St.
Petersburg, Madrid, Edinburgh, Padua, and Turin. As a holder of public
trusts and offices he became clerk of the Assembly of Pennsylvania in
1736; postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737; deputy postmaster-general
of the colonies in 1753; commissioner from Pennsylvania to the Albany
Congress in 1754; colonial agent to London from Pennsylvania in
1757 and 1764 and for Massachusetts in 1770; one of the framers of
the Declaration of Independence; minister to the French court from
the United States in 1778; a signer of the Peace Articles in 1783;
president of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1785-1787; and a
framer of the Constitution of the United States. Such a catalogue is
not a thing to be exactly memorized. Its value is like that of an
entry in "Who's Who in America"--it should be referred to when needed.
Yet it is worth reading and rereading as an evidence of the almost
unparalleled variety and usefulness of occupations which filled this
man's life.

Usefulness is, without question, the idea which Franklin most
emphasized in his writings and exemplified in his conduct. In
comparison with the Puritan fathers he was more interested in the
eighteenth century than in eternity, more actively concerned with
Philadelphia and Pennsylvania and the United States of America than
with the mansions prepared above. This attitude of mind was not a
freakish or accidental one; it can be accounted for in the influences
which affected him when he was a boy and in the kind of English and
American thinking which characterized his whole century.

He came of what he himself called an "obscure family," his ancestors
in the near generations having been hard-working, intelligent English
clerks and artisans. They were nonconformists, and independent enough
to take their chances in the new world for the sake of liberty of
conscience. But the lesson that he learned from his parents was rather
more practical than theological and was, perhaps unconsciously,
attested to in the epitaph which he wrote for them. At two points in it
he recorded his belief that God helps them who help themselves, laying
special stress on the degree to which they help themselves:

          By constant labor and industry,
            With God's blessing,

he says, and again:

          Be encouraged to diligence in thy calling
            And distrust not Providence.

Cotton Mather, whom Franklin quoted with respect, would have reversed
the ideas in order and importance; but it was Cotton Mather's "Essays
to Do Good" that Franklin quoted, and his ability to draw a practical
inference from some slight event ("Be not too proud," he said, when he
bumped his head against a beam), and not any of his sermons. Franklin's
early reading was almost wholly in the field of what might be called
common-sense literature--discussions of different aspects of daily
life and how to get on in it. He read "Pilgrim's Progress," which
of all religious books is one of the most definite on questions of
earthly conduct. He read a great deal of history and biography: Defoe
"Upon Projects," Locke "Concerning Human Understanding" and "The Art
of Thinking," and Addison on all the common-sense subjects that make
up the contents of the _Spectator_. He read the rimed "Essays" of
Alexander Pope, too, using a quotation from one of them to confirm his
belief in a system of arguing by means of asking questions, which is
known as the "Socratic method."

In a word, he filled his boyish mind with the special kind of writing
which belonged to the first half of the eighteenth century in England,
and this was exactly the kind to be valuable to a youth who was
destined to work his way unaided to prosperity. For this period was a
particularly prosaic and practical one. In the two generations just
gone England had passed through the Puritan uprising against Charles
I, the return of the Stuarts to the throne, and the further rebellion
against James II. Religious enthusiasm had risen to its height in the
middle of the century, but had already waned by the years when John
Milton received only ten pounds for the manuscript of "Paradise Lost."
By the end of the century politics had definitely overthrown religion
as a subject of popular discussion. Little newspapers had sprung
up in surprising numbers, the coffeehouses had provided centers for
conversation, and a common-sense age was settling down to a rather
sordid and common-sense existence. Sometimes under the impulse of a
world movement a few leaders of thought have a great deal to do with
actually molding the character of the period in which they live, but
in less inspiring times the popular writers produce just about "what
the public wants." The period of Franklin's youth was one of the
latter kind, and Addison, Pope, and their followers were writing for
a public who wanted to keep on the surface of life. It was as if the
people had said: "All this religious zeal of the last century only
made England uncomfortable. Just see what confusion it threw us into!
Now we are back about where we were when the trouble started. Let's be
sensible and stick to facts, and stop quarreling with each other." So
the populace, who began reading in greater numbers than ever before,
read the little newspapers; and the various groups of congenial people
talked things over in the coffeehouses; and Addison made it his
ambition to bring "philosophy" (by which he meant a simple theory of
everyday living) down from the clouds and into the field of ordinary
thinking. The plays of Shakespeare would have helped Franklin very
little in the early stages of the printing business; so would the poems
of Milton; but the essays of Addison, Pope, and Defoe made for him what
would be called to-day "excellent vocational reading." And he profited
by it to the limit.

Moreover, if literature helped to make him a good printer, printing was
no less helpful toward making him a good writer. There are few trades
or crafts which demand so high a degree of accuracy. A boy or girl who
achieves a grade of 95 per cent in any study, even in mathematics, is
well above the average; but a typesetter or proofreader who avoids
error in only nineteen out of every twenty operations will have a short
career in any printing house. Most people do not know of the extreme
care which is given to assure correctness in the simplest product
which is put into type. A textbook, for example, after being written,
revised, recopied, and revised is criticized by a special expert and
once more revised before the publisher's editor goes over it word by
word. Then when it goes to the printer it is set up in long strips,
or galleys, from these into pages (still in type), and from these is
cast into plates, and after each of these three operations is read
over with microscopic care by both an editorial proofreader and the
author. During the printing experience a liberal allowance is made to
the author for actual changes from his original copy, but the printer
is held responsible for any slightest departure from the manuscript
that is supplied him. The boy who, like Franklin, has spent some years
in the printing room and the editorial office has received a discipline
which is miles beyond that which can ever be given in any school or
college composition course.[2]

  [2] This same discipline was enjoyed--among later American
      authors--by Mark Twain, Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and
      Walt Whitman, all of whom were scrupulously careful writers.

To this important training Franklin added a conscious attempt to
develop his own powers. Printing and the love of books led the horse
to water, but his desire for self-expression made him drink. Of this
he tells in an early passage of the "Autobiography." His daily work
had taught him to spell and punctuate correctly, but he was faulty in
choice of words and in "perspicuity," or clearness of construction. So
he took Addison's _Spectator_ as his model, put paragraphs into his own
words, then tried to set them back into the original form, compared
the two products, and made up his mind wherein Addison's versions were
better than his and wherein, as he sometimes thought, his were better
than his teacher's. He also followed up the art of discussion both
in speech and in writing, making it always a point to convince his
opponents without antagonizing them. These things he did, not in order
to become a professional writer but solely in order to utter or write
his ideas to the best effect. "It has ever since," he says, "been a
pleasure to me to see good workmen handle their tools; and it has been
useful to me, having learned so much by it as to be able to do little
jobs myself." Prose writing was simply a tool for him--the most useful
one that he ever mastered and, as he says elsewhere, the principal
means of his advancement.

As long as he was a printer (until he was forty-two years old) he
employed his prose composition in writing copy which was clear and
interesting and therefore salable--chiefly in the _Pennsylvania
Gazette_ and in _Poor Richard's Almanac_; but during and after that
time he put his powers to even greater use as a speaker and as a writer
of articles and pamphlets on affairs of public interest. He was almost
always simple, definite, and practical, for he wrote to the mass of
people with little education. He realized that if he was to bring his
points home to them he must not write "over their heads," and that he
must appeal to their common sense and their self-interest; and he was
invariably good-humored, for he knew that good humor makes more friends
than enemies.

Out of the great mass of Franklin's published writings--and they run
to a dozen large volumes--two deserve special attention as pieces of
American literature: _Poor Richard's Almanac_ and the "Autobiography."
The former of these was a commercial undertaking; it was written to
sell. The almanac, an annual publication of which the calendar was
a very small part, had been popular in England and America for many
generations before Franklin started his own. It preceded the newspaper
and until 1800, or even later, reached a wider public. The second
piece of printing in this country was _Pierce's Almanack_, printed in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1639. Others followed: in Boston, 1676;
in Philadelphia, 1676; in New York, 1697; in Rhode Island, 1728; and
in Virginia, 1731. There had been, however, only one great almanac
editor to precede Franklin in America--Nathaniel Ames, who began
publishing his series in Dedham, Massachusetts, in 1726. Besides the
calendar, the astronomical data for the year, and the half-jocular
weather predictions, the chief feature of Ames's was the poetry, very
considerable in bulk, and the "interlined wit and humor," which was
brief and usually rather pointless. Franklin, realizing the fondness
of his generation for the wise sayings of which Alexander Pope was
then the master-hand in the English-speaking world, dropped the poetry
and studied to expand the interlined material of Ames into the chief
contribution of his "Richard Saunders." "I endeavored to make it
both entertaining and useful," he said in the "Autobiography," "and
it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reaped considerable
profit from it; vending annually near ten thousand. And observing
that it was generally read, scarce any neighborhood in the province
being without it, I considered it as a proper vehicle for conveying
instruction among the common people, who bought scarcely any other
books. I therefore filled all the little spaces, that occurred between
the remarkable days in the Calendar with proverbial sentences, chiefly
such as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means of procuring
wealth, and thereby securing virtue; it being more difficult for a man
in want, to act always honestly, as, to use here one of those proverbs,
_it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright_."

In the Almanac of 1757 he collected the sayings of the last twenty-five
years into a timely essay on "The Way to Wealth," making an old man
deliver a speech filled with quotations from "Poor Richard." This
contained not only sound practical advice for any time but was also
pertinent to a political issue of the moment, and so applied to the
state as well as to all the people in it. It was reprinted by itself
and had an immense circulation in America and abroad, in the original
and in several translations. Very likely since "The Day of Doom," in
1662, nothing had been so influential in the colonies as "The Way to
Wealth," in 1757; and no contrast could better indicate the change
that had taken place between those two dates. Said Father Abraham, the
old speaker:

  It would be thought a hard Government that should tax its People
  one-tenth Part of their Time, to be employed in its Service. But
  _Idleness_ taxes many of us much more, if we reckon all that is spent
  in absolute _Sloth_, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent
  in idle Employments or Amusements, that amount to nothing. Sloth, by
  bringing on Diseases, absolutely shortens Life. _Sloth, like rust,
  consumes faster than Labour wears; while the used Key, is always
  bright_, as _Poor Richard_ says. _But dost thou love life, then do
  not squander Time, for that's the stuff Life is made of_, as _Poor
  Richard_ says. How much more than is necessary do we spend in sleep,
  forgetting that _The sleeping Fox catches no Poultry_, and that
  _There will be sleeping enough in the Grave_, as _Poor Richard_ says.

This was the sort of workaday advice that was shouldering the old-time
theology into modest Sabbath-day retirement.

Franklin's "Autobiography" is the greatest of his writings if not
the greatest of all his achievements. "Poor Richard" and "The Way
to Wealth" are full of good common sense, but they belong only to
the "efficiency" school of ideas and morality; they are neither
distinguished in form nor inspiring in content, and they are
chiefly interesting because they so well mirror what was in the
eighteenth-century mind. The "Autobiography" has a larger claim to
attention than these, for by general consent it has come to be regarded
as one of the great classics of literature. Several features have
combined to make it deserve this high place. Simply stated they are
all nothing more than ways of explaining that this book is the simple,
definite, honest life-story of an eminent man, as he recalled it in his
old age.

In the first place, it is simple and uncalculated. It was not composed,
like "Poor Richard," to sell, nor, like many of Franklin's speeches
and pamphlets, to convince by skillful argument. As a matter of fact,
Franklin did not want to write it at all, and consented only when
the insistence of his friends and relatives made it easier to do it
than to leave it undone. Moreover, he dropped it for the thirteen
years from 1771 to 1784, took it up again when wearied, old, and ill,
and left it at his death hardly more than well started, with all the
most celebrated part of his life still to be recounted. It is simple
therefore because it was done with no desire to create an impression
or to be "literary," and is the unadorned narrative of an old man
familiarly told to those who knew him best.

For the same reason it is definite and homely in what he chose to
record. It is the "little, nameless, unremembered" episodes not set
down in more pretentious histories for which the "Autobiography" is
itself best remembered. Some of the details make real the conditions of
living in those simple times--the invention of the stove named after
him, the improvements in street lighting and paving, the organization
of a fire company. Others are typical of human nature in any age,
as his portrait of the croaker, Samuel Mickle, who sadly predicted
Franklin's failure as a printer, or as his jocular account of the
entrance of luxury into his own household.

  We have an English proverb that says, _He that would thrive, must
  ask his wife_. It was lucky for me that I had one as much disposed
  to industry and frugality as myself. She assisted me cheerfully
  in my business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop,
  purchasing old linen rags for the paper-makers, etc., etc. We kept
  no idle servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture of
  the cheapest. For instance, my breakfast was a long time bread and
  milk (no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer,
  with a pewter spoon. But mark how luxury will enter families, and
  make a progress, in spite of principle: being called one morning to
  breakfast, I found it in a China bowl, with a spoon of silver! They
  had been bought for me without my knowledge by my wife, and had cost
  her the enormous sum of three and twenty shillings, for which she
  had no other excuse or apology to make, but that she thought _her_
  husband deserved a silver spoon and China bowl as well as any of his
  neighbors. This was the first appearance of plate and China in our
  house, which afterward in a course of years, as our wealth increased,
  augmented gradually to several hundred pounds in value.

Many and many of the simplest episodes reveal how shrewd, penetrating,
and, above all, how clear headed he invariably was. Such, for example,
was the hour when he was listening to the great evangelist, Whitefield,
and while all his other auditors were being thrilled by the speaker's
eloquence, Franklin was backing away from him step by step, in order
to estimate how far his voice would carry, and thus to verify the
newspaper accounts of his having preached to twenty-five thousand
people in the fields. Franklin went away full of admiration for the
preacher's voice, but with no word of comment on his sermon. He went
often to hear Whitefield, but always as a very human public speaker and
never as a "divine." A biographer, even one of his associates, could
not have known many of the intimate facts that Franklin included, and
he would almost surely have left out other details as irrelevant or
impertinent. Franklin himself, in contrast, wrote the things which
still clung in his old man's memory and which must have been important
in his development, or he would have forgotten them.

Another striking feature of the "Autobiography" is its honesty, for he
did not hesitate to record happenings which revealed defects in his
character--defects which nine out of ten admiring biographers would
have been inclined to omit or even actually to cover up. Franklin knew
that his life had not been all admirable, that many times it had not
been above reproach; but, all things considered, he was willing to let
it stand for what it was. In consequence, if one reads his story as
honestly as Franklin wrote it,--and few people do,--it will appear that
not only was he disorderly and unmethodical but that he was not always
truthful, that he was sometimes unscrupulous in business, and that he
was at times self-indulgent and immoral. In fact too often the editing
of Franklin's life-story seems to have been done on the principle
laid down by Dr. Samuel Johnson about Chesterfield's "Letters to his
Son"--that they should be put into the hands of every young man after
the immorality had been taken out of them. This is not honest teaching
and does not lead to honest habits of study.

The truth is that Franklin was like other people in being a combination
of virtues and defects. He was unlike other people in having
extraordinary talents and virtues and in owning up to his defects. For
the two great "errata" of his life--the use of money intrusted to him
for Mr. Vernon and his unfaithfulness while in London to Miss Read, his
betrothed--he afterward made the fullest possible atonement. In his
glorification of usefulness at every turn he was at once the greatest
expounder and the greatest example of his century. He made a religion
of usefulness, putting it into a simple creed which gives less heed to
the spirit of worship than many of us need, but far more to the spirit
of service than most of us follow:

  It is expressed in these words, viz.:

  That there is one God, who made all things.

  That he governs the world by his providence.

  That he ought to be worshipped by adoration, prayer and thanksgiving.

  But that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man.

  That the soul is immortal.

  And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either
  here or hereafter.

In the third of these articles Franklin recommended a worship which he
did not practice, but in the fourth he presented a doctrine of service
of which his life was a remarkable fulfillment. In his theory of life
Franklin seemed to make no claims for the finer emotions, but in his
actual citizenship in all its public aspects he was so far above the
average man as to serve as a pretty safe "working model" for this and
coming generations.

If he had not written this uncompleted life-story we should not know
the man as intimately as we do, for to read the "Autobiography" is to
read Franklin himself.

Since the "Autobiography" brings the story of Franklin only up to 1757,
it gives no hint of the Revolutionary struggle in which as negotiator
and diplomat he was hardly less important than was Washington as
military leader. The America presented in these pages is loyal and
contented. The rising voices of discomfort from 1765 to 1775, of doubt
during the next year, and of decision for revolt in 1776 were all
echoed and often led by Franklin in his political writings. Moreover,
it is of especial significance in these days to recall another fact
unrecorded in his own story--that he was the first American to
represent his nation among other nations, and that in his feeling for
America as a member of the great world-family he was a hundred years
and more ahead of his countrymen. The new marshaling of forces in 1917
which brought about the celebration of the Fourth of July in London and
the arrival of allied American troops in Paris recalled from hour to
hour the name of Franklin as our first great international figure.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  BROOKS, VAN WYCK. America's Coming of Age, chap. i. 1915.

  DUNNING, A. E. Congregationalists in America. 1894.

  FISKE, JOHN. New France and New England, chap. vi. 1902.

  WALKER. W. History of the Congregational Churches in the United
     States. 1894.

=_Individual Authors_=

  JONATHAN EDWARDS. There have been at least twenty-two editions and
     printings of Edwards's collected work. The most accessible is that
     in four volumes which appeared originally in 1843 and has been
     reprinted nine times, the last in 1881. In these volumes the most
     important pages are in Vol. I, pp. 1-27 (biographical), and in
     Vol. IV (sermons).

     =Biography and Criticism=

       DWIGHT, TIMOTHY. Travels in New England and New York (1822),
         Vol. IV, pp. 323 ff.

       HOLMES, O. W. Pages from an Old Volume of Life. 1891.

       JAMES, WILLIAM. The Varieties of Religious Experience. 1902.

       MACPHAIL, ANDREW. Essays in Puritanism. 1905.

       SANBORN, F. B. _Journal of Speculative Philosophy_, Vol. XVII,
         No. 4. October, 1883.

       STEPHEN, LESLIE. _Littell's Living Age_, Vol. V (_ser. 5_), No.
         1546. Jan. 24, 1874.

       WALKER, WILLISTON. Ten New England Leaders. 1901.

       WARD, W. H. _The Independent_, Vol. LV, No. 2861. Oct. 1, 1903.

       WOODBRIDGE, F. J. E. _Philosoph. Rev._, Vol. XIII, No. 4. July,
         1904. _The Congregationalist and Christian World_, Edwards
         number, Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 40. Oct. 3, 1903.

  BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. There are eleven editions of Franklin's collected
     works in English, French, and German, dating from 1773 to 1905.
     The best of these is the one compiled and edited by John Bigelow.
     1889. 10 vols. Poor Richard Improved, 1757. This was later issued
     as Father Abraham's Speech, over 150 editions and reprints of
     which are recorded. Autobiography. First issued in Paris, 1791.
     Best recent editions: John Bigelow, editor, 1874; H. E. Scudder,
     editor, _Riverside Literature Series_, 1886; William MacDonald,
     editor, _Temple Autobiography Series_, 1905; William MacDonald,
     editor, _Everyman's Library_, 1908.

     =History and Biography=

       BRUCE, W. C. Benjamin Franklin Self-Revealed: A Biographical and
         Critical Study based mainly on his own Writings. 1918. 2 vols.

       FORD, P. L. The Many-Sided Franklin. 1899.

       HALE, E. E. and E. E., Jr. Franklin in France; from original
         documents most of which are now published for the first time.
         1887-1888. 2 vols.

       MCMASTER, J. B. Benjamin Franklin (_A.M.L. Series_). 1887.

       MCMASTER, J. B. Franklin in France. _Atlantic Monthly_, Vol. LX.
         September, 1887.

       SHERMAN, STUART P. Cambridge History of American Literature,
         Vol. I, chap. vi.

       SWIFT, LINDSAY. Catalogue of works relating to Benjamin Franklin
         in the Boston Public Library. 1883.

     COLONIAL ALMANACS

       KITTREDGE, G. L. The Old Farmer and his Almanack. 1904.

     COLONIAL JOURNALISM

       COOK, E. C. Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I,
         chap. vii.

       HUDSON, F. Journalism in the United States, 1690-1872. 1873.

       THOMAS, I. History of Printing in America. 1871.

=_Literary Treatment of the Period_=

     =Fiction=

       COOPER, J. F. Satanstoe.

       COOPER, J. F. The Chainbearer.

       COOPER, J. F. The Deerslayer.

       COOPER, J. F. The Redskins.

       THACKERAY, W. M. The Virginians.

     =Poetry=

       Poems of American History (edited by B. E. Stevenson),
         pp. 99-125


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Few modern readers can regard the sermons of Jonathan Edwards as
anything but documents of historical interest. It is quite worth study
to read at first-hand one or two sermons about which so many careless
generalizations have been made. The chief points of interest are the
theology as it stands in his own living words, and his rhetorical
method, which is an admirable exercise of forensic discourse.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Harriet Beecher Stowe's "The Minister's Wooing" and "Oldtown
Folks" (especially chap. ) for a faithful portrait of one of Edwards's
chief successors (see pp. 305-308).

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Franklin's "Autobiography" for its revelation of personal
characteristics: his continued emphasis on usefulness; his refusal to
allow his emotions to carry him away (whether anger, love, religious
fervor, or desire for revenge); his willingness to act unscrupulously
for what he felt was a good end; his self-analysis (in other places
than the passage on the virtues); his public spirit.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Franklin's "Autobiography" for its literary characteristics:
his emulation of Addison's style (compare passages of this and
the _Spectator_); his respect for Pope and his likeness in use of
apothegms; his similarity to Chesterfield in point of view and use of
homely detail. Contrast Franklin's style with Irving's or Cooper's.



                               CHAPTER V

                    CRÈVECOEUR, THE "AMERICAN FARMER"


By 1750 the thirteen colonies had all been long established, and the
straggling community on the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Georgia
had an individuality of its own. The America-to-be was at once young
and old. There were old towns, old churches, old homes, old families.
There was an aristocracy with memories that went back to England, but
with roots firmly planted in American soil. Yet, withal, the country
was so vast and the people on it so few that there was unlimited
chance for the energetic man of real ability. It was a new land of
untold opportunities; all its apparent maturity was the maturity of a
well-born young gentleman who has just become of age and whose real
career is all before him. The old age of the Old World was something
very different, for it was based chiefly on the control of the land--of
the actual soil and stream and forest. Edmund Burke in 1775 said in
his "Speech on Conciliation of the American Colonies" that if the
attempt were made to restrict the population of the colonies the
people could swarm over the mountain ranges and resettle there in a
vast plain _five hundred miles square_. However fair the estimate was
to the land in actual English possession, that statement was about
as far as the imagination of an Englishman accustomed to smaller
dimensions could then go, or as big a figure as he could dare to hope
his fellow-members of Parliament would believe; for in those days, as
to-day, there were not in England or France five square miles of land
out of ownership, and very little that was not in the possession of
a few great proprietors. As the control of government was largely in
the same hands, the great mass of the people could neither freely
enjoy the fruits of their own labor, which were pitilessly reduced by
rents and taxes, nor make any effective peaceful protest in behalf of
political change. The American Revolution was the voice of the colonies
protesting against the possible repetition of such conditions on this
side the water, and the French Revolution was the harsh voice of a
downtrodden people calling for redress.

No man could better appreciate the promise of life in America than one
who had felt the oppression of the old conditions and had then enjoyed
the freedom of the new ones. In the same years when the wiser leaders
in the colonies were viewing with alarm the aggressive and mistaken
policies of George III and his ministers, a young Frenchman, educated
in England, came over to this country, settled and prospered on his own
land, and was so delighted with his life as a farmer and a citizen that
he could not refrain from making a record of his happy circumstances.
This was Michel Guillaume St. John de Crèvecoeur, and his book was
the "Letters from an American Farmer," published in London in 1782,
though written almost entirely before the outbreak of the Revolution.
It is made up of twelve so-called letters addressed to an imaginary
English friend. Two of these are about his direct experience on his own
acres in the middle colonies; five are on the people and the country
in northern colonies, as he found them in Marthas Vineyard, Nantucket,
and Cape Cod; one is drawn from observations in South Carolina; and the
other four are less related to definite places, three being on nature
themes, and one--the most important of all--on the ever-new question,
"What is an American?"

With industry and frugality hardly less than Franklin's, Crèvecoeur
had also a certain power of poetic imagination and fresh enthusiasm.
He was writing from a kind of earthly paradise. Seen against the
background of unhappy France, the rights to own, to earn, and to have
a voice in governing himself seemed almost too good to be true. He had
no misconceptions about the hard labor which was necessary to make
a farm productive; but he enjoyed work because he knew that he could
enjoy the fruits of it, and he enjoyed it all the more because he knew
that in making an ear of corn grow where none had grown before he was
the best kind of pioneer. To his sorrow he knew much about the ugliness
of an old civilization; it was with the zest of a youthful lover that
he wrote about the beauty of this new country's inexperience.

He felt a perfect satisfaction in his own state of mind and body.
Although he was a newcomer, he had a sense of belonging to the district
as complete as Emerson, with two centuries of ancestry, was later
to have; and, with a pride equal to Emerson's in "Hamatreya," could
"affirm, my actions smack of the soil." With his baby boy ingeniously
rigged before him on the plow, he reckoned the increase of his fields,
herds, flocks,--even his hives,--and acknowledged his inferiority "only
to the Emperor of China, ploughing as an example to his kingdom." Then,
looking beyond his own little acreage, he hinted at future industries.
He was tilling the surface; there must be further treasures below. He
and his neighbors were weaving the natural wool; some chemist must
make and prepare colors. Commerce must follow on the heels of abundant
production; "the avenues of trade are infinite." And in time the
deep vast of the West, about which men had yet such feeble and timid
fancies, must be explored and subjugated in its turn.

  Here we have, in some measure, regained the ancient dignity of our
  species: our laws are simple and just; we are a race of cultivators;
  our cultivation is unrestrained, and therefore everything is
  prosperous and flourishing. For my part I had rather admire the ample
  barn of one of our opulent farmers, who himself felled the first
  tree in his plantation, and was first founder of his settlement,
  than study the dimension of the temple of Ceres. I had rather record
  the progressive steps of this industrious farmer, throughout all the
  stages of his labor and other operations, than examine how modern
  Italian convents can be supported without doing anything but singing
  and praying.

Moreover, above all the material resources of field, forest, and
mountain, he was glad for the human stream which was flowing into
America to fertilize them. The thrifty people who were shrewd and bold
enough to come over from Great Britain and northern Europe were to
profit by nature's gifts, and in the experience were to be welded "into
one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared." If it
is fair to say that the history of immigration to America falls into
three general periods, Crèvecoeur was writing about the very midst
of the middle period, from 1675 to 1875. First had been a half century
when only the strongest spirit of adventure or the strongest desire
for freedom could impel men to attempt the conquest of an untried
world. Every Englishman who came over and every American born here was
conscious of the need of more hands to work, and all were eager for
more Englishmen, and yet more, to help in the gigantic undertaking. In
the last forty years, with the taking up of all the available land and
the manning of the industries, the millions who have flooded in, not
alone from England or Great Britain but mainly from southern Europe and
the near East, have arrived as new mouths to feed. The problem has been
not so much how they could help America as how America could take care
of them; and with their arrival a feeling of perplexity and alarm has
arisen such as was expressed in 1892 by Thomas Bailey Aldrich in his
"Unguarded Gates":

      ... Wide open and unguarded stand our gates,
      And through them presses a wild motley throng--
      Men from the Volga and the Tartar steppes,
      Featureless figures of the Hoang-Ho,
      Malayan, Scythian, Teuton, Kelt, and Slav,
      Flying the Old World's poverty and scorn;
      These bringing with them unknown gods and rites,
      Those, tiger passions here to stretch their claws.
      In street and alley what strange tongues are loud,
      Accents of menace alien to our air,
      Voices that once the Tower of Babel knew!

          O Liberty, white Goddess! is it well
      To leave the gates unguarded? ...
                                Have a care
      Lest from thy brow the clustered stars be torn
      And trampled in the dust....

But Crèvecoeur was living between these two periods. The first conquest
of the Eastern woods and fields had been made. America was known to be
a land of plenty, and as yet there was more than plenty for all the
newcomers from England and the neighboring countries of northern Europe.
There seemed to be no limit to its resources. And so he wrote:

  What, then, is the American, this new man? He is neither a European,
  nor the descendant of a European: hence that strange mixture of
  blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out
  to you a family, whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife
  was Dutch, whose son married a Frenchwoman, and whose present four
  sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American,
  who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners,
  receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the
  new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an
  American by being received in the broad lap of our great "alma
  mater." Here individuals are melted into a new race of men, whose
  labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world.
  Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them
  that great mass of arts, sciences, vigor and industry, which began
  long since in the East. They will finish the great circle.

There was an artistic strain in this man who could so easily kindle
with enthusiasm and who could express his enthusiasms with such
rhythmic eloquence. The special subjects on which he could best vent
his poetic powers were found in his passages and his occasional whole
chapters on nature themes--in particular the letters on "John Bartram,
Botanist," and "The Snakes and the Humming Bird." In these it is
impossible not to feel the resemblances between this early naturalist
and his successor, Thoreau (see pp. 222-229). While neither was a
scientist in the strict sense of the word, neither was content to
dismiss nature subjects with mere words of general appreciation. Both
were interested enough to observe in detail and to record with some
exactness the ways of plants, flowers, birds, and insects; but both
were at their best when they were giving way to the real zest they had
in the enjoyment of the out of doors.

  Who can listen unmoved to the sweet love-tales of our robins, told
  from tree to tree, or to the shrill cat-birds? The sublime accents
  of the thrush, from on high, always retard my steps, that I may
  listen to the delicious music.... The astonishing art which all birds
  display in the construction of their nests, ill-provided as we may
  suppose them with proper tools, their neatness, their convenience,
  always make me ashamed of the slovenliness of our houses. Their love
  to their dame, their incessant, careful attention, and the peculiar
  songs they address to her while she tediously incubates their eggs,
  remind me of my duty, could I ever forget it. Their affection to
  their helpless little ones is a lovely precept; and, in short, the
  whole economy of what we call the brute creation, is admirable in
  every circumstance; and vain man, though adorned with the additional
  gift of reason, might learn from the perfection of instinct, how to
  regulate the follies, and how to temper the errors, which this second
  gift often makes him commit.... I have often blushed within myself,
  and been greatly astonished, when I have compared the unerring path
  they all follow,--all just, all proper, all wise, up to the necessary
  degree of perfection--with the coarse, the imperfect, systems of men.

For generations the beauties of nature had held small place in English
literature, because the English men of letters were a completely
citified set of writers; and they had received little attention in
America, partly because England gave American writers no reminder and
partly because nature in America had been chiefly something to struggle
with.

So enthusiastic was Crèvecoeur over conditions in America, and so
certain was he that they never would be disturbed in any unfortunate
way, that the twentieth-century reader looks over his pre-Revolution
pages with a kind of wistful impatience. About many aspects of the
material development of the country Crèvecoeur was keenly prophetic.
Throughout eleven of the letters, evidently written before 1775, he
continued in an exalted and confident mood. Whether he was presenting
the "provincial situations, manners and customs" of Nantucket and
Marthas Vineyard, or of the central Atlantic, or of the Southern
colonies, his senses and his judgment were equally satisfied. Industry
prevailed. The wilderness was being converted into towns, farms, and
highways. "A pleasing uniformity of decent competence" was a rule of
the democracy. The indulgent laws were fair to the laborer and the
voter. He seemed to feel that the era of prosperity would last till
the end of the world. His vision of the future was the vision of a man
perched in the small end of an infinite horn of plenty, with a vista
unclouded by the hint of any limit to the supply or of any possible
conflict between gluttony and hunger.

In fact, along the whole coast there was only one practice which
deserved the name of a problem, and that was the institution of
slavery. Against this, which existed both North and South, Crèvecoeur
protested just as Samuel Sewall and John Woolman had done before him,
and as Timothy Dwight and Joel Barlow in Connecticut and William
Pinkney and other lawmakers and abolitionists in Maryland and Virginia
were to do soon after him. Yet, however sincere he was, he regarded
slavery only as an external blemish rather than as a national danger.
It was a mistake, but not a menace. It was typical of the America
of the future that Crèvecoeur should have had so unquestioning a
confidence in the prospect. The belief in a "manifest destiny" for
America, which is finely inspiring for all who will work to bring
about a glorious future, has been demoralizing to millions who have
used a lazy belief in it to excuse them from feeling or exercising any
responsibility.

With the twelfth letter came a total change of key. It was evidently
written long after all the others, after the outburst of war, perhaps
after his New Jersey property had been burned, possibly even during
his return voyage to France in the autumn of 1780. As a naturalized
subject of King George, when well on in middle life he had been
forced to choose between his sworn allegiance and the interests of
his fellow-colonists. He sympathized with the American cause, though
he did not enlist. And then in the years that followed he learned
(the perennial lesson of war time) of the "vanity of human wishes."
Unhappily for the moral of the tale, the latter part of his life was
far from heroic. In the concluding letter, written quite after the
fashion of the most sentimental and unreal eighteenth-century nature
lovers, Crèvecoeur decided to abandon the struggle in the war zone
and to take up life anew with his family among the Indians in the West.
He would forswear all talk of politics, "contemplate nature in her
most wild and ample extent," and formulate among his adopted neighbors
a new system of happiness. As a matter of fact, however, his retreat
was even more complete than this; for he returned permanently to the
Continent, lived contentedly in Paris, London, and Munich, married his
daughter to a French count, wrote volumes on Pennsylvania and New York,
and memorialized his career as a farmer by inditing a paper on potato
culture.

Although such a turn of events resulted in very much of an anticlimax,
this fact should not make one forget the prophetic quality in his
"Letters," nor should his failure to predict every aspect of modern
life throw any shadow on the clearness with which he foretold some of
the most important of them. It is true, of course, that he did not
appreciate how tragic were to be the fruits of slavery; that he saw
immigration only as a desirable supply of labor to a continent which
could never be overpopulated; that, writing before the earliest chapter
of the factory era, he did not dream of the industrial complexities of
the present. But when he said that the American, sprung from Europe but
here adopted into a new nation, "ought therefore to love this country
much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born,"
he was saying something that has been repeated with new conviction
ten thousand times since the outbreak of the Great War. And when he
declared that "the American is a new man, who acts upon new principles"
he was foreshadowing national policies which the world has been slow
to understand. The possibility of a nation's being too proud to fight
at the first provocation, and the subordination of national interest
to the interest of mankind--this is the language of the new principles
that Crèvecoeur was invoking. It is nearly a century and a half
since he tried to answer the question "What is an American?" Much has
happened since then. Internally the country has developed to the extent
of his farthest dreams, and in the world-family, after five great wars,
it has become one of the greatest of the powers, fulfilling so much of
his predictions that one speculates in all humility on what may be the
next steps "for that new race of men whose labours and posterity will
one day cause great changes in the world."


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  MICHEL GUILLAUME ST. JEAN DE CRÈVECOEUR. Letters from an American
     Farmer. Written for the information of a friend in England. Edited
     by J. Hector St. John. 1782.

     =Available Editions=

       Letters from an American Farmer. Ludwig Lewisohn, editor. With
         prefatory note by W. P. Trent. 1904.

       W. B. Blake, editor. In _Everyman's Library_.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. A Colonial Farmer's Letters. _New Republic_,
         June 19, 1915.

       MITCHELL, JULIA POST. St. Jean de Crèvecoeur. 1916.

       TYLER, M. C. Literary History of the American Revolution
         (1765-1783), Vol. II, chap. xxvii. 1897.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the characterization of the American colonies in Burke's "Speech
on Conciliation."

Read the letter entitled "What is an American?" and see how far its
generalizations apply to the America of to-day.

Read Zangwill's play "The Melting Pot" in the light of this letter on
"What is an American?"

Read passages which deal with nature for Crèvecoeur's observation on
plant and animal life.

Read the closing essay in comparison with Rousseau's "Émile" for its
romantic idealization of primitive life. Compare this essay with the
picture of frontier life as presented in "The Deerslayer" or "The Last
of the Mohicans." Note the resemblances to Châteaubriand's "René."

Read the opening chapters or divisions of Thoreau's "Walden" and
compare with the Crèvecoeur "Letters" in point of the contrasting
views on property, labor, and citizenship.

Read Mary Antin's "The Promised Land" for the differences in the
America to which Crèvecoeur came and the America which she found.



                               CHAPTER VI

            THE POETRY OF THE REVOLUTION AND PHILIP FRENEAU


With the Revolutionary War there was naturally a great output of
printed matter. Controversial pamphlets, state papers, diaries,
letters, and journals, plays (with prologues and epilogues), songs,
ballads and satires, all swelled the total. No one can fully understand
the Revolution or the period after it who does not read extensively in
this material; yet, taken in its length and breadth, the prose and most
of the verse are important as history rather than as literature. Out of
the numerous company of writers who were producing while Franklin was
an aging man and while Crèvecoeur was an American farmer, one, Philip
Freneau, may be considered as chief representative, and two others,
Francis Hopkinson and John Trumbull, deserve a briefer comment.

Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791), the Philadelphian, was well
characterized in a much-quoted letter from John Adams to his wife in
August, 1776:

  At this shop I met Mr. Francis Hopkinson, late a mandamus councillor
  of New Jersey, now a member of the Continental Congress, who ... was
  liberally educated, and is a painter and a poet.... He is one of your
  pretty little, curious, ingenious men.... He is genteel and well-bred
  and is very social. I wish I had leisure and tranquillity of mind
  to amuse myself with those elegant and ingenious arts of painting,
  sculpture, statuary, architecture and music. But I have not.

Undoubtedly Hopkinson's work savors of the dilettante throughout; yet
part of its historical significance is inherent in this fact, for
Hopkinson is one of the earliest examples of talented versatility in
American life. He had virtues to complement the accomplishments half
enviously cited by John Adams. He was a learned judge, a stalwart
revolutionist, a practical man of affairs, and a humorist.

His collected writings in three volumes were done in the best manner
of eighteenth-century England. Five sixths of them are essays,
written not in series, but quite of the _Spectator_ type. Three prose
satires--"A Pretty Story" (1774), "A Prophecy" (1776), and "The New
Roof" (1778)--are as important a trio as any written by one man in the
Revolutionary days. The other sixth--his verse--belonged no less to the
polite literature of the period. There are Miltonic imitations, songs,
sentiments, hymns, a fable, and a piece of advice to a young lady.
There are occasional poems, including birthday and wedding greetings,
dramatic prologues and epilogues, elegies, and rimed epitaphs. Verses
of these kinds, if they were all Hopkinson had written, would indicate
a hopeless subservience to prevailing English fashions. But Hopkinson
was nobody's vassal. When he wrote

      My generous heart disdains
        The slave of love to be,
      I scorn his servile chains,
        And boast my liberty,

he might as truly have asserted his refusal to submit to any sort of
trammels except at his own option. Into a few imitation ballads he
poured the new wine of Revolutionary sentiment, one of which, "The
Battle of the Kegs," with its mocking jollity, put good cheer in all
colonial hearts in the times that tried men's souls. It was his jaunty
self-control, the quality of heroism without its pompous mannerisms,
that set Hopkinson off in contrast with his fellows. He was almost the
least pretentious of them all, yet few were more effective.

John Trumbull (1750-1831), most talented of the "Hartford Wits," tried
his hand, like Hopkinson, at the conventional poetical subjects, but,
unlike him, the bulk of his verse was contained in two long satirical
essays: "The Progress of Dulness" (1772 and 1773) and "M'Fingal" (1776
and 1782). Apparently he had no further ambition for himself or other
American poets than to

          bid their lays with lofty Milton vie;
      Or wake from nature's themes the moral song,
      And shine with Pope, with Thompson and with Young.
      This land her Swift and Addison shall view,
      The former honors equalled by the new;
      Here shall some Shakspeare charm the rising age,
      And hold in magic chains the listening stage;
      A second Watts shall strike the heavenly lyre,
      And other muses other bards inspire.

Nevertheless, in these two satires he wrote first from a provincial and
then from an early national point of view. "The Progress of Dulness"
is a disquisition on how not to bring up children. He chose for his
examples Tom Brainless, Dick Hairbrain, and Harriet Simper. He put the
boys through college (Trumbull was a graduate of Yale), making one a
dull preacher and the other a rake. Harriet, the American counterpart
of Biddy Tipkin in Steele's "Tender Husband" or Arabella in Mrs.
Lennox's "The Female Quixote," is fed on flattery, social ambition, and
the romantic fiction of the hour (see p. 103), becomes a coquette and a
jilt, and, thrown over by Dick, sinks into obscurity as the faded wife
of Parson Tom. This was homemade satire, democratic in its choice and
treatment of character, and clearly located in and about New Haven,
Connecticut.

So also, and much more aggressively, was the rimed political
document "M'Fingal," an immensely popular diatribe at the Tory of
the Revolution--his attitude, his general demeanor, and his methods
of argument. It recounts the events of a day in a New England town
which was torn by the dissensions between the rival factions in the
opening days of the conflict, and describes in detail the ways in
which this particularly offensive Tory was driven to cover. The modern
reader must bring to it a good deal of student interest if he expects
to complete the reading and understand it, even with the aid of
Trumbull's copious footnotes. For the moment it was a skillful piece
of journalistic writing. Trumbull knew how to appeal to the prejudices
of his sympathizers (for controversial war writing confirms rather
than convinces); he knew how to draw on their limited store of general
knowledge; and he knew how to lead them on with a due employment of
literary ingenuities like puns, multiple rimes, and word elisions,
and a judicious resort to rough jocosity and vituperation. "M'Fingal"
was war literature with all its defects of passion, uncandor, and
speciousness, but the score or more of editions through which it ran
before 1800 are evidence that it reached the low mark at which it was
aimed. If it had the faults of its kind, so in later years did "Uncle
Tom's Cabin" and "Mr. Britling sees it Through."

This most representative poet of the Revolutionary period was Philip
Freneau, who lived from 1752 to 1832 and who was active in authorship
for forty-five years, from 1770 on. He was a graduate of Princeton
College in 1771, gained a sudden reputation as a political satirist in
1775, and lived a strangely varied life from then till well into the
nineteenth century. For three years he lived in Santa Cruz and Bermuda.
In 1779 he sailed to the Azores, and for a six-year period at a later
time he was engaged in Atlantic coast trade. From 1784 to 1807 he went
the circle in five stages as editor, seaman, editor, farmer, and seaman
again. Everything he did he seems to have done hard, and nothing held
him long. It is a kind of life which does not seem surprising in a
man who has often been called "Poet of the Revolution," for he wrote
as vigorously as he sailed or farmed or edited, and he plowed his
political satires quite as deep and straight as he plowed the seas and
the furrows of his fields. After his bitter experience of three months
on a British prison ship, he blazed out with a savage flame of verse
which has carried the horrors of this particular form of war brutality
down the centuries to greet the "atrocities" of the present. When
the editors of rival papers and rival parties annoyed him he scourged
them with a savageness of attack which was notable even in a day when
journalism knew no restraint and recognized no proprieties. Freneau had
at least one title to the friendship of Dr. Samuel Johnson, who loved
"a good hater."

This vehement side of his life resulted in a generous amount of war
poetry which would be remembered--or forgotten--with the best of the
rest of its kind if it were all that he had written. In a brief survey
like the present chapter it can therefore serve the double purpose of
illustrating the verse of the Revolution and of representing a less
important aspect of his whole work. In this respect it is comparable
to the Civil-War and antislavery poetry of Whittier. Sometimes this
verse is full of scorn, as in "The Midnight Consultations," in which
Lord Howe is ridiculed as presiding over a council which arrives at the
following heroic conclusion:

      Three weeks--ye gods!--nay, three long years it seems
      Since _roast beef_ I have touched, except in dreams,
      In sleep, choice dishes to my view repair,
      Waking, I gape and champ the empty air,--

             *       *       *       *       *

      On neighbouring isles uncounted cattle stray,
      Fat beeves, and swine, an ill-defended prey--
      These are fit victims for my noonday dish,
      These, if my soldiers act as I would wish,
      In one short week should glad your maws and mine;
      On mutton we will sup--on roast beef dine.

Sometimes it is full of the hate which war always engenders. Freneau
wrote no more bitterly about the king, Lord North, and the leading
generals in active service against the colonists than did Jonathan
Odell--the foremost Tory satirist--about Washington and his associates.
As the war went on, and the likelihood of American success became
stronger, Freneau's tone softened, as he could well afford to have it,
and in such a product as "The Political Balance" he wrote with nothing
more offensive than the mockery of a rather ungenerous victor. This
poem, characterized by well-maintained humor, is one of the best of
its kind. It represents Jove as one day looking over the book of Fate
and of coming to an incomplete account of Britain, for the Fates had
neglected to reveal the outcome of the war. In order to find out for
himself, he directs Vulcan to make an exact model of the globe, borrows
the scales from Virgo, and plans to foretell the future by setting
the mother country on one side and the States on the other. When,
after many difficulties, the experiment is tried, of course the States
overbalance the little island. Then, to make sure, he adds the foreign
dominions on Britain's side,

      But the gods were confounded and struck with surprise,
      And Vulcan could hardly believe his own eyes!

      For (such was the purpose and guidance of fate)
      Her foreign dominions diminish'd her weight--
      By which it appeared, to Britain's disaster,
      Her foreign possessions were changing their master.

      Then as he replac'd them, said Jove with a smile--
      "Columbia shall never be rul'd by an isle--
      But vapours and darkness around her shall rise,
      And tempests conceal her a while from our eyes;

      "So locusts in Egypt their squadrons display,
      And rising, disfigure the face of the day;
      So the moon, at her full, has a frequent eclipse,
      And the sun in the ocean diurnally dips.

      "Then cease your endeavors, ye vermin of Britain--
      (And here, in derision, their island he spit on)
      'T is madness to seek what you never can find,
      Or think of uniting what nature disjoin'd;

      "But still you may flutter awhile with your wings,
      And spit out your venom, and brandish your stings,
      Your hearts are as black, and as bitter as gall,
      A curse to yourselves, and a blot on the Ball."

After the successful completion of the war it was only natural that
Americans in their rejoicing should imagine the glorious future that
awaited their new independence. The more vivid their imaginations were,
the more splendid were the prophecies they indulged in. As we read
over the records of their lofty hopes we are reminded of commencement
oratory; and the likeness is not unreal, for these post-Revolution
poets were in fact very like eager college graduates, diploma in hand,
looking forward to vague but splendid careers. It was in these poems
too that the germs of Fourth of July oratory first took root--the
oratory described by James Fenimore Cooper in his "Home as Found"
(chap. xxi):

  There were the usual allusions to Greece and Rome, between the
  republics of which and that of this country there exists some such
  affinity as is to be found between a horse-chestnut and a chestnut
  horse, or that of mere words; and a long catalogue of national
  glories that might very well have sufficed for all republics, both
  of antiquity and of our own time. But when the orator came to speak
  of the American character, and particularly of the intelligence of
  the nation, he was most felicitous, and made the largest investments
  in popularity. According to his account of the matter, no other
  people possessed a tithe of the knowledge, or a hundredth part of the
  honesty and virtue of the very community he was addressing; and after
  laboring for ten minutes to convince his hearers that they already
  knew everything, he wasted several more in trying to persuade them to
  undertake further acquisitions of the same nature.

These elephantine poems were written each in several "books," to each
one of which was prefixed an outline which, in the language of the day,
was called "the argument." Here is a part of the outline for Book VII
of Timothy Dwight's "Greenfield Hill" (1794):

  Happiness of U. S. contrasted to Eastern Despotism. Universal
  Prevalence of Freedom. Unfortified, and therefore safe, state
  of U. S. Influence of our state of Society on the Mind. Public
  Property employed for the Public Benefit. Penal Administrations
  improved by Benevolence. Policy enlarges its scope. Knowledge
  promoted. Improvements in Astronomical and other Instruments
  of Science. Improvements of the Americans, in Natural
  Philosophy--Poetry--Music--and Moral Science. State of the American
  Clergy. Manners refined. Artificial Manners condemned. American
  Women. Cultivation advanced. Other Nations visit this country, and
  learn the nature, and causes, of our happiness. Conclusion.

And here is a part of the argument to Book IX of Joel Barlow's
"Columbiad," in which he demonstrates that the present government of
America is a culmination of all human progress:

  ... the ancient and modern states of the arts and of society,
  Crusades, Commerce, Hanseatic League, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton,
  Galileo, Herschel, Descartes, Bacon, Printing Press, Magnetic Needle,
  Geographic Discoveries, Federal System in America.

Freneau had shared all this prophetic enthusiasm, and had expressed
it even before the war, partly in an actual commencement poem on "The
Rising Glory of America" and partly in a series of eighteen "Pictures
of Columbus." Just after graduation he had written:

                                        I see, I see
      A thousand Kingdoms rais'd, cities and men
      Num'rous as sand upon the ocean shore;
      Th' Ohio then shall glide by many a town
      Of note; and where the Mississippi stream
      By forests shaded now runs weeping on,
      Nations shall grow, and States not less in fame
      Than Greece and Rome of old; we too shall boast
      Our Alexanders, Pompeys, heroes, kings,
      That in the womb of time yet dormant lye
      Waiting the joyful hour of life and light.

After the war, however, he did not rejoin the increasing choir who were
singing this kind of choral. His most interesting bit of prophecy,
which must have seemed to his contemporaries to be a piece of the
airiest fancy, has been amazingly verified more than a century after he
wrote it. This is "The Progress of Balloons," written in the jaunty tone
of "The Political Balance":

      The stagemen, whose gallopers scarce have the power
      Through the dirt to convey you ten miles in an hour,
      When advanc'd to balloons shall so furiously drive
      You'll hardly know whether you're dead or alive.
      The man who at Boston sets out with the sun,
      If the wind should be fair, may be with us at one,
      At Gunpowder Ferry drink whiskey at three
      And at six be at Edentown, ready for tea.
      (The machine shall be order'd, we hardly need say,
      To travel in darkness as well as by day)
      At Charleston by ten he for sleep shall prepare,
      And by twelve the next day be the devil knows where.

             *       *       *       *       *

      If Britain should ever disturb us again,
      (As they threaten to do in the next George's reign)
      No doubt they will play us a set of new tunes,
      And pepper us well from their fighting balloons.

             *       *       *       *       *

        Such wonders as these from balloons shall arise--
      And the giants of old that assaulted the skies
      With their Ossa on Pelion, shall freely confess
      That all they attempted was nothing to this.

This, of course, was newspaper poetry, and Freneau, for long years
of his life, was a newspaper man. Even his lines "To Sir Toby," a
slaveholding sugar-planter in Jamaica, spirited as they are, are in
effect an open letter in protest against human slavery, and they were
printed in the _National Gazette_ in 1792.

The really poetical work of Freneau, however, which entitles him to an
attention greater than that for his fellows, had nothing to do with
political or military events of the day. They were his shorter poems on
American nature and American tradition; and a distinguishing feature
of them was that they were different from the English poetry of the
time, in form as well as in content. As a young man Freneau had set
out on his career by writing after the style of Milton and Dryden and
Pope and their lesser imitators. This was absolutely natural. Until
after the Revolution, America was England; and it was more nearly like
England in speech and in thought than much of Scotland and Ireland
are to-day. All the refinements of America were derived from English
sources; practically all the colonists' reading was from English
authors. But after the Revolution there came a strong reaction of
feeling. We can look to Freneau's own rimes (journalistic ones again)
for an explanation of the new and native quality of his later verse;
they are called "Literary Importation," and they conclude as follows:

      It seems we had spirit to humble a throne,
      Have genius for science inferior to none,
      But hardly encourage a plant of our own:
          If a college be planned
          'Tis all at a stand
      'Till to Europe we send at a shameful expense,
      To send us a bookworm to teach us some sense.

      Can we never be thought to have learning or grace
      Unless it be brought from that horrible place
      Where tyranny reigns with her impudent face;
          And popes and pretenders
          And sly faith-defenders
      Have ever been hostile to reason and wit,
      Enslaving a world that shall conquer them yet.

      'Tis a folly to fret at the picture I draw:
      And I say what was said by a Doctor Magraw;
      "If they give us their Bishops, they'll give us their law."
          How that will agree
          With such people as we,
      Let us leave to the learned to reflect on awhile,
      And say what they think in a handsomer stile.

As a consequence of this feeling that America should be different,
the tendency grew to seek out native subject matter and to cease
conscious imitation of English literary models. For the next half
century American authors were contending, every now and then, that
native themes should occupy their attention, and a good deal of
verse and prose was written with this idea in mind. Most of it was
more conscientious than interesting, for literature, to be genuinely
effective, must be produced not to demonstrate a theory but to express
what is honestly in the author's mind. The first step toward achieving
nationality in American writing was, therefore, to achieve new and
independent habits of national thinking. The Irish mind, for example,
is basically different from the English mind, and Irish literature has
therefore a long and beautiful history of its own, in spite of the fact
that Ireland is near to England and subject to it. But the Australian
is simply a transplanted English-speaking, English-thinking mind, and
Australia has consequently produced no literature of which the world is
yet aware.

Now Freneau was a naturally independent thinker. He was educated and
well read in the best of English and classical literature. But unlike
most of his fellow authors, he was not a city man, nor a teacher,
preacher, or lawyer. His hands were hardened by the steersman's
wheel and the plow, and doubtless much of his verse--or at least the
inspiration for it--came to him on shipboard or in the field rather
than in the library. In the midst of the crowd he was an easy man to
stir up to fighting pitch. All his war verse shows this. Yet when he
was alone and undisturbed he inclined to placid meditation, and he
expressed himself in the simplest ways. As a young man he wrote a
little poem called "Retirement." It is the kind of thing that many
other eighteenth-century poets--confirmed city dwellers--wrote in
moments of temporary world-weariness; but Freneau's life-story shows
that he really meant it:

      A cottage I could call my own
        Remote from domes of care;
      A little garden, wall'd with stone,
      The wall with ivy overgrown,
        A limpid fountain near,
      Would more substantial joys afford,
        More real bliss impart
      Than all the wealth that misers hoard,
      Than vanquish'd worlds, or worlds restor'd--
        Mere cankers of the heart!

And there was another poem of his youth which told a secret of his
real character. This was "The Power of Fancy," an imitation of Milton
in its form, but genuinely Freneau's in its sentiment. The best of his
later work is really a compound of these suggestions--poems of fancy
composed in retirement. Thus he wrote on "The Indian Burying Ground,"
interpreting the fact that

      The Indian, when from life releas'd,
        Again is seated with his friends
      And shares again the joyous feast,

instead of being buried recumbent as white men are. And thus he wrote
in "To a Caty-did," "The Wild Honeysuckle," and "On a Honey Bee,"
little lyrics of nature and natural life, which were almost the first
verse written in America based on native subject matter and expressed
in simple, direct, and unpretentious form.

Nathaniel Ames, in one of his early almanacs, recorded soberly:

                         MAY

      Now Winters rage abates, now chearful Hours
      Awake the Spring, and Spring awakes the Flowers.
      The opening Buds salute the welcome Day,
      And Earth relenting, feels the genial Ray.
      The Blossoms blow, the Birds on Bushes sing;
      And Nature has accomplish'd all the Spring.

This was perfectly conventional and perfectly indefinite; not a single
flower, bud, blossom, bird, or bush is specified. The six lines amount
to a general formula for spring and would apply equally well to
Patagonia, Italy, New England, or northern Siberia. Mr. R. Lewis, who
wrote on "A Journey from Patapsco to Annapolis" in 1730, improves on
this:

      First born of _Spring_, here the _Pacone_ appears.
      Whose golden Root a silver Blossom rears.
      In spreading Tufts see there the _Crowfoot_, blue,
      On whose green Leaves still shines a globous Dew;
      Behold the _Cinque-foil_, with its dazling Dye
      Of flaming Yellow, wounds the tender Eye.
      But there enclos'd the grassy Wheat is seen
      To heal the aching Sight with cheerful Green.

Lewis mentions definite flowers, colors, and characteristics, but
he never misses a chance to tuck in a conventional adjective or
participle, and he is led by them into weaving the extravagant fancy
of an eye made to ache by flaming and dazzling colors, and healed by
the cheerful green of the wheat field. In contrast to these, Freneau's
little nature poems are as exact as the second and as simple as the
subject on which he writes:

        In a branch of willow hid
      Sings the evening Caty-did:
      From the lofty locust bough
      Feeding on a drop of dew.
      In her suit of green array'd
      Hear her singing in the shade,
        Caty-did, Caty-did, Caty-did.

Such simplicity as this does not seem at all remarkable to-day, but if
it be compared with the fixed formalities that belonged to almost all
the verse of Freneau's time it will stand out as a remarkable exception.

On account of the two kinds of poetry which Freneau published he has
often been given misleading titles by his admirers. Those who have been
interested in him mainly or exclusively from the historical point of
view have christened him the "Poet of the American Revolution." This
is unfair because of the implication that he gave his best energy to
this and had no other right to distinction. Even as a journalist he was
more than poet of the Revolution, since he wrote on local and timely
themes for many years after its close. This designation does not claim
enough for him. The other title is defective for the opposite reason,
that it claims too much. This is the "Father of American Poetry." Such
a sweeping phrase ought to be avoided resolutely. It is doubly false,
in suggesting that there was no American poetry before he wrote and
that everything since has been derived from him. The facts are that he
had a native poetic gift which would have led to his writing poetry
had there never been a war between the colonies and England, but that
when the war came on he was one of the most effective penmen on his
side; that entrance into the field of public affairs diverted him from
the paths of quiet life; that after the war he continued both kinds of
writing. He never ceased wholly to think and write about "affairs," but
more and more he speculated on the future, dreamed of the picturesque
past, and played with themes of graceful and tender sentiment. He is
very much worth reading as a commentator on his own times, and he is no
less worth reading for the beauty of many poems quite without reference
to the time or place in which they were written.

       *       *       *       *       *

The long and fruitful colonial period must not be overlooked by any
honest student of American literature, yet it may fairly be regarded
as no more than a preparatory stage. It has the same relationship to
the whole story as do the ancestry, boyhood, and education to the
development of an individual. In the broad and brief survey attempted
in these chapters a few leading facts have been reviewed about the
youth of America: (1) Everything characteristic of the early settlers
was derived directly from England, those in the South representing
the aristocratic traditions of king and court, and those in the
North reflecting the democratic revolt of the Puritans. As a natural
consequence of these differences the writing of books soon waned in
Virginia and the neighboring colonies, but developed consistently in
Massachusetts and New England. (2) The attempt of the Puritans to
force all New Englanders to think the same thoughts and worship in the
same way was unsuccessful from the start, and the most interesting
writers of the seventeenth century reveal the spread of disturbing
influences. The first three chosen as examples are Thomas Morton, the
frank and unscrupulous enemy of the Puritans; Nathaniel Ward, a sturdy
Puritan who was alarmed at the growth of anti-Puritan influences; and
Roger Williams, a deeply religious preacher, who rebelled against the
control of the Church in New England just as he and others had formerly
rebelled in the mother country. (3) Even in the first half century a
good deal of verse was written: sometimes, as in the case of "The Day
of Doom," as a mere rimed statement of Puritan theology; but sometimes,
as in the case of Anne Bradstreet and her followers, as an expression
of real poetic feeling. (4) With the passage to the eighteenth century
the community was clearly slipping from the grasp of the Puritans.
Evidence is ample from three types of colonists: the Mathers, who
were fighting a desperate but losing battle to retain control; Samuel
Sewall, who, although a Puritan, was willing to accept reasonable
changes; and Mrs. Sarah Kemble Knight, who said little at the time,
but in her private journals showed the existence of growing disrespect
for the old habits of thought. (5) Benjamin Franklin, whose work is
more valuable than that of any of his predecessors, is also completely
representative of the complete swing away from religious enthusiasm
to a hard-headed worldliness which was prevailing in England in the
eighteenth century. (6) On the other hand, Crèvecoeur, writing just
before the Revolution, sounded the note of thanksgiving to the Lord
that America was different from the Old World, and emphasized what were
the conditions of life that were worth fighting to save. (7) Finally,
out of all the roster of talented writers during the Revolutionary War,
Freneau was selected as the most gifted poet of the period, both as an
indirect recorder of the conflict and as an author of poetry on native
themes in no way related to the war.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  ADAMS, H. B. Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia. 1888.

  FISKE, JOHN. The Critical Period of American History. Chap. ii. 1888.

  OTIS, WILLIAM BRADLEY. American Verse, 1625-1807. 1909.

  PATTERSON, SAMUEL WHITE. The Spirit of the American Revolution as
     Revealed in the Poetry of the Period (contains good bibliography).
     1915.

  RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature. Chaps. i, vi, viii. 1887.

  TUCKER, S. M. In chap. ix of Cambridge History of American
     Literature, Vol. I, Bk. I.

  TYLER, M. C. The Literary History of the American Revolution, chaps.
     ix, xix, xx, xxi, xxvi, xxviii, xxix, xxxi, xxxii. 1897.

  VAN TYNE, C. H. The Loyalists in the American Revolution. 1902.

  WENDELL, BARRETT. Literary History of America, chaps. vii, viii, ix.
     1900.

  For spirit of the times read Familiar Letters of John and Abigail
     Adams. 1876.

     =General Bibliography=

       Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I, pp. 457-467.

=_Individual Authors_=

  FRANCIS HOPKINSON. Miscellaneous Essays and Occasional Writings.
     1792. 3 vols. The latter half of the third volume contains in
     separate paging (1-204) his Poems on Several Subjects. (There has
     been no reprinting.)

     =Available Edition=

       The Old Farm and the New Farm: a Political Allegory (edited by
         B. J. Lossing). 1864.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       HILDEBURN, C. R. A Biographical Sketch of Francis Hopkinson.
         1878.

       MARBLE, MRS. A. R. Francis Hopkinson, Man of Affairs and
         Letters. _New England Magazine_, Vol. XXVII, p. 289.

       TYLER, M. C. The Literary History of the American Revolution,
         Vol. I, chap. viii, pp. 163-171; chap. xii, pp. 279-292; chap.
         xxii, pp. 487-490; and Vol. II, chap. xxx, pp. 130-157.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 35-42, 604-606.

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 372-383.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 209-219.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol.
         III, pp. 236-251.

  JOHN TRUMBULL. Poetical Works. 2 vols. Hartford, 1820. Progress of
     Dulness. Part I, The Rare Adventures of Tom Brainless, 1772;
     Part II, The Life and Character of Dick Hairbrain of Finical
     Memory, 1773; Part III, The Adventures of Miss Harriet Simper,
     1773. M'Fingal: a Modern Epic Poem. Canto I; or, The Town Meeting
     (includes what is now Cantos I and II). 1776. Completed with
     Cantos III and IV. 1782.

     =Available Edition=

       M'Fingal; an Epic Poem (edited by B. J. Lossing). 1860, 1864,
         1881.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 43-57, 58-88, 606-610,
         611-614.

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 395-408.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 308-319.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol.
         III, pp. 422-429; Vol. IV, pp. 89-92.

       PHILIP FRENEAU. Poems. Printed for the Princeton Historical
         Association. F. L. Pattee, editor. 1902-1907. 3 vols.

     =Available Edition=

       Poems of Philip Freneau relating to the American Revolution. E.
         A. Duyckinck, editor. 1865.

     =Bibliography=

       A volume compiled by Victor H. Paltsits. 1903.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       AUSTIN, MARY S. Philip Freneau, the Poet of the Revolution. 1901.

       DELANCEY, E. F. Philip Freneau, the Huguenot Patriot-Poet, etc.
         _Proceedings of the Huguenot Soc. of Amer., Vol. II, No. 2._
         1891.

       FORMAN, SAMUEL E. The Political Activities of Philip Freneau.
         _Johns Hopkins University Studies, Ser. 20, Nos. 9, 10._ 1902.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 89-117, 614-618.

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 431-448.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 327-348.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol.
         III, pp. 445-457.

  TIMOTHY DWIGHT. There are no recent editions of Dwight. These
     appeared originally as follows: The Conquest of Canaan, 1784; The
     Triumph of Infidelity, 1788; Greenfield Hill, 1794; Travels in New
     England and New York, 1823.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       DWIGHT, W. T. and S. E. Memoir prefixed to Dwight's Theology. 4
         vols.

       SPRAGUE, W. B. The Life of Timothy Dwight, in Vol. XIV of
         Sparks's _Library of American Biography_.

       SPRAGUE, W. B. Annals of the American Pulpit, Vol. II.

       TYLER, M. C. Three Men of Letters, pp. 72-127. 1895.

       Introduction to the Poems of Philip Freneau (edited by F. L.
         Pattee), Vol. I, pp. c, ci. 1902.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 118-124, 618-621.

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 409-420.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 357-365.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol.
         III, pp. 426-429 and 463-483.

  JOEL BARLOW. His epic is accessible only in early editions. His
     poetical work appeared originally as follows: The Vision of
     Columbus, 1787; The Columbiad, 1807; Hasty Pudding, 1847.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       TODD, C. B. Life and Letters of Joel Barlow. 1886.

       TYLER, M. C. Three Men of Letters, pp. 131-180. 1895.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 125-135, 621-624.

       CAIRNS, W. B. Early American Writers, pp. 421-430.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 391-404.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol.
         III, pp. 422-429, and Vol. IV, pp. 46-57.

=_Literary Treatment of the Period_=

     =Drama=

       In _Representative Plays by American Dramatists_ (edited by M.
         J. Moses), Vol. I. 1918.

       The Group; a Farce, by Mrs. Mercy Warren.

       The Battle of Bunker's Hill, by H. H. Brackenridge.

       The Fall of British Tyranny; or, American Liberty, by John
         Leacock.

       The Politician Outwitted, by Samuel Low.

       The Contrast, by Royall Tyler.[3]

       André, by William Dunlap.[3]

     =Fiction=

       CHURCHILL, WINSTON. Richard Carvel.

       COOPER, J. F. Lionel Lincoln; or, The Leaguer of Boston.

       COOPER, J. F. The Pilot.

       COOPER, J. F. The Spy.

       FORD, P. L. Janice Meredith.

       HARTE, BRET. Thankful Blossom.

       JEWETT, SARAH ORNE. The Tory Lover.

       KENNEDY, J. P. Horse Shoe Robinson.

       MITCHELL, S. WEIR. Hugh Wynne.

       SIMMS, W. GILMORE. The Partisan.

       SIMMS, W. GILMORE. The Scout.

     =Poetry=

       Poems of American History (edited by B. E. Stevenson), pp.
         125-265.

       American History by American Poets (edited by M. V. Wallington),
         Vol. I, pp. 125-293.

  [3] Also in _Representative American Plays_ (edited by A. H.
      Quinn). 1917.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

In a survey course enough material is presented for Hopkinson,
Trumbull, Dwight, and Barlow in the collections mentioned in the
Book List for this chapter. The only reprint available of Lewis's
interesting "Journey from Patapsco to Annapolis" is in "American
Poetry" (P. H. Boynton, editor), pp. 24-29. These poems are chiefly
significant for the combination of English form and American subject
matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

Compare Trumbull's comments on the education of girls with the
corresponding passage by Mrs. Malaprop, in Sheridan's "The Rivals," and
with Fitz-Greene Halleck's comments on the education of Fanny, in the
poem of that name (see "American Poetry," pp. 127, 128, and 155, 156).

       *       *       *       *       *

Compare Dwight's "Farmer's Advice to the Villagers," "Greenfield Hill,"
Pt. VI, with Benjamin Franklin's "The Way to Wealth."

       *       *       *       *       *

Compare the nationalistic note in the seventh and ninth books of
Barlow's "Vision of Columbus" with that in Timrod's "Ethnogenesis" and
that in Moody's "Ode in Time of Hesitation." Do the dates of the three
poems suggest a progressive change? (See "American Poetry," pp. 123,
349, and 577.)

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Freneau's more bitter war satires in comparison with Jonathan
Odell's "Congratulation" and "The American Times," for which see
"American Poetry," pp. 78-83.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Freneau's more jovial war satires in comparison with Whittier's
"Letter from a Missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church" ("American
Poetry," p. 255); John R. Thompson's "On to Richmond" ("American
Poetry," p. 325); Edmund C. Stedman's "How Old Brown took Harper's
Ferry" ("American Poetry," p. 317); and Lowell's "Biglow Papers."

       *       *       *       *       *

Read Freneau's "Pictures of Columbus" in comparison with Lowell's
"Columbus" ("American Poetry," p. 382); Lanier's "Sonnets on Columbus"
("American Poetry," p. 458); and Joaquin Miller's "Columbus" ("American
Poetry," p. 564).

       *       *       *       *       *

"The Progress of Balloons" derives its title from a whole series of
preceding "progress" poems. Cite others and compare them as you can.

       *       *       *       *       *

With reference to Freneau's diction in nature passages as compared with
that of Ames and Lewis in the text, read Wordsworth's essay on "Poetic
Diction" prefatory to the lyrical ballads of 1798, with which Freneau
agreed and which he anticipated in certain of his poems.



                              CHAPTER VII

                            THE EARLY DRAMA


In the growth of most national literatures the theater has developed
side by side with the drama, the stage doing for the play what the
printing press did for the essay, poem, and novel. But in America,
the land of a transplanted civilization, the order was changed and
the first plays were supplied from abroad just as the other forms of
literature were. In the history of the American stage, therefore, the
successive steps were the presentation of English plays by American
amateurs in regular audience rooms with improvised stages; then the
development of semiprofessional and wholly professional companies
who played short seasons at irregular intervals; then the erection
of special playhouses; and finally the formation of more permanent
professional companies, both English and American,--all of which took
place in the course of nearly two generations before the emergence of
any native American drama. Recent investigations have so frequently
pushed back the years of first performances, playhouses, and plays that
now one can offer such dates only as subject to further revision.

[Illustration:

          CHRONOLOGICAL CHART I. AMERICAN LITERATURE, 1600-1800

   JAMES I      1603-'25
       CHARLES I     '25-'49
        PROTECTORATE     '49-'60
                CHARLES II   '60--'85
                      JAMES II    '85-'89
                           WM.-MARY   '89--1702
                                ANNE        '02-'14
                                  GEORGE I      '14--'27
                                     GEORGE II       '27--'60
                                           GEORGE III     '60------>1820

                   1600 '    '    '    ' 1700 '    '    '    ' 1800

Thomas Morton (1575?------1646)
Nathaniel Ward (1578-------1652?)
Roger Williams     (1604--------------1683)
Michael Wigglesworth     (1631------------1705)
Anne Bradstreet      (1612----------1672)
Increase Mather           (1639--------------1723)
Cotton Mather              (1663--------------1728)
Samuel Sewall             (1652----------------1730)
Sarah Kemble Knight         (1666-------------1727)
Jonathan Edwards                          (1703-------1758)
Benjamin Franklin                          (1706--------------1790)
Michel de Crèvecoeur                          (1731--------------->1813)
Francis Hopkinson                                (1737--------1791)                                                               AMERICAN REVOLUTION--
John Trumbull                                        (1750---------1831)
Philip Freneau                                       (1752-------->1832)
Timothy Dwight                                       (1752-------->1817)
Joel Barlow                                           (1754------->1812)
Brockden Brown                                          (1771----->1810)
AMERICAN REVOLUTION                                      >1775-1780<
Washington Irving                                         (1783--->1859)
Fitz-Greene Halleck                                        (1790-->1867)
Joseph Rodman Drake                                         (1795->1820)
J. Fenimore Cooper                                         (1789-->1851)
Wm. Cullen Bryant                                           (1794->1878)
]

According to the "Cambridge History of American Literature," "there
seem to have been theatrical performances in this country since 1703."
Paul Leicester Ford in his "Washington and the Theater" says, "that
there was play-acting in New York, and in Charleston, South Carolina,
before 1702, are unquestioned facts." In 1718 Governor Spottswood of
Virginia gave an entertainment on the king's birthday, the feature of
which was a play, probably acted by the students of William and Mary
College, as there are references to later events of this sort. The
Virginia governor's patronage bore different fruit from the early
indorsement of playing in staid Massachusetts, for Samuel Sewall
recorded in his diary of March 2, 1714, a protest at the acting of a
play in the council chamber. "Let not Christian Boston," he admonished,
"goe beyond Heathen Rome in the practice of Shamefull Vanities." On the
other hand, Williamsburg, Virginia, had its own theater before 1720,
New York enjoyed professional acting and a playhouse by 1732, and in
Charleston, South Carolina, the use of the courtroom was frequent in
the two seasons before the opening of a theater in the winter of 1736.
These slight beginnings, with further undertakings in Philadelphia,
doubtless gave Lewis Hallam, the London actor, courage to venture
over with his company in 1752. With his twelve players he brought a
repertory of twenty plays and eight farces, the majority of which had
never been presented in America; and since the year of their arrival
the American theater has had a consecutive and broadening place in the
life of the people.

The beginnings of drama in America, to distinguish them from the
early life of the theater, are not quite clearly known. The first
romantic drama, and the first play written by an American and
produced by a professional company, was Thomas Godfrey's "The Prince
of Parthia," completed by 1759 and acted in 1767 at the Southwark
Theater, Philadelphia. The first drama on native American material--an
unproduced problem play--was Robert Rogers's "Ponteach," published
in London in 1766. The first American comedy to be produced by a
professional company was Royall Tyler's "The Contrast," acted in 1787
at the John Street Theater, New York. The first professional American
playwright was William Dunlap (1766-1839), author and producer, who
wrote, adapted, and translated over sixty plays, operas, sketches,
farces, and interludes, of which at least fifty were produced and
nearly thirty have been published. The first actor and playwright of
more than local prominence was John Howard Payne (1791-1852), more
original than Dunlap and equally prolific, with one or two great
successes and eighteen published plays to his credit. The history
of the American drama, as yet unwritten, will be a big work when it
is fully done, for the output has been very large. Three hundred and
seventy-eight plays are known to have been published by 1830 and
nearly twice that number to have been played by 1860. In the remainder
of this chapter, the aim of which is to induce study of plays within
the reach of the average college class, four dramas will be discussed
because they are interesting in themselves and because they are early
representatives of types which still prevail.

The first is "The Prince of Parthia," a romantic tragedy by Thomas
Godfrey (1736-1763). He was the son of a scientist, a youth of cultured
companions, West the painter and Hopkinson the poet-composer, and his
almost certain attendance at performances of the American company
of actors led him, in addition to his juvenile poems, to make his
ambitious attempt at drama. "The Prince of Parthia" is evidently
imitative, and yet no more so than most American poems, essays, novels,
and plays written in the generation to which Godfrey belonged until
his early death at the age of twenty-seven. The Hallam and American
companies had played more of Shakespeare than any other one thing,
somewhat of Beaumont and Fletcher, and more or less of Restoration
drama; and these combined influences appear in Godfrey's work. There
are traces from "Hamlet," signs of "Macbeth," evidences of "The Maid's
Tragedy," and responses to the Restoration interest in pseudo-oriental
subjects. Yet the play should not be dismissed with these comments
as though they were a condemnation. What is more to the point is the
fact that "The Prince" is very admirable as a piece of imitative
writing. The verse is fluent and at times stately. The construction
as a whole is well considered. The characters are consistent, and
their actions are based on sufficient motives. Many a later American
dramatist fell far short of Godfrey both in excellence of style and in
firmness of structure and characterization. Had Godfrey lived and had
he passed out of his natural deference for models, he might have done
dramatic writing quite equal to that of many a well-known successor.
The twentieth-century mind is unaccustomed to the "tragedy of blood."
A play with a king and two princely sons at once in love with the
same captive maiden, a jealous queen, a vengeful stepson, and a court
full of intriguing nobles, a story which ends with the accumulating
deaths of the six leading characters, hardly appeals to theatergoers
accustomed to dramas which are more economical in their material. But
Godfrey should be compared with his own contemporaries, and, all things
considered, he stands the comparison well. The type of poetic drama
he attempted reoccurs later in the work of Robert Montgomery Bird,
Nathaniel Parker Willis, George Henry Boker, and Julia Ward Howe, and
reappears in the present generation in plays by such men as Richard
Hovey and Percy Mackaye.

The second notable play was Robert Rogers's (1730?-1795) "Ponteach: or
the Savages of America," published in London in 1766. The fact that
it was not produced at the time must be laid to managerial timidity
rather than to defects in the play, for it has some of the merits of
Godfrey's work in the details and construction. Two reasons sufficient
to put a cautious manager on guard were its criticism of the English
and its treatment of the churchman. For the play as a whole is a
sharp indictment of the white man's avarice in his transactions with
the Indians, in the course of which a Roman Catholic priest is by no
means the least guilty. Traders, hunters, and governors combine in
malice and deceit, undermining the character of the Indians and at
the same time embittering them against their English conquerors. A
play with this burden, written so soon after the Seven Years' War,
had no more chance of being produced than a pacifist production did
from 1914 to 1918. Godfrey's treatment of the Indians seems at first
glance unconvincing, but this is chiefly because of the way he made
them talk. All the savages and all the different types of white rascal
hold forth in the same elevated rhetorical discourse. This fact, which
constitutes a valid criticism, should be tempered by the recollection
that generations were yet to pass before anything lifelike was to be
achieved in dialect writing. Cooper's Indians are quite as stately
in speech as Rogers's. Yet, like Cooper, Rogers endowed them with
native dignity, self-control, tribal loyalty, and reverence for age
as well as with treachery and the lust for blood. If "Ponteach" had
been an indictment of the French instead of the English, it is a
fair guess that American audiences would have seen it and greeted it
"with universal applause." As an Indian play it was followed by many
successors--Pocahontas alone was the theme of four plays between 1808
and 1848. As a race play it broke the trail not only for these but for
others which branched off to the negro theme--from "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
and "The Octoroon," before the Civil War, to Sheldon's "The Nigger," of
1911. As a problem-purpose play it was the first American contribution
to a long series which never flags entirely and which always multiplies
in years when class or political feeling runs high.

The third notable American play--a success of 1787 and the first of
many successes in its field--was "The Contrast," a comedy by Royall
Tyler (1757-1826). Its purport is indicated in the opening lines of the
prologue:

      Exult each patriot heart!--this night is shewn
      A piece, which we may fairly call our own;
      Where the proud titles of "My Lord! Your Grace!"
      To humble Mr. and plain Sir give place.
      Our Author pictures not from foreign climes
      The fashions, or the follies of the times;
      But has confin'd the subject of his work
      To the gay scenes--the circles of New York.

There is a complacency of pioneership in this and a hint at servility
among other playwrights which are not strictly justified by the facts,
but the prologue is none the less interesting for this. It is quite
as true to its period as the content of the play is, for it displays
the independence of conscious revolt, exactly the note of Freneau's
"Literary Importation" written only two years earlier (see p. 78) and
a constantly recurrent one in American literature for the next fifty
years.

Tyler's play is a comedy of manners setting forth "the contrast between
a gentleman who has read Chesterfield and received the polish of Europe
and an unpolished, untraveled American." This is reënforced by the
antithesis between an unscrupulous coquette and a feminine model of all
the virtues, and between a popinjay servant and a crude countryman,
the original stage Yankee. As far as the moral is concerned the play
makes its point not because the good characters are admirable but
because the bad ones are so vapid. Manly, the hero, is well disposed
of by his frivolous sister's statement: "His conversation is like
a rich, old-fashioned brocade, it will stand alone; every sentence
is a sentiment"; and Maria, the heroine, is revealed by her own
observation that "the only safe asylum a woman of delicacy can find
is in the arms of a man of honor." Yet the contrasts lead to good
dramatic situations and to some amusing comedy, and the play is further
interesting because of the fund of allusion to what Tyler considered
both worthless and worthy English literary influences. The extended
reference to "The School for Scandal" as seen at the theater by
Jonathan is acknowledgment enough of Tyler's debt to an English master.
"The Contrast" is the voice of young America protesting its superiority
to old England and old Europe. It had been audible before the date of
Tyler's play, and it was to be heard again and again for the better
part of a century and in all forms of literature. In drama the most
famous play of the type in the next two generations was Anna C. O.
Mowatt's "Fashion" of 1845. "Contrast" was furthermore a forerunner
of many later plays which were descriptive without being satirical,
a large number of which carried New York in their titles as well as
in their contents. These doubtless looked back quite directly to the
repeated successes of Pierce Egan's "Life in London," but they had all
to acknowledge that Tyler was the early and conspicuous playwright who
had

                confin'd the subject of his work
      To the gay scenes--the circles of New York.

The fourth and last play for any detailed comment here is "André"
(1798) by William Dunlap (1766-1839). Dunlap asked for recognition, as
Tyler had done, on nationalistic grounds,

      A Native Bard, a native scene displays,
      And claims your candour for his daring lays;

and he took heed, as Rogers seems not to have done, of the risk he was
running in entering the perilous straits of political controversy in
which "Ponteach" was stranded before it had reached the theater:

      O, may no party spirit blast his views,
      Or turn to ill the meanings of the Muse;
      She sings of wrongs long past, Men as they were,
      To instruct, without reproach, the Men that are;
      Then judge the Story by the genius shown,
      And praise, or damn it, for its worth alone.

Party feeling was high at the time over the opposing claims of France
and England--"The Rival Suitors for America," as Freneau called them
in his verses of 1795. "Hail Columbia," by Joseph Hopkinson, made an
immediate hit when sung at an actors' benefit less than four weeks
after the production of "André," and made it by an appeal to broad
national feeling. And Dunlap, after a slip of sentiment in the first
performance, kept clear of politics, and showed tact as well as daring
by making the Briton heroic, though a spy, and by his fine treatment
of the unnamed "General," who was evidently Washington. Dunlap's play
showed a ready appreciation of theatrical effectiveness. It was the
work of a playmaker rather than a poet, and the verse had none of
the elevation of Godfrey's or Rogers's. It was far better than the
declamatory stage efforts of the Revolutionary years by Brackenridge,
Leacock, Low, and Mercy Warren, and it was the best early specimen of
the historical romance for which there is always a ready patronage.

Dunlap is more significant as an all-round man in the early history
of the American theater than as a pure dramatist. He was a good judge
of what the public wanted, and fairly able to achieve it. What he
could not write he could translate or adapt. He turned Schiller's "Don
Carlos" into English, and it failed; but he made a great success of
Zschokke's "Abaellino" and translated no less than thirteen plays of
Kotzebue. A comic opera, a dramatic satire, a farce, or an interlude
seemed all one to him in point of ease or difficulty. From 1796 to 1803
he produced more than four plays a year under his own management at the
Park Theater in New York. He continued as a manager till 1805 and was
connected with the theater again in 1810-1811. Finally, to cap all, in
1832 he published in two volumes his "History of the American Theater,"
which, though inaccurate in many details, is full of the personal
recollections of men and events that no amount of exact scholarship
could now unearth.

The really auspicious beginnings in American play-writing up to 1800
were hardly followed up in the period before the interruption of
the drama by the Civil War. One man stands out, John Howard Payne
(1791-1852). Starting as a precocious boy actor and a dramatist whose
first play was staged at the age of fifteen, he developed into a
reputation greater than that of Dunlap, but in the perspective of time
little more enduring. His "Brutus" was played for years by well-known
tragedians, and his "Charles II," in which Washington Irving had a
hand, was long successful as a comedy. But he was too prolific for
high excellence, and he did nothing new. Now and then men who wrote
abundantly produced single plays of rather high merit though of
imitative quality, such as Robert Montgomery Bird's "Broker of Bogota."
There was a generous output, but a low level of production; tragedies,
historical plays, comedies of manners, local dramas, social satires,
melodramas, and farces followed in steady flow. Successful novels of
Cooper, Simms, Mrs. Stowe, and writers of lesser note were quickly
staged, but no one of undoubted distinction came to the fore. Writers
in other fields, like Nathaniel Parker Willis, the essayist, George
Henry Boker, the poet, and Julia Ward Howe, turned their hands at times
to play-writing with moderate success. But it is significant that the
conspicuous names of the period were names of actors and producers
rather than of playwrights. The history of the American stage has been
unbroken up to the present time, but it was not until near the end of
the century that the literary material presented on the stage became
more than a vehicle for the enterprise of managers and the talents
of actors. This later stage will be briefly discussed in one of the
closing chapters of this book.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  CRAWFORD, M. C. The Romance of the American Theater. 1913.

  DUNLAP, WILLIAM. History of the American Theater. 1832.

  HUTTON, LAURENCE. Curiosities of the American Stage. 1891.

  MOSES, MONTROSE J. Famous Actor-Families in America. 1906.

  MOSES, MONTROSE J. The American Dramatist. 1911.

  SEILHAMER, G. O. History of the American Theater, 1749-1797. 3 vols.
     1888-1891.

  TYLER, MOSES COIT. Literary History of the American Revolution, 2
     vols. Vol. II, chap. xxxii.

  WINTER, WILLIAM. The Wallet of Time. 2 vols. 1913.

     =Collections=

       MOSES, MONTROSE J. Representative Plays by American Dramatists,
         Vol. I. 1918. Vols. II and III in press.

       QUINN, ARTHUR H. Representative American Plays. 1917.

     =Special Articles=

       GAY, F. L. An Early Virginia Play. _Nation_, Vol. LXXXVIII, p.
         136. 1909.

       LAW, ROBERT A. Early American Prologues and Epilogues. _Nation_,
         Vol. XCVIII, p. 463. 1914.

       LAW, ROBERT A. Charleston Theaters, 1735-1766. _Nation_, Vol.
         XCIX, p. 278. 1914.

       MATTHEWS, ALBERT. Early Plays at Harvard. _Nation_, Vol.
         LXXXVIII, p. 295. 1909.

       NEIDIG, W. J. The First Play in America. _Nation_, Vol.
         LXXXVIII, p. 86. 1909.

       QUINN, ARTHUR H. The Early Drama, 1756-1860. Cambridge History
         of American Literature, Vol. I, Bk. II, chap. ii.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

The best available sources of material are the collection of A. H.
Quinn, which contains three of the plays mentioned in detail, and the
first volume of the collection of M. J. Moses, which contains all four,
and a half dozen more from the early period.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is no need of suggesting specific topics in connection with
the different plays. Each one may be read with reference to its
story content--the kind of plot, of characters, of scenes, of
episodes--or with reference to the skill with which it was written--the
construction, the characterization, the supply of motives for action,
the dialogue, the prose or verse style--or with reference to the
personality of the author and the "signs of the times"--the purpose
of the play, the moral, intellectual, and æsthetic character and
prejudices of the author.

       *       *       *       *       *

If the student is working toward a report--written or oral--he will
arrive at a satisfactory result only as he limits himself to one very
definite subdivision and presents his findings in detail.



                              CHAPTER VIII

                         CHARLES BROCKDEN BROWN


The first professional man of letters in America, and the last of note
who was born before the Revolution, was Charles Brockden Brown. His
short life, from 1771 to 1810, was almost exactly contemporary with
the productive middle half of Freneau's long career. That he earned
his living by his pen is a matter of incidental interest in American
literary history; the more important facts are that he looms large in
the chronicles of the American novel and that he was a factor in the
development of the American periodical.

He was born in Philadelphia. "His parents," says Dunlap, whose whole
biography is written with the same labored elevation, "were virtuous,
religious people, and as such held a respectable rank in society; and
he could trace back a long line of ancestry holding the same honorable
station." He was a delicate, precocious child, and under the prevalent
forcing process of the day was cultivated into an infant prodigy. By
the time that he was sixteen he was well schooled in the classics; he
had versified parts of Job, the Psalms, and Ossian; he had sketched
plans for three epic poems; and he had permanently undermined his
health. At eighteen he was studying law, indulging in debate and in
philosophical speculation, and was the author of his first published
magazine article. In the next few years--the dates are not exactly
recorded--he abandoned the law; at one time gave thanks that because
of his feeble health he was free from the ordinary temptations of
youth, and at another, for the same reason, contemplated suicide;
and finally, to escape the urgent counsels of his advisers, he left
his home city for New York. Here he fell in with congenial literary
companions, joined the Friendly Club, in which among other benefits
he was the recipient of friendly criticism for his "disputatiousness
and dogmatism," and in the stirring period of the '90's began to dream
Utopian dreams of a new heaven on the old earth.

His active authorship, which began with 1797, was varied and incessant.
It included between then and 1810 a large number of magazine
contributions (many of them serials), six novels (all published between
1798 and 1801), several other volumes more or less in the nature of
hack work, and nine years of periodical editorship. He wrote with the
confidence of youth for a youthful and uncritical reading public, with
the natural result that his output was more bulky than distinguished.
He was immensely communicative: filled with "the rapture with which he
held communion with his own thoughts"--committing them to paper in a
copious journal, in circumstantial letters, and in the rivulet which
flowed from his pen into the forgotten gulf of magazinedom. In 1799 he
was working on five different novels, although from April until the
end of the next year he was editing _The Monthly Magazine and American
Review_. Before he was thirty his reputation was established and his
important work was done. In 1801 he returned to Philadelphia with
achieved success as a reply to the friends who had tried to dissuade
him from professional writing. There he undertook in 1803 another
editorial venture in _The Literary Magazine and American Register_.
From the excited young radical of a half-dozen years earlier, disciple
of William Godwin, he had become by some reaction a fulfiller of his
pious ancestry. In his statement of principles he made it clear that
he would rather be respectable than disturbing in his sentiments. He
referred to the recent bold attacks on "the foundations of religion
and morality," declared that he would conserve these and proscribe
everything that offended against them, and concluded (using the
editorial third person): "His poetical pieces may be dull, but they at
least shall be free from voluptuousness or sensuality; and his prose,
whether seconded or not by genius and knowledge, shall scrupulously
aim at the promotion of public and private virtue." Even under the
weight of this unmitigated morality the magazine was continued for
four years. Brown had, however, stepped down from the level of an
author who was in any degree creative to a platform for dispensing
commonplace conservatism and useful knowledge. The decline is further
proven by the nature of his last industrious ventures: "The American
Register, or General Repository of History, Politics and Science"
(Philadelphia, 1807-1811, seven vols.) and a prospectus in 1809 of an
unfinished "System of General Geography; containing a Topographical,
Statistical and Descriptive Survey of the Earth." With the handicap
of his early impaired health and under the burden of his self-imposed
schedule his strength failed him, and he died in 1810, an overworked
consumptive. It is quite evident, however, that his distinctive work
was done. If old age had been granted him, unless some amazing reversal
of form had taken place, it would have been a long, industrious, and
ultraconventional anticlimax to the rather brilliant promise of his
young manhood.

In entering the field of fiction-writing Brown took his place in the
newest literary movement in America. For nearly two centuries, as the
preceding chapters have shown, poetry and expository prose had been
the only accepted forms. Some years after the beginnings of a native
theater in the middle of the eighteenth century the first attempts
were made in a native drama, but they were faint and scant and were
looked on with indifference, if not with disapproval, by most of the
country. The chief tide of composition after the war for independence
was controlled by the twin moons of Pope and Addison. The triumph of
the English novel had occurred in the twenty-five years after the death
of Pope, however, and its influence could not be long unfelt. In fact
the six years of controversy which led to the dismissal of Jonathan
Edwards from his Northampton church in 1750 (see p. 43) suggest
that Richardson achieved a furtive reading almost at once; for it
was Edwards's protest against certain books which led to "lascivious
and obscene discourse" among the young people that started the whole
trouble--and "Pamela" was the sensation of the day. A later disapproval
of Richardson was based merely on his encouragement of frivolity. Says
Trumbull of Harriet Simper, in "The Progress of Dulness" of 1773:

      Thus Harriet reads, and reading really
      Believes herself a young Pamela,
      The high-wrought whim, the tender strain
      Elate her mind and turn her brain:
      Before her glass, with smiling grace,
      She views the wonders of her face;
      There stands in admiration moveless,
      And hopes a Grandison, or Lovelace.

And by 1804 so strait a conservative as President Dwight of Yale could
refer with complacency to novelists in general, and to Sterne in
particular: "Our progress resembled not a little that of my Uncle Toby;
for we could hardly be said to advance at all."

The earliest American novels were tentative beginnings of several
sorts. The first was "The Power of Sympathy," by a Lady of Boston
(Mrs. Sarah Wentworth Morton), in 1789. It was soon overshadowed
by Susanna Rowson's extremely popular "Charlotte" in 1790. Both
were highly-seasoned love stories. Of a different kind was H. H.
Brackenridge's "Modern Chivalry" (1792-1793-1797), a rollicking satire
on democracy carried on a narrative thread, with about the same right
to be termed a novel as Pierce Egan's "Life in London" of a generation
later. Different again was G. Imlay's "The Emigrants" (1793), a tale
of the West with a conventional London plot and set of characters. And
different again was Royall Tyler's "The Algerine Captive" (1797), a
contemporary story combining social satire, travel, and international
politics, with significant witness in the preface to the growing
American vogue of the novel.

When Brown came to the point of telling his own stories, however,
he did not follow in the footsteps of any American predecessors,
but turned to a type for which he was especially fitted--the Gothic
romance. This was the first extravagant contribution of fiction to
the Romantic movement,--the tale of wonder and horror, of alternating
moonlit serenities and midnight storms, of haunted castles and secret
chambers, of woods and vales and caves and precipices, of apparent
supernaturalism which was explained away in a conscientious anticlimax,
and of the same seraphic heroine and diabolical villain who had played
the leading roles for Richardson. It had been developed by Horace
Walpole and Mrs. Anne Radcliffe and "Monk" Lewis and finally by William
Godwin, who combined all this machinery into a kind of literary "tank"
for the conveyance of a didactic gun crew, for his "Caleb Williams" was
in fact little more than "Political Justice" in narrative camouflage.
This was a formula exactly to Brown's taste, since he had both a
strong ethical bias and a liking for the mysterious. His particular
undertaking was to translate it into American terms, a task that he
carried through in his extraordinary output of 1798 to 1801.

The first to be published was "Wieland," a gradually increasing
succession of horrors which are brought about through the influence
of a mysterious voice. By the oracular commands of the unseen speaker
Wieland's double tendency to superstition and melancholy is deepened
into a calm and steady fanaticism. At the end, in obedience to what
he thinks is the voice of God, he murders his wife and children and,
confessing, is acquitted on grounds of insanity. The horrid chapter of
mishaps is explained by the repentant villain, Carwin, a ventriloquist,
who accounts for the stupendous wickedness of his achievement by
nothing more convincing than an irresistible inclination to practice
his talent. "Ormond," of the next year, is a story of feminine virtue
triumphant over obstacles, which is complicated by the employment of
two heroines, two victimized fathers, and two villains. The element
of horror is supplied in the background of the yellow-fever plague;
and the mystery, by the apparent omniscience of the worse of the
malefactors, who is simply an ingenious resorter to false doors and
secret partitions.

Brown's most ambitious novel was "Arthur Mervyn," which appeared in
two volumes in 1799 and 1800. It carries as a subtitle "The Memoirs
of 1793." These days, according to the preface, were suggestive to
"the moral observer, to whom they have furnished new displays of the
influence of human passions and motives." He has used "such incidents
as appeared to him most instructive and remarkable," believing that
"it is every one's duty to profit by all opportunities of inculcating
upon mankind the lessons of justice and humanity." He believes in
tragic realism on account of the "pity" which it may inspire. As a
matter of fact the plague seems rather incidental than integral to the
story. It gives rise to the introduction of Arthur Mervyn on the scene
and to the long piece of retrospective narrative which occupies all
of the first volume. This tells of the experiences of Arthur, three
days long, with a consummate villain, Welbeck, just as the sins of the
latter return to him in a dozen ways. The second volume pursues certain
unfinished stories begun in the first, the general motives being to
show how completely the innocent Arthur Mervyn is misunderstood and to
present his efforts to atone in some degree for the offenses of the
real sinner. The structure is by no means as firm even as this analysis
would seem to indicate. It is an endless ramification of stories within
stories, and stops at last without any sufficient conclusion.

"Arthur Mervyn" is evidently indebted to William Godwin, of whose
"transcendent powers" in "Caleb Williams" Brown was an ardent admirer.
But it as hard for the modern reader to see why either book is
strikingly individual. Godwin's feelings about the travesties on
justice indulged in by the English courts had been anticipated by
Smollett in "Roderick Random" (chap. lxi ff.); and Caleb's hard times
as a fugitive from a false charge are very similar to Roderick's. In
the light of history it seems apparent that Brown was impressed by
the book because it was widely popular when he was writing, and that
its popularity was due not so much to its merits as to its political
timeliness at a moment of revolutionary excitement. Of Brown's three
remaining novels only one, "Edgar Huntly," is of any importance.
This is a good detective story, fresher than any of his others. A
somnambulist who murders while walking in his sleep supplies the
horror and creates the mystery; and certain pictures of frontier life
and Allegheny Mountain scenery, with an Indian massacre and a panther
fight, are effectively homemade.

Brown's novels should naturally be estimated in comparison with the
works of his contemporaries rather than with the crisp and clean-cut
narrative of the present, but even so they are burdened with very
evident defects. The most flagrant of these are the natural fruits
of hasty writing. He is quoted as saying to one of his friends,
"Sir, good pens, thick paper, and ink well diluted, would facilitate
my composition more than the prospect of the broadest expanse of
clouds, water or mountains rising above the clouds." This suggests
the steady craftsmanship of Anthony Trollope with his thousand words
an hour. Yet he was in no respect of style or construction the equal
of Trollope. His novels are full of loose ends and inconsequences. He
is unblushing in his reliance on "the long arm of coincidence." Even
when one untangles the plots from the maze of circumstance in which
he involves them, they are unconvincing because they are so deficient
in human motive. Moreover, in style they are expressed in language
which is dizzily exalted even for the formal period in which they were
written. "I proceeded to the bath, and filling the reservoir with
water, speedily dissipated the heat that incommoded me." "I had been
a stranger to what is called love. From subsequent reflection I have
contracted a suspicion that the sentiment with which I regarded the
lady was not untinctured from this source and that hence arose the
turbulence of my feelings."

As he never wrote--never had time to write--with painstaking care, his
best passages are those which he set down with passionate rapidity.
When the subject in hand rapt him clean out of himself so that he
became part of the story, he could transmit his thrill to the reader.
The horrors of a plague-stricken city such as he had survived in New
York made him forget to be "literary." And the tense excitement of
an actor in moments of suspense he could recreate in himself and on
paper. His gifts, therefore, were such as to strengthen the climaxes of
his stories and to emphasize the flatness of the long levels between.
He had the weakness of a dramatist who could write nothing but "big
scenes," but his big scenes were thrillers of the first magnitude.
He was a journalist with a ready pen; his best work was done in the
mood and manner of a gifted reporter. He had neither the constructive
imagination nor the scrupulous regard for details of the creative
artist.

Although in his Gothic tales Brown was a pioneer among American
novelists, he was like many another American of early days in trailing
along after a declining English fashion. By 1800 the great day of the
Gothic romance was over. Within a few years it was to become a literary
oddity. Scott was to continue in what he called the "big bow-wow"
strain but was to make his romances rational and human, and Jane Austen
was to describe the feelings and characters of ordinary life with the
hearty contempt for the extravagances of the Radcliffe school which
she expressed throughout "Northanger Abbey" (chaps. 1, xx ff.). Yet in
his own period Brown was recognized in England as well as in America.
The best reviews took him seriously, Godwin owed a return influence
from him, Shelley read him with absorbed attention, Scott borrowed the
names of two of his characters. In these facts there is evidence that
he was American not only in his acceptance of foreign influence but in
his conversion of what he received into a product that was truly his
own and truly American. There are more or less distinct hints of Cooper
and Poe and Hawthorne in the material and the temper of his writings,
and there is more than a hint of Mrs. Stowe and Lew Wallace and the
modern purpose-novelists in the grave intention to inculcate "upon
mankind the lessons of justice and morality" with which he undertook
his labors.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  CROSS, W. L. The Development of the English Novel, pp. 98-109. 1899.

  LOSHE, L. D. The Early American Novel. 1907.

=_Individual Author_=

  CHARLES BROCKDEN BROWN. The Novels of, with a Memoir of the Author.
     Boston, 1827; Philadelphia, 1857, 1887. These appeared originally
     as follows: Alcuin, 1798; Wieland, 1798; Ormond, 1799; Arthur
     Mervyn, 1799-1800; Edgar Huntly, 1799; Clara Howard, 1801; Jane
     Talbot, 1801.

     =Bibliography=

       WEGELIN, O. Early American Fiction, 1774-1830. 1913. See also
         Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I, pp. 527-529.

       =History and Criticism=

       DUNLAP, WILLIAM. Life of Charles Brockden Brown: with
         selections. 1815. 2 vols.

       ERSKINE, JOHN. Leading American Novelists. 1910.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Charles Brockden Brown, in Carlyle's _Laugh and
         Other Surprises_. 1909.

       MARBLE, ANNIE R. Charles Brockden Brown and Pioneers in Fiction,
         in _Heralds of American Literature_. 1907.

       PRESCOTT, W. H. Life of Charles Brockden Brown, in Sparks's
         _Library of American Biography_, Vol. I. 1834. Also in
         Prescott, _Biographical and Critical Miscellanies_. 1845.

       VAN DOREN, C. Early American Realism. _Nation_, Nov. 12, 1914.
         (The Source of Wieland.)

       VAN DOREN, C. Minor Tales of Brockden Brown, 1798-1800.
         _Nation_, Jan. 14, 1915. (A detailed study, adding several
         titles not before ascribed to Brown.)

       VAN DOREN, C. In chap. vi of Cambridge History of American
         Literature, Vol. I, Bk. II.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read W. L. Cross's "Development of the English Novel" for general
characterization of the Gothic romance, and for contemporary reaction
against this type of fiction read Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey,"
chaps. i, xx ff.

       *       *       *       *       *

Brown and his work are so remote from the present that they challenge
inevitable comparisons with other authors who preceded, accompanied, or
followed him in literary history. For example:

       *       *       *       *       *

Read "Arthur Mervyn," Bk. I, for a comparison in handling similar
material with Defoe's "Journal of the Plague Year" and the entries in
Pepys's Diary on the plague of 1666.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read "Arthur Mervyn" for a comparison of subject matter, plot, and
purpose with Godwin's "Caleb Williams."

       *       *       *       *       *

Read "Edgar Huntly" for a comparison as a detective story with any
modern story, as, for example, one of Conan Doyle's.

       *       *       *       *       *

Read the great suspense passages in "Wieland" for a comparison with
similar passages in the tales of Edgar Allan Poe.



                               CHAPTER IX

                  IRVING AND THE KNICKERBOCKER SCHOOL


The turn to Washington Irving and his chief associates in New
York--James Fenimore Cooper and William Cullen Bryant--is a turn from
colonial to national America and from the eighteenth to the nineteenth
century. This is not to say that what they wrote was utterly and
dramatically different from what had been written in the colonial
period; yet there are many points of clear distinction to be marked.
With them, for one thing, New York City first assumed the literary
leadership of the country. It was not a permanent conquest, but it was
notable as marking the fact that the new country had a dominating city.
As a rule the intellectual and artistic life of a country centers about
its capital. Athens, Rome, Paris, London, are places through which
the voices of Greece, Italy, France, and England have uttered their
messages. These cities have held their preëminence, moreover, because,
in addition to being the seats of government, they have been the great
commercial centers and usually the great ports of their countries.
In the United States, then, the final adoption of Washington in the
District of Columbia as the national capital was a compromise step;
this could not result in bringing to it the additional distinction
which natural conditions gave to New York. Washington has never been
more than the city where the national business of government is carried
on; locating the center for art and literature has been beyond the
control of legislative action. For the first third of the nineteenth
century New York was the favored city. Here Irving was born, and here
Cooper and Bryant came as young men, rather than to the Philadelphia of
Franklin and his contemporaries.

For these men of New York, America was an accomplished fact--a nation
slowly and awkwardly taking its place among the nations of the world.
To be sure, the place that Americans wanted to take, following the
advice of George Washington, was one of withdrawal from the turmoil of
the Old World and of safety from "entangling alliances" which could
ever again bring it into the warfare from which it was so glad to be
escaping. The Atlantic was immensely broader in those days than now,
for its real breadth is to be measured not in miles but in the number
of days that it takes to cross it. When Irving went abroad for the
first time in 1803 he was fifty-nine days in passage. To-day one can
go round the world in considerably less time, and the average fast
Atlantic steamship passage is one tenth of that, while the aëroplane
flight has divided the time by ten again. So the early Americans
rejoiced in their "magnificent isolation" and wanted to grow up as
dignified, respected, but very distant neighbors of the Old World.

It was an unhappy fact, however, that America--or the United
States--was not notable for its dignity in the early years of the
nineteenth century; for the finest dignity, like charity, "is not
puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly," whereas the new nation
was very self-conscious; quickly irritated at foreign criticism,
and uncomfortably aware of its own crudities in manner and defects
in character. As far as foreign criticism was concerned, there were
ample reasons for annoyance in America. Even as early as 1775 John
Trumbull[4] had felt that it was hopeless to expect fair treatment at
the hands of English reviewers, warning his friends Dwight and Barlow,

        Such men to charm could Homer's muse avail,
      Who read to cavil, and who write to rail;
      When ardent genius pours the bold sublime,
      Carp at the style, or nibble at the rhyme;

and the mother country, after the Revolution and the War of 1812, was
less inclined than before to deal in compliment. Man after man came
over,

        Like Fearon, Ashe, and others we could mention;
      Who paid us friendly visits to abuse
      Our country, and find food for the reviews.[5]

  [4] Lines addressed to Messrs. Dwight and Barlow.

  [5] Fitzgreene Halleck, "Fanny," stanza lviii.

Moreover, all the time that England was criticizing her runaway child,
she was maddeningly complacent as to her own virtues. Americans could
not strike back with any effect, because they could not make the
English feel their blows. So they fretted and fumed for half a century,
their discomfort finding its clearest expression in Lowell's lines[6]:

      She _is_ some punkins, thet I wun't deny
      (For ain't she some related to you 'n' I?)
      But there's a few small intrists here below
      Outside the counter o' John Bull an' Co,
      An' though they can't conceit how't should be so,
      I guess the Lord druv down Creation's spiles
      'thout no _gret_ helpin' from the British Isles,
      An' could contrive to keep things pooty stiff
      Ef they withdrawed from business in a miff;
      I ha'n't no patience with sech swellin' fellers ez
      Think God can't forge 'thout them to blow the bellerses.

  [6] Mason and Slidell, ll. 155-165.

A further reason for uneasiness in the face of foreign comment was
that honest Americans were aware that their country suffered from the
crudities of youth. It is unpleasant enough for "Seventeen" to be
nagged by an unsympathetic maiden aunt, but it is intolerable if she
has some ground for her naggings. In small matters as well as great
"conscience doth make cowards of us all." In a period of such rapid
expansion as prevailed in the young manhood of Irving, Cooper, and
Bryant it was unavoidable that most of the population were drawn into
business undertakings that were usually eager and hurried and that were
often slipshod or even shady. The American colleges and their graduates
were not as distinguished as they had been in the earlier colonial
days, and the new influence of European culture from the Old World
universities was yet to come. In the cities, and notably in New York,
the vulgar possessors of mushroom fortunes multiplied rapidly, bringing
up vapid daughters like Halleck's "Fanny,"[7] who in all the modern
languages was

        Exceedingly well-versed; and had devoted
      To their attainment, far more time than has,
        By the best teachers, lately been allotted;
      For she had taken lessons, twice a week,
      For a full month in each; and she could speak

      French and Italian, equally as well
        As Chinese, Portuguese, or German; and,
      What is still more surprising, she could spell
        Most of our longest English words off-hand;
      Was quite familiar in Low Dutch and Spanish,
      And thought of studying modern Greek and Danish;

and whose father, a man of newly affected silence that spoke
"unutterable things," was established in a mortgaged house filled
with servants and "whatever is necessary for a 'genteel liver'" and
buttressed with a coach and half a dozen unpaid-for horses. At the
same time the countryside was developing a native but not altogether
admirable Yankee type. At their best, Halleck[8] wrote,

                      The people of today
      Appear good, honest, quiet men enough
        And hospitable too--for ready pay;
      With manners like their roads, a little rough,
      And hands whose grasp is warm and welcoming, though tough.

  [7] "Fanny," stanzas cxxi, cxxii.

  [8] "Wyoming," stanza iv.

And at their worst Whittier[9] looked back a half century, to 1818, and
recalled them as

      Shrill, querulous women, sour and sullen men,
      Untidy, loveless, old before their time,
      With scarce a human interest save their own
      Monotonous round of small economies,
      Or the poor scandal of the neighborhood;

             *       *       *       *       *

      Church-goers, fearful of the unseen Powers,
      But grumbling over pulpit tax and pew-rent,
      Saving, as shrewd economists, their souls
      And winter pork, with the least possible outlay
      Of salt and sanctity; in daily life
      Showing as little actual comprehension
      Of Christian charity and love and duty
      As if the Sermon on the Mount had been
      Outdated like a last year's almanac.

A natural consequence of such criticism from without, and such raw and
defective culture within the country, was that American writers of any
moment bided their time as patiently as they could, recognizing that
for the moment America must be a nation of workers who were

          rearing the pedestal, broad-based and grand,
      Whereon the fair shapes of the Artist shall stand,
      And creating, through labors undaunted and long,
      The theme for all Sculpture and Painting and Song.[10]

Finally, it is worth noting that the first three eminent writers in
nineteenth-century America were themselves not university products.
Bryant withdrew from Williams College at the end of the first year,
and Cooper from Yale toward the end of the second. The real education
of these two and of Irving, who did not even enter college, was in the
world of action rather than in the world of books, and their associates
were for the most part men of affairs.


   [9] "Among the Hills" (Prelude, 71 ff.).

  [10] Lowell, "Fable for Critics."


                           WASHINGTON IRVING

Many of the facts about the boyhood and youth of Washington Irving
(1783-1859) are typical of his place and his period as well as true
of himself. The first is that he was born (in New York City) of
British-American parents, his father a Scotch Presbyterian from the
Orkney Islands and his mother an Englishwoman. His father's rigid
religious views dominated in the upbringing of himself and his six
brothers and sisters. Two nearly inevitable results followed: one, that
as a boy he grew to believe that almost everything that was enjoyable
was wicked, and the other, that as he came toward manhood he was
particularly fond of the pleasures of life. A boy of his capacities in
Boston at this time would have been more than likely to go to Harvard
College, which was a dominating influence in eastern Massachusetts,
but King's College (Columbia) occupied no such position in New York.
Irving's higher education began in a law office, and then, when his
health seemed to be failing, was continued by travel abroad. The long
journey, or series of journeys, that he took from 1804 to 1806 were
of the greatest importance. They were important to Irving because he
was peculiarly fitted to get the greatest good from such informal
education. He was an attractive young fellow, so that it was easy for
him to make and to hold friends; and he was blessed with his father's
moral balance, so that he did not fall into bad habits. He was so far
inclined to laziness that it is doubtful if he would have achieved much
if he had gone to college, but he was wide-awake and receptive, so that
he absorbed information wherever he went. Furthermore, he had a mind as
well as a memory, and he came back to America stocked not merely with
a great lot of miscellaneous facts but with a real knowledge of human
nature and of human life.

From the day of his return to New York in 1806 to the day of his death,
in 1859, Washington Irving had an international point of view and
developed steadily into an international character. His first piece
of writing was that of a very young man, but a young man of promise.
Like the other Americans of his day he had read a good deal of English
literature written in the eighteenth century; and among the essayists
of that century who had attracted his attention one was Oliver
Goldsmith. New York supplied him with his subjects and Goldsmith with
his method of attack, for he wrote, in company with one of his brothers
and a mutual friend, a series of amusing criticisms on the ways of his
townsmen, modeling his _Salmagundi Papers_ after Goldsmith's _Citizen
of the World_. This was at once independent and imitative. The youthful
authors blithely announced in their introductory number that they
proposed to "instruct the young, reform the old, correct the town, and
castigate the age." In the twenty-two papers that came out at irregular
intervals between January, 1807, and January, 1808, they criticized
everything that struck their attention, and they had their eyes wide
open. The American love of display, the inclination to indulge in
fruitless discussion which made the country a "logocracy" rather than
a democracy, the lack of both judgment and order which marked their
political elections, and their social and literary fashions make just
a beginning of the list of subjects held up to genial ridicule. Yet,
though the criticism was fair and to the point, it was an old-fashioned
kind of comment, the kind that England had been feeding on for the
better part of a century, ever since Addison and Steele had made it
popular in the _Tatler_ and the _Spectator_. Moreover, it was done in
an old-fashioned way, for in making Mustapha Rub-a-Dub Keli Khan, the
Tripolitan, the foreign commentator on American life as he saw it with
a stranger's eyes, they were using a device that was old even before
it was employed by the Englishman from whom they borrowed it. The
_Salmagundis_ are interesting, however, as early representatives of a
longish succession of satires on the life of New York, all pleasant
and rather pleasantly superficial. Three years later Irving, this time
alone, followed up this initial success with his "Knickerbocker's
History of New York," not as serious a piece of work as its title at
first suggests, for it was a burlesque of a heavy and pretentious
history on the same subject which had appeared just before. Like the
_Salmagundis_ it was vivacious and impertinent, the very clever work of
a very young man.

Now for ten years Washington Irving produced nothing as a writer. He
was engaged in business with his brothers, and proved himself the most
level-headed member of a pretty unbusinesslike combination. In 1815, in
connection with one of their many ambitious and unsuccessful schemes,
he went abroad, probably without the least suspicion that he would
be absent from his own country for seventeen years and that he would
return to it as a celebrated writer widely read in two continents.
The first step toward his wider reputation came in 1819 with the
publication in London of "The Sketch Book," the best known of all his
works. This was followed in 1822 by "Bracebridge Hall" and in 1824
by "Tales of a Traveller," both similar in tone and contents to "The
Sketch Book." With a reputation as a graceful writer of sketches and
stories now thoroughly established, he turned to a more substantial
and ambitious form of work in the composition of "The History of the
Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus," living and writing in
Madrid for the two years before its publication in 1828; and this book
he followed quickly, as in the case of "The Sketch Book," with two
other productions of the same kind--"The Conquest of Granada" in 1829
and "The Voyages and Discoveries of the Companions of Columbus" in
1831. For three years before his return to America, Irving served as
Secretary of Legation to the court of St. James, London, and then came
back to enjoy at home a popularity which had been almost wholly earned
abroad. Out of his career thus far four main facts deserve attention.
First, that his literary work began with two pieces of social satire,
written in a boyish, jovial manner which he largely abandoned in later
years; second, that his fame was established on works of "The Sketch
Book" type, made up of short units, gracefully written, and full
of quiet humor and tender sentiment (now and again he continued in
this sort of composition up to the end of his life); third, that in
his maturer years he resorted to the writing of formal history, and
that he followed the first three studies, done in Spain, with "Oliver
Goldsmith" in 1849, "Mahomet and his Successors" in 1850, and "The Life
of Washington," completed in 1859, the year of his death. To these
literary facts should be added a fourth which is both literary and
political and of no small significance in history--the fact of Irving's
appointment to a post in the foreign diplomatic service. This was to
be followed in his own life by his four years as Minister to Spain in
1842-1846, under President Harrison, and in the next fifty years by a
distinguished list of other appointments to the consular and diplomatic
staffs. No single group has done more to bring honor to the United
States in the courts of Europe during the nineteenth century than
writers like Irving, Hawthorne, Motley, Howells, Bayard Taylor, Lowell,
Hay, and their successors down to Thomas Nelson Page and Brand Whitlock.

To return to "The Sketch Book." By 1818, three years after Irving had
gone abroad for the second time, the business in which he had been
engaged with his brothers had utterly failed, and he was forced to
regard writing not merely as an attractive way of diverting himself but
as a possible source of income. The new articles which he then wrote,
together with many which had been accumulating in the leisure of his
years in England, were soon ready for publication, but they found no
English publisher ready to risk putting them out. Even the powerful
influence of Sir Walter Scott, Irving's cordial friend, could not
prevail at first with John Murray, "the prince of publishers." In 1819
Sidney Smith's contemptuous and famous query, "Who reads an American
book?" was fairly representative of the English-reading public. Murray
was interested in Irving's manuscript, but did not see any prospect of
selling enough books to justify the risk of publication. Irving had
wanted the indorsement of Murray's imprint to offset the severity of
the kind of English criticism deplored years earlier by John Trumbull
(see p. 111). As soon, however, as the sketches were printed in New
York in a set of seven modest installments, the attention of English
readers was attracted to them, and Irving heard rumors that a "pirated"
English edition was to appear. There was no international copyright
in those days, and no adequate one until as late as 1899; so that a
book printed on one side of the Atlantic was fair game for anyone who
chose to steal it on the other. If an author wanted his works to appear
correctly and to get his full money return for them, it was necessary
for him to go through all the details of publishing independently
in both countries. After a great deal of difficulty, therefore,
Irving contrived to get out an English edition through an inefficient
publisher, but the success of it was so marked that Murray soon saw
the light and from then on was eager to get the English rights for
everything that Irving wrote and to pay him in advance five, ten, and,
in one case, as much as fifteen thousand dollars.

With the appearance of "The Sketch Book" England arrived at a new
answer for Sidney Smith's question. Irving was sought as a celebrity
by the many, in addition to being loved as a charming gentleman by his
older friends. Few tributes are more telling than that contained in a
letter written many years later by Charles Dickens in which he refers
to the delight he took in Irving's pages when he was "a small and not
over particularly well taken care of boy." Even the austere _Edinburgh
Review_ indorsed the American as a writer of "great purity and beauty
of diction." From the most feared critic in the English-speaking
world to the neglected boy whose father was in debtors' prison Irving
received enough applause quite to turn the head of a less modest man.

"The Sketch Book" includes over thirty papers of four or five
different kinds. About fifteen are definite observations on English
life and habits as seen in country towns and on country estates. Of
the remainder six are literary essays of various kinds; four are in
the nature of personal traveling reminiscences; three are the famous
short stories--"Rip Van Winkle," "Sleepy Hollow," and the "The Spectre
Bridegroom"; and five so far defy classification as to fall under the
convenient category of "miscellaneous."

As a document in literary history the sixth paper deserves far more
notice than is usually conceded to it, for as a rule it is totally
neglected. This is entitled "British Writers on America." The tone of
English literary criticism has already been referred to. Irving called
attention to the fact that all English writings on America and the
Americans were equally ill-natured. He pointed out that ordinarily
English readers demanded strictest accuracy from author-travelers;
that if a man who wrote a book on the regions of the Upper Nile or the
unknown islands of the Yellow Sea was caught in error at a few minor
points, he was held up to scorn as careless and unreliable, and another
English traveler who could convict him of mistakes or misstatements
could completely discredit him. But in marked contrast to this, no such
scrupulousness was demanded of visitors to the United States. Books on
the new nation in the Western World were written and read to satisfy
unfriendly prejudice rather than to supply exact information and honest
opinion. Against a continuation of such a practice Irving gave warning,
not merely because it was uncharitable but because in time it would
estrange the two peoples and lose for England a friend with whom she
could not afford to be at loggerheads.

  Is all this to be at end? Is this golden band of kindred sympathies,
  so rare between nations, to be broken forever? Perhaps it may be
  for the best. It may dispel an illusion which might have kept us in
  mental vassalage; which might have interfered occasionally with our
  true interests, and prevented the growth of proper national pride.
  But it is hard to give up the kindred tie! and there are feelings
  dearer than interest--closer to the heart than pride--that will make
  us cast back a look of regret as we wander farther and farther from
  the paternal roof, and lament the waywardness of the parent that
  would repel the affections of the child.

There were probably many other Americans capable of making the warning
prophecy so notably fulfilled nearly a hundred years later, though few,
perhaps, who would have put it in such temperate language; but Irving
went further in following with a warning to his fellow-countrymen:

  Shortsighted and injudicious, however, as the conduct of England
  may be in this system of aspersion, recrimination on our part would
  be equally ill-judged.... Let us guard particularly against such a
  temper, for it would double the evil instead of redressing the wrong.
  Nothing is so easy and inviting as the retort of abuse and sarcasm,
  but it is a paltry and unprofitable contest.... The members of a
  republic, above all other men, should be candid and dispassionate.
  They are, individually, portions of the sovereign mind and sovereign
  will, and should be enabled to come to all questions of national
  concern with calm and unbiased judgments.... Let it be the pride of
  our writers, therefore, discarding all feelings of irritation, and
  disdaining to retaliate the illiberality of British authors, to speak
  of the English nation without prejudice and with determined candor.

If there is any justification for calling an American essay "The
American Declaration of Literary Independence" the title should be
conferred on this neglected number in "The Sketch Book." It was long
before either English or American writers were wise enough to follow
Irving's counsels, but he himself was always as tactful as he was
honest.

"The Sketch Book" as a whole, then, can best be understood as an
American's comments on English life and custom, made at a time when
"the retort of abuse and sarcasm" would have been quite natural.
In the opening paper, as well as in the sixth, there is a gentle
reminder that the literary east wind had felt rather sharp and nipping
in New York. Irving is describing himself after the fashion of the
eighteenth-century essayists at the introduction of a series, and at
the end indulges in this little nudge of irony:

  A great man of Europe, thought I, must ... be as superior to a great
  man of America, as a peak of the Alps to a highland of the Hudson;
  and in this idea I was confirmed by observing the comparative
  importance and swelling magnitude of many English travelers among us,
  who, I was assured, were very little people in their own country. I
  will visit this land of wonders, thought I, and see the gigantic race
  from which I am degenerated.

His summarized impressions of the typical Englishman are contained
in the thirtieth paper, on "John Bull." This keen analysis will bear
the closest reading and study, and the more one knows of English
history the more interesting it becomes. In this respect it is like
"Gulliver's Travels," for it is full of double meanings. To the
inattentive or the immature it is simply a picture of a bluff, hearty,
quick-tempered, over-conservative average English country gentleman,
but to the intelligent and attentive reader this gentleman turns out
to be the embodiment of the English government and the British Empire.
The character of Parliament, the relation between Church and State, the
condition of the national treasury, the attitude of the rulers toward
reform legislation and toward the colonies, dependencies, and dominions
are all treated with kindly humor by the visiting critic. The picture
is by no means a flattering one, but it was Irving's happy gift to be
able to indulge in really biting satire and yet to do so in such a
courteous and friendly way that his words carried little sting. Part of
the concluding paragraph to this essay will illustrate his method of
combining justice with mercy:

  Though there may be something rather whimsical in all this, yet I
  confess I cannot look upon John's situation without strong feelings
  of interest. With all his odd humors and obstinate prejudices, he is
  a sterling-hearted old blade. He may not be so wonderfully fine a
  fellow as he thinks himself, but he is at least twice as good as his
  neighbors represent him. His virtues are all his own; all plain,
  home-bred, and unaffected. His very faults smack of the raciness of
  his good qualities. His extravagance savors of his generosity; his
  quarrelsomeness of his courage; his credulity of his open faith; his
  vanity of his pride; and his bluntness of his sincerity. They are all
  the redundancies of a rich and liberal character.

In this spirit Irving wrote the other sketches of John Bull as he
appears in "Rural Life," "The Country Church," "The Inn Kitchen," and
the group of five Christmas pictures.

To judge from these eight scenes of English country life, Irving, a
visitor from a new and unsettled land, was chiefly fascinated by the
evidences of old age and tradition on every side. For this reason, if
for no other, he delighted in the customs of the country squires who
had not been swept out of their ancient order by the tide of modern
trade. Even the English scenery was in his mind "associated with ideas
of order, of quiet, of sober, well-established principles, of hoary
usage and reverend custom. Everything seems to be the growth of ages
of regular and peaceful existence." As Irving observed it, it was
still the "Merrie England" of song and story, an England, therefore,
beautifully typified in the celebration of the Christmas festivities.
There is a touch of autobiography in his comment on the good cheer that
prevailed at Bracebridge Hall,--a home that Squire Bracebridge tried
to make his children feel was the happiest place in the world,--it
was so utterly different from the suppressed family circle over which
his Presbyterian father had ruled. As a guest he enjoyed all the
picturesque and quaint merrymaking at the Hall, and re-conjured up
pictures like those which Addison had previously drawn at Sir Roger
de Coverley's. Yet all the while he was aware that the old English
gentleman was a costly luxury for England to maintain, that Squire
Bracebridge was after all nothing but John Bull, and that John Bull
was inclining to lag behind his age. As a student of Goldsmith, Irving
had read "The Deserted Village"; the thought of it seems to have come
back to him while writing "Rural Life"; for a moment the usurpation of
the land by the wealthy disquieted him, but then he consoled himself
with the comforting thought that abuses of this sort were "but casual
outbreaks in the general system." Irving was writing as an observer who
found much to admire in the external beauty of the old order of things,
but at the bottom of his American mind it is quite apparent that
there was a silent approval of gradual reform in "the good old ways."
Squire Bracebridge was delightful to Irving, but on the whole he was a
delightful old fogy.

Irving's papers on London--"The Boar's Head Tavern," "Westminster
Abbey," and "Little Britain"--are full of a similar reverence for old
age in the life of the community. In the same mood in which he laughed
at the pranks of the Christmas Lord of Misrule, he made his way to
Eastcheap, "that ancient region of wit and wassail, where the very
names of the streets relished of good cheer, as Pudding Lane bears
testimony even at the present day"; and he took much more evident
satisfaction in his recollection of Shakespearean revelries than in his
hours in Westminster, the "mingled picture of glory and decay." Once
again in "Little Britain" Irving was in more congenial surroundings,
for he preferred to smile at the echoes of dead laughter than to
shudder at the reminders of vanished greatness.

  Little Britain may truly be called the heart's core of the city;
  the strong-hold of true John Bullism. It is a fragment of London as
  it was in its better days, with its antiquated folks and fashions.
  Here flourish in great preservation many of the holiday games and
  customs of yore. The inhabitants most religiously eat pancakes on
  Shrove Tuesday, hot-cross-buns on Good Friday, and roast goose at
  Michaelmas; they send love-letters on Valentine's Day, burn the
  Pope on the fifth of November, and kiss all the girls under the
  mistletoe at Christmas. Roast beef and plum-pudding are also held in
  superstitious veneration, and port and sherry maintain their grounds
  as the only true English wines.

In more than casual respect for such traditions Irving goes on to
introduce the rival oracles of Little Britain, to escort us to
Wagstaff's and the Roaring Lads, to act as personal conductor to
Bartholomew Fairs and a Lord Mayor's Day, and finally to lament the
baleful influence of the socially ambitious Misses Lamb and the decline
of the choice old games All-Fours, Pope Joan, and Tom-come-tickle-me.
It is no wonder that the youthful Dickens loved these papers, for the
same England appealed to both Irving and Dickens throughout their
lives. It was a rough, boisterous, jolly England, with a good deal of
vulgarity which they were ready to forgive and a good many vices which
they chose to overlook in favor of its chief virtues--a blunt honesty,
a hearty laugh, and a full stomach.

There is another side of old England that was dear to those two--that
John Bull could "easily be moved to a sudden tear" (see p. 109, first
topic). In the old days of even a hundred years ago men of Saxon stock
were much more ready to express themselves than they are to-day, for
the accepted manners of the present are comparatively reserved and
impassive. If a man was amused he laughed loud and long; if he was
angered he came up with "a word and a blow"; and if his deeper feelings
were touched he was not ashamed of a tear. In fact he seemed almost
to feel a certain pride in his "sensibility," as if his power to weep
proved that his nature was not destitute of finer feeling and made
up for his quickness to wrath and his fondness for a broad joke. In
perhaps unconscious recognition of this habit of mind the literature
of a century ago contained a great many frank appeals to the reader's
feeling for pathos, appeals which the modern reader would be likely to
condemn as unworthily sentimental.

In the history of literature a distinction is made between
"sentiment"--the ability to respond to the finer emotions, such as
love, sorrow, reverence, patriotism, worship--and "sentimentalism"--the
unrestricted expression of these emotions by eloquence, tears, and
feminine sighs, blushes, and swoonings. For this sentimentalism,
which was a literary fashion of his period, Irving found an outlet
in sketches like "The Wife," "The Broken Heart," "The Widow and her
Son," and "The Pride of the Village." The first is on "the fortitude
with which women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune,"
a sketch in which the husband is the sentimentalist. He has lost his
money and is afraid to shock his wife with the revelation, but his
"altered looks and stifled sighs" half betray him. In "an agony of
tears" he tells a friend, and by him is persuaded to be honest with
her. Her latent heroism comes out in the face of his announcement; and
on her welcome to him at his first homecoming to the modest cottage
he is rendered speechless, and tears once more gush into his eyes.
The second is a direct attempt to shame "those who have outlived the
susceptibility of early feeling, or have been brought up ... to laugh
at all love stories." The third, on "The Widow and her Son," is more
convincing to the reader of to-day, for it is on the tragic picture of
a fond parent's bereavement. The fourth is the best example of all.
The pride of the village is introduced as "blushing and smiling in all
the beautiful confusion of girlish diffidence and delight." She falls
in love with a gallant young soldier, who begs her to accompany him
when he is ordered to the front. Shocked at his perfidy she clasps
her hands in agony, then succumbs to "faintings and hysterics," and
then goes into a decline. After some time her lover returns to her and
rushes into the house. "She was too faint to rise--she attempted to
extend her trembling hand--her lips moved as if she spoke, but no word
was articulated--she looked down upon him with a smile of unutterable
tenderness--and closed her eyes forever!" If these sketches seem unreal
and even amusing to the student, it is partly because they are actually
overdrawn and partly because the present generation has repressed, if
it has not "outlived, the susceptibility of early feeling."

Two other types of work remain to be mentioned. The first is the
literary essay, in which the chief interest arises from Irving's
sympathetic appreciation of his English masters. From these
essays--there are five of distinct importance--it appears that he was
especially well-read in the writings of a much earlier period and that
he took pleasure in dwelling on passages which were characterized,
as his own work came to be, by "great purity and beauty of diction."
The other group is the most famous in "The Sketch Book," the three
stories of which "Rip Van Winkle" is the best known. This is extremely
interesting for several reasons. The first is that it is a good story,
which will long be read for its own sake, and as such it needs no
comment, for it is familiar to everyone. But it is also a milestone in
literary history. One reason for this is that it carries into practice
a principle that American authors had long been talking and writing
about--the principle of using native material. It is located in the
Catskill Mountains and in the years before and after the Revolutionary
War. It introduces real colonial and early American people. Although
it is a far-fetched romance in its theme, it makes use of homely,
realistic details. Jonathan Doolittle's hotel was just the sort of
shabby boarding house that marred the countryside during the slipshod
years after the Revolution and that survived into Irving's youth. "A
large rickety wooden building ... with great gaping windows, some of
them broken and mended with old hats and petticoats." The sign was
strangely changed from pre-Revolution days. "The red coat was changed
for one of blue and buff, a sword was held in the hand instead of a
sceptre, the head was decorated with a cocked hat, and underneath was
painted in large characters, GENERAL WASHINGTON." The fact that the
folk story about Hendrick Hudson and his crew had some basis in a
German superstition does not affect the fact that Irving completely
localized it and gave it its enduring fame as an American tale.

Another reason why this story stands out in literary history is that
it is one of the first really successful examples of the modern
short story, and that in this sense it represents America's chief
contribution to the types of literature. We are likely to take for
granted that all the popular forms of literature have existed since the
beginning of time. Yet prose stories of any kind were comparatively
modern a hundred years ago, and most of them were long narratives in
two or three and sometimes as many as six or seven volumes. What short
stories existed were merely condensed novels, not limited to any brief
period and not developed with any definite detail. "Rip Van Winkle" was
strikingly different from its vague and shapeless forerunners. After
the introduction it was limited to two short passages of time--the
few hours just before and the few hours just after Rip went to sleep
on the mountain. And the whole story was composed to lead up to the
main point,--the chief point of this history and of all history,--the
relentless way in which life moves on, regardless of the individual
who falls asleep and is left behind. All the details in the story help
to develop this idea. Rip, the ne'er-do-well, was the sort of man to
serve as the central character, for he was more anxious to escape life
than to take his part in it. His eager, querulous, sharp-tongued wife
reminded him of the burden of living only to make him avoid it the
more; her loss was the only one which he did not regret on his return.
His dog and gun, which he missed first and missed most keenly, were
the pride of the old-fashioned trapper out of place in the up-to-date
American village. The years bridging the Revolution were the most
natural and effective ones to mark the kind of change that is always
taking place; and Rip's experience in finding that loyalty to a
discarded monarchy was treason to a new republic was simply an emphatic
illustration of what will usually happen to a man who lives in the past
instead of in the present. It is not at all necessary to assume that
Irving chose the old folk-legend in order to expound this theme, or
even that he was conscious of the completeness with which he was doing
it. The fact remains that it was remarkable in its day for its clear
compactness, and that it meets one of the tests of enduring fiction in
telling a good story well and of building that story out of elements
that convey some truth about life.

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is comparable to "Rip Van Winkle" only
in its use of native American character, scenes, and tradition. It is
hardly a short story at all, but rather a prolonged sketch full of
"local atmosphere" and partly strung on a narrative thread. Ichabod
Crane and his townsmen, except for Brom Bones and his gang, are
like Rip in one respect, for they are representative citizens in a
town where "population, manners and customs remain fixed; while the
great torrent of migration and improvement, which is making such
incessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by
them unobserved." Ichabod was an interesting survival, too, because
his combination of learning and superstition had come to him from a
distinguished source, for he "was a perfect master of Cotton Mather's
history of New England witchcraft, in which, by the way, he most
firmly and potently believed. He was, in fact, an odd mixture of small
shrewdness and simple credulity. His appetite for the marvellous, and
his powers of digesting it, were equally extraordinary, and both had
been increased by his residence in this spellbound region. No tale was
too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow. It was often his
delight, after his school was dismissed in the afternoon, to stretch
himself on the rich bed of clover, bordering the little brook that
whimpered by his schoolhouse, and there con over old Mather's direful
tales, until the gathering dusk of the evening made the printed page
a mere mist before his eyes." Ichabod, moreover, is a comic type in
American life in the early nineteenth century, who seems to have been
equally disliked by all the New Yorkers--the Puritan descendant
strayed from home. Cooper's David Gamut is one of the same crop. The
story of the Headless Horseman, like that of the Spectre Bridegroom,
is, of course, only a make-believe ghost story, neither important nor
well told. The real interest in the sketch lies in its picture of
simple country life. The whole scene at Baltus Van Tassel's house is
as clear and vivid as the contrasting scenes at Bracebridge Hall or as
Whittier's picture of another family scene in "Snow-Bound." The third
well-known story in "The Sketch Book," "The Spectre Bridegroom," is,
like "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," more of a sketch than a story, and
does not pretend to be laid on American soil.

It is a common experience of schoolboys and schoolgirls to feel on
reading Irving for the first time that his way of writing is stiff and
unnatural. Compared with the fashion of to-day the wording and sentence
structure of "The Sketch Book" deserve such a verdict. But to render it
against the writing of a hundred years ago, without comparing the book
in question with others of its own generation, is to ignore the very
point of "Rip Van Winkle"--that fashions change. Assuming, then, that
styles do change, and that Irving was no more formal than other authors
of his day, it is still worth while to see what some of the main points
of contrast are between 1819 and 1919. Here are two passages that
will serve as a basis for comparison. The first is from "Philip of
Pokanoket," one of the two "Sketch Book" essays written in America.

  It is to be regretted that those early writers, who treated of
  the discovery and settlement of America, have not given us more
  particular and candid accounts of the remarkable characters that
  flourished in savage life. The scanty anecdotes which have reached
  us are full of peculiarity and interest; they furnish us with nearer
  glimpses of human nature, and show what man is in a comparatively
  primitive state, and what he owes to civilization. There is something
  of the charm of discovery in lighting upon these wild and unexplored
  tracts of human nature; in witnessing, as it were, the native growth
  of moral sentiment, and perceiving those generous and romantic
  qualities which have been artificially cultivated by society,
  vegetating in spontaneous hardihood and rude magnificence.

The second is from G. S. Lee's "Crowds," Bk. I, chap, viii:

  The future in America cannot be pictured. The only place it can be
  seen is in people's faces. Go out into the street, in New York, in
  Chicago, in San Francisco, in Seattle; look eagerly as you go into
  the faces of the men who pass, and you feel hundreds of years--the
  next hundred years--like a breath swept past. America, with all
  its forty-story buildings, its little play Niagaras, its great
  dumb Rockies, is the unseen country. It can only as yet be seen in
  people's eyes. Some days, flowing sublime and silent through our
  noisy streets, and through the vast panorama of our towers, I have
  heard the footfalls of the unborn, like sunshine around me.

These passages have almost exactly the same number of words,--the
former one hundred and fifteen and the latter one hundred and
seventeen,--but a glance at the printed page shows that Irving's words
take up one fifth more space than Lee's do. The reason is that Irving
uses twenty-six words of more than two syllables, and Lee, aside
from place-names, only two. Although both passages are written in
analysis of American conditions, Irving, who is discussing the past,
employs abstract or general words--to use the nouns alone, words like
_discovery_, _anecdotes_, _peculiarity_, _civilisation_, _sentiment_,
_qualities_, _magnificence_; Lee, who is looking to the future, uses
definite and picturesque terms like _faces_, _street_, _buildings_,
_eyes_, _panorama_, _towers_, _footfalls_,--uses these words even
though he admits the idea he is dealing with cannot be pictured. Again,
Irving cast his one hundred and fifteen words into three sentences
averaging nearly forty words in length, and Lee put his into six,
averaging a fraction less than twenty. Finally, all Irving's sentences
are "loose," or so built that the reader may rest or even stop with
a completed sense before he comes to the end; but four out of six in
Lee's passage are "periodic," or so constructed that you must read to
the end or be left hanging in mid-air.

It would, of course, be forcing the issue absurdly far to insist or
even suggest that so broad a comparison would apply without exception
to the writers of a hundred years ago and of to-day, but in general
there is a fair deduction to be drawn. Irving belonged to a group who
were still addressing an eighteenth-century audience, an audience
made up of "gentle readers"--men who enjoyed the rhythmical flow of a
courtly and elegant style, who felt that there was a virtue in purity
and beauty of diction apart from any idea the diction was supposed to
express; but the modern reader esteems literature as a means rather
than an end. It must catch and hold his attention; it must be clear and
forcible first, and elegant as a secondary matter; and its words and
sentences must be chosen and put together as a challenge to a reader in
the midst of a restless, driving, twentieth-century world. With these
facts in mind one may say, if he will, that Washington Irving was stiff
and formal, but he should say this as marking a difference and not a
necessary inferiority in Irving.

Irving lived until 1859, but the richly fruitful part of his life was
from 1819, the year in which the serial publication of "The Sketch
Book" began, to 1832, the year of his return from abroad. In this
period he published ten books and all the best known of his works
but the lives of Goldsmith and Washington. When he came back after
seventeen years' absence he was known and admired in England, France,
and Germany, and the most popular of American authors. Irving was one
of the first to profit, American fashion, by a European reputation
reflected and redoubled at home. At the dinner of welcome tendered him
soon after his arrival he showed how absence had made the heart grow
fonder:

  I come from gloomier climes to one of brilliant sunshine and
  inspiring purity. I come from countries lowering with doubt and
  danger, where the rich man trembles and the poor man frowns--where
  all repine at the present and dread the future. I come from these
  to a country where all is life and animation; where I hear on every
  side the sound of exultation; where everyone speaks of the past
  with triumph, the present with delight, the future with growing and
  confident anticipation.

And here, he went on to say, he proposed to remain as long as he lived.
These last twenty-seven years were filled with honors. He had already
received the gold medal from the Royal Society of Literature and the
degree of Doctor of Laws from Oxford University. Now he was to have
the refusal of a whole succession of public offices and the leadership
of a whole "school" of writers. Diedrich Knickerbocker had become
a household word, which was applied to the Knickerbocker school of
Irving's followers and used in the christening of the _Knickerbocker
Magazine_ (1833-1865). Irving was in truth a connecting link between
the century of his birth and the century of his achievements. He
carried over the spirit and the manners of Addison and Goldsmith into
the New World and into the age of steam. With him it was a natural
mode of thought and way of expression, but with his imitators it was
affected and superficial--so much so that the Knickerbocker school
declined and the _Knickerbocker Magazine_ went out of existence shortly
after Irving's death.

       *       *       *       *       *

The leading figure in the Knickerbocker school was Fitz-Greene Halleck,
who was born in Connecticut in 1790 but spent his active life in
New York. When he came up to the city, at the age of twenty-one, he
fell in with the literary people of the town and shared their eager
interest in the current English output. According to his biographer
they were absorbed in "The Lady of the Lake" and "Marmion," in
Campbell's "Pleasures of Hope," Rogers's "Pleasures of Memory,"
Moore's "Melodies," Miss Porter's "Scottish Chiefs" and "Thaddeus of
Warsaw," and, a little later, in "Waverley," "Guy Mannering," and "The
Antiquary"--works that in Halleck's opinion produced "a wide-spread
enthusiasm throughout Great Britain and this country which has probably
never been equalled in the history of literature."

Halleck (as already cited on page 113) was uncomfortably conscious of
the prosaic commercial drive of American life and disposed to lament
the wane of romance. His regret for the passage of "the good old days"
he frequently expressed in the poems he wrote between the ages of
twenty-five and thirty--"Alnwick Castle," "Red-Jacket," "A Sketch," "A
Poet's Daughter"; and in "Wyoming" he sometimes grieved for the old and
sometimes protested at the new. When in 1823 he wrote "Marco Bozzaris,"
he lived up to his own thesis, taking an heroic episode of immediate
interest--August 20, 1823--and putting it into a ballad for freedom
that has probably been declaimed as often as "The Charge of the Light
Brigade" or "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix."

In the meanwhile he had become the intimate of the talented young
Joseph Rodman Drake. Their friendship had sprung from a common love
of romantic poetry, but the joint work which they undertook was a
series of contemporary satires. These were printed in _The National
Advocate_ and the New York _Evening Post_ between March and July,
1819. Thirty-five of them appeared over the signature of "Croaker,"
from which they became known as the "Croaker Papers." They were both
pertinent and impertinent, aided by the mystery of their authorship
and accumulating in interest through the uncertainty as to when the
next would appear and whom it would assail. The more general in theme
had the same underlying good sense which belonged to the earlier
_Salmagundis_ (see p. 116), and in their simple and often brutal
directness they must have offered then, as they do now, a relief from
the fashionable echoes of secondary English poets. Later in 1819
Halleck resumed the same strain in "Fanny"--the account in about a
thousand lines of the rise and fall of Fanny and her father in New
York finance and society.[11] Among many efforts of the sort Stedman's
"Diamond Wedding" and Butler's "Nothing to Wear" have been the only
later approach, and all have been true not merely of New York but of
the same stage in most quick-growing American cities.

In 1820 Drake died at the age of twenty-five, leaving as his literary
bequest the inspiration for Halleck's memorial verses,

      Green be the turf above thee
        Friend of my better days!

as well as his share in the "Croaker Papers," and "The Culprit Fay,"
and certain shorter poems which give promise of things much greater
than this overrated attempt. The "Fay," according to a letter by
Halleck, was a three-day production of 1816, written to demonstrate
that the Hudson River scenery could be turned to literary account.
Whether or no the anecdote is true, Drake wrote to this point in his
"To a Friend," and in "Niagara" and "Bronx." Yet the fact is worth
remark that nothing in "The Culprit Fay" is any more explicitly true
of the Hudson region than of the Rhine country or the Norwegian
fiords. The poem reads like a pure fantasy, hurriedly and carelessly
written by an inexperienced hand. Nevertheless, when published it was
extravagantly praised. Halleck said, "It is certainly the best thing of
the kind in the English language, and is more strikingly original than
I had supposed it was possible for a modern poem to be."[12]

  [11] An interesting tribute is paid this poem by Ezra Pound in
       a footnote to "L'Homme Moyen Sensuel," in "Pavannes and
       Divisions," p. 33. "I would give these rhymes now with
       dedication 'To the Anonymous Compatriot Who Produced the Poem
       "Fanny" Somewhere About 1820,' if this form of centennial homage
       be permitted me. It was no small thing to have written, in
       America, at that distant date, a poem of over forty pages which
       one can still read without labor."

  [12] It was reserved for Poe to write a genuinely critical estimate
       of it. See _The Southern Literary Messenger_, Vol. II, pp. 326
       ff. Reprinted in "The Literati," p. 374.

In Halleck's exclamatory surprise at originality in any modern poem
is to be found the vital difference between the two friends. Halleck
seemed to believe that the final canons for art had been fixed, and
could hardly conceive of originality in a nineteenth-century poet;
but Drake tried new things and rebelled at the old. His best efforts,
however qualified their success, were strainings at the leash of
eighteenth-century convention.

      Go! kneel a worshipper at nature's shrine!
      For you her fields are green, and fair her skies!
      For you her rivers flow, her hills arise!
      And will you scorn them all, to pour forth tame
      And heartless lays of feigned or fancied sighs?
      And will you cloud the muse? nor blush for shame
      To cast away renown, and hide your head from fame?

As "The Culprit Fay" shows, Drake's idea was to escape from the
drawing-room into the open, but when in the open to weave, as it were,
Gobelin tapestries for drawing-room use. He saw no gleam of essential
poetry in democracy or the crowded town, yet in his vague craving for
something better than Georgian iterations he showed that the revival of
individualism was at work in him. The story is told that his intimacy
with Halleck began in his accord with the latter's wish that he could
"lounge upon the rainbow, and read 'Tom Campbell.'" In his aspirations
he seems to have been nearer to the spirit of Keats and Shelley.

As fate would have it, the more independent of the two was taken
off before his prime, and Halleck, the survivor, settled down into
complacent Knickerbockerism. With his nicety of taste, his keen
eye, his fund of humor, and his frankness, he was an established
literary and social favorite. He was the kind of handsome and courtly
gentleman of the old school, as Irving was also, who became a friend
and associate of the leading financier of the day. There was nothing
restless or disconcerting about him. He was a critic of manners, but
not of the social order. He probably knew little of Emerson, and he
certainly disapproved of Whitman. In 1848, when less than sixty years
of age, he went back to his native town in Connecticut and lived there
till after the Civil War, totally unaffected as a man of letters,
except as the conflict seems to have silenced him. But he was not
alone, for when he sank into eclipse all the Knickerbockers disappeared
with him. Their vogue was over.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Authors_=

  WASHINGTON IRVING. First posthumous complete edition. New York,
     1860-1861. 21 vols. These appeared originally as follows:
     Salmagundi, 1807-1808; History of New York, 1809; The Sketch
     Book, 1819; Bracebridge Hall, 1822; Jonathan Oldstyle, 1824;
     Tales of a Traveller, 1824; Columbus, 1828; Conquest of Granada,
     1829; Companions of Columbus, 1831; The Alhambra, 1832; The
     Crayon Miscellany, 1835; Astoria, 1836; Captain Bonneville, 1837;
     Goldsmith, 1849; Mahomet, 1839-1850; Wolfert's Roost, 1855;
     Washington, 1855-1859; Uncollected Miscellanies, 1866.

     =Bibliography=

       Compiled by Shirley V. Long for Cambridge History of American
         Literature, Vol. I, pp. 510-517.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life of Washington Irving is by P. M. Irving, The
         Life and Letters of Washington Irving. 1862-1864. 1864, 1879,
         1883. 4 vols.

       BOYNTON, H. W. Washington Irving. Boston, 1901.

       BRYANT, W. C. A Discourse on the Life, Character, and Genius of
         Washington Irving, 1860.

       CURTIS, G. W. Irving's Knickerbocker. _Critic_, Vol. III. 1883.

       CURTIS, G. W. Washington Irving, in _Literary and Social
         Essays_. 1894.

       HAZLITT, WILLIAM. Elia, and Geoffrey Crayon, in _The Spirit of
         the Age_. 1825.

       HOLMES, OLIVER WENDELL. Irving's Power of Idealization.
         _Critic_, Vol. III. 1883.

       HOLMES, OLIVER WENDELL. Tribute to Irving. _Mass. Hist. Soc.
         Proceedings_. 1858-1860.

       HOWELLS, WILLIAM DEAN. My Literary Passions. 1895.

       LONGFELLOW, H. W. Tribute to Irving. _Mass. Hist. Soc.
         Proceedings_. 1858-1860.

       LOWELL, J. R. A Fable for Critics. 1848.

       PAYNE, W. M. Leading American Essayists. 1910.

       POE, E. A. Irving's Astoria. _Southern Literary Messenger_, Vol.
         III. 1837.

       PUTNAM, G. H. Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I,
         Bk. II, chap. iv.

       THACKERAY, W. M. Nil Nisi Bonum. _Cornhill Magazine_, Vol. I.
         1860. _Harper's_, Vol. XX. 1860.

       WARNER, C. D. _American Men of Letters Series_. 1881.

       WARNER, C. D. Irving's Humor. _Critic_, Vol. III. 1883.

       WARNER, C. D. Washington Irving. _Atlantic_, Vol. XLV. 1880.

       WARNER, C. D. The Work of Washington Irving. 1893.

  FITZ-GREENE HALLECK, The Poetical Works of. New York, 1847, 1850,
     1852, 1853, 1854, 1855, 1858, 1859. Poetical writings with
     extracts from those of Joseph Rodman Drake. J. G. Wilson, editor.
     1869, 1885. (These editions include the Croaker Papers.) These
     appeared originally as follows: Fanny, 1819; Alnwick Castle with
     Other Poems, 1827; Fanny and Other Poems, 1839; Young America, a
     Poem, 1865; Lines to the Recorder, 1866.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is The Life and Letters of Fitz-Greene
         Halleck. J. G. Wilson. 1869.

       BRYANT, W. C. Some Notices on the Life and Writings of
         Fitz-Greene Halleck. 1869.

       DENNETT, J. R. The Knickerbocker School. _Nation_, Dec. 6, 1867.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. Fitz-Greene Halleck, in _Putnam's Magazine_.
         1868.

       LEONARD, W. E. Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I,
         Bk. II, in chap. v.

       POE, E. A. Fitz-Greene Halleck, in _Complete Works_, Vol. VIII.
         1902.

       TUCKERMAN, H. T. Reminiscences of Fitz-Greene Halleck, in
         _Lippincott's Magazine_. 1868.

       WILSON, J. G. Bryant and his Friends. 1886.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 147-168, 626-629.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. II, pp. 207-212.

       GRISWOLD, R. W. Poets and Poetry of America. 1842.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. V,
         pp. 216-225.

       JOSEPH RODMAN DRAKE. Poems by Croaker, Croaker and Co., and
         Croaker, Jr. First printed in the New York _Evening Post_.
         1819. Reprinted as a pamphlet, 1819. The Culprit Fay and Other
         Poems. 1835. The American Flag. 1861.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       CORNING, A. L. Joseph Rodman Drake. _Bookman_. 1915.

       HOWE, M. A. DEW. American Bookmen. 1898.

       POE, E. A. Fancy and Imagination. _Complete Works_, Vol. VII.
         1902.

       WELLS, J. L. Joseph Rodman Drake Park. 1904.

       WILSON, J. G. Bryant and his Friends. 1886.

       WILSON, J. G. Joseph Rodman Drake, in _Harper's Magazine_. June,
         1874.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 136-153, 624-626.

       DUYCKINCK, E. A. and G. L. Cyclopedia of American Literature,
         Vol. I, pp. 201-207.

       GRISWOLD, R. W. Poets and Poetry of America. 1842.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. V,
         pp. 363-379.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the "Salmagundi Papers" and "The Citizen of the World" for evident
influences. Close attention will reveal obligations not merely in the
use of a foreign observer, a slight narrative thread, and the kind of
topics treated, but also in actual detail passages.

Read passages covering the education of Goldsmith in Irving's Life, in
Macaulay's essay, and in Thackeray's "English Humourists," and compare
the degrees of sympathy with which Goldsmith is presented.

In connection with the problems of international copyright, see
passages indicated in the table of contents or index of the following
volumes: "Matthew Carey, Publisher," by E. L. Bradsher; "Letters of
Richard Watson Gilder" (edited by Rosamond Gilder, 1916); "These Many
Years," by Brander Matthews, 1917; "Memories of a Publisher" and "The
Question of Copyright," by George Haven Putnam, 1915; "Mark Twain, a
Biography," by A. B. Paine, 1912.

Read "John Bull" in "The Sketch Book" for the passages in specific
reference to the English government.

Read "Rural Life" in "The Sketch Book" for a further obligation to
Goldsmith--the influence of "The Deserted Village."

Read "Bracebridge Hall" for a further development of English life and
character begun in the "Sketch Book" essays discussed in the text.

Read "The Alhambra" for a comparison in subject matter, method, and
tone with the three stories in "The Sketch Book."

Pick out the five essays in literary criticism in "The Sketch Book" for
the light they throw on Irving's literary likings and critical acumen.

Read in "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" the description of the domestic
group at the Van Tassels for comparison with similar pictures in the
English sketches.

Compare the "Croaker Papers" with the "Salmagundi Papers."

Read Halleck's "Fanny" (see Boynton, "American Poetry," pp. 154-158)
for comparison in method with the "Croaker Papers."

Read Joseph Rodman Drake's "To a Friend" for an appeal for originality
characteristic of the period and then read "The Culprit Fay" ("American
Poetry," pp. 136-146) for a nonfulfillment of the authors' own appeal.



                               CHAPTER X

                         JAMES FENIMORE COOPER


Cooper's life (1789-1851) was inclosed by Irving's, for he was born
six years later and died eight years earlier. When he was a little
more than a year old his father took his large family--Cooper was
the eleventh of twelve children--to the shore of Otsego Lake, New
York, where he had bought a tract, after the Revolution. It was
uncleared country, but here Judge Cooper laid out what developed into
Cooperstown, established a big estate, and built a pretentious house.
His scheme of life was aristocratic, more like that of the first
Virginia settlers than like that of the Massachusetts Puritans. Here
the boy grew up in an ambitious home, but among primitive frontier
surroundings, until he needed better schooling than Cooperstown could
offer. To prepare for Yale College he was sent to Albany and put in
charge of the rector of St. Peter's Church. Under this gentleman he
gained not only the "book learning" for which he went but also a
further sense of the gentry's point of view--a point of view which
throughout his life made him frankly critical of the defects in America
even while he was passionately loyal to it. At thirteen he was admitted
to Yale. This sounds as if he were a precocious child, but there was
nothing unusual in the performance, for the colleges were hardly more
than advanced academies where most of the students received their
degrees well before they were twenty. This was the institution which
John Trumbull--who had passed his examinations at seven!--had held
up to scorn in his "Progress of Dulness," and where his hero, Tom
Brainless,

      Four years at college dozed away
      In sleep, and slothfulness and play,

but even from here Cooper's unstudious and disorderly ways caused his
dismissal in his second year. His formal education was now ended, and
in his development as a writer it was doubtless much less important
than his earlier years in the wilderness west of the Hudson River or
those that were to follow on the ocean. In 1806 he was sent to sea
for a year on a merchant vessel, and on his return was commissioned
a midshipman in the United States Navy. His service lasted for three
years, from January 1, 1808, to May, 1811, and was ended by his
marriage to the daughter of a Tory who had fought on the British side
in the Revolutionary War. Then for nine years he settled down to what
seemed like respectable obscurity, living part of the time at his
father-in-law's home, part of the time at Cooperstown, and the last
three years at Scarsdale, New York.

From these first thirty years of his life there seemed to be little
prospect that he was to become a novelist of world-wide and permanent
reputation. There is no record that anyone, even himself, expected him
to be a writer. Yet it is quite evident, as one looks back over it,
that his preparation had been rich and varied. He had lived on land and
on sea, in city and country, in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
He had breathed in the stories of the Revolutionary days, grown up on
the frontier, and been a part of America in the making. And from his
father, his tutor, and his wife and her family, as well as from his
travel, he had learned to see America through critical eyes. He had the
material to write with and the experience to make him use it wisely.
The one apparently missing factor was the most important of all--there
was not the slightest indication that he had either the will or the
power to use his pen.

The story of how he began to write is a familiar one. Out of patience
with the crudity of an English society novel that he had been reading,
he said boastfully that he could write a better one himself. Many
another novel-reader and playgoer has talked with equal recklessness
after a literary disappointment in the library or the theater, but the
remarkable part of the story is that in 1820 Cooper made his boast
good. The resultant novel, "Precaution," was successful in only one
respect--that it started Cooper on his career. It was a colorless
tale with an English plot, located in English scenes of which he had
no first-hand knowledge. It made so little impression on public or
publishers that when his next novel was ready, in 1821, he had to issue
it at his own expense; and he made this next venture, "The Spy," in
part at least because of his friends' comment--characteristic of that
self-conscious period--that he would have been more patriotic to write
on an American theme. To let Cooper tell his own story:

  The writer, while he knew how much of what he had done was purely
  accidental, felt the reproach to be one that, in a measure, was just.
  As the only atonement in his power, he determined to inflict a second
  book, whose subject should admit no cavil, not only on the world,
  but on himself. He chose patriotism for his theme; and to those who
  read this introduction and the book itself, it is scarcely necessary
  to add that he [selected his hero] as the best illustration of his
  subject.

By means of this story of war times, involving the amazing adventures
of Harvey Birch, the spy, Cooper won his public; a fact which is amply
proven by the sale of 3500 copies of his third novel, "The Pioneer," on
the morning of publication. This story came nearer home to him, for the
scenery and the people were those among whom he had lived as a boy at
Cooperstown. Working with this familiar material, based on the country
and the developing life which was a part of his very self, Cooper wrote
the first of his famous "Leatherstocking" series. The five stories,
taken together, complete the long epic of the American Indian to which
Longfellow was later to supply the earlier cantos in "Hiawatha." For
Cooper took up the chronicle where Longfellow was to drop it (see p.
276):

            Then a darker, drearier vision
          Passed before me, vague and cloud-like;
          I beheld our nation scattered,
          All forgetful of my counsels,
          Weakened, warring with each other:
          Saw the remnants of our people
          Sweeping westward, wild and woful,
          Like the cloud-rack of a tempest,
          Like the withered leaves of Autumn.

It was not a deliberate undertaking, planned from start to finish; it
was not written in the order in which the stories occurred--like the
long series by Winston Churchill; it did not even conceive of the scout
as the central character of the first book, much less of the four which
were to follow it. Cooper did not even seem to appreciate after he had
written "The Pioneer," how rich a vein he had struck, for within the
next two years he wrote "The Pilot" a sea story, and "Lionel Lincoln,
or the Leaguers of Boston," supposed to be the first of a series of
thirteen colonial stories which were never carried beyond this point.
However, in 1826 he came back to Leatherstocking in "The Last of the
Mohicans," second both in authorship and in order of reading, and in
1827 he wrote "The Prairie," the last days of the scout. It was not
till 1840 and 1841 that he completed the series with the first and
third numbers, "The Deerslayer" and "The Pathfinder." To summarize:
the stories deal in succession with Deerslayer, a young woods-man in
the middle of the eighteenth century; then Hawkeye, the hero of "The
Last of the Mohicans," a story of the French and Indian War; next,
Pathfinder; fourth, Leatherstocking, the hero of "The Pioneer," in the
decade just before 1800; and finally, with the trapper, who in 1803
left the farming lands of New York to go westward with the emigrants
who were attracted by the new government lands of "The Prairie."

With the writing of the second of the series, Cooper concluded the
opening period in his authorship. In a little over six years he had
published six novels and had shown promise of all that he was to
accomplish in later life. He had attempted four kinds: stories of
frontier life in which he was always successful; sea tales, for which
he was peculiarly fitted; historical novels, which he did indifferently
well; and studies in social life, in which he had started his career
with a failure but to which he returned again and again like a moth to
the flame.

To "The Last of the Mohicans" the verdict of time has awarded first
place in the long roster of his works. It is the one book written
by Cooper that is devoted most completely to the vanishing race.
Three passages set and hold the key to the story. The first is from
the author's introduction: "Of all the tribes named in these pages,
there exist only a few half-civilized beings of the Oneidas on the
reservation of their people in New York. The rest have disappeared,
either from the regions in which their fathers dwelt, or altogether
from the earth." The second is a speech from Chingachgook to Hawkeye
in the third chapter, where they are first introduced: "Where are the
blossoms of these summers?--fallen, one by one: so all of my family
departed, each in his turn, to the land of the spirits. I am on the
hilltop, and must go down into the valley; and when Uncas follows in my
footsteps, there will no longer be any of the blood of the Sagamores,
for my boy is the last of the Mohicans." The third is the last speech
of the book, by the sage Tamenund: "It is enough," he said. "Go,
children of the Lenape, the anger of the Manitou is not done. Why
should Tamenund stay? The pale-faces are masters of the earth, and the
time of the red-men has not yet come again. My day has been too long.
In the morning I saw the sons of Unamis happy and strong; and yet,
before the night has come, have I lived to see the last warrior of the
wise race of the Mohicans."

For many years it was a habit of critics to scoff at Cooper's Indian
characters as romantic and idealized portraits of the red man.
This judgment may have arisen during the period of Cooper's great
unpopularity, when nothing was too unfair to please the American
public; but, once said, it persisted and was quoted from decade to
decade by people who cannot have read his books with any attention.
It was insisted that the woodcraft with which Cooper endowed the
Indians was beyond possibility, yet later naturalists have recorded
time and again marvels quite as incredible as any in Cooper's pages.
It was reiterated that their dignity, self-control, tribal loyalty,
and reverence for age were overdrawn, yet many another authority
has testified to the existence of these virtues. And, finally, it
was charged that they were never such a heroic and superior people
as Cooper made them, though study of his portraits will show that
Cooper did not make them half as admirable as he is said to have
done. Tamenund is simply a mouthpiece; Uncas and Chingachgook are the
only living Indian characters whom he makes at all admirable, but he
acknowledges the differences between their standards and the white
man's in the murder and scalping of the French sentinel after he had
been passed in safety: "'Twould have been a cruel and inhuman act for
a white-skin; but 'tis the gift and natur' of an Indian, and I suppose
it should not be denied." All the other Indians, beneath their formal
ways in family, camp, and council, Cooper presents as treacherous and
bloodthirsty at bottom, a savage people who show their real natures
in the Massacre of Fort William Henry, the chief historical event in
the book. On this ground he partly explains and partly justifies the
conquest of the red men by the white.

The other people of the story are types who appear in all Cooper's
novels. Most important is the unschooled American:

      He has drawn you _one_ character, though, that is new,
      One wildflower he's plucked that is wet with the dew
      Of this fresh Western world.

He is an out-of-door creature, intolerant of town life, skeptical of
any book but the book of nature, a lover of the woods and mountains,
and a worshiper of the God who made them. He has no "theory of life"
or of government or of America, but he is just as truly a product of
American conditions as the mountain laurel or the goldenrod. Natty
Bumppo, central figure of the "Leatherstocking" series, is blood
brother to Harvey Birch in "The Spy," to Long Tom Coffin in "The
Pilot," to Captain Truck in "Homeward Bound" and "Home as Found," and
to a similar man in almost every one of the other stories. Quite in
contrast to this "wildflower" is a potted plant, of whom Cooper is
almost equally fond. This is the polished gentleman of the world, such
as Montcalm, who embodies the culture and manners that the New World
needed. Cooper admired such a man almost to the point of infatuation,
but presented him very badly; he made an idea of him rather than a
living character, a veneer of manners without any solid backing,
superficial, complacent, and hollow. One feels no affection for him and
very little respect. He annoys one by so evidently thanking God that he
is not as other men. Another type is the pedant David Gamut, a man who
is made grotesque by his fondness for his own narrow specialty, David,
a teacher of psalm-singing, bores the other characters by continually
"talking shop," and breaks into melody in and out of season, capping
the climax by chanting so vociferously during the massacre that the
Indians regard him as a harmless lunatic and spare him then and
thereafter. Dr. Sitgreaves of "The Spy," and Owen Bat, the doctor of
"The Prairie," are struck from the same die. Finally, among the leading
types, must be mentioned the "females."

The use of this word, which sounds odd and uncouth to-day, was general
a hundred years ago, when "lady" was reserved to indicate a class
distinction, and "woman" had not become the common noun; but the
change is not merely one of name, for the women of books and the women
of life were far less self-reliant than the women of the twentieth
century. Then they were frankly regarded not only as dependents but as
inferiors. A striking evidence of this can be found in the appropriate
pages in Bartlett's "Familiar Quotations." The majority of the quoted
passages are culled from poets who wrote before the rise of the woman's
movement, and the tone of the passages taken as a whole is distinctly
supercilious and condescending. "Women are lovely at their best," the
poets seemed to agree, "but after all, they are merely--women. And at
less than their best, the least said about them the better." Cooper
was by no means behind his time in his attitude; indeed, he was, if
anything, rather ahead of it. His feeling for them seems to have been
that expressed in the famous passage from "Marmion" of which the first
half is usually all that is quoted:

      O woman! in our hours of ease
      Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,

             *       *       *       *       *

      When pain and anguish wring the brow,
      A ministering angel thou!

In the ordinary situations in Cooper's novels his "females" were things
to patronize and flatter,--for flattery never goes unattended by her
sardonic companion,--but in times of stress they showed heroic powers
of endurance. The three introduced in the first chapter of "The Spy"
were endowed, according to the text, with "softness and affability,"
"internal innocence and peace," and expressed themselves by blushes and
timid glances. The two "lovely beings" of "The Last of the Mohicans"
are even more fulsomely described. "The flush which still lingered
above the pines in the western sky was not more bright nor delicate
than the bloom" on Alice's cheeks; and Cora was the fortunate possessor
of "a countenance that was exquisitely regular and dignified, and
surpassingly beautiful." In the passage that follows they are not
referred to simply, but always with a bow and a smile--"the reluctant
fair one," "the dark-eyed Cora," and as they finally disappear on
horseback through the woods, the reader is expected not to laugh at
the final ridiculous tableau of "the light and graceful forms of the
females waving among the trees." Of course the readers to whom Cooper
addressed this did not laugh. They realized that in speaking of women
he was simply using the conventional language of the day, which was
not intended to mean what it said; that he was introducing a pair of
normal, lovely girls, and that the best to be required of a normal girl
was that she should be lovely--"only this and nothing more." There was
no evidence that Cora and Alice had minds; they were not expected to;
instead they had warm hearts and "female beauty." Lowell was probably
not unfair in his comment:

      And the women he draws from one model don't vary,
      All sappy as maples and flat as a prairie.

But it must be admitted that in Cooper's time the model was a
prevailing one, and that it was only in his old age that women began in
any large numbers to depart from it.

Cooper was all his life a more and more conscious observer and critic
of American character and American conditions. As a result his
stories take hold of the reader for the very simple reason that they
are based on actual life, and real people. They had, moreover, and
still have, the added advantage that they are based on a life that
was fascinatingly unfamiliar to the great majority of his readers,
and so, though realistic in their details, they exert the appeal of
distant romance. All through the eighteenth century, and particularly
through the last third of it, literature had been inclining to dwell
on the joys of life in field and forest. Addison and his followers
had handed on the spell of the old ballads of primitive adventure.
Pope had dabbled with the "poor Indian" and Goldsmith had written his
celebrated line about "Niagara's ... thundering sound." Collins and
Gray had harked back to the romantic past, and Burns and Wordsworth
had confined their poems to the peasantry among whom they lived.
Irving's reply to "English Writers on America" (see p. 120) alluded to
the frequency of books on distant lands and peoples. So when Cooper
began publishing his stories of adventure in untrodden lands, he found
an attentive public not only in America but in England, and not only
in England but all over Europe, where, as soon as his novels appeared,
they were reprinted in thirty-four different places.

With the literary asset of this invaluable material Cooper combined
his ability to tell an exciting story. There is nothing intricate or
skillful about his plots as pieces of composition. In fact they seldom
if ever come up to any striking finish. They do not so much conclude
as die, and as a rule they "die hard." They are made up of strings of
exciting adventures, in which characters whom the reader likes are put
into danger and then rescued from it. "The Last of the Mohicans" has
its best material for a conclusion in the middle of the book, with the
thrilling restoration of Alice and Cora to their father's arms at Fort
William Henry; but the story is only half long enough at that point, so
the author separated them again by means of the massacre and carried
it on more and more slowly to the required length and the deaths of
Cora and the last of the Mohicans. For "The Spy," the last chapter was
actually written, printed, and put into page form some weeks before
the latter part had even been planned. Cooper's devices for starting
and ending the exciting scenes seem often commonplace, partly because
so many later writers have imitated him in using them. Mark Twain,
in "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," said derisively that the
"Leatherstocking Tales" might well have been named "The Broken Twig"
series, because villain and hero so often discover each other as the
result of a misstep on a snapping branch. He might have substituted "A
Shot Rang Out" as his title, on account of the frequency with which
episodes are thus started or finished. Bret Harte's burlesque in his
"Condensed Novels" shows how broadly Cooper laid his methods open to
attack from the scoffers. Yet the fact remains that few who have come
to scoff could have remained to rival Cooper. He has enlisted millions
of readers in dozens of languages; he has fascinated them by the doings
of woodsmen who were as mysteriously skillful as the town-bred Sherlock
Holmes; he has thrilled by the genuine excitement of deadly struggles
and hairbreadth 'scapes; and the sale of his books, a hundred years
after he first addressed the public, would gladden the heart of many a
modern novelist.

As a chapter in the literary history of America there is another side
of Cooper's career which is intensely interesting. It has already been
mentioned that he did not abandon the writing of novels on social life
with the unsuccessful "Precaution." Lowell refers to this fact in the
"Fable for Critics":

      There is one thing in Cooper I like, too, and that is
      That on manners he lectures his countrymen gratis:
      Not precisely so either, because, for a rarity,
      He is paid for his tickets in unpopularity.
      Now he may overcharge his American pictures,
      But you'll grant there's a good deal of truth in his strictures;
      And I honor the man who is willing to sink
      Half his present repute for the freedom to think,
      And, when he has thought, be his cause strong or weak,
      Will risk t'other half for the freedom to speak,
      Caring naught for what vengeance the mob has in store,
      Let that mob be the upper ten thousand or lower.

In 1826 Cooper went abroad with his family, staying on the other side
for nearly six and a half years. His reputation was well established,
and he left with the best wishes of his countrymen and the respect of
the many foreigners who knew him through his books. He was an ardent
believer in his own land and in the theory of its government, and at
the same time he was an admirer, as he had been taught to be, of the
dignity and the traditions of the Old World. It was to be expected
that he would grow wiser with travel and that his later works, while
retaining all their interest as stories, would be enriched by a deeper
and mellower feeling for humankind. But he had already displayed one
weakness which was destined to increase in him until it almost wholly
offset his virtues with his readers. He was positive to the last
degree in the opinions he held, and brutally untactful in expressing
them. If he had ever heard of the soft answer that turneth away wrath,
he felt contempt for it. Thus, for example, in the preface to "The
Pioneer" he referred to the least of authors' ills, the contradiction
among critics: "There I am, left like an ass between two locks of
hay; so that I have determined to relinquish my animate nature, and
remain stationary, like a lock of hay between two asses." The fruit
of travel was naturally a more vivid sense of the differences between
American and European ways, a fertile crop of opinions, a belligerent
assertion of them, and an unhappy series of quarrels with all sorts of
Americans--business men, editors, naval officers, congressmen, and the
majority of his readers, a vast army of representatives of the upper
ten thousand and the lower.

During the first three years abroad he went on, under the headway
gained at home, with three novels of American themes--one in the
"Leatherstocking" series, one on Puritan life in New England, and one
sea story. Then he went off on a side issue and sacrificed the next ten
years to controversial books which are very interesting side lights
on literary history but very defective novels. The whole sequence
started with Cooper's resentment at the "certain condescension in
foreigners" which was to make Lowell smart nearly forty years later.
To meet this, and particularly the condescension of the English, he
left the field of fiction to write "Notions of the Americans; Picked
up by a Traveling Bachelor." It failed of its purpose because it was
too complacent about America and now and then too offensive about
England, but the underlying trouble with it was its aggressive tone.
A man could hardly make friends for America when he was in the temper
to write of Englishmen, "We have good reason to believe, there exists a
certain querulous class of readers who consider even the most delicate
and reserved commendations of this western world as so much praise
unreasonably and dishonestly abstracted from themselves." Cooper never
could refrain from "the retort of abuse" against which Irving had
advised in "The Sketch Book." Then followed three novels located in
Venice, Germany, and Switzerland,--"The Bravo," "The Headsman," and
"The Heidenmauer,"--all designed to show how charming was Old World
tradition and how mistaken was its undemocratic scheme of life. They
were failures, like "Precaution," because Cooper could not write an
effective novel which attempted to prove anything. It was his gift to
tell a good story well and to build it out of the material in the midst
of which he had grown up.

By the time he was ready to come back to America he had become kinked
and querulous. The story of his controversies is too long for detailing
in this chapter. The chief literary result of it is the pair of stories
"Homeward Bound" and "Home as Found." The point of them, for they
again were written to prove something, was to expose the crudities of
a commercialized America. There is no question that the country was
crude and raw (see pp. 111-114). A period of such rapid development was
bound to produce for the time poor architecture, bad manners, shifty
business, superficial learning, and questionable politics. Many other
critics, home and foreign, were telling the truth about America to its
great discomfort. Cooper's picture of Aristabulus Bragg was probably
not unfair to hundreds of his contemporaries:

  This man is an epitome of all that is good and all that is bad,
  in a very large class of his fellow citizens. He is quick-witted,
  prompt in action, enterprising in all things in which he has
  nothing to lose, but wary and cautious in all things in which he
  has a real stake, and ready to turn not only his hand, but his
  heart and his principles, to anything that offers an advantage.
  With him, literally, "Nothing is too high to be aspired to, nothing
  too low to be done." He will run for governor or for town clerk,
  just as opportunities occur, is expert in all the practices of his
  profession, has had a quarter's dancing, with three years in the
  classics, and turned his attention toward medicine and divinity,
  before he finally settled down to law. Such a compound of shrewdness,
  impudence, common-sense, pretension, humility, cleverness, vulgarity,
  kind-heartedness, duplicity, selfishness, law-honesty, moral fraud,
  and mother wit, mixed up with a smattering of learning and much
  penetration in practical things, can hardly be described, as any one
  of his prominent qualities is certain to be met by another quite as
  obvious that is almost its converse. Mr. Bragg, in short, is purely a
  creature of circumstances.

The weakness of Cooper's criticisms on America is not that they were
unjust, but that they were so evidently ill-tempered and bad-mannered.
He made the utter mistake of locating the returning Europeans, the
accusers of America, in Templeton Hall, which was the name of his own
country place. He involved them in his own quarrel with the villagers
over the use of a picnic ground belonging to him, and thus loaded on
himself all the priggishness which he ascribed to them. The public was
only too ready to take it as a personal utterance when he made one of
them say:

  I should prefer the cold, dogged domination of English law, with
  its fruits, the heartlessness of a sophistication without parallel,
  to being trampled on by every arrant blackguard that may happen to
  traverse this valley in his wanderings after dollars.

It is a misfortune that most men and women who are willing to risk
repute for the freedom to think and speak are eccentric in other
respects. They are unusual first of all in having minds so independent
that they presume to disagree with the majority even in silence. They
are more unusual still in having the courage to disagree aloud. When
they have said their say, however, their neighbors begin to carp
at them, respectable people to pass by on the other side, and the
newspapers to distort what they have said and then abuse them for what
they never uttered. The honest and truly reckless talkers, stung to
the quick, feel injured and innocent, talk extravagantly, rely more
and more on their own judgments and less and less on the facts, and
sooner or later lose their influence, if they do not become outcasts.
In the end they have the courage and honesty with which they started,
a few deploring friends, and a thousand enemies who hate them with an
honest and totally unjustified hatred. It is a tragic round which all
but the most extraordinary of free speakers seem doomed to travel. And
Cooper did not escape it. Yet he did have the remarkable strength and
good fortune to pass out of this vale of controversy toward the end of
his life. With 1842 his campaign against the public ceased--and theirs
against him. He spent his last years happily at Cooperstown and slowly
returned into an era of good feeling. It was in these later years
that Lowell paid him the well-deserved tribute quoted above. He was
really a great patriot. If his love of America led him into this sea of
troubles, it was the same love that made him the successful writer of a
masterly series of American stories. It is the native character of the
man that is worth remembering, and the native quality of his books that
earned him a wide and lasting fame.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  JAMES FENIMORE COOPER. Collected Works. New York. 1854. 33 vols.
     These have appeared in many later collected and individual
     editions in America, England, and many other lands and languages.
     The chief works appeared originally as follows: Precaution,
     1820; The Spy, 1821; The Pioneers, 1823; The Pilot, 1823; Lionel
     Lincoln, 1825; The Last of the Mohicans, 1826; The Prairie, 1827;
     The Red Rover, 1828; Notions of the Americans, 1828; The Wept
     of Wish-ton-Wish, 1829; The Water-Witch, 1831; The Bravo, 1831;
     The Heidenmauer, 1832; The Headsman, 1833; The Monikins, 1835;
     Homeward Bound, 1838; Home as Found, 1838; The Pathfinder, 1840;
     Mercedes of Castile, 1840; The Deerslayer, 1841; The Two Admirals,
     1842; Wing and Wing, 1842; Wyandotte, 1843; Ned Myers, 1843;
     Afloat and Ashore, 1844; Satanstoe, 1845; The Chain Bearer, 1845;
     The Redskins, 1846; The Crater, 1847; Jack Tier, 1848; The Oak
     Openings, 1848; The Sea Lions, 1849; The Ways of the Hour, 1850.

     =Bibliographies=

       Good bibliographies in Lounsbury's Life (see below), and
         Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I, pp. 532-534.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       There is no official biography, Cooper having opposed such a
         publication. The best single volume is by T. R. Lounsbury
         (_A.M.L. Series_).

       BROWNELL, W. C. Cooper. _Scribner's Magazine_, April, 1906. Also
         in _American Prose Masters_. 1909.

       BRYANT, W. C. A Discourse on the Life and Genius of James
         Fenimore Cooper. 1852.

       CLEMENS, S. L. (Mark Twain). Fenimore Cooper's Literary
         Offenses. _North American Review_, July, 1895. Also in _How to
         tell a Story and Other Essays_. 1897.

       ERSKINE, JOHN. Leading American Novelists. 1910.

       HILLARD, G. S. Fenimore Cooper. _Atlantic Monthly_, January,
         1862.

       HOWE, M. A. DEW. James Fenimore Cooper. _The Bookman_, March,
         1897. Also in _American Bookmen_. 1898.

       HOWELLS, W. D. Heroines of Fiction. 1901.

       MATTHEWS, B. Fenimore Cooper. _Atlantic Monthly_, September,
         1907. Also in _Gateways to Literature_. 1912.

       PHILLIPS, MARY E. James Fenimore Cooper. 1913.

       SIMMS, W. C. The Writings of J. Fenimore Cooper. _Views and
         Reviews._ 1845. _Ser. 1._

       STEDMAN, E. C. Poe, Cooper, and the Hall of Fame. _North
         American Review_, August, 1907.

       TUCKERMAN, H. T. James Fenimore Cooper. _North American Review_,
         October, 1859.

       VAN DOREN, CARL. Cambridge History of American Literature. Vol.
         I, Bk. II, in chap. vi.

       VINCENT, L. H. American Literary Masters. 1906.

       WILSON, J. G. Cooper Memorials and Memories. _The Independent_,
         January 31, 1901.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read Brownell's defense of Cooper's Indian characters in his "Masters
of American Prose" and check his statements by your own observations in
a selected novel.

Read the comments of Brownell in "American Prose Masters," and of
Lounsbury in the _A. M. L. Series_, on Cooper's women, and then arrive
at your own conclusions from the reading of a selected novel.

If you have read two or three of Cooper's novels, see if he has
introduced his usual polished gentleman and his bore or pedant in each,
and see how nearly these characters correspond in themselves and in
their story value.

Make a study of the actual plot and its development in any selected
novel of Cooper's.

Read Mark Twain's essay on "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" and
decide on how far it is fair and how far it was dictated by Mark
Twain's hostility to romantic fiction.

Read Cooper's prefaces to a half-dozen or more novels for the light
they will throw on his belligerency of temper.

Read "Home as Found" for comparison of the topics treated with those in
the "Salmagundi" and "Croaker" papers, for observation on the variety
of American weaknesses presented, for a decision as to how fundamental
or how superficial these weaknesses were, and for a conclusion as to
the amount of evident ill temper in the book.



                               CHAPTER XI

                         WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT


The mention of Irving, Cooper, and Bryant as representatives of New
York in the early nineteenth century is likely to mislead students
into thinking of them as literary associates. As a matter of fact they
seem not to have had any more contact than any other three educated
residents of the city. They were not unsociable men, but each went his
own social way. Until his period of controversy Cooper was leading
member of a literary club of which he had been the founder. Irving,
without going to the pains of organizing a group, was the natural
center of one which delighted in his company and emulated his ways of
thinking and writing. Bryant, instead of being drawn after either of
these older men, stepped into journalism, becoming a friend of the
great editors and the political leaders. Irving was the only one of the
three who was born and bred in town. Cooper and Bryant were not sons of
New York; they were among the first of its long list of eminent adopted
children.

Bryant (1794-1878) was born at Cummington, Massachusetts. His descent
can be traced to the earliest Plymouth families, and, on his mother's
side, to Priscilla Alden. His father was a much-loved country
doctor, the third of the family in recent generations to follow
this budding profession. He was a man of dignities in his town, a
state representative and senator, and a welcome friend of the Boston
book-lovers. His services were so freely given, however, that he had
little money to spend on his boy's education. This was carried on,
according to a common custom, under charge of clergymen, though not
the least important teaching came direct from the father's guidance
of his reading and criticism of his writing. Bryant's talents began
to show promise while he was still a boy, for he read eagerly, and in
his early 'teens wrote a number of "pieces" which were more or less
widely circulated in print. One of these, "The Embargo," a political
satire addressed to President Jefferson, ran to two editions and
roused so much doubt as to its authorship that his father's friends
soberly certified to it as the work of a boy of thirteen. In these
years Bryant made Alexander Pope his adored model, and for so young an
imitator he succeeded remarkably well. A little later he fell under the
influence of a group of minor Englishmen who have rather wickedly been
nicknamed the "Graveyard Poets" because of the persistency with which
they versified on death, the grave, and the after-life. "Thanatopsis,"
written before he was eighteen, was a reflection of and a response to
certain lines of Kirke White, who had deeply stirred his imagination.

Once again it was hard to persuade the literary world that young
Bryant was the actual author. "Thanatopsis" and the "Inscription for
the Entrance to a Wood" were published in the _North American Review_
without signature, according to the usual custom. The editors had
requested contributions from the elder Bryant, and he had found these
verses unfinished at home and had sent them on after copying them in
his own handwriting. The more famous poem so impressed the editors
that, far from believing it the work of an American boy, Richard H.
Dana, on hearing it read aloud, said to his colleague, "Ah, Phillips,
you have been imposed upon; no one on this side the Atlantic is capable
of writing such verses." In the meantime Bryant had been admitted at
fifteen to the sophomore class at Williams College, had withdrawn at
the end of a year intending to enter Yale the next autumn, had been
unable to carry out the plan through lack of funds, and had studied law
and been admitted to the bar. While still in doubt as to his choice
of profession he had written the "Lines to a Waterfowl," which were
later published in the _North American_, following the acceptance
of "Thanatopsis." He became a lawyer not through any love of the
profession but because it seemed a reasonable way to earn a living in a
period when one could not hope for support from his pen. He practiced
for nine years, never with any real enthusiasm, describing himself in
the midst of these years as

        forced to drudge for the dregs of men,
      And scrawl strange words with the barbarous pen,
      And mingle among the jostling crowd,
      Where the sons of strife are subtle and loud.

His discontent was increased by the applause which came with his
magazine poems and by the compliment of an invitation to deliver the
Phi Beta Kappa poem at Harvard in 1821. Finally, in 1825, he went down
to New York in the hope of making a success of a new periodical there.
In spite of his associate editorship _The New York Review and Athenæum
Magazine_ was as shortlived as scores of others. It was a bad time
in America for such a venture. The country was flooded with English
publications and American pirated editions of English works. The public
was not educated to the idea of magazines, nor the publishers to the
methods of financing them. They were unattractive in form and as heavy
in contents as the labored name of Bryant's ill-fated experiment. After
the collapse he returned for a short time to the practice of law, but
in 1826 he accepted the assistant editorship of the New York _Evening
Post_, three years later became editor, and continued with it until
his death in 1878. He was the first nineteenth-century man of letters
to enter the field of American journalism, and he played a highly
distinguished part in its history.

When Bryant became editor in chief of the New York _Evening Post_ he
was thirty-five years old. He had written about one third of the
poetry saved in the collected editions and about one half of the
better-known poems on which his reputation rests. This much is worth
considering by itself, because it has a character of its own and is
quite different from the output of the latter fifty years. In the first
place it was consciously religious in tone. Bryant came from Puritan
ancestry. He was brought up to believe in a stern God who had doomed
all mankind to eternal destruction and who ruled them relentlessly,
sometimes in sorrow but more often in anger. To the Puritans life on
earth was a prelude to eternity, and eternity was to be spent possibly
in bliss, but probably in torment. They were truly a people "whose
minds had derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation
of superior beings and eternal interests." His mind and imagination
were therefore wide open to the influence of Kirke White and the
other "Graveyard Poets." "Thanatopsis," or "a glimpse of death," was
composed under the eye of God as Bryant knew him. In setting down "When
thoughts of the last bitter hour come like a blight over thy spirit,"
he was not indulging in any far-fetched fancy; he was alluding to what
the minister brought home to him in two sermons every Sunday and to
the unfailing subject of discussion at the mid-week prayer meeting.
And when he wrote of approaching the grave "sustained and soothed by
an unfaltering trust," he was writing of a trust which needed to be
especially strong to face the thought of possible damnation.

In a broad sense all true poetry is religious, for it deals with truths
that lie beneath life and leads to higher thinking and better living,
but the religion of the youthful Bryant was specialized to a single
creed. The point is strikingly illustrated by the "Hymn to Death." The
first four fifths of this poem were written when he was twenty-five
years old, a meditation based on Puritan theology. All men die, he
said, even those one loves; but death is really God's instrument
to punish the wicked. Oppressors, idolaters, atheists, perjurers,
revelers, slanderers, the sons of violence and fraud are struck down.

        Thus, from the first of time, hast thou been found
      On virtue's side; the wicked, but for thee,
      Had been too strong for the good; the great of earth
      Had crushed the weak for ever.

Then, with the poem left at this stage, Bryant's father died while
still in the height of his powers and as the result of exposure in
meeting his duties as a country doctor. In the face of this calamity
the young poet's verses seemed to him a bitter mockery:

                  Shuddering I look
      On what is written, yet I blot not out
      The desultory numbers; let them stand,
      The record of an idle revery.

This leads to the second characteristic of Bryant's earlier verse--more
often than not it was self-conscious and self-applied. He wrote to "The
Yellow Violet" and devoted five stanzas to it, but ended with three
more of self-analysis. The stanzas "To a Waterfowl" have a general and
beautiful application, but they were pointed in his mind by the thought
that he needed aid to "lead my steps aright" in the choice of his
life's vocation. Even the modest autumn flower, the "Fringed Gentian,"
reminded him of the autumn of his own life and the hope that he might
do as the flower, and look to heaven when the hour of death drew near.
This was the voice of youth which takes life as a personal matter and
assumes, out of sheer inexperience, that to his concrete wants "the
converging objects of the universe perpetually flow." Maturity makes
the wise man lift his eyes unto the hills whence cometh his help,
instead of continually brooding on his own hopes and fears. But this
habit of self-examination was natural not only to the young Puritan,
vaguely dissatisfied with the barren existence of a country lawyer;
it was closely akin to the sentimentalism of the age (see pp. 125
and 148). Bryant was like many of the late eighteenth-century poets,
dramatists, and novelists in his belief that quickness of emotion
was admirable in itself and that the tenderer emotions were marks of
refinement. After he had settled in the city he looked back with a
glance of approval to the days when the springs of feeling were filled
to the brim.

      I cannot forget with what fervid devotion
        I worshipped the visions of verse and of fame;
      Each gaze at the glories of earth, sky, and ocean,
        To my kindled emotions was wind over flame.

      And deep were my musings in life's early blossom,
        Mid the twilight of mountain-groves wandering long;
      How thrilled my young veins, and how throbbed my full bosom,
        When o'er me descended the spirit of song.

There is a slight touch of self-commendation in his continual
references to his thrills and awes and adorations and in the
"pleasurable melancholy," as Poe called it, with which he enjoyed life,
but we shall see that life in the city changed this for something more
positive.

Before turning away from this period, however, the student should take
heed of its poetic form. The remarkable thing about "Thanatopsis" was
not that Bryant should have entertained the thoughts it contains or
that he should have aspired to write them, but that he expressed them
in verses that were so beautiful and so different from anything ever
written before in America. It was their form at which Dana exclaimed
in his much-quoted remark to Phillips in the _North American Review_
office. When Bryant was a boy our native writers were, all but Freneau,
in the habit of imitating the English poets and essayists who had set
the style a full hundred years before. The young American who felt a
drawing to literature saturated himself in the writings of Addison,
Pope, Goldsmith, Johnson, and their followers (see pp. 70, 93, 116,
etc.). The verses of these men were neat, clean-cut, and orderly, and
filed down their pages like regiments of soldiers on dress parade.
They went along in rimed pairs, with a place to draw breath near the
middle of each line, a slight pause at the end of the first, and a
full stop at the end of the second. As a fashion, to be sure, it was
no more natural than the high, powdered headdresses and hoop skirts
which prevailed with the ladies at the same time, but it was a courtly
literary convention, and it could be acquired by any writer who was
patient and painstaking. In 1785 the best that John Trumbull could hope
for America was that it might produce copyists of these Englishmen,
and he expressed his hope in the usual set style--like a boy scout in
uniform dreaming of the day when he and his fellows may develop into
Leonard Woodses and Pershings (see p. 70). And Joseph Rodman Drake,
writing in one of the years when "Thanatopsis" was lying unpublished in
Dr. Bryant's desk, put his desire into an even more complex measure, a
modification of the Spenserian stanza (see p. 136).

Bryant, it will be remembered, made his first poetic flights in the
style of Pope, and he did well enough to be apparently on the highroad
of old-fashioned imitation. Then suddenly, while still a boy, he lifted
himself out of the rut of rime and began writing a free, fluent "blank
verse." It is the same five-stressed measure which Pope used,--the
measure of Shakespeare too, "If _mus_ic _be_ the _food_ of _love_, play
_on_"--but it is without rime, and the pauses come where the sense
demands instead of where the versification dictates. In the passages
just cited from Trumbull and Drake there is only one line where the
sense runs on without a slight pause,--the sense is forced to conform
to the rhythm; but in "Thanatopsis," although the rhythm is quite
regular, the pauses occur at all sorts of places, and seldom at the
line-ends. As Bryant set down the first seven and four-fifth lines, for
example, they read:

        To him who in the love of Nature holds
      Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
      A various language; for his gayer hours
      She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
      And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
      Into his darker musings, with a mild
      And healing sympathy, that steals away
      Their sharpness, ere he is aware;

but broken into groups, as one would read them, they fall:

        To him who in the love of Nature
      Holds communion with her visible forms,
      She speaks a various language;
      For his gayer hours she has a voice of gladness,
      And a smile and eloquence of beauty,
      And she glides into his darker musings,
      With a mild and healing sympathy,
      That steals away their sharpness, ere he is aware.

This was nothing new in poetry. Shakespeare had written his plays
almost entirely in this way, and Milton all of "Paradise Lost" and
"Paradise Regained," and the later English poets, most notably
Wordsworth, had just returned to it; but in America it was as
unfamiliar as the "free verse" which is puzzling a good many readers
to-day partly because it is printed in units of meaning instead of
units of measure. No wonder that Dana was surprised, "on this side the
Atlantic."

When Bryant went down into the crowded activity of New York City the
general tone of his work began to change. The things that he was doing
interested him as the practice of law never had done. The editorship
of the _Evening Post_ made him not merely a news vender but a molder
of public thought, and his entrance into the world of opinion gave him
more of an interest in life itself and less in his own emotions. Very
soon he wrote the "Hymn of the City" to record his discovery that God
lived in the town as well as in the country and that he was the God of
life quite as much as the God of death.

                  Thy Spirit is around,
      Quickening the restless mass that sweeps along;
                  And this eternal sound--
      Voices and footfalls of the numberless throng--
                  Like the resounding sea,
      Or like the rainy tempest, speaks of Thee.

Then in "The Battle Field" (1837) and "The Antiquity of Freedom"
(1842) he moved on to what was a new thought in his verse. He was
still interested in beauty, whether it were the beauty of nature or
the beauty of holiness; but as a man who had plunged into the thick of
things he became for the first time wide-awake to the idea that as the
world grows older it grows wiser and that the well-rounded life cannot
be content simply to contemplate the beauties of June, for it must also
have some part in the struggle for justice. He had grown into nothing
less than a new idea of God. As a young Puritan he had felt Him to be
a power outside, who managed things. He had been content to pray, "Thy
will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and then he had turned his
back on earth and meditated about heaven. But now he aspired to do with
heaven what Addison had attempted to do with "philosophy," and bring
it down from the clouds into the hearts of men. When he wrote, in "The
Battle Field," "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again," he meant,
as the rest of the poem shows, not the old truth of centuries but the
unfamiliar truth which the new age must set on its throne.

There is perhaps no more striking illustration of the adoption of
so-called new truth than in the world's attitude toward the holding of
property in human life. Up to the time of Bryant's birth slaveholding
had been practiced in all the United States, by the Puritans of New
England as well as by the Cavaliers of the South. During the colonial
days in both regions the Bible had been accepted as final authority.
What it counseled and what it did not prohibit was right, and what
it condemned was wrong; and, judged on these grounds, slavery was
apparently sanctioned in the Bible. In spite of this, many leaders,
both North and South, protested against the practice before 1800. As
time went on, largely on account of the climate and the nature of the
industries, slavery waned in the North and thrived in the South. Then
in New England the great agitation arose; but still, in Massachusetts
as well as in Virginia, the men whose bank accounts were involved
defended human bondage on Scriptural grounds, protesting violently
against

                      creeds that dare to teach
      What Christ and Paul refrained to preach.

Yet in the end the principle for which the Revolution was fought was
reaffirmed in behalf of the slaves who were serving the sons of the
Revolution.

Bryant became painfully conscious of the many issues to be fought out
in the cause of liberty, and in "The Antiquity of Freedom" he wrote of
the eternal vigilance and the eternal conflict needed to maintain it.

                                      Oh! not yet
      May'st thou unbrace thy corslet, nor lay by
      Thy sword; nor yet, O Freedom! close thy lids
      In slumber; for thine enemy never sleeps,
      And thou must watch and combat till the day
      Of the new earth and heaven.

That combat is still on; the right of the subject--including woman--to
a voice in the government, the right of the laborer to a fair return
on his work, and the right of the smaller nation to undisturbed
independence are among the uppermost problems that occupy the mind of
the world to-day.

Like many of his thoughtful countrymen Bryant founded his loyalty to
America on the hope that in this new land the seed of new truth would
fall on fertile soil. In "Earth," composed when he was in Italy, he
wrote:

                                O thou,
      Who sittest far beyond the Atlantic deep,
      Among the sources of thy glorious streams,
      My native Land of Groves! a newer page
      In the great record of the world is thine;
      Shall it be fairer? Fear, and friendly Hope,
      And Envy, watch the issue, while the lines
      By which thou shalt be judged, are written down.

The number and bulk of his poems dedicated to America are not so great
as those by Freneau or Whittier and Lowell or Timrod and Lanier,
but his smaller group are as distinguished and as representative
as an equal number by any of the others except, possibly, Lowell.
In "O Mother of a Mighty Race" he alluded again to the envy and
unfriendliness of the older nations, which disturbed him as it did
Irving and Cooper. In the face of it he tried, with less success than
Irving, to keep his own temper, taking comfort in the thought that
the downtrodden and oppressed of Europe could find shelter here and a
chance to live. As a journalist he was a strong champion of Abraham
Lincoln long before the conservative East had given him unreserved
support; and when the Civil War came on he sounded "Our Country's Call"
and encouraged all within sound of his voice in "the grim resolve to
guard it well." During the war he wrote from time to time verses that
were full of devotion to the right and quite free from the note of hate
that poisons most war poetry; and at the end he mourned the death of
Lincoln no less fervently than he rejoiced at "The Death of Slavery."

Aside from these poems and others of their kind, which make the
connection between Bryant the editor and Bryant the poet, he continued
to write on his old themes--nature and the individual life. There
was no complete reversal of attitude; some of the later poems were
reminders of some of the earlier ones. Yet a real change came after
he had mixed with the world. At first he was inclined to lament the
loss of the old life, seeming to forget how irksome it had been when
he was in the midst of it. In such personal verses as "I cannot forget
with what fervid devotion" and "I broke the spell that held me long"
he was indulging in the luxury of mild self-pity. "In my younger days
I had lots of time, but no money and few friends. Now I have friends
and an income, but alas, I have no time." This was but a temporary
mood, however. It is quite clear from his later poems that he enjoyed
life more in town than in country. This is proven by the fact that
nature did not continue to suggest mournful thoughts. "The Planting of
the Apple Tree" is serenely recorded in "quaint old rhymes." Instead
of saying, as in his earlier manner: "We plant this apple tree, but
we plant it only for a few short years. Then it will die, like all
mankind. Perhaps I may be buried beneath its shade," he said: "Come,
let us plant it. It will blossom and bear fruit which will be eaten in
cottage and palace, here and abroad. And when it is old, perhaps its
aged branches will throw thin shadows on a better world than this is
now. Who knows?" The stanzas on "Robert of Lincoln" are not merely free
from sadness; they are positively jolly.

In the last years of his long career--he lived to be eighty-four--he
seems at first glance to have gone back to his youthful sadness;
but this is not really the case, for thoughts which are premature
or affected in youth are natural to old age. At eighty-two, in "A
Lifetime" and "The Flood of Years" he actually looked back over many
bereavements and forward but a very short way to the life after death.
The two poems taken together are an old man's farewell to the world.
Like the poem with which he won his first fame, they present another
glimpse of death, but this time it is a fair prospect of

      A present in whose reign no grief shall gnaw
      The Heart, and never shall a tender tie
      Be broken.

When Bryant came to his seventieth birthday there was a notable
celebration at the Century Club in New York City. At that time three
poems were read by three of his fellow-poets--Holmes, Lowell, and
Whittier. What they said throws a great deal of light on Bryant's part
in American life and literature. Holmes sang his praises as a poet of
nature, a journalist of high ideals, a writer of solemn and majestic
verse whose later works fulfilled the promise of his first great poem.
Lowell went a step farther in paying his tribute to Bryant as a poet
of faith and freedom and as a citizen who gave life and courage to the
nation during the crisis of the Civil War. In this respect the author
of "The Battle Field" was quite as much of a pioneer as in his poems
about birds and flowers. He was far ahead of most of his countrymen
in his feeling for America as a nation among nations--not merely in
the slightly indignant mood of "O Mother of a Mighty Race," but better
in his feeling that new occasions bring new duties. Finally, Whittier
revered Bryant as a man. With all admiration for his art,

      His life is now his noblest strain,
        His manhood better than his verse!

In his later years Bryant was one of the best citizens of New York. His
striking presence on the streets, with his white hair and beard and his
fine vigor, made poetry real to the crowds who were inclined to think
of it as something impersonal that existed only in books. On account
of his powers as a public speaker and his place in literature he was
often called on to deliver memorial addresses, and was affectionately
named "the old man eloquent." His orations on Cooper and Irving were
among the first of these. His last was in 1878, at the unveiling of a
statue to the Italian patriot Mazzini. As he was returning into his
home he fell, receiving injuries from which he died shortly after.
It was fitting that his last words should have been in praise of a
champion of freedom and that he should have died with the echoes of his
countrymen's applause still ringing in his ears.

                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT. The Life and Works of. Parke Godwin, editor. 6
     vols. Vols. I and II, Biography, 1883; Vols. III and IV, Poetical
     Works, 1883; Vols. V and VI, Prose Writings, 1884-1889. Best
     single-volume edition is The Household, 1909, and The Roslyn,
     1910. His poems appeared originally as follows: The Embargo, 1808;
     Poems, 1821, 1832, 1834, 1836, 1839, 1840; The Fountain and Other
     Poems, 1842; The White-Footed Deer and Other Poems, 1844; Poems,
     1847, 1848, 1849, 1850, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1857. A Forest Hymn
     [1860]; In the Woods, 1863; Thirty Poems, 1864; Hymns [1864];
     Voices of Nature, 1865; The Song of the Sower, 1871; The Story of
     the Fountain, 1872; The Little People of the Snow, 1873; Among
     the Trees [1874]; The Flood of Years, 1878; Unpublished Poems of
     Bryant and Thoreau, 1907.

     =Bibliography=

       STURGES, H. C. Prefixed to the Roslyn edition of Bryant and
         also published separately. Also Cambridge History of American
         Literature, Vol. I, pp. 517-521.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by Parke Godwin. Vols. I and II of the Life
         and Works in 6 vols.

       BIGELOW, J. William Cullen Bryant. 1890.

       BRADLEY, W. A. William Cullen Bryant (_E. M. L. Series_). 1905.

       COLLINS, CHURTON. Poets and Poetry of America.

       CURTIS, G. W. The Life, Character, and Writings of William
         Cullen Bryant. 1879.

       LEONARD, W. E. Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. I,
         Bk. II, in chap. v.

       PALMER, G. H. Atlas Essays.

       POE, E. A. William Cullen Bryant. Complete Works. Vol. VIII.
         1902.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Genius and Other Essays. 1911.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Poets of America. 1885.

       TAYLOR, B. Critical Essays and Literary Notes. 1880.

       VAN DOREN, CARL. Growth of Thanatopsis. _Nation_, Vol. CI, p.
         432.

       WILKINSON, W. C. A Free Lance in the Field of Life and Letters.
         1874.

       WILSON, J. G. Bryant and his Friends. 1886.

       WOODBERRY, G. E. America in Literature. 1903.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the early poems of Bryant with reference to the prevalence of
death in them and particularly to the unexpected appearance of this
idea.

Read them again with reference to the sentimentalism in them.

Read "A Forest Hymn" and the "Hymn to Death" for a comparison of the
blank verse with that in "Thanatopsis."

Read "The Battle Field" and Wordsworth's sonnet "Written above
Westminster Abbey" for the different but sympathetic developments of
the same idea.

Compare Bryant's "Robert of Lincoln" and "The Planting of the Apple
Tree" with Freneau's "The Wild Honeysuckle" and "To a Caty-did."

Read Bryant's "Song of the Sower," Lanier's "Corn," and Timrod's "The
Cotton Boll" for evident points of likeness and difference.

Note in detail the relation between Bryant's journalistic career and
the turn of his mind in the poetry of the journalistic period.

Bryant wrote no journalistic poetry in the sense in which Freneau did,
or Whittier, or Lowell. For an explanation see his verses on "The
Poet."



                              CHAPTER XII

                            EDGAR ALLAN POE


Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) is one of the two American poets regarded
with greatest respect by authors and critics in England and on the
Continent. To Whitman respect is paid because he is so essentially
American in his subject matter and point of view, it is yielded to
Poe because his subject matter is so universal--located out of space
and out of time--and because he was such a master craftsman in his
art. Whitman was intensely national and local, looking on life,
however broadly he may have seen it, always from his American vantage
point. Poe was utterly detached in his creative writing, deriving his
maturer tales and poems neither from past nor present, neither from
books nor life, but evolving them out of his perfervid imagination
and casting the best of them into incomparable form. Poe is therefore
sometimes said to have been in no way related to the course of American
literature; but this judgment mistakenly overlooks his unhappily varied
career as a magazine contributor and editor. He has a larger place in
the history of periodicals than any other American man of letters. His
connection with at least four is the most distinguished fact that can
now be adduced in their favor; and his frustrated ambition to found
and conduct a monthly in "the cause of a Pure Taste" was a dream for a
thing which his country sorely needed.

Poe was born in Boston, January 19, 1809. His parents were actors--his
father a somewhat colorless professionalized amateur, his mother
brought up as the daughter of an actress and moderately successful in
light and charming rôles. By 1811 the future poet, a brother two years
older, and a sister a year younger were orphans. Each was adopted into
a different home--Edgar into that of Mr. John Allan, a well-to-do
Richmond merchant, to whom he owed, more permanently than any other
gift, his middle name. The boy was given the generous attention of an
only child. From 1815 to 1820, while his foster father's business held
him in residence across the Atlantic, he was in English schools. Then
for five years he was in a Richmond academy, and during 1825 apparently
studied under private tutors. Up to the time of his admission to the
University of Virginia he was handsome, charming, active-minded, and
perhaps somewhat "spoiled." Although only seventeen he had passed
through a love affair culminating in an engagement, which was very
naturally broken by the father of the other contracting party.

With his year at the university Poe entered on the unfortunate
succession of eccentricities that blighted all the rest of his
tumultuous career and hastened him to an early and tragic death. He
did everything intensely, though he was methodical and industrious;
but his method was not equal to his intensity, and from time to time,
with increasing frequency, unreasoned or foolish or mad impulses
carried him off his balance and into all sorts of trouble. Thus, at
the university he stood well in his classes, but he drank to excess
(and he was so constituted that a very little was too much) and he
played cards recklessly and very badly, so that at the year's end his
"debts of honor" amounted to over two thousand dollars. Thus again,
after a creditable year and a half in the army he had earned the office
of sergeant major and had secured honorable discharge and admission
to West Point, but in this coveted academy he neglected his duties
and courted the dismissal which came to him within six months. Thus
in one editorial position after another he met his obligations well
and brilliantly until he came to the inevitable breaking point with
his less talented employers. And thus, finally, in the succession of
love affairs which preceded and followed his married life the violence
of his feelings made him irresponsible and intolerable. Again and
again just at the times when he most needed full control of himself he
became intoxicated; yet he was not an habitual drinker, and in the long
intervals between his lapses he doubtless deserved from many another
the famous testimony of Nathaniel Parker Willis:

  With the highest admiration for his genius, and a willingness to
  let it atone for more than ordinary irregularity, we were led by
  common report to expect a very capricious attention to his duties,
  and occasionally a scene of violence and difficulty. Time went on,
  however, and he was invariably punctual and industrious. With his
  pale, beautiful and intellectual face, as a reminder of what genius
  was in him, it was impossible, of course, not to treat him with
  deferential courtesy, and, to our occasional request that he would
  not probe too deep in a criticism, or that he would erase a passage
  colored too highly with his resentments against society and mankind,
  he readily and courteously assented--far more yielding than most men,
  we thought, on points so excusably sensitive.

Willis, however, was more considerate and far more intelligent than
others, giving Poe no new ground for the "resentments against society
and mankind" which he cherished against all too many with whom he
had differed. On the whole he was a victim not of friends or foes
or "circumstances over which he had no control" but of the erratic
temperament with which fate had endowed him. He was like Byron and
Shelley in his youthful enjoyment of privilege and good fortune, in his
violent rejection of conventional ease and comfort, in his unhappy life
and his early death. It is impossible to conceive that any devisable
set of conditions would in the end have served Poe better. He was one
of the very few who have been truly burdened with "the eccentricities
of genius."

The first milestone in his literary career was in 1827. Mr. Allan's
refusal to honor his gambling debts resulted in withdrawal from the
university and the first clear-cut break with his patron. Shortly after
appeared "Tamerlane and Other Poems. By a Bostonian. Boston: Calvin F.
S. Thomas ... Printer, 1827, pp. 40." It was a little book in which
the passion and the pathos of his whole life were foreshadowed in the
early couplet,

      Know thou the secret of a spirit
        Bowed from its wild pride into shame.

"Tamerlane," the title poem, was a Byronic effusion without either
structure or a rational theme, but with a kind of fire glowing through
in occasional gleams of poetry and flashes of power. It was the sort
of thing that had already been done by the youthful Drake in "Leon"
and that Timrod was to attempt in "A Vision of Poesy," but though all
three were boyishly imitative, Poe's was the most genuine as a piece of
self-revelation. This volume was followed by "Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and
Minor Poems" in 1829, shortly before his admission to West Point, and
by the "Poems" of 1831 just after his dismissal, each largely inclusive
of what had appeared before, with omissions, changes, and some new
poems but no distinctively new promise.

Then for a while he settled in Richmond, receiving an allowance from
Mr. Allan, with whom he had experienced two estrangements and two
reconciliations. In 1832 five of his prose tales were printed in
the _Philadelphia Saturday Courier_. The fruits of his unwearying
devotion to authorship began to mature in 1833, when he was awarded
a hundred-dollar prize for a short story in the Baltimore _Saturday
Visiter_, and when the first prize for a poem in the same competition
was withheld from him only because of his success with the "MS. Found
in a Bottle." From then on his literary activities were interwoven with
the development of American journalism. His poems, tales, and critical
articles appeared in no less than forty-seven American periodicals,
from dailies to annuals, and he served in the editorial offices of five.

First of these was the _Southern Literary Messenger_, with which he was
connected in Richmond, Virginia, from July, 1835, till January, 1837.
This monthly had already printed some fifteen poems and stories by Poe,
and during his editorship included eleven more; but in that year and a
half he discovered and developed his powers as a critic--powers which,
though of secondary value, had more to do with advancing his reputation
and building up the _Messenger_ circulation than his creative verse
and prose. He was writing in a period when abject deference to English
superiority was giving way to a spirit of provincial puffery. In April,
1836, he wrote:

  We are becoming boisterous and arrogant in the pride of a too
  speedily assumed literary freedom. We throw off with the most
  presumptuous and unmeaning hauteur _all_ deference whatever to
  foreign opinion ... we get up a hue and cry about the necessity
  of encouraging native writers of merit--we blindly fancy that we
  can accomplish this by indiscriminate puffing of good, bad, and
  indifferent, without taking the trouble to consider, that what
  we choose to denominate encouragement is thus, by its general
  application, precisely the reverse. In a word, so far from being
  ashamed of the many disgraceful literary failures to which our own
  inordinate vanities and misapplied patriotism have lately given
  birth, and so far from deeply lamenting that these daily puerilities
  are of home manufacture, we adhere pertinaciously to our original
  blindly conceived idea, and thus often find ourselves involved in
  the gross paradox of liking a stupid book the better because, sure
  enough, its stupidity is American.

The fresh honesty of this point of view was doubtless reënforced by the
local gratification which Poe afforded a body of Southern readers in
laying low the New York Knickerbockers and worrying the complacent New
Englanders. At all events, the circulation of the _Messenger_ rose from
seven hundred to five thousand during his editorship.

After his break with the proprietor, which came suddenly and
unaccountably, there was a lapse of a year and a half before he took
up his duties with _Burton's Gentleman's Magazine_, continuing in a
perfunctory way for about a year (July, 1839-June, 1840) when, with
much bitter feeling, the connection was severed. In the following
April _Burton's_ was bought out and combined with Graham's feeble
monthly, _The Casket_, as _Graham's Magazine_, and Poe gave over his
own design to found the _Penn Magazine_ to join forces with a new
employer. In the year that ensued he wrote and published several
analytical tales and continued his aggressive criticism, while the
magazine, under good management, ran its circulation up from eight to
forty thousand. Then suddenly, in May, 1842, he was a free lance once
more, facing this time two years of duress before he secured another
salaried position, now with the _Evening Mirror_ and the tactful
Willis, as a "mechanical paragraphist." The months of quiet routine
with this combination daily-weekly were marked by one overshadowing
event, the burst of applause with which "The Raven" was greeted. It was
the literary sensation of the day, it was supplemented by the chance
publication in the same month of a tale in _Godey's_ and a biographical
sketch in _Graham's_, and it was reprinted in scores of papers. Such
general approval, dear to the heart of any artist, seems for the moment
to have lifted Poe out of his usual saturnine mood. "I send you an
early number of the _B. Journal_," he wrote to his friend F. W. Thomas,
"containing my 'Raven.' It was copied by Briggs, my associate, before I
joined the paper. The 'Raven' has had a great 'run' ...--but I wrote it
for the express purpose of running--just as I did the 'Gold Bug,' you
know. The bird has beat the bug, though, all hollow."

The reference to his new associate records another editorial shift.
Poe's position on the _Mirror_ had been too frankly subordinate to last
long, and with the best of good feelings he changed to an associate
editorship of the _Broadway Journal_ in February, 1845. With the next
October he had realized his long-cherished ambition by obtaining
full control; yet before the year was out, for lack of money and of
business capacity, his house of cards had fallen and the _Journal_ was
a thing of the past. One more magazine contribution of major importance
remained for him. This was the publication in _Godey's_, from May to
October, 1846, of "The Literati," a series of comments on thirty-eight
New York authors, done in his then well-known critical manner. His
story-writing was nearly over; "The Cask of Amontillado" was the only
important one of the last half dozen, but of the twelve poems later
than the "Raven," four--"Ulalume," "To Helen," "Annabel Lee," and "The
Bells"--are among his best known.

The personal side of Poe's life after his last breach with Mr. Allan,
in 1834, is largely clouded by poverty and bitterness and a relaxing
grip on his own powers. His marriage to his cousin, Virginia Clemm, in
1836 was unqualifiedly happy only until the undermining of her health,
three years later, and from then on was the cause of a shattering
succession of hopes and fears ending with her death in 1847. His
relations to most other men and women were complicated by his erratic,
jealous, and too often abusive behavior. Only those friendships endured
which were built on the magnanimous tolerance or the insuperable
amiability of his friends and associates. His nature, which was
self-centered and excitable to begin with, became perverted by mishaps
of his own making until the characterization of his latest colleague
was wholly justified. Said C. F. Briggs to James Russell Lowell:

  He cannot conceive of anybody's doing anything, except for his own
  personal advantage; and he says, with perfect sincerity, and entire
  unconsciousness of the exposition which it makes of his own mind and
  heart, that he looks upon all reformers as madmen; and it is for this
  reason that he is so great an egoist.... Therefore, he attributes all
  the favor which Longfellow, yourself, or anybody else receives from
  the world as an evidence of the ignorance of the world, and the lack
  of that favor in himself he attributes to the world's malignity.

Under the accumulating distresses of his last two years the decline
of will-power and self-control terminated with his tragic death in
Baltimore in 1849. The gossip which pursued him all his life has
continued relentlessly, even to the point of coloring the prejudices
of his biographers,--commonly classified as "malignants" and
"amiables,"--but only such facts and reports have been mentioned here
as have some legitimate bearing on his habits of mind as an author.

Poe was first a writer of poems, then of prose tales, and then
of analytical criticisms, and one may take a cue from his famous
discussion of the "Raven" by considering them in reverse order. His
theory of art can be derived from the seventy-odd articles on his
contemporaries which he printed and reprinted, from the days of the
_Southern Literary Messenger_ to those of _Godey's_, and from the
summarized essays which he formulated in the three latest years. "The
Philosophy of Composition" and "The Poetic Principle" are equally well
illustrated by his own poems and his comments on the poems of others.
He accepts the division of the world of mind into Intellect, which
concerns itself with Truth; Taste, which informs us of the Beautiful;
and the Moral Sense, which is regardful of Duty. He defines poetry
of words as "The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty. Its sole arbiter is
Taste. With the Intellect or with the Conscience it has only collateral
relations. Unless incidentally, it has no concern whatever either
with Duty or with Truth." In the moods aroused by the contemplation
of beauty man's soul is elevated most nearly to the level of God;
and the privilege of Poetry--one refrains from using such a word as
"function"--is to achieve an elevation of soul which springs from
thought, feeling, and will, but which is above them all.

For the composition of poetry, thus limited in its province, he
developed a fairly rigid formula, a Procrustes bed on which he laid
out his several contemporaries. Poems, he said, should be brief; they
should start with the adoption of a novel and vivid effect; they should
be pitched in a tone of sadness; they should avail themselves of
fitting refrains; they should be presented, in point of setting, within
a circumscribed space; and always they should be scrupulously regardful
of conventional poetic rhythms. These artistic canons are largely
observed in his poems and severely insisted on in his criticisms. He
was immensely interested in detail effects, and hardly less so in
the isolated details themselves. All the fallacious and inconsistent
metaphors of Drake's "Culprit Fay," for example, by which the reader
is distracted, he assembled into a final indictment of that hasty
poem; and in the works of Elizabeth Barrett, of whom he was one of the
earliest champions, he discussed diction, syntax, prosody, and lines of
distinguished merit in the minutest detail. Seldom in these critiques
does he rise to the task of expounding principles, and more seldom
still does he discuss any principles of life. Always it is the cameo,
the gold filigree, the miniature on ivory under the microscope.

It is not unfair to apply his own method to him, with reference, for
instance, to poetic passages he most admired, by quoting a few of his
quotations. From Anna Cora Mowatt:

      Thine orbs are lustrous with a light
        Which ne'er illumes the eye
      Till heaven is bursting on the sight
        And earth is fleeting by.

From Fitz-Greene Halleck:

      They were born of a race of funeral flowers
      That garlanded in long-gone hours,
        A Templar's knightly tomb.

From Bayard Taylor:

      In the red desert moulders Babylon
        And the wild serpent's hiss
      Echoes in Petra's palaces of stone
        And waste Persepolis.

From William Wallace:

      The very dead astir within their coffined deeps.

From Estelle Anna Lewis:

                    Ætna's lava tears--
      Ruins and wrecks and nameless sepulchres.

And from Bryant the concluding familiar lines of "Thanatopsis." These
are the natural selections of the mind which evolved "The Masque of the
Red Death" and "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Fall of the House of
Usher." His readiness to indulge in a "pleasurable melancholy" led him
to delight chiefly in the mortuary beauties of his fellow-poets.

At times, to be sure, he responded to the beauties of entire
compositions. "Thanatopsis," "To a Waterfowl," "June," all appealed
to him for the "elevation of soul" on which he laid critical stress,
and so did poems hither and yon by others than Bryant. But for the
most part even those productions which stirred or pleased him resulted
in detailed technical comments on defects of unity or structure or
style, and for the most part what he commended was not so much ideas
as poetic concepts. He could lose himself in the chromatic tints from
one facet of a diamond to the extent of quite forgetting the stone in
its entirety. Hence it was that Poe was a poet in the limited sense of
one who is highly and consciously skilled in the achievement of poetic
effects, but by his own definition of poetry wholly uninspired toward
the presentation of poetic truth. If the creative gift is "to see life
steadily and to see it whole," Poe was as far from fulfilling the
equation as mortal could be--as far, let us say, as William Blake was.

This is not to say that Poe failed to appreciate or to write the kind
of poetry in which he believed. It is an estimate of his own sense
of values rather than for the moment of his performance. A letter to
Lowell written in 1844 presents the negative background against which
his theory and practice are thrown into relief.

  I really perceive that vanity about which most men merely prate,--the
  vanity of the human or temporal life. I live continually in a reverie
  of the future. I have no faith in human perfectibility. I think that
  human exertion will have no appreciable effect on humanity.... I
  cannot agree to lose sight of man the individual in man the mass.--I
  have no belief in spirituality. I think the word a _mere_ word....
  You speak of "an estimate of my life,"--and, from what I have already
  said, you will see that I have none to give. I have been too deeply
  conscious of the mutability and evanescence of temporal things to
  give any continuous effort to anything--to be consistent in anything.
  My life has been _whim_--impulse--passion--a longing for solitude--a
  scorn of all things present, in an earnest desire for the future.

An estimate of his own plays and poems can be fairly made only in the
light of this thing that he set out to do, a fairness of treatment, by
the way, which he often withheld from the objects of his criticism.
Not to paraphrase Poe's minute analysis of "The Raven," we may select
the "Ulalume" of a year or two later as a production which satisfies
the formula of "The Philosophy of Composition" and which is richer in
meaning and in self-revelation than any other. In length and tone and
subject and treatment it is according to rule. In ninety-four lines of
increasing tension the ballad of the bereaved lover is told. The effect
toward which it moves is the shocked moment of discovery that grief
for the lost love is not yet "pleasurable," but on this anniversary
night is still a source of poignant bitterness. It is built around a
series of unheeded warnings--as "The Cask of Amontillado" is--which
fall with accumulated weight when the lover's cry explains at last
the mistrusts and agonies and scruples of the pacified Psyche. The
effect is intensified by use of the whole ominous first stanza in a
complex of refrains throughout the rest of the ballad. The employment
of onomatopoeia, or "sound-sense" words, is more subtle and more
effective than in "The Bells" or "The Raven"; and the event occurs in
the usual circumscribed space--the cypress-lined alley which is blocked
by the door of the tomb.

These, however, are the mere externals of the poem; the amount of
discussion to which it has been subjected shows that, as a poem
of any depth should, it contains more than meets the eye. It is a
bit of life history, for it refers to Poe's own bereavement, but
it is, furthermore, a piece of analysis with a general as well
as a personal application. The "I" of the ballad is one half of a
divided personality, what, for want of a better term, may be called
the masculine element. He is self-confident, blundering, slow to
perceive, perfectly brave, in his blindness to any cause for fear.
Psyche, the soul, is the complementary, or feminine, element in human
nature--intuitive, timid, eager for the reassurance that loquacious
male stupidity can afford her. They are the elements incarnate in
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the early half of the play, and the
story in "Ulalume" is parallel to the story of Macbeth up to the
time of the murder. Yet, and here is the defect in Poe, true as the
analysis may be, in Poe's hands it becomes nothing more than that.
It is like a stage setting by Gordon Craig or Leon Bakst--very
somber, very suggestive, very artistic, but so complete an artifice
that it could never be mistaken for anything but an analogy to
life. It is, in a word, the product of one whose "life has been
_whim_--impulse--passion--a longing for solitude--a scorn of all things
present."

Poe's briefer lyrics are written to a simpler formula, modified from
that for the narratives. The resemblance is mainly to be found in the
scrupulous care and nicety of measure, in the adjustment of diction to
content, and in the heightened dream tone prevailing in them. As they
are not attached to any scenic background, the appeals to the mind's
eye are unencumbered by any obligations to continuity. Poe's technique
in some of the best is quite in the manner of the twentieth-century
imagists, and no less effective than in the best of these poets at
their best. The earlier of the two poems entitled "To Helen" is quite
matchless in its beauty of sound and of suggestion, but it is utterly
vulnerable before the kind of searching analysis to which he subjected
the verse of the luckless contemporary who stirred his critical
disapproval. One has not the slightest objective conception of what
"those Nicéan barks" may have been nor why the beauty which attracts
a wanderer homeward should be likened to a ship which bears him to
his native shore. The two fine lines from Byron in the second stanza
reverberate splendidly in their new setting, but again they seem to
have small likeness to the beauty of Helen. And the last pair of lovely
lines are altogether beyond understanding. Read in the dream mood,
however, which is utterly unreasonable but utterly unexacting, "To
Helen" is as captivating as the sound of a distant melody.

Poe's tales are of two very different sorts: those that are in the
likeness of his poetry and those that were done in the analytical
spirit of his criticism. "Ligeia" is an example of the poet's work,
and, indeed, includes, as some others do, one of his own lyrics, "The
Conqueror Worm." This is cast in the misty mid-region between life and
death, with none of the pleasures of the one except as foils to the
reduplicated horrors of the other. In all the laws of construction it
is one with "The Raven" and "Ulalume," as it is also in general effect.
Like the poems, too, these narratives contain no human interest, unless
this is derived from the consciousness that the "I" narrator is made
in the image of Poe and hence is partly his spokesman,--a claim on the
attention to which the stories, if considered as works of art, have no
title. Once again these tales and poems are of the same family in the
degree to which they subordinate any kind of event to the dominant mood
and in the painstaking use of every accessory that will contribute to a
sense of shivery horror.

Perhaps, to indulge in the type of classification that is after the
manner of Poe, a connecting group should be mentioned between the two
extreme types. This includes the kind of story that substitutes the
horrors of crime and its consequences for the horrors of death, giving
over any elevation of soul for the thrill derived from the malignance
of fear or hatred. They deal with crime as quite distinct from sin,
and when they involve conscience at all, introduce the conscience
that doth make cowards of us, rather than the voice of guidance or
correction. Of this sort are "The Imp of the Perverse"--less a tale
than an essaylet with an illustrative anecdote--and "The Black Cat"
and "The Cask of Amontillado." In some ways this story of cold-blooded
vengeance comes nearer than any other of Poe's tales to completely
representing its author's artistic designs. In the matter of its
contrivance it is cut on the pattern of "The Raven." One can apply "The
Philosophy of Composition" by replacing each allusion to the poem with
a parallel from the story. Montresor, the avenger, is an incarnate
devil; Fortunato, the victim, is a piece of walking vanity not worth
bothering to destroy. The slow murder is conceived during "the supreme
madness of the carnival season," is pursued in a tone of grim mockery,
and concluded with ironic laughter and the jingling of the fool's-cap
bells. And finally, to free the tale from any least relation to life,
the assassination does "trammel up the consequence, and catch with his
surcease, success."

The stories that show the mind of the critic--and the greatest of them
come in his later career--are in different fashions riddle-solutions,
the most famous being "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Mystery
of Marie Roget," "The Gold Bug," and "The Purloined Letter," pioneers
in the field of the detective story. In the elaboration of these Poe
combined his gift as a narrator with the powers which appeared equally
in deciphering codes, discrediting Maelzel's chess player, dealing
with the complications of "Three Sundays in a Week," or foreseeing the
outcome of "Barnaby Rudge" from the opening chapter. Still, as in the
earlier types, they are composed of the things that life is made of,
but themselves are uninformed with the breath of life. It has been
well said by a recent critic that the detective story is in a way a
concession to the moral sense of the reading public, following the
paths of the older romance of roguery, but pursuing the wrongdoer to
the prison or the gallows instead of sharing in his defiance of the
social order. But this concession is one in which Poe had no hand. For
him detection is an end in itself; he is like the sportsman who is
stirred by the zest of the hunt and shoots to kill, but at the day's
end, with fine disregard, hands over his bag to the gamekeeper. It
should be said as a last word in the classification of Poe's stories
that the best work in the threescore and ten can be found in one fourth
of that number, that the remainder are in varying degrees overburdened
by exposition, and that the least successful, unredeemed by technical
excellence and unanimated by any vital meaning, trail off into "sound
and fury, signifying nothing."

As a contemporary figure, to summarize, Poe was a vigorous agent in the
upbuilding of the American magazine, a stimulator of honest critical
judgment, a writer of a few poems and a few tales of the finest but
the most attenuated art. At his lowest he is a purveyor of thrills
to readers of literary inexperience, people with just a shade more
maturity than the habitual matinée-goer; and at the other end of the
scale he serves as a stimulant to the decadents who are weary of actual
life and real romance, whose minds are furnished like the apartment in
"The Assignation," in the embellishment of which "the evident design
had been to dazzle and astound." At his highest, however, he has
exerted an extraordinary influence not only on those who have fallen
completely into his ways but on several prose writers of distinction
who have bettered their instructions. Wilkie Collins, Conan Doyle,
Stevenson, Chesterton, are only the beginning of a list, and in only
one language, who have taken up the detective story where Poe laid it
down. Wells and Jules Verne have developed the scientific wonder-tales.
Bierce, Stevenson, Kipling, Hardy, have written stories of horror
and fantasy; and the touch of his art is suggested by many who have
absorbed something from it without becoming disciples or imitators of
it or refiners upon it.

                               BOOK LIST


=_Individual Author_=

  EDGAR ALLAN POE. Works. Virginia edition. J. A. Harrison, editor.
     1902. 17 vols. Another edition. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry,
     editors, 1894-1895. 10 vols. Best single-volume editions are:
     J. H. Whitty, editor, 1911, and Killis Campbell, editor, 1917.
     Poe's chief works appeared originally in book form as follows:
     Tamerlane and Other Poems, 1827; Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor
     Poems, 1829; Poems, 1831; Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, 1838;
     The Conchologist's First Book, 1839; Tales of the Grotesque and
     Arabesque, 1839; The Raven, and Other Poems, 1845; Tales, 1845;
     Eureka: a Prose Poem, 1848; The Literati, 1850.

     =Bibliography=

  The best is by Killis Campbell in the Cambridge History of American
  Literature, Vol. II, pp. 452-468. See also Vol. X, Stedman-Woodberry
  edition, and Vol. XVI, J. A. Harrison edition.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life of Poe is by George E. Woodberry. 1884.

       BASKERVILL, W. M. Southern Writers.

       BEAUDELAIRE, CHARLES. Edgar Poe, sa vie et ses oevres. 1856.

       BROWNELL, W. C. American Prose Masters. 1909.

       CAMPBELL, KILLIS. Edgar Allan Poe. Cambridge History of American
         Literature, Vol. II, Bk. II, chap. xiv.

       CAMPBELL, KILLIS. Introduction to Edition of Poems. 1917.

       COLLINS, J. C. The Poetry and Poets of America.

       FRANCE, ANATOLE. La vie littéraire, Vol. IV.

       GATES, L. E. Studies and Appreciations. 1900.

       GRISWOLD, R. W. Memoir of Poe (with Poe's works). 1850-1856.

       HARRISON, J. A. Life and Letters of Poe. 1902.

       HUTTON, R. H. Contemporary Thought and Thinkers. 1900.

       INGRAM, J. H. Life, Letters, and Opinions of Poe. 1880.

       KENT, C. W. Poe the Poet (in Vol. VII, Virginia edition). 1902.

       LANG, ANDREW. Letters to Dead Authors. 1886.

       LAUVRIÈRE, E. Edgar Poe: sa vie et son oeuvre. 1904.

       MACY, JOHN. Poe. (Beacon Biographies.) 1907.

       MALLARMÉ, S. Divagations, and Poèmes de Edgar Allan Poe. 1888.

       MINOR, B. B. The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864. 1905.

       MORE, P. E. Shelburne Essays. Ser. 1. 1907.

       MOSES, M. J. Literature of the South. 1910.

       RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature, Vol. III, chap. iv. 1889.

       ROBERTSON, J. M. New Essays towards a Critical Method. 1897.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Poets of America. 1885 and 1898.

       STEPHEN, LESLIE. Hours in a Library. Ser. 1.

       SWINBURNE, A. C. Under the Microscope. 1872.

       TRENT, W. P. Edgar Allan Poe (announced in _E. M. L. Ser._).

       WENDELL, BARRETT. Stelligeri and Other Essays. 1893.

       WHITTY, J. H. Memoir in edition of Poe's Poems. 1911.

       WOODBERRY, G. E. America in Literature, chap. iv. 1908.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read "The Purloined Letter" and compare it as a detective story with
any one of Conan Doyle's detections of theft.

Read the introductions of ten or twelve stories for Poe's method of
establishing the dominant mood.

Apply the formula presented in "The Philosophy of Composition" to
"Annabel Lee" and to any of Poe's best-known prose tales.

No intelligent estimate of Poe can be reached without reading his two
analytical essays, "The Philosophy of Composition" and "The Poetic
Principle."

Compare the "I" in Poe with the "I" in Whitman. Read "William
Wilson" and "The Man in the Crowd," which are felt to have more of
autobiography in them than any others.

For the influence of Byron on Poe and on various other impressionable
Americans see the index to this volume, and note the variety of ways in
which it was recorded.

Light will be thrown on Poe's relationship to the periodicals through
a reading of passages on the magazines with which he was connected in
"The Magazine in America," by Algernon Tassin. See also the volume
called "The Southern Literary Messenger," by B. B. Minor.



                              CHAPTER XIII

                         THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS


With the passing of Irving, Cooper, and Bryant the leadership in
American letters was lost to New York. Indeed, by 1850, while all
this trio were living, four men in eastern Massachusetts were in full
career,--Emerson, Longfellow, Lowell, and Whittier; and before the
death of Irving, in 1859, Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Holmes came into
their full powers. The New Yorkers had done a very distinguished work.
The two prose writers in particular had shown talents of which their
countrymen could be proud and had introduced the New World to the Old.
Yet, though their fame was destined to live, their influence on other
authors was bound to die with them because they both were looking
backward. The roots of these men were struck deep in the eighteenth
century. Cooper's strength lay in his ability to write stories of
the romantic past. Even when he brought them up to date, as in "The
Pioneer" and "The Prairie," he presented the decline of a passing type
of American life. When he wrote of the present pointing to the future,
as in "Homeward Bound" and "Home as Found," he was filled with distress
and alarm. He was bred in the traditions of aristocracy; he believed
in the theories of democracy, but he was very much afraid that they
would not turn out well in practice. Irving was a gentleman of the old
school. He was loyal to the ideals of his country and confident of its
future, but he was fascinated by the traditions of England and Europe.
When he wrote of the weaknesses of his city and his fellow-citizens he
cast his gentle satires into the form made popular by two Englishmen
of a bygone day, and limited himself, as they had done, to commenting
on customs, manners, recreations--the external habits of daily life.
Of the three Bryant was the only modern man. His later life was finely
admirable; but, though his thinking was wise and just, he influenced
men less as a thinker than as a stalwart citizen. The New Yorkers, in a
word, all wrote as men who were educated in the world of action; they
were almost untouched by the deeper currents of human thought which in
the nineteenth century were to make great changes in the world.

In 1821, the year of the fifth edition of "The Sketch Book" and "The
Spy" and Bryant's first volume, there was growing up in the quieter
surroundings of Boston a generation of New England boys with a
different training. They all went to and through college, most of them
to Harvard, and after college they set to reading philosophy. Many of
them came from a long line of Puritan ancestry, as Bryant did. Unlike
Bryant several of them felt a distrust and dislike for the sternness
of the old creeds. Yet they had the strength of Puritan character in
them and the born habit of thinking deeply on "the things that are not
seen and eternal." What was new in them was that they were prepared to
think independently and to come to their own conclusions. The reading
of these boys was no longer chiefly in Pope, Addison, and Goldsmith.
It was in the great English writers who were just arriving at
fame--Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Carlyle--or in the French and German
philosophers.

In the Concord group--Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne--the contrast
with the New Yorkers is particularly striking. They were anything but
men of the world. When they began to write they stayed in the seclusion
of little villages and waited patiently. They matured slowly. Emerson
was past middle life before America heeded him; Hawthorne was forty-six
at the time of his first marked success; Thoreau's fame did not come
till after his death. They were not "team workers." Emerson was a
clergyman for a short while, but retired in the very year when Bryant
began his long service with the _Evening Post_; Hawthorne was a recluse
for fourteen years after college and then held positions reluctantly
for only half of his remaining life; Thoreau never put on the harness.
They were not swept into the current of city life,--"warped out of
their own orbits,"--but, instead, they made Concord, whose "chief
product" was literature, more famous than any center of shipping or
banking or manufacture.

"Concord is a little town," Emerson wrote in his Journal, "and yet has
its honors. We get our handful of every ton that comes to the city."
In his address at the two hundredth anniversary he dwelt on his pride
in its history and character. He traced the earliest settlement, the
partitioning of the land, the events leading up to the Revolution,
and, in the presence of some of the aged survivors, the firing by the
embattled farmers of "the shot heard round the world" in 1775. The
institution in Concord that most appealed to him was the town meeting,
where the whole body of voters met to transact the public business. The
meetings of those two hundred years had witnessed much that was petty,
but on the whole they had made for good.

  It is the consequence of this institution that not a school-house, a
  public pew, a bridge, a pound, a mill-dam hath been set up, or pulled
  down, or altered, or bought, or sold, without the whole population
  of this town having a voice in the affair. A general contentment is
  the result. And the people truly feel that they are lords of the
  soil. In every winding road, in every stone fence, in the smokes of
  the poor-house chimney, in the clock on the church, they read their
  own power, and consider at leisure the wisdom and error of their
  judgments.

Emerson noted that the English government had recently given to certain
American libraries copies of a splendid edition of the "Domesday Book"
and other ancient public records of England. A suitable return gift, he
thought, would be the printed records of Concord, not simply because
Concord was Concord but because Concord was America. "Tell them the
Union has twenty-four states, and Massachusetts is one. Tell them that
Massachusetts has three-hundred towns, and Concord is one; that in
Concord are five hundred rateable polls [that is, taxable voters] and
every one has an equal vote." In closing his address Emerson gave his
reason for choosing when thirty-one years old to come back to "the
fields of his fathers" and spend his life there.

  I believe this town to have been the dwelling place at all times
  since its planting of pious and excellent persons, who walked meekly
  through the paths of common life, who served God, and loved man,
  and never let go the hope of immortality. The benediction of their
  prayers, and of their principles lingers around us.

In the Journal he carries this general indorsement down to particulars
that would have been out of place in a public memorial address.

  Perhaps in the village we have manners to paint which the city life
  does not know. Here we have Mr. S., who is man enough to turn away
  the butcher, who cheats in weight, and introduces another into
  town. The other neighbors couldn't take such a step.... There is
  the hero who will not subscribe to the flag-staff, or the engine,
  though all say it is mean. There is the man who gives his dollar,
  but refuses to give his name, though all other contributors are set
  down. There is Mr. H., who never loses his spirits, though always in
  the minority.... Here is Mr. C., who says "honor bright," and keeps
  it so. Here is Mr. S., who warmly assents to whatever proposition
  you please to make, and Mr. M., who roundly tells you he will have
  nothing to do with the thing. Here, too, are not to be forgotten our
  two companies, the Light Infantry and the Artillery, who brought up
  one the Brigade Band and one the Brass Band from Boston, set the
  musicians side by side under the great tree on the Common, and let
  them play two tunes and jangle and drown each other, and presently
  got the companies into active hustling and kicking.

Thus Concord was a little community with a noble and dignified past and
at the same time with the homely virtues, oddities, and weaknesses of a
New England village. In these respects it was a fit dwelling place for
the man who made it famous, for they were like the town in being both
finely idealistic and very human. The contrast with the New York of
these same years is vivid (see pp. 110, 113, 190 et al.).

Centering about Concord, but by no means located within it, was
a "Transcendental Movement" of which Emerson is considered the
chief exponent. When the proper nouns "Transcendentalist" and
"Transcendentalism" are used they are made to refer to this movement
in eastern Massachusetts. In any critical sense, however, the thing
that they stood for was only an expression of world thought and was
one of the many out-croppings of the movement toward independence of
spirit which had been developing for generations. The refusal of the
nineteenth-century mind to submit to a philosophy which limited man's
faith to the knowledge derived through the senses had already brought
about in Germany, France, and England a reaction which insisted on the
right of man to believe much which he could not prove. Thus developed
transcendentalism, a system of thought "based on the assumption of
certain fundamental truths not derived from experience, not susceptible
of proof, which transcend human life, and are perceived directly and
intuitively by the human mind."

This stood in complete contrast with the faith of the Puritans and yet
in strong resemblance to it. Like the Calvinists the Transcendentalists
proceeded from a set of assumptions rather than a set of facts, but
unlike the Calvinists the Transcendentalists drew these assumptions
from their own inner conviction instead of from a set of dogmas which
had been distorted out of the Scriptures. They believed in God, and
they found his clearest expression in the spirit of man and in the
natural surroundings in which God had placed him. They believed that
in each man was a spark of divinity. They were assailed because they
did not acknowledge an utter difference between Jesus Christ and the
average man, though their sin lay not in degrading Christ to the level
of man, but in exalting man potentially to the level of Christ. They
insisted that it was the duty of each individual to develop the best
that was in him on earth, thinking more of the life here than of the
life hereafter. They were inspired by the love of God rather than
threatened by his wrath, and so they "substituted for a dogmatic dread
an illimitable hope."

Fortunately for the influence of this group they inherited the sound
qualities of Puritan character. They therefore did not lay themselves
open to attack on account of any wild vagaries of conduct. Emerson
was a saint, Thoreau an ascetic, Bronson Alcott a pure philosopher,
Theodore Parker a great preacher and reformer, Margaret Fuller a
high-minded woman of letters, and the scores of their associates just
as devoted to a high religious ideal as any equal number of the early
Pilgrims.

Two undertakings chiefly focused the group activity of the
Transcendentalists. The first of these was the _Dial_, a quarterly
publication which ran for sixteen numbers, 1840-1844. The so-called
Transcendental Club, an informal group of kindred spirits, came
toward the end of the thirties to the point where they felt the need
of an "organ" of their own. After much discussion they undertook the
publication of this journal of one hundred and twenty-eight pages
to an issue. For the first two years it was under the editorship of
Margaret Fuller. When her strength failed under this extra voluntary
task, Emerson, with the help of Thoreau, took charge for the remaining
two years. Its paid circulation was very small, never reaching two
hundred and fifty, and finally, when in the hands of its third set of
publishers, it had to be discontinued, Emerson personally meeting the
final small deficit. It contained chiefly essays of a philosophical
nature, but included in every issue a rather rare body of verse.
The essays reflected and expounded German thought and literature
and oriental thought, and discussed problems of art, literature,
and philosophy. The section given to critical reviews is extremely
interesting for its quick response to the new writings which later
years have proved and accepted. Possibly the nearest analogy of to-day
to the old _Dial_ is the _Hibbert Journal_,--the first journal of its
kind to achieve an international circulation and self-support. _The
Dial_ is in a way the literary journal or diary of the Transcendental
Movement in America from 1840 to 1844.

The other undertaking associated with the Transcendentalists is less
formally their own venture. This was the Brook Farm Institute of
Agriculture and Education in West Roxbury, nine miles out from Boston.
It was financially the undertaking of a small group of stockholders of
whom the Reverend George Ripley was the chief and Nathaniel Hawthorne
the man of widest later fame. It was an attempt at the start to combine
"plain living and high thinking," the theory being that the group could
do their own work and pursue their own intellectual life. During the
first three years, from 1841 to 1844, it was carried on as a quiet
assembling of idealists who were withdrawing slightly from the hubbub
of the world. Agriculture was supplemented by several other simple
industries, a school was successfully maintained, and the people who
lived there were viewed and visited with interest by many who looked
on in sympathetic amusement. The number of actual residents never
exceeded one hundred and fifty. Of the leading Transcendentalists
Margaret Fuller was the only one to settle. Parker was occupied with
his multitudinous duties at Boston; Thoreau attempted his own solution
at Walden; Alcott was at his short-lived and ill-fated Fruitlands;
and Emerson stayed in Concord with the comment: "I do not wish to
remove from my present prison to a prison a little larger.... I have
not yet conquered my own house. It irks and repents me. Shall I raise
the siege of this hen coop, and march baffled away to a pretended
siege of Babylon?" In the latter half of its life Brook Farm was drawn
into the communistic movement which the French philosopher Charles
Fourier had elaborated, and was made the first "phalanx" in America.
With this movement its whole nature changed, as it became a part of
a great social project with a mission to transform the world. An
ambitious central building was erected in 1846, and by an irony of
fate the uninsured "phalanstery" was burned down at the very moment
when its completion was being celebrated. This last financial burden
broke the back of the enterprise, which was discontinued in 1847. It is
significant of Brook Farm that however unqualified a material failure
it was, it served as a gathering spot for a group of idealists who
never ceased to recall their life on the Farm as a happy and fruitful
experience.

                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

     =Bibliography=

       In GODDARD, H. C. Studies in New England Transcendentalism.
         1908. See also Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol.
         I, pp. 546-549.

=_History and Criticism_=


       COOKE, G. W. Poets of Transcendentalism: an Anthology with
         Introductory Essay. 1903.

       EMERSON, R. W. The Transcendentalist, in _Nature, Addresses and
         Lectures_.

       FROTHINGHAM, O. B. Transcendentalism in New England, a History.
         1876.

       GODDARD, H. C. Studies in New England Transcendentalism. 1908.

       PARKER, THEODORE. Transcendentalism: a Lecture. 1876.

=_Special Biographies_=

     =Alcott, A. B.=

       SANBORN, F. B. Bronson Alcott at Alcott House, England, and
         Fruitlands, New England, 1842-1844. 1908.

       SANBORN, F. B. and HARRIS, WM. T. A. Bronson Alcott: his Life
         and Philosophy. 1893. 2 vols.

     =Emerson, R. W.=

       See Book List, chap. xiv.

     =Fuller, Margaret=

       EMERSON, R. W., CHANNING, W. H., and CLARKE, J. F. Memoirs of
         Margaret Fuller Ossoli. 1852. 2 vols.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Margaret Fuller Ossoli. 1884.

       HOWE, JULIA WARD. Margaret Fuller (Marchesa Ossoli). 1883.

     =Parker, Theodore=

       FROTHINGHAM, O. B. Theodore Parker: a Biography. 1874.

       WEISS, JOHN. Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker. 1864. 2
         vols.

     =Ripley, George=

       FROTHINGHAM, O. B. George Ripley. _(A.M.L. Ser_.) 1882.

     =Thoreau, Henry David=

       See Book List, chap. xiv.

=_The Dial_=

  The standard work is by G. W. Cooke. An Historical and Biographical
     Introduction to accompany _The Dial_ as reprinted in Numbers for
     the Rowfant Club, Cleveland. 1902. 2 vols.

  _The Dial_: a Magazine for Literature, Philosophy, and Religion,
     Vols. I-IV. 1840-1844. Reprinted by the Rowfant Club of Cleveland,
     1900-1903.

=_Brook Farm_=

  The standard work is by Lindsay Swift. Brook Farm: its Members,
     Scholars, and Visitors. 1900. (Contains bibliography.)

  CODMAN, J. T. Brook Farm: Historic and Personal Memoirs. 1894.

  COOKE, G. W. John Sullivan Dwight, Brook-Farmer, Editor, and Critic
     of Music. 1898.

  FROTHINGHAM, O. B. George Ripley. 1882. (_A. M. L. Ser._)

  HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. The Blithedale Romance. 1852.

  HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. Passages from the American Notebooks. 1868. 2
     vols.



                              CHAPTER XIV

                          RALPH WALDO EMERSON


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was born in Boston. He came from old
Puritan stock, several of his direct ancestors being clergymen. He
was one of eight children, of whom six were living when his father,
the Reverend William Emerson, died in 1811. Mr. Emerson had been so
beloved by his parishioners that they continued to pay his salary for
seven years, and for three years gave the use of the parish house to
the family. The nature of these years is presented in the essay on
"Domestic Life":

  Who has not seen, and who can see unmoved, under a low roof, the
  eager, blushing boys discharging as they can their household
  chores, and hastening into the sitting-room to the study of
  to-morrow's merciless lesson, yet stealing time to read one chapter
  more of the novel hardly smuggled into the tolerance of father
  and mother--atoning for the same by some passages of Plutarch or
  Goldsmith; the warm sympathy with which they kindle each other
  in school-yard, or barn, or wood-shed, with scraps of poetry or
  song, with phrases of the last oration or mimicry of the orator;
  the youthful criticism, on Sunday, of the sermons; the school
  declamation, faithfully rehearsed at home.... Ah, short-sighted
  students of books, of nature, and of man, too happy could they know
  their advantages, they pine for freedom from that mild parental yoke;
  they sigh for fine clothes, for rides, for the theatre, and premature
  freedom and dissipation which others possess. Woe to them if their
  wishes were crowned. The angels that dwell with them, and are weaving
  laurels of life for their youthful brows, are Toil, and Want, and
  Truth, and Mutual Faith.

There was a great deal of work for the young Emersons in the day, but
the spirit of play and playfulness survived it all, as this bit of
verse shows. It was written by Ralph to his brother Edward.

      So erst two brethren climb'd the cloud-capp'd hill,
      Ill-fated Jack, and long-lamented Jill,
      Snatched from the crystal font its lucid store,
      And in full pails the precious treasure bore.
      But ah, by dull forgetfulness oppress'd
      (Forgive me, Edward) I've forgot the rest.

In due time Emerson went to Harvard, entering the class of 1821. Here
he earned part of his expenses and profited by scholarships, which must
have been given him more on account of his character than because of
his actual performance as a student, for he stood only in the middle
of his class. He was almost hopelessly weak in mathematics, but he won
three prizes in essay-writing and declamation. He was a regular member
of one of the debating societies, crossing swords with his opponents on
the vague and impossible subjects which lure the minds of youth. His
appointment as class poet at graduation argues no special distinction,
for it was conferred on him after seven others had refused it. All the
while, however, his mind had been active, and he came out from college
with the fruits of a great amount of good reading which had doubtless
somewhat distracted him from the assigned work. Emerson's experience
at college should not be confused with that of many budding geniuses
who showed their originality by mere eccentricity. With Emerson, as
with Hawthorne and Thoreau too, the independence appeared simply in his
choosing the things at which he should do his hardest work. He was full
of ambition. An entry in the Journal of 1822 proves that at this age he
was more like the Puritan Milton than the care-free Cooper: "In twelve
days I shall be nineteen years old, which I count a miserable thing.
Has any other educated person lived so many years and lost so many
days?" He blamed himself for dreaming of greatness and doing little to
achieve it, but he decided not yet to give up hope of belonging to the
"family of giant minds." Already, too, he was in thought joining his
own future with the future of the country in such jottings as these.
"Let those who would pluck the lot of immortality from Fate's urn, look
well to the future of America." "To America, therefore, monarchs look
with apprehension and the people with hope." If his countrymen could
boast no great accomplishment in the arts, "We have a government and a
national spirit that is better than persons or histories." The judges
of his own future utterances were to be a nation of free minds, "for in
America we have plucked down Fortune and set up Nature in his room."
These comments, of course, reveal the sentiment and the lofty rhetoric
of the commencement orator, for they were all written before he was
twenty-two. In later years he wrote more simply and less excitedly, but
he never forgot that his own life was always part of the life of the
nation.

The five years just after graduation were not encouraging. He taught
in his brother's school for a while, but loathed it because he taught
so badly. Ill-health harassed him. While he was studying in the
Divinity School his eyes failed him, so that he was excused from the
regular examinations at the end. And a month after he was admitted
to the ministry his doctor advised him to spend the winter in the
South. It was not until 1829, when he was twenty-six years old, that
he was settled in a pastorate. Then the future seemed assured for
him. The church was an old and respected one, the congregation made
up of "desirable" people. If the young preacher was able to prepare
acceptable sermons and make friends among his parishioners, he could
be sure of a permanent and dignified position in his native city. But
although the flock were perfectly satisfied with their shepherd, in
three years he resigned. He had found that certain of the forms of
church worship embarrassed him because he could not always enter into
the spirit of them. Sometimes when the moment for the "long prayer"
came, he did not feel moved to utter it, and he felt that to "deliver"
it as a piece of elocution was dishonest and irreverent. Administering
the holy communion troubled him still more, because he felt afraid
that to the literal Yankee mind this symbolical ceremony was either
meaningless or tinged with superstition. So he expressed his honest
doubts to his congregation, explaining that if these features of
worship were necessary he could no longer continue to be their pastor,
and they reluctantly let him go.

Two years were yet to pass in the preparatory stage of Emerson's life.
For the first seven months of 1833 he was abroad, traveling slowly from
Italy up to England. In reading his daily comments on what he saw, one
finds no trace of the eager zest for the novelties of travel enjoyed
by Irving and Cooper; he seems rather to have gone through with the
tour as a sober and conscientious process of education. His most vivid
experiences were not in seeing places but in meeting English authors,
and with one of these, Thomas Carlyle, he made the beginning of a
lifelong friendship. It was like Emerson to be especially attracted to
Carlyle, who was almost unknown at the time, to seek him out on his
lonely Scotch farm, and to feel a deeper sympathy and admiration for
him than for famous men like Wordsworth and Coleridge and De Quincey.
No single man and no amount of public opinion ever made up this young
American's mind for him. When, after a year of preaching and lecturing
in America he went late in 1834 to settle in Concord, the richest
memory he treasured from his travel was the founding of this new
companionship. In the fabric of the long life that remained to him no
two threads are more important than those of Concord and Carlyle--the
place he loved most and the greatest of his friends.

Rightly considered, these thirty-one years are a piece not only of
Emerson's life; they are a piece of American history. They exhibit
the life in Boston of a boy and young man with a fine Puritan
inheritance. Among all the traits which came down to him from the
past, none were more dominant than his rectitude and his independence.
Like the boys of earliest Pilgrim families, he was trained at home
in "the uses of adversity," given a careful schooling, and sent to
college to be prepared for the ministry. His mind, like that of his
ancestors, "derived a peculiar character from the daily contemplation
of superior beings and eternal interests"; but like some of the
strongest of these--like Roger Williams, for example (p. 11), he was
bent on arriving at his own conclusions. Fortunately men were no
longer persecuted for their religious beliefs in the old savage ways.
Emerson's withdrawal from the pulpit did not forfeit him the love
of the people whom he had been serving. Though men could still feel
bitterly on the subject of religious differences, the new century was
more generous than the old had been. Travel along the Atlantic seaboard
and in Europe enriched his knowledge of the world, but only deepened
his love of the home region; and here as a full-grown man he settled
down with his books and among an increasing circle of congenial friends
to think about life and to record what he had thought.

It was therefore no accident that in three successive years--1836,
1837, and 1838--Emerson made three statements in summary of his
chief ideas on men and things. In all of them there was a central
thought--that life had become too much a matter of unconsidered
routine and that people must stop long enough to make up their minds
what it was all about. He offered no "system." He pleaded only that
people begin to think again, so that if they followed in the footsteps
of their fathers they should do so with their eyes open, or if they
decided to strike off into new paths they should not be blind men led
by the blind.

The first of the trio[13] was the essay on "Nature," published as a
slender little book in 1836. He opened with an appeal for his readers
to look at the wonders around them. "If the stars should appear but
one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and
preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God
which had been shown." He went on to discuss nature as Commodity, or
source of all the things man may use or own; as Beauty, or source of
delight to body, spirit, and mind; as Language, or source of the images
and comparisons by means of which man attempts to express abstract
ideas; and as a Discipline, or source of training to the intellect
in understanding nature's laws and to the moral sense in obeying and
interpreting them. In all these respects he contended that the man who
will truly understand nature must combine the exactness of observation
which belongs to science with the reverence of feeling which is the
basis of religion.

  [13] Found in the volume "Nature, Addresses and Lectures."

  No man ever prayed heartily without learning something. But when
  a faithful thinker, resolute to detach every object from personal
  relations, and see it in the light of thought, shall, at the same
  time, kindle science with the fire of the holiest affections, then
  will God go forth anew into the creation.... So shall we come to look
  at the world with new eyes.... The kingdom of man over nature, which
  cometh not with observation,--a dominion such as now is beyond his
  dream of God,--he shall enter into without more wonder than the blind
  man feels who is gradually restored to perfect sight.

Such was Emerson's gospel of beauty. It did not attract any wide
attention; but across the sea it was hailed with admiration by Carlyle,
who showed it to his friends, and it attracted the attention of Harvard
College, so that Emerson was invited to speak before the Phi Beta Kappa
society in the following summer.

The result of this invitation was his famous address on "The American
Scholar." It was an appeal this time for independence in the realm
of the intellect. It has frequently been described as the American
Declaration of Intellectual Independence; and the comparison to
Jefferson's document stands in the fact that it did not contain a new
idea in America, but that it stated memorably what had been uttered
again and again by other Americans. "Our day of dependence, our long
apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close. The
millions that around us are rushing into life, cannot always be fed
on the sere remains of foreign harvests." To make his point, Emerson
held that the American scholar must not continue to be "a delegated
intellect" but must become _Man Thinking_. Unlike most of the later
essays the address is clear and orderly in structure. After a brief
introduction the scholar is discussed in terms of the chief influences
which surround him. The first is nature, and this section is brief
because of its full treatment in the essay of the preceding year. The
second is the spirit of the past as it is best recorded in books.
Emerson accepted without qualification the books which contain the
story of history and the explanation of exact science. Yet, as science
is ever advancing and the interpretations of history are continually
changing, he might have said of these what he said of books which
attempt to explain life: "Each age, it is found, must write its own
books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of
an older period will not fit this." The third great influence on the
scholar is participation in life.

  Only so much do I know as I have lived.... If it were only for a
  vocabulary, the scholar would be covetous of action. Life is our
  dictionary. Years are well spent in country labors; in town; in the
  insight into trades and manufactures; in frank intercourse with many
  men and women; in science; in art; to the one end of mastering in
  all their facts a language by which to illustrate and embody our
  perceptions.... Life lies behind us as the quarry from whence we get
  tiles and copestones for the masonry of to-day.

With these influences affecting him the scholar must perform his
duties without thought of reward in money or praise. He must feel all
confidence in himself. "Let him not quit his belief that a popgun is a
popgun, though the ancient and honorable of the earth affirm it to be
the crack of doom." Signs of the interest that the scholar is showing
in life (as a combination of all sorts of people with common interests
but diverse fortunes) comfort Emerson. These _will redeem_ scholarship.
And so he concludes to the young college men:

  We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we
  will speak our own minds. The study of letters shall be no longer
  a name for pity, for doubt, and for sensual indulgence. The dread
  of man and the love of man shall be a wall of defence and a wreath
  of joy around all. A nation of men will for the first time exist,
  because each believes himself inspired by the divine soul which also
  inspires all men.

This address was inspiring to all who heard it. The young scholars went
out with a new feeling for the dignity of learning as an equipment
toward leadership, and the older Harvard professors felt in Emerson's
words some reward for a college that had helped to produce such a man
as he. An immediate consequence of the address was a further invitation
to speak the next year before the students of the Divinity School;
and in 1838 he talked in a similar vein to the budding clergymen.
This address in a way rounded out his "philosophy" by applying the
rule of self-reliance to the third aspect of man's life; after beauty
in "Nature" and truth in "The American Scholar" came the moral sense
in "The Divinity School Address." He started, as in the former two,
with a kind of prose poem on the wonder of life. He went on to speak
of the need of religion that was fresh, vivid, and personal. Then he
referred to the defects of "historical Christianity," which was his
name for the church embodiment of Christ's teaching. These, in his
opinion, were two: that modern Christianity was a system of belief very
different from the simple teachings of Jesus and that this system was
dangerous because it had become fixed. "Men have come to speak of the
revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead."
The remedy for these defects was the same as for the deadened attitude
toward Nature and Truth--that man should be self-reliant. To the
young divinity student he declared, "Yourself a newborn bard of the
Holy Ghost, cast behind you all conformity, and acquaint men at first
hand with Deity." Christianity has given mankind two great gifts: the
Sabbath and the institution of preaching.

  What hinders that now, everywhere, in pulpits, in lecture-rooms,
  in houses, in fields, wherever the invitation of men or your own
  occasions lead you, you speak the very truth, as your life and
  conscience teach it, and cheer the waiting, fainting hearts of men
  with new hope and revelation?

Although the Harvard authorities might have foreseen that he would
speak as frankly as this, they were shocked when he presumed to
advocate independence in religion. Two hundred years earlier he would
have been banished from Massachusetts for saying less. As it was,
however, Harvard closed its lecture rooms to him for nearly thirty
years, and the conservative clergy expressed their outraged feelings
in speech and print. Emerson was undisturbed. To one of them, his
friend the Reverend Henry Ware, he wrote a seldom-quoted letter that
completely represents him. It deserves careful study.

      Concord, October 8, 1838.

      My dear Sir:--

  I ought sooner to have acknowledged your kind letter of last week,
  and the Sermon it accompanied. The latter was right manly and noble.
  The Sermon, too, I have read with great attention. If it assails any
  doctrines of mine--perhaps I am not so quick to see it as writers
  generally--certainly I did not feel any disposition to depart from my
  habitual contentment, that you should say your thought, whilst I say
  mine.

  I believe I must tell you what I think of my new position. It strikes
  me very oddly, that good and wise men at Cambridge and Boston should
  think of raising me into an object of criticism. I have always
  been--from my very incapacity of methodical writing--"a chartered
  libertine" free to worship and free to rail,--lucky when I could make
  myself understood, but never esteemed near enough to the institution
  and mind of society to deserve the notice of the masters of
  literature and religion. I have appreciated fully the advantages of
  my position; for I well know, that there is no scholar less willing
  or less able to be a polemic. I could not give account of myself, if
  challenged. I could not possibly give you one of the "arguments" you
  cruelly hint at, on which any doctrine of mine stands. For I do not
  know what arguments mean, in reference to any expression of thought.
  I delight in telling what I think; but if you ask me how I dare say
  so, or, why it is so, I am the most helpless of mortal men. I do not
  even see, that either of these questions admits of an answer. So
  that, in the present droll posture of my affairs, when I see myself
  suddenly raised into the importance of a heretic, I am very uneasy
  when I advert to the supposed duties of such a personage, who is to
  make good his thesis against all comers.

  I certainly shall do no such thing. I shall read what you and other
  good men write, as I have always done,--glad when you speak my
  thoughts, and skipping the page that has nothing for me. I shall go
  on, just as before, seeing whatever I can, and telling what I see;
  and, I suppose, with the same fortune that has hitherto attended
  me; the joy of finding, that my abler and better brothers, who work
  with the sympathy of society, loving and beloved, do now and then
  unexpectedly confirm my perceptions, and find my nonsense is only
  their own thought in motley.

                                   And so I am,
                                      Your affectionate servant,
                                               Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thus far it is clear that Emerson's message to the world was almost
unqualifiedly personal: an attempt to shake men out of their lazy ways
of drifting with the current into active swimming--with the current
if they thought best, but usually against it. The whole problem was
summarized in his single defiant essay on "Self-Reliance,"[14]--defiant
because in this protest he was almost entirely concerned with telling
men what they should _not_ do. They should not pray, not be consistent,
not travel, not imitate, not conform to society; but should be Godlike,
independent, searching their own hearts, and behaving in accord with
the truth they found there. It is an anarchy he was preaching, an
elevated lawlessness. And the first reaction to such teaching is to
ask with shocked disapproval, "What would happen to the world if all
men followed his advice?" There are two very simple answers. The first
is that if all men followed Emerson's advice, completely as he gave
it, the world would be peopled with saints, for what he asked was that
men should disregard the laws of society only that they might better
observe the laws of God. And the second answer is that such a query
sets an impossible condition, for the pressure of custom is so strong
and the human inclination to do as others do is so prevailing that
counsel like Emerson's will never be adopted, at the most, by more than
a very small and courageous minority.

  [14] "Self-Reliance" Essays, First Series.

One fact to keep in mind in reading all Emerson is that he regularly
expresses himself in emphatic terms. In consequence, what he says in
one mood he is likely in another to gainsay, and in a third, though
without any deliberate intention to defend himself, he may reconcile
the apparent contradiction. He simply follows out his own ideas on
consistency.

  But why should you keep your head over your shoulder? Why drag about
  this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have
  stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict
  yourself; what then?... A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of
  little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

This sort of balancing of his views of independence is to be found in
an essay of thirty years later on "Society and Solitude." The first
two thirds of this seem to be quite as unqualified as anything in the
early declarations. He quotes Swedenborg: "There are angels who do not
live consociated, but separate, house and house; these dwell in the
midst of heaven, because they are the best of angels." He says for
himself: "We pray to be conventional. But the wary Heaven takes care
you shall not be, if there is anything good in you." "We sit and muse,
and are serene and complete; but the moment we meet with anybody, each
becomes a fraction." Then, however, comes the corrective note: "But
this banishment to the rocks and echoes no metaphysics can make right
or tolerable. This result is so against nature, such a half view, that
it must be corrected by a common sense and experience." In the earlier
essays and addresses Emerson had said repeatedly that a man's education
could not be complete unless it included contact with people, and in
this essay he came round to the reverse of the medal, that no man could
fully express himself who was not useful to his fellows. "Society
cannot do without cultivated men." This idea was, of course, always
in Emerson's mind, but it was in the later years, after he himself
had seen more and more of life, that he expressed it in definite
assertions instead of taking it for granted as something the wise man
would assume. The concluding paragraph in this essay not only sums up
Emerson's views on society and solitude but illustrates the kind of
balance which he often strikes between statements which little minds
could erect into hobgoblins of inconsistency:

  Here again, as so often, Nature delights to put us between extreme
  antagonisms, and our safety is in the skill with which we keep the
  diagonal line. Solitude is impracticable, and society fatal. We must
  keep our head in the one and our hands in the other. The conditions
  are met, if we keep our independence, yet do not lose our sympathy.
  These wonderful horses need to be driven by fine hands. We require
  such a solitude as shall hold us to its revelations when we are in
  the street and in palaces; for most men are cowed in society, and say
  good things to you in private, but will not stand to them in public.
  But let us not be the victims of words. Society and solitude are
  deceptive names. It is not the circumstance of seeing more or fewer
  people, but the readiness of sympathy that imports; and a sound mind
  will derive its principles from insight, with ever a purer ascent to
  the sufficient and absolute right, and will accept society as the
  natural element in which they are to be applied.

Throughout the most fruitful years of Emerson's life he lived quietly
in Concord, writing without hurry in the mornings, walking and talking
with his friends who lived there and with the increasing number of
more and less distinguished men who came to receive his inspiration.
But three winter months of each year he gave to lecturing, giving
frequent series in New York and Boston and going out into the West as
far as Wisconsin and Missouri. In these months, as a combined prophet
and man of business, he earned a fair share of his income and exerted
his widest influence. What he meant to his auditors has been best said
by Lowell in his brief essay on "Emerson the Lecturer." Recalling the
days when he was a college student, sixteen years younger than Emerson,
Lowell wrote:

  We used to walk in from the country [Cambridge, four miles out from
  Boston] to the Masonic Temple (I think it was) through the crisp
  winter night, and listen to that thrilling voice of his, so charged
  with subtle meaning and subtle music, as shipwrecked men on a raft to
  the hail of a ship that came with unhoped-for food and rescue.... And
  who that saw the audience will ever forget it, where everyone still
  capable of fire, or longing to renew in himself the half-forgotten
  sense of it, was gathered?... I hear again that rustle of sensation,
  as they turned to exchange glances over some pithier thought, some
  keener flash of that humor which always played about the horizon
  of his mind like heat-lightning.... To some of us that long-past
  experience remains as the most marvellous and fruitful we have ever
  had.... Did they say he was disconnected? So were the stars, that
  seemed larger to our eyes, as we walked homeward with prouder stride
  over the creaking snow. And were not _they_ knit together by a higher
  logic than our mere senses could master? Were we enthusiasts? I hope
  and believe we were, and am thankful to the man who made us worth
  something for once in our lives. If asked what was left? what we
  carried home? we should not have been careful for an answer. It would
  have been enough if we had said that something beautiful had passed
  that way.

If people were puzzled to follow the drift of Emerson's lectures--and
they often were--it was because most of them were so vague in outline.
They literally did drift. There were two or three explanations for
this defect. One was that Emerson seldom set himself the task of
"composing" a complete essay. His method of writing was to put down in
his morning hours at the desk the ideas that came to him. As thoughts
on subjects dear to him flitted through his mind he captured some
of them as they passed. These were related,--like the moon and the
tides and the best times for digging clams,--but when he assembled
various paragraphs into a lecture he took no pains to establish "theme
coherence" by explaining the connections that were quite clear in his
own mind. It happened further, as the years went on, that in making up
a new discourse he would select paragraphs from earlier manuscripts,
relying on them to hang together with a confidence that was sometimes
misplaced. And auditors of his lectures in the last years recall how,
as he passed from one page to the next, a look of doubt and slight
amusement would sometimes confess without apology to an utter lack of
connection even between the parts of a sentence.

In his sentences and his choice of words, however, there were perfect
simplicity and clearness. Here is a passage to illustrate, drawn by
the simplest of methods--opening the first volume of Emerson at hand
and taking the first paragraph. It happens to be in the essay on
"Compensation."

  Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and
  it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals
  in the wood the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and
  mole. You cannot recall the spoken word, you cannot wipe out the
  foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet
  or clew. Some damning circumstance always transpires. The laws
  and substances of nature--water, snow, wind, gravitation--become
  penalties to the thief.

In this passage of ninety words more than seventy are words of one
syllable, and only one of the other eighteen--_transpires_--can baffle
the reader or listener even for a moment. The general idea in Emerson's
mind is expressed by a series of definite and picturesque comparisons.
"Be sure your sin will find you out," he said. "You commit the wicked
deed, creep, dodge, run away, come to your hiding place, climb the
ladder, and hope for escape. But nature or God--has laid a trap for
you. Your footprints are on the new-fallen snow; human eyes follow them
to the tell-tale ladder leading to your window; and you are caught. The
laws of the universe have combined against you in the snowfall, the
impress of your feet, and the weight of the ladder which you could not
raise."

There is, perhaps, no great difference in the language used by Emerson
and that in the paraphrase, but in the way the sentences are put
together Emerson's method of composing is once more illustrated.
Emerson suggests; the paraphrase explains. Emerson assumes that the
reader is alert and knowing; the paraphraser, that he is a little
inattentive and a little dull. Lowell again has summed up the whole
matter: "A diction at once so rich and homely as his I know not where
to match in these days of writing by the page; it is like home-spun
cloth-of-gold. The many cannot miss the meaning, and only the few
can find it." This is another way of saying, "Anybody can understand
him sentence by sentence, but the wiser the reader the more he can
understand of the meaning as a whole." What is said of his prose
applies in still greater degree to his poetry, as it does to all real
poetry.

About his poetry, however, because common agreement has made poetry
so much more dependent upon form and structure than prose, there has
been wide disagreement, swinging all the way from the strictures of
Matthew Arnold to the unqualified praise of George Edward Woodberry.
On the whole, a good deal of the argument has been beside the mark
because it has been a condemnation of Emerson for writing in an unusual
fashion rather than an appraisal of the actual value of his verse. In
"Merlin" Emerson stated his poetic thesis and in a measure threw out
his challenge:

      Thy trivial harp will never please
      Or fill my craving ear;
      Its chords should ring as blows the breeze,
      Free, peremptory, clear.
      No jingling serenader's art,
      Nor tinkle of piano strings,
      Can make the wild blood start
      In its mystic springs.
      The kingly bard
      Must smite the chords rudely and hard,
      As with hammer or with mace....

The natural result was that there is the closest of resemblances
between much of Emerson's verse and some of his most elevated prose.
His prose frequently contains poetic flashes; his verse not seldom is
spirited prose both in form and substance. In his Journal he sometimes
wrote in prose form what with a very few changes he transcribed into
verse, and in his essays there are many passages which are closely
paralleled in his poems.[15] They are the poems of a philosopher whose
first concern is with truth and whose truth is all-embracing. Emerson
wrote no narratives, no dramatic poems, no formal odes, almost no poems
for special occasions, and when he did write such as the "Concord Hymn"
he made the occasion radiate out into all time and space when the
embattled farmers "fired the shot heard round the world." The utter
compactness and simplicity of his verse made it at times not only
rugged but difficult of understanding. "Brahma," which bewildered many
of its first readers, is hard to understand only so long as one fails
to realize that God is the speaker of the stanzas. The poems are like
Bacon's essays in their meatiness and unadornment. Had they been more
strikingly different from the ordinary measures they would probably
have been both blamed and praised more widely. Few of his poems have
passed into wide currency, but many of his brief passages are quoted by
speakers who have little idea as to their source.

  [15] Such abstruse poems as the following are really expounded
       in corresponding essays: "Written in Naples" and "Written
       in Rome"--the essay on "History"; "Each and All"--the essay
       on "Compensation"; "The Problem"--the essays on "Art" and
       "Compensation"; "Merlin"--the essay on "The Poet"; "The
       World-Soul"--the essays on "Nominalist and Realist" and
       "The Over-Soul"; "Hamatreya"--the essay on "Compensation";
       "Musketaquid"--the essay on "Nature"; "Étienne de la Boéce"--the
       essay on "Friendship"; "Brahma"--the essays on "Circles" and
       "The Over-Soul."

      Not for all his faith can see
      Would I that cowled churchman be.

      Wrought in a sad sincerity.

      Earth proudly wears the Parthenon
      As the best gem upon her zone.

        ... if eyes were made for seeing,
      Then Beauty is its own excuse for being.

      Oh, tenderly the haughty day
        Fills his blue urn with fire!

Those who are fortunate enough to have known him--he died in 1882--all
agree that the real Emerson can be known only in part through his
printed pages. His life was after all his greatest work. He was serene,
noble, dignified. His portraits, at whatever age, testify to his fine
loftiness. Every hearer speaks of the music of his voice. Withal he
was friendly, full of humor, a good neighbor, a loyal townsman, and
an engaging host to those who were worthy of his hospitality. Charles
Eliot Norton, returning from Europe with him in 1873, when Emerson was
sixty-nine years old, wrote in his journal: "Emerson was the greatest
talker in the ship's company. He talked with all men, yet was fresh and
zealous for talk at night. His serene sweetness, the pure whiteness
of his soul, the reflection of his soul in his face, were never more
apparent to me." No single quotation nor any group of them can make
real to the young student that quiet refrain of reverent affection
which is sounded in the recollections of scores and hundreds who knew
him.

This almost unparalleled beauty of character is the final guarantee
of the line upon line of his poetry and the precept upon precept of
his prose. What he taught must be understood partly in the light
of himself and partly in the light of the years in which he was
teaching. Let us take, for example, his two chief contentions. First,
his insistence that the truth can be found only by searching one's
own mind and conscience. Testing this doctrine by an examination of
the man who preached it, one sees that he inherited a power to think
from generations of educated ancestry. He had an "inquiring mind"
and an inclination to use it. Furthermore, he inherited from this
same ancestry a complete balance of character. He did not tend to
selfishness or self-indulgence, and was free from thinking that the
"voice of God" counseled him to ignoble courses. Puritan restraint
was so ingrained in him that he needed no outward discipline and did
not see the need of it for others. Freedom for him was always liberty
under the law of right; and this freedom he championed in a period
and among a people who for two centuries had been accepting without
thought what the clergy had been telling them to believe. It had been
for them to do what they were told, rather than to think what they
should do. Now in Emerson's day there was a general restlessness. The
domination of the old church was relaxed, and all sorts of new creeds
were being propounded. The theory of democratic government was on
trial, and no man was quite certain of its outcome. The expansion of
Western territory and the development of the factory system were making
many quick fortunes and creating discontent with quiet and settled
frugality. Men needed to be told to keep their heads, to combine wisely
between the old and the new, and to accept no man's judgment but their
own. The "standpatter" would be left hopelessly behind the current of
human thought; the wild enthusiast would just as certainly run on a
snag or be cast up on the shore.

This led to the second of Emerson's leading ideas--that a man should
not be "warped clean out of his own orbit." Reasoning from the evident
working of a natural law in the universe, he was convinced that there
was a spiritual law which controlled human affairs. He was certain that
in the end all would be well with the world. It was his duty and every
other man's to be virtuous and to encourage virtue, but as the times
were "in God's hand" no man need actively fight the forces of evil. It
was the "manifest destiny" theory cropping out again, a belief easy
to foster in a new country like America, where wickedness could be
explained on the ground that in a period of national youth temporary
mistakes were sure to be committed,--and equally sure to be rectified.
"My whole philosophy," he said, "is compounded of acquiescence and
optimism." Hence there was more of sympathy than coöperation in
Emerson's attitude toward life. Like Matthew Arnold in these same
years, he distrusted all machinery, even the "machinery" of social
reform.

To some of his younger friends, and particularly to those who were more
familiar than he with the unhappy conditions in the older European
nations, Emerson's "acquiescence and optimism" seemed wholly mistaken.
We may return to Norton's comment (p. 215), which was unfairly
interrupted: "But never before in intercourse with him had I been
so impressed with the limits of his mind.... His optimism becomes a
bigotry, and though of a nobler type than the common American conceit
of the preëminent excellence of American things as they are, had
hardly less of the quality of fatalism. To him this is the best of
all possible worlds, and the best of all possible times. He refuses
to believe in disorder or evil." This comment is not utterly fair to
Emerson, but it represents the view of the practical idealist who feels
that for all Emerson's insistence on the value of learning from life,
he had drawn more from solitude than from society. One may quote with
caution what the pragmatic Andrew D. White said of Tolstoi:

  He has had little opportunity to take part in any real discussion
  of leading topics; and the result is that his opinions have been
  developed without modification by any rational interchange of thought
  with other men. Under such circumstances any man, no matter how
  noble or gifted, having given birth to striking ideas, coddles and
  pets them until they become the full-grown, spoiled children of
  his brain. He can see neither spot nor blemish in them, and comes
  virtually to believe himself infallible.

Those who most admire Emerson to-day have perhaps as much optimism
as he but very much less acquiescence. For certain vital things
have happened since he did his work. Time,--Emerson's "little gray
man,"--who could perform the miracle of continual change in life,
has done nothing more miraculous than making men share the burden of
creating a better world. Millions are now trying to follow Emerson's
instruction to retain their independence and not to lose their
sympathy, but they are going farther than he in expressing their
sympathy by work. They are fighting every sort of social abuse, as
Emerson's Puritan ancestors fought the devil; they are adopting
Emerson's principles and Bryant's tactics; they are subscribing to
Whittier's line:

      O prayer and action, ye are one.


                               BOOK LIST

  RALPH WALDO EMERSON. Centenary Edition. The Complete Works of Ralph
     Waldo Emerson. 1903-1904. 12 vols. Uncollected Writings. Essays,
     Addresses, Poems, Reviews, and Letters, by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
     1912. The chief works appeared in book form originally as follows:
     Nature, 1836; The American Scholar, 1837; An Address delivered
     before the Senior Class in Divinity College, Cambridge, 1838;
     Essays, 1841; Essays, Second Series, 1844; Poems, 1847; Nature,
     Addresses, and Lectures, 1849; Representative Men, 1850; English
     Traits, 1856; The Conduct of Life, 1860; May-Day and Other Pieces,
     1867; Society and Solitude, 1870; Letters and Social Aims, 1876;
     The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and Ralph Waldo Emerson,
     1883; Lectures and Biographical Sketches, 1884; Natural History of
     Intellect and Other Papers, 1893; Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
     with Annotations, 1909-1914.

     =Bibliography=

       A volume compiled by G. W. Cooke. 1908. Cambridge History of
         American Literature, Vol. I, pp. 551-566.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by James Elliot Cabot. A Memoir of Ralph
         Waldo Emerson. 1887. 2 vols.

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. Democracy in Emerson's Journals. _New
         Republic_, Vol. I, No. 4, pp. 25-26.

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. Emerson's Feeling toward Reform. _New
         Republic_, Vol. I, No. 13, pp. 16-18.

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. Emerson's Solitude. _New Republic_, Vol. III,
         pp. 68-70.

       BROWNELL, WILLIAM C. Emerson, in _American Prose Masters_. 1909.

       BURROUGHS, JOHN. Emerson. Birds and Poets. 1877.

       CHAPMAN, J. J. Emerson, Sixty Years After, in _Emerson and Other
         Essays_. 1898.

       Concord School of Philosophy. The Genius and Character of
         Emerson. Lectures at the Concord School of Philosophy. F. B.
         Sanborn, editor. 1885.

       EMERSON, EDWARD WALDO. Emerson in Concord. A Memoir. 1889.

       FIRKINS, O. W. Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1915.

       GARNETT, RICHARD. Life of Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1888.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in _Contemporaries_. 1899.

       HOLMES, OLIVER WENDELL. Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1885. (_A. M. L.
         Ser_.)

       JAMES, HENRY. Emerson. Partial Portraits. 1888.

       LOWELL, J. R. Mr. Emerson's New Course of Lectures, in _My Study
         Windows_. 1871.

       MAETERLINCK, MAURICE. Emerson, in _Sept Essais d'Emerson_. 1894.

       MORE, PAUL ELMER. The Influence of Emerson, in _Shelburne
         Essays. Ser. 1._ 1904. Cambridge History of American
         Literature, Vol. I, Bk. II, chap. ix.

       PAYNE, W. M. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in _Leading American
         Essayists._ 1910.

       SANBORN, F. B. Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Beacon Biographies.) 1901.

       SANBORN, F. B. The Personality of Emerson. 1903.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in _Poets of America_. 1885.

       STEPHEN, LESLIE. Emerson, in _Studies of a Biographer. Ser. 2._
         1902.

       WHIPPLE, E. P. Recollections of Eminent Men and Other Papers.
         1887.

       WILLIS, N. P. Emerson. Second Look at Emerson, in
         _Hurry-Graphs_. 1851.

       WOODBERRY, G. E. Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1907. (_E. M. L. Ser._)


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the introductions and conclusions of the essays of 1836, 1837,
and 1838 and note the poetical setting into which the essays are cast.
With these in mind read the foregoing comments on Emerson's poetry (pp.
213-215).

Compare the Emerson and Lowell essays on Shakespeare.

Compare any corresponding sections in Emerson's "Representative Men"
and Carlyle's "Heroes and Hero Worship."

Read Emerson's "English Traits" and Hawthorne's "Our Old Home" for a
comparison in the points of view of the two Americans.

Read any two or three essays for the nature element in them, the kind
of things alluded to, and the kind of significances derived from them.

Read any one or two essays for Emerson's allusions to science and
to the sciences, the kinds of allusions made, and the kind of
significances derived from them.

Follow the footnote on page 214 for a comparison of Emerson's
treatments of the same theme in prose and verse. Read also his poem
"Threnody" and the corresponding passage in the Journal for the winter
of 1842.

Read the essay on Goethe and see whether in Emerson's judgment of
Goethe as a German national character he agrees with or dissents
from the judgment of the twentieth century. Compare with Santayana's
estimate of Goethe in "Three Philosophical Poets."

A sense of the ecclesiastical and theological unrest in Emerson's day
can be secured through the reading of Mrs. Stowe's "Oldtown Folks,"
Charles Kingsley's "Yeast," Anthony Trollope's "Barchester Towers"; or
in poetry, in the poems of doubt of Arnold and Clough and Tennyson's
"In Memoriam."

Read "The American Scholar" with reference to the three influences
surrounding the scholar, and then read Wells's "The Education of Joan
and Peter." Are there any points in common? Compare the section on
Beauty in Emerson's "Nature" and Poe's discussion of beauty in "The
Poetic Principle" and "The Philosophy of Composition."



                               CHAPTER XV

                          HENRY DAVID THOREAU


Henry D. Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1817. His
grandfather, John Thoreau, a Frenchman, had crossed to America in
1773 and had married a woman of Scotch birth in 1781. His mother came
from a Connecticut family of much earlier settlement in America, but
his more striking traits seem to have passed to him from the father's
side. He was a normal, out-of-door, fun-loving boy, though with more
than average fondness for books. At Harvard, where he was a graduate
in 1837, he was able but unconventional. He was more or less out of
patience with the narrow limits of the course of study and the spirit
of rivalry among the boys which made them work quite as much for
class ranking as for the value of what they learned. Toward the end
of senior year this contempt for college honors came to a head. He
had been ill, and on his return, as the wise President Quincy put it,
revealed "some notions concerning emulation and college rank, which had
a natural tendency to diminish his zeal, if not his exertions." When
the faculty resented this, even to the extent of planning to withdraw
scholarship support, the president took up his cause and backed him for
his character rather than for his performance. It was appropriate that
Emerson should have written in his young townsman's behalf, for his own
experience had not been altogether different.

The story of Thoreau's remaining years is quickly told. He lived,
unmarried, a kind of care-free, independent life that in an uneducated
laboring man would be called shiftless. Many of his townsmen
disapproved of his eccentricities--his brusque manners, abrupt speech,
and radical opinions, and his unwillingness to work for money unless
he had an immediate need for it. Yet he was less irregular than he was
reputed to be. From 1838 to 1841 he conducted a very successful school
in Concord with his brother John, giving it up only with the failure of
John's health, and--in spite of Emerson's statement to the contrary--he
had throughout his life a hand in the family business first of
pencil-making and later of preparing fine plumbago for electrotyping.
However, he was not an ordinary routine man. Like Crèvecoeur, whom he
variously suggests, he was a surveyor and a handy man with all sorts
of tools. Ten years after graduation he wrote to the secretary of his
college class:

  I don't know whether mine is a profession, or a trade, or what
  not.... I am a schoolmaster, a private Tutor, a Surveyor, a Gardener,
  a Farmer, a Painter (I mean a House Painter), a Carpenter, a Mason,
  a Day-laborer, a Pencil-maker, a Glass-paper-maker, a Writer, and
  sometimes a Poetaster.

[Illustration: A LITERARY MAP OF CONCORD]

So as he was able to turn an honest penny whenever he needed one, and
as his needs were few, he worked at intervals and betweenwhiles shocked
many of his industrious townsfolk by spending long days talking with
his neighbors, studying the ways of plants and animals in the near-by
woods and waters, and occasionally leaving the village for trips to
the wilds of Canada, to the Maine woods, to Cape Cod, to Connecticut,
and, once or twice on business, to New York City. After college he
became a devoted disciple and friend of Emerson. From the outset
Emerson delighted in his "free and erect mind, which was capable of
making an else solitary afternoon sunny with his simplicity and clear
perception." They differed as good friends should, Emerson acquiescing
in laws and practices which he could not approve, and Thoreau defying
them. The stock illustration is on the issue of tax-paying. Emerson,
as a property-holder, paid about two hundred dollars and refused to
protest at what was probably an undue assessment. Thoreau, outraged at
the national policy in connection with the Mexican War, refused on
principle to pay his few dollars for poll tax and had to be shut up by
his good friend, Sam Staples, collector, deputy sheriff, and jailer,
who tried in vain to lend him the money. Emerson visited him at the
jail, where ensued the historic exchange of questions: "Henry, why are
you here?" "Waldo, why are you not here?"

The records of the rambles of the two men are many. In his memorial
essay on Thoreau, Emerson wrote:

  It was a pleasure and a privilege to walk with him. He knew the
  country like a fox or a bird, and passed through it as freely by
  paths of his own. He knew every track in the snow or on the ground,
  and what creature had taken this path before him.... On the day I
  speak of he looked for the Menyanthes, detected it across the wide
  pool, and on examination of its florets, decided it had been in
  flower five days.

Emerson's records after walks with Thoreau are full of wood lore. He
may have recognized the plants himself, but he seldom recorded them
except when he had been with his more expert friend.

In 1839 Thoreau, in company with his brother, spent "A Week on the
Concord and Merrimac Rivers," from which he drew the material published
ten years later in a volume with that title. It is a meandering record
of the things he saw during the seven days and the thoughts suggested
by them. In his lifetime the book was so complete a commercial failure
that after some years he took back seven hundred of the thousand copies
printed. In the meanwhile, from 1845 to 1847, he indulged in his
best-known experience--his "hermitage" at Walden Pond, a little way
out from Concord. This gave him the subject matter for his most famous
book, "Walden," published in 1854 and much more successful in point of
sales. These two volumes, together with a few prose essays and a modest
number of poems, were all that was given to the public during his
lifetime. Since his death a large amount of the manuscript he left has
been published, as shown in the list at the end of this chapter.

"Walden" is externally an account of the two years and two months of
his residence at the lakeside, but it is really, like his sojourn
there, a commentary and criticism on life. In the chapter on "Where I
lived and What I lived for" he wrote:

  I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front
  only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what
  it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not
  lived.... I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
  to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was
  not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into
  a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to
  be mean, why then, to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and
  publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it
  by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next
  excursion.

The actual report of his days by the lakeside can be separated from his
decision as to what they were worth. He went out near the end of March,
1845, to a piece of land owned by Emerson on the shore of the pond.
He cut his own timber, bought a laborer's shanty for the boards and
nails, during the summer put up a brick chimney, and counting sundry
minor expenses secured a tight and dry--and very homely--four walls and
ceiling for a total cost of $28.12-1/2. Fuel he was able to cut. Food
he largely raised. His clothing bill was slight. So that his account
for the first year runs as follows:

      House                         $28.12-1/2
      Farm, one year                 14.72-1/2
      Food, eight months              8.74
      Clothing, etc., eight months    8.40-3/4
      Oil, etc., eight months         2.00
                                     ---------
                                    $61.99-3/4

To offset these expenses he recorded:

      Farm produce sold             $23.44
      Earned by day labor            13.34
                                    ------
                                    $36.78

leaving $25.21-3/4, which was about the cash in hand with which he
started. The expense of the second year did not, of course, include the
heaviest of the first-year items--the cost of the house.

  I learned from my two years' experience that it would cost incredibly
  little trouble to obtain one's necessary food, even in this
  latitude.... In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience,
  that to maintain oneself on this earth is not a hardship but a
  pastime, if we will live simply and wisely; as the pursuits of the
  simpler nations are still the sports of the more artificial. It is
  not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his
  brow, unless he sweats easier than I do.

So much for the external account of the Walden years. The last words
of the quotation give a cue to the criticism with which he accompanies
the bare statement. This is contained chiefly in chapters I, "Economy"
(the longest, amounting to one fourth of the book); II, "Where I
lived and What I lived for"; V, "Solitude"; VIII, "The Village"; and
XVIII, "Conclusion." He contended that life had been made complex and
burdensome because of the mistaken notion that property was much to
be desired. This idea had led men to buy land and build houses, go
into trade, construct railways and ships, and to set up government and
rival governments, in order to protect the things men owned and those
they were buying and selling. Being who he was, he asserted boldly and
sometimes savagely a large number of charges against organized society
and the men who submitted to it. "The laboring man has not leisure for
a true integrity." "The civilized man's pursuits are not worthier than
the savage's." "The college student obtains an ignoble and unprofitable
leisure, defrauding himself." "Thank God, I can sit and I can stand
without the aid of a furniture warehouse." "Men say a stitch in time
saves nine, so they take a thousand stitches to-day to save nine
to-morrow." "Society is commonly too cheap." "Wherever a man goes, men
will pursue and paw him with their dirty institutions, and, if they
can, constrain him to belong to their desperate, odd-fellow society."
At this point he challenges comparison again with Crèvecoeur (see
p. 60). To the hearty immigrant of the eighteenth century the common
right to own the soil and to enjoy the fruits of labor seemed almost
millennial in view of the Old World conditions which denied these
privileges to the masses. To the New England townsman the ownership of
property was oppressive in view of the aboriginal right to traverse
field and forest without any obligation to maintain an establishment
or "improve" an acreage. In Crèvecoeur's France, where for centuries
the people had lived on sufferance, tenure of the land seemed an
inestimable privilege. Thoreau's America seemed so illimitable that
he apparently supposed land would always be "dirt cheap." Yet though
one prized property and the other despised it, they were alike in not
foreseeing the economic changes that the nineteenth century was to
produce.

The more positive side of Thoreau's criticism lies in the passages in
which he told how excellent was his way of living, how full of freedom
and leisure and how blest with solitude. There is no question that he
did live cheaply, easily, happily, and independently, nor is there
any question that the love of money and what it represents has made
life more of a burden than a joy for millions of people; but there is
this immense difference between the independence of Thoreau and the
independence of Emerson--that Emerson discharged his duties in the
family and in the state and that Thoreau protested at his obligations
to the group even while he was reaping the benefits of other men's
industry. At Walden he lived on land owned by Emerson, who bought it
and paid the taxes on it. The bricks and glass and nails in his shanty
and the tools he borrowed to build it with were the products of mines
and factories and kilns brought to him on the railroads and handled by
the shopkeepers whom he scorned. He was therefore in the ungraceful
position of being a beneficiary of society while he was carrying on a
kind of guerrilla warfare against it.

As a citizen and as a critic of society Thoreau lacked the sturdy
Puritan conscience which is the bone and sinew of Emerson's character,
and he lacked the "high seriousness" of his greater townsman. In
consequence, instead of being serenely self-reliant he was often
petulant; and instead of being nobly dignified he was nervously on
guard against deserved rebuke. Emerson frequently uttered and wrote
striking sentences which surprise one into pleased attention, Thoreau
came out with smart and clever sayings like an eager and half-naughty
boy who is trying to shock his elders. Almost the only rejoinder that
his protests called forth must have been disturbing to him, because
Oliver Wendell Holmes was so unruffled as he wrote his "Contentment."

"This is an interesting argument from a well-meaning young man," Holmes
seems to have said:

      Little _I_ ask, _my_ wants are few;

and then in playful satire he told about the hut--of stone--on Beacon
Street that fronts the sun, where he too could live content with a
well-set table, the best of clothes, furniture, jewelry, paintings, and
a fast horse when he chose to take an airing. This was the attitude of
many good-humored men and women of the world who were inclined to smile
indulgently at whatever came out of Concord.

However, a fair estimate of Thoreau and his case against the world
should steer the wise course between taking him too seriously and
literally and not taking him seriously at all, between Stevenson's
scathing attack in "Familiar Portraits" and Holmes's supercilious
"Contentment." If one elects to act as a prosecuting attorney, one can
say of him what Thoreau quotes a friend as saying of Carlyle, that he
"is so ready to obey his humour that he makes the least vestige of
truth the foundation of any superstructure, not keeping faith with his
better genius nor truest readers." But if one choose to value him as a
friend might, one can exonerate him in the light of a warning and a
confession of his own: "I trust that you realize what an exaggerator
I am,--that I lay myself out to exaggerate whenever I have an
opportunity,--pile Pelion upon Ossa, to reach heaven so." This is the
very point of his title-page inscription to "Walden": "I do not propose
to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in
the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up."
It is easy to compare Emerson and Thoreau to the disadvantage of the
younger man. But at one point they were quite alike, and that is in the
fact that both were more social in their lives than in their writings.
Thoreau was not an unmitigated anarchist, or hermit, or loafer. He was
more capable and industrious than he admits; he was devoted to his
family and a loyal friend. In his protest at the ways of the world
he was, in a manner, "whistling to keep his courage up," and often
his whistling became rather shrill. The greater part of "Walden" and,
indeed, of his writing as a whole is the work of a naturalist--the work
included in such chapters as "Sounds," "The Ponds," "Brute Neighbors,"
"Former Inhabitants," and "Winter Visitors," "Winter Animals," and "The
Pond in Winter." In the two generations since Crèvecoeur's "Letters
from an American Farmer" no one on this side the Atlantic had written
about the out of doors with such fullness and intimate knowledge. In
this respect, moreover, Thoreau, instead of being a student or imitator
of Emerson, was his guide and instructor. Although modern science owes
little to him and has corrected many of his findings, it recalls his
help to Agassiz in collecting specimens; and modern literature has
produced only one or two men, like John Burroughs and John Muir, who
write of nature with the same sympathy and beauty. The title of his
friend Channing's book "Thoreau: the Poet-Naturalist" tells the whole
story. He was fascinated by growing things. He could not learn enough
about their ways. The life in Concord's rivers, ponds, fields, and
woods by day and night and during the changing seasons was an endless
study and pleasure. In his journal he kept a detailed record of the
pageant of the year, which after his death was assembled in the four
volumes "Spring in Massachusetts," "Summer," "Autumn," and "Winter."
When he went to other parts of the country he carried his knowledge of
Concord as a sort of reference book. From Staten Island he wrote: "The
woods are now full of a large honeysuckle in full bloom, which differs
from ours.... Things are very forward here compared with Concord." In
the Maine woods he recognized his old familiars but in more massively
primitive surroundings than those at home. The sandy aridity of
Cape Cod furnished him daily with fascinating contrasts, in natural
surroundings and in their effect on the residents. On his trip to Mount
Washington he found forty-two of the forty-six plants he expected,
adding one to his list when, after falling and spraining his ankle, he
limped a few steps and said, "Here is the arnica, anyhow," reaching for
an _arnica mollis_, which he had not found before. And when he chose
to put into essay form some of the information he had gleaned, he was
exact without being technical and never for long repressed his lively
spirits.

The poet in him brought him back continually to the beauty in what he
saw. He did not particularly incline to philosophize about creation
like Emerson, the sheer facts of it meant so much more to him. Nor did
he care to expound the beauties of nature; he simply held them up to
view. Take, for example, this bit from "The Pond in Winter," in which
the last twelve words are quite as beautiful as the thing they describe:

  Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture amid the
  hills, I cut my way first through a foot of snow, and then a foot
  of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink,
  I look down into the quiet parlor of fishes, pervaded by a softened
  light as through a window of ground glass, with its bright sanded
  floor the same as in summer; there a perennial waveless serenity
  reigns as in the amber, twilight sky.

Or, again, this prose poem quoted in Channing's book:

  One more confiding heifer, the fairest of the herd, did by degrees
  approach as if to take some morsel from our hands, while our hearts
  leaped to our mouths with expectation and delight. She by degrees
  drew near with her fair limbs (progressive), making pretence of
  browsing; nearer and nearer, till there was wafted to us the bovine
  fragrance,--cream of all the dairies that ever were or will be: and
  then she raised her gentle muzzle toward us, and snuffed an honest
  recognition within hand's reach. I saw it was possible for his herd
  to inspire with love the herdsman. She was as delicately featured
  as a hind. Her hide was mingled white and fawn-color, and on her
  muzzle's tip there was a white spot not bigger than a daisy; and on
  her side turned toward me, the map of Asia plain to see.

The following passages fulfill the main tenets of the contemporary
Imagists:

  I am no more lonely than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud,
  or than Walden pond itself. What company has that lonely lake, I
  pray?... I am no more lonely than a single mullein or dandelion in a
  pasture, or a bean-leaf, or sorrel, or a horse-fly, or a bumble-bee.
  I am no more lonely than the Mill Brook, or a weather-cock, or the
  north star, or the south wind, or an April shower, or a January thaw,
  or the first spider in a new house.

  The wind has gently murmured through the blinds, or puffed with
  feathery softness against the windows, and occasionally sighed like
  a summer zephyr, lifting the leaves along, the livelong night. The
  meadow-mouse has slept in his snug gallery in the sod, the owl has
  sat in a hollow tree in the depth of the swamp; the rabbit, the
  squirrel and the fox have all been housed. The watch-dog has lain
  quiet on the hearth, and the cattle have stood silent in their
  stalls.... But while the earth has slumbered, all the air has been
  alive with feathery flakes descending, as if some northern Ceres
  reigned, showering her silvery grain over all the fields.

  No yard; but unfenced Nature reaching to your very sills. A young
  forest growing up under your windows, and wild sumachs and blackberry
  vines breaking through into your cellar; sturdy pitch-pines rubbing
  and creaking against the shingles for want of room, their roots
  reaching quite under the house. Instead of a scuttle or a blind blown
  off in the gale,--a pine tree torn up by the roots behind your house
  for fuel. Instead of no path to the front-yard gate in the Great
  Snow,--no gate--no front yard, and no path to the civilized world.

His manner of writing was so like Emerson's that the comments on the
style of the elder man (see pp. 212-215) apply for the most part to
that of the younger.

From the year of "Walden's" appearance to the end of Thoreau's life, in
1862, three matters are specially worthy of record. The first is that
recognition began at last to come. This probably did not hasten his
writing, but it released some of the great accumulation of manuscript
in his possession. Several of the magazines accepted his papers,
notably _The Atlantic Monthly_, which took eight of his articles,
although seven of them were not published until the two years just
after his death. The second is his eager friendship for two of the most
strikingly unconventional men of his day--Walt Whitman and John Brown
"of Harper's Ferry." Of Whitman he wrote, when few were reading him and
few of these approving:

  I have just read his second edition (which he gave me), and it has
  done me more good than any reading for a long time.... I have found
  his poems exhilarating, encouraging.... We ought to rejoice greatly
  in him. He occasionally suggests something a little more than human.
  You can't confound him with the other inhabitants of Brooklyn or New
  York. How they must shudder when they read him!... Since I have seen
  him, I find I am not disturbed by any brag or egoism in his book. He
  may turn out the least of a braggart of all, having a better right to
  be confident.

John Brown he had met in Concord only a few weeks before the Harper's
Ferry raid. Two weeks after the capture of Brown he delivered an
address on the issues, first in Concord and later in Worcester and in
Boston, defying his friends who advised him to silence. And after the
execution of the old Kansan he arranged funeral services in Concord.

  It turns what sweetness I have to gall, to hear, or hear of, the
  remarks of some of my neighbors. When we heard at first that he was
  dead, one of my townsmen observed that "he died as the fool dieth";
  which, pardon me, for an instant suggested a likeness in him dying to
  my neighbor living.... This event advertises me that there is such a
  fact as death,--the possibility of a man's dying. It seems as if no
  man had ever lived before; for in order to die you must first have
  lived.... I hear a good many pretend that they are going to die; or
  that they have died, for aught that I know. Nonsense! I'll defy them
  to do it. They haven't got life enough in them. They'll deliquesce
  like fungi; and keep a hundred eulogists mopping the spot where they
  left off. Only a half a dozen or so have died since the world began.

The final fact of these later years is the breakdown of his own health.
In spite of the moderation and sanity of his out-of-door habits his
strength began to fail him before he had reached what should be the
prime of life. From the ages of thirty-eight to forty he had to
exercise the greatest care, avoiding any heavy exertion. A severe cold
caught in 1860 developed soon into consumption, which carried him off
in the spring of 1862 at the age of forty-five.


                               BOOK LIST

  HENRY DAVID THOREAU. Works. The Riverside Edition. 1894. 10 vols.
     Walden Edition. 1906. 20 vols. (Of these volumes the last fourteen
     are the complete Journal, which includes in its original form what
     stands in Vols. V-VIII of the Riverside Edition, as Early Spring
     in Massachusetts, Summer, Autumn, Winter.) His works appeared
     in book form originally as follows: A Week on the Concord and
     Merrimack Rivers, 1849; Walden, 1854; Excursions, 1863; The Maine
     Woods, 1864; Cape Cod, 1865; Letters to Various Persons, 1865;
     A Yankee in Canada, 1866; Early Spring in Massachusetts, 1881;
     Summer, 1884; Winter, 1888; Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers, 1890;
     Essays and Other Writings, 1891; Autumn, 1892; Miscellanies, 1893;
     Familiar Letters, 1894; Poems, 1895.

     =Bibliography=

       A volume compiled by Francis H. Allen. 1908. Also Cambridge
         History of American Literature, Vol. II, pp. 411-415.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by Frank B. Sanborn. 1917.

       BENTON, JOEL. The Poetry of Thoreau. _Lippincot's_, May, 1886.

       BURROUGHS, JOHN. Indoor Studies. 1889.

       CHANNING, W. E. Thoreau, the Poet-Naturalist. 1873.

       EMERSON, R. W. Lectures and Biographical Sketches. Centenary
         Edition. 1903.

       FOERSTER, NORMAN. Humanism of Thoreau. _Nation_, Vol. CV, pp.
         9-12.

       LOWELL, J. R. My Study Windows. 1871.

       MACMECHAN, ARCHIBALD. Cambridge History of American Literature,
         Vol. II, Bk. II, chap. x.

       MARBLE, A. R. Thoreau: his Home, Friends, and Books. 1902.

       MORE, P. E. Shelburne Essays. _Ser. 1._ 1904.

       PATTEE, F. L. American Literature since 1870, chap. viii, sec.
         I. 1915.

       RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature, Vol. I. 1887.

       SALT, H. S. Life of Thoreau. 1890.

       SALT, H. S. Literary Sketches. 1888.

       SANBORN, F. B. Life of Thoreau. 1882. _(A.M.L.Ser._)

       SANBORN, F. B. Personality of Thoreau. 1901.

       STEVENSON, R. L. Familiar Studies of Men and Books. 1882.

       TORREY, BRADFORD. Friends on the Shelf. 1906.

       TRENT, W. P. American Literature. 1903.

       VAN DOREN, MARK. Henry David Thoreau: a Critical Study. 1916.
         Pertaining to Thoreau. S. A. Jones, editor. 1901. (Contains
         ten reprinted magazine articles on Thoreau.)


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read Emerson's "Woodnotes," Vol. I, pp. 2 and 3, for a passage which
admirably characterizes Thoreau, though it is said to have been written
without specific regard to him.

Read "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers," noting chiefly
either the passages on literature and men of letters or the passages of
a sociological interest. Is there a connecting unity in these passages?

Read "Economy" in "Walden" and the second and third of Crèvecoeur's
"Letters from an American Farmer" for the contrast in ideas on property
or for the contrast in ideas on the privileges and the obligations of
citizenship.

Read in "Walden" or "The Maine Woods" or "Cape Cod" or "A Yankee in
Canada" or "Excursions" for examples of exaggeration and of aggressive
self-consciousness. Is there any real likeness between Thoreau and
Whitman in these respects?

Read the characterizations of Thoreau in the essays by Robert Louis
Stevenson and James Russell Lowell and decide in which points they
should be modified.

Read any one or two essays for Thoreau's allusions to science and to
the sciences, the kind of allusions made, and the kind of significances
derived from them.

Read any two or three essays for the nature element in them, the kind
of things alluded to, and the kind of significances derived from them.



                              CHAPTER XVI

                          NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE


The thought of Hawthorne (1804-1864) as a member of the "Concord group"
should be made with a mental reservation. He did not belong to Concord
in any literal or figurative sense, he was not an intimate of those
who did, he lived there for only seven years at two different periods
in his career, and, wherever he lived, he was in thought and conduct
anything but a group man. Yet he was a resident there for the first
three years after his marriage (1842-1846), and he developed enough of
a liking for the town to return to it for the closing four years of his
life. What the town was by tradition and what it had become through
Emerson's influence made it the most congenial spot in America for
Hawthorne.

On the other hand, he lived far longer in Salem--all but twelve out of
his first forty-six years--and he belonged to the town of his heritage
both far more and far less. Through instinctive feelings which were
quite beyond his control he belonged to Salem from the bottom of his
heart.

  This old town of Salem--my native place, though I have dwelt much
  away from it, both in boyhood and maturer years--possesses, or did
  possess, a hold on my affections, the force of which I have never
  realized during my seasons of actual residence here.... And yet,
  though invariably happiest elsewhere, there is within me a feeling
  for old Salem, which, in lack of a better phrase, I must be content
  to call affection. The sentiment is probably assignable to the deep
  and aged roots which my family has struck into the soil. It is now
  nearly two centuries and a quarter since the original Briton, the
  earliest emigrant of my name, made his appearance in the wild and
  forest-bordered settlement, which has since become a city. And here
  his descendants have been born and died, and have mingled their
  earthy substance with the soil; until no small portion of it must
  necessarily be akin to the mortal frame wherewith, for a little
  while, I walk the streets. In part, therefore, the attachment which
  I speak of is the mere sensuous sympathy of dust for dust. Few of my
  countrymen can know what it is; nor, as frequent transplantation is
  perhaps better for the stock, need they consider it desirable to know.

Yet, strong as this unreasoned feeling was, to his mind the traditions
of Salem were repellent, and it offered him no attractions as a place
to live in.

  But the sentiment has likewise its moral quality. The figure of that
  first ancestor, invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky
  grandeur, was present to my boyish imagination, as far back as I can
  remember. It still haunts me, and induces a sort of home feeling for
  the past, which I scarcely claim in reference to the present phase
  of the town. I seem to have a stronger claim to a residence here on
  account of this grave, bearded, sable-cloaked and steeple-crowned
  progenitor ... than for myself, whose name is seldom heard and my
  face hardly known. He was a soldier, legislator, judge; he was a
  ruler in the Church; he had all the Puritanic traits, both good and
  evil. He was likewise a better persecutor.... His son, too, inherited
  the persecuting spirit.... I know not whether these ancestors of
  mine bethought themselves to repent, and ask pardon of heaven for
  their cruelties; or whether they are now groaning under the heavy
  consequences of them, in another state of being. At all events, I,
  the present writer, as their representative, hereby take shame upon
  myself for their sakes, and pray that any curse incurred by them--as
  I have heard, and as the dreary and unprosperous condition of the
  race, for many a long year back, would argue to exist--may be now and
  henceforth removed.

On this side Hawthorne's attitude toward Salem--but really toward New
England and all America--was like that of a man who has inherited debts
of honor which he feels bound to discharge, though he never would have
incurred them himself.

Hawthorne was born in this town of his affection and his distrust
on the Fourth of July, 1804. When he was four years old his father,
a shipmaster, died during a foreign voyage. The sobering effect of
this loss was increased by the way in which Mrs. Hawthorne solemnized
it, for she dedicated her life to mourning, not only withdrawing from
the outer world but even taking all her meals apart from her little
daughters and her son. An accident to the boy when he was nine years
old robbed him of healthy companionship with playmates by keeping
him out of active sports for the next three years. So he developed,
a bookish child in a muffled household. At this time he was reading
Shakespeare, Milton, and the eighteenth-century poets; later he was
to transfer allegiance to the romantic novelists. In his fifteenth
year the family lived together for several months at Raymond, Maine, a
"town" of a half-dozen houses on the shore of Sebago Lake. "There," he
told his publisher, James T. Fields, late in life, "I lived ... like a
bird of the air, so perfect was the freedom I enjoyed. But it was there
I first got my cursed habits of solitude." The need of proper tutoring
for college preparation caused his reluctant return to Salem, and he
was glad to escape from it again when he went back in Maine to Bowdoin
College at the age of seventeen. He was not at all eager for college,
but regarded it as an unavoidable step in his training. At the same
time he rejected the prospect of entering the church, the law, or the
practice of medicine, and even as a freshman he wrote to his mother,
"What do you think of my becoming an author, and relying for support
upon my pen?" With such a point of view he did no better work than
could have been expected. He was more interested in the reading of his
own choice than in the assigned studies. He was somewhat frivolous, and
even incurred discipline for minor offenses concerning which he wrote
to his mother with amused and amusing frankness. He finished a shade
below the middle of his class, and left Bowdoin with no more college
interest than he had brought to it.

Hawthorne's life for the twelve years which followed graduation
explains why he later referred so bitterly to his "cursed habits of
solitude." The household to which he returned from Bowdoin was almost
utterly unsocial. His mother's way of life had been adopted by his two
sisters as well. The four members of the family--one is tempted to
refer to them as "inmates"--saw very little of each other as the days
went on. The young author neither gave nor received open sympathy. His
writing, done in solitude, was not read to the rest. Conditions would
have been sufficiently abnormal if he had daily come back to this sort
of negative family experience from busy activity in the outer world,
but of the outer world he knew nothing. Not twenty people in all Salem,
he said, were even aware of his existence. If he left the house during
sunlight hours, it was to take long walks in the country. He swam in
the near-by sea before the town was stirring; he walked the streets in
the shadows of evening. His vital energy was drawn from reading and was
vented on his own manuscripts.

His writing during these years was done with patient persistence and
without any reward of applause from the public. His first novel,
"Fanshawe," was published in 1828 at his expense, was a failure,
and was subsequently suppressed--as far as the discouraged author
could recover the copies issued. From 1829 to 1836 _The Token_, an
annual put out by S. G. Goodrich of Boston, was his main channel of
publication, taking in these years about twenty-five stories and
sketches. Through Goodrich he had also found a market for his wares in
the _New England Magazine_, and toward the end of the period in the
_American Monthly Magazine_ of New York, and, best of all, with the
_Knickerbocker Magazine_, which was the periodical embodiment of the
Irving tradition and point of view. But though he was not unsuccessful
in getting his work into print, he enjoyed no reputation from it, for
only a few discriminating critics took any notice of it, and none of
these was fully aware of the author's output, since he wrote not under
one but under several pseudonyms. The lack of wholesome human contact
either at home or abroad told inevitably on Hawthorne's nerves and
temper--he had become abnormally thin-skinned--and resulted in the
touch of querulousness which the student finds from time to time in his
accounts of himself. And it also resulted in the deep self-distrust
and discouragement which grew steadily on him. "I have made a captive
of myself," he wrote finally to his old college classmate, Longfellow,
"and put me into a dungeon, and now I cannot find the key to let myself
out,--and if the door were open, I should be almost afraid to come out.
You tell me that you have met with troubles and changes. I know not
what these may have been, but I can assure you that trouble is the next
best thing to enjoyment, and that there is no fate in this world so
horrible as to have no share in either its joys or sorrows."

With 1837 the friendship of two college associates, Horatio Bridge, a
man of political influence and a large heart, and Franklin Pierce, soon
to be the president of the country, began to assert itself. Through
Bridge the publication of "Twice-Told Tales" was effected in 1838.
Through the influence these men were able to exert, Hawthorne was
appointed weigher and gauger in the Boston Customhouse. With this post
Hawthorne for the first time entered into active life, yet when he lost
it as a result of a change of administration in 1841 he was somewhat
relieved at the hardship. His engagement to Sophia Peabody led him next
to attempt a living solution through residence and partnership in the
Brook Farm enterprise during 1841. Again he was oppressed by having
the world too much with him, and in 1842, on his marriage, he settled
in the seclusion of Concord for his first residence of something over
three years. At the end of this time the needs of his growing family
made an assured income imperative, and once more through the political
influence at his command he was given a federal office, this time as
head of the customhouse at Salem. He held this position, like the one
at Boston, until a political reverse took it away from him in 1849.

Hawthorne was now nearly forty-six years of age. For the twelve years
following the publication of "Twice-Told Tales" he had accomplished
almost nothing in creative authorship. The human sympathy and
companionship of his marriage, much as it meant to him, was offset as
far as authorship went by the distracting need for money. With the loss
of the post at Salem the outlook was almost desperate. In the dark
hour, however, it appeared that his wife had saved a little from his
slender earnings, and in the following months he wrote what appeared,
through the friendly insistence of James T. Fields, as his first widely
recognized work--"The Scarlet Letter." The first edition of this was
exhausted in two weeks. The stimulus of popular attention encouraged
him to a rapidity of production wholly out of proportion to anything
in his earlier experience. In 1851 "The House of the Seven Gables"
was issued; in 1852 "The Blithedale Romance"; and in the meanwhile
various lesser narratives were produced. At this stage his political
friendships once more proved of value, and through the influence of
Pierce, now president, he was enabled to go abroad in the consular
service, first to Liverpool and then to Rome. His foreign residence
continued until 1860 and resulted, in authorship, in the last of his
great romances, "The Marble Faun," the book of English reminiscences,
"Our Old Home," and the "Italian Notebooks." With his return to America
he went back to Concord, but though he was quite free and undistracted
by financial worries, his major period as an author was over, and he
died in 1864, leaving behind him only the unimportant stories "Doctor
Grimshaw's Secret," "Septimius Felton," and the uncompleted "Dolliver
Romance."

In all the most obvious ways Hawthorne's literary output was a fruit
of his peculiar heritage and surroundings and his consequent manner of
life. A reading of his "American Notebooks," the product of the late
30's and the 40's, reveals how definite was the preparation for the
harvest to come. It was the gift of Hawthorne's imagination to shroud
with a kind of unreality characters and backgrounds that were drawn
from close observation. His interpretation made them his own, though
they were evidently derived from the life about him. This process
is in utter contrast, for example, with the invention of Poe. There
never were such individuals as Arthur Gordon Pym or Monsieur Dupin
or Fortunato or Roderick Usher. They are essentially human, but they
belong to no time or place. But Arthur Dimmesdale, Jaffrey Pyncheon,
Hollingsworth and Kenyon, Hester, Phoebe, Zenobia, and Miriam were
portraits, made in the image of people who had walked the streets
familiar to Hawthorne. Poe's settings are convincingly real. One can
visualize every detail of the City in the Sea or the ghoul-haunted
woodland of Weir, although one realizes that they never existed in
fact; but Boston, Salem, Brook Farm, and Rome supply actual backgrounds
for Hawthorne. Had the Puritans builded as securely as the Romans,
"The Scarlet Letter," "The House of the Seven Gables," and "The
Blithedale Romance" could be illustrated--as "The Marble Faun" often
has been--from photographs of surviving structures. Again, these actual
scenes and people were put into stories for which there were historical
bases, and the symbols around which they were constructed--like
the letter of scarlet and the many-gabled house--had been seen and
touched by the author. The Maypole of Merry Mount once stood on the
Wollaston hilltop, the great stone face is not yet weathered beyond all
recognition, and the legends of the Province House are amply documented.

In the Notebooks, particularly for 1835-1845, there is abundant record
of how Hawthorne's fancy was continually at play with the material
within his reach. He made definite entries as to past events and
vital associations of old buildings. He made detailed studies of odd
characters seen in his occasional little journeys into the world.
He even saved proper names, phrases, similes, epigrams which some
day might be of use: "Miss Asphyxia Davis," "A lament for life's
wasted sunshine," "A scold and a blockhead,--brimstone and wood,--a
good match," "Men of cold passions have quick eyes." But far more
significant than these explicit items are the many which are suggestive
of whole sketches or stories later to be written. Among these the
following may easily be identified: "To make one's own reflection in a
mirror the subject of a story"; "A snake taken into a man's stomach and
nourished there from fifteen years to thirty-five, tormenting him most
horribly. A type of envy or some other evil passion." "A person to be
in the possession of something as perfect as mortal man has a right to
demand; he tries to make it better, and ruins it entirely." "Some very
famous jewel or other thing, much talked of all over the world. Some
person to meet with it, and get possession of it in some unexpected
manner, amid homely circumstances." "The influence of a peculiar mind,
in close communion with another, to drive the latter to insanity."
"Pandora's Box for a child's story." "A person to be the death of his
beloved in trying to raise her to more than mortal perfection; yet this
should be a comfort to him for having aimed so highly and holily."
"To make a story out of a scarecrow, giving it odd attributes...." "A
phantom of the old royal governors, or some such shadowy pageant, on
the night of the evacuation of Boston by the British." What Hawthorne
attempted was essentially what Wordsworth did: to lift the material of
everyday life out of the realm of the commonplace.

In another and more important way Hawthorne's writings show the effect
of these long years of preparation, and that is in the self-reflection
in the majority of them, and especially in the four major romances.
In the quarter century between his graduation from Bowdoin and the
publication of "The Marble Faun," the most striking and the most
dangerous feature had been his long isolation and the resultant
effects of it. He had not withdrawn from the world in contempt; he had
insensibly drifted out of it. He was by no means indifferent to it; on
the contrary, he was increasingly sensitive to it. He needed to fill
his purse and he needed encouragement to write. Yet when he went out
into the market place he was cruelly ignored by many and shouldered
about by the hustling crowds, who were so used to their own rude ways
that they were often quite innocent of the affronts they put upon him.
It is a consequence of this unhappy experience that in the famous
romances and in many of the shorter sketches the narrative is woven
around two types--a shrinking, hypersensitive character and a rude or
insidious but always malevolent man who stands for the incarnation of
the outer world. For Hester and for Arthur Dimmesdale, for Hepzibah
and Clifford Pyncheon, for Priscilla and for Donatello, no complete
isolation is possible. No deed which involves them, whether committed
by themselves or by others, can be committed without regard to the
future. Always there is a knocking at the gate, as the outer world
insists on obtruding itself into the holiest of holies. And this
invasion is the more cruel as it is the less deserved. Chillingworth's
malign and subtle revenge on Arthur Dimmesdale is an exercise of poetic
justice. It is a horrible but not undeserved visitation. But Priscilla,
Donatello, and the two pitiful Pyncheons are innocent victims. Hepzibah
and Clifford are hounded out of life by a bland representative of the
law and the church, a wolf in the sheep's clothing of respectability.
Priscilla falls in love with a reformer, one of the type who Thoreau
complained pursued and pawed him with their "dirty institutions" and
tried to constrain him into their "desperate, odd-fellow society"; she
wilts at his touch. Donatello, the embodiment of innocent happiness, is
enmeshed in the web of society and destroyed by the fell spirit at its
center. Hawthorne never could have presented this view in its repeated
tableaux if he had not for years seen the concourse of life rush by
him, and for years made his successive efforts to reënter its currents.

The whole situation is summarized in Hawthorne's introduction of
Septimius Felton, hero of the last work of his pen. "I am dissevered
from it," he says in the opening scene. "It is my doom to be only a
spectator of life; to look on as one apart from it. Is it not well,
therefore, that, sharing none of its pleasures and happiness, I should
be free of its fatalities, its brevity? How cold I am now, while this
whirlpool is eddying all around me." Yet, a moment later he snatches
a gun and rushes out of the house to where he can see the British
redcoats passing the Concord house. He refrains from shooting, only to
be seen by a flanking party, and against his will is forced to fire
a deadly bullet. "I have seen and done such things," he says an hour
later, "as change a man in a moment.... I have done a terrible thing
for once ... one that might well trace a dark line through all my
future life." To this degree, then, Hawthorne's surroundings and his
own unfolding experience had supplied him with themes and materials.

Much of the remainder of his work had its source in his Puritan
inheritance. To this the already quoted passage on old Salem (p. 237)
bears witness. To this heritage is due in large measure the essential
gravity of his nature, which has been unfairly but suggestively
described as a compound of "seven eighths conscience and the rest
remorse"; and to this is partly attributable his absorption with the
presence and the problem of sin in the world. "The Scarlet Letter"
deals with its immediate effect on the transgressor; "The House of
the Seven Gables," with its effect on succeeding generations; "The
Blithedale Romance," with its blighting effect on the reformer, who
is selfish and heartless even in his fight against social wrong;
"The Marble Faun," with the basic reasons for the existence of evil.
Yet though the Puritan strain in him could determine the direction
of his thoughts, it could not determine their goal, for Hawthorne
recoiled from the Puritan acceptance of sin as a devil's wile to be
atoned for only through the sufferings of a mediator or the tortures
of the damned. He rejected the Calvinistic fear of eternal punishment
for the Miltonic conclusion that the mind is its own place, and of
itself can make a heaven of hell; at which point he was at one with
the Transcendentalists in substituting "for a dogmatic dread, an
illimitable hope." His indictment of the Puritans themselves was more
insistent than his charges against their theology. He condemned them
for their cruel intolerance and for the arid bleakness of their lives.
So he was at once a product of his ancestry and a living protest
against it.

But Hawthorne was more than a Puritan apostate; he was in accord with
most of the rising individualism of his day. He felt that as the result
of multitudinous changes in government, church, and industry, the
world had for the moment "gone distracted through a morbid activity"
and needed above all things a period of quiet in which to recover
its balance of judgment. So he distrusted the schemes of "young
visionaries," "gray-headed theorists," "uncertain, troubled, earnest
wanderers through the midnight of the moral world." Yet he acknowledged
that as long as the world could not be put to sleep, restlessness was
better than inertia. The radical Holgrave, in "The House of the Seven
Gables," is his most sympathetic portrait of young America. A colloquy
with Phoebe Pyncheon represents him as spokesman for the future, and
Phoebe as the voice of the placidly thoughtless present. Her remarks,
though brief, are quite as significant as his.

"'Just think a moment [he exclaims] and it will startle you to see what
slaves we are to bygone times,--to Death, if we give the matter the
right word!'

"'But I do not see it,' observed Phoebe.

"'For example then,' continued Holgrave, 'a dead man, if he happen to
have made a will, disposes of wealth no longer his own; or, if he die
intestate, it is distributed in accordance with the notions of men much
longer dead than he. A dead man sits on all our judgment seats; and
living judges do but search out and repeat his decisions. We read in
dead men's books! We laugh at dead men's jokes, and cry at dead men's
pathos!--We are sick of dead men's diseases, physical and moral, and
die of the same remedies with which dead doctors killed their patients!
We worship the living deity according to dead men's forms and creeds.
Whatever we seek to do, of our own free motion, a dead man's icy hand
obstructs us. Turn our eyes to what point we may, a dead man's white
immitigable face encounters them, and freezes our very heart! And we
must be dead ourselves before we can begin to have our proper influence
on our own world, which will then be no longer our world, but the world
of another generation with which we shall have no shadow of a right
to interfere. I ought to have said, too, that we live in dead men's
houses; as, for instance, this of the Seven Gables.'

"'And why not?' said Phoebe, 'so long as we can be comfortable in
them.'"

Properly interpreted, this conversation implies vigorous criticism
of both the youthful speakers. Holgrave's sweeping protests are too
drastic, but Phoebe's placid acquiescence is deadening. As if
Hawthorne were afraid his sympathy with Holgrave would not appear,
he goes on to say that in the course of time the youth will have to
conform his faith to the facts without losing his hopes for the future,
"discerning that man's best directed effort accomplishes a kind of
dream, while God is the sole worker of realities."

It was this breadth of view, combined with his technical gifts as a
teller of tales, that made Hawthorne a great artist; for no degree of
skill or cleverness can give lasting significance to the work of a man
who has not in spirit been taken up to a high mountain and shown the
uttermost kingdoms of the world. Granted a "philosophy of life" which
inspires a man to high endeavor and enables him to see the relation
between the things that are seen and are temporal and the things that
are not seen and are eternal, the creative artist need not be always
preaching a moral or adorning a tale. The implications that he finds in
his material and the abiding convictions he has about life and death
need no labeling. They appear as a man's character does, from his daily
talk and conduct. Let the romancer state this in his own words:

  When romances really do teach anything, or produce any effective
  operation, it is usually through a far more subtile process than
  the ostensible one. The author has considered it hardly worth his
  while, therefore, relentlessly to impale the story with its moral,
  as with an iron rod,--or, rather, as by sticking a pin through a
  butterfly,--thus at once depriving it of life, and causing it to
  stiffen in an ungainly and unnatural attitude. A high truth, indeed,
  fairly, finely, and skilfully wrought out, brightening at every step,
  and crowning the final development of a work of fiction, may add an
  artistic glory, but is never any truer, and seldom any more evident,
  at the last page than at the first.

Now and again Hawthorne forgot this, and stopped to expound and
explain, which was unnecessary. And now and again he used his powers to
vent his feelings by contemptuous portrayal of living people, holding
them up to scorn, which was unworthy. But even though he lacked the
Olympian serenity of the supreme story-tellers, he wrote as a wise
man, and he wrote surpassingly well. It remains, then, to speak of his
workmanship.

In the preface to "The House of the Seven Gables," from which the above
passage is quoted, Hawthorne discusses his methods as a romancer: how
he combines materials at hand, but makes them present the truth of
the human heart not as the realist but under circumstances of his own
choosing and with a "slight, delicate and evanescent flavor" of the
marvelous. And this shadowy unreality, he points out, comes from the
connection of "a bygone time with the very present that is flitting
away from us. It is a legend, prolonging itself, from an epoch now gray
in the distance, down into our own broad daylight, and bringing along
with it some of its legendary mist." It is a cue to every one of the
longer tales and to most of the short ones. Always the outreaching hand
of the past plucking at the garments of the present,--the traditions of
an elder day or the consequences of a deed committed before the opening
of the story.

In a misty, twilight atmosphere, starting where stories frequently
end,--with a momentous act already performed,--Hawthorne's romances
proceed almost by formula. Each is dominated by a physical symbol,
itself a suggestion of some connection with the past, continually
recurrent, always half mysterious. Each is told in terms of a very
small group of characters, of whom three usually emerge farthest
from the shadows. The best of his longer works are not put into the
"well-made plot" strait-jacket; and on this point Mrs. Hawthorne's
testimony is on record that the plots grew out of the people instead
of being imposed upon them. Each is made up mostly of analytic
interpretation of moods, and each is garnished with many a meditative
commentary on the story-text. Finally, each and all of Hawthorne's
writings are characterized by a scrupulous nicety of style, a
leisureliness of sentence, a precision of diction that become the
courtly manners of the old régime. He was as simple as formality will
allow, as formal as simplicity will permit. If we are to liken him to
other writers, it will not be to any contemporaries, not even to Mr.
Howells. The comparison will take us back to Goldsmith or Jane Austen
or to those passages in Thackeray which are most reminiscent of the
elder day. Moreover, the book style of Hawthorne was something quite
apart from his letter writing, which had a masculine directness and
vigor. He was a late member of Irving's generation. When he wrote
he "took his pen in hand" to address "the gentle reader." All such
literary amenities are now the oldest of old fashions; but when they
were the vogue Hawthorne was a master of them.


                               BOOK LIST

  NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. Works. There have been eighteen editions of
     Hawthorne's Collected Works between 1871 and 1904 in from 6 to 18
     vols. These appeared in book form originally as follows: Fanshawe,
     1828; Twice-Told Tales, 1837; Grandfather's Chair, 1841; Famous
     Old People, 1841; Biographical Stories for Children, 1842; Mosses
     from an Old Manse, 1846; The Scarlet Letter, 1850; True Stories,
     1851; The House of the Seven Gables, 1851; A Wonder Book, 1851;
     The Blithedale Romance, 1852; Tanglewood Tales, 1853; The Marble
     Faun, 1860; Our Old Home, 1863; American Notebooks, 1868; English
     Notebooks, 1870; French and Italian Notebooks, 1871; Septimius
     Felton, 1871; The Dolliver Romance, 1876; Doctor Grimshawe's
     Secret, 1883.

     =Bibliography=

       A volume compiled by Nina E. Browne. 1905. Also Cambridge
         History of American Literature, Vol. II, pp. 415-424.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       BRIDGE, HORATIO. Personal Recollections of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
         1893. (Based on three papers in _Harper's Magazine_,
         January-March, 1892.)

       BROWNELL, W. C. American Prose Masters. 1909.

       CONWAY, M. D. Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1890.

       ERSKINE, JOHN. Leading American Novelists. 1910. Cambridge
         History of American Literature, Vol. II, Bk. II, chap. xi.

       FIELDS, J. T. Hawthorne. 1876.

       FIELDS, MRS. ANNIE. Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1899.

       HAWTHORNE, JULIAN. Hawthorne and his Circle. 1903.

       HAWTHORNE, JULIAN. Nathaniel Hawthorne and his Wife. 1885.

       HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. American Notebooks.

       HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. English Notebooks.

       HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. French and Italian Notebooks.

       JAMES, HENRY. Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1879. (_E.M.L. Ser._)

       LATHROP, GEORGE P. A Study of Hawthorne. 1876.

       LATHROP, ROSE HAWTHORNE. Memories of Hawthorne. 1897.

       TICKNOR, CAROLINE. Hawthorne and his Publisher. 1913.

       WOODBERRY, G. E. Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1902. (_A.M.L. Ser._)


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the title essay in "Mosses from an Old Manse" and "The
Custom-House" prefatory to "The Scarlet Letter" for Hawthorne's
analysis of his feeling for the Puritan heritage.

With these in mind read "Young Goodman Brown," "Governor Endicott and
the Red Cross," and "The May-Pole of Merry Mount."

Survey the "Mosses from an Old Manse" or "Twice-Told Tales" for the
proportion of stories which are written against evident New England
background.

Identify the passages from "The American Notebooks," cited on page 243,
with the complete works for which they furnished cues.

Read "The House of the Seven Gables" for the light it throws on the
history of the Hawthorne family in the earlier generations.

Read any one of the four great romances or the three later ones with
reference to the constant recurrence of sin as a theme.

Compare this treatment of sin in Hawthorne with the treatment of crime
in Poe.

Hawthorne is chiefly interested in individual experience. Read one of
his romances for clear evidence of his social consciousness.

Discuss his success in any given story in connecting "a bygone time
with the very present that is flitting away from us."

The use of symbols in the development of his long stories is obvious.
How far does he rely upon the symbol in any one of his more effective
shorter stories?

Glance over several short stories to see if any can be found in which
action is not subordinated to its effect on the character who commits
it.

Read a selected chapter or two, such as the earlier ones in "The
House of the Seven Gables," for observation on Hawthorne's style,
particularly on the quiet play of humor in it.



                              CHAPTER XVII

                        JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER


Whittier (1807-1892) stands in decided contrast both in upbringing and
in career with the other great New England contemporaries. All the
rest were college men, graduates of either Bowdoin or Harvard between
1821 and 1838, and all were familiar from youth with the world of
books. Whittier was a farm boy, sprung from untutored farming stock,
and in the way of formal schooling had only two terms at Haverhill
Academy, paid for with his own hard earnings. He was no less retiring
in disposition than the Concord group, yet he was early drawn into
the antislavery conflict, and through all his middle years (from 1833
to 1865) he was an untiring man of affairs. Emerson's interest in
politics ended with the symbolical value of the Concord town meeting;
Thoreau's was registered in his spectacular protest (see p. 224) at a
pernicious national policy; Hawthorne's was limited to the performance
of duties in posts at the disposal of his political friends; but
Whittier undertook the achievement of national ideals through the
adoption of wise political measures. The same American to whom Emerson
spoke as a thinker Whittier addressed as a voter. In consequence of
this his immediate social value became greater, though the verse
written in behalf of reform was inferior.[16] In spite of his active
rôle in public life, however, Whittier was very much less a man of the
world than Lowell, Holmes, or Longfellow. These latter were all men of
family, with advantages of college training and foreign travel. They
were conscious members of the intellectual aristocracy, bred in polite
usages and steeped in polite literature. When Whittier came to Boston
for his first brief editorial experience it was not to the Boston of
the charmed circle to which they and their like belonged. It was not
until he had won independent fame that he became their honored friend.
By birth he represented an old and stalwart element in New England
life--the comparatively unlettered pioneers who made up the silent
majority of the population.

  [16] See his own acknowledgment in the "Proem" to the poems of 1842.

He was in every sense an Essex County man. He was born in 1807 in the
township of Haverhill, to which his ancestors had come in 1638, on the
farm they had owned since 1647, in the house they had built in 1688. He
lived in the little three-mile strip between the Merrimac and the New
Hampshire line for all his eighty-five years, first at his birthplace,
and for the last fifty-six years at Amesbury, a few miles nearer the
Atlantic. He thus became in a way an embodiment of local tradition. He
felt the strong attachment to his small part of the world that develops
in a group whose memories and interests are almost wholly local, and he
felt an allegiance to the soil that could respond to Emerson's "Earth
Song":

      They called me theirs,
      Who so controlled me;
      Yet every one
      Wished to stay, and is gone,
      How am I theirs,
      If they cannot hold me,
      But I hold them?

As a consequence he described the homely beauties that surrounded him,
recorded the traditions of the region, and quite unconsciously, as his
rimes often prove, wrote in its dialect (see p. 263). His sense of the
reality of his state's division into counties is best indicated in the
stirring roster which he calls in "Massachusetts to Virginia" (ll.
67-80).

Two other fundamental conditions prevailed in Essex County, though no
more strongly than throughout the entire state. It was a time and place
of splendid opportunities. In the colonial centuries, hardly more than
completed when Whittier was born, pioneer America had barely coped
with the elementary problems of settlement. There still remained almost
everything that had to do with the alleviations of life--with the nicer
refinements, material, intellectual, and æsthetic. For any young man
who could combine the will to do with some degree of action, the chance
for achievement was exhilarating,--as the Essex boys Garrison and
Whittier were to prove. The religious impulse of the day was closely
related to these other stimulating conditions. It had the momentum of
the generations behind it and the stir of the nineteenth century in it.
It was old like the country and new like the period. It was dedicated
to a high purpose, but its purpose was more than the personal salvation
of the communicant; it was the salvation of Church and State, the
bringing of God's kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven."

Whittier grew up, then, in simple and unlettered surroundings,
comparable to those of Carlyle, much more propitious than those of
Lincoln. Like many another boy of the time when "child hygiene"
was undreamed of, he probably suffered from insufficient clothing,
unsuitable food, and undue exertion on the farm. At any rate his vigor
was impaired and he matured, as often has happened, with just the
fragility of health that responded to enforced care and resulted in
long life. The reading supplied at home was arid,--a few narratives of
frontier adventure, a few religious books, "the Bible towering o'er the
rest," and a number of biographies.

      The Lives of Franklin and of Penn,
      Of Fox and Scott, all worthy men.
      The Lives of Pope, of Young, and Prior,
      Of Milton, Addison and Dyer;
      Of Doddridge, Fénelon and Gray,
      Armstrong, Akenside and Gay.
      The Life of Burroughs, too, I've read,
      As big a rogue as e'er was made;
      And Tufts, who, I will be civil,
      Was worse than an incarnate devil.

Poetry came to Whittier through the chance visit of a Yankee gypsy,
"'a pawky auld carle' of a wandering Scotchman. To him I owe my first
introduction to the songs of Burns. After eating his bread and cheese
and drinking his mug of cider he gave us Bonny Doon, Highland Mary,
and Auld Lang Syne." When the boy was fourteen his first schoolmaster,
Joshua Coffin, brought a volume of Burns one day to the house and
was persuaded to leave it for a while as a loan. With that closer
introduction to the world of poetry Whittier's own verse-writing began.

At eighteen he composed the first bit that was destined to appear in
print. It was an imitation of Moore, "The Exile's Departure," which was
sent without his knowledge to William Lloyd Garrison's _Free Press_
at Newburyport and published in June, 1826. The young editor, himself
only twenty-one, was greatly impressed by the promise of these lines
and hunted up the author, coming to the farm just when the embarrassed
youth was hunting out a stolen hen's nest under the barn. Garrison's
interest was of the greatest importance. Whittier was encouraged
to write the nearly one hundred pieces of verse which appeared in
the _Haverhill Gazette_ in 1827 and 1828, and to earn by shoemaking
the money necessary for his first summer term in the new Haverhill
Academy in 1827. The little learning he thus secured he converted by
school-teaching into enough to take him for another term the next year,
and then in 1828, through the continuing influence of Garrison, he was
given his first position as an editor, on the _American Manufacturer_
in Boston. He was still a simple country boy, and his published
address, "to the young mechanics of New England," suggests that he had
not been encouraged to forget this fact during his first four months in
town.

  He has felt, in common with you all, the injustice of that illiberal
  feeling, which has been manifested toward mechanics by the wealthy
  and arrogant of other classes. He has felt his cheeks burn, and his
  pulse quicken, when witnessing the open, undisguised contempt with
  which his friends have been received--not from any defect in their
  moral character, their minds, or their persons, but simply because
  they depended upon their own exertions for their means of existence,
  and upon their own industry and talents for a passport to public
  favor.

He held his post here only from January to August, 1829, when he was
summoned home by his father's illness. Editorship of the _Haverhill
Gazette_ followed for the first half of 1830, when he was called to
the _New England Review_ in Hartford, Connecticut. This position he
occupied with one interruption until the end of 1831, at which time he
took his leave of journalism.

He was twenty-four years old--in the restless period between youth and
real manhood. He had known little but hardship and had come out of
it with impaired health. There was little to cheer him in the tragic
career of Burns, in the almost desperate enthusiasm of Garrison, or in
the cynicism of Byron, to which he had lately become subject. To cap
all, he had been "crossed in love." He could not even have the grim
comfort of realizing that he was passing through a youthful phase when
he wrote to a friend:

  Disappointment in a thousand ways has gone over my heart, and left it
  dust. Yet I still look forward with high anticipations. I have placed
  the goal of my ambitions high--but with the blessing of God it shall
  be reached. The world has at last breathed into my bosom a portion
  of its own bitterness, and I now feel as if I would wrestle manfully
  in the strife of men. If my life is spared, the world shall know me
  in a loftier capacity than _as a writer of rhymes_. There--is not
  that boasting?--But I have said it with a strong pulse and a swelling
  heart, and I shall strive to realize it.

This temporary abandonment of poetry was after all only an evidence
of his regard for it. With all the other young writers of his day, he
was hoping for new achievement in American literature and wondering in
the back of his mind if he were not to be a contributor to it. At the
moment Bryant had turned to journalism the New England group were not
yet articulate, and the call of politics was loud. "There was nowhere
in America a writer of verse with more immediate promise than Whittier,
[yet] he was a sick man in the old house at the back of Job's Hill,
disgusted with poetry and planning how he could best get to Congress."

Once more Garrison's influence was to determine him. The general
inclination toward humanitarian reform had stirred him to the
establishment of the _Liberator_, and when he declared, "I am in
earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not excuse--I will not retreat
a single inch--AND I WILL BE HEARD," he found a natural ally
in Whittier. The great step came in 1833 with the poet's publication
at his own expense of the pamphlet "Justice and Expediency," with
its wider circulation through reprints by sympathizers, with the
controversial sequels, and with his share in the founding of the
American Anti-Slavery Society. In the years to come he said, "I set a
higher value on my name as appended to the Anti-Slavery Declaration
of 1833, than on the title-page of any book." It was the deepest test
of courage. In the first place it meant that a sensitive young poet
who had already felt the injustice of the conservative classes must
lay himself open to their contempt and ridicule. It was a bitter time
to do this, for never was a day when the miscellaneous inclination
to reform offered so great an array of amusing causes and champions.
Emerson's derisive list, "Madmen, madwomen, men with beards, Dunkers,
Muggletonians, Come-outers, Groaners, Agrarians, Seventh-Day-Baptists,
Quakers, Abolitionists, Calvinists, Unitarians and Philosophers," is
evidence of the degree to which the general idea of reform had been
discredited even in the most liberal minds. For there is no doubt that
many of the projects were foolish or that the hopes reposed in them as
social cure-alls were ridiculous. But the adoption of the abolition
cause involved far more than ridicule--nothing less than the completest
disapproval of most good citizens. Considered in the large, lawyers
and clergymen are conservatives by profession, deeply committed to
the past; and here was slavery sanctioned in the law and the gospel.
The prosperous merchant and banker are never markedly eager for a
change from the conditions which have fostered their prosperity; and
here was a whole economic system, from the plantations of the South
to the financial houses of Wall Street and State Street, erected on
a foundation of slave labor. According to Emerson cotton thread held
the Union together. Men might devote their lives to the substitution
of hooks and eyes for buttons or the adoption of a vegetarian diet,
and get their pay in laughter, but when they threatened to disturb
the industrial system they were pelted and hated and cursed. All this
Whittier foresaw when he followed his own counsel of later years,
"My lad, if thou wouldst win success, join thyself to some unpopular
but noble cause." The history of his participation in the abolition
movement does not belong to such a chapter as this except for a record
of how he used his literary powers for the good of the cause, and for a
comment on the kind of poetry that inevitably resulted from such use.

Between 1831 and 1833 Whittier had become intelligently interested
in politics; indeed, had he been a few months older in the autumn of
1832 it is possible that he might have been elected to Congress as a
compromise candidate when Caleb Cushing was unable to secure the seat
for himself, though strong enough to prevent the choice of an opponent.
The young poet had thus learned a good deal about the value of public
opinion and about the power of publicity in molding and wielding it.
When the American Anti-Slavery Society was formed he had at his hand
a great megaphone that could project his voice to the far districts
of the country. As a writer of propagandist verse he was endowed with
what in an orator would be a "natural speaking voice." His convictions
were deep and sincere, he had an easy command of simple rhythms, and
he was used to thinking and speaking in the language of the people. He
was in no danger of falling into academic subtlety or erudition. So,
like his greatest American predecessor in this field--Freneau (see pp.
72-77)--he spoke again and again and always with telling effect.

As a good journalist and rhetorician he made his issues plain
and simple--much simpler in fact than they really were, avoiding
embarrassing qualifications. He appealed to the Northerners as a
people unanimously opposed to human bondage and not as a half-hearted
and divided group. In a generation when the sense of statehood was
infinitely stronger than it is now he assumed a high level of altruism
in Massachusetts, while he stimulated a sense of state resentment
against Virginia or South Carolina. With the memories of the Revolution
refreshed by a series of recent semicentennials, he employed the
conventional language of protest against tyranny; the antislavery
verses resound with vituperative allusions to chains, fetters, yokes,
rods, manacles, and gyves, with Scriptural idiom and with scorn for
the repudiation of Revolutionary principles of freedom. In the opening
lines of "The Crisis" he was skillfully suggestive by his paraphrase
of the missionary hymn "From Greenland's Icy Mountains," and in the
"Letter from a Missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South,
in Kansas to a Distinguished Politician" he turned to contempt the
perversion of the Scriptures in defense of slavery.

      "Go it, old hoss!" they cried, and cursed the niggers--
      Fulfilling thus the word of prophecy,
      "Cursed be Canaan."

All this was justifiable, though it frequently was anything but high
art. At times, however, the heat of passion led Whittier to write
lines for which there was little or no excuse. His disappointment at
Webster's famous "Seventh of March" compromise speech in 1850 led him
to the extreme of reproach which was felt by most of the North--an
extreme from which he shared the common reaction of later years and for
which he made the manly atonement of "The Lost Occasion," moved by
"the consciousness of a common inheritance of frailty and weakness."
The lowest level of his war verse is reached in the most familiar
"Barbara Frietchie." This has all the attributes that are usually to
be found in popular favorites. It is conventional in form, easily
intelligible, a narrative of picturesque tableaux, and capped with an
applied moral. The only charge that can be fairly brought against it
is, however, a fundamental one--that it is essentially false to the
facts. The middle third of the poem that has to do explicitly with
Stonewall Jackson is partly libelous and partly ridiculous. Jackson
was an honest and devoted man, but he is represented as coming through
the town like a stock-melodrama villain, blushing with remorse at the
challenge of Barbara and capping the climax with a burst of cheap and
unsoldierly rhetoric. No doubt it expressed at the moment what the
passions of war could lead even a gentle Quaker to believe; no doubt
also it was good war journalism; but granting these concessions, it
stands as a deplorable evidence of the depths to which noble talents
can be degraded in the times that try men's souls.

"The Waiting," a poem of 1862, is in the loftier vein of one who does
not reënforce himself through disparagement of his enemies. It is
a lament of unfulfilled endeavor in behalf of an ideal cause. As a
really great lyric should be, it is both personal and general in its
application. It expresses the despondency of the enfeebled and aging
poet that he could not join "the shining ones with plumes of snow" in
the good fight; and in its reference to "the harder task of standing
still" it alludes not only to his resignation at the moment but also to
the patient policy which in former years had estranged the extremest
abolitionists from him. It also must have been an immediate source of
consolation to thousands who have been confronted by urgent duties
they could not perform; while at the same time in a broader way it has
expressed the faith of "Ulysses" and "Abt Vogler," of "In Memoriam"
and "Saul" and "Asolando," that "good but wished with God is done."

Like Freneau (see pp. 71-81), but to a more marked degree, Whittier
was most popular at first for his journalistic, controversial poems,
though his most permanent work has nothing to do with either noble or
ignoble strife. He followed the example of Burns, who inspired his
first literary passion, in writing simple lyrics and narratives of his
own countryside. These included many of the legends of Boston, like
"Cassandra Southwick," of Hartford; like "Abraham Davenport," or of
his beloved district north of Boston; like "The Wreck of Rivermouth,"
"The Garrison of Cape Ann," and "Skipper Ireson's Ride." As a rule he
was not inclined to tell stories without some clear moral implication,
and all too often he expounded this implication, sermon-wise, at the
end. Thus he tells with dignity and fine effect the story of the Indian
specters of Cape Ann, who were finally driven away by the prayers
of the devout garrison after repeated volleys from their musketry
had failed. In eighty lines the tale is told; an added stanza calls
attention to the fact that there is a moral in the ancient fiction;
and two more in a sort of sub-postscript indulge in a final burst of
poetical exegesis. "Skipper Ireson," the best of Whittier's ballads, is
no less moralistic, but is done with more art, for the ethical point is
developed within the account instead of being tacked on after it.

In poems such as "Hampton Beach," "The Lakeside," "The Last Walk in
Autumn," and "At Eventide" Whittier pictures the nature surroundings
of his long lifetime; and in a generous succession, from "Memories" of
1841 to "In School-Days," of nearly thirty years later, he takes his
readers along the borderlands of autobiography. Preëminent among his
recollections of persons and places is "Snow-Bound." The snowstorm,
which Emerson celebrated as a thing in itself, Whittier adopted as the
background for a winter idyl. The "Flemish pictures of old days" which
he drew of his Haverhill homestead were annotated in great detail by
the poet, but their virtue lies not so much in the fact that they are
true to a given set of conditions, as that they are essentially true
to the rural life of Whittier's New England--just as the pictures in
"The Cotter's Saturday Night" are true to the Scotland of Burns, and
the pictures of "The Deserted Village" to the landlord-ridden Ireland
of Goldsmith. And to the attentive reader the contrasts between the
peasant life of Great Britain and the nearest thing to it that can be
found in America are abiding witnesses to the practical virtues of a
democracy. In this simple idyl, written with "intimate knowledge and
delight," Whittier combined truth and beauty as in no other of his
poems.

For summarized criticism of Whittier's poetry there are few better
passages than his own "Proem" to the collected poems of 1849 and
the comment in Lowell's "Fable for Critics," of the preceding year.
Whittier acknowledges the lack in his lines of "mystic beauty, dreamy
grace" or of psychological analysis converted into poetry; Lowell
confirms the judgment with

      Let his mind once get head in its favorite direction
      And the torrent of verse bursts the dams of reflection,
      While, borne with the rush of his metre along,
      The poet may chance to go right or go wrong,
      Content with the whirl and delirium of song.

Whittier lays his best gifts on the shrine of freedom with an avowal of
his love for mankind and his hearty and vehement hatred of all forms of
oppression, and Lowell properly qualifies the value of these gifts with
the statement that the Quaker's fervor has sometimes dulled him to the
distinction between "simple excitement and pure inspiration." Whittier
deprecates the harshness and rigor of the rhythms which beat "Labor's
hurried time, or Duty's rugged march," but Lowell says that at his best
the reformer-poet has written unsurpassable lyrics. And both pronounce
strictures on his rimes which have been conventionally repeated by most
of the later critics who have commented on them at all.

Many of Whittier's apparently false rimes, however,--as the author of
the "Biglow Papers" should have recognized--are perfect if uttered
according to the prevailing pronunciation of his district. Lowell
passes for a scrupulous dialect expert when he writes, "This heth my
faithful shepherd ben," but Whittier is derided for allowing the same
final verb to rime with "Of all sad words of tongue or pen," whereas
the sole difference is that one recognized the pronunciation in his
spelling and the other took it for granted. If Whittier had employed
Lowell's method, in transcribing "Barbara Frietchie," for example, he
would have written,

      Quick, as it fell, from the broken sta'af
      Dame Barbara snatched the silken sca'af,

and he would have concluded with

      Peace and odda and beauty drawr
      Reound thy symbol of light and lawr;

      And evva the stahs above look deown
      On thy stahs below in Frederick teown!

For the _ou_ sounds belong to Essex County, and all the others to
Boston and even to hallowed Cambridge. False rimes Whittier wrote in
abundance, but by no means all of the apparently bad ones should be
condemned at first glance.

Until the publication of "Snow-Bound" in 1866 Whittier's verse, though
widely circulated, had brought him in but little money return. For
twenty years, he later recalled, he had been given the cold shoulder
by editors and publishers; but as the hottest prejudices began to wane
they could no longer afford to neglect his manuscripts, for these
had in them the leading characteristics of "fireside favorites," the
only sort of poetry that is always certain of the sales to which no
publisher is indifferent. In the first place, their form is simple;
common words and short sentences are cast in conventional rhythms with
frequent rime. They are therefore easy to commit to memory. In content
they are easy to understand, not given to subtleties of analysis or
to philosophical abstractions. More often than not they are either
narratives like the war ballads and the New England chronicles or
strung on a narrative thread like "Snow-Bound." Almost always they
contain vivid pictures; mention of "Skipper Ireson" or "Telling the
Bees" or "The Huskers" or "Maud Muller" recalls tableaux first and then
the ideas connected with them. And finally they contain the applied
moral which the immature or the unliterary mind dearly loves, the
very feature which proves irksome to the bookish reader serving as an
added attraction to the unsophisticated one. It is not difficult to
adduce popular favorites which do not include all of these traits,
but beyond doubt the great majority of poems that are beloved by the
multitude contain most if not all of them. When, in addition to these
features, poems are essentially and permanently true to life and to the
best there is in life their vogue is likely to be lasting as well as
widespread. People cherish them as they do the melodies to which some
of them are fortunately set, or as they do certain bits from Beethoven,
Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Schubert, which belong to the repertory of
every pianola or talking machine. On the other hand, the intricate
beauties of Browning and Wagner or the austerities of Milton and Brahms
will always be "caviar to the general."

The last third of Whittier's life brought him the rewards he had
earned and the serenity he deserved. He lived quietly at Amesbury
under his own roof or with his cousins at near-by Danvers. He was on
friendly terms with the eminent literary men and women of his day.
A long protraction of ill-health from boyhood on had developed him
into a fragile, gentle old man, a little shy and reticent and to all
appearances quite without the fighting powers which he had displayed
when there was need for them. If one chooses to recall Whittier from a
single portrait, it should be from one taken in his middle rather than
in his later life, for the earlier ones are far more rugged.

As the years passed they were marked by a succession of public
tributes. At seventy the most famous of the annual "_Atlantic Monthly_
Dinners" was arranged in his honor. At eighty his home state officially
celebrated his birthday. The anniversaries that followed were
recognized in the public schools of many states; and so with "honor,
love, obedience, troops of friends" he came to the end in 1892.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER. Works. Riverside Edition. 7 vols. (I-IV,
     Poetical works; V-VII, Prose.) Standard Library Edition. 9 vols.
     (Includes content of the Riverside Edition plus the life by S.
     T. Pickard.) 1892. The best one-volume edition of the poems is
     the Cambridge Student's Edition. 1914. His works appeared in book
     form originally as follows: Legends of New England, 1831; Moll
     Pitcher, 1832; Justice and Expediency, 1833; Mogg Megone, 1836;
     Poems written between 1830 and 1838, 1837; Ballads, Anti-Slavery
     Poems, etc., 1838; Lays of my Home, 1843; The Stranger in Lowell,
     1845; Supernaturalism in New England, 1847; Voices of Freedom,
     1849; Old Portraits and Modern Sketches, 1850; Songs of Labor,
     1850; The Chapel of the Hermits, 1853; Literary Recreations and
     Miscellanies, 1854; The Panorama, 1856; Home Ballads, 1860; In
     War Time, 1863; National Lyrics, 1865; Snow-Bound, 1866; The
     Tent on the Beach, 1867; Among the Hills, 1868; Miriam, 1870;
     The Pennsylvania Pilgrim, 1872; Hazel Blossoms, 1874; Centennial
     Hymn, 1876; The Vision of Echard, 1878; The King's Missive, 1881;
     The Bay of Seven Islands, 1883; Saint Gregory's Guest, 1886; At
     Sundown, 1892.

     =Bibliography=

       Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. II, pp. 436-451.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by Samuel T. Pickard. 1894. 2 vols.

       BURTON, RICHARD. John Greenleaf Whittier. 1901.

       CARPENTER, G. R. John Greenleaf Whittier. 1903. (_A. M. L. Ser._)

       CLAFLIN, MRS. MARY B. Personal Recollections of John Greenleaf
         Whittier. 1893.

       FIELDS, MRS. ANNIE. Authors and Friends. 1896.

       FLOWER, B. O. Whittier, Prophet, Seer and Man. 1896.

       HAWKINS, C. J. The Mind of Whittier. 1904.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Cheerful Yesterdays.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Contemporaries.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. John Greenleaf Whittier. 1902. (_E. M. L. Ser._)

       KENNEDY, W. S. John Greenleaf Whittier, his Life, Genius and
         Writings. 1882.

       LAWTON, W. C. Studies in the New England Poets. 1898.

       LINTON, W. J. Life of John Greenleaf Whittier. 1903.

       PAYNE, W. M. Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol. II,
         Bk. II, chap. xiii.

       PICKARD, S. T. Whittier Land. 1904.

       RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature, Vol. II, chap. vi.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Poets of America. 1885.

       TAYLOR, BAYARD. Critical Essays and Literary Notes. 1880.

       UNDERWOOD, F. H. John Greenleaf Whittier: a Biography. 1884.

       WENDELL, BARRETT. Stelligeri and Other Essays. 1893.

       WHITMAN, WALT. Specimen Days. April 16, 1881.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the poems in Whittier the titles of which suggest local treatment
of Essex County life and scenes. Compare these with similar poems in
Burns.

Read such poems as "First-Day Thoughts," "Skipper Ireson's Ride," "The
Garrison of Cape Ann," "The Waiting," "The Eternal Goodness," and "Our
Master" for evidences of Whittier's religion.

Read Emerson's essay on "The New England Reformers," remembering that
Whittier was one of these.

Compare the war poetry of Whittier and Freneau.

In Whittier's controversial poetry note the different levels of
"Barbara Frietchie," "Expostulation," and "The Waiting," and cite other
poems which may fairly be located in these three classes.

Read Whittier's ballads with the comments on page 261 concerning his
inclination to expound. Compare and contrast Whittier's "Snow-Bound"
with Burns's "Cotter's Saturday Night."

Apply the tests for popular fireside poetry to those poems of
Whittier's which you regard as general favorites.



                             CHAPTER XVIII

                       HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW


It is a matter of common practice to mention Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(1807-1882) as a member of "the Cambridge group," with the suggestion
that there was some such agreement in point of view as existed between
the men who lived and wrote in Concord. Yet there was no such oneness
of mind among Longfellow, Lowell, and Holmes as among Emerson and his
younger associates. Between Longfellow and Lowell the real point of
contact was their scholarship, and particularly their enthusiasm for
the writings of Dante; between Lowell and Holmes there was neighborly
regard but no real intimacy of feeling. The Cambridge men, to be sure,
were different from the men of Concord. The fathers of all three
were professional gentlemen of some distinction, all were college
bred, ripened by residence abroad, and holders of professorships in
Harvard College. All enjoyed and deserved social position as members
of the "Brahmin caste,"[17] all were frequenters of the celebrated
Saturday Club, and all contributed to the early and lasting fame of the
_Atlantic Monthly_. But as far as their deeper interests in life were
concerned they went their several ways. Lowell was a representative
first of New England and the North and later of the country as a whole;
Holmes belonged far more to Boston than to the college town across
the Charles; so that, of the three, Longfellow, the only one not born
there, was most closely associated with Cambridge, less clearly allied
with any other part of the world. In the literary vista, therefore, the
local relationship should not loom too large. Longfellow should be
considered as belonging to the same decades with Poe and Hawthorne; his
greatest productive period was at its height when Poe was living, and
was over before the death of Hawthorne, and his attitude toward life
was similar to theirs in its sentimental fervor and in its artistic
detachment. Lowell, in contrast, was a factor in the issues leading
into and out of the Civil War, and Holmes's richest years bridged the
'60's.

  [17] See the first chapter of Holmes's "Elsie Venner" for a
       discussion of this New England aristocracy of birth and learning
       rather than of wealth.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, in 1807, the second of eight
children. The matters of conventional record are that on his mother's
side he was descended from John and Priscilla Alden, and that his
father was a lawyer with a good practice and a modestly well-equipped
library. Able tutoring fitted the boy to matriculate as a sophomore in
Bowdoin, in the class with Hawthorne, who was three years older. For a
coming man of letters his record as a student was exceptionally good.
Instead of being unsettled by vague dreams, he was stirred by a very
definite ambition for "future eminence in literature." His whole soul,
he wrote to his father at the age of seventeen, burned most ardently
for it, and every earthly thought centered in it. Then, just at the
time when he was resigning himself to the law, in order not to be,
like Goldsmith, "equally irreclaimable from poetry and poverty," the
trustees of Bowdoin, emulating the example of Harvard, established a
professorship of modern languages, offered it to Longfellow, and set
as a condition that he should prepare himself by study abroad. In the
three years from 1826 to 1829 his mastering of the Romance languages
was perhaps less important than his breathing the cultural atmosphere
of the Old World. Life in America up to the nineteenth century had
been a busy and self-centered experience. The chief consciousness of
England and Europe had been a consciousness of other governments and
of unsympathetic and conflicting loyalties; and now was beginning to
arise an awareness not only of how other peoples were ruled but also of
how they lived and what they were thinking about. Longfellow had little
to say of foreign unfriendliness which was still disturbing Irving
and Cooper and Bryant (see pp. 111-114). In preparing to teach foreign
languages and literatures he yielded to the spell of their richly
picturesque traditions; and his first work, "Outre-Mer" (1833), was an
effort to expound these to his countrymen. This, too, Irving and Cooper
had done, and from now on the refrain was to be taken up by most of the
widely read American writers.[18]

  [18] A short list of the chief titles will include Longfellow's
       "Hyperion" (1839), Willis's "Loiterings of Travel" (1840),
       Taylor's "Views Afoot" (1846), Curtis's "Nile Notes of a
       Howadji" (1851), Mrs. Stowe's "Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands"
       (1854), Emerson's "English Traits" (1856), Bryant's "Letters
       from Spain and Other Countries" (1859), Norton's "Notes of
       Travel and Study in Italy" (1859), Hawthorne's "Our Old
       Home" (1863), Howells's "Venetian Life" (1866), Mark Twain's
       "Innocents Abroad" (1869), and so on down to and beyond Holmes's
       "Our Hundred Days in Europe" (1887).

As an impressionable young American he fell into the declining
sentimentalism of the period and wrote characteristically to his
mother: "I look forward to the distant day of our meeting until my
heart swells into my throat and tears into my eyes. I cannot help
thinking that it is a pardonable weakness." He was so absorbed by all
he was seeing and learning that he wrote no verse, letting the days go
by until he concluded with the overwhelming seriousness of twenty-two
that his poetic career was finished. As a matter of fact he was just
complementing his native American feeling with a sense of the glamour
of Old World civilization, and was on the way toward combining the two
as poet and professor. Returning to his old college he taught there
until in 1836 he was invited to succeed Professor George Ticknor at
Harvard, again with the condition--implied if not imposed--that he go
abroad for study. On his second sojourn he extended his knowledge to
the Germanic languages, mastering them as thoroughly as he had French,
Spanish, and Italian. In the end he is said to have had a fluent
speaking control of eight tongues, with the power to "get along in"
six more, and to read yet another six. Until 1854 he was engaged in
his duties at Harvard, giving no little instruction, engaging all
his assistants, and personally supervising their teaching. It was an
irksome routine against which he began to rebel many years before he
shook himself free. "It is too much to do for one's daily bread, when
one can live on so little," he wrote in 1839. "I must learn to give up
superfluous things and devote myself wholly to literature." And in the
same year he referred in another letter to "poetic dreams shaded by
French irregular verbs."

If the distractions of his professorship had actually prevented all
writing, he would doubtless not have held it eighteen years; but
in spite of handicaps his output was fairly steady throughout, and
his most richly productive period--1847-1863--half overlapped his
Harvard service. Aside from his fruitful activities in formulating
books and methods for language study, and aside from his unimpressive
prose volumes "Outre-Mer," "Hyperion," and "Kavanagh," his poetry was
abundant and in a way progressive. Most memorable among the early types
was a sizeable group to which he referred in his diary and letters as
"psalms." Of these, of course, "A Psalm of Life" is best known. Like
all the others of its sort, it has the traits that are sure to endear
it to the multitude. It is in a conventional ballad meter, alternating
lines of four and three stresses with alternating rimes, it is easy to
understand, it is constructed around one vivid picture, and it conveys
a wholesome moral lesson. It is a general counsel to industry and
fortitude. Its message is formulated in a closing stanza of "The Light
of Stars,"

      And thou, too, whosoe'er thou art,
        That readest this brief psalm,
      As one by one thy hopes depart,
        Be resolute and calm,

and its "act in the living present" is echoed in the daily achievement
of the village blacksmith.

Longfellow's labors as a translator began early and continued
throughout his career, but it is interesting to see that in the
earlier efforts a sober ethical note prevails, whereas many of the
later translations are marked by simple charm and some by sheer
frivolity. "The Coplas de Don Jorge Manrique" is a transparently
veiled homily on the vanity of human wishes; others from the Spanish
are on "The Good Shepherd" and "The Image of God" and from Dante on
"The Celestial Pilot" and "The Terrestrial Paradise"; there is an
Anglo-Saxon passage on "The Grave" and a fragment from a German ballad
in which a ribald discussion of "The Happiest Land" is interrupted by
the landlord's daughter who points to heaven and says:

            ... "Ye may no more contend,--
      There lies the happiest land!"

In January, 1840, the poet wrote to his friend George Greene:

  I have broken ground in a new field; namely, ballads; beginning with
  the "Wreck of the Schooner Hesperus" on the reef of Norman's Woe....
  I think I shall write more. The _national ballad_ is a virgin soil
  here in New England; and there are great materials. Besides, I have a
  great notion of working on the _people's_ feelings.

In 1841, consequently, there appeared his "Ballads and Other Poems."
Longfellow had first intended calling the volume "The Skeleton
in Armor," but the collection grew in number until this poem was
overbalanced by the weight of the whole, and until--which is more
significant--the native ballads were crowded by the introduction of
poems from the German and Swedish and Danish. The change of plan,
though slight, was indicative of what was taking place in Longfellow's
development. He inclined, in the fashion of his day, to foster American
subject matter, but he was full of the spirit and content of European
literature which was unknown to his countrymen. Some years were to pass
before he could hold his gaze away from "outre-mer." Another letter to
George Greene shows how he was vacillating at this time.

  A national literature is the expression of national character and
  thought; and as our character and modes of thought do not differ
  essentially from those of England, our literature cannot. Vast
  fields, lakes and prairies cannot make great poets. They are but
  the scenery of the play, and have much less to do with the poetic
  character than has been imagined.... I do not think a "Poets'
  Convention" would help the matter. In fact the matter needs no
  helping.

"Excelsior" is a complete poetic fulfillment of this idea. There is
nothing essentially American in the aspiration of youth. Longfellow
therefore "staged" the ballad in the Alps, partly because the Alps
doubtless first occurred to mind and partly because in America no
mountain heights were topped by the symbolic monastery from which
the traveler could be found still aspiring in death. Again, lyrics
like "The Day is Done," "The Old Clock on the Stairs," and "The Arrow
and the Song" belong to no time or place but are meditative moments
in the life of any thoughtful man. And finally, "The Bridge" is a
representative combination of native and foreign material. The bridge
with wooden piers used to stand exactly as described over the Charles
River between Boston and Cambridge. It was so near the ocean that the
tides swept back and forth under it as they do not under any bridge in
London or Paris or on the German Rhine. Yet in the second stanza the
likeness of the moonlight to "a golden goblet falling and sinking into
the sea" is evidently an allusion to a picture in Schiller's "König
von Thule," a literary allusion but not a false one, for the moonlight
might well look the same on the tide-tossed Charles as on the streaming
Rhine. In his "Seaweed" Longfellow seems to have been half explaining
and half defending such poetic processes:

      So when storms of wild emotion
        Strike the ocean
      Of the poet's soul, erelong
      From each cave and rocky fastness,
        In its vastness,
      Floats some fragment of a song.

The one point to accept with caution from all Longfellow's poems of
self-analysis is the oft-recurring reference to heroic strife. Whatever
heroism he felt or displayed "in the world's broad field of battle" was
more quietly enduring than spectacular. The real Longfellow learned "to
labor and to wait"; if wild emotion ever struck the ocean of his soul
he possessed himself for the tumult to subside. The finest of all his
lyrics, "Victor and Vanquished," cannot be confirmed from the visible
evidences of his career. The "Poems on Slavery," for example, attest
only to the passive courage of his convictions. In 1842 it was no small
matter to come out clearly in public opposition to human bondage (see
p. 257). Longfellow did not hesitate to risk his growing popularity by
issuing this little volume. He was, and he continued to be, the devoted
friend of Charles Sumner. Yet his antislavery heroism began and ended
with these seven poems, and their value lay more in the bare fact that
he had written them than in any ethical or emotional appeal.

The period from 1847 to 1863 was, all things considered, quite the most
fruitful for Longfellow; and this contained no five titles to rival
"Evangeline" (1847), "The Song of Hiawatha" (1855), "The Courtship
of Miles Standish" (1858), "The New England Tragedy" (first form,
1860), and "Tales of a Wayside Inn" (1863). Thus, although he by no
means abandoned Europe and the thoughts of Europe, he came at last
and altogether naturally to the development of American tradition and
the American scene. The immediate success of "Evangeline" (for five
thousand copies were sold within two months) is easy to understand.
The material was fresh and the story was lovely. Longfellow's
reading-public, accustomed to certain charms and qualities in his work,
found these no less attractively displayed in the long story than in
his brief lyrics. The pastoral scene at the start, the dramatic episode
of the separation, the long vista of American scenes presented in
Evangeline's vain search, and the final rounding out of the story plot,
all belong to a "good seller"; and as it happened there was in America
in 1847 no widely popular novelist. The field belonged to the author of
"Evangeline" even more completely then a half century earlier it had
belonged to the author of "Marmion," on the other side of the sea.

In the journal of 1849 appears the entry, "And now I hope to try a
loftier strain, the sublimer Song whose broken melodies have for so
many years breathed through my soul in the better hours of life." This
was a reference to "The Golden Legend," which appeared in 1851, and
which was in the end to become part of "Christus," completed not until
1872. In a sense this was the most ambitious and least effective of
all his undertakings. It was too scholastic for the public; it was not
a fit avenue to the feelings of "the _people_" whom in 1840 he had
resolved to stir. By 1854 Longfellow entered in the journal, "I have at
length hit upon a plan for a poem on the American Indians, which seems
to me the right one and the only." This was to do with the traditions
of the red man what Malory had done with the Arthurian story and what
Tennyson was soon to be reweaving into the "Idylls of the King."
Schoolcraft's Indian researches put the material into his hands, and
the Finnish epic "Kalevala" supplied the suggestion for the appropriate
measure. It appeared in 1855 and was demanded by the public in repeated
printings.

"Hiawatha" has a double assurance of wide and lasting fame in the
fact that it appeals to young and old in different ways. It appeals
to children because it is made up of a succession of picturesque
stories of action. Their lack of plots is no defect to the youthful
reader--nothing could be more plotless then the various parts of
"Gulliver's Travels"--and on the other hand few children detect
or care for the scheme underlying them as a whole. They are as
vivid and circumstantial as "Gulliver" or as "Pilgrim's Progress."
Furthermore they deal with human types which belong to all romantic
legend: Hiawatha, the hero; Minnehaha, the heroine; Chibiabos, the
sweet singer, or artist; Kwasind, the strong man, or primitive
force; Pau-Puk-Keewis, the mischief-maker, or the comic spirit,--any
child will recognize them for example in Robin Hood, Maid Marian,
Allan-a-Dale, Will Scarlet, and Friar Tuck. Again, these human types
are extended over into the animal world and even to the forces of
nature, the latter, by the way, supplying frequently the place of the
indispensable villain or obstacle between the hero and the achievement
of his purposes.

Unhappily the average adult who has read it in early life assumes
that he has advanced beyond "Hiawatha," that he can put it away with
other childish things, not realizing how much more than meets the eye
resides within its lines. Moreover, some grown-ups who do attempt
a second reading are dissatisfied because their minds have stopped
between childhood and maturity, stunted by too heavy a diet on obvious
fiction and the daily newspapers. For the later reading of "Hiawatha"
demands the kind of intellectual maturity that can cope with "Paradise
Lost" or "Sartor Resartus" or "In Memoriam" or the classics which are
quite beyond the child. The genuinely mature reader appreciates that
the legends and the ballads of a people are never limited to external
significance and that, whoever may happen to be the hero, it is the
people who are represented through him. So the epic note emerges for
him who can hear it. A peace is declared among the warring tribes;
Hiawatha is sent by Mudjekeewis back to live and toil among his people;
he is commended by Mondamin because he prays "For advantage of the
nations"; he fights the pestilence to save the people; he divides
his trophies of battle with them; and he departs when the advent of
the white man marks the doom of the Indian. And so the ordering of
the parts is ethnic, tracing the Indian chronicle through the stages
that all peoples have traversed, from the nomad life of hunting and
fishing to primitive agriculture and community life; thus come song and
festival, a common religion and a common fund of legend, and finally,
in the tragic life of this people, come the decline of strength, in
the death of Kwasind, the passing of song with Chibiabos, and the
departure of national heroism as Hiawatha is lost to view,

      In the glory of the sunset,
      In the purple mists of evening.

It is no mean achievement to write a children's classic, but the
enduring fact about "Hiawatha" is that it is a genuine epic as well.

No other poem of Longfellow's is so well adjusted in form and content.
The fact of first importance is not that Longfellow derived the measure
from a Finnish epic but that the primitive epic form is perfect because
it is the natural, unstudied way of telling a primitive story. The
forms of literature that go back nearest to the people in their origins
are simple in rhythm and built up of parallel repetitions. This marks
a distinction between the epics about nations written in a later age,
such as the Iliad and the Æneid and the works of Milton, and the epics
of early and unknown authorship, such as the "Nibelungenlied" and
"Beowulf." It was Longfellow's gift to combine the old material with a
fittingly primitive measure, joining as only poet and scholar could

          ... legends and traditions
      With the odors of the forest,
      With the dew and damp of meadows,
      With the curling smoke of wigwams,
      With the rushing of great rivers,
      With their frequent repetitions,
      And their wild reverberations,
      As of thunder in the mountains.

With "The Courtship of Miles Standish" Longfellow returned to New
England and told his first long story of his own district and of his
own immediate people. Both "Evangeline" and "Hiawatha" were narratives
that ended with themselves. The glory of the Acadians and of the
Indians was departed. But "Miles Standish" was like the "New England
Tragedies" in dealing with a people who were very much alive. For the
early Puritan, Longfellow felt a thorough and abiding respect which was
not untinged with humor. For his self-righteousness, his stridency,
and his arid lack of feeling for beauty the poet showed an amused
contempt, but for the essential qualities of rectitude and abiding
persistence he was quite ready to acknowledge his admiration. There
is a pleasant personal application in this story which he who runs is
likely to overlook. Miles Standish was a worthy man, says Longfellow;
he was stalwart, vigorous, practical, and when put to the test he was
magnanimous, too. But he was sadly one-sided. It was not enough to be
like his own howitzer,

      Steady, straightforward, and strong, with irresistible logic,
      Orthodox, flashing conviction right into the hearts of the heathen.

He was of the sort who banished the birds of Killingworth with costly
consequence. The worthier character was John Alden--"my ancestor"--who
was like the Preceptor of Killingworth in his feeling for beauty in
nature and in poetry and in song. "Miles Standish" is his most amiable
picture of the Puritans. In "The New England Tragedies" Governor
Endicott's death is a poetic and divine retribution for his persecution
of the Quakers, and Giles Corey's sacrifice to the witchcraft mania is
a horrid indictment of bigotry unbridled.

From 1863 on Longfellow continued in the various paths which he had
already marked out, but his work in the main was in sustained narrative
and in translation. His rendering of Dante is the preëminent piece
of American translation, at once more poetic and more scholarly than
Bryant's "Iliad" or Bayard Taylor's "Faust." It was a labor of love,
extending over many years, the fruit of his teaching as well as of his
study, and in its final form the product of nightly counsels with his
learned neighbors, Charles Eliot Norton and James Russell Lowell. Age,
fame, and the affectionate respect of the choicest friends saw him
broaden and deepen in his philosophy of life. Little psalms and ballads
no longer expressed him. Life had become a great outreaching drama at
which he hinted in his cyclic "Christus: a Mystery." His last lyrics
opened vistas instead of supplying formulas, and quite appropriately
he left behind as an uncompleted fragment his dramatic poem on the
greatest of dreamers and workers, Michael Angelo.

There is no possibility of debate as to Longfellow's immense
popularity. The evidence of the number of editions in English and in
translation, the number of works in criticism, the number of titles in
the British Museum catalogue, the number of poems included in scores of
"Household" and "Fireside" collections, and the confidence with which
booksellers stock up in anticipation of continued sales,[19] tells the
story. But these facts in themselves do not establish Longfellow's
claim to immortality, for there is no necessary connection between
such popularity and greatness. There was little evidence in him of
the genius which takes no thought for the things of the morrow. Until
after the height of his career he never wrote in disregard of the
public. "The fact is," he sent word to his father, when he was but
seventeen, "I most eagerly aspire after future eminence in literature."
And even earlier he had laid down his program when he wrote, "I am
much better pleased with those pieces which touch the feelings and
improve the heart, than with those which excite the imagination only."
He had the good sense and the honesty not to pretend to inspiration.
On the contrary he was continually projecting poems and continually
sitting down, not to write what he had thought but to think what he
should write. He was an omnivorous but acquiescent reader, and what
his reading yielded him was literary stuff rather than vital ideas. He
accepted and reflected the ways of his own time and did not modify them
in any slightest degree. He was never iconoclastic, rarely even fresh.
He had something of Pope's gift for well-rounded utterances on life,
something of Scott's ability to tell a good story well, and withal his
own benevolent serenity.

  [19] See pages 2-7 in T. W. Higginson's "Longfellow," _American Men
       of Letters Series_.

This was not a supreme endowment, but it was a very large one, and
he developed it to a lofty degree. There will always be a case for
Longfellow in the hands of those who value the inspirer of the many
above the inspirer of the wise. There are ten who read Longfellow
to every one who reads Whitman or Emerson. His wholesomeness, his
lucidity, his comfortable sanity, his very lack of intense emotion,
endear him to those who wish to be entertained with a story or soothed
and reassured by a gentle lyric. Edmund Clarence Stedman wrote finely
of him: "His song was a household service, the ritual of our feastings
and mournings; and often it rehearsed for us the tales of many lands,
or, best of all, the legends of our own. I see him, a silver-haired
minstrel, touching melodious keys, playing and singing in the twilight,
within sound of the rote of the sea. There he lingers late; the curfew
bell has tolled and the darkness closes round, till at last that tender
voice is silent, and he softly moves unto his rest."


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW. Works. Riverside Edition. 1886. 11 vols.
     Poetry, Vols. I-VI, IX-XI. Prose, Vols. VII, VIII. Standard
     Library Edition. 14 vols. (Includes content of Riverside Edition
     plus the life by Samuel Longfellow.) The best single volume is
     the Cambridge Edition. His work appeared in book form originally
     as follows: Miscellaneous Poems from the _United States Literary
     Gazette_ (with others), 1826; Coplas de Manrique, 1833; Outre-Mer,
     Vol. I, 1833, Vol. II, 1834; Hyperion, 1839; Voices of the Night,
     1839; Ballads and Other Poems, 1842; Poems on Slavery, 1842; The
     Spanish Student, 1843; Poems, 1845; The Belfry of Bruges and
     Other Poems, 1846; Evangeline, 1847; Kavanagh, 1849; The Seaside
     and the Fireside, 1850; The Golden Legend, 1851; Hiawatha,
     1855; Prose Works, 1857; The Courtship of Miles Standish, 1858;
     The New England Tragedy, 1860; Tales of a Wayside Inn, 1863;
     Flower-de-Luce, 1867; Dante's Divina Commedia (translated), 1867;
     The New England Tragedies, 1868; The Divine Tragedy, 1871; Three
     Books of Song, 1872; Aftermath, 1873; The Masque of Pandora, 1875;
     Kéramos, 1878; Ultima Thule, 1880; In the Harbor, 1882; Michael
     Angelo, 1883.

     =Bibliography=

       A bibliography of first editions compiled by Luther S.
         Livingston. Privately printed 1908. See also Cambridge History
         of American Literature, Vol. II, pp. 425-436.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by Samuel Longfellow. 3 vols. These first
         appeared as The Life, 1886 (2 vols), and Final Memorials, 1887
         (1 vol).

       AUSTIN, G. L. Longfellow: his Life, his Works, his Friendships.
         1883.

       CARPENTER, G. R. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1901.

       DAVIDSON, THOMAS. H. W. Longfellow. 1882.

       FIELDS, MRS. ANNIE. Authors and Friends. 1896.

       GANNETT, W. C. Studies in Longfellow, etc. 1898. (_Riv. Lit.
         Ser., No. 12._)

       HENLEY, W. E. Views and Reviews. 1890.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1902.

       HOWELLS, W. D. My Literary Friends and Acquaintances. 1900.

       HOWELLS, W. D. The Art of Longfellow. _North American Review_,
         March, 1907.

       KENNEDY, W. S. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1882.

       LAWTON, W. C. A Study of the New England Poets. 1898.

       LOWELL, J. R. A Fable for Critics, passim. 1848.

       NORTON, C. E. H. W. Longfellow: a Sketch. 1907.

       PERRY, BLISS. Park Street Papers, The Centenary of Longfellow.
         1908.

       POE, E. A. In Literati: Mr. Longfellow and Other Plagiarists;
         Mr. Longfellow, Mr. Willis, and the Drama; Longfellow's
         Ballads.

       RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature, Vol. II, chap. iii.

       ROBERTSON, E. S. Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 1887.

       ROSSETTI, W. M. Lives of Famous Poets. 1878.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Poets of America. 1885.

       TRENT, W. P. Longfellow and Other Essays. 1910. Cambridge
         History of American Literature, Vol. II, Bk. II, chap. xii.

       UNDERWOOD, F. H. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: a Biographical
         Sketch. 1882.

       WINTER, WILLIAM. Old Friends. 1909.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read fifty pages at random from "Outre-Mer." Compare them in tone and
style with a passage of equal length from the essays on English life
in "The Sketch Book" or from "Innocents Abroad" or from Howells's
"London Films."

Apply the tests for popular fireside poetry referred to on pages
263 and 270 to the poems of Longfellow which you regard as general
favorites.

Read from three to six of Longfellow's ballads and compare them with a
similar number by Tennyson or Dante Gabriel Rossetti or Whittier.

What was there in Longfellow's education and profession to lead him to
the contention in 1840 that there was no difference in the characters
and modes of thought of Englishmen and Americans?

See Whitcomb's "Chronological Outlines of American Literature" for the
years 1845 to 1850 for the absence of any strikingly popular fiction in
the period when "Evangeline" was published.

Read "Hiawatha" for the broad view of ethnic life which naturally
escapes the attention of the child reader. Compare in general the
measures of "Hiawatha" and of "Beowulf" (in the original or in metrical
translation).

Note Longfellow's characterizations of the Puritans in the poems
mentioned on page 277 and compare these with Hawthorne's.

Read "The Prelude," "The Day is Done," "Seaweed," and "Birds of
Passage" for Longfellow's comments on the poet and the poetic art.



                              CHAPTER XIX

                          JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL


James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) was born in Cambridge, the youngest
of six children. His father, the Reverend Charles Lowell, a Harvard
graduate, was pastor of the West Church in Boston, three miles away.
Elmwood was an ample New England mansion with the literary atmosphere
indoors that is generated by the presence of good books and good talk.
The boy was one of a few day scholars at an excellent boarding school
in town, from which he entered college in the class of 1838. Like many
another man of later distinction in letters, he was more industrious
than regular as a student, wasting little time in fact, but often
neglecting his assigned work and sometimes lapsing into mild disorder
to the extent of falling under college discipline. Toward the end of
senior year he was actually "rusticated" for a combination of petty
offenses. Under this form of punishment the boy, who was for a time
suspended from college, was assigned to a clergyman in some country
town and required to keep up in his studies until his reinstatement.
It happened that Lowell was sent to Concord, and that here (while in
charge of a clergyman with the ominous name of Barzillai Frost) he
was fretting over the class poem, in which he commented with youthful
cynicism on Carlyle, Emerson, the abolitionists, and the champions of
total abstinence and of woman's rights. It was an outburst on which he
looked back with quiet amusement in later years:

      Behold the baby arrows of that wit
        Wherewith I dared assail the woundless Truth!
      Love hath refilled the quiver, and with it
        The man shall win atonement for the youth.

And the proof that the boyish gibes were hardly more than a result of
the impatience at his ungrateful weeks in Concord is contained in his
record of the inspiration which he owed in student days to Emerson the
lecturer (see p. 211).

In the first years out of college, from which he graduated in 1838, he
passed through the oft-trod vale of troubled indecision as to what he
should do with his life. He rejected at once his father's profession
of preaching and abandoned thoughts of the law after he had earned
his LL.B. degree in 1840. And then, following a brief and frustrated
romance, he entered upon an acquaintance which culminated in his
marriage to Maria White and resulted in his becoming a soberer and a
wiser man. She was already deeply interested in the social movements
toward which his mind was maturing. His devotion to her took permanent
form in his first volumes of poems, "A Year's Life" (1841) and "Poems"
(1843), and her influence on him is shown in his zeal for the very
reforms which he had derided in his class poem three years earlier. He
founded a new magazine, _The Pioneer_, which lived for three months in
1843; he contributed copiously to _The Boston Miscellany_, _Graham's
Magazine_, and _Arcturus_; and, what was much more momentous, he threw
in his lot with the abolitionists by becoming a regular contributor to
_The Pennsylvania Freeman_. In the meanwhile, also, in addition to his
purely poetic work and to his reform enthusiasm, he took his first step
toward scholastic achievement with his "Conversations on Some of the
Old Poets," which appeared in a volume of 1844. From now to the end of
his life Lowell continued to distribute his energies among the fields
of poetry, civics, and scholarship.

In 1845, 1846, and 1847 he wrote abundantly, widening his relations
with the magazines of the day and apparently finding no trouble in
marketing his wares. One piece of verse is preëminent in this period
for both immediate and lasting appeal--"The Present Crisis." It was
Lowell's way of protesting at the national policy in the war with
Mexico and, in its contrast with Thoreau's method (see p. 224),
throws light on the reformer's later strictures upon the recluse. It
was repeated on every hand during the next twenty years and was given
special emphasis through its frequent use by such orators as Wendell
Phillips and Charles Sumner. It was in 1848, however, that he came to
the fullness of his powers, contributing some forty articles to four
Boston periodicals and publishing four books "Poems (Second Series),"
"A Fable for Critics," "The Biglow Papers," and "The Vision of Sir
Launfal." He was only ten years out of college, and at that was only
twenty-nine years old, but he showed secure taste, confident judgment,
and a seasoned ease of humor which belong to middle life. In the first
and last, the more literary volumes, there is perhaps more evidence
of youth. It appears in the effusive grief on the loss of his little
daughter, and in "Sir Launfal" Lowell seems to be working too clearly
after the somewhat confused formula laid down in the introduction
to _The Pioneer_. Americans were to attempt a natural rather than a
national literature. They were to remember that "new occasions teach
new duties." "To be the exponent of a young spirit which shall aim at
power through gentleness ... and in which freedom shall be attempered
to love by a reverence for all beauty wherever it may exist, is our
humble hope." So in order not to be too aggressively national, he
derived a theme from the literature of chivalry and adorned it with a
democratic, nineteenth-century moral.

"A Fable for Critics" is less consciously ambitious and more mature.
Just how remarkable a piece of discrimination it was can be seen from
a comparison of the writers criticized in it with those in Poe's
"Literati" of two years earlier. Lowell's subjects are familiar to
the modern general reader; he omitted no man of permanent reputation
and included almost no one who has been forgotten. Poe's selections,
on the other hand, are quaintly unfamiliar as a whole to all but the
professed student of literary history. His judgments on them are mostly
sound, but his judgment in choosing them for treatment is open to one
of two criticisms: either that he could not recognize permanent values
or that, for personal and editorial reasons, he preferred to ignore
them. In the "Fable" Lowell for the first time put to public use his
ready command of impromptu verse. His pen was a little erratic, but
when it would work at all, it was likely to work with happy fluency.
The jaunty treatment of his contemporaries was quite literally a
series of running comments, trotting along in genial anapæstic gait,
stumbling sometimes on a pun, scampering with light foot across
extended metaphors, and taking the barriers of double and triple rime
without a sign of exertion. In point of method the "Fable" was a single
exercise in writing the journalistic verse of which Lowell proved
himself master in the two series of "Biglow Papers" (1846-1848 and
1862-1866). It was exactly deserving of Holmes's friendly comment, "I
think it is capital--crammed full and rammed down hard--powder (lots
of it)--shot--slugs--very little wadding, and that is guncotton--all
crowded into a rusty-looking sort of a blunderbuss barrel, as it
were--capped with a percussion preface--and cocked with a title-page as
apropos as a wink to a joke." Different as it is from "The Literati"
in scale, tone, individual subjects, and method of circulation, the
two deserve mention together as antidotes both to Anglomania and to
wholesale praise of everything American.

With "The Biglow Papers" Lowell returned to the attack which he had
begun in "The Present Crisis." He wrote in 1860:

  I believed our war with Mexico (though we had as just ground for it
  as a strong nation ever has against a weak one) to be essentially
  a war of false pretences, and that it would result in widening the
  boundaries and so prolonging the life of slavery.... Against these
  and many other things I thought all honest men should protest. I was
  born and bred in the country, and the dialect was homely to me. I
  tried my first "Biglow Paper" and found that it had a great run. So I
  wrote the others from time to time in the year which followed, always
  very rapidly, and sometimes (as with "What Mr. Robinson Thinks") at
  one sitting.

He wrote the nine numbers of the series not only in the dialect of
the countryside but from the viewpoint of a forthright, hard-headed,
Puritan-tinged Yankee; and he put them out as the compositions of Hosea
Biglow under the encouragement of Parson Wilbur, without the use of
his own name. He was surprised by the cordial reception of the volume,
fifteen hundred copies of which were sold in the first week. If he
had put on the cap and bells to play fool to the public, he said, it
was less to make the people laugh than to win a hearing for certain
serious things which he had deeply at heart. "The Biglow Papers" were
undoubtedly Lowell's great popular success. They carried the fight
into the enemies' camp in the abolition struggle, they were resumed
with new success with the outbreak of the Civil War, and they widened
the reading public for his more sober political prose and for his more
elevated verse.

However, Lowell was not satisfied to be only a fighter. In a letter of
January, 1850, he wrote to a friend:

  My poems hitherto have been a true record of my life, and I mean that
  they shall continue to be.... I begin to feel that I must enter on a
  new year of my apprenticeship. My poems thus far have had a regular
  and natural sequence. First, Love and the mere happiness of existence
  beginning to be conscious of itself, then Freedom--both being the
  sides which Beauty presented to me--and now I am going to try more
  _wholly_ after Beauty herself.... I have preached sermons enow, and
  now I am going to come down out of the pulpit and _go about among
  my parish_.... I find that Reform cannot take up the whole of me,
  and I am quite sure that eyes were given us to look about us with
  sometimes, and not to be always looking forward.... I am tired of
  controversy.

Out of such a mood as this came the natural decision to make his
first and long-deferred trip to Europe, a sojourn of fifteen months
in 1851-1852 with his wife and children. His wide reading of foreign
literatures gave the keys to an understanding of the peoples among whom
he traveled, and especially to an understanding of Roman culture.
His comments from Rome furnish an interesting contrast with Emerson's
("Written at Rome," 1833). The reaction of the Concord philosopher had
been wholly personal. Lowell's was wholly national.

  Surely the American (and I feel myself more intensely American
  every day) is last of all at home among ruins--but he is at home
  in Rome.... Our art, our literature, are, as theirs, in some sort
  exotics; but our genius for politics, for law, and, above all, for
  colonization, our instinct for aggrandizement and for trade, are all
  Roman. I believe we are laying the basis of a more enduring power and
  prosperity, and that we shall not pass away until we have stamped
  ourselves upon the whole western hemisphere.

On his return to America he plunged eagerly into writing, but the
springs of utterance were soon sealed by the death of his wife.
Following on the losses of his mother and two of his children this
was the fourth and most crushing bereavement within a very few years.
His recovery of working powers was aided by the distraction that came
from an invitation to deliver the distinguished Lowell Lecture Series
in Boston in the winter of 1854-1855. These were to be twelve in
number, on poetry in general and English poetry in particular. The task
appealed to him as combining the beauty and truth to which he inclined
to turn after his years of conflict. He threw himself whole-heartedly
into the preparation and delivery of the lectures and succeeded
admirably with his hearers; but the greater result was an indirect
one. While they were in progress Longfellow offered his resignation
of the Smith Professorship "of the French and Spanish Languages and
Literatures ... and of Belles Lettres in Harvard College," a post he
had filled since 1836. Seven candidates of no mean ability presented
themselves for the vacant position, but the appointment was offered to
Lowell, who had not applied for it, in preference to them all. He spent
another year abroad before undertaking the work in the autumn of 1856,
and held the position actively until 1877 and as emeritus professor
until his death in 1891. In this work he was a scholar and a critic
rather than a teacher. He gave almost no elementary instruction in the
languages, and his methods with his classes were casual to the neglect
of the usual college traditions. What he did for his students was to
share with them his own broad experience of life and letters and to
show them how the study of foreign literatures was one with the study
of history and philosophy.

Lowell's course of life, however, could never be restricted to any
single channel. If he had found in 1850 that reform could not take
up the whole of him, he now discovered that scholarship was not
all-absorbing. As early as 1853 the question of establishing a new
Boston magazine had been in the air. When its chief promoter, Francis
H. Underwood,[20] had made certain of its start, Lowell was secured as
first editor and carried it through the most critical period, until
in 1861 it passed into the publishing hands of Ticknor and Fields
and under the editorship of the junior member of that firm, James T.
Fields. In the editorial office, as at Cambridge, Lowell was relieved
from the heaviest humdrum labor (especially of correspondence) and
was enabled to give his best energies to creative planning, yet it is
interesting to see how effective were some of the detail criticisms
accepted by poets like Emerson and Whittier and how vigilant he was in
his reading of manuscripts and proof sheets. Throughout it all he kept
up a spring-flow of boyish jollity, no different in spirit from that in
his letters of college days.

  [20] See Bliss Perry's "Park Street Papers," "The Editor who Never
       was Editor," pp. 205-277.

An unpremeditated bit in one of his letters shows how the mind of
professor and literary editor reverted to the excitement of politics
on the eve of the war. It is in a fragment of burlesque on the type
of love story submitted to the _Atlantic_: "Meanwhile the elder of
the two, a stern-featured man of some forty winters, played with the
hilt of his dagger, half drawing and then sheathing again the Damascus
blade _thin as the eloquence of Everett and elastic as the conscience
of Cass_." From 1858 to 1866 he printed some sixteen vigorous and
substantial political articles, besides many shorter notes and reviews,
and during the latter four years resumed the "Biglow Papers," repeating
and building upon his original success. The aggressive fighting spirit
which he carried into the discussion of definite men and measures did
not blind him to the permanent values of the matters in dispute. The
consequence was that his political writings were limited to the Civil
War only in the facts he cited, and that they apply to any war in
the principles to which he appealed. There is no better illustration
than "Mason and Slidell: a Yankee Idyll." In this the Concord Bridge
and Bunker Hill Monument bring the spirit of the Revolution to the
discussion of a Civil War issue, and between them they utter almost
all the basic contentions of the World War which broke out fifty
years later. They anticipate the vital things that have recently been
said for and against military preparedness, international jealousies,
the changes made necessary in international law by the progress of
invention, the appeals to national hatred and to a tribal or national
God, the viciousness of an indeterminate peace, and the essential
values of democracy.

From this ordeal by battle Lowell seems to have risen into a broader
and nobler serenity. He balanced the prose essay on "The Rebellion: its
Cause and Consequences" with the Harvard "Commemoration Ode"; the next
prose volumes, "Among my Books" (1870 and 1876) and "My Study Windows"
(1871), with the odes on "Agassiz" (1874) and "The Concord Centennial"
(1875) and the "Three Memorial Poems" of 1877. In all the poems he
looked to the past, the struggle being over, for some evidences of
strength and beauty in American life and for some assurances for its
future; and in the literary essays he looked beyond nationalism to the
permanent and universal values in literature. His political writings
had appeared mainly in the _North American Review_, which he had
edited (1864-1872) in coöperation with Charles Eliot Norton; and at
this point younger admirers called him into public appearances as
presiding officer, as committee chairman, as delegate to a Republican
national convention, and as presidential elector. It even took some
insistence to carry through his refusal to run for Congress. Finally,
in 1877 he entered as foreign minister on eight years of the highest
service to his country, the first two and a half at Madrid and the
remainder at London. Few men in America could have equaled him in his
qualifications for the Spanish mission. He had taught the language
and the literature and was especially well-versed in the drama, and
temperamentally there was much in him which responded to the national
character. He wrote to Mr. Putnam, "I like the Spaniards very well as
far as I know them, and have an instinctive sympathy with their want
of aptitude for business"; and to Professor Child, "There is something
oriental in my own nature which sympathizes with this 'let her slide'
temper of the hidalgos." Both of which statements should be taken as
partly true to the letter and partly indicative of the adjustability
which distinguishes the American from the Englishman.

The most compact tribute to his five and a half years at the court of
St. James was the remark of a Londoner that he found all the Britons
strangers and left them all cousins. Lowell was one of the two extreme
types of American whom Victorian England chose to like and admire. One,
of the Mark Twain and Joaquin Miller sort, was free and easy, smacking
of the wild West, completely in contrast with the English gentleman;
the other, in the persons of men like Lowell and Charles Eliot
Norton, was the nearest American approach to cultivated John Bull. In
diplomatic circles Lowell's tact always mollified his firmness, even
leading to criticism from some of his countrymen because he never
defied nor blustered. And in his immensely important appearances as the
representative of the United States at all manner of social occasions,
he charmed his hosts by the grace and pertinence of his public speech.

  His speech was the happiest, easiest, most graceful conceivable,
  with just the right proportion of play to seriousness, the ideal
  combination of ingredients for a post-prandial confection.... He was
  pithy without baldness and full without prolixity. He never said too
  much, nor said what he had to say with too much gravity. His manner,
  in short, was perfection; but the real substance that his felicity of
  presentation clothed counted for still more.... And in England his
  unexampled popularity was very largely due to this gift.[21]

  [21] W. C. Brownell, "American Prose Masters," pp. 271, 272.

In the years remaining to him after his return from London in 1885 he
literally uttered much of the best that he wrote. He was no longer
an eager producer, but he could be stimulated to speak by special
invitations. So he delivered addresses out of the fullness of his
experience at Birmingham University, at Westminster Abbey, at the
celebration of Forefathers' Day in Plymouth, at the 250th Anniversary
of the founding of Harvard, before the reform leagues of Boston and
New York, and at a convention of the Modern Language Association of
America. These, with his last volume of verse, "Heartsease and Rue"
(1888), became his valedictory. He died in 1891.

The outstanding feature of Lowell's career is that he was a poet in
action. His first and last volumes were lyrics. In the forty-seven
years between their issues he was always the artist. He brought his
emotional fervor and his sense of phrase to his essays, addresses, and
occasional poems and to his pursuit of scholarship. His natural first
interests were in the printed page and in the wielding of the pen;
measured by weeks and months his life was largely lived in retirement,
but the step from reading and writing to active citizenship was an
easy one, and in the world of action he seemed to make few waste
motions. What he did not only counted in itself but it enriched
his mind as much as what he read. And back of all his activity were
certain qualities that contributed to his effectiveness. He was a
representative man, a fact acknowledged by his classmates who elected
him their poet. He had the journalistic gift of saying excellently what
others were on the verge of thinking. He did little thinking of his own
that was original but much that was independent, and as a sane radical
he was sure of the hearing he richly deserved. He was clever and
charming, with a glint of errant unexpectedness, which was ingratiating
even when it was far-fetched or even wantonly malapropos. His quips are
like the gifts and favors of old-time children's parties--hidden all
over the house and just as likely to defy search as to turn up under a
napkin or in the umbrella of a departing guest. And behind all, Lowell
was prevailingly American, with the combined trust in democracy and
fear for it that belonged to his group in his generation.

From 1820 on, Irving, Cooper, Bryant, and their followers had protested
more and more frequently (see pp. 111-114) at the certain condescension
in foreigners to which Lowell addressed himself in his essay of 1865.
Yet all these men, and cultured America as a whole, played up to this
condescension and encouraged it by evidently expecting it--stimulating
it by the peevish feebleness of their protests. Lowell, though loyal,
was always apologetic, always hoping to gain confidence in his
countrymen. His intimate friend, Charles Eliot Norton, was deferent
toward all things British or European, and, while working valiantly
to establish sound canons of taste, felt a distress for the crudities
of American life that was only a refinement upon the snobbishness of
the Effinghams in Cooper's "Homeward Bound" and "Home as Found." The
fact is that the refined American of the mid-nineteenth century was
afraid to contemplate the incarnation of America. He knew that Uncle
Sam was too mature for it; he feared that it was like Tom Sawyer; he
did what he could to mold it into the image of Little Lord Fauntleroy;
and he apologized for Whitman. When Mark Twain visited William Dean
Howells in Cambridge in 1871 they were both young sojourners from
what was to Cambridge an undiscriminated West. Young Mr. Clemens did
not care at all, and young Mr. Howells did not care as far as he was
concerned, though he cared a great deal in behalf of his friend, who
was so incorrigibly Western. And in recording his anxiety he recorded a
striking fact of that generation: that American culture was afraid even
of the rough-and-ready Americans whom Europe was applauding. "I did not
care," said Mr. Howells of Mr. Clemens, "to expose him to the critical
edge of that Cambridge acquaintance which might not have appreciated
him at, say, his transatlantic value. In America his popularity was
as instant as it was vast. But it must be acknowledged that for a
much longer time here than in England polite learning hesitated his
praise.... I went with him to see Longfellow, but I do not think
Longfellow made much of him, and Lowell made less."[22]

  [22] W. D. Howells, "My Mark Twain," p. 46.

In habits of intellectual nicety, in manners, and in social inclination
Lowell was an aristocrat; yet in spite of these tendencies, and quite
evidently in spite of them, he was in principle a stanch democrat,
and when put to the test that sort of democrat is the most reliable.
The conflict is interestingly apparent throughout his writings. The
address on "Democracy" of 1888 need not be gravely cited as proof of
Lowell's belief in government by the people; it is only the final
iteration of what he had all his life been saying. Yet after his usual
leisurely introduction he approached his subject with the smile of
half apology which had become a habit to him: "I shall address myself
to a single point only in the long list of offences of which we are
more or less gravely accused, because that really includes all the
rest." It crops out in the Thoreau essay, apropos of Emerson: "If it
was ever questionable whether democracy could develop a gentleman, the
problem has been affirmatively solved at last"; and in the Lincoln
essay: "Mr. Lincoln has also been reproached with Americanism by some
not unfriendly British critics; but, with all deference, we cannot say
that we like him any the worse for it." In the ode on Agassiz he heaved
a sigh of relief that the great naturalist was willing to put up with
New England conditions; and even in the Harvard "Commemoration Ode" he
broke out suddenly with:

          Who now shall sneer?
      Who dare again to say we trace
      Our lines to a plebeian race?

The point is not in the least that Lowell did not believe in democracy;
every deprecating remark of this sort was prefatory to a fresh defense
of it. The point is that, as with a quarrel, it takes two to make a
condescension and that Lowell did his part. It is difficult to imagine
the young foreigner of "German-silver aristocracy" condescending with
success to Lincoln or Emerson or to Mark Twain or Whitman.

The frequent expression of this self-defensive mood is an illustration
of another leading trait in Lowell--his spontaneity. Since he felt as
he did there would have been no virtue in concealing the fact, and
Lowell seldom concealed anything. He wrote readily and fully, often
beyond the verge of prolixity. He gave his ideas free rein as they
filed or crowded or raced into his mind, not only welcoming those
that came but often seeming to invite those that were tentatively
approaching. Only in a few of his lyrics did he compact his utterance.
Most of the introductions to essays and longer poems proceed in
the manner of the "musing organist" of the first stanza in "Sir
Launfal," "beginning doubtfully and far away," and what follows is
in most cases somewhat lavishly discursive. The consequences of this
manner of expression of a richly furnished mind are not altogether
fortunate. Much of his writing could have been more quickly started
and more compactly stated, and practically all of it could have
been more firmly constructed. Emerson's essays lack firm structure
because they were not written to a program, but were aggregations of
paragraphs already set down in his journals. Lowell's essays, although
deliberately composed, were equally without design. His method was
to fill himself with his subject of the moment and then to write
eagerly and rapidly, letting "his fingers wander as they list." His
productions were consequently poured out rather than built up. They
have the character of most excellent conversation which circles about a
single theme, allows frequent digression, admits occasional brilliant
sallies, includes various "good things," and finally stops without
any definitive conclusion. In this respect, while Lowell was by no
means artless in the sense of being unsophisticated, he was also by no
means artful in the sense of calculating his effects upon the reader.
The only reader of whom he seems to have been distinctly conscious
was the bookish circle of his own associates. He would fling out
recondite allusions as though in challenge, and he wrote in a flowing,
polysyllabic diction which was nicely exact but which rarely would
concede the simpler word.

This same surging spontaneity was both the strength and weakness of his
poetry. He inclined too much to foster the theory of inspiration. "'Tis
only while we are forming our opinions," he once wrote, "that we are
very anxious to propagate them"; and as he indited most of his poems
while he was in this state of "anxiety" they became effusions rather
than compositions. His first drafts, in fact, were fulfillments of
Bryant's injunction in "The Poet":

      While the warm current tingles through thy veins
      Set forth the burning words in fluent strains.

But in his revisions he was unable to follow the instructions to the
end:

      Then summon back the original glow, and mend
      The strain with rapture that with fire was penned.

As a consequence his poems when published were as invertebrate as when
he first wrote them, and of the revisions in detail many were shifted
back to their original form. The degree to which he tempered the wind
of self-criticism to his own poetical lambs is the more noteworthy on
account of the acumen with which he commented as editor on the work of
his fellow-poets.

On the other hand, his easy command of versification, his gift of
phrasing, and his rich poetic imagination resulted in very many
passages of beauty and feeling, particularly in the later odes like the
Commemoration and Agassiz poems, into which he poured the fine fervor
of his patriotism. In these his sincerity, his intellectual solidity,
his idealism, and his nature-feeling combined with "the incontrollable
poetic impulse which is the authentic mark of a new poem" and which
Emerson ascribed to him in a journal entry of 1868.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL. Works. Riverside Edition. 1890. 11 vols.
     Elmwood Edition. 1904. 16 vols. (Contains one more volume of
     literary essays, one more of poetry, and the three volumes of
     letters. C. E. Norton, editor. 1904.) These appeared in book form
     originally as follows: Class Poem, 1838; A Year's Life, 1841;
     Poems, 1844; Conversations on Some of the Old Poets, 1845; Poems,
     Second Series, 1848; A Fable for Critics, 1848; The Biglow Papers,
     1848; The Vision of Sir Launfal, 1848; Fireside Travels, 1864; The
     Biglow Papers, Second Series, 1867; Under the Willows and Other
     Poems, 1869; The Cathedral, 1870; Among my Books, 1870; My Study
     Windows, 1871; Among my Books, Second Series, 1876; Three Memorial
     Poems, 1877; Democracy and Other Addresses, 1887; Political
     Essays, 1888; Heartsease and Rue, 1888; Latest Literary Essays and
     Addresses, 1891; The Old English Dramatists, 1892; Last Poems,
     1895; Impressions of Spain, 1899.

     =Bibliography=

       A volume compiled by George Willis Cooke. 1906. Cambridge
         History of American Literature, Vol. II, pp. 544-550.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by H. E. Scudder. 1901. 2 vols.

       BENTON, JOEL. Lowell's Americanism. _Century_, November, 1891.

       BROWNELL, W. C. American Prose Masters. 1909.

       CURTIS, G. W. Orations and Addresses, Vol. III. 1894.

       GODKIN, E. L. The Reasons why Mr. Lowell should be Recalled.
         _Nation_, June 1, 1882.

       GREENSLET, FERRIS. Lowell: his Life and Work. 1905.

       HALE, E. E. Lowell and his Friends. 1898.

       HALE, E. E., JR. Lowell. 1899.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Book and Heart. 1897.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Old Cambridge. 1899.

       HOWELLS, W. D. A Personal Retrospect of Lowell. _Scribner's_,
         September, 1900.

       HOWELLS, W. D. Literary Friends and Acquaintances. 1900.

       JAMES, HENRY. Essays in London. 1893.

       MABIE, H. W. My Study Fire. _Ser. 2._ 1894.

       MEYNELL, ALICE. The Rhythm of Life and Other Essays. 1893.

       NORTON, C. E. James Russell Lowell. _Harper's_, May, 1893.

       NORTON, C. E. Letters of Lowell. _Harper's_, September, 1893.

       SCUDDER, H. E. Mr. Lowell as a Teacher. _Scribner's_, November,
         1891.

       STILLMAN, W. J. The Autobiography of a Journalist, chap. xiv.
         1901.

       STODDARD, R. H. Recollections Personal and Literary. 1903.

       TAYLOR, BAYARD. Critical Essays. 1880.

       THORNDIKE, A. H. Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol.
         II, Bk. II, chap. xxiv.

       UNDERWOOD, F. H. Lowell; a Biographical Sketch. 1882.

       UNDERWOOD, F. H. The Poet and the Man. 1893.

       WENDELL, BARRETT. Stelligeri. 1893.

       WILKINSON, W. C. A Free Lance in the Field of Life and Letters.
         1874.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read "The Present Crisis" as determining the temper in which Lowell
wrote his essay on Thoreau in view of their different reactions to the
same national situation.

Read what Poe, Longfellow, and Lowell had to say concerning
overemphasis on the American quality of American literature as noted
on pages 177, 272, and 284. Is there any clear reason for this common
dissent?

Compare the people discussed in Lowell's "Fable for Critics" and in
Poe's "Literati," published within two years of each other.

Read the connecting prose passages between the "Biglow Papers" for
interesting evidence of Lowell's attention to and knowledge of
linguistic detail.

Read "Mason and Slidell: a Yankee Idyll" in "Biglow Papers," Second
Series, as a commentary on the Great European War.

Analyze the structure of a selected long poem and of a literary essay
with a view to studying its firmness or looseness.

Read any one of Lowell's five great odes and note the rhetorical
fitness of meter and subject as contrasted with the artificiality of
Lanier's later poems.

Read "The Shepherd of King Admetus," "Invita Minerva," "The Origin of
Didactic Poetry," and the passages on Lowell and his fellow-poets for
his comments on poetry and poetic art.



                               CHAPTER XX

                         HARRIET BEECHER STOWE


The name of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) is in all likelihood
not so well known as the title of her most famous work, "Uncle Tom's
Cabin." Millions upon millions have read her story, both for its
interest and because of its place in American history. Yet relatively
few have read her other novels, and to-day those who turn to them do
so not so much for their own sakes as because they contribute a minor
chapter in the history of the American novel. She entered literature
by the pathway of reform. "The heroic element was strong in me, having
come down by ordinary generation from a long line of Puritan ancestry,
and ... it made me long to do something, I knew not what: to fight for
my country, or to make some declaration on my own account." Then, when
the story-telling gift was developed and the reform was accomplished,
she continued to hold her mirror up to nature--a kind of Claude
Lorraine glass with a strong tint of moralistic blue in it.

She was born in 1811 at Litchfield, Connecticut, one of the five
children of the Reverend Lyman Beecher by his first marriage. Her
famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, was two years younger. The death
of her mother when she was but four years old resulted in her having a
succession of homes during girlhood: first with an aunt, then for some
years under her father's roof after his remarriage in 1817, and next
from 1824 to 1832 with her older sister, Catherine, who had established
a school in Hartford. In all these experiences she lived under kindly
protection and in somewhat literary surroundings, and in all of them
she breathed an atmosphere which was heavy with the exhalations of the
old-school Calvinistic theology. In 1832, when Harriet was twenty-one
years old, her father, after a six-year pastorate of a Boston church,
went to Cincinnati as president of the Lane Theological Seminary, and
the two sisters joined him there.

This move into what was then the Far West was not, however, a
banishment into the wilds, for Cincinnati was in those days a sort of
outpost of Eastern culture. The Ohio River, which flowed by its doors,
served as the great highway from the East to the Mississippi Valley.
The city attracted early travelers like Mrs. Trollope and Harriet
Martineau as visitors, and stimulated them to ungracious comment, which
was offset by longer or shorter residence of a distinguished succession
of Massachusetts men. There were literary clubs, good and prolific
publishing houses, and, in the _Western Monthly_, the beginning of a
succession of magazines. Catherine wrote back from an advance trip of
inspection:

  I have become somewhat acquainted with those ladies we shall have
  most to do with, and find them intelligent, New England sort of
  folks. Indeed, this is a New England city in all its habits, and
  its inhabitants are more than half from New England.... I know of
  no place in the world where there is so fair a prospect of finding
  everything that makes social and domestic life pleasant.

The seminary, a new institution, and Mr. Beecher, its first president,
were located together at Walnut Hills, about two miles out of the city;
and while the father was occupied in his pioneer work the two daughters
started a school for girls, with the double promise of Catherine's
Hartford experience and the type of people among whom they were
settling. But Harriet was not to be a schoolmistress for long. In 1833
she was the winner of a fifty-dollar prize in a short-story competition
conducted by the _Western Monthly_, and in 1836 she married the
Reverend Calvin E. Stowe, her father's colleague in Lane Seminary. How
she persisted to combine authorship and maternity in the next sixteen
years is a marvel; none the less so because since the days of Anne
Bradstreet an occasional woman has succeeded. In 1842 her husband wrote
to her: "My dear, you must be a literary woman. It is so written in
the book of fate. Get a good stock of health and brush up your mind."
In the next year her first volume, a book of selected stories, was
published by Harpers; but by 1848 she was the mother of six children,
the oldest only eleven, and no more books had appeared.

Nevertheless she was not to sink under the tide of home drudgery.
She had visited in the South, witnessing the more kindly aspects of
slavery, and in her own town she had seen the pursuit of fugitives, the
conscientious defiance of law by devoted abolitionists, the violence
of proslavery mobs, and had feared for the life of her brother, who
was reported to have suffered death with his friend Lovejoy, when the
latter was shot in Alton by a band of Missourians. In these exciting
times it came to her more and more insistently that her writing must
be turned to good account. Lane Seminary was a seat of antislavery
doctrine and was very likely saved from destruction by its fortunate
remoteness from the town. But "Uncle Tom" was not to be written from
here. In 1850, impelled by ill-health, Professor Stowe accepted a call
to Bowdoin College, in which he had been a student. With three children
she preceded him, and for the two months before the birth of her
seventh child, in Brunswick, she carried the entire responsibility of
choosing, equipping, and settling in their new home. In the meanwhile
the family bank account was disturbingly low, and she was attempting to
write. And in the meanwhile, too, Webster's "Seventh of March Speech"
on compromise with the slavery forces had stirred the North as nothing
before and carried the country one step nearer to the Civil War. In
the winter that followed Mrs. Stowe came to her great resolve to write
something that would arouse the whole nation; and at a communion
service in February of 1851 there appeared to her, as in a vision, the
scene of the death of Uncle Tom.

The story began its appearance in the _National Era_, June 5, 1851,
and was announced to run for three months, but as it was allowed to
take its own course it was not actually concluded until April of the
next year. Although it had already attracted the widest attention, the
question of publication in book form was in some doubt until it was
undertaken by an obscure Boston firm, and the outcome was so uncertain
that the Stowes did not dare to assume half the risk of publication
for a prospect of half the proceeds. Three thousand copies were sold
on the day of issue, and three hundred thousand in America within the
first year. In England, also, after an initial hesitation, reprinting
was soon started, and by the close of the year eighteen different
houses had put on forty editions, and in the end a million and a half
copies were circulated in Great Britain and the colonies.[23] Mrs.
Stowe's "fortune was made" of course; but of quite as much moment to
her was the fact that her influence was made in the great fight in
which she was enlisted. In 1853 she sailed for what turned out to be a
sort of triumphal tour in Great Britain, in the course of which large
sums of money were given her for use in antislavery outlay. Leading
men and women, who had been formerly indifferent, became through her
book secondary sources of influence. Moreover, there was value even
in the opposition she had aroused. Whittier wrote to Garrison: "What
a glorious work Harriet Beecher Stowe has wrought. Thanks for the
Fugitive Slave Law! Better would it be for slavery if that law had
never been enacted; for it gave occasion for 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.'"
And Garrison wrote in turn to Mrs. Stowe: "I estimate the value of
anti-slavery writing by the abuse it brings. Now all the defenders of
slavery have let me alone and are abusing you." The volume of objection
was so great and so much of it was directed at the honesty of the work
that the author reluctantly compiled soon after a "Key to Uncle Tom's
Cabin," in which she presented documentary evidence for every kind of
fact used in the story; and of this she was able to write: "Not one
fact or statement in it has been disproved as yet. I have yet to learn
of even an _attempt_ to disprove."

  [23] In view of the lack of any copyright protection it is
       interesting to record that three of the London publishers
       offered Mrs. Stowe an interest in the sales of their editions.

The only fair basis for criticizing "Uncle Tom" is as a piece of
propagandist literature. It was not even a "problem novel." It was a
story with an avowed "purpose": "to awaken sympathy and feeling for the
African race, as they exist among us; to show their wrongs and sorrows,
under a system so necessarily cruel and unjust as to defeat and do
away the good effects of all that can be attempted for them, by their
best friends, under it." Mrs. Stowe felt no pride in it as a story,
referring with perfect composure to the criticisms on its artistry.
But as a popular document she composed it with the greatest of art. It
was based on a profound conviction and on unassailable facts. It was a
passionate assault on slavery, but it was candid in its acknowledgments
that many a slaveholder was doing his best to alleviate the system. Far
more than half the book is devoted to kindly masters and well-treated
bondsmen; the tragedy of Uncle Tom is emphasized by the frustrated
or careless benevolence of the Shelbys and St. Clare. The appeals to
antislavery prejudice, moreover, could not have been more effective.
The democratic movement which had swept Europe in 1848 was fresh in
the minds of all thinking people. The challenge to Biblical Christian
principle was made in a day when the citation of Scriptural authority
was almost universally effective. The natural resentment at beholding
virtue thwarted by viciousness was stimulated at every turn in the
story. And the frank association of beauty of character with beauty
of form served its purpose. "Let it be considered, for instance,"
wrote Ruskin in "Modern Painters," "exactly how far in the commonest
lithograph of some utterly popular subject--for instance, the teaching
of Uncle Tom by Eva--the sentiment which is supposed to be excited
by the exhibition of Christianity in youth, is complicated by Eva's
having a dainty foot and a well-made slipper." This was a chance
illustration for Ruskin, who was writing about pictorial art, but the
point of it is fully illustrated by the visible charms of Eliza, Eva,
Emmeline, and Cassie, as well as of George Harris, George Shelby, and
St. Clare. Uncle Tom was almost the only good character who needed
the defense "Handsome is that handsome does." It is not at all likely
that Mrs. Stowe calculated on these various appeals--democratic,
theological, sentimental. In fact we have her word for it that the book
"wrote itself." With a moderately developed talent for story-writing
she happened to have just the tone of mind and the level of culture
which were attuned to the temper of her day, and she employed them to
the utmost effect. Moreover, she used them just as Whittier used his
powers in some of his moralistic poetry, not relying on her narrative
to carry its own burdens but expounding it as she went along and
appending a chapter of "Concluding Remarks" with various odds and
ends of afterthought--matters which do not belong in a novel and
which do not even belong together in any well-organized chapter, but
matters which in a persuasive document doubtless were of great value
in bringing back to the application the minds of those readers who may
have been diverted by the sheer human interest of the tale.

"Uncle Tom" was a success which, of course, could not be duplicated.
The second antislavery novel, "Dred, a Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp,"
sold enormously on the strength of its predecessor and on its own
merits, but it could only fan the embers which had previously been
inflamed. The task had been done; and though it was well repeated,
and though the application pointed this time to the degrading effects
of slavery on the master class, "Dred" could never be anything but an
aftermath to "Uncle Tom."

With a removal to Andover, Massachusetts, in 1852, Mrs. Stowe
accompanied her husband to his last post in another theological school,
settling into a congenial New England village in comfort at last
and among cultured and orthodox neighbors. And here she continued to
write until her final move to Hartford, doing her best work in the
field of provincial stories of New England life and character. The
first of these, "The Minister's Wooing," was her contribution to the
newly established _Atlantic Monthly_. With her recent successes fresh
in the public mind, she was an indispensable "selling feature" for
the ambitious magazine. With this novel she made her first attempt,
since the forgotten "Mayflower" volume, to write a story in which the
moral should take care of itself. There was a moral, to be sure, and
a striking one, for it pointed to a distrust of the older New England
Calvinism and made clear the distinction between a religion that
uplifts and a theology that turns to scorn the religion it assumes to
fortify. In Simeon Brown she developed the obnoxious professor of the
declining faith.

  He was one of that class of people who, of a freezing day, will plant
  themselves directly between you and the fire, and there stand and
  argue to prove that selfishness is the root of all moral evil.... He
  was one of those men who suppose themselves submissive to the divine
  will, to the uttermost extent demanded by the extreme theology of
  that day, simply because they have no nerves to feel, no imagination
  to conceive what endless happiness or suffering is, and who deal
  therefore with the great problem of the salvation or damnation of
  myriads as a problem of theological algebra, to be worked out by
  their inevitable _x_, _y_, _z_.[24]

  [24] See "Theological Tea," chap. iv.

It answers to the refrain of "The Deacon's Masterpiece," which appeared
while she was writing the book: "Logic is logic. That's all I say."

It is no accident, therefore, that she represents Simeon, this piece
of corrugated inflexibility, as equally far from Dr. Hopkins, the
large-hearted Puritan who was bigger than his creed, and from young
James Marvin, who wanted to be better than he was but had no creed at
all. In the chapter "Which Treats of Romance" Mrs. Stowe perhaps did
not let the moral wholly take care of itself, since she came into court
as a special pleader for beauty as an ally of religion and brought an
indictment against the niggardliness of a life founded on a dogmatic
dread of eternal fire. The moral of the book, if one must be given in a
sentence, is that love realized is even finer than love renounced.

Like "Uncle Tom" and "Dred," "The Minister's Wooing" has its element of
instruction as well as of edification, for it is a studied and faithful
picture of Rhode Island life just after the Revolution--a period about
as remote from Mrs. Stowe as the slave-story epoch is from the modern
reader. And because it is less of an allegory the characters are more
lifelike, not having to carry each his Christian's pack of argument on
his shoulders. As Lowell stated,[25] they were set in contrast not by
the simple and obvious method in fiction of putting them in different
social ranks--aristocrat and commoner, master and man, Roundhead and
Cavalier, pioneer, Indian and townsman. Between Mrs. Stowe's village
folk caste distinctions were of little moment; a careful realism was
taxed to show the vital and homely differences between one individual
and another. Her success in this respect is what gives any distinction
to "The Pearl of Orr's Island" (1862). The Pearl herself, who is a bit
of labeled symbolism (chap. xxviii),--a Little Eva transported to the
Maine coast and thence to heaven,--is almost the only insignificant
character. Moses Pennell, an exotic, is comparatively lifelike, and the
actual village people are as real as can be.

  [25] _New York Tribune_, June 13, 1859.

"Oldtown Folks" (1869) is Mrs. Stowe's most effective and least
adulterated novel. The people of the story are many and varied, ranging
from Sam Lawson, the village Rip Van Winkle, to the choicest of Old
Boston adornments of society. While the book had no social purpose it
had the avowed narrative "object ... to interpret to the world the New
England life and character in that particular time in its history
which may be called the seminal period"--a statement followed by the
complacent and thoroughly provincial assertion that "New England was
the seed-bed of this great American Republic, and of _all_ that is
likely to come of it." It should be remembered in Mrs. Stowe's defense
that when she wrote these words the cleavage between North and South
could account for many asperities from both sides and that to most
Easterners "Trans-Mississippi" meant territory rather than people. In
"breadth of canvas," to resort to the slang of criticism, "Oldtown
Folks" is in Mrs. Stowe's whole output what "Middlemarch" is in George
Eliot's. It is filled with popular tableaux--in the old Meeting House,
in the Grandmother's Kitchen, at the Manor House, in the coach on its
grave progress to Boston, in the school and its surroundings; and it is
red-lettered with festivals in which the richest flavor of social life
in the early nineteenth century is developed.

As a life story of the four youthful characters it does not linger
vividly in mind. One does not recall them and their subjective
experiences half so clearly as one does their intellectual and social
and material surroundings. Yet the shape of their life experience was
determined by just these external influences; and how clearly they
belonged to a bygone period appears at a glance of comparison with any
similar twentieth-century story.[26]

  [26] This distinction is valid even though the Oldtown folks belonged
       to Mrs. Stowe's childhood. The Andover of her later years was
       Oldtown in all essential respects.

Margaret Deland's "The Iron Woman," for example, is a companion
picture of four young people, but with how great a difference! The
new industrialism, the decline of a theology which is only a relic
in the iron woman, Mrs. Maitland, the post-Victorian attitude toward
sex and the family, suggest the vast change in the fashions of human
thought in a half century; and this is no less convincing because the
conclusions of Mrs. Deland's characters are practically identical
with those of Mrs. Stowe's. With Mrs. Stowe marriage is a finality and
sexual sin a damnation in the sight of God. With Mrs. Deland marriage
is an expedient and a protection for the woman who may otherwise be
abandoned, and sin is punished in remorse and loss of reputation. Mrs.
Stowe is moved by the thought of hell; Mrs. Deland, by the possibility
of Promethean tortures from within. And in the later book capital and
labor loom up to afford the background supplied in the earlier story by
the church and its communicants.

In the quarter century remaining to her after the writing of "Oldtown
Folks," Mrs. Stowe's life was a quiet fulfillment of her earlier
career. From a Florida plantation on which she spent her winters
she worked for the welfare of the negro and the upbuilding of the
South. She labored as before in coöperation with the church, but
her repugnance for the grimness of Calvinism had led her to become
an Episcopalian. As a novelist she kept on in the exposition of New
England and Northern life to the mild gratification of the reading
public which she had already won--a reading public who enjoyed what
Lowell almost too cleverly called "water gruel of fiction, thinned
with sentiment and thickened with morality." Her enduring fame will
doubtless rest on the fact that she was a story-writer of moderate
talent who in one memorable instance devoted her gift to the making of
American history.


                               BOOK LIST


  HARRIET BEECHER STOWE. Works. The writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe,
     with biographical introductions. 1899. 16 vols. These appeared
     in book form originally as follows: Mayflower, 1843; Uncle Tom's
     Cabin, 1852; A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1853; Sunny Memories of
     Foreign Lands, 1854; Dred, 1856; The Minister's Wooing, 1859; The
     Pearl of Orr's Island, 1862; Agnes of Sorrento, 1862; House and
     Home Papers, 1864; Little Foxes, 1865; Religious Poems, 1867;
     Queer Little People, 1867; The Chimney Corner, 1868; Oldtown
     Folks, 1869; Pink and White Tyranny, 1871; Oldtown Fireside
     Stories, 1871; My Wife and I, 1871; We and Our Neighbors, 1875;
     Poganuc People, 1878; A Dog's Mission, 1881.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by Charles E. Stowe. 1890. The biographical
         introductions in the standard set are valuable.

       CROWE, MARTHA FOOTE. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1913.

       ERSKINE, JOHN. Leading American Novelists. 1910.

       FIELDS, MRS. ANNIE. Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
         1897.

       STOWE, C. E. and L. B. Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1911.

       The following are among the more important of the many magazine
       articles that appeared in the months just after the death of
       Mrs. Stowe:

       BURTON, RICHARD. _Century_, Vol. XXX, p. 690.

       COOKE, G. W. _New England Magazine_ (N. S.), Vol. XV, p. 3.

       FIELDS, MRS. ANNIE. _Atlantic_, Vol. LXXVIII, p. 15.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. _Nation_, Vol. LXIII, p. 24.

       LEE, G. S. _Critic_, Vol. XXX, p. 281.

       PHELPS (WARD), E. S. _McClure's_, Vol. VII, p. 3.

       WARD, W. H. _Forum_, Vol. XXI, p. 727.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Contrast the conditions of authorship and the circumstances of
publication for Jane Austen and Mrs. Stowe. Compare those of George
Eliot and Mrs. Stowe.

With reference to "Uncle Tom's Cabin" read Agnes Repplier's essay
"Books that have Hindered Me" in "Points of View."

Read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" for Mrs. Stowe's attitude toward the people
of the South in distinction to her attitude toward the institution of
slavery.

Read "Oldtown Folks" or "The Minister's Wooing" for Mrs. Stowe's
exposition of the orthodox theology in either. If you can read both,
note whether there is any difference in her attitude toward the faith
of her fathers in the two books.

Compare Mrs. Stowe's New England village characters with those of
Oliver Wendell Holmes in any of his three novels.

Compare for the broad picture of a community and an epoch George
Eliot's "Middlemarch" and Mrs. Stowe's "Oldtown Folks."

Develop more fully the comparison or the contrast between "Oldtown
Folks" and Mrs. Deland's "The Iron Woman."



                              CHAPTER XXI

                         OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES


In the roster of American men of letters it is hard to think of any
other who is so completely the product of a district and the spokesman
for it as Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894). His whole lifetime was
passed in two neighborhoods--that of Harvard College in old Cambridge
and that of Beacon Hill in oldest Boston. He was born in the college
town in 1809, the same year with Lincoln. His father, the Reverend
Abiel Holmes, was a fine exponent of the old orthodoxy and of the
old breeding and a historian of the American Revolution. He was an
inheritor of the blood of the Bradstreet, Phillips, Hancock, Quincy,
and Wendell families, a kind of youth whose "aspect is commonly
slender,--his face is smooth, and apt to be pallid,--his features are
regular and of a certain delicacy,--his eye is bright and quick,--his
lips play over the thought he utters as a pianist's fingers dance over
their music."[27] It was a type for whose aptitudes Holmes felt the
greatest respect. He thanked God for the republicanism of nature which
every now and then developed a "large, uncombed youth" who strode
awkwardly into intellectual leadership. He acknowledged a Lincoln when
he came to maturity, but he expected more of a Chauncey or an Ellery or
an Edwards because of his inheritance.

  [27] "Elsie Venner," chap. i, "The Brahmin Caste of New England."

A prevailing alertness of mind in Holmes's generation offset the
natural conservatism which belongs to an aristocracy. For a hundred
years Harvard had been more liberal than Yale. The cleavage was already
taking place between Unitarian and Trinitarian or Congregational
believers. To be sure, the eyes of Abiel Holmes were focused on the
past, and he sent his son to be schooled under the safe influences
of Phillips Andover Academy, which were fostered by the orthodox
theological seminary just across the road. But even here Wendell--as
he was called--decided against entering the ministry because a certain
clergyman "looked and talked so like an undertaker." And when he
entered college in his home town, while he faced the traditional
required course of classical languages, history, mathematics, and moral
philosophy, the wind from over the sea was blowing through it, and he
breathed the atmosphere which was passing into the blood of Emerson and
Thoreau and George Ripley and the other Transcendentalists-to-be.

In his college days he was a little cheerful student of average
performance who refused then as always to take himself soberly,
although he did not lack inner seriousness. He practised his gift for
writing and was rewarded by the acceptance of some of his efforts
in the fashionable Annuals of the day--repositories of politely
sentimental tales, sketches, and poems in fancy bindings which
ornamented the marble-topped tables in the "best rooms." Under his
apparently aimless amiability, however, there was an independence of
judgment which twice recorded itself, in 1829 and '30. The first time
was on the occasion of an issue in his father's church when the son
was forced to agree with the liberal majority, who literally took the
pastor's pulpit from him, so that he had to reëstablish himself in
North Cambridge. Few harder tests could be devised than one between
loyalty to conviction and loyalty to family interests. The other sign
of independence was his choice of a profession. A boy of his heritage
was socially if not divinely predestined for some sort of intellectual
life. If he went to college, assurance was made doubly sure that he
would not become a business man. From the outset he rejected the
ministry as his "calling." He shrank from the formal complexities of
the law as he did from the logic of the theologians. The thought of
teaching did not seem to enter his mind. Literature could not afford
him a livelihood. By elimination, then, only medicine was left to him,
but in his day medicine did not occupy a position of dignity equal with
the other professions. Medical science was still in earliest youth,
and the practice of "physic" was jointly discredited by the barber,
the veterinary, the midwife, the "yarb doctor," and the miscellaneous
quack. This young "Brahmin," however, saw the chance for contributing
to the progress of a budding science, and made his decision with quiet
disregard of social prejudice.

Study in Paris, successful research work, practice in Boston, and
a year's teaching at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire led to an
appointment on the medical faculty at Harvard which he held actively
from 1847 to 1882 and as emeritus until his death. As a practitioner
he was not remarkably successful. At the first his extremely youthful
appearance and his jocosity of manner stood in the way. People could
not be expected to flock to the office of a young man who was known to
have said that "all small fevers would be gratefully received." And
later his interest in things literary was regarded with distrust by
prospective patients. As a teacher, on the other hand, he was unusually
effective because of the traits which made him a poor business-getter.
He was vivacious and deft in his methods. He knew how to put his ideas
in order, he was a master hand at expounding them, and he was ingenious
in providing neat formulas for memorizing the myriad details of
physiology and anatomy.

His profession supplied Holmes with a background of thought which was
different from any of his contemporaries. It supplied him with titles
and whole poems, such as "Nux Postcoenatica," "The Stethoscope
Song," and "The Mysterious Illness," with literary essays, such
as "The Physiology of Versification," and with a whole volume of
medical essays. It furnished the motives for his three "medicated
novels,"--prenatal influence in "Elsie Venner," physical magnetism
(by its opposite) in "A Mortal Antipathy," and telepathy in "The
Guardian Angel." It was the basis for scores of passages and hundreds
of allusions in the four volumes of the "Breakfast Table" series. And,
furthermore, in the natural sympathy which it generated in him for
every branch of progressive science it gave ground for the felicitous
toast:[28] "The union of Science and Literature--a happy marriage,
the fruits of which are nowhere seen to better advantage than in our
American Holmes." This is not to say that Holmes was alone in his
consciousness of science. Thoreau was fully as aware of it in the field
of plant and animal study; all things considered, Emerson and Whitman
were more responsive to its deeper spiritual implications. It is rather
that Holmes had his special avenue of approach through the lore of the
physician.

  [28] Meeting of the American Medical Association, May, 1853. The
       response was a poem.

The Boston to which Holmes removed when he began his professional
career was all-sufficing to him for the rest of his life. On Beacon
Hill, the stronghold of the old social order, there was an eager,
outreaching intellectual life. On its slope was the Boston Athenæum;
just below were the Old Corner Book Store and the little shop
maintained by Elizabeth Peabody. The theaters were rising at its
foot. Music was being fostered under the wise persistence of James S.
Dwight, Washington Allston was doing the best of his painting, and
the traditions of good statesmanship were being maintained by men
like Wendell Phillips and Charles Sumner. To cap all, good-fellowship
reigned and many a quiet dinner became a feast of reason and a flow
of soul. "Nature and art combined to charm the senses; the equatorial
zone of the system was soothed by well-studied artifices; the faculties
were off duty, and fell into their natural attitudes; you saw wisdom
in slippers and science in a short jacket." Although Holmes discounted
it in the moment of utterance, he was not unfriendly to the dictum:
"Boston State-house is the Hub of the Solar System. You couldn't
pry that out of a Boston man if you had the tire of all creation
straightened out for a crowbar."

Moreover, as the half century of his Boston residence progressed
there was no waning in the intellectual life. The obvious leaders,
whose names are known to everyone, were surrounded by a large circle
of thinking men and women. At the corner of the Common, just across
from the Statehouse, was the mansion of George Ticknor, then retired
from his Harvard professorship but hospitable in the offer of his rich
library to the new generation of scholars. William Ticknor founded a
publishing business into which he soon took young James T. Fields,
a house which under various firm names has had a distinguished and
unbroken career. Elizabeth Peabody was a radioactive center of all
sorts of enterprises and enthusiasms--the Pestalozzian Temple School,
the "conversations" on history, the book shop, and the temporary
publishing of the _Dial_. Francis H. Underwood was the untiring
champion of the idea which with perfect unselfishness he handed over to
the abler founders of the _Atlantic Monthly_. And scores of others with
less definite fruits of no less definite interest in life talked well
and listened well and wrote well for the passing reader of the day.

In this community Holmes early took his place as the accepted humorist,
and for the first twenty-five years he wrote almost entirely in verse.
The fact that two of his earliest and most famous poems were anything
but funny reënforces the point rather than gainsays it. For the
humorist, in contrast to the joker, is a serious man with a special
method which he employs usually but not always. If Holmes had not been
capable of blazing with the indignation of "Old Ironsides" or glowing
with the sympathy of "The Last Leaf," he would have been a clever
dispenser of jollities but not a commentator on life. Much of his
youthful composition was of the lighter variety--pleasant extravagances
on the level of the "Croaker Papers," not quite up to _Salmagundi_ (see
pp. 116, 134). "The Music Grinders," "The Comet," "Daily Trials," and
"The Stethoscope Song" belong in this class. More humorous and less
jocose are the verse with a definite satirical turn. "The Ballad of the
Oysterman" was a gibe at the sentimental lays to be found in all the
Annuals. "My Aunt" hit off the Apollinean Institute type of Young Lady
Finishing School to which he returned in a chapter of "Elsie Venner";
the sort of subject to which he returned too in his shafts at the
Latter-Day Adventists, in "Latter-Day Warnings," and at the decline of
Calvinism, in "The Deacon's Masterpiece."

At the same time Holmes won a place as the local laureate,--for his
class of 1829, for Harvard, and for every kind of occasion, grave and
gay, on which some appropriate verse could point a moral and adorn the
program. This is an easy accomplishment for those who have the gift,
but both difficult and dull in the hands of many a poet who is capable
of higher things. It demands fluency of pen, ready inventiveness,
informality, and a confident good humor in its oral delivery. These all
belonged to Holmes, and not least of them a gracious social manner.
It is far easier to depreciate this kind of verse than it is to be
consistently effective in it.

Twice in his early maturity he wrote in verse on the theory of poetry.
The first, in 1836, when he was entering the medical profession, was
his Phi Beta Kappa poem "Poetry"; the second was "Urania," in 1846,
shortly before he accepted his Harvard professorship. The object of
"Poetry," he wrote in a preface for its publication, was "to express
some general truths on the sources and the machinery of poetry; to
sketch some changes which may be said to have taken place in its
history, constituting four grand eras; and to point out some less
obvious manifestations of the poetic principle." In old age he looked
back on this ambitious early effort with kindly indulgence, and
allowed it to stand as a matter of biographical interest, although
it was so evidently the product "of a young person trained after the
schools of classical English verse as represented by Pope, Goldsmith,
and Campbell, with whose lines his memory was early stocked." When,
however, he wrote "Urania, a Rhymed Lesson" he wore a friendly smile
and did his teaching in a less didactic way. He knew his audience, he
said, and he knew that they all expected to be amused.

      I know a tailor, once a friend of mine,
      Expects great doings in the button line,--
      For mirth's concussions rip the outward case,
      And plant the stitches in a tenderer place,
      I know my audience,--these shall have their due;
      A smile awaits them ere my song is through!

But, he went on to say, he knew himself, too, and he proposed no more
to be the buffoon than to be the savage satirist. Beneath his smiles
there was a kindly seriousness. A dozen years later, in the fifth of
the "Autocrat" papers, he put the case in a little allegory, the end of
which is worth quoting in full:

  The stone is ancient error. The grass is human nature borne down
  and bleached of all its color by it. The shapes which are found
  beneath are the crafty beings which thrive in darkness, and the
  weaker organisms kept helpless by it. He who turns the stone over is
  whosoever puts the staff of truth to the old lying incubus, no matter
  whether he do it with a serious face or a laughing one. The next year
  stands for the coming time. Then shall the nature which had lain
  blanched and broken rise in its full stature and native hues in the
  sunshine. Then shall God's minstrels build their nests in the hearts
  of a new-born humanity. Then shall beauty--Divinity taking outlines
  and color--light upon the souls of men as the butterfly, image of the
  beatified spirit rising from the dust, soars from the shell that held
  a poor grub, which would never have found wings, had not the stone
  been lifted.

By these stages, then, Holmes concluded that he was an essayist and
developed into one. The "Poetry" of 1836 was entitled "A Metrical
Essay," and it was, without intending to be, distinctly prosaic.
"Urania," of 1846, was self-described as "A Rhymed Lesson" and
affected to be nothing more. At last "The Autocrat of the Breakfast
Table"--adopting the title and the form of an unsuccessful beginning
in the _New England Magazine_ of 1831-1832--resorted frankly to prose
and achieved a wider reputation for Holmes than all the foregoing verse
had done.[29] The young person trained through the reading of Pope,
Goldsmith, and Campbell was in the end fitted to do his best work after
the manner of Addison, Goldsmith, and Lamb. From the appearance of "The
Autocrat" Holmes's verse was subordinated in bulk and importance to his
prose.

  [29] For a direct statement on the resumption of the old attempt,
       see "The Autocrat's Autobiography" printed as a foreword to
       the volume. For an indirect account, see the passages on Byles
       Gridley and his "Thoughts on the Universe" in Holmes's "The
       Guardian Angel."

With his assumption of the _Atlantic_ editorship, Lowell had set the
prime condition that Holmes should become a regular contributor, and
it is evident from the motto on the title page, "Every man his own
Boswell," that Holmes's conversation had furnished the suggestion
for the series. The vehicle was perfectly adapted to the load it was
devised to carry. The introduction of a chief spokesman in a loosely
organized group made way for the casual drift from topic to topic.
The accident of a boarding-house selection justified the domination
by one speaker which would have been unnatural in any social group.
The continuity of the group gave a chance for characterization and for
the spinning of a slight narrative thread comparable to those on which
the _Citizen of the World_ and the "De Coverley Papers" were strung.
And the chief speaker, autocrat that he was, could give vent to his
thoughts on the universe without let or hindrance, and when the whim
seized him could impose his latest poems upon his always tolerant and
usually deferential fellow-boarders. From the publication of the first
number Lowell's judgment was vindicated, with the result not only that
the Autocrat spoke through twelve issues, but that the thread of his
discourse was continued with "The Professor at the Breakfast-Table," in
1859, was resumed with "The Poet at the Breakfast-Table," in 1871, and
was not concluded until the conversations "Over the Teacups," in 1890.

The range of topics cannot be better shown than by reference to the
index--and the original edition was extraordinary in its day for having
one. The "A's," for example, include abuse of all good attempts,
affinities, and antipathies, age, animal under air-pump, the American a
reënforced Englishman, the effect of looking at the Alps, the power of
seeing analogies, why anniversaries are dreaded by the professor, the
arguments which spoil conversation, the forming American aristocracy,
the use of stimulants by artists, the effect of meeting one of heaven's
assessors, and so on. The order in which they fall is hardly more
casual than in the index. Witness the eleventh paper: puns, "The
Deacon's Masterpiece," slang, dandies, aristocracy, intellectual green
fruit, Latinized diction (with the verses "Æstivation"), seashore and
mountains, summer residences, space, the Alps, moderate wishes (with
the verses "Contentment"), faithfulness in love, picturesque spots in
Boston, natural beauties in a city, dusting a library, experiencing
life, a proposal of marriage. The difference between their structure
and that of the formal essay is simply that they meander like a stream
instead of following a predetermined course like a canal.

In the later members of the series, and particularly in the
third and fourth, there is an evident response to the current of
nineteenth-century thinking. By nature Holmes was a liberal but not a
reformer. He took no active part in "movements," though he sympathized
with many of them and with the intentions of their wiser promoters.
At the same time he preferred for his own part to induce and persuade
people into new paths rather than to shock and offend them while they
were still treading the old ones. There is a note of considerate
caution in his espousal of new ideas. He was the type of man who will
always be unsatisfactory to extremists,--a dangerous person to the
hidebound conservative and a tentative trifler to the ultraradical.
His open-mindedness is charmingly demonstrated in the book of his old
age, "Over the Teacups." Few men of eighty succeed in keeping their
eyes off the past and their voices from decrying the present, but
Holmes in his latest years was as interested in the developments of the
day as he had been in the prime of life.

The issues of the Civil War--to return from the tea table to the
breakfast room--showed that Holmes had not lost the spark for righteous
indignation in the thirty years since the writing of "Old Ironsides."
"The Statesman's Secret" was not as effective a protest at Webster's
"Seventh of March Speech" (1850) as Whittier's "Ichabod," but it was
quite as sincerely outspoken. "Non-Resistance" and "The Moral Bully"
prove that Holmes was as little of a peace-at-any-price man as Lowell.
"Brother Jonathan's Lament for Sister Caroline" was written in deep
sorrow that the war had been precipitated, but "To Canaan" was militant
to the highest degree. Two other poems, written in the years of the
Autocrat and the Poet, both in lofty seriousness, came from "flowering
moments of the mind" which lost fewest petals as they were recorded in
verse. These were "The Chambered Nautilus" and "A Sun-Day Hymn."

In all Holmes's writing, whatever the mood or the form, the prevailing
method is cumulative. He is likely to start with an idea, proceed to a
simple analysis of it, and expound it by a single analogy elaborated at
length or a whole series of them more briefly presented. In the sixth
"Autocrat" paper he says, with some show of self-restraint, "There are
some curious observations I should like to make ... but I think we are
getting rather didactic." Yet as a matter of fact Holmes's method was
seldom anything but didactic, and his content was frequently such. He
evidently saw at a flash how to communicate the idea, but, as he must
have done hundreds of times in the classroom, he developed it with
what was at once spontaneous and painstaking detail. His most famous
satires, "My Aunt," "Contentment," and "The Deacon's Masterpiece," are
all illustrations of this method. Thus in his "Farewell to Agassiz,"
before the naturalist left for South America, Holmes mentioned that
the mountains were awaiting his approval, as were also five other
natural objects. He wished the traveler safety from the tropical sun
and twenty-two other dangers and that he might succeed in finding
fossils and seven other things of interest. "Bill and Joe" contains
sixty lines built up by the enumerative method on the truth that
worldly distinctions disappear for a moment in the light of college
friendships. "Dorothy Q" devotes thirty-two lines to the quaint
fancy "What would I be if one of my eight great, great grandmothers
had married another man?" and "The Broomstick Train" a hundred and
forty-six lines to the conceit "The Salem Witches furnish the power for
the trolley cars." In prose, as a final illustration, his well-known
discussion of the typical lecture audience in the sixth "Autocrat" is
about eight hundred words long: Audiences help formulate lectures.
The average is not high. They are awful in their uniformity--like
communities of ants or bees--whether in New York, Ohio, or New
England--unless some special principle of selection interferes. They
include fixed elements--in age (four)--and in intelligence (the dull
elaborated)--making up a compound vertebrate (biological analogy).
Kindly elements conceded, but on the whole depressing.

Holmes gave the final epithet to his novels when he referred to them
as "medicated." For the other and more eminent American physician,
Weir Mitchell, fiction was a resort to another world, but the
author of "Elsie Venner" (1861), "The Guardian Angel" (1867), and
"The Mortal Antipathy" (1885) was the essayist-physician extending
the narrative process a little farther than in the conversational
series. The plots were supplied by Dr. Holmes and developed by the
Autocrat-Professor-Poet. Several chapters of medical lore were
interpolated in each book, and several more of genial exposition.
These latter are like the work of Mrs. Stowe except that their
relation to story development is tenuous or imperceptible, and in
characterization his successes, like Mrs. Stowe's, are with the
homelier New England types.

In the best sense of the word Holmes was a provincial New Englander. He
was proud of the traditions of his district, devoted to its welfare,
certain of its capacity for improvement, but sure of its contribution
to the integrity of American character. Although he did not share the
deeper enthusiasms of Emerson or even fully understand them, he had
much more of the milk of human kindness in him. His "message" and his
manner of delivering it were popular with the reading public. He was
not a leader, but he kept up to the times, and he explained the drift
of them to many who might not otherwise have perceived what was going
on in the world or in themselves. In the tributes which came from every
quarter after his death his geniality was the highest common factor--a
wholesome and homely trait which will always be sure of affectionate
regard in American literature.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. Riverside Edition. 13 vols. Prose, Vols. I-X;
     Poetry, XI-XIII. 1891. Standard Library Edition, 1892; Autocrat
     Edition, 1904; both 15 vols. (uniform with Riverside Edition,
     with added life by J. T. Morse as Vols. XIV and XV). The best
     single volume of poems is the Cambridge Edition, 1895. His work
     appeared in book form originally as follows: Poems, 1836; Boylston
     Prize Dissertations, 1838; Homeopathy, and its Kindred Delusions,
     1842; Urania, 1846; Poems, 1849; Astræa, 1850; The Autocrat of
     the Breakfast-Table, 1858; The Professor at the Breakfast-Table,
     1860; Currents and Counter-Currents in Medical Science, 1861;
     Elsie Venner, 1861; Songs in Many Keys, 1862; Soundings from the
     Atlantic, 1864; Humorous Poems, 1865; The Guardian Angel, 1867;
     The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, 1872; Songs of Many Seasons,
     1875; John Lothrop Motley, 1879; The Iron Gate, 1880; Medical
     Essays, 1883; Pages from an Old Volume of Life, 1883; Ralph Waldo
     Emerson, 1885; A Mortal Antipathy, 1885; Our Hundred Days in
     Europe, 1887; Before the Curfew, and Other Poems, 1888; Over the
     Teacups, 1891.

     =Bibliography=

       A volume compiled by George B. Ives. 1907. Cambridge History of
         American Literature, Vol. II, pp. 540-543.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by John T. Morse. 1896. 2 vols.

       COLLINS, CHURTON. The Poetry and Poets of America.

       COOKE, G. W. Dr. Holmes at Fourscore. _New England Magazine_,
         October, 1889.

       CURTIS, G. W. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in _Literary and Social
         Essays_. 1895.

       DWIGHT, THOMAS. Reminiscences of Dr. Holmes as Professor of
         Anatomy. _Scribner's_, January, 1895.

       FIELDS, ANNIE. Personal Recollections and Unpublished Letters,
         in _Authors and Friends_. 1896.

       GILDER, JEANNETTE L. A Book and its Story, in _The Genial
         "Autocrat." Critic_, May 9, 1896.

       HALE, E. E. An Afternoon with Dr. Holmes in _Human Documents_.
         1895.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Cheerful Yesterdays. 1898.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Contemporaries. 1899.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Old Cambridge. 1900.

       HOWELLS, W. D. Oliver Wendell Holmes. _Harper's_, December, 1896.

       HOWELLS, W. D. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in _Literary Friends and
         Acquaintances_. 1900.

       KENNEDY, W. S. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Poet, Litterateur,
         Scientist. 1883.

       LANG, ANDREW. Adventures among Books. 1905.

       LODGE, H. C. Certain Accepted Heroes and Other Essays. 1897.

       LOWELL, J. R. A Fable for Critics. 1848.

       MATTHEWS, BRANDER. Cambridge History of American Literature.
         Vol. II, Bk. II, in chap. xxiii.

       MEYNELL, ALICE. The Rhythm of Life and Other Essays. 1897.

       RICHARDSON, C. F. American Literature, Bk. II, chap. vi. 1889.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Poets of America. 1885.

       VINCENT, L. H. American Literary Masters. 1906.

       WOODBERRY, G. E. _Nation_, October 11, 1894.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read any one of Holmes's "Breakfast-Table" Series or any one of his
novels for evidences of his prevailing belief in the virtues of an
intellectual aristocracy.

Do the same thing with any of these seven books for the recurrence of
illustrations, allusions, or whole passages which only a physician
would have been likely to write.

Note in any of these books or in any selected group of his poems
evidences of his respect for the broad contributions of science and
scientific thought.

Read poems and passages of broadest jocosity and see if you find any
wisdom intermixed with their ingenuity and their good nature.

Compare the "society verse" of Holmes with that of Austin Dobson or
Brander Matthews.

Read at least a half-dozen poems of Holmes written in satire on
contemporary men or movements and generalize on them as you can.

Read "Poetry," "Urania," and "To my Readers" for Holmes's theory of
the content and the purpose of poetry. Compare with the theory of some
other American or English poet.

Read "Elsie Venner," "The Guardian Angel," or "The Mortal Antipathy"
and criticize it for its virtues and defects as a novel.

Read "The Guardian Angel" for the autobiographical material
discoverable in the character of Byles Gridley.



                              CHAPTER XXII

                        SOME METROPOLITAN POETS


In the metropolitan group of the latter half of the nineteenth century
Bryant was dominant until his death in 1878. Other conspicuous
representatives were Bayard Taylor (1825-1878), Richard Henry Stoddard
(1825-1903), Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833-1908), Thomas Bailey Aldrich
(1836-1907) in his early career, and--with a difference--Richard Watson
Gilder (1844-1909). None of these men was born and brought up in New
York, and none but Gilder partook of the nature of the town as Irving
and even Bryant and Halleck had been able to do in the preceding
generation when it was more compact and unified. Taylor clung to the
idea of establishing a manorial estate at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania,
but lived more or less in New York and buzzed restlessly about the
literary market until he died a victim of overwork in 1878. Stoddard,
more stable and unexcited than Taylor or than Stedman, was occupied
in a succession of uninspired literary ventures. Aldrich, after a
few years, returned to Boston, where he was happier, although always
consciously a newcomer. Stedman devoted as much time and energy to
poetry as his unsuccessful efforts to become independently rich would
allow him. These men were in a way the first American literary victims
to "Newyorkitis." Only Richard Watson Gilder succeeded in coping with
the great city. The others were not only unable to impress their stamp
on the city of their adoption but were engulfed by it. In the midst of
the turmoil they could not enjoy the serenity which prevailed in those
same days in the Boston or the Charleston where cultural pursuits were
held in higher esteem than commercial activity.

They were in the midst of a different cultural atmosphere. Bryant,
Irving, Halleck, and Greeley led the way for a succeeding group of
self-educated men. The New England writers of the day had been schooled
at Harvard and Bowdoin and certain German universities, and the
cultured men of Charleston were going abroad for study and travel in
increasing numbers. In the midst of all the hurly-burly of New York
there was no dominant circle who were disposed to take time for the
leisurely contemplation of the finer things in art and life, and the
art and life of New York suffered in consequence. In spite of all that
had been said for generations about the employment of American subject
matter, these men turned away from either the romance or the realities
of the town. Except in rare instances they did not even satirize it.
Instead they took refuge in sentimentalism and in remote times and
places. "The Ballad of Babie Bell," "Ximen, or the Battle of the
Sierra Morena, and Other Poems," "Poems of the Orient," "The Blameless
Prince," "Poems Lyric and Idyllic," "Königsmark, and Other Poems," "The
King's Bell," and "The Book of the East" were the natural output of
such a group. Moreover, the plays were of the same sort. "Tortesa the
Usurer," "The Merchant of Bogota," "Francesca da Rimini," and "Leonora,
or the World's Own" represented the majority. "Fashion" and "Rip Van
Winkle" were quite the exceptions.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of his generation Stoddard was perhaps more devoted than any other
in his worship of a fanciful and unvitalized Muse. The criticisms of
Lowell and Holmes served as correctives for the artificialities of
Stedman and Aldrich, but Stoddard made no poetic response either to the
Civil War or to the march of science or to the religious changes that
attended it. To the end of his career he was the complete product of
the influences surrounding his youth. He had been brought to New York
at the age of ten by his widowed mother and kept in school only until
he was fifteen. For nine years he worked as an artisan, cultivating
literature and literary people in his leisure hours. From 1853 to 1870
he held a post in the New York Customhouse, and from 1860 on, literary
editorships with the _New York World_, the _Aldine_ and the _New York
Mail and Express_.

Stoddard's poetry is altogether detached from this life, ignoring or
avoiding the facts of daily existence; and even in the little lyrics of
pleasure there is the lovely detachment of the orchid. Though now and
again they show signs of becoming mildly erotic, they have no passion
in them. Rather they exhibit the chaste delights of the virtuoso, who
takes up one object after another from the glass-covered cabinets in
the museum which his fancy has furnished, looks it over fondly, admires
its form and color, and sets it back with even pulse until such time as
he shall choose to gaze on it again. These lyrics are sometimes nature
descriptions and sometimes nature fantasies. Often they are about the
idea of love--rather than about love itself--and about wine--but not
about conviviality. In the philosophical ones there is a negative tone,
as in

      Man loses but the life he lives
        And only lives the life he loses.

or in

      There is no life on land or sea
      Save in the quiet moon and me;
      Nor ours is true, but only seems
      Within some dead old World of Dreams.

And this dream world was an abandoned unreality and not a hope for
something better.

Taken at its best, his verse is chiefly excellent for its form. As it
does not spring from any vivid experiencing of life, it is conventional
and reminiscent rather than spontaneous and original. It suggests many
measures from many periods. In only a few poems, which purport to be
themselves imitations from the East, he writes what seems fresh and
new. His real gift was in the composition of little poetic cameos,
bits of from four to a dozen lines, the dainty ornaments of literature.

       *       *       *       *       *

The career of Thomas Bailey Aldrich was closely interwoven with the
whole fabric of professional authorship in America. Like Bryant and
Willis before him, and like Stedman, Stoddard, and Winter of his own
generation, he established himself in New York, although he was a
New England boy; but unlike all the others he fulfilled his career
in Boston. It was an accident of dollars and cents that kept him out
of Harvard and put him into a New York office. A love of literature
led him then successively into the adventurous byways of Bohemian New
York, the secure dignity of magazine editorship in Boston, and the fair
prospects of independent literary success as enjoyed on Beacon Hill.

To be explicit, he was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1836. His
father's pursuit of fortune took Aldrich as a child to many parts of
the country, but brought him back to Portsmouth at the age of thirteen.
For the next three years he lived there the life which provided the
basic facts for "The Story of a Bad Boy." Lack of funds prevented
his entering Harvard, and in 1852 he undertook a clerkship in the
office of a New York uncle. In 1855, when he was still only nineteen,
he published his first volume of poetry and became junior literary
critic on the _Evening Mirror_. In the next several years he held a
sub-editorship in New York on the _Home Journal_ and the _Saturday
Press_ and literary adviserships to several minor publishing houses,
capping off with the editorship of the _Illustrated News_, which had
become a thing of the past when, in 1866, he was called to Boston to
become editor of _Every Saturday_. This post he held for nine years.
For the six years up to 1881 he was an abundant contributor to the
_Atlantic Monthly_ and for the next nine, 1881-1890, he was the editor.
During the remainder of his life he held no literary position.

During his fifteen years in New York, Greeley and Bryant, two newspaper
editors, were perhaps the dominant figures in the literary and
intellectual stratum, Willis and Halleck the most popular, Henry Clapp,
Jr., and Charles T. Congdon the cleverest, and "Bohemia," with its
rallying point at Pfaff's restaurant, the visible rallying place for
the authors.[30] Aldrich gravitated toward this group, but never really
belonged to it. Just why he did not can be inferred from a sentence by
Howells, whose nature was very like his own: "I remember that, as I sat
at that table, under the pavement, in Pfaff's beer-cellar, and listened
to the wit that did not seem very funny, I thought of the dinner with
Lowell, the breakfast with Fields, the supper at the Autocrat's, and
felt that I had fallen very far."[31]

  [30] For varying sentiments about "Bohemia" see the following
       passages: Ferris Greenslet, "Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich," pp.
       37-47; W. D. Howells, "Literary Friends and Acquaintances," pp.
       68-76; Stedman and Gould, "Life of Edmund Clarence Stedman," pp.
       208, 209; William Winter, "Old Friends," pp. 291-297.

  [31] In reply to this and like passages William Winter wrote:
       "No literary circle comparable with the Bohemian group of
       that period, in ardor of genius, variety of character, and
       singularity of achievement, has since existed in New York, nor
       has any group of writers anywhere existent in our country been
       so ignorantly and grossly misrepresented and maligned" ("Old
       Friends," p. 138).

The men who gathered at Pfaff's were very conscious of Boston, though
their consciousness came out in various ways. The most violent said
that the thought of it made them as ugly as sin; others loved it
though they left it, as Whitman did "the open road"; and some, on the
outskirts of "Bohemia," were not too aggressively like Stedman, who
admitted much later, "I was very anxious to bring out my first book
in New York in Boston style, having a reverence for Boston, which I
continued to have." Aldrich was of like mind, and readily accepted
Osgood's invitation to "the Hub" and to the editorship of _Every
Saturday_. Years after he wrote to Bayard Taylor, who could understand:
"I miss my few dear friends in New York--but that is all. There is a
finer intellectual atmosphere here than in our city.... The people of
Boston are full-blooded _readers_, appreciative, trained." And later,
to Stedman: "In the six years I have been here, I have found seven or
eight hearts so full of noble things that there is no room in them for
such trifles as envy and conceit and insincerity. I didn't find more
than two or three such in New York, and I lived there fifteen years. It
was an excellent school for me--to get out of!" Boston was his native
heath, in spite of his own saying: "Though I am not genuine Boston, I
am Boston-plated."

Aldrich's literary career began and ended with the writing of poetry,
but what he did in the interims of poetical silence contributed to
the peculiar character of his work even though it was a source of
distraction and sometimes of prolonged interruption. As a reader and
editor he was schooled from very young manhood in the exercise of a
peculiarly fine artistic taste, a taste so exacting in detail that the
_Atlantic_ under his direction was described by a foreign critic as
"the best edited magazine in the English language." He did not reserve
the exercise of this rectitude of judgment for the work of others,
but applied it with perhaps increased austerity to himself. His verse
will consequently endure close examination, and the later collections
will show the virtues and defects of scrupulous rejection and of the
revision in each succeeding publication of the work which he chose to
preserve.

The virtues of work so carefully perfected are evident. His effects
are, in the end, all calculated, for he gave no quarter to what he had
produced with zest if it did not ring true to his critical ear. His
poetic machinery is therefore well oiled and articulated. His metaphors
are sound and his diction happily adjusted. "The vanilla-flavored
adjectives and the patchouli-scented participles" criticized by his
kindly senior, Dr. Holmes, are pared away. So in the little steel
engravings that are the best expressions of his peculiar talent there
is a fine simplicity, but it is the simplicity of an accomplished
woman of the world rather than of a village maid. And herein lie
the shortcomings of Aldrich's poetry--that it is the poetry of
accomplishment. As a youth in New York, writing while Halleck's
popularity was at its height, he was not independent enough to be more
original than his most admired townsman. The verses in "The Bells: a
Collection of Chimes" are most of them clearly imitative; and from the
day of "Babie Bell" on, whatever of originality was Aldrich's belonged
to the library and the drawing-room and the literary club rather than
to the seas, woods, and mountains.

It is logical, then, that his longer narrative poems have least of his
own stamp in them. From a literary point of view they are well enough,
but they are literary grass of the field and have no more claim on the
primary attention of a modern reader than do the bulk of prose short
stories written in the same years by Aldrich and his fellows. The
only one that stands out is "Pauline Pavlovna," and that because it
has the dramatic vigor and the startling unexpectedness of conclusion
which mark the best of his prose tales. It is logical, too, that in
his more ambitious odes--such as "Spring in New England" and the "Shaw
Memorial Ode," which open and close the second volume of his poems--he
did not appear to the best advantage. Memorials of the Civil War are
adequate only if written with epic vision, but the best that Aldrich
did with such material was to make it the ground for heartfelt tributes
to the nobility of his fallen friends. Read Moody's "Ode in Time of
Hesitation" beside Aldrich's slender lyric based on the same man and
the same memorial, and the difference is self-evident. Aldrich's
biographer has commented on the rarity of his æsthetic sense, "among
modern poets with their preoccupations, philosophical, religious and
political." In this not unjust criticism of Aldrich--which marks a
distinction rather than a superiority--lies the reason why he should
have left the writing of national odes to poets who were sometimes
capable of such preoccupation.

In writing on personal and local and occasional themes Aldrich dealt
with more congenial material. When celebrating his fellow-authors and
the places he loved he could invoke beauty with an unpreoccupied mind;
and he did so with unvarying success, addressing the choicest of the
limited public in which he was really interested. The kind of folk he
cared for "Drank deep of life, _new books_ and hearts of men," like
Henry Howard Brownell. As a youth he wrote delightedly of a certain
month when he could see "her" every day and browse in a library of
ten thousand volumes. He was a literary poet for literary people. As
such he was most successful in poems which ranged in length from the
sonnet to the quatrain. In the tiny bits like "Destiny," "Heredity,"
"Identity," "Memory," "I'll not confer with Sorrow," "Pillared Arch
and Sculptured Tower," he achieved works as real as Benvenuto's jewel
settings. It was a fulfillment of the wish recorded in his "Lyrics and
Epics":

      I would be the lyric
      Ever on the lip,
      Rather than the epic
      Memory lets slip.
      I would be the diamond
      At my lady's ear
      Rather than a June rose
      Worn but once a year.

No more charming tribute was ever paid Aldrich than this of Whittier's
narrated by a friend who had been visiting for a week with the poet in
his old age: "Every evening he asked me to repeat to him certain short
poems, often 'Destiny,' and once even 'that audacious "Identity,"'
as he called it; but at the end he invariably said, 'Now thee knows
without my saying so that I want "Memory,"' and with his wonderful
far-off gaze he always repeated after me: 'Two petals from that
wild-rose tree.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

In his address at a meeting held in memory of Edmund Clarence Stedman
in January, 1909, Hamilton Mabie struck the main note in two
complementary statements: "Mr. Stedman belongs with those who have not
only enriched literature with works of quality and substance, but who
have represented it in its public relationships," and, "Stedman was
by instinct and temperament a man of the town." He elected to live in
Manhattan just as deliberately as Aldrich elected to live in Boston;
and in this distinction lies something much broader than the mere
difference between the two men.

Stedman was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1833. After the death
of his father and the remarriage of his mother, he was brought up
from 1839 to 1850 under charge of an uncle. A member of the class of
1853 at Yale, he was "rusticated" (see p. 282) and then expelled for
persistent misbehavior. Until 1863 he was in journalism, as petty
proprietor in two Connecticut towns, and later as member of the _New
York Tribune_ staff, ending with two years as war correspondent. In
1863 he went into Wall Street, and in 1869 became a member of the New
York Stock Exchange. From this date to the end of his life in 1908 he
knew little real repose, oscillating from over-exertion in business to
over-exertion in writing, with occasional enforced vacations. His work
as poet was inseparable from his labors as editor and critic. In this
field he wrote "Victorian Poets," 1875, "Poets of America," 1885, and
"The Nature and Elements of Poetry," 1892; and edited the "Library of
American Literature" (with Ellen Hutchinson) 1888-1889, "A Victorian
Anthology," 1895, and "An American Anthology," 1900.

Stedman took the consequences of settling in the commercial capital
of the United States. While the members of the Saturday Club were
lending distinction to Boston, the members of the Ornithorhyncus Club
and the Bohemians were receiving the impress of New York. Men came
to the Saturday luncheons from Salem and Haverhill, Concord, and
Cambridge as well as near-by Brookline and Boston itself, but the New
York groups congregated into literary neighborhoods in the "Unitary
Home" or "on the south side of Tenth Street." Thus it came about that
Aldrich contributed to Boston what he brought there, but that Stedman
was "made in New York." As a result Aldrich was more frankly absorbed
in the concerns of the enlightened reader, and Stedman relatively
more interested in a broader society. Both were war correspondents,
but Aldrich admitted the war into his poetry only rarely, and then
without much success. On the other hand, the first eighth of Stedman's
collected poems are entitled "In War Time," and with the poems of
Manhattan, of New England, and of special occasions amount to nearly
one half the volume. Moreover, of the poems by Stedman which are
generally known and quoted, quite the larger portion are included
in utterances which are representative of literature "in its public
relationships."

A timely admonition from Lowell, as valuable as the one from Holmes to
Aldrich, helped keep him out of the byways in which he was inclined to
stray. In 1866 Stedman was proud of his "Alectryon," a blank-verse poem
on a classic theme which had appeared in one of his books three years
before.

  When Mr. Lowell praised the volume in _The North American Review_ I
  was chagrined that he did not allude to my _pièce de résistance_,
  and finally hinted as much to him. He at once said that it was my
  "best piece of work," but "no addition to poetic literature," since
  we already have enough masterpieces of that kind--from Landor's
  "Hamadryad" and Tennyson's "OEnone" down to the latest effort
  by Swinburne or Mr. Fields. So I have never written since upon an
  antique theme. Upon reflection, I thought Lowell right. A new land
  calls for new song.

The best of Stedman's nature poems are directly drawn from boyhood
reminiscence or from a voyage and vacation in the West Indies, and many
of his songs and ballads are derived from contemporary backgrounds and
episodes.

Stedman did his work as a poet, however, in full consciousness of all
the wealth of continental literature and the splendors of Old World
tradition. Perhaps there was no single work into which he put more
ambition than into his uncompleted metrical version from the Greek of
the Sicilian Idyllists. His "Victorian Poets" and the anthology which
followed were undertaken by way of making a workmanlike approach to the
poetry of his own countrymen. As a reader he had the scholar's attitude
toward literature; as a poet he felt a respect approaching reverence
for the established traditions of his art. And yet--and in this respect
Stedman is lamentably rare among critics and artists--his conviction
that the centuries had achieved permanent canons for the poetic art
did not lead him into slashing abuse of those who dissented from his
views. He wrote no single essay which better demonstrated his wisdom,
his sanity, and his charming suavity of mind and manner than his
discussion of Walt Whitman. Although he felt a native distaste for much
of Whitman's writing and for the way most of it was done, he succeeded
in applying a fair mode of criticism, and he did it in the manner of
an artist and not as a counsel for the plaintiff. Instead of beginning
with cleverness and ending with truculence Stedman did himself the
honor of coming out magnanimously with "... there is something of the
Greek in Whitman, and his lovers call him Homeric, but to me he shall
be our old American Hesiod, teaching us works and days." The measure
of Stedman's poetry should therefore be made in the light of two
characteristics: his instinctive and temperamental love of the town,
as this determined his choice of subject matter, and his widely read
appreciation of the older poets, as this affected his sense of artistic
form.

Although some of it was very popular at the moment and not altogether
negligible to-day, his less important work was the succession of verses
which were written in the spirit and, in some cases, at the speed of
the journalist. "The Diamond Wedding," for example, was done in an
evening and was the talk of the town thirty-six hours later. But, more
than that, it was actually good satire,--as good a piece of its kind
as had appeared in New York since Halleck's "Fanny." So, too, "Israel
Freyer's Bid for Gold" was published three days after the idea had
first occurred to him. These, like the "Ballad of Lager Bier" and "The
Prince's Ball" and even "How Old Brown Took Harper's Ferry" represented
the high spirit of youth rollicking on paper in the fashion of the
young authors of the "Salmagundi" and "Croaker" satires.

"Bohemia" and "Pan in Wall Street," though composed in this same
general period, are far more sober, deliberate, and genuinely
poetical. In both Stedman dealt with the romantic rather than with the
ridiculous or contemptible in city life. From the years of his work
on "The Victorian Poets" to the end two developments took place. He
inclined more to refine on the form of his poems, giving over at last
all fluent satire, and he progressed in subject matter, first to what
literature and the past suggested and then, with advancing years, to
considerations of age and death. The changes are not abrupt, but they
are pervasive and evident.

During the last dozen years of his life poetry could not be his natural
form of expression, for the world was too much with him. A great deal
of the time when he was not getting or losing on Change (he seems to
have lost rather more than he spent) he devoted to service on all
sorts of boards and councils of good works, speaking and versifying
for special occasions, editing miscellaneously,--even a "Pocket Guide
to Europe,"--and giving advice and encouragement to younger poets.
He was admirably representing literature in its public relationships
and paying the price which is always exacted of an ambassador of
any sort in the complete sacrifice of independent leisure. There is
something pathetic in his oft-repeated protests in these latter years
at being called a "banker-poet" or "broker-poet," for he had failed
to become rich as he had hoped, and he had enjoyed on the whole less
security than many of his acquaintances who had attached themselves to
literature in some professional way. This, however, had been a mistake
not so much of judgment as of temperament. Unless his voluminous
biography utterly misrepresents him he had no true capacity for
leisure. He was an intellectual flagellant; and his poetry, although
he was in theory devoted to it, was in reality a proof of the love of
art which continually tantalized and distracted him but never won his
complete allegiance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Richard Watson Gilder was born in Bordentown, New Jersey, in 1844. He
studied there in Bellevue Seminary, founded by his father, intending
to practice law. He was in brief active service during the war when
Pennsylvania was invaded. On his father's death he entered journalistic
work, first with two Newark newspapers and then with _Hours at Home_
in New York. From its founding in 1870 he was associate editor of the
old _Scribner's Monthly_ (since 1881 _The Century_) and from 1881 was
its editor in chief. He became increasingly important in New York
as contributor to civic welfare, and at the same time held his own
as editor and poet. Thus he was first president of the Kindergarten
Association of New York and a founder of the Authors' Club. He was
identified with the leading agencies for cultural and humanitarian
ends, was in demand as laureate on special occasions, and was recipient
of many honorary degrees.

Gilder was almost exclusively a lyric poet. His units are very
brief,--there are more than five hundred in the one-volume "Complete"
edition,--very few extending to the one hundred lines ordained by Poe.
Even among lyrics, moreover, he set distinct boundaries to his field.
Among his metropolitan fellows--Taylor, Stoddard, Aldrich, Stedman, and
the others--he was notable in not writing imitative and reminiscent
poetry. These men must have been rather definitely in the back of his
mind when he wrote:

      Some from books resound their rhymes--
        Set them ringing with a faint,
        Sorrowful, and sweet, and quaint
      Memory of the olden times,
      Like the sound of evening chimes.

And too many of his contemporaries did not follow as well as he the
admonition,

            Tell to the wind
      Thy private woes, but not to human ear.

There was still a world of beauty left for him, first of all in songs
of love. It is a chaste and disembodied passion that he celebrated in
frequent groups of song. The lady is a delight to the eye, modest,
timid, and yet all-generous; the lover eager, gentle, adoring, and
inspired to nobility. What Gilder recorded in one of the earliest of
these lyrics seems in large measure to hold true of them all. After an
enumeration of the lady's charms and the charm she bestowed upon earth
and sky, he continued:

      I love her doubting and anguish;
        I love the love she withholds;
      I love my love that loveth her
        And anew her being molds.

A poet of so rarefied a sentiment as this hangs on the brink of
sentimentalism, but Gilder seldom fell over, for his nicety of feeling
could not easily be led into mawkishness.

His regard for nature was refined and sophisticated. One passes
from the exquisite "Dawn" with which his first volume opened, past
"Thistle-Down" and "The Violet" to the poems of Tyringham, his summer
home; and then to "Home Acres" and "The Old Place," which had no rival;
and ends "In Helena's Garden" between "The Marble Pool" and "The
Sundial," to drink tea with eleven pretty girls at a round table made
from a granite millstone. The sun shines brightly, the flowers are in
bloom, their odor mingling with that of the souchong, the conversation
is facile, and everybody is amiable and complacent. From such a
catalogue one might expect sappy and emasculated nature poems, but once
again Gilder's sanity rescues him. Even in Helena's garden he is rather
a strong man at ease than a sybarite.

In his enjoyment of the allied arts his taste was generous. Music
appealed to him most of all. He chanted the praises of Handel and
Chopin, Rubinstein and Tschaikowsky, but of Beethoven still more,
and of Wagner most of all. He told of the thrill he caught from the
various instruments, but of the deeper thrill from the singer and from
the chorus. The art of "Madame Butterfly" appealed to him, but not so
deeply as the power of the drama, even if played "In a little theater,
in the Jewry of the New World." Naturally he wrote much of his own art,
revealing his high seriousness in his poems about the poet. Poetry was
not solely the record or the evidence of beauty for him. Although his
only markedly personal allegiance in poetry was an allegiance to Keats,
it was a fealty to Keats taken off before his prime. Gilder lamented
the wrong fate had done the youthful genius and did not content himself
with reiterating that "a thing of beauty is a joy forever."

For Gilder never, even in his most ecstatic moods, indulged in the
fallacy of setting art above life. Though his work does not show the
marked changes which have developed in many evolving careers, there is
a clear emergence of philosophic and then social and civic interest in
his progressive volumes. His sense for the need of a brave integrity
comes to the surface in such poems as "Reform," "The Prisoner's
Thought," "The Heroic Age," "The Demagogue," "The Tool," "The New
Politician," "The Whisperers," and "In Times of Peace." To such themes
as these and to his poems of heroism and of the reunited country Gilder
brought the same delicacy of touch as to his poems of love and art and
nature, and he brought into view in them the latent vigor which saved
the others from being merely pink and mellifluous.

In poetry written on the scale of Gilder's there is need of finest
workmanship. There is no chance for Turneresque effects:

        The foreground golden dirt,
      The sunshine painted with a squirt.

These paintings are like miniatures which must submit to scrutiny
under the reading glass. In this connection his craftsmanship becomes
interesting in the history of versification. For Gilder was at once
a master of the more complex forms of traditional verse and an early
experimenter in the free, rhythmic forms which are the subject of
spirited controversy to-day. Some rhythmic prose appears in his
earliest volume, but the sonnet prevails at the beginning of his
authorship, and at the end it almost utterly disappears in favor of
the freest sort of blank verse, irregular and unrimed iambic measures,
poems which are suggestive of but distinct from Whitman's, and frank
prose-poetry, not even "shredded prose"--in the language of Mr.
Howells--but printed in solid paragraphs. Except for the sonnet, Gilder
had no favorite measure or stanza in his earlier volumes. Few poems are
in exactly similar measures. There are lines of from three to seven
feet, quatrains of various sorts, and rhythms from that of the heroic
couplet to that of the so-called Pindaric ode. But whatever the measure
he adopted, he was scrupulously consistent to it, though he employed
it easily, seldom conceding an awkward or prosaic locution to the
exigencies of lilt or rime. So he seems to have been equally at home in
the use of sundry forms--in the antiphonal ballad like "The Voyager,"
within the pale of "The Sonnet," in the anapæstic flow of "A Song of
Early Autumn," in the swift-moving iambics of "A Woman's Thought," with
its intricate double and triple rimes, or in the psalmlike sibilations
of "The Whisperers."

The philosophy of Gilder was the philosophy of his most enlightened
contemporaries. There is in it much of Emerson, whom he called the
"shining soul" of the New World, and there is much of Whitman, though
it is not clear whether their likeness does not lie in their common
accord with Emerson rather than in a direct influence from "the good
gray poet" to Gilder. The immanence of God in nature and in the heart
of man (see "The Voice of the Pine"); the unity of all natural law
(see "Destiny"); the conflict between religion and theology (see
"Credo"); and a faith in the essentials of democratic life,--these
are the wholesome fundamentals of modern thinking shared alike by
Emerson and Whitman and Gilder. Gilder is not their most impressive
or prophetic expositor. He is a lesser voice in the choir. The
point of real distinction for him is that he combined so finely the
discriminating work of a literary editor with the unwearying life of
a good and courageous citizen and still kept the current of his song
serene and clear.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Authors_=

  RICHARD HENRY STODDARD. Works. Complete Poems. 1 vol. His verse
     appeared in book form originally as follows: Footprints, 1849;
     Poems, 1852; Songs of Summer, 1857; The King's Bell, 1862; Abraham
     Lincoln: an Horatian Ode, 1865; The Book of the East, and Other
     Poems, 1871; The Lion's Cub, with Other Verse, 1890.

     =Collections=

       BOYNTON, PERCY H. American Poetry, pp. 542-554, 680-684.

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol.
         VIII, pp. 226-238.

     =Biography=

       Recollections Personal and Literary, by Richard Henry Stoddard.
         Ripley Hitchcock, editor. 1903.

  THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH. Works. The Writings of, in 9 vols. 1907.
     (Vols. I-II, Poetry; Vols. III-IX, Prose.) The best single volume
     of the poetry is Poems. 1906. His works appeared in book form
     originally as follows: The Bells, 1855; The Ballad of Babie Bell,
     1856; Daisy's Necklace, 1857; Pampinea and Other Poems, 1861; Out
     of his Head, 1862; The Story of a Bad Boy, 1869; Marjorie Daw, and
     Other People, 1873; Prudence Palfrey, 1874; Cloth of Gold, 1874;
     Flower and Thorn, 1876; The Queen of Sheba, 1877; The Stillwater
     Tragedy, 1880; From Ponkapog to Pesth, 1883; Mercedes, and Later
     Lyrics, 1883; Wyndham Towers, 1889; The Sisters' Tragedy, 1891;
     Two Bites at a Cherry, 1893; An Old Town by the Sea, 1893;
     Unguarded Gates, and Other Poems, 1895; Later Lyrics, 1896; Judith
     and Holofernes, 1896.

     =Collection=

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. IX,
         pp. 377-399.

     =Bibliography=

       A chronological list of Aldrich's works is appended to the Life.
         See Biography, below.

     =Biography=

       The Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich is by Ferris Greenslet. 1908.
         See also The Story of a Bad Boy, by Aldrich himself.

  EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN. Works. The Poems of. 1908. These appeared
     in book form originally as follows: The Prince's Ball, 1860;
     Poems Lyrical and Idyllic, 1860; The Battle of Bull Run, 1861;
     Alice of Monmouth, 1863; The Blameless Prince, and Other Poems,
     1869; Victorian Poets, 1875; Hawthorne and Other Poems, 1877;
     Poets of America, 1885; The Nature and Elements of Poetry, 1892;
     A Victorian Anthology, 1895; An American Anthology, 1900; Mater
     Coronata, 1901.

     =Bibliography=

       An excellent chronological list is contained in Vol. II of the
         Life.

     =Biography=

       The Life and Letters is by Laura Stedman and George M. Gould.
         1910. 2 vols. See also A New England Childhood: the Story of
         the Boyhood of Edmund Clarence Stedman. Margaret Fuller. 1916.

  RICHARD WATSON GILDER. Works. The Poems of. Household Edition. 1908.
     These appeared in book form originally as follows: The New Day,
     1875; The Celestial Passion, 1878; Lyrics, 1878; The Poet and
     his Master, and Other Poems, 1878; Two Worlds, and Other Poems,
     1891; Great Remembrance, and Other Poems, 1893; For the Country,
     1897; In Palestine and Other Poems, 1898; Poems and Inscriptions,
     1901; A Christmas Wreath, 1903; In the Heights, 1905; A Book of
     Music, 1906; Fire Divine, 1907; Lincoln the Leader, 1909; Grover
     Cleveland, 1910.

     =Collection=

       STEDMAN and HUTCHINSON. Library of American Literature, Vol. X,
         pp. 252-259.

     =Biography=

       Letters of Richard Watson Gilder. Rosamond Gilder, editor. 1906.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the biographical passages cited in the text relative to the
difference of literary atmosphere in New York and Boston. Read W. D.
Howells's "A Hazard of New Fortunes" for a further contrast between the
two cities.

Read Stoddard's poems with a view to marking definite literary
influences as shown in poems which seem evidently imitative.

Read a group of the four-line and eight-line poems of Aldrich and
compare them in spirit and execution with similar bits by Stoddard and
by Emerson.

Read Stedman's critical essays on one or two of the New England poets
and on two or three of his fellow New Yorkers. Read his essay on Walt
Whitman. Does Stedman's own verse confirm the theory of his criticisms
of Whitman?

Read Gilder's poems in the newer verse forms and compare them with one
of the contemporary poets mentioned in the last chapter of this book.

Is there a legitimate connection to be mentioned between Gilder's poems
on civic themes and the movement for better citizenship in the 1890's?
Can you cite political events and characters and novels or plays on
political life which belong to this period?



                             CHAPTER XXIII

                        THE POETRY OF THE SOUTH


The non-mention of any Southern writers for nearly two centuries in
a history of American literature is likely to mislead the unthinking
reader. Certain qualifying facts should be reckoned with in drawing
any deductions. The first and most specific is that Poe, although born
in Boston and largely active in Philadelphia and New York, belongs
to the South. His poems and tales are without time and space, but
his criticisms are often vigorously sectional; yet he was really
an isolated character, speaking for himself without associates or
disciples.

For the comparative withdrawal of the South during a long period from
the writing and publishing of poems, essays, and stories, there are
two main reasons. One is the general nature of the early settlement
(see pp. 3, 4, 6). The spread of the population over a wide area and
the consequent lack of large towns gave no encouragement to printers
and publishers before the Revolution and furnished no such gathering
places as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Literature, like all the
other arts, thrives best in fellowship. With the Revolution and after
it the richest culture of the South devoted itself to statesmanship
and expressed itself in oratory. John Adams, governmental specialist,
regretted that he had no leisure for the arts (see p. 69), but Thomas
Jefferson, his successor in the White House, was a creative educator, a
linguist, an architect, and not unversed in music. Southern gentlemen
from the days of Jefferson and Madison to those of Abraham Lincoln read
"Mr. Addison" and "Mr. Steele" and "Mr. Pope," fashioned their speech
and writing after those courtly models, and, when they wrote at all,
circulated their efforts among friends, not submitting them to the
sordid touch of the publisher.

Moreover, the literary consciousness of the South is shown in the
history of the American theater. The earliest performances of which
there is record were given on Southern estates in the second quarter
of the eighteenth century. The Hallam company of players, arriving
from England in 1752, secured their first hearing in Maryland and
Virginia. Smaller Southern communities held their own with New York and
Philadelphia in the patronage of the stage, while surviving Puritan
prejudice made New England an arid field for the drama until well into
the next century. Again, the founding of the University of Virginia,
preëminent though not the oldest among Southern colleges, was a doubly
important event in American education, for it was first among state
universities, with a curriculum recognizing the demands of citizenship,
and it was unique in the beauty of its housing. Finally, journalism was
not neglected in the South, keeping pace with the progress in the rest
of the country; and the _Southern Literary Messenger_ (1834-1865) held
an enviable place among American periodicals during its thirty years of
life.

From 1850 the natural course of events in the South began to develop
literary centers, of which Charleston, South Carolina, was the most
notable. At this date William Gilmore Simms (1806-1870) was in the
high prime of life and was the unchallenged leader by virtue of age,
literary achievement, and force of personality. He had appeared before
the public with two volumes of poems in 1827, without foregoing poetry
had gone on to prolific writing of adventure stories, and had produced
at the rate of more than a book a year. He was an aboundingly vigorous,
somewhat turbulent man, with a stimulating gift for talk and a very
generous interest in all men of literary feeling and especially in
younger aspirants. Around him and John Russell, the bookseller, there
gathered by social gravitation a group who became for Charleston
what the frequenters of the Old Corner Book Store were to Boston and
rather more than what the "Bohemians" of Pfaff's restaurant were to
New York. Russell's became a rendezvous for the best people during the
daytimes--perhaps to buy, perhaps only to talk--and in the evenings
the men gathered in the spirit of a literary club, though without
organization or name. _Russell's Magazine_ was the natural fruit of the
group-spirit thus engendered, just as the _Atlantic Monthly_ (see p.
288) was of similar associations in Boston or as the _Dial_ had been of
the Transcendental Club in 1840 (see p. 195).

It was a further consequence of this plowing of the cultural soil that
two Charleston boys born in 1829 and 1830 were encouraged as young
men not only to write but to publish their poems and that one became
the first editor and the other a frequent contributor to the local
periodical. These were Henry Timrod and Paul Hamilton Hayne. Of the two
friends, somewhat as in the case of Halleck and Drake, Timrod, the one
who showed promise of finer things, was the victim of an early death.
As a youth he was given to the introspective seriousness and the grave
extravagances of the growing poet--characteristics which are not wholly
sacrificed in the grown poet, as they are in the average "sensible"
man. His inclination to extol emotion as an end in itself, however,
was fostered by a native hospitality toward sentimentalism for which
there was little to correspond in the more prosaic North. In fact "the
susceptibility of early feeling" which Irving wished to keep alive (see
p. 126) and which was the central thread in Jane Austen's "Sense and
Sensibility" was, and still is, a cue to certain prevailing Southern
traits. Whatever may have been the origin of Southern speech and
manners, they have continued in some measure to resemble those which we
associate with English literature of the mid-eighteenth century. Both
have a touch of courtly formality, a tendency toward the oratorical
style, an explicit insistence on honor and chivalry, a display of
deference to womanhood and to all beauty, and both are in constant
danger from the insincerity which besets a speech or a literature which
relies on conventional phrasing until the original locutions lose their
original vitality.[32]

  [32] A corresponding danger on the other hand is that a people who
       abjure all such phrases will abjure also the things for which
       they stand, until they become irredeemably prosaic and matter of
       fact.

Timrod as a youthful versifier passed through his period of
unconvincing extravagance, and even in his earlier work showed by
occasional flashes that he had his own gift for expression as well
as a receptive mind for poetry. In 1859 his first book of poems was
published. It had the coveted distinction of the Ticknor and Fields,
Boston, imprint, but it was indubitably the utterance of a Charleston
poet. The sonnet "I know not why, but all this weary day" is full of
genuine feeling, and in its ominous despair foretells the coming war:

      Now it has been a vessel losing way,
      Rounding a stormy headland; now a gray
      Dull waste of clouds above a wintry main;
      And then, a banner, drooping in the rain,
      And meadows beaten into bloody clay.

Timrod's two greater poems were dedicated to the Confederacy. They are
the outpourings of loyalty to the shortlived nation, full of passion,
no freer from hate and recrimination than the average poems from the
North, but positive in their ardent faith in the beneficent part the
Confederacy was to play in future history. Like all other war poets
he suffered from the embittering effects of the conflict. His first
inclination was to think more about his hopes for the South than
about his hatred of the North; yet even in "The Cotton Boll" and in
"Ethnogenesis" he saw red at times, as any human partisan was bound to
do. The newly federated South was to send out from its whitened fields
an idealized cotton crop that "only bounds its blessings by mankind."
The labors of the planter were to strengthen the sinews of the world.
Yet into this finely altruistic mood came the acrid thought of the war
which was in progress, and in a moment he was vilifying the "Goth" in
the same breath that he was resolving to be merciful. Timrod endured
without flinching as an individual. As a confederate patriot he dreamed

      Not only for the glories which the years
      Shall bring us; not for lands from sea to sea,
      And wealth, and power, and peace, though these shall be;
      But for the distant peoples we shall bless,
      And the hushed murmurs of a world's distress.

But when the war was over, in his "Address to the Old Year" (1866) he
was all for complete and speedy reconciliation.

      A time of peaceful prayer,
        Of law, love, labor, honest loss and gain--
        These are the visions of the coming reign
      Now floating to them on this wintry air.

Fortunately, in the slow approach toward this millennial conclusion
Timrod was spared the brutal blunders of the Reconstruction period, for
he died within the next twelvemonth, serene in his hopes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830-1886), a man of moderate talents and of
achievement that was greater in bulk than quality, was whole-heartedly
devoted to literature. With the founding of _Russell's_, while the
bookseller supplied the capital and Simms the general stimulus, Hayne
was the obviously willing and capable young man to carry the editorial
routine. If the war had not cut short the life of the magazine within
three years, Hayne might have fulfilled a long and useful career in
its guidance. Moreover, the kind of criticism to which his work would
have accustomed him might have refined his own verse and reduced its
quantity as it did for Aldrich and Gilder. But a career like theirs was
denied him when _Russell's_ was discontinued, and he was forced into
the precarious existence of living by his pen without the assurance
of any regular salary. Though this may be a sordid detail, it is not
a negligible one, for the lack of a certain income not only disturbs
the artist's mind but goads him to writing for monetary rather than
artistic ends. This result is apparent in Hayne's work. He had to force
himself, and he wrote in consequence the only kind of poetry that
industry and good will can produce.

Much of it was for special occasions. He wrote on demand for
everything, from art exhibits to cotton expositions, always
conscientiously without any special lightness or felicity. He fell
into the conventional nineteenth-century habit of writing on romantic
subjects located in parts of the earth which he knew only from other
men's poetry. His best work, of course, sprang more directly from his
experience. Some of his war lyrics are stirring, though seldom up to
Timrod's best. Some of his protests after the war are spirited and
wholly justified by the stupid clumsiness of Northern control. "South
Carolina to the States of the North" and "The Stricken South to the
North" suggest in verse what Page's "Red Rock" and Tourgée's "A Fool's
Errand" present through the detail of extended novels. Hayne's tributes
to other poets, particularly to Longfellow and Whittier, are full of
generous admiration, and his nature poems ring finely true. Most of all
the Southern pine fascinated him by its perennial grace and strength
and its mysterious voice. A pine-tree anthology could be culled from
his verse.

To be the poet of a class or a district and no more than that
is ordinarily not a notable achievement, but the fact that they
represented an epoch as well as a section emphasizes the significance
of Timrod and Hayne. They were products of freshly stimulating
conditions in the South; before the war they began to sing for a
neighborhood that had long been comparatively silent. And when the
war came on, and after its conclusion, they were not only its best
singers but they were remarkable in war literature for the fineness of
their positive spirit and their relative freedom from abusive rancor.
They reaped in love and praise the reward that their impoverished
constituency could not pay them in money.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sidney Lanier was born in Macon, Georgia, in 1842. He was therefore
twelve or thirteen years younger than Hayne or Timrod, and his
productive period was correspondingly later, namely, in the 70's. He
could trace his Lanier ancestry back to the court musicians of the
Stuarts, and beyond them to a conjectured past in France. His mother
sang and played in the home, and his father, a courtly and refined
lawyer, was a "gentle reader" of the old Southern school. Macon was
a town of extreme orthodoxy where "the only burning issues were
sprinkling versus immersion, freewill versus predestination," but where
the rigors of Calvinism were mollified by innocent merrymaking and the
amenities of Southern hospitality. From here Lanier went, in 1857, to
Oglethorpe University as a member of the sophomore class, graduating
from the modest college with first honors in 1860. Though successful
in scholarship, he had found his chief enjoyments in wide reading of
romantic literature and in flute-playing. He was convinced that his
talents were in music, but his strong ethical bias led him to check
them because he could not satisfactorily answer the question, What is
the province of music in the economy of the world? On his appointment
as tutor at Oglethorpe he decided to remain in college-teaching,
rounding out his preparation by two years at Heidelberg. When the war
broke he seemed to be well started on the path trod by Longfellow and
Lowell.

In "Tiger Lilies," his early romance, he described how the "afflatus
of war" swept the South as it sweeps any land in the first hours of
decision. "Its sound mingled with the serenity of the church organs
and arose with the earnest words of preachers praying for guidance
in the matter. It sighed in the half-breathed words of sweethearts,
conditioning impatient lovers with war services. It thundered
splendidly in the impassioned words of orators to the people. It
whistled through the streets, it stole into the firesides, it clinked
glasses in barrooms, it lifted the gray hairs of our wise men in
conventions, it thrilled through the lectures in college halls, it
rustled the thumbed book leaves of the schoolrooms.... It offered tests
to all allegiances and loyalties,--of church, of state; of private
loves, of public devotion; of personal consanguinity, of social ties."
In 1861 Lanier enlisted in the first Georgia regiment to leave for the
front. Four years later he returned with health permanently impaired by
the hardships of service and of a prison camp.

Even though wrecked in health, he came out from the war saddened but
not embittered, and convinced as early as 1867 that the saving of the
Union had been worth the ordeal. His insistence that hatreds should
be buried was maintained in face of every influence to the contrary.
The countryside had been devastated and business brought to a stop.
Libraries had been destroyed and colleges closed. As recuperation
began the magnanimous influence of Lincoln waned, and the reign of
the "carpetbaggers" inflamed the worst elements in the South, drove
some of the better in despair to other parts of the country, and
reduced the rest to bruised and heartsick indignation. Lanier could
not be unaffected by such conditions. He took refuge in grinding work:
first in teaching and then in several years of law practice in the
examination of title deeds. "Tiger Lilies" was published in 1867 by
Hurd and Houghton in New York, and a number of poems were printed there
in the _Round Table_ during 1867 and 1868. But depression and drudgery
tended to silence him, and might have done so if the music in him had
succumbed with the poetry and if the poetry had not been revived by
the stimulating friendships of two older men, Paul Hamilton Hayne and
Bayard Taylor.

Music gained a new hold on him during an enforced health trip to Texas
in the winter of 1872-1873. He had reveled in the concerts he had heard
in different visits to New York after the war, but in San Antonio he
fell in with a group of musicians for whom he was a player as well
as an auditor. Without any formal instruction in the flute he had
achieved such a command of the instrument that it had become a second
voice for him. In the autumn of '73 he met and played for Hamerick,
Director of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, and in
December he went in triumph to his initial rehearsal as first flutist
in the newly organized Peabody Symphony Orchestra. For the rest of
his life music was his most reliable means of support and a source of
pleasure that amounted to little less than dissipation. As a performer
he was in great demand for extra local engagements, from which he
seemed to gain quite as much enjoyment as he gave--for he played in a
kind of ecstasy; he "felt in his performance the superiority of the
_momentary inspiration_, to all the rules and shifts of mere technical
scholarship." As an auditor, whether of his own music or that rendered
by others, his appreciation was almost wholly sensuous, an experience
of raptures, thrills, and swooning joys. "Divine lamentations, far-off
blowings of great winds, flutterings of tree and flower leaves and
airs troubled with wing-beats of birds or spirits; floatings hither
and thither of strange incenses and odors and essences; warm floods of
sunlight, cool gleams of moonlight, faint enchantments of twilight;
delirious dances, noble marches, processional chants, hymns of joy and
grief: Ah, midst all these I lived last night, in the first chair next
to Theodore Thomas' orchestra." From such a comment one is prepared for
frequent references to the more modern composers, few to Beethoven, and
none at all to Bach and Brahms; and one is helped to understand also
the mistakenly limited dictum--too often quoted--that "Music is love in
search of a word." Music was immensely important in Lanier's emotional
life; the kind that he most enjoyed, and the kind of enjoyment he
derived from it, furnished the cue for an interpretation of much of his
poetry--a cue which is the clearer when compared with what music meant
to Browning.

The development of a Baltimore orchestra in 1873 was an expression
of the reawakening of artistic life from Baltimore to the Gulf. By
1870 the call was repeatedly sounded for a new literature and a new
criticism in the South. Short-lived magazines sprang up and were
flooded with copy before their early deaths. Much was written that
was ostentatiously sectional in tone, but much by men like Hayne and
Cable and Page that approached the standard set by Joel Chandler
Harris in his appeal for a literature which should be "intensely local
in feeling, but utterly unprejudiced and unpartisan as to opinions,
traditions, and sentiment. Whenever we have a genuine Southern
literature, it will be American and cosmopolitan as well." Equally in
the interest of the South was Hayne's demand for criticism which should
put a quietus on the fatuous scribblers who had nothing to say and said
it badly. "No foreign ridicule," he wrote in the _Southern Magazine_ in
1874, "can stop this growing evil, until our own scholars and thinkers
have the manliness and honesty to discourage instead of applauding such
manifestations of artistic weakness and artistic platitudes as have
hitherto been foisted on us by persons uncalled and unchosen of any of
the muses."

At the same time a generously enterprising spirit led several of the
leading Northern editors to accept and even solicit contributions from
the South. In 1873 _Scribner's Monthly_ projected and secured a widely
advertised series of articles on "the great South." _Harper's_ had a
series of its own. The _Atlantic_, with Howells as editor, followed
conservatively, and the _Independent_ opened its columns to the poetry
of the men whom it had condemned in most aggressive terms a dozen years
earlier. More important to Lanier than any of these was _Lippincott's_,
in which "Corn," "The Symphony," and "The Psalm of the West," with
certain shorter poems, were published in 1875, 1876, and 1877--poems by
which his wide reputation was established.

The encouragement given him by Hayne in the dark days of the law, when
he had no time to write, was followed by a Northern friendship of even
greater value to him when the _Lippincott_ poems were brought to the
kindly attention of Bayard Taylor. This busy and large-hearted man of
letters seems to have been the literary friend of his whole generation.
He was on terms of easy acquaintance with the most renowned of his day.
He was a companion of publishers, editors, and journalists, and he
showed a most generous interest in the fortunes of promising younger
men. His literary status is summarized in his relation to the literary
ceremonies of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876. He
wrote the Ode for the Fourth of July celebration after the honor had
been declined by Bryant, Lowell, and Longfellow, and he had sufficient
influence to gain for Lanier the distinction of writing the Cantata
for the opening ceremonies. The exchange of letters between the two in
connection with their efforts is unsurpassed as a record of detailed
processes in poetic composition, criticism and rejoinder, and final
revision.

Lanier's conscious command of a poetic theory was a product of his
habits of study and led to his appointment by President Daniel
Coit Gilman as lecturer in English literature at Johns Hopkins
University.[33] From youth Lanier had been an extensive reader of the
early English classics, and in Baltimore he eagerly used the resources
of the Peabody Library, which was maintained especially for research
students. He was keenly interested in stimulating general intelligence
in literature among the adult public and also in promoting exact and
technical study by qualified scholars. In 1878 he plunged once more
into study, planned lecture courses, projected a research program for
himself, and early in the next year received the Hopkins appointment.
He approached his work with the utmost zest and, as long as his
strength lasted, lectured effectively and worked on the critical texts
and treatises which the scholarship of his time was just beginning to
supply. Now, however, when he had established working relations with
the orchestra and the university, he sank under the strain of all the
preceding struggle, and in 1881 he died before reaching his fortieth
year.

  [33] This was the second time that President Gilman had placed a poet
       in the position of teacher, for he had already done this with
       Edward Rowland Sill at the University of California (see p. 397).

Lanier's abiding conviction put the poet on the same plane with the
prophet and the seer. He was far from according with Poe's total
subordination of intellect and moral sense to the feeling for beauty.
He seldom or never wrote a didactic poem, but he usually composed over
a strong moralistic counterpoint. In "Corn" the poet

            leads the vanward of his timid time
      And sings up cowards with commanding rhyme.

In "The Bee" he will wage wars for the world. In "The Marshes of Glynn"
he is

            the catholic man who hath mightily won
      God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain.

The poet's judgments are, therefore, certain to surpass those of his
age, certain to reap a harvest of derision and abuse, and certain to
approach the right because they are made in the light of eternity
rather than in the ephemeral shadow of any passing day.

The tolling of the bell of time which resounds throughout Lanier's
poems does not deafen him to the harmonies or the discords of the
moment. With all his consciousness of literary tradition he was far
more alive to the present than many of his Southern contemporaries, who
were not so genuinely literary as imitatively bookish. "Corn" tells
the tale of the improvident cotton-grower who becomes "A gamester's
catspaw and a banker's slave." "The Symphony" is an arraignment of the
industrial system.

      If business is battle, name it so:
      War-crimes less will shame it so,
      And widows less will blame it so.

"Acknowledgment" (first sonnet) and "Remonstrance" were written of the
troublous period which was wracked between doubts that merely disturbed
and dogmas which were still advocated with all the subtleties of
persecution that--in an enlightened age--will substitute ostracism for
the stake and social boycott for excommunication.

In the modest volume of his collected work--for his writing was mainly
done in his last eight years, and he was not a garrulous poet--there
is a marked variety. "The Revenge of Hamish" is a clear reflection
of his zest for heroic story. It is one of the notably successful
attempts of his day to emulate the old ballad, and it is the better
for restoring the spirit of balladry without imitating the manner.
"How Love Looked for Hell," without being imitative of anyone, is
distinctly pre-Raphaelite in tone. Rossetti might have written it.
In "The Stirrup-Cup" there is an Elizabethan note, and "Night and
Day" and the "Marsh Song--at Sunset" are literary lyrics for the
readers of "Othello" and "The Tempest." These and their like give
token of Lanier's versatility, just as the "Song of the Chattahoochee"
displays his command of certain obvious devices in diction and rhythm;
but the poems most distinctive of Lanier and most generally quoted
are the longer meditations already mentioned, and, in particular,
"The Symphony" and "The Marshes of Glynn." Of these the earlier is
much quoted by social reformers for the vigor of its protests at
the exploitation of labor; by musicians, because of the sustained
metaphor--though it might better have been named "The Orchestra"; and
by those who love a certain fulsomeness of sensuous appeal in verse.
This last trait gains friends also for "The Marshes of Glynn," though
its supreme passage, the last forty lines, is free from the decorative
elaborations which in the earlier portion distract the reader from the
content they adorn.

In the development of artistic power the formative period is the most
open to influence and the most likely to be formal and self-conscious.
Early and full maturity bring the nicest balance between the thing
said and the manner of saying it; and a later period often is marked
by overcompression or over-elaboration, a neglect of form in favor of
content. Lanier, who died on the approach to middle life, had just
published "The Science of English Verse" and was studiously aware
of poetic processes, from the ingenious conceits of the "Paradise
of Dainty Devices" to the metrical experiments of Swinburne and his
contemporaries. In the compound of factors which were blending into the
matured Lanier there was still a good measure of Elizabethan ingenuity.
He felt a pleasant thrill in riding a metaphor down the page. He played
repeatedly, for example, with the concept of the passage of time. In
the second sonnet of "Acknowledgment" this age is a comma, and all
time a complex sentence (four lines); in "Clover" the course-of-things
is a browsing ox (twenty-five lines); in "The Symphony" the leaves
are dials on which time tells his hours (three lines); in the first
of the "Sonnets on Columbus" prickly seconds and dull-blade minutes
mark three hours of suspense (three lines); and in "The Stirrup-Cup"
death is a cordial compounded by time from the reapings of poets long
dead (twelve lines). These all are picturesquely suggestive, but they
are rather imposed on the idea than derived from it. Other poets,
to be sure, have erred in the same way and then perhaps redeemed
themselves. Lanier, however, said nothing so fundamentally true and
compact as Pope's "Years following years _steal something_ every
day," or Shakespeare's "And that _old common arbitrator_, Time," or
his "_whirligig_ of time." There is a similar reaching for effect in
the rhythmical quality of many well-known passages. The twelve-line
description of the velvet flute-note in "The Symphony" is more deft
and intricate than convincing. The figures stumble on each other's
heels, and the alliterations, assonances, and three- and five-fold
rimes are intrusively gratuitous. In like manner the opening lines of
"The Marshes of Glynn" illustrate the over-luxuriance of Lanier. He
delighted in tropical exuberance; he rioted in his letters with less
restraint than in his verse, and in one written to his wife in 1874
he confessed parenthetically: "In plain terms--sweet Heaven, how I do
abhor these same plain terms--I have been playing 'Stradella.'" When he
wrote this Lanier was thirty-two. Before his death he had approached
the point of liking the plain term better and employing it oftener.

"The Marshes of Glynn" is a personal utterance of Lanier in its
form, in its sensuous opulence, in its social sympathies, and in its
religion; but in these latter respects it is emphatically the utterance
also of the period that produced Lanier. It was written in 1878, the
year of Bryant's death; it was written in the structural sequence
of Bryant's "Thanatopsis"; and in its applications it indicates the
changes that had taken place in religious thought since Bryant's
youth. In the earlier poem the various language that Nature speaks is
expounded in general terms, before "Thoughts of the last bitter hour"
lead to the monody on death and the resolve so to live that death shall
have no fears. The latter poem differentiates the tones of Nature,
lingering first in the cloistral depths of the woods during the heat of
a June day. In the cool and quiet the poet's

   ... heart is at ease from men, and the wearisome sound of the stroke
   Of the scythe of time and the trowel of trade is low,
   And belief overmasters doubt.

So, toward sunset, he leaves the protected green colonnades and goes
out unafraid to face the expanse of "a world of marsh that borders a
world of sea." Here Nature, who has consoled him in the forest, fills
him with a great exhilaration.

   Oh, what is abroad in the marsh and the terminal sea?
   Somehow my soul seems suddenly free
   From the weighing of fate and the sad discussion of sin,
   By the length and the breadth and the sweep of the marshes of Glynn.

From the marshes he learns a lesson of life rather than of death--the
spiritual value of aspiration and the emancipating gift of a broad
faith. "Thanatopsis" ends with a nobly stated but restraining
admonition; "The Marshes" with a song of liberty:

   I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies
   In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the
       skies:
   By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod
   I will heartily lay me a-hold of the greatness of God.

This is written in the positive mood--and in the measure, too--of
Browning's "Saul." Both poems record the throwing off of paralyzing
restraint and the substitution of hope for dread that resulted from the
religious struggles of the nineteenth century.

Lanier went far toward representing the South by the best of all
methods, which is to write as a citizen of the world and not as a
sectionalist. He was not at the height of his maturity, and he wrote
at times with the exuberance and at times with the self-consciousness
that he would in all likelihood have outgrown in the fullness of years.
He was an aggressive thinker. Only the indifference of his generation
to poetry can account for the fact that he was not persecuted for the
courage of many utterances. And he was essentially the poet in artistry
as well as in vision.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

     =Collections=

       CLARKE, JENNIE T. Songs of the South (Introduction by J. C.
         Harris). 1913.

       FULTON, N. G. Southern Life in Southern Literature. 1917.

       KENT, C. W. (literary editor). Library of Southern Literature.
         1907. 15 vols.

       MANLY, LOUISE. Southern Literature. 1895.

       MOORE, FRANK. Songs and Ballads of the Southern People. 1886.

       TRENT, W. P. Southern Writers. Selections in Prose and Verse.
         1905.

       WAUCHOPE, G. A. Writers of South Carolina, 1910.

     =History and Criticism=

       BASKERVILL, W. M. Southern Writers: Biographical and Critical
         Studies. 1898-1903. 2 vols.

       DAVIDSON, J. W. Living Writers of the South. 1869.

       DE MENIL, A. N. Literature of the Louisiana Territory. 1904.

       HOLLIDAY, CARL. History of Southern Literature. 1906.

       LINK, S. A. Pioneers of Southern Literature. 1903. 2 vols.

       ORGAIN, KATE A. Southern Authors in Poetry and Prose. 1908.

       PAINTER, F. V. N. Poets of the South. 1903.

       PAINTER, F. V. N. Poets of Virginia. 1907.

       Among periodical articles some of the more important are as
       follows:

       BASKERVILL, W. M. Southern Literature. _Pub. Mod. Lang. Assoc._,
         Vol. VII, p. 89.

       COLEMAN, C. W. Recent Movement in Southern Literature.
         _Harper's_, Vol. LXXIV, p. 837.

       HENNEMAN, J. B. National Element in Southern Literature.
         _Sewanee Review_, Vol. XI, p. 345.

       MABIE, H. W. The Poetry of the South. _International Monthly_,
         Vol. V, p. 200.

       SMITH, C. A. Possibilities of Southern Literature. _Sewanee
         Review_, Vol. VI, p. 298.

       SNYDER, H. N. The Matter of Southern Literature. _Sewanee
         Review_, Vol. XV, p. 218.

       TRENT, W. P. Dominant Forces in Southern Life. _Atlantic_, Vol.
         LXXIX, p. 42.

       WOODBERRY, G. E. The South in American Letters. _Harper's_, Vol.
         CVII, p. 735.

=_Individual Authors_=

  HENRY TIMROD. Works. Memorial Edition. 1899, 1901. These appeared in
     book form originally as follows: Poems, 1860. Complete edition
     (edited by Paul Hamilton Hayne), 1873, 1874; Katie, 1884.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       Memoir prefixed to editions of 1899 and 1901. Sketch with
         edition of 1872, by P. H. Hayne.

       AUSTIN, H. Henry Timrod. _International Review_, September, 1880.

       HAYNE, P. H. Sketch with edition of 1872.

       ROSS, C. H. The New Edition of Timrod. _Sewanee Review_,
         October, 1899.

       ROUTH, J. E. Some Fugitive Poems of Timrod. _South Atlantic
         Quarterly_, January, 1903.

       WAUCHOPE, G. A. Henry Timrod, Laureate of the Confederacy.
         _North Carolina Review_, May 5, 1912.

       WAUCHOPE, G. A. Henry Timrod: Man and Poet, a Critical Study.
         1915.

       See also volumes of history and criticism under General
         References, above.

  PAUL HAMILTON HAYNE. Works. Poems of. Complete edition (his own
     selection), with biographical introduction by Margaret Preston.
     1882. The work appeared in book form originally as follows: Poems,
     1855; Sonnets, and Other Poems, 1857, 1859; Avolio, 1860; Legends
     and Lyrics, 1872; The Mountain of the Lovers, 1875; Life of Robert
     Y. Hayne, 1878; Life of Hugh S. Legare, 1878.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       There is no adequate biography of Hayne.

       ALLAN, ELIZABETH PRESTON. The Life and Letters of Margaret
         Junkin Preston. 1903.

       BROWN, J. T., JR. Paul Hamilton Hale. _Sewanee Review_, April,
         1906.

       LANIER, SIDNEY. Essays. 1899.

       MIMS, E. Sidney Lanier. 1905.

       PRESTON, MARGARET JUNKIN. Introduction to edition of 1882 (see
         above).

       See also the Library of Southern Literature, in which the
         introduction to the selections from Hayne is well supplemented
         by his own reminiscences reprinted from the _Southern
         Bivouac_. See also Paul Hamilton Hayne (edited by S. A. Link)
         and the passages in the survey histories.

  SIDNEY LANIER. Works. Poems of Sidney Lanier, edited by his wife,
     with a memorial by William Hayes Ward. 1884. Select poems
     of Sidney Lanier, edited with an introduction, notes, and
     bibliography, by Morgan Callaway. 1895. (The critical edition.)
     Lanier's works appeared in book form originally as follows:
     Tiger Lilies, a Novel, 1867; Florida, its Scenery, Climate, and
     History, 1876; Poems, 1877; The Boy's Froissart, 1878; The Science
     of English Verse, 1880; The Boy's King Arthur, 1880; The Boy's
     Mabinogion, 1881; The Boy's Percy, 1882; The English Novel, 1883;
     Music and Poetry: Essays, 1898; Retrospects and Prospects, 1899;
     Shakespeare and his Forerunners, 1902.

     =Bibliographies=

       A bibliography prepared for the Southern History Association by
         G. S. Wills, July, 1899.

       A bibliography appended to Select Poems of Lanier (edited by
         Morgan Callaway). 1895. Also Cambridge History of American
         Literature, Vol. II, pp. 600-603.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by Edwin Mims. 1905. (_A. M. L. Ser._)

       See also Letters of Sidney Lanier. Selections from his
         Correspondence, 1866-1881. 1911.

       CARROLL, C. C. Synthesis and Analysis of the Poetry of Sidney
         Lanier. 1910.

       CLARKE, G. H. Some Reminiscences and Early Letters of Sidney
         Lanier. 1907.

       GILMAN, D. C. Sidney Lanier, Reminiscences and Letters. _South
         Atlantic Quarterly_, April, 1905.

       GOSSE, EDMUND. Questions at Issue. 1893.

       HIGGINSON, T. W. Contemporaries. 1899.

       KENT, C. W. A Study of Lanier's Poems. _Pub. Mod. Lang. Assoc._,
         Vol. VII, pp. 33-63.

       MOSES, M. J. The Literature of the South. 1910.

       NORTHRUP, M. H. Sidney Lanier, Recollections and Letters.
         _Lippincott's_, March, 1905.

       TOLMAN, A. H. Views about Hamlet and Other Essays.

       TRENT, W. P. Southern Writers. 1905.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Read the poems or passages alluded to in the text on sentimentalism by
Irving (p. 126), Cooper (p. 148), Bryant (p. 163), Longfellow (p. 269),
and compare with the statement on Timrod.

Compare Timrod's "Cotton Boll" with Bryant's "The Sower" or Lanier's
"Corn" for the imaginative grasp of what had ordinarily been considered
a prosaic subject.

Read the war lyrics of Timrod or Hayne and compare in subject,
treatment, and temper with the corresponding work of a Northern poet.

Read several poems of Lanier taken at random for the allusions to music.

Read Lanier for the evident influence of Shakespeare in supplying
him with poetic material. Is there evidence that he was affected by
Shakespeare's poetic form?

Read the Taylor-Lanier correspondence with reference to the Centennial
Cantata. Does the poem fulfill Lanier's intentions?

Read Lanier's poems and passages on poetry and the poet and compare
them with similar passages in the work of another poet.

Read Lanier, Timrod, or Hayne for the presence of nature allusions
which would be natural only for a poet of the South.



                              CHAPTER XXIV

                              WALT WHITMAN


Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and Mark Twain are the two authors whom the
rest of the world have chosen to regard as distinctively American. They
are in fact more strikingly different from European writers than any
other two in their outer and inner reaction against cultural tradition,
though it is an error to regard Americanism as an utterly new thing
instead of a compound of new and old elements. Whitman was born on Long
Island in 1819:

  My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
  Born here of parents born here, from parents the same, and their
        parents the same.

They were simple, natural, country people,--the mother, mild-mannered
and competent, and the father, "strong, self-sufficient, manly, mean,
anger'd, unjust,"--people with the kind of stalwart naïveté who would
christen three of their sons Andrew Jackson, George Washington, and
Thomas Jefferson. Walt was the second of nine children. From boyhood
he was quite able to take care of himself--amiable, slow-going, fond
of chatting with the common folk of his own kind, and happy out of
doors, whether on the beach or among the Long Island hills. At twelve
he began to work for his living--in a lawyer's office and a doctor's,
in printing shops and small newspaper offices, and in more than one
school. Newspaper work included writing as well as typesetting and
everything between, and writing resulted in his sending accepted
contributions to such respected publications as the _Democratic Review_
and George P. Morris's popular _Mirror_.

From 1841 to 1850 he was more steadily using his pen. He wrote some
eighteen stories for the periodicals and, though he worked in defiance
of the usual schedule, made his way in journalism to the point of
becoming editor of the _Brooklyn Daily Eagle_. In 1848 he moved in a
wider orbit, going down to New Orleans through the Ohio valley to work
on the new _Crescent_, and coming back by way of the Mississippi and
the Great Lakes. In 1850 he was living with his family in Brooklyn.
By this time he had done a great deal of reading, starting with "The
Arabian Nights" and Scott, and moving on by his own choice through the
classics. Always, when he could, he read alone and out of doors; but
seldom has man more completely fulfilled Emerson's behest to compensate
for solitude with society, for he was one of the great comrades of
history. He found his society in places of his own selection--on the
Broadway stages, in the Brooklyn ferryboats, and in the gallery at the
Italian opera.

Here is his own testimony: "--the drivers--a strange, natural
quick-eyed and wondrous race--(not only Rabelais and Cervantes would
have gloated upon them, but Homer and Shakspere would)--how well I
remember them, and must here give a word about them.... They had
immense qualities, largely animal--eating, drinking, women--great
personal pride, in their way--perhaps a few slouches here and there,
but I should have trusted the general run of them, in their simple
good-will and honor, under all circumstances." And of the harbor:
"Almost daily, later ('50 to '60), I cross'd on the boats, often up
in the pilot-houses where I could get a full sweep, absorbing shows,
accompaniments, surroundings." There was a time when he affected fine
clothes, but as he matured his dress and the dress of his ideas became
strikingly informal, more like that of his comrades.

Of the five years before the "Leaves of Grass" appeared too little is
known. At thirty-one he was a natural Bohemian, independent enough not
even to do the conventional Bohemian things like drinking and smoking,
but he had shown no marked promise of achieving anything more than
his own personal freedom. His writing and public speaking had been
commonplace, and his journalistic work respectably successful. Then
in 1855 came the evidence of an immensely expansive development, a
development so great and so unusual that it met the fate of its kind,
receiving from all but a very few neglect, derision, or contempt. John
Burroughs tells of the staff of a leading daily paper in New York,
assembled on Saturday afternoon to be paid off, greeting the passages
that were read aloud to them with "peals upon peals of ironical
laughter." Whitman's family were indifferent. His brother George said
he "didn't read it at all--didn't think it worth reading--fingered it
a little. Mother thought as I did ... Mother said that if 'Hiawatha'
was poetry, perhaps Walt's was." Obscure young men like Thoreau and
Burroughs were moved to early admiration, but their opinion counted for
nothing with the multitude. Emerson was the single man of influence to
"greet [Whitman] at the beginning of a great career." The larger public
paid no attention to him; the smaller, artistic public did what they
always do to a defiantly independent artist. Whitman determined his own
reception when he wrote,

      Bearded, sunburnt, gray-neck'd, forbidding, I have arrived,
      To be wrestled with as I pass for the solid prizes of the universe,
      For such I afford whoever can persevere to win them.

In 1856, in a new form and with added material but under the same
title, there came a second edition that received more attention and
correspondingly more abuse. His frank and often wanton treatment of
sex gave pause to almost every reader, qualifying the approval of his
strongest champions. Emerson wrote to Carlyle: "One book, last summer,
came out in New York, a nondescript monster, which yet had terrible
eyes and buffalo strength, and was indisputably American--which I
thought to send you; but the book throve so badly with the few to whom
I showed it, and wanted good morals so much, that I never did. Yet I
believe now again I shall." In the meanwhile the ultra-respectable--of
the Jaffrey Pyncheon type--were eager to hound Whitman and his
publishers out of society. Undoubtedly the advertising given by his
enemies contributed no little to the circulation of the third and again
enlarged edition of 1860. Of this between four and five thousand copies
were sold in due time.

In 1862, when his brother George was seriously wounded at
Fredericksburg, Whitman became a hospital nurse in Washington. With
his peculiar gifts of comradeship and his life-long acquaintance with
the common man, he was able to give thousands of sufferers the kind of
personal, affectionate attention that helped all, who were not doomed,
to fight their way to recovery. From every side has come the testimony
as to his unique relationship with them. One must be quoted:

  Never shall I forget one night when I accompanied him on his rounds
  through a hospital, filled with those wounded young Americans whose
  heroism he has sung in deathless numbers. There were three rows of
  cots, and each cot bore its man. When he appeared, in passing along,
  there was a smile of affection and welcome on every face, however
  wan, and his presence seemed to light up the place as it might be
  lit by the presence of the Son of Love. From cot to cot they called
  him, often in tremulous tones or in whispers; they embraced him,
  they touched his hand, they gazed at him.... He did the things for
  them which no nurse or doctor could do, and he seemed to leave a
  benediction at every cot as he passed along. The lights had gleamed
  for hours in the hospital that night before he left it, and as he
  took his way towards the door, you could hear the voice of many a
  stricken hero calling, "Walt, Walt, Walt, come again! come again!"

The fruits in poetry from these years of duress were in some ways the
richest of his lifetime. They were included in the edition of 1865
under the title "Drum-Taps." Here were new poems "of the body and of
the soul," telling of his vigils on the field and in the hospital,
not shrinking from details of horror and death; and here also were
poems that dealt with the implications of the war and of nationalism
militant. "Drum-Taps"--the title poem--and "Beat! Beat! Drums!" sound
the call to arms. "The Song of the Banner at Daybreak" contrasts the
patriotism of the philistine with the patriotism of the idealist.
"Pioneers! O Pioneers!" sings of America for the world, with its
thrillingly prophetic fourth stanza,

                  Have the elder races halted?
  Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there beyond
        the seas?
  We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson,
                  Pioneers! O pioneers!

And "President Lincoln's Burial Hymn" ("When Lilacs last in the
Door-yard Bloom'd") with "O Captain! My Captain!" are preëminent among
the multitude of songs in praise of Lincoln. Whitman wrote fairly in a
letter: "The book is therefore unprecedently sad (as these days are,
are they not?), but it also has the blast of the trumpet and the drum
pounds and whirrs in it, and then an undertone of sweetest comradeship
and human love threads its steady thread inside the chaos and is heard
at every lull and interstice thereof. Truly also, it has clear notes of
faith and triumph."

There were other fateful fruits of his hospital service. It is the
salvation of the surgeon and the nurse that they adopt a professional
attitude toward their tasks; they save individual lives in their
struggle to save human life. But it was the essence of Whitman's
work among the soldiers that he should pour out his compassion
without stint. The drain of energy forced him more than once to leave
Washington for rest at home, and assisting at operations resulted in
poisonous contagions. He seemed to recover from these, only to give
way in 1873 to a consequent attack of paralysis, and, though he had
nineteen years to live, he was never quite free from the shadow of this
menace.

During the latter years, however, public respect increased as his
strength waned. Popularity this self-elected poet of the people never
gained, but he became a poets' poet. A Whitman vogue developed among
the consciously literary, just as a Browning vogue did in the same
decades. It is rather a misfortune than otherwise for any art or artist
to be made the subject of a fad, but the growth of Whitman's repute
was slow and was rooted in the regard of other artists. In the years
near 1870 essays and reviews in England and Germany showed how deeply
"Leaves of Grass" impressed the small group of men who knew what the
essentials of poetry were and were not afraid to acknowledge their
great debt to this strange innovator. The timid culture of America at
first shrank as usual from any native work which was un-European in
aspect, and lagged behind foreign indorsement of something freshly
American just as it did in the cases of Mark Twain and "Joaquin" Miller
(see pp. 293 and 403). When it did begin to take Whitman seriously, the
heartfelt admiration of Freiligrath in Germany and of William Michael
Rossetti and John Addington Symonds in England, the published charge
that America was neglecting a great poet, and the public offer of
assistance from English friends combined to build up for "the good gray
poet" a body of support to which the belated interest of the would-be
intellectuals was a negligible addition. From 1881 to his death eleven
years later the income from his writings was sufficient to maintain him
in "decent poverty."

In "Myself and Mine" Whitman delivered an admonition in spite of which
he has been discussed in a whole alcoveful of books and in innumerable
lectures:

      I call to the world to distrust the accounts of my friends, but
          listen to my enemies--as I myself do;
      I charge you, too, forever reject those who would expound me--for
          I cannot expound myself;
      I charge that there be no theory nor school founded out of me;
      I charge you to leave all free, as I have left all free.

The comment and the controversy which have accumulated around his
poems and himself center about two nodal points: one is the relatively
obvious consideration of the objections to his poetic form, his subject
matter, and his conduct, and the other--far more complex and subtle--is
the statement and appraisal of his philosophy of life.

Prejudice and ignorance have had altogether too much to say about
Whitman's versification,--as they still have in connection with the
freer verse forms of the present day. Two or three simple facts should
be stated at the outset, by way of clearing the ground. His earliest
poetry was written in conventional form; the form of "Leaves of Grass"
was the result neither of laziness nor of inability to deal with the
established measures. Throughout his work there are recurrent passages
in regular rimed meter. "O Captain! My Captain!" (1865), "Ethiopia
Saluting the Colors" (1870), and the song of "The Singer in the Prison"
(1870) are deliberate resorts to the old ways. More likely to escape
the attention are unlabeled bits scattered through poems in Whitman's
usual manner. The opening of the "Song of the Broad-Axe" is in eight
measures of trochaic tetrameter with a single rime--it sounds like
Emerson's; and the first four lines of section 14 in "Walt Whitman,"
or the "Song of Myself," are iambic heptameters, a perfect stanza.
Furthermore, he was not utterly alone in his generation. Similar
experiments by some of his contemporaries are almost forgotten, because
there was no vital relation between form and content; because there was
nothing vital in them; but Whitman's rhythms survive because they are
as alive as the wind in the tree tops.

He theorized out his art in detail and referred to his lines as
apparently "lawless at first perusal, although on closer examination a
certain regularity appears, like the recurrence of lesser and larger
waves on the sea-shore, rolling in without intermission, and fitfully
rising and falling." His feeling,--and this is the right word for a
question of artistic form, which should not be determined primarily by
the intellect,--his feeling was that the idea which is being expressed
should govern from moment to moment the form into which it is cast,
since any pattern imposed on a long poem must handicap freedom. In many
a descriptive passage there is a succession of nice adjustments of
word and rhythm to the thing being described. The flight of birds, the
play of waves, the swaying of branches, the thousandfold variations of
motion, are easy to reproduce and easy to perceive, but Whitman went
far beyond these to the innate suggestions of things and of ideas.
At the same time--not to be occupied in a search for variety which
becomes merely chaos--he adopted a succession of pattern rhythms,
taking a simple, free measure and modifying it in the reiterative
form frequently used by Emerson and common to "Hiawatha." There was
some acumen in Mrs. Whitman's comparison, for Longfellow's assumption
of "frequent repetitions" was a reverting to the parallelism that
prevails in most folk poetry, the same parallelism which is the warp
of Whitman's patterns. Whitman was just as conscious in his choice
of diction as in his selection of measures. Poetry, he agreed with
Wordsworth, was choked with outworn phrases; the language of the people
should be the source of a poetic tongue. From this he could evolve a
"perfectly clear, plate-glassy style."

In execution he was, of course, uneven. He wrote scores upon scores of
passages that were full of splendor, of majesty, of rugged strength,
of tender loveliness. In general it is true that the lines which
deal with definite aspects of natural and physical beauty are most
effective--lines of which "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" are
the purest type; but many of the poems and sections in which concrete
imagery is summoned to the explication of a general idea are often
finely successful--as in his stanzas on the poet, or on himself, "the
divine average," for example:

      My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite;
      I laugh at what you call dissolution;
      And I know the amplitude of time.

To the hostile critic he offered an abundance of lines for unfriendly
quotation, as almost every prolific poet has done. Furthermore, he
opened to attack all the series of "catalogue," or "inventory,"
passages, in which he abandoned the artistic habit of selective
suggestion and overwhelmed the reader with an avalanche of detail.
It is not necessary to defend these vagaries or excesses; they are
obvious eccentricities in Whitman's workmanship, as are also the wanton
barbarisms of wording into which he occasionally lapsed. There are good
English equivalents for _omnes_ and _allons_ and _dolce_ and _résumé_,
and better ones than _promulge_, _philosoph_, and _imperturbe_.

The most violent objections launched at Whitman were based on his
unprecedented frankness in matters of sex. It was the habit of the
Victorian period, whether in England or in America, to shroud in an
unwholesome silence the impulse to beget life and the facts surrounding
it as if they were shameful matters. In consequence a central element
in social and individual experience tended to become a subject of
morbid curiosity to young people and one of furtive self-indulgence to
adults. This bred vicious ignorance, distorted half-knowledge, and,
among other things, hysterical protestations at any open violation of
the code in action or in speech. People seemed to feel that they were
vindicating their own probity by the voluminousness of their invective.
So Whitman was made a scapegoat, just as Byron was at an earlier date;
and the merits of the controversies are obscured by the fact that
however much in error the poets may have been, their accusers were
hardly less in the wrong. Out of the babel of discussion one clearest
note emerged in the form of a letter from an Englishwoman to W. M.
Rossetti, who had lent her "Leaves of Grass":

  I rejoice to have read these poems; and if I or any true woman
  feel that, certainly _men_ may hold their peace about them. You
  will understand that I still think that instinct of silence I
  spoke of a right and beautiful thing; and that it is only lovers
  and poets (perhaps only lovers and _this_ poet) who may say what
  they will--the lover to his own, the poet to all because all are
  in a sense his own. Shame is like a very flexible veil that takes
  faithfully the shape of what it covers--lovely when it hides a lovely
  thing, ugly when it hides an ugly one. There is not any fear that the
  freedom of such impassioned words will destroy the sweet shame, the
  happy silence, that enfold and brood over the secrets of love in a
  woman's heart.

This single judgment naturally cannot serve as a universal ultimatum,
but it should serve as a warning for those who jump to the conclusion
that only one mood is possible for the writer or reader of such
passages. Those who are disturbed by them should be willing not to read
the few score lines that are responsible for all the turmoil.

The only other charge against Whitman worth mentioning--the complaint
at his "colossal egotism"--is a subject more for interpretation than
for defense. Properly understood, it leads far toward an understanding
of the whole man. In the first place, if all his "I's" should be taken
literally they would amount to no more than an unusual frankness of
artistic expression. Every creative artist is of necessity an egotist.
He is bound to believe in the special significance of what he is
privileged to utter in words or tones or lines and colors. The whole
anthology of poems on the poet and his work is a catalogue of supreme
egotisms, even though most of them are written in the third person
rather than the first. Whitman cast aside the regular locution without
apology. But, as a further caution to the supersensitive, his "I's" do
not always mean the same thing. Sometimes they are explicitly personal,
as in,

      I, now, thirty-six years old, in perfect health, begin,
      Hoping to cease not till death.

Sometimes they stand just as explicitly for "the average man." This
he explained in the preface to the 1876 edition: "I meant 'Leaves of
Grass,' as published, to be the poem of average Identity (of _yours_,
whoever you are, now reading these lines).... To sing the Song of that
law of average Identity, and of Yourself, consistently with the divine
law of the universal, is a main purpose of these 'Leaves.'"

Finally, the egotistic "I" is often a token of the religious mysticism
at the back of his faith. Without an understanding of this factor in
Whitman he cannot be known. "Place yourself," said William James in
his lecture on Bergson, "at the center of a man's philosophic vision
and you understand at once all the different things it makes him
write or say. But keep outside, use your post-mortem method, try to
build the philosophy up out of the single phrases, taking first one
and then another, and seeking to make them fit, and of course you
fail. You crawl over the thing like a myopic ant over a building,
tumbling into every microscopic crack or fissure, finding nothing
but inconsistencies, and never suspecting that a centre exists." It
is James again who gives the exact cue to Whitman's mysticism, this
time in a chapter of "Varieties of Religious Experience." It is the
experience of the mystic, he explains, to arrive in inspired moments
at a height from which all truth seems to be divinely revealed. This
revelation is not a flashlight perception of some single aspect of
life, but a sense of the entire scheme of creation and a conviction
that the truth has been imparted direct from God. It is clear, like the
view from a mountain top, but, like such a view, it is incapable of
adequate expression in words,--"an intuition," and now the words are
Whitman's, "of the absolute balance, in time and space, of the whole
of this multifarious, mad chaos of fraud, frivolity, hoggishness--this
revel of fools, and incredible make-believe and general unsettledness,
we call _the world_; a soul-sight of that divine clue and unseen thread
which holds the whole congeries of things, all history and time,
and all events, however trivial, however momentous, like a leashed
dog in the hand of the hunter." It was the fashion of speech of the
Hebrew prophets, when thus inspired, to preface their declarations
with "Thus saith the Lord"; Whitman, with his simpler, "I say" or "I
tell you," regarded himself no less as mouthpiece of the Most High.
The vision made him certain of an underlying unity in all life and of
the coming supremacy of a law of love; it made him equally certain of
the mistakenness of human conditions and unqualifiedly direct in his
uttered verdicts.

This sense of the wholeness of life--a transcendental doctrine--made
all the parts deeply significant to him who could perceive their
meaning. The same mystic consciousness is beneath all these passages,
and all the others like them:

  I celebrate myself,
  And what I assume you shall assume,
  For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

         *       *       *       *       *

  The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night;
  _Ya-honk!_ he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation;
  (The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen close;
  I find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky.)

         *       *       *       *       *

  I believe a leaf of grass no less than the journey-work of the stars,
  And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg
        of the wren,
  And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest,
  And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven,
  And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
  And the cow crunching with depress'd head surpasses any statue,
  And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels,
  And I could come every afternoon of my life to look at the farmer's
        girl boiling her iron tea-kettle and baking short-cake.

It explains, too, the otherwise bewildering excesses of the "inventory"
passages, which, for all their apparent unrelatedness, are always
brought up with a unifying, inclusive turn. In the universe, then,--and
Whitman thought of the word in its literal sense of a great and single
design,--man was the supreme fact to whom all its objects "continually
converge"; as man was God-created, Whitman was no respecter of
persons, but a lover of the common folk, in whom the destiny of
human-kind resided more than in presidents or kings. And since he
considered the race in the light of ages upon ages, the generating of
life seemed to him a matter of holiest import.

For the carrying out of such a design the only fit vehicle is the
purest sort of democracy; all other working bases of human association
are only temporary obstacles to the course of things; and as Whitman
saw the nearest approach to the right social order in his own country,
he was an American by conviction as well as by the accident of place.
Governments, he felt, were necessary conveniences, and so-called rulers
were servants of the public from whom their powers were derived. The
greatest driving power in life was public opinion, and the greatest
potential molder of public opinion was the bard, seer, or poet. This
poet was to be not a reformer but a preacher of a new gospel; he was,
in fact, to be infinitely patient in face of "meanness and agony
without end" while he invoked the principles which would one day put
them to rout.

  I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions;
  But really I am neither for nor against institutions;
  (What indeed have I in common with them?--Or what with the
        destruction of them?)
  Only I will establish in the Mannahatta, and in every city of These
        States, inland and seaboard,
  And in the fields and woods, and above every keel, little or large,
        that dents the water,
  Without edifices, or rules, or trustees, or any argument,
  The institution of the dear love of comrades.

To the bard he attributed knowledge of science and history,--the
learning of the broadly educated man,--but, beyond that, wisdom:

  He bestows on every object or quality its fit proportion, neither more
        nor less....
  He is no arguer, he is judgment--(Nature accepts him absolutely;)
  He judges not as the judge judges, but as the sun falling round a
        helpless thing:
  As he sees farthest, he has the most faith.

He is no writer of "poems distilled from foreign poems"; he is the
propounder of

                      the idea of free and perfect individuals,
  For that idea the bard walks in advance, leader of leaders,
  The attitude of him cheers up slaves and horrifies foreign despots.

In America, whose "veins are filled with poetical stuff," Whitman was
certain not only of the need for poets but of their ultimate power; for
_in_ America, the cradle of the race, and _through_ the bards God's
will was to be done.

Whitman arrived at the acme of self-reliance. With the mystic's sense
of revealed truth at hand, and a devout conviction that it was the
poet's duty--his duty--to show men a new heaven and a new earth, he
went on his way with perfect faith. Emerson wrote of self-reliance in
general, "Adhere to your act, and congratulate yourself if you have
done something strange and extravagant, and broken the monotony of a
decorous age." Yet he remonstrated with Whitman, and in the attempt
to modify his extravagance used arguments which were unanswerable.
Nevertheless, said the younger poet, "I felt down in my soul the clear
and unmistakable conviction to disobey all, and pursue my own way";
in doing which he bettered Emerson's instructions by disregarding
his advice. Hostile or brutal criticism left him quite unruffled. It
reënforced him in his conclusions and cheered him with the thought
that they were receiving serious attention. After Swinburne's fiercest
attack says Burroughs: "I could not discover either in word or look
that he was disturbed a particle by it. He spoke as kindly of Swinburne
as ever. If he was pained at all, it was on Swinburne's account and not
on his own. It was a sad spectacle to see a man retreat upon himself as
Swinburne had done."

His daily preoccupation with "superior beings and eternal interests"
gave him some of the elevations and some of the contempts of the
Puritan fathers. It leads far to think of Whitman as a Puritan stripped
of his dogma. It accounts for his daily absorption in things of
religion, for his democratic zeal, his disregard for the adornments
of life, even for his subordination of the sentiment of love to the
perpetuation of the race. In these respects he dwelt on the broad and
permanent factors in human life, regarding the finite and personal
only as he saw them in the midst of all time and space. And this
leads to the man in his relation to science, with which Puritan dogma
was at odds. Whitman was not in the usual sense a "nature poet." The
beauties of nature exerted little appeal on him. He had nothing to
say in detached observations on the primrose, or the mountain tops,
or the sunset. But nature was, next to his own soul, the source of
deepest truth to him, a truth which science in his own day was making
splendidly clear. The dependence of biological science on the material
universe did not shake his faith in immortality. He simply took what
knowledge science could contribute and understood it in the light of
his faith, which transcended any science. Among modern poets he was one
of the earliest to chant the pæan of creative evolution.

  Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,
  Afar down I see the huge first Nothing--I know I was even there,
  I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,
  And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.

  Before I was born out of my mother, generations guided me,
  My embryo has never been torpid--nothing could overlay it.
  For it the nebula cohered to an orb,
  The long, slow strata piled to rest it in,
  Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,
  Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths, and deposited it
        with care.
  All forces have been steadily employed to complete and delight me,
  Now I stand on this spot with my Soul.

It is impossible, as all critics agree, to compass Whitman in a book
or essay or compress him into a summary. He was an immensely expansive
personality whose writings are as broad as life itself. It is almost
equally impossible for one who has really read over and through and
under his poems to speak of him in measured terms. The world is coming
round to Whitman much faster than he expected. Every great step in
human progress is a step in the direction he was pointing. His larger
faith, whether so recognized or not, is yearly the faith of more and
more thinking people. And in an immediate way his influence on the
generation of living poets is incomparably great.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Author_=

  WALT WHITMAN. Works. Selections from the prose and poetry of Whitman.
     O. L. Triggs, editor. 1902. 10 vols. The best single volumes
     are Leaves of Grass, Complete Poetical Works, and Complete
     Prose Works. (Small, Maynard.) 1897 and 1898. During Whitman's
     lifetime ten successive enlarged editions of Leaves of Grass were
     published: in 1855, 1856, 1860, 1867, 1871, 1876, 1881 (Boston),
     1881 (Philadelphia), 1888, 1889, 1891. Other titles are as
     follows: *Drum-Taps, 1865; *Passage to India, 1871; *Democratic
     Vistas, 1871; Memoranda during the War, 1875; Specimen Days and
     Collect, 1882, 1883; Two Rivulets, 1876; *November Boughs, 1888;
     *Good-bye, My Fancy, 1891. (Titles with the mark * were included
     as new sections in the next forthcoming edition of Leaves of
     Grass.)

     =Bibliographies=

       Selections from Whitman. O. L. Triggs, editor. 1898.

       Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors,
         Vol. VIII, pp. 129-153. C. W. Moulton, editor. 1905. Cambridge
         History of American Literature, Vol. II, pp. 551-581.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       There is no complete standard biography. The best single volume
         surveys are Walt Whitman, by G. R. Carpenter, 1909 (_E. M. L.
         Ser._); and Walt Whitman: his Life and Works, by Bliss Perry,
         1906 (_A. M. L. Ser._).

       BINNS, H. B. A Life of Walt Whitman. 1905.

       BOYNTON, P. H. Whitman's Idea of the State. _New Republic_, Vol.
         VII, p. 139.

       BROOKS, VAN WYCK. America's Coming of Age. 1915.

       BURROUGHS, JOHN. Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person. 1867.

       BURROUGHS, JOHN. Whitman: a Study. 1896.

       CARPENTER, EDWARD. Days with Walt Whitman. 1906.

       CHAPMAN, J. J. Emerson and Other Essays. 1892.

       DART, W. K. Walt Whitman in New Orleans. _Pub. Louisiana Hist.
         Soc._, Vol. VII, pp. 97-112.

       ELLIOT, C. N. Walt Whitman as Man, Poet, and Friend. 1915.

       FERGUSON, J. D. American Literature in Spain. 1916.

       FOERSTER, NORMAN. Whitman as Poet of Nature. _Pub. Mod. Lang.
         Assoc. of Amer._, Vol. XXI (N. S.), pp. 736-758.

       GOULD, E. P. Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman. 1900.

       GUMMERE, F. B. Democracy and Poetry. 1911.

       HOLLOWAY, EMORY. Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol.
         II, Bk. II, chap. i.

       JONES, P. M. Influence of Whitman on the Origin of "Vers Libre."
         _Modern Language Review_, Vol. XI, p. 186.

       JONES, P. M. Whitman in France. _Modern Language Review_, Vol.
         X, p. 1.

       LANIER, SIDNEY. The English Novel. 1883.

       LEE, G. S. Order for the Next Poet. _Putnam's Magazine_, Vol. I,
         p. 697; Vol. II, p. 99.

       MACPHAIL, ANDREW. Walt Whitman, in _Essays in Puritanism_. 1905.

       MORE, P. E. Walt Whitman, in _Shelburne Essays_. Fourth Series.
         1906.

       PATTEE, F. L. American Literature since 1870, chap. ix. 1915.

       PERRY, BLISS. Walt Whitman: his Life and Work. 1906 and 1908.

       SANTAYANA, GEORGE. Walt Whitman, in _Interpretations of Poetry
         and Religion_. 1900.

       STEDMAN, E. C. Poets of America. 1885.

       STEVENSON, R. L. Familiar Studies of Men and Books. 1882.

       SWINBURNE, A. C. Studies in Prose and Poetry. 1894.

       TRAUBEL, H. L. _In re_ Walt Whitman. 1893.

       TRAUBEL, H. L. With Walt Whitman in Camden, p. 473. 1906. (This
         is Vol. I of Traubel's diary notes made during Whitman's life.
         Vol. II, 1908; Vol. III, 1914. Vol. IV is announced for early
         publication, and the whole work, when completed, will fill
         eight or ten volumes.)

       WALLING, W. E. Whitman and Traubel. 1916.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Select and discuss poems and stanzas in Whitman which are written in
conventional rhythms.

Select and discuss passages in which he employs changing rhythms
adjusted to the persons or objects in hand.

Study Whitman's diction with reference to his use of the average man's
speech and to his occasional use of foreign words, corrupted words
(whether foreign or English), and coined words.

List and discuss poems which are clearly autobiographical. Does this
list include any personal lyrics?

List and discuss poems written in the first person but intended as
poems of "the divine average."

Select and discuss poems and passages on the theme of companionship.

Select and discuss poems and passages which express his sense of
universal law.

Read his longer poems for passages on the subject of the state, the
rulers, and public opinion.

Read and discuss his utterances on poetry and the poet, noting
especially "The Song of the Banner at Daybreak" and "As I sat by Blue
Ontario's Shore."

Read and discuss Whitman's utterances on war and nationalism.

Read for an estimate of his feeling for the beauties of nature.



                              CHAPTER XXV

                        THE WEST AND MARK TWAIN


There is a valid parallel between the beginnings of American literature
and the early stages of its development in the West, for in both
instances it followed on the wave of pioneer settlement. The earliest
writers came from the East and were only temporary sojourners in the
new country, Bret Harte and Mark Twain corresponding in different
degrees to colonists like John Smith and Nathaniel Ward. A more
permanent allegiance developed in a second group who lived out their
lives in the land of their adoption, such, for example, as Joaquin
Miller and Increase Mather. And the final stage is fulfilled by those
whose whole lives belonged to the maturing frontier, like most of the
second generation. The parallel exists too in the fact that the early
authors wrote usually with one eye on the older community, eager for
approval and half resentful of criticism--an attitude of West toward
East which still survives in the timider element along the chain from
London to New York to Chicago to San Francisco to Honolulu. The obvious
contrasts between the motives for settlement, the character of the
settlers, and the nature of their writings only serve to emphasize the
underlying similarities. Manners change, but human nature changes so
much more slowly that it seems almost a constant.

Bret Harte (1839-1902) is the outstanding writer who lived for a
while in the far West, turned it to literary account, failed in any
deep sense either to sympathize with its spirit or to represent it,
and left it permanently and with apparent relief. He was an Eastern
town-bred boy of cultured parentage who aspired to become a poet. At
eighteen he went to California where, before he was twenty-one, he
saw life as tutor, express messenger, typesetter, teacher, and drug
clerk. During half of the next fourteen years in San Francisco he
was secretary of the California mint, and during all of them he was
primarily interested in authorship. He wrote for periodicals East and
West and had a manuscript accepted by the _Atlantic_ as early as 1863.
With the founding of the _Overland Monthly_ in 1868 he became editor,
and with the publication of "The Luck of Roaring Camp" in the second
number he jumped into fabulous popularity. In 1871 he went to New York,
and in 1878 he went abroad, where he lived till his death in complete
estrangement from all his old associates. These latter facts deserve
mention only as they stress the lightness of his contact with the
West. He found fresh material there which he used with great narrative
adroitness, contributing definitely to the progress of short-story
technique. But his tales are deftly melodramatic, built on a sort of
paradox formula, and greatly indebted in detail and mannerisms to
the example of Charles Dickens. Harte was beyond any question a good
craftsman; his wares would still find a ready magazine market, for they
would be modern in execution, but there is no soul in what he wrote.
He was a reporter with a gift for rapid-moving, close-knit narrative.
He was greatly interested in facts, but very little concerned with the
truth. He wrote some clever stories, but he seems like a trinket shop
at the foot of Pike's Peak as Mark Twain looms above him.

The life of Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910) probably
touches American life at more points than that of any other author.
The first half has been very definitely written into his books, and
the whole has been told with his help in one of the best of American
biographies.[34] It involves indirectly his Virginia parentage and
the pioneer experiences of his father and mother in the Tennessee
mountains; his own residence in the Mississippi valley and on both
seacoasts; his activities as printer, river-pilot, journalist,
lecturer, and publisher; his friendships with all sorts and conditions
of men from California miners to the crowned heads of Europe; the
joys and sorrows of a beautiful family life; the making and losing of
several fortunes; and an old age crowded with honors and popularity,
yet overshadowed by a tragic cloud of doubts and griefs.

  [34] "Mark Twain, a Biography," by Albert Bigelow Paine. 3 vols. 1912.

His parents, who had been dissatisfied with their attempted settlement
in a Tennessee mountain town, left it in 1835 with four children for
Florida, Missouri, allured to the move by the optimism of a relative,
as it worked on their own pioneer restlessness. The conditions they
left are vividly described in the first eleven chapters of "The Gilded
Age." In a little town of twenty-one dwellings the boy was born in
the autumn of 1835. When he was four years old the family moved to
Hannibal, a river town. Sam Clemens was an irresponsible, dreamy,
rather fragile child, a problem to parents and teachers and given to
associating with the boys presented in "Tom Sawyer," the most notable
of whom was Tom Blankenship, the original of "Huckleberry Finn." His
father, consistently unsuccessful, was made justice of the peace and
finally was elected clerk of the circuit court, only to die in 1847
from exposure in the campaign. For the next ten years young Clemens
was engaged in the printing business, first under his brother Orion
on a Hannibal journal (see "My First Literary Venture," in "Sketches,
New and Old," pp. 110-114); then during fifteen months in New York,
Philadelphia, and Washington, and next in Keokuk, Illinois, and
Cincinnati, Ohio.

Finally, in April, 1857, he began to "learn the river" from Horace
Bixby, pilot of the _Paul Jones_. His experience on the river, the
basis for "Life on the Mississippi," was early marked by the tragic
destruction of the _Pennsylvania_, on which his younger brother, Henry,
suffered a fearful death, the first of the personal sorrows which were
deeply scored into his life. His career as pilot was ended by the
closing of river traffic in the spring of 1861, but it gave him, with
many other bequests, his pen name, derived from one of the calls used
in sounding the depth of the ever-shifting channel. Piloting during
war times did not appeal to him. "I am not very anxious to get up into
a glass perch and be shot at by either side. I'll go home and reflect
on the matter." And after reflection he chose the better part of valor
and stayed on land. In the next three months there followed his amusing
adventures recorded in "The Private History of a Campaign that Failed"
(see "The American Claimant," pp. 243-265); and in July, 1861, he went
with his brother Orion to serve with J. W. Nye, territorial governor
of Nevada. The life of the next months went into "Roughing It," first
at Carson City, then at Humboldt, until, in August, 1862, he began his
journalistic work in California on _The Virginia City Enterprise_. At
twenty-five he had secured his first view of the country from coast
to coast and all down the central artery, he had been schooled in the
exacting discipline of the printer's trade (see pp. 47, 48) and in the
still more rigorous responsibilities of river piloting, and he had
begun to write for a living. Two more steps remained in the growth of
his acquaintance with the external world, and these followed after
five years of shifting fortunes on California newspapers. The first
was his trip to Honolulu as correspondent for the _Sacramento Union_,
on the new steamer _Ajax_, and the second, in 1867, was his trip to
the Holy Land on the steamship _Quaker City_ for the tour which was to
be immortalized in "Innocents Abroad," first as a series of newspaper
letters and then in book form.

With the publication of "The Innocents" in the summer of 1869 Mark
Twain came to the halfway point. Out of his wide experience he had
developed the habits of an observer and he had learned how to write.
He had earned a reputation as a newspaper man, and he had published
his most famous short story, "The Jumping Frog," using his talent
in spinning a yarn[35] after his own fashion. His lecturing had
met with unqualified success; the new book was selling beyond all
expectation--67,000 copies in the first year; and he was happily
married to Olivia Langdon, his balance wheel, his severest critic, and
the friend of all his closest friends.

  [35] See his essay "How to Tell a Story" in "The Man that Corrupted
       Hadleyburg," pp. 225-230.

The story of the rest of his life is a record of varied and spectacular
fortunes. His home from 1871 to 1891 was in Hartford, Connecticut,
where he was a neighbor of Charles Dudley Warner and an intimate of
the Reverend Joseph Twitchell (the original of Harris in "A Tramp
Abroad"), and where William Dean Howells, his friend of over forty
years, often visited him. There was a kind of lavishness in everything
he did. He built a mansion, made money with ease, spent it profusely,
and invested it with the care-free optimism of Colonel Sellers himself.
New inventions fascinated him and made him an easy victim for the
fluent promoter, so that what was left from his ventures with the
_Buffalo Express_ and the Webster Publishing Company went into other
enterprises, of which the Paige typesetting machine was the most
disastrous for this ex-printer. After his failure for a large amount,
a later friend, Henry H. Rogers, took his affairs in hand and by good
management enabled Mark Twain to meet all debts and enjoy a very
handsome income during his later years.

The ups and downs of business distracted him but did not baffle him. He
traveled extensively, living abroad during most of the decade between
1891 and 1901. He made cordial friends wherever he went, but he was
not weaned by them away from the old cronies of the Mississippi Valley
and the Pacific coast. He accepted honors from Yale twice and from the
University of Missouri, and in 1907 was the subject of a four-weeks'
ovation from all England when he went over to receive the degree
of Doctor of Letters from Oxford. His opinion was sought on public
questions and he was importuned for speeches on every sort of occasion;
but his last years were shadowed by a succession of bereavements. In
1903 Mrs. Clemens died. Two children died in childhood, a third under
tragic circumstances in 1909, and the surviving daughter was married
and far away most of the time. His chief personal solace was found in
his friendships with several schoolgirls.

  During those years after my wife's death I was washing about on a
  forlorn sea of banquets and speech-making in high and holy causes,
  and these things furnished me intellectual cheer and entertainment;
  but they got at my heart for an evening only, then left it dry
  and dusty. I had reached the grandfather stage of life without
  grandchildren, so I began to adopt some.

He died of angina pectoris in 1910.

Mark Twain's reputation was built on his humor. He came to his maturity
in a fruitful decade just after the Civil War, when a crop of newspaper
men were coming out with a recklessly fresh, informal jocularity which
was related to the old American humor, but a great departure from
it. They were all unconscious of making any contribution to American
literature. They never could have written books which would have won
the attention of Irving's readers and the perusers of the old Annuals
and the admirers of the Knickerbocker courtliness. They wrote for the
world of Horace Greeley and the elder James Gordon Bennett, caring
nothing for beauty of style or for any kind of literary tradition. They
wrote under odd pen names like "John Phoenix," who preceded them by
ten years--"Petroleum V. Nasby," "Artemus Ward," "Orpheus C. Kerr,"
"Max Adler," and "M. Quad" serving as fancy dress for Locke, Browne,
Newell, Clark, and Lewis. They drew their material from the common
people, as Lincoln had done with all his anecdotes, putting it in the
idiom of the common people and frequently distorting it into illiterate
spelling, as Lowell had done in "The Biglow Papers." This disturbed
and shocked the lovers of a refined literature--men like Stedman, for
example, who wrote to Bayard Taylor, "The whole country, owing to
_contagion_ of our American newspaper 'exchange' system, is flooded,
deluged, swamped, beneath a muddy tide of slang, vulgarity, inartistic
[bathos], impertinence, and buffoonery that is not wit." But it was an
irresistible tide that threw up on its waves something more than froth
or flotsam, in the shape of a few real treasures from the deep--and the
rarest was Mark Twain.

Had there been no such journalistic tide this original genius would
still have gone on his original way. What these other men did was much
more to put the public into a humor for Mark Twain than to lead Mark
Twain in his approach to the public. He started as the others did,
allowing an undercurrent of seriousness to appear now and then in the
flow of his extravagance. His platform experience taught him by the
immediate response of the audience what were the most effective methods.

      All Tully's rules and all Quintilian's too,
      He by the light of listening faces knew.
      And his rapt audience, all unconscious, lent
      Their own roused force to make him eloquent.[36]

He was quite deliberate in the employment of them. His essay on "How
to Tell a Story" is an evidence of what he knew about structure, and
his letter to the young London editorial assistant (see Paine's "Mark
Twain" pp. 1091-1093) is only the best of many passages which show his
scrupulous regard for diction. He did not indulge in the usual vagaries
of spelling; he had, to paraphrase his own words, "a singularly fine
and aristocratic respect for homely and unpretending English"; and he
treated punctuation as a "delicate art" for which he had the highest
respect. People who carelessly think of Mark Twain as a kind of
literary swashbuckler can disabuse themselves by an attentive reading
of any few pages.

  [36] James Russell Lowell, "Ode on Agassiz."

While they are doing it, they can discover in addition to the points
just mentioned that he was essentially clean-minded. Vulgar he
was, to be sure, at times, in the sense of not indulging always
in drawing-room talk or displaying drawing-room manners, as, for
instance, in his repeated references to spitting,--to use the homely
and unpretending word,--but he never partook of the nature of his rough
and ready human subjects to quite the extent that Franklin or Lincoln
did. His pages are utterly free from filth. He drew a line, no doubt
assisted by Mrs. Clemens, between what he wrote for the public and his
private speech and correspondence. "He had," Mr. Howells wrote, "the
Southwestern, the Lincolnian, the Elizabethan breadth of parlance,
which I suppose one ought not to call coarse, without calling one's
self prudish; and I was always hiding away in discreet holes and
corners the letters in which he had loosed his bold fancy to stoop on
rank suggestion; I could not quite bear to burn them, and I could not,
after the first reading, quite bear to look at them. I shall best give
my feeling on this point by saying that in it he was Shakespearian, or
if his ghost will not suffer me the word, then he was Baconian."

His humor relied on his never-failing and often extravagant use of the
incongruous and the irrelevant. Often this came out in his similes and
metaphors. "A jay hasn't got any more principles than a Congressman."
"His lectures on Mont Blanc ... made people as anxious to see it as if
it owed them money." It emerged in his impertinent personalities, as
in the instance of his first meeting with Grant, when he said after a
moment of awkwardness: "General, I seem to be a little embarrassed. Are
you?" or as in the case of his reply to a query as to why he always
carried a cotton umbrella in London, that it was the only kind he could
be sure would not be stolen there. It appeared too in his sober misuse
of historical facts with which he and his readers or auditors were well
acquainted. And it was developed most elaborately in "hoax" passages
where, in his violation of both fact and reason, the canny author
looked like the innocent flower but was the serpent under it.

A particular charm attached to his work because it was so apparently
uncalculated and spontaneous. What he wrote seemed to be for his own
delectation, and what he spoke to be the casual improvisation of the
moment. At times, of course, he did improvise--with all the art of a
musician whose mastery of technique is no less the result of great
labor because he has it completely in hand; but often the utterance
which his hearers took for an extempore speech had been composed to
the last syllable and then delivered with an art that concealed its
own artistry. No doubt for the multitudes who bought up the editions
of "Innocents Abroad" the salient feature of Mark Twain's writing was
its jovial extravagance. The first feeling of the public was that he
had out-Phoenixed "Phoenix" and beaten "Petroleum Nasby" at his
own game. Beyond question he literally "enjoyed himself" when he was
giving hilarious enjoyment to others; the free play of his antic fancy
was a kind of self-indulgence. The best evidence is offered in "Joan of
Arc." The story is approached, pursued, and concluded in a spirit of
admiration often amounting to reverence. Yet in the character of "The
Paladin," Edmond Aubrey, the old _miles gloriosus_ of Roman comedy, and
in Joan's uncle, the historian reverted to his broadest jocosities.
There are interpolated pages of pure farce. There are scenes in "Joan"
that are companion pieces with portions of the sardonic "Man that
Corrupted Hadleyburg." On his seventy-third birthday he wrote, "I like
the 'Joan of Arc' best of all my books; and it _is_ the best; I know
it perfectly well." Yet this serious chronicle, with its occasional
outbursts of fun, was of a piece with his best-known book of nearly
thirty years earlier, the laugh-invoking "Innocents Abroad." The books
are not alien to each other; the difference is simply in the prevailing
moods.

For under all the frolicsome gayety and beneath the surface ironies of
this log of "The Quaker City" there is a solid sense of the realities
of human life. Over against the pure fun of such episodes as the
Fourth of July celebration on the high seas is a steady run of satire
at the traditionalized affectations of the American who pretended to
enjoy the things that he ought and attempted to shake off the manners
of Bird City when he registered in his Paris hotel. His gibes at
cultural insincerity, however, did not degenerate into a fusillade
of cheap cynicisms at everything old. Whatever contempt he felt for
the antiques of the tradesmen was overshadowed by the solemnity with
which the evidence of the passing centuries impressed him. He may not
have rendered the "old masters" their full deserts, but he entered a
cathedral with respect, walked in reverent silence among the ruins of
the Holy Land, and felt in the Alps the presence of the Most High.
"Notwithstanding it is only the record of a picnic," he wrote in the
preface, "it has a purpose, which is, to suggest to the reader how
_he_ would be likely to see Europe and the East, if he looked at them
with his own eyes instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those
countries before him." So he wrote this book out of the fullness of his
heart as well as out of the abundance of his humor. There was in him a
natural acumen which for want of a better name we may call wisdom. His
instinctive perceptions were usually right.

The fundamental Mark Twain was an increasingly serious man. Before he
was fifty years old his precocious daughter had written in her journal,
"He is known to the public as a humorist, but he has much more in
him that is earnest than that is humorous." And again: "Whenever we
are all alone at home nine times out of ten he talks about some very
earnest subject (with an occasional joke thrown in), and he a good deal
more often talks upon such subjects than upon the other kind. He is
as much a philosopher as anything, I think." There were many external
reasons for his turn of mind. His romantic passage through life from
obscure poverty to wealth and fame, with the depressing chapters of
his temporary business reverses, heightened his native respect for
the few blessings that are really worth while. His repeated travels,
culminating with his trip around the world, the honors that came to
him, the social distinctions that were showered on him, his friendships
with thinking men, his bereavements, all contributed to the same end of
making him consider the ways of the world and of the maker thereof. In
a further comment his astute little daughter went near to the heart of
the matter when she wrote quaintly, "I think he could have done a great
deal in this direction if he had studied while young, for he seems
to enjoy reasoning out things, no matter what; in a great many such
directions he has greater ability than in the gifts which have made him
famous." "If he had studied while young" Mark Twain might have gained
a knowledge of the progressions in philosophic thought that would have
steadied him in his own thinking. Yet possibly it would have made
little difference, for his thinking was at the same time all his own
and altogether in the drift of nineteenth-century thought.

With an initial distrust of conventionalized thinking he came to
his own analysis of the prevailing religious views. His reason was
alert to challenge theology wherever it was at odds with science. He
found nothing in the Bible to question the assumption that Man was
the crowning triumph of his Creator, but everything in evolutionary
doctrine to suggest that Man was only a link in a far-evolving
succession of higher forms. He found a God in the Old Testament who
was "an irascible, vindictive, fierce and ever fickle and changeful
master," though in the ordering of the material universe he appeared to
be steadfast, beneficent, and fair. His reason thus unseated his faith
in the Scriptures and thereby his confidence in the creeds founded
upon them. He lost the God of the Hebrews only to find his own "in
the presence of the benignant serenity of the Alps," ... "a spirit
which had looked down, through the slow drift of ages, upon a million
vanished races of men, and judged them; and would judge a million
more--and still be there, watching unchanged and unchangeable, after
all life should be gone and the earth have become a vacant desolation."

For the after-life he could find no such assurance as he could for a
Creator. For many men of his generation, and the one just before, the
solution when they found themselves in such a quandary was to take
refuge in the authority of the dogmas they had set out to question;
many of the most radical came back with relief to the protection of the
Roman Catholic faith; but Mark Twain could not find his way into the
harbor, glad as he might have been for the anchorage. There is a deep
pathos in the many passages of which the following is a type:

  To read that in a book written by a monk far back in the Middle Ages
  would surprise no one; it would sound natural and proper; but when it
  is seriously stated in the middle of the nineteenth century, by a man
  of finished education, an LL.D., M.A., and an archæological magnate,
  it sounds strangely enough. Still I would gladly change my unbelief
  for Neligan's faith, and let him make the conditions as hard as he
  pleased.

In spite of all his yearnings he never could achieve for himself the
assurance "of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"; so
that his most clearly formulated profession of faith was in reality a
pathetic profession of doubts:

  I believe in God the Almighty.... I think the goodness, the justice
  and the mercy of God are manifested in his works; I perceive they
  are manifested toward me in this life; the logical conclusion is
  that they will be manifested toward me in the life to come, if there
  should be one.

Here again, as in his discrimination between "antiques" and antiquity,
Mark Twain kept clear of a despairing cynicism and held to the
distinction between what Emerson called "historical Christianity" and
the ideals from which its adherents have fallen away. He judged the
religion of his countrymen by its social and national fruits, and he
was filled with wrath at the indignity of an Episcopal rector's refusal
to perform the burial service of the actor George Holland and at the
extortionate demands of the missionaries for indemnities after the
Boxer Rebellion in China. On the national ideals of Christendom he
spoke in bitter prophecy in 1908:

  The gospel of peace is always making a deal of noise, always
  rejoicing in its progress but always neglecting to furnish
  statistics. There are no peaceful nations now. All Christendom is
  a soldier camp. The poor have been taxed in some nations to the
  starvation point to support the giant armaments which Christian
  governments have built up, each to protect itself from the rest of
  the Christian brotherhood, and incidentally to snatch any scrap
  of real estate left exposed by a weaker owner. King Leopold II of
  Belgium, the most intensely Christian monarch, except Alexander
  VI, that has escaped hell thus far, has stolen an entire kingdom
  in Africa, and in fourteen years of Christian endeavor there has
  reduced the population from thirty millions to fifteen by murder
  and mutilation and overwork, confiscating the labor of the helpless
  natives, and giving them nothing in return but salvation and a home
  in heaven, furnished at the last moment by the Christian priest.
  Within the last generation each Christian power has turned the bulk
  of its attention to finding out newer and still newer and more
  and more effective ways of killing Christians, and, incidentally,
  a pagan now and then; and the surest way to get rich quickly in
  Christ's earthly kingdom is to invent a kind of gun that can kill
  more Christians at one shot than any other existing kind. All the
  Christian nations are at it. The more advanced they are, the bigger
  and more destructive engines of war they create.

Such doubts as to the future and depression at surrounding events have
led many an inquirer to a relaxation in his moral standards and in
his personal conduct; but in Mark Twain his rectitude was as deeply
grounded as his humor--both, indeed, flowing from the same source.
Throughout his books he upheld the simple virtues--common honesty;
fidelity to the family; kindness to brutes, to the weak or suffering,
and to the primitive peoples. His ironies and his satires were always
directed at unworthy objects, the varied forms of selfishness and
insincerity; and his answer to "What is Happiness?" is contained in
the admonition, "Diligently train your ideals upward and still upward,
toward a summit where you will find your chiefest pleasure in conduct
which, while contenting you, will be sure to confer benefits upon your
neighbor and the community."

Not until the last years of his life did readers begin to take Mark
Twain seriously; now they are coming to appreciate him. He has been
fortunate in his literary champions--biographers, critics, and
expositors--and incomparably so in the loving interpretation, "My Mark
Twain," by his intimate friend, William Dean Howells. This concludes:
"Out of a nature rich and fertile beyond any that I have ever known,
the material given him by the Mystery that makes a man and then leaves
him to make himself over, he wrought a character of high nobility
upon a foundation of clear and solid truth.... It is in vain that I
try to give a notion of the intensity with which he pierced to the
heart of life, and the breadth of vision with which he compassed
the whole world, and tried for the reason of things, and then left
trying.... Next I saw him dead.... I looked a moment at the face I
knew so well; and it was patient with the patience I had so often seen
in it; something of puzzle, a great silent dignity, an assent to what
must be from the depths of a nature whose tragical seriousness broke
in the laughter which the unwise took for the whole of him. Emerson,
Longfellow, Lowell, Holmes--I knew them all--and all the rest of our
sages, poets, seers, critics, humorists; they were like one another
and like other literary men; but Clemens was sole, incomparable, the
Lincoln of our literature."


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Authors_=

  BRET HARTE. Works. Standard Library Edition. 20 vols. During his
     lifetime his works were issued in forty-nine successive volumes
     between 1867 and 1902. Of these seven were poetry, and of the
     prose works two were novels. The remainder were made up of short
     units, mostly narrative.

     =Biographies=

       BOYNTON, H. W. Bret Harte. 1905.

       MERWIN, H. C. The Life of Bret Harte, with some Account of the
         California Pioneers. 1911.

       PATTEE, F. L. American Literature since 1870, chap. iv. 1915.

       PEMBERTON, T. E. Life of Bret Harte. 1903.

  MARK TWAIN/ Works. Writings of Mark Twain. 1910. 25 vols. (These have
     been supplemented by various posthumous articles in _Harper's
     Magazine_ which have been published, and will doubtless be further
     added to, in supplementary volumes.) His works appeared in book
     form originally as follows: The Jumping Frog, 1867; The Innocents
     Abroad, 1869; Autobiography and First Romance, 1871; Roughing It,
     1872; The Gilded Age (with C. D. Warner), 1873; Sketches New and
     Old, 1875; Tom Sawyer, 1876; The Stolen White Elephant, 1878; A
     Tramp Abroad, 1880; The Prince and the Pauper, 1881; Life on the
     Mississippi, 1883; Huckleberry Finn, 1884; A Connecticut Yankee
     in the Court of King Arthur, 1889; The American Claimant, 1891;
     Tom Sawyer Abroad, 1894; Pudd'nhead Wilson, 1894; Joan of Arc,
     1896; Tom Sawyer Detective, and Other Stories, 1896; Following the
     Equator, 1897; Christian Science, 1907; Captain Stormfield's Visit
     to Heaven, 1907; Is Shakespeare Dead, 1908.

     =Bibliography=

       A volume by M. Johnson. 1910.

       Chronological list of Mark Twain's work published and otherwise,
         Appendix X, Vol. III, of Mark Twain, by A. B. Paine (see
         below).

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The standard life is by Albert Bigelow Paine. 1912. 3 vols.

       The following list does not attempt to represent the periodical
       material except for one symposium in _The Bookman_. See the
       Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. The volume for
       1910-1914 alone contains seventy-six items.

       CLEMENS, W. M. Mark Twain: his Life and Work. 1892.

       HENDERSON, ARCHIBALD. Mark Twain. 1912.

       HOWELLS, W. D. My Mark Twain. 1910.

       Mark Twain's Letters (edited by A. B. Paine). 1917.

       MATTHEWS, BRANDER. Inquiries and Opinions. 1907.

       PAINE, A. B. A Boy's Life of Mark Twain. 1916.

       PATTEE, F. L. American Literature since 1870, chap. iii. 1915.

       PHELPS, W. L. Essays on Modern Novelists. 1910.

       SHERMAN, STUART. Fifty Years of American Idealism (edited by
         Gustav Pollak). 1915. Also in On Contemporary Literature. 1918.

       WALLACE, ELIZABETH/ Mark Twain and the Happy Island. 1913.

       _The Bookman_, Vol. XXXI, pp. 363-396: Mark Twain in San
         Francisco, by Bailey Millard; Mark Twain, an Appreciation,
         by Henry M. Alden. Best Sellers of Yesterday: The Innocents
         Abroad, by A. B. Maurice; Mark Twain in Clubland, by W. H.
         Rideing; Mark Twain a Century Hence, by Harry Thurston Peck;
         The Story of Mark Twain's Debts, by F. A. King.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Note, as you read any one of Mark Twain's longer stories, passages
which are evidently autobiographical. Do these throw any light on the
history of his neighborhoods and his period or are they purely personal
in their interest?

Read the essay "How to tell a Story" and test it by Mark Twain's method
in one of his shorter stories and in one of his after-dinner speeches
as printed in the appendix to Vol. III of A. B. Paine's "Life."

Read a few pages at random for observations on Mark Twain's diction. Is
it more like Emerson's or Lowell's, more like Whitman's or Longfellow's?

Does Mark Twain's consistent interest in history appear in his writing
through the use of allusion and comparison?

Read for the employment of unexpected humor. Are passages in which it
suddenly appears the result of forethought or merely the result of whim?

Read for Mark Twain's resort to serious satire. To what objects of
satire does he most frequently revert?

Do you find a distinction between Mark Twain's attitude toward religion
and his attitude toward religious people?

Mark Twain is held up as an example of Americanism. Do his writings
give evidence of patriotism in the usual sense of the word?



                              CHAPTER XXVI

                      THE WEST IN SILL AND MILLER


In the development of a Western literature Sill and Miller, like Bret
Harte and Mark Twain and like all the other adult Californians in
the pioneer period, were imported from the East, but they were not
such temporary sojourners as the two prose writers. Sill, after an
Eastern education, enjoyed two prolonged residences in California, and
in his journeyings back and forth became a kind of cultural medium,
bringing something of Eastern tradition to the Pacific coast and
interpreting the West to the East. Of the four men Joaquin Miller was
the most completely and continuously Western. He went out almost as
early as Mark Twain did, lived during boyhood in far more primitive
circumstances, and, after varied travels in the East and in Europe and
intimate association with the world of letters, returned to the West
for his old age, dying "on the heights" in sight of the Golden Gate.


                    EDWARD ROWLAND SILL (1841-1887)

Sill was born in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1841. In 1861 he was
graduated from Yale, where he had developed more clearly than anything
else a dislike for narrowly complacent orthodoxy of thought and conduct
and had acquired a strain of mild misanthropy which characterized him
for the next several years. His health sent him West, by sailing-vessel
around Cape Horn, and he stayed in California occupied in a variety
of jobs until 1866. A winter's study satisfied him that he should not
enter the ministry, and a shorter experiment that he could not succeed
in New York journalism. In 1868 he published the only volume of poems
during his lifetime, the little duodecimo entitled "The Hermitage."
From this year to 1882 he was occupied in teaching--first in the high
schools at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and Oakland, California, and from 1874
on in the department of English in the University of California. Here
he had the double distinction of serving under President Daniel C.
Gilman and over Josiah Royce, whom he secured as assistant. A letter
of 1882 gives as the reason for his resignation that his "position
had become intolerable for certain reasons that are not for pen and
ink," in spite of which ill health is usually assigned as the cause.
In 1883 a second volume, "The Venus of Milo, and Other Poems" was
privately printed. For the rest of his life he lived at Cuyahoga Falls
again, writing frequently under the name of Andrew Hedbrook for the
_Atlantic_, whose pages were opened to his prose and verse through the
appreciative interest of the editor, his fellow-poet, Thomas Bailey
Aldrich. He died in 1887.

During his last thirty years, from his entrance to Yale in 1857 to
his death in 1887, Edward Rowland Sill experienced American life in a
variety of ways which were not exactly paralleled in the career of any
of his contemporaries. He did not belong to any literary group. Because
of a certain timidity, which was probably more artistic than social, he
did not even become acquainted with the well-known authors who were his
neighbors while he was in Cambridge and New York City; but his natural
inclination to find his proper place and do his proper work led him to
partake of the life on both coasts and in the Mississippi Valley and
to contribute richly to the leading periodicals of the East and the
West--the _Atlantic_ and the _Overland Monthly_.

By inclination he was from the outset a cultured radical. He loved the
best that the past had to offer, he wanted to make the will of God
prevail, and he was certain that between lethargy and crassness the
millennium was being long delayed. It was lethargy which characterized
Yale and New Haven for him.[37] The curriculum was dull in itself
and little redeemed by any vital teaching or by reference to current
thought. The faculty, wrote one of his classmates, "gave us a rare
example of single-hearted, self-sacrificing, and unswerving devotion
to duty, as they saw it. But they had not the gift to see much of
it, and so their example lacked inspiration. It is astounding that
so much knowledge (one-sided though it was) and so much moral worth
could have existed side by side with so much obtuseness." The natural
consequence was that Sill picked up what crumbs of comfort he could
from miscellaneous reading, was "rusticated" for neglect of his routine
duties, wrote Carlylesque essays of discontent, and went out from
graduation with a deep feeling of protest against what he supposed
was the world. "Morning" and "The Clocks of Gnoster Town, or Truth by
Majority" are the chief poetical results of this experience.

  [37] See chap. ii, "His Life at College," in W. B. Parker's Life.

California offered him a relief, but too much of a relief. He was
always loyal to his closest college friends and to his ideals for Yale.
The license of a frontier mining country did not in any sense supply
the freedom which New Haven had denied him. His greatest pleasure out
there was in the companionship of an intellectual and music-loving
"Yale" family. And so his revolt from the world and his return to
it, which are motivated in "The Hermitage" by the charms of a lovely
blonde, had a deeper cause in the facts of his spiritual adolescence.
All this pioneering was in the nature of self-discovery. For a while he
inclined to the study of law because he thought the discipline of legal
training would lead him toward the truth. Then after returning to the
East he came by way of theological study and journalism to his final
work: "... only the great schoolmaster Death will ever take me through
these higher mathematics of the religious principia--this side of his
schooling, in these primary grades, I never can preach.--I shall teach
school, I suppose."

Now that he had left it, however, the charm of California was upon him.
Although he was later to write in sardonic comment on the dry season,

      Come where my stubbly hillside slowly dries,
      And fond adhesive tarweeds gently shade,

he was really in love with the great open vistas, the gentleness of the
climate, and with the Californians' "independence of judgment; their
carelessness of what a barbarian might think, so long as he came from
beyond the border; their apparent freedom in choosing what manner of
men they should be; their ready and confident speech." "Christmas in
California," "Among the Redwoods," and "The Departure of the Pilot" are
examples of much more California verse and of the spirit of many and
many of his letters. Yet for this radical thinker institutional life
was somewhat cramping even here. It is an unhappy fact that colleges
and universities, devised as systems for educating the average by the
slightly more than average, have rarely been flexible enough in their
management to give fair harborage for creative genius either in front
of or behind the desk. Sill's experience was not unusual; it only went
to prove that in academic America East was West and West was East and
that the two had never been parted. So finally the young poet, still
young after two periods of residence on each coast, settled down again
to quiet literary work in the little Ohio town. There were only five
years left him.

Throughout his work, but increasingly in these later years, there
is a fine and simple clarity of execution. The something in him
which withheld him from calling on Longfellow and the others when in
Cambridge, or even on his fellow-collegian Stedman in New York, made
him slow to publish, rigorous in self-criticism, and eager to print
anonymously or under a pseudonym. He wrote painstakingly, followed his
contributions to the editors with substituted versions, and revised
even in the proof. Although he was a wide reader, he was usually
independent of immediate models, and always so in his later work. He
avoided the stock phrases of poetry, but often equaled the best of them
himself: "the whispering pine, Surf sound of an aërial sea," "Struck
through with slanted shafts of afternoon," "When the low music makes a
dusk of sound," are representatives of his own fresh coinage.

A reading of Sill's poetry would reveal much of his life story without
other explanation. An acquaintance with his biography makes most of the
rest clear. The poems relate in succession to his college experience,
his lifelong search for truth, his Western voyage, his revolt against
the world and his return to it, his residence in California. They
show in parts of "The Hermitage" and in "Five Lives" his rebellion at
the incursions of science. They show, however, that in his own mind
a greater conflict than that between science and religion was the
conflict, as he saw it, between religion and the church.

  For my part I long to "fall in" with somebody. This picket duty is
  monotonous. I hanker after a shoulder on this side and the other.
  I can't agree in belief (or expressed belief--Lord knows what the
  villains really think, at home) with the "Christian" people, nor
  in spirit with the Radicals, etc.... Many, here and there, must be
  living the right way, doing their best, hearty souls, and I'd like
  to go 'round the world for the next year and take tea with them in
  succession.

The tone of this letter, written in 1870, was to prevail more and
more in his later years. He had passed out from the rather desperate
seriousness of young manhood. He had found that on the whole life was
good. He was no less serious at bottom than before, but in the years
approaching the fullness of his maturity he let his natural antic humor
play without restraint. As a consequence the poems after 1875 tend as a
group to deal more often with slighter themes and in lighter vein. The
human soul did not cease to interest him, but the human mind interested
Sill the husband and the teacher more than they had interested Sill
the youthful misanthrope. Thus the confidence in "Force," the subtlety
in "Her Explanation," the mockery in "The Agile Sonneteer," and the
whimsical truth of "Momentous Words" were all recorded after he was
forty years of age.

It is impossible not to feel the incompleteness of his career. It was
cut off without warning while Sill was in a state of happy relief from
the perplexities of earlier years. He was gaining in ease and power of
workmanship. There was a modest demand, in the economic sense, for his
work. There was everything to stimulate him to authorship and much to
suggest that in time he would pass beyond this genial good humor into
a period of serene and broadening maturity. Possibly in another decade
he would have come into some sense of nationalism which would have
illuminated for him the wide reaches of America which he had passed and
repassed. The Civil War had meant nothing to him: "What is the grandeur
of serving a state, whose tail is stinging its head to death like a
scorpion!" Since war times he had passed out of hermitage into society,
and with the Spanish War he might have seen America and the larger
human family with opened eyes. But at forty-six the arc of his life was
snapped off short.


                       JOAQUIN MILLER (1841-1913)

Cincinnatus Hiner Miller was born in 1841. "My cradle was a covered
wagon, pointed west. I was born in a covered wagon, I am told, at or
about the time it crossed the line dividing Indiana from Ohio." His
father was born of Scotch immigrant stock--a natural frontiersman, but
a man with a love of books and a teacher among his fellow-wanderers.
In 1852, moved by the same restlessness that had taken the Clemens
family to Missouri seventeen years earlier, the Millers started on the
three-thousand-mile roundabout journey to Oregon, finding their way
without roads over the plains and mountains in a trip lasting more than
seven months. It was from this that the boy gained his lasting respect
for the first pioneers.

        O bearded, stalwart, westmost men,
      So tower-like, so Gothic built!
      A kingdom won without the guilt
      Of studied battle, that hath been
      Your blood's inheritance.... Your heirs
      Know not your tombs: The great plough-shares
      Cleave softly through the mellow loam
      Where you have made eternal home,
      And set no sign. Your epitaphs
      Are writ in furrows.

After two years in the new Oregon home the coming poet ran away with a
brother to seek gold. They seem to have separated, and in the following
years the one who came to celebrity survived a most amazing series of
primitive experiences and primitive hardships among the Indians. Part
of his time, however, with "Mountain Joe" preserved his contact with
books, for this man, a graduate of Heidelberg, helped him with his
Latin. The boy returned to Oregon early enough to earn a diploma at
Columbia University in 1859,--an institution in which the collegiate
quality was doubtless entirely restricted to its name. According to
Miller the eagerness of study there was no less intense than the
zest for every other kind of experience among the early settlers. In
the next decade he had many occupations. For a while he was express
messenger, carrying gold dust, but safe from the Indians, who had
become his trusted friends. "Those matchless night-rides under the
stars, dashing into the Orient doors of dawn before me as the sun burst
through the shining mountain pass,--this brought my love of song to
the surface." Later he was editor of a pacifist newspaper which was
suppressed for alleged treason. But the largest proportion of his time
was spent at the law. From 1866 to 1870 he held a minor judgeship.

Throughout all this time--he was now nearly thirty--Miller's primary
passion had been for poetry and for casting in poetic form something
of the rich, vivid romance of the great West and Southwest. In 1868
a thin booklet, "Specimens," was issued and in San Francisco, in
1869, "Joaquin et al." For naming his book in this fashion instead of
"Joaquin and Other Poems," his legal friends repaid him with a derisive
nickname that finally became the one by which the world knows him. Bret
Harte, then in an influential editorship, gave the book a fair review,
but in general it was slightingly treated.

Impulsive in mood and accustomed to little respect for the hardships of
travel, Miller started East, and three months later, as he records, was
kneeling at the grave of Burns with a definite resolve to complete his
life in the country of his forefathers. In the volume of poems of his
own selection he wrote of "Vale! America," "I do not like this bit of
impatience nor do I expect anyone else to like it, and only preserve it
here as a sort of landmark or journal in my journey through life." But
for the moment in his sensitiveness he doubtless wrote quite truly:

                                I starve, I die,
      Each day of my life. Ye pass me by
      Each day, and laugh as ye pass; and when
      Ye come, I start in my place as ye come,
      And lean, and would speak,--but my lips are dumb.

He had, of course, no reputation in London, where he soon settled near
the British Museum, and the period was an unpropitious one for poetry.
A descendant and namesake of the John Murray who had refused to deal
with "The Sketch Book" (see p. 118) gave a like response to Miller's
offer of his "Pacific Poems." But Miller carried the risk-taking spirit
of the pioneer to the point of privately printing one hundred copies
and sending them broadcast for review, with the result of an immediate
and enthusiastic recognition. The "Songs of the Sierras" were soon
regularly published in London, and the poet was received in friendliest
fashion as a peer of Dean Stanley, Lord Houghton, Robert Browning, and
all the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood.

The period from 1873 to 1887 is distinctly a middle zone in Miller's
career. The restless eagerness of his formative years still dominated
him, but it led him for the most part to rapid changes, most of which
were in the world of men and many of which were in the largest cities.
His moves on both continents are difficult to follow and have not been
clearly unraveled by any biographer. One can get a fairly clear idea of
their nature if not of their order by an attentive reading of his poems
and particularly of the chatty footnotes with which he accompanied the
collections he edited. He continued to use the frontier experience
of the early days. His most characteristic poems were stories of
thrilling experience in the open. In "My Own Story," "Life Amongst the
Modocs," "Unwritten History, Paquita," and "My Life Among the Indians"
he recorded the same material in prose. In certain other poems,
particularly the "Isles of the Amazons" and "The Baroness of New York,"
he set in contrast the romance of the forest with the petty conventions
of the metropolis, and in "The Song of the South" he attempted--not to
his own satisfaction--to do for the Mississippi what he had done for
the mountains. Shorter lyrics show his response to world events such as
the death of Garfield and the American war with Spain. In two poems of
1901 he wrote in withering condemnation of England's policy toward the
Boers.

In all the material of this middle period the dominant feature is his
praise of the elemental forces of nature. Nature itself for him was
always dynamic. The sea and the forest at rest suggested to him their
latent powers. His best scenes deal with storm, flood, and fire, and
when occasionally he painted a calm background, as in the departure of
"The Last Taschastas," the burnished beauty of the setting is in strong
contrast with the violence of the episode. In human experience he most
admired the exertion of primitive strength. It is this which endeared
the early pioneers to him. Man coping with nature thrilled him, but
for human conflict he had little sympathy. His women were Amazonian
in physique and character--a singularly consistent type, almost a
recurrence of one woman of various complexions. In the judgment of
Whitman--his Washington intimate of two years--he must have fallen
from grace in his treatment of love. If he did not vie (to paraphrase
Burroughs) "with the lascivious poets in painting it as the forbidden"
passion, he did compete with the fleshly school in depicting all its
charms. Yet even here in that strange concluding romance "Light" he
struggled to overcome the sensuous with the spiritual element.

The form of all this mid-period work was quite conventional and, in
view of the content, smacked strangely of the library and the drawing
room. He ran as a rule to four-stressed lines, indulged in insistent
riming, rarely missing a chance, and cast his stanzas into a jogging
and seldom-varied rhythm. In their assault on the ear his verses have
little delicacy of appeal. They blare at the reader like the brasses
in an orchestral fortissimo. They clamor at him with the strident
regularity of a Sousa march. This dominant measure accords well with
the rude subject matter of his poems,--the march of the pioneer, the
plod of oxen yoked to the prairie schooner, the roar of prairie fire or
of the wind through the forest; and, with a difference, the hoof-beat
of galloping horses or of stampeding buffalo. And it expresses the
rhetorical magniloquence which is the natural fruit of life in a
country of magnificent distances. At the same time Miller found a
poetical justification for his style in the narrative rhythms of Scott
and Byron and Coleridge, by whom he was often and evidently influenced.
Until he was well past mid-career he was boyishly open to direct
literary influences. He had no theory of prosody; his originality was
inherent in the harmony between himself and his wild material; so he
tried his hand at writing in the manner of this, that, and the other
man.

In his final revisions, however, he was ruthless in rejecting his
imitative passages and in his reduction of earlier work to what was
unqualifiedly his own. This is best illustrated by what he did to "The
Baroness of New York" before he had done with it. In its original
form of 1877 it filled a whole volume, a poem--not a novel, as often
erroneously stated--in two parts. The former is a sea-island romance
of love and desertion after the manner of Scott; the sequel presents
Adora in New York as the Baroness du Bois, where she lives in scornful
indifference until the original lover turns up with a title of his own
and carries her off in triumph; this second part is in the manner of
Byron. When Miller included this poem in his collected edition of 1897,
he dropped all the Byronic, metropolitan portion and reduced the rest
to less than half--the fraction that was quite his own.

Such a revision was in the fullest sense the work of matured judgment.
Miller was now in his last long period of picturesque retirement on
"The Heights," looking back over his prolific output of former years,
recognizing the good in it, and depending upon the public to reject
what had no right to a long life. At times he still wrote poem-stories
located in settings of tumultuous abundance, but he supplemented these
with more and more frequent short lyrics, and he studied continually
to achieve that simplicity which is seldom the result of anything but
perfected artistry. In 1902 he wrote:

  Shall we ever have an American literature? Yes, when we leave sound
  and words to the winds. American science has swept time and space
  aside. American science dashes along at fifty, sixty miles an hour;
  but American literature still lumbers along in the old-fashioned
  English stage-coach at ten miles an hour; and sometimes with a
  red-coated outrider blowing a horn. We must leave all this behind us.
  We have not time for words. A man who uses a great, big, sounding
  word, when a short one will do, is to that extent a robber of time. A
  jewel that depends greatly on its setting is not a great jewel. When
  the Messiah of American literature comes, he will come singing, so
  far as may be, in words of one syllable.

In the main his hope now was to pass from objective poetry to "the
vision of worlds beyond,"--a vision which he more nearly approached in
"Sappho and Phaon" than in any other poem, and a vision for which the
motive is stated in the second stanza of "Adios":

          Could I but teach man to believe--
      Could I but make small men to grow,
      To break frail spider-webs that weave
      About their thews and bind them low;
      Could I but sing one song and slay
      Grim Doubt; I then could go my way
      In tranquil silence, glad, serene,
      And satisfied, from off the scene.
      But ah, this disbelief, this doubt,
      This doubt of God, this doubt of good,--
      The damned spot will not out.

In the meanwhile, by way of a practical application of his ideals,
Miller was attempting to lead his life sanely and, by an association
that suggests the old Greek academy, to point the way for the younger
generation of poets. In his final note to the 1902 edition he described
himself as living on "a sort of hillside Bohemia." No lessons were
taught there except, by example, the lesson of living. Three or four
"tenets or principles of life" were insisted upon: that man is good;
that there is nothing ugly in nature; that man is immortal; that nature
wastes no thing and no time; and that man should learn the lesson of
economy. So in a way he returned to the simple conditions in which his
earliest life had grounded his affections.

Miller naturally invites comparison with Mark Twain and Walt Whitman.
The likeness starts with the simple origins of all three and with the
rough-and-ready circumstances of their upbringing. It continues with
their resultant sympathetic feeling for the common men and women who
make up the mass of humankind. It is maintained in their conscious
personal picturesqueness: Whitman gray-bearded, open-collared, wearing
his hat indoors or out; Mark Twain in his white serge, regardless
of season; and Miller with long hair, velvet jacket, and high
boots,--evidence of the humanizing personal vanity in each which was
quite apart from the genuine bigness of their characters. It follows
in the high seriousness of all three. And it is confirmed in the
fact of their early recognition in England and their less respectful
reception at home (see pp. 293 and 367). Miller, like these others,
was in the 70's what the Old World chose to think the typical American
ought to be. He was fresher to them than those other Americans whom
their countrymen were eagerly describing as "the American Burns,"
"the American Wordsworth," "the American Scott," and "the American
Tennyson"; and to this degree--though he was not a representative of
the prevailing American literature--he was actually a representative
of the country itself and especially of the vast stretch from the
Mississippi to the Pacific. For Miller and the America he knew best
were both full of natural vigor, full of hope and faith, conscious of
untold possibilities in the nearer and the remoter future, and, withal,
relatively naïve and unformed.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Individual Authors_=

  EDWARD ROWLAND SILL. Works. The Political Works of. 1906. 1 vol. His
     works appeared in book form originally as follows: The Hermitage
     and Other Poems, 1867; Venus of Milo, and Other Poems, 1883;
     Poems, 1887; The Hermitage, and Later Poems, 1889; Christmas in
     California: a Poem, 1898; Hermione, and Other Poems, 1899; Prose,
     1900; Poems (Special Edition), 1902; Poems (Household Edition),
     1906.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       The best biographical study is Edward Rowland Sill: his Life
         and Work, by W. B. Parker. 1915. See also Modern Poets and
         Christian Teaching (Gilder, Markham, Sill), by D. G. Downey.
         1906.


  JOAQUIN MILLER. Works. Bear Edition. 1909-1910. 6 vols. A
     single-volume "complete" edition was published in 1892, 1897,
     and 1904. These appeared in book form originally as follows:
     Specimens, 1868; Joaquin et al., 1869; Pacific Poems, 1870; Songs
     of the Sierras, 1871; Songs of the Sunlands, 1873; Unwritten
     History: Life Amongst the Modocs (with Percival Mulford), 1874;
     The Ship in the Desert, 1875; First Families of the Sierras,
     1875; Songs of the Desert, 1875; The One Fair Woman, 1876; The
     Baroness of New York, 1877; Songs of Italy, 1878; The Danites
     in the Sierras, 1881; Shadows of Shasta, 1881; Poems (Complete
     Edition), 1882; Forty-nine: a California Drama, 1882; '49: or,
     the Gold-seekers of the Sierras, 1884; Memorie and Rime, 1884;
     The Destruction of Gotham, 1886; Songs of the Mexican Seas, 1887;
     In Classic Shades and Other Poems, 1890; The Building of the City
     Beautiful: a Poetic Romance, 1893; Songs of the Soul, 1896; Chants
     for the Boer, 1900; True Bear Stories, 1900; As It Was in the
     Beginning, 1903; Light: a Narrative Poem, 1907.

     =Biography and Criticism=

       There is no adequate biography or even biographical study. Of
         the historians of American literature only Churton Collins, C.
         F. Richardson, G. E. Woodberry, and F. L. Pattee ("American
         Literature since 1870") accord Miller serious attention. The
         autobiographical preface to the Bear Edition and the same
         material scattered through the one-volume editions are the raw
         stuff for interpretation of Miller's character and aim. These
         can be supplemented by his own article in the _Independent_ on
         "What is Poetry?" See also _Current Literature_, Vol. XLVIII,
         p. 574.

       See the historians above mentioned and the following review
         articles: _Academy_, Vol. II, p. 301; Vol. LIII, p. 181;
         _Arena_, Vol. XII, p. 86; Vol. IX, p. 553; Vol. XXXVII, p.
         271; _Current Opinion_, Vol. LIV, p. 318; _Dial_, Vol. LIV, p.
         165; _Fraser's_, Vol. LXXXIV, p. 346; _Godey's_, Vol. XCIV, p.
         52; _Lippincott's_, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 106; _Munsey's_, Vol. IX,
         p. 308; _Nation_, Vol. XXVII, p. 336; Vol. XIII, p. 196; Vol.
         XVIII, p. 77; Vol. XCVI, pp. 169, 187, 230, 544.


                          TOPICS AND PROBLEMS

Compare the use of California and California life by Sill with use of
the same material by Joaquin Miller or Bret Harte or Mark Twain.

Compare Sill's "Hermitage" with Robert Frost's "A Boy's Will." What is
the likeness in the general drift of the two and what are the essential
differences in the treatments of the theme?

Read W. B. Parker's "Life of Sill" with especial reference to Sill's
letters and the degree to which they reveal his humor and his
seriousness. Note poems which correspond in spirit or in content with
given letters.

Compare the treatment of primitive Western life and adventure by Miller
with use of the same material by Mark Twain or Bret Harte.

Read Miller for evidences of literary influence upon him of Scott or
Byron or Coleridge or Browning.

Read Miller's "Song of the South" and his explanatory remarks on it and
compare Longfellow's treatment of the Mississippi; or compare Masters's
preface to his volume "Toward the Gulf" and his poems on the same
subject.

Note the insistence of Miller on the idea that life is power and in his
later poems the increasing respect for reflection.

Compare Miller's "Columbus" with Lowell's "Columbus" and Lanier's
"Sonnets on Columbus."



                             CHAPTER XXVII

               THE RISE OF FICTION; WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS


It is very seldom in the history of literature that important
developments take place without long preliminaries. From period to
period new emphasis is placed on old ideas, and old forms are given the
right of way in literary fashion. In the course of American literature,
roughly speaking, the dominating forms of literature have been in
succession: exposition and travel during the colonial period; poetry,
satirical and epic, in the Revolutionary period; poetry in all its
broader aspects during the first two thirds of the nineteenth century.
After the Civil War for fifty years fiction came to the front; from
about 1900 on a new emphasis was given to the stage and the playwright;
at present the most striking fact in world literature is the broadening
and deepening of the poetic currents again. Yet all of these forms are
always existent. To speak of the rise of fiction, then, is simply to
acknowledge the increased attention which for a period it demanded.

It is frequently said that America's chief contribution to world
literature has been the short story as developed since the Civil War.
Yet in America the ground had been prepared for this development by
many writers,--among them, as already mentioned in this history,
Washington Irving with "The Sketch Book" in 1819 (see pp. 118-131),
Hawthorne with "Twice-Told Tales" in 1838 (see pp. 240 and 243), Poe
with his various contributions to periodical literature in the 1840's
(see pp. 185-187), Mark Twain with "The Jumping Frog" of 1867, Bret
Harte with "The Luck of Roaring Camp" of 1870 and the great bulk of
his subsequent contributions (see p. 381), and Thomas Bailey Aldrich
with "Marjorie Daw" of 1873 and his other volumes of short stories. In
the meanwhile the novel had had its consecutive history--from Brockden
Brown beginning with 1798 (see pp. 100-109) to Cooper in 1820 (see pp.
141-157), William Gilmore Simms from 1833 (see p. 344), Hawthorne from
1850 on (see pp. 236-251), Mrs. Stowe from 1852 (see pp. 299-309), and
Holmes from 1861 (see pp. 320, 321). And these writers of short and
long fiction are only the outstanding story-tellers in America between
the beginning of the century and the years just after the Civil War.

In a chapter such as this no exhaustive survey is possible, for it
involves scores of writers and hundreds of books. The vital movement
started with a fresh and vivid treatment of native American material,
and it moved in a great sweeping curve from the West down past the
Gulf up through the southeastern states into New England, across to
the Middle West, and back into the Ohio valley until every part of the
country was represented by its expositors. The course of this newer
provincial fiction is suggested by the mention of Mark Twain's "Jumping
Frog" (1867, California), "The Luck of Roaring Camp" of Bret Harte
(1870, California), G. W. Cable's "Old Creole Days" (1879, Louisiana),
"Nights with Uncle Remus," by Joel Chandler Harris (1880, Georgia), "In
the Tennessee Mountains," by Charles Egbert Craddock (1884), "In old
Virginia," by Thomas Nelson Page (1887), "A New England Nun," by Mary
E. Wilkins Freeman (1891), "Main-Travelled Roads," by Hamlin Garland
(1891, the Middle West), "Flute and Violin," by James Lane Allen (1891,
the Ohio valley).

[Illustration:

 CHRONOLOGICAL CHART II. AMERICAN LITERATURE IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

                  1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900

 Brockden Brown (1771=+1810)
 Washington Irving (1783++++++=======++++++++++-1859)
 Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790---=======++++++++++++++-1867)
 Joseph Rodman Drake (1795==1820)
 J. Fenimore Cooper (1789-----+=====+++++++1851)
 Wm. Cullen Bryant (1794--+++++++++++=======++++++++++++-1878)
 Edgar Allan Poe (1808-----------+++======1849)
 Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803----------========++++++++++----1882)
 Henry David Thoreau     (1817----------+++++=====1862)
 Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804--------+++++++++++=====++1864)
 John G. Whittier    (1807----------++++++++=========++++++++++1892)
 Henry W. Longfellow (1807-----++++++++++++========+++++--1882)
 James R. Lowell         (1819--------+++++===========+++++++--1891)
 Harriet B. Stowe     (1811-------------+++++========++++++++++--1896)
 Oliver W. Holmes     (1809-----------++++++++++++=======++++++-1894)
 Richard H. Stoddard         (1825---------+=======++++++++++++-->1903)
 Thomas B. Aldrich                 (1836-------+++======++++++++++>1907)
 Edmund C. Stedman                (1833-----------++======++++++++>1908)
 Henry Timrod                 (1829----------=======1867)
 Paul Hamilton Hayne          (1830--------+==========+++++--1886)
 Sidney Lanier                        (1842-------=========1881)
 Walt Whitman             (1819---------------=========+++++++++1892)
 Bret Harte                         (1839-------------+=====++++++>1902)
 Mark Twain                        (1835--------------+=======++++>1910)
 Edward Rowland Sill                 (1841-------------=====++1887)
 "Joaquin" Miller                    (1841-------------+====++++++>1913)
 Richard Watson Gilder                (1844---------------++=====+>1909)
 Wm. Dean Howells                   (1837--------++++++++++++=======++>)
 Wm. Vaughn Moody                                  (1869------+++=>1910)

       - Length of life, as far as included in this century
       + Period of authorship
       = Most important period of authorship


                     WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS (1837- )

The preëminent figure in the field of American fiction during the
last half century has been William Dean Howells, a man who is widely
representative of the broad literary development in the country and
worthy of careful study as an artist and as a critic of life. Although
he has been an Easterner by residence for nearly half a century,
he is the greatest contribution of the West--or what was West in his
youth--to Eastern life and thought.

He was born in 1837 at Martins Ferry, Ohio,--the second of eight
children. Perhaps the richness of his character is accounted for by the
varied strains in his ancestry. On his father's side his people were
wholly Welsh except his English great-grandmother, and on his mother's
wholly German except his Irish grandfather. His mother he has described
as the heart of the family, and his father as the soul. The family
fortunes were in money ways unsuccessful. His father's experience as a
country editor took him from place to place in a succession of ventures
which were harrassed by uncertain income and heavy debts. These were
always paid, but only by dint of unceasing effort. The Howells family
were, however, happy in their concord and in their daily enjoyment of
the best that books could bring them. Unlike many another youth who
has struggled into literary fame, William Dean found a ready sympathy
with his ambitions at home. His experience was less like Whitman's than
Bryant's. From childhood the printing office was his school and almost
his only school, for the district teachers had little to offer a child
of literary parentage "whose sense was open to every intimation of
beauty." Very early his desire for learning led him into what he called
"self-conducted inquiries" in foreign languages; and with the help of a
"sixteen-bladed grammar," a nondescript polyglot affair, he acquired in
turn a reading knowledge of Latin, Greek, Spanish, German, French, and
Italian. In the meanwhile he was reading and assimilating the popular
English favorites. It was typical of his experience that Longfellow led
him to his first studies of the Spanish language, bringing him back
to Spain, where he had traveled in fancy with Irving. Always he was
writing, for his life was "filled with literature to bursting," and
always imitating--now Pope, now Heine, now Cervantes, now Shakespeare.

As a printer on country journals he had the opportunity to place his
own wares before the public, often composing in type without ever
putting pen to paper. His father encouraged him to contribute to
journals of larger circulation, and the experience naturally led him
into professional journalism before he was of age. It led him also to
Columbus, the state capital, where he reported the proceedings of the
legislature and in time rose to the dignity of editorial writer. During
these years of late youth and early manhood his aspirations were like
Bret Harte's, all in the direction of poetry, and his earliest book
was a joint effort with James J. Piatt, "Poems of Two Friends," 1859.
This was a typical experience in literary history. Again and again at
the period of a change to a new form or, better, a revived artistic
form, the literary youth has started to write in the declining fashion
of his day and has been carried over into the rising vogue. "Paradise
Lost" was first conceived of as a five-act tragedy. "Amelia" and "Tom
Jones" were preceded by twenty-odd unsuccessful comedies. "The Lay of
the Last Minstrel" and "Marmion" and "The Lady of the Lake" were all
preliminary to "Waverley" and the tide of novels that followed. In 1860
Howells had five poems in the _Atlantic_ and had no expectation of
writing fiction; and it was another full decade, after the publication
of several volumes of sketches and travel observations, before he was
fairly launched on his real career.

In Columbus he had come by 1860 to a full enjoyment of an eager,
book-loving group. He was working enthusiastically as a journalist, but
his knowledge of politics and statecraft did not bring him to any vivid
sense of the social order. "What I wished to do always and evermore was
to think and dream and talk literature, and literature only, whether in
its form of prose or of verse, in fiction, or poetry, or criticism. I
held it a higher happiness to stop at a street corner with a congenial
young lawyer and enter upon a fond discussion of, say, De Quincey's
essays than to prove myself worthy the respect of any most eminent
citizen who knew not or loved not De Quincey." There was a succession
of fellow-journalists with whom he could have this sort of pleasure,
and there were houses in town where he could enjoy the finer pleasure
of talking over with the girls the stories of Thackeray and George
Eliot and Dickens and Charles Reade as they appeared in rapid sequence
in book or serial form. "It is as if we did nothing then but read late
novels and current serials which it was essential for us to know one
another's minds upon down to the instant; other things might wait, but
these things were pressing." During these years he developed a liking
for the social amenities, of which an enjoyment of polite literature
was a natural expression. Literature was an adornment of life and, as
he saw it, was confined to an interpretation of individual experience.

With the presidential candidacy of Lincoln, Howells became one of his
campaign biographers, and after the election and a period of anxious
waiting he received the appointment as United States consul to Venice.
Upon his return to this country he became an Easterner, settling
happily in Boston as assistant editor and then as editor in chief of
the _Atlantic Monthly_ from 1866 to 1881. This was a fulfillment beyond
his highest hopes. The great New England group were at the height of
their fame, and his connection with the unrivaled literary periodical
of America brought him into contact with them all. He was ready to
begin his own work as a writer of novels.

For the next twenty years he was a thoroughly conventional artist,
gaining satisfaction and giving pleasure through the exercise of his
admirable technique. In this period he wrote always, to borrow an
expression originally applied to Tennyson, as though a staid American
matron had just left the room: a matron who had been nurtured on the
reading which gave rise to his own literary passions--Goldsmith,
Cervantes, Irving, Longfellow, Scott, Pope, Mrs. Stowe, Dickens, and
Macaulay; a matron, in short, who was the Lady of the Aroostook at
forty-five, the mother of a numerous family, and aggressively concerned
that no book which fell into the hands of her daughters should cause
the blush of shame to rise upon the maiden cheek. He wrote not only
on an early experience in the life of this lady but on "A Modern
Instance," "A Woman's Reason," "Indian Summer," and, best of them all,
"The Rise of Silas Lapham." He was giving ground to Mr. Crothers's
pale-gray pleasures as a reader in the time when, as he said: "I turned
eagerly to some neutral tinted person who never had any adventure
greater than missing the train to Dedham, and I ... analyzed his
character, and agitated myself in the attempt to get at his feelings,
and I ... verified his story by a careful reference to the railroad
guide. I ... treated that neutral tinted person as a problem, and I ...
noted all the delicate shades in the futility of his conduct. When, on
any occasion that called for action, he did not know his own mind, I
... admired him for his resemblance to so many people who do not know
their own minds. After studying the problem until I came to the last
chapter ... I ... suddenly gave it up, and agreed with the writer that
it had no solution." Had nothing occurred to break the sequence, he was
on the way to wasting his energy, as Henry James did, "in describing
human rarities, or cases that are common enough only in the abnormal
groups of men and women living on the fringe of the great society of
active, healthy human beings."

The books of this period, in other words, were all the work of a
well-schooled, unprejudiced observer whose ambition was to make
transcripts of life. "Venetian Life" and "Italian Journeys" were the
first logical expression of his desire and his capacities--books of
the same sort as "Bracebridge Hall" and "Outre-Mer" and "Views Afoot"
and "Our Old Home" (see p. 269, note). "A Foregone Conclusion" and
"A Fearful Responsibility" simply cross the narrow bridge between
exposition and fiction but employ the same point of view and the same
technique. Howells was interested in American character and in the
nice distinctions between the different levels of culture. In "Silas
Lapham," his greatest novel written before 1890, the blunt Vermonter is
set in contrast with certain Boston aristocrats. He amasses a fortune,
becomes involved in speculation, in business injustice, and in ruin.
But whatever Howells had to say then of social and economic forces, he
said of powers as impersonal as gravitation. Business was business, and
the man subjected to it was subjected to influences as capricious but
as inevitable as the climate of New England.

More and more as a realist he devoted himself to the presentation of
character at the expense of plot. "The art of fiction," he wrote in his
essay on Henry James in 1882, "has become a finer art in our day than
it was with Dickens or Thackeray. We could not suffer the confidential
attitude of the latter now nor the mannerism of the former any more
than we could endure the prolixity of Richardson or the coarseness
of Fielding. These great men are of the past--they and their methods
and interests; even Trollope and Reade are not of the present." He
dismissed moving accidents and dire catastrophes from the field of
the new novel, substituting for fire and flood the slow smolder of
individual resentment and a burst of feminine tears. With "April Hopes"
of 1887 he deliberately wrote an unfinished story, following two young
and evidently incompatible people to the marriage altar, but leaving
their subsequent sacrifice to the imagination of the reader, who must
imagine his own sequel or go without.

However, when he was past fifty he underwent a social conversion.
And when he wrote his next book about his favorite characters, the
Marches, he and they together risked "A Hazard of New Fortunes." He
and they were no longer content to play at life under comfortable and
protected circumstances. They went down into the metropolis, competed
with strange and uncouth people, and learned something about poverty
and something about justice. In fact they learned what went into
"Annie Kilburn" and "The Quality of Mercy" and "The World of Chance"
and "A Traveler from Altruria" and "The Eye of a Needle," learning it
all through the new vision given by the belated reading of a great
European. Writing from his heart of this conversion Mr. Howells says,
in "My Literary Passions":

  It is as if the best wine at this high feast, where I have sat so
  long, had been kept for the last and I need not deny a miracle in it
  in order to attest my skill in judging vintages. In fact I prefer to
  believe that my life has been full of miracles, and that the good
  has always come to me at the right time, so that I could profit most
  by it. I believe that if I had not turned the corner of my fiftieth
  year, when I first knew Tolstoy, I should not have been able to know
  him as fully as I did. He has been to me that final consciousness,
  which he speaks of so wisely in his essay on Life. I came in it to
  the knowledge of myself in ways I had not dreamt of before, and began
  at last to discern my relations to the race, without which we are
  nothing. The supreme art in literature had its highest effect in
  making me set art forever below humanity, and it is with the wish to
  offer the greatest homage to his heart and mind which any man can pay
  another, that I close this record with the name of Lyof Tolstoy.

This passage we can hardly overvaluate. Taken by itself, it is merely a
punctuation point in one author's autobiography, but seen against its
background it records the epoch-marking fact that in the very years
when America as one expression of itself was producing such native-born
spokesmen as Whitman and Mark Twain and Joaquin Miller, it was also,
in the spiritual successor to Longfellow and Lowell, making reverent
acknowledgment, not to the splendors of an ancient civilization but
to the newest iconoclasm in the Old World. It is not unworthy of
comment that the influence of Tolstoy was exerted upon Howells after
his removal to New York City, where he has been associated with the
editorial staff of _Harper's Magazine_ ever since 1881, and that
the experiences of the Marches in their hazard of new fortunes is
apparently autobiographical.

There was no violent change in the material or method of his
fiction-writing. It was simply enriched with a new purpose. To his old
power to portray the individual in his mental and emotional processes
he added a criticism of the rôle the individual played in society. He
added a new consciousness of the institution of which the individual
was always the creator, sometimes the beneficiary, and all too often
the victim. His maturity as a man and as a writer secured him in his
human and artistic equilibrium, and in this degree has distinguished
him from younger authors who have written with the same convictions
and purposes. He has written no novels as extreme as Sinclair's "The
Jungle," which ends with a diatribe on socialism, although he has been
a socialist; he has written nothing quite so insistent as Whitlock's
"The Turn of the Balance," although he has been keenly aware of the
difference between justice and the operation of the legal system. Every
story has contained a recognition that life is infinitely complex,
with a great deal of redeeming and a great deal of unintelligent and
baffling good in it. Furthermore, he has written always out of his own
experience and with all his old skill as a novelist, so that he has
never done anything so clumsily commendable as Page's "John Marvel,
Assistant" or anything so clearly prepared for by painstaking study as
Churchill's "The Inside of the Cup."

By 1894 Howells had come to the point where he wished to present his
social thesis as a thesis, and he did so in "A Traveler from Altruria,"
which is not a novel at all but a series of conversations on the nature
of American life as contrasted with life in an ideal state. Mr. Homos
from Altruria (Mr. Man from Other Land) is the traveler who gets his
first impressions of America by visiting a conservative novelist, Mr.
Twelvemough, at a summer resort in which the hotel furnishes "a sort
of microcosm of the American republic." Here, in addition to the host,
are an enlightened banker, a complacent manufacturer, an intolerant
professor of economics, a lawyer, a minister, and a society woman "who
as a cultivated American woman ... was necessarily quite ignorant
of her own country, geographically, politically and historically";
and here also are the hotel keeper, the baggage porter, a set of
college-girl waitresses, and a surrounding population of "natives,"
as the summer resorter invidiously describes the inhabitants whom he
doesn't quite dare to call peasants. In the earlier part of the essay
the social cleavages are embarrassingly revealed,--the ignominy of
being a manual laborer or, worse still, a domestic servant, and the
consequent struggle to escape from toil and all the conditions that
surround it. This leads quickly to a study of the economic situation in
a republic where every man is for himself.

When pinned by embarrassing questions the defenders of the American
faith take refuge in what they regard as the static quality of human
nature, but are further embarrassed by the Altrurian's innocent
surprise at their tactics. He does not understand that it is in human
nature for the first-come to be first served, or for every man to be
for himself, or for a man "to squeeze his brother man when he gets him
in his grip," or for employers to take it out of objecting employees
in any way they can. To Mr. Twelvemough it is a matter of doubt as to
whether the traveler is ironically astute or innocently simple in his
implication that even human nature is subject to development.

The latter two thirds of the book are a composite indictment of an
economic system which permits slavery in everything but name and
which extols the rights of the individual only as they apply to the
property holder. This culminates with the concluding lecture by the
Altrurian--an "account of his own country, which grew more and more
incredible as he went on, and implied every insulting criticism of
ours." The book concludes:

  We parted friends; I even offered him some introductions; but his
  acquaintance had become more and more difficult, and I was not sorry
  to part with him. That taste of his for low company was incurable,
  and I was glad that I was not to be responsible any longer for
  whatever strange thing he might do next. I think he remained very
  popular with the classes he most affected; a throng of natives,
  construction hands, and table-girls saw him off on his train; and he
  left large numbers of such admirers in our house and neighborhood,
  devout in the faith that there was such a commonwealth as Altruria,
  and that he was really an Altrurian. As for the more cultivated
  people who had met him, they continued of two minds upon both points.

These are the convictions which dominate in all the later works. On the
whole it is a significant fact that novels of so radical a thesis have
attracted so little opposition. Never was an iconoclast received with
such unintelligent tolerance. The suavity of his manner, the continued
appearance of his books of travel and observation, the recurrence (as
in "The Kentons") to his old type of work or the resort (as in the long
unpublished "Leatherwood God") to fresh woods and pastures new, and
all the while the humorous presentation of his favorite characters,
particularly the bumptious young business man and the whimsically
incoherent American woman, beguile his readers into a blind and bland
assumption of Mr. Howells's harmlessness. Possibly because they have
been less skillful and more explicit, novel after novel from younger
hands has excited criticism and the healthy opposition which prove
that the truth has struck home. Perhaps his largest influence being
indirectly exerted, his lack of sensationalism or sentimentalism debar
him from the "best-seller" class; but for fifty years he has been
consistently followed by the best-reading class, and no novelist of the
newer generation has been unconscious of his work.

Henry James (1843-1916), whose work in some respects has been
comparable to that of Howells, was a writer of so distinct an
individuality that he has been the subject of much criticism and no
little amiable controversy. Born in New York of literary parentage,
educated in the university towns of Europe, and resident most of his
life abroad, he developed into an international novelist, chiefly
interested in the various shades of the contrasting cultures in the
Old World and the New. Of his subject matter one story is about as
good an example as another, for James was remarkably consistent. The
backgrounds are almost always intercontinental or transatlantic.
The characters belong to the leisure class. The episodes, where they
exist, are adventures of the mind. In the earlier stories, such as
"The American" (1877), plot is more eventful and definitive and style
is more lucid than in the later ones. In these James seemed to be
so fascinated with his intricate discriminations of feeling that he
confined himself largely to psychological analysis in a style which
became increasingly obscured by subtle indirections. Thus "The Awkward
Age" (1899) is a narrative in ten short "books" centering about the
marriage and non-marriage of two London girls. Aggie, who has been
brought up in the fashion of Richard Feverel translated into feminine
terms, is married off to a wealthy and decent man twice her age, and
after a short experience turns out to be altogether unfitted for his
degree of sophistication. Nanda, wise from the beginning, fails to
win the most attractive man of the lot, and in the end is adopted and
carried off to the country by a charming old Victorian gentleman.
Nothing objective happens. The tale is told in ten long conversations,
each entitled for one of the chief characters and occupying most of
one of the books. All the characters talk with circuitous elusiveness,
and all employ the same idiom, with the single exception of Aggie
in her first two appearances, when she is supposed to be hopelessly
ingenuous. In his attitude toward these people James put himself in a
somewhat equivocal position. With their general social and spiritual
insufficiency he had no patience. They represent the world of "Vanity
Fair" and "The Newcomes" done down to date. But at the time he betrayed
a lurking admiration for them, their ways, and their attitude toward
life. Like the rest of his stories, "The Awkward Age" has little to do
with the world of affairs in any group aspect. It is like a piece of
Swiss carving on ivory. It has the same marvelous minuteness of detail,
the same inutility, the same remote and attenuated relationship to any
deep emotional experience or vigorous human endeavor. Unless one is
devoted to the gospel of art for art's sake, one cannot appreciate the
good of this sort of endeavor. In his narrowly limited field Mr. James
is a master. For more than forty years and in more than thirty volumes
he did the thing that he elected to without compromise in behalf of
popularity. Yet admire him as much as they may, most readers turn
from him with relief to the literature of activity and of the normal,
healthy human beings who are seldom to be encountered in the pages of
Henry James.

Before mentioning in detail the types of American realistic novel which
have followed on the work of Mr. Howells, something should be said
about the very considerable output of romantic fiction of which he has
been strangely intolerant; for it is strange that a man of his gentle
generosity should be so insistent on the wrongness of an artistic point
of view which is complementary to his own, though different from it.
Distinctions between romance and realism often lead into a dangerous
"no man's land," and discussions of the term are harder to close than
to begin. However, Sir Walter Raleigh's contention that the essence of
romance lies in remoteness and the glamour of unfamiliarity--though not
inclusive of all romance--will serve as an index for grouping here.

In 1879, 1880, and 1882 three men, the first of whom is still
producing, set out on long careers of popularity. They were George
W. Cable (1844- ), Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908), and F. Marion
Crawford (1854-1909). Mr. Cable's contribution has been the
interpretation of the elusive and fascinating character of the New
Orleans creole. Cable was bred in the river port when the old part of
the city was less like the decaying heart of a mushroom than it is
to-day. He grew up in an understanding of the courtly, high-spirited
gentry of this exotic people, not studying either the people or their
traditions for the sake of writing them up. He felt the beauty, but
no less the futility, of their life. He was in no hurry to write for
publication, but when he did so his fame was soon made. His subsequent
departure from the South and his settling in New England seemed to
many critics to be an abandonment of the richest field that life had to
offer him. It was said for years, until it became one of the literary
commonplaces, that Mr. Cable would never again rise to the level
of "Old Creole Days" (1879), "The Grandissimes" (1880), or "Madame
Delphine" (1881). The fourteen volumes of the next third of a century
seemed to fulfill this dreary prophecy. Yet all the time the South was
the home of his imagination, and with 1918 he gave the lie to all his
Jeremiahs. The "Lovers of Louisiana" has quite as fine a touch as the
works of nearly forty years ago. Mr. Cable sees the old charm in this
life of an echoing past and the same fatuousness. At this distance
into the twentieth century he leads his old characters and their
children by new paths into the future, but he presents the graces of
their obsolescent life in the familiar narrative style of his early
successes--a style as fleeting yet as distinctive as the aroma of old
lace.

Joel Chandler Harris, like George W. Cable, did his work in presenting
the life of a vanishing race--the antebellum negro. He finished off his
formal education, which ended when he was twelve, with the schooling
of the printing shop, and passed from this into journalistic work
with a succession of papers, of which the _Atlanta Constitution_ is
best known. Boy life on the plantation gave him his material in the
folklore of the negro, and a chance bit of substituting gave him his
very casual start as the creator of "Uncle Remus." Northern readers
were quick to recognize that Harris had given a habitation and a name
to the narrative stuff that folklorists had already begun to collect
and collate. The material goes back to the farthest sources of human
tradition, but "Uncle Remus" was a new story-teller with a gift
amounting to little short of genius. So his stories have the double
charm of recording the lore of the negro and of revealing his humor,
his transparent deceitfulness, his love of parade, his superstition,
his basic religious feeling, and his pathos. Harris seemed to draw his
material from a bottomless spring. Starting with "Uncle Remus: his
Songs and Sayings" in 1881, Harris produced six other volumes in the
next ten years and brought the total to fourteen in folk stories alone
before his death in 1908. As the aptest of criticisms on his own work,
one of his admirers has well quoted Harris's comment on a book of Mark
Twain: "It is history, it is romance, it is life. Here we behold a
human character stripped of all tiresome details; we see people growing
and living; we laugh at their humor, share their griefs, and, in the
midst of it all, behold, we are taught the lesson of honesty, justice
and mercy."

The fluent romance of Marion Crawford is of a different and a lower
order. He was a sort of professional cosmopolitan,--American by birth,
educated largely abroad, widely traveled, and resident for most of his
maturity on the Bay of Naples. He could turn off romances of Persia, of
Constantinople, of Arabia, of medieval Venice, of Rome, and of England
with about equal success. He had no great artistic purpose, admitting
complacently that he was not great enough to be a poet or clever enough
to be a successful playwright. He had no ethical purpose. He had not
even a high ideal of craftsmanship, putting out eight volumes in 1903
and 1904 alone. He deserves mention as a prolific and self-respecting
entertainer who converted his knowledge of the world into a salable
commodity and established a large market for his superficial romances.

With the turn of the century--almost two decades after the débuts
of Cable, Harris, and Crawford--a new interest began to spread from
the collegians to the reading public as a whole, the same influences
which were producing as leaders in the scholastic field Von Holst,
Channing, McMaster, Hart, Jameson, and McLaughlin--masters of American
history--extending to the people at large. In 1897 appeared Weir
Mitchell's "Hugh Wynne." In the spring of 1898 came the war with Spain.
In 1899 Ford's "Janice Meredith" and Churchill's "Richard Carvel"
were published; in 1900, Mary Johnston's "To Have and to Hold"; and
in 1901 Churchill's "The Crisis"--four novels which by the end of
the latter year had reached a combined sale of 1,200,000 copies. For
a little while the vogue of the historical romance passed all recent
precedent. The natural zest for stories of olden days was reënforced by
the revival of national feeling, and the popular authors of the moment
reaped a golden harvest from the public, whom they at once charmed and
instructed.

In the meanwhile, however, the describers and critics of contemporary
American life were by no means on the wane. In the shifting currents
of fiction various types of realism have come to the surface and are
conspicuous in the tide. They all fall under the definition formulated
by Mr. Perry: the sort of fiction that "does not shrink from the
commonplace or from the unpleasant in its effort to depict things as
they are and life as it is"; but within this definition they may be
separated into two main classes. The first is the type that begins and
ends with portrayal of human life, deals with the individual, and aims
only to please. The second is written with the intent of pronouncing
a criticism on the ways of men as they live together, presents its
characters against a social and institutional background, and aims
to influence the opinions of its readers. The difference between the
two is, of course, the difference between the earlier and the later
novels of Mr. Howells. In his later studies Mr. Howells is always
dealing unaggressively but searchingly with the problem of economic
justice, but this is only one of three broad fields. All modern
problem and purpose novels are devoted, simply or complexly, to the
market--property; the altar--religion; and the hearthstone--domestic
life. This classification, which is useful only as long as it is
employed cautiously for a general guide, leads to a cross-survey of
recent fiction by kinds rather than by individual authors.

The number of more or less successful portrayers of provincial types
in American fiction defies even enumeration. The most effective have,
however, been unsatisfied with depicting the mere idiosyncrasies
of a region heavily propped by dialect and have gone on to the
interpretation of life as it might express itself anywhere under
similar conditions. Thus the "Old Chester" of Mrs. Margaret Deland
(1857- ) is a study of isolated conservatisms thrown into relief
by the wise sanity of Dr. Lavendar. Old Chester, we are told, is
in Pennsylvania. It might be in any state or country where narrow
respectability could intrench itself. It is an American Cranford. In
the "Old Chester Tales" (1898) "The Promises of Dorothea" involve her
utterly respectable elopement with Mr. King, whose worst offense in the
eyes of her guardian maiden aunts is that he has lived abroad for many
years. The implied departure from Old Chester customs is sufficient
condemnation. "Good for the Soul" culminates with the doctor's sensible
advice to Elizabeth Day, who, at the end of twelve years of happy
marriage, is oppressed by the memory of a Bohemian girlhood of which
her husband is ignorant. "Suppose," said the doctor, "I hadn't found
her a good woman, should I have told her to hold her tongue?" "The
Child's Mother" is the story of an unregenerate whose baby Dr. Lavendar
keeps away from her by a process we should call blackmail if it were
not practiced by a saint. Wide and varied as her output is, Mrs. Deland
has nowhere shown her artistry more finely than in the two Dr. Lavendar
volumes.

The comments of Edith Wharton (1862- ) on American life are from
the cosmopolitan point of view and present a series of pictures of
the American woman which for harshness of uncharity are difficult
to parallel. As a matter of fact America is so vast and varied
that there is no national type of woman. Mrs. Wharton's women are
representative of one stratum just as Christy's pictorial girls are.
They are the product of indulgence which makes them hard, capricious,
and completely selfish. Lily Bart of "The House of Mirth" (1905)
begins high in the social scale, compromises reluctantly with moneyed
ambition, and in one instance after another defeats herself by delay
and equivocation in a declining series of "affairs." More approachable
than irreproachable, she suffers from the social beclouding of her
reputation and, in the end, as a consequence of her low standards
but her lack of shamelessness she succumbs to the circumstances that
created her and arrives at a miserable death. Undine Spragg, in "The
Custom of the Country" (1913), first married and divorced in a Western
town is then brought to New York, introduced into society and "made"
by her good looks and her brazen ambition. She wrecks the life of her
second husband, a refined gentleman, and then as a result of much
foreign residence marries a Frenchman of family. From him she runs
away, finally to remarry Moffatt, who, throughout the story, has been
her familiar spirit, subtly revealing his intimacy of feeling, and
increasing his hold upon her as he rises in the money world. The title
gives the cue to the story as a whole and to its several parts. By
nature Undine is coarse-grained, showy, and selfish; by upbringing she
becomes incorrigible. Her first and last husband is one of her own
kind--sufficiently so that he is capable of resuming with her after her
streaky, intermediate career. The second is broken on her overweening
selfishness; the third, by virtue of his ancient family tradition, is
able to save himself though not to mold or modify her. At the end, with
Moffatt and all his immense wealth, she is still confronted by "the
custom of the country." Because of her divorces "she could never be
an ambassador's wife; and as she advanced to welcome her first guest
she said to herself that it was the one part she was really made for."
This is the Wharton formula: none of her women really triumphs. Lily
Bart's downfall is one with her death. She had breathed the stifling
atmosphere from her city childhood; what seemed to save Undine was the
initial vigor of her Western youth, but even she could not successfully
defy the ways of the world.

Hamlin Garland (1860- ) in 1891 achieved with his "Main-Traveled
Roads" as quickly earned a reputation as Cable and Harris had done
with their first volumes. The son of a sturdy Western pioneer, he had
passed a boyhood of incessant toil before breaking away to earn his
own schooling, which culminated with several years of self-directed
study in Boston. A vacation return in 1887 to Wisconsin, Dakota, and
Iowa revealed to him the story-stuff of his early life, and during the
next two years he wrote the realistic studies which won him his first
recognition. In them, he explained later, he tried to embody the stern
truth. "Though conditions have changed somewhat since that time, yet
for the hired man and the renter farm life in the West is still a stern
round of drudgery. My pages present it--not as the summer boarder or
the young lady novelist sees it--but as the working farmer endures it."
To the reader of Mr. Garland's work as a whole it is evident that the
richest part of his life was over with the writing of this book and "A
Spoil of Office" (1892) and "Rose of Dutcher's Coolly" (1895). With the
adoption of city life his interests became diffuse and miscellaneous,
as his writing did also. The almost startling strength of "A Son of the
Middle Border" (1918) reënforces this conviction, for this late piece
of autobiography is the story of the author's first thirty-three years
and owes its fine power to the fact that in composing it Mr. Garland
renewed his youth like the eagle's. What he propounded in his booklet
of essays, "Crumbling Idols" (1894), he illustrated in his stories
up to that time. In them he made his best contribution to American
literature, except for this recent reminiscent volume. In almost every
quarter of the country similar expositions of American life were
multiplied and to such an extent that Mrs. Deland, Mrs. Wharton, and
Mr. Garland are chosen simply as illustrations of an output which would
require volumes for full treatment.

In the field of realism which is concerned with a criticism of
institutional life, Mrs. Deland wrote a memorable book in "John Ward,
Preacher" (1888). This was the same year in which Mrs. Humphry Ward's
"Robert Elsmere" appeared. Both were indexes to the religious unrest of
the whole Victorian period,--an unrest apparent in America since the
rise of the Unitarians and the activities of the Transcendentalists,
and recorded in such novels as Mrs. Stowe's "Oldtown Folks" and Bayard
Taylor's "Hannah Thurston," as well as in the underlying currents
of Holmes's Breakfast-Table series. The explicit story of John Ward
is the tragic history of his love and marriage with Helen Jaffrey.
The implicit story is based on the insufficiency of religious dogma
detached from life. Mrs. Deland's convictions resulted later in the
genuine strength of her best single character, Dr. Lavendar, and in
the subordinate religious motif of "The Iron Woman" (1910) (see p.
307). In recent years the narrative treatment of the problem to attract
widest attention has been Churchill's "The Inside of the Cup" (1913),
a story which one is tempted to believe gained its reading more from
its author's reputation and the prevailing interest in the problem
than from its artistic excellence. Mrs. Stowe and Mrs. Ward wrote out
of long experience in life; Mr. Churchill seems rather to have felt
the need of introducing this theme into his many-volumed exposition of
America and to have read up on the literature of the subject with the
same thoroughness that characterized his preparation for more strictly
historical stories.

The novels of economic life are far more numerous and more urgent in
tone. One of the earliest was John Hay's "The Breadwinners" (1883).
It is significant that this appeared anonymously, the talented poet
and politician preferring not to be known as a story-teller. The labor
unrest of the early 80's disturbed him. Desire for education seemed
to result unfortunately, and with a very clear impatience Mr. Hay
expounded the hardships of wealth in the midst of a labor uprising.
To go to the root of the difficulty did not seem to occur to him.
Shortly after this early industrial novel Mr. Howells was to attack
the problem in a broader and deeper way (see pp. 418-421). And while
Howells was still making his successive approaches a whole succession
of younger men joined the assault. With many of them there was no such
vital experience as their senior had passed through; they were rather
writing as journalists and utilizing the novel, sometimes clumsily and
often feverishly. Few have done work which could at all compare with
that of Frank Norris (1870-1902). His interrupted trilogy--an epic of
the wheat--fulfilled the promise of his early efforts, "Vendover and
the Brute" and "McTeague," and made his early death the occasion of a
deep loss. Of these three novels "The Octopus" (1901) forms the story
of a crop of wheat and deals with the war between the wheat-grower
and the railroad trust; the second, "The Pit" (1903), is a story of
the middleman; the third, "The Wolf" (never written), was to have
dealt with the consumption in Europe. Norris's aspiration was no less
than that of his own character Presley, the poet. "He strove for
the diapason, the great song which should embrace in itself a whole
epoch, a complete era, the voice of an entire people...." With a great
imaginative grasp he conceived of the wheat as an enormous, primitive
force.

  The Wheat that had killed Cressler, that had ingulfed Jadwin's
  fortune and all but unseated reason itself; the Wheat that had
  intervened like a great torrent to drag her husband from her side
  and drown him in the roaring vortices of the Pit, had passed on,
  resistless, along its ordered and predetermined courses from West to
  East, like a vast Titanic flood, had passed, leaving Death and Ruin
  in its wake, but bearing Life and Prosperity to the crowded cities
  and centres of Europe.

The number and the temper of stories written without Norris's breadth
of vision or skill brought down on many of their authors the epithet
of "muck-raker" in common with the sensational writers of magazine
exposures. Among the saner and, consequently, more effective purpose
novels the writings of Winston Churchill and Brand Whitlock have helped
to offset the shrill cries of Upton Sinclair and Jack London.

The American novels which center about sex and the family have passed
through rapid changes during the twentieth century. In 1902 Mr. Bliss
Perry, discussing tendencies of American novelists in his "A Study
of Prose Fiction," declared that the American novel was free from
equivocal morality, that "people who want the sex-novel, and want it
prepared with any literary skill, have to import it from across the
water," and concluded with the confident assertion that while American
fiction "may not be national, and may not be great, it will have at
least the negative virtue of being clean." A few pages later in the
same chapter he made an observing comment of which he failed to see the
implication when he noted that conversation between writers of fiction
was likely to center about men like Turgenieff, and Tolstoi, Flaubert
and Daudet, Björnson and D'Annunzio. The influence of these men was
soon to be felt, both directly and through the medium of Englishmen
from the generation of Hardy to that of Wells and Galsworthy. And
within a dozen years it had extended so far that the National Institute
of Arts and Letters went on record in warning and protest against
the morbid insistency of an increasing number of younger writers.
This wave was a symptom not only of a literary influence but, more
deeply, of the world-wide attempt to re-estimate the rights and duties
and privileges of womankind. There are few subjects on which people
of recent years have done more thinking, and few on which they have
arrived at less certain conclusions. With the collapse of the great
"conspiracy of silence" that has surrounded certain aspects of personal
and family life, it has been natural for the present generation to fall
into the same errors into which Whitman had fallen. Naturally, too,
the evil thinker seized on the occasion for evil speech. There has
been every shade of expression from blatant wantonness to high-minded
and self-respecting honesty. Thus we can account for Mr. Theodore
Dreiser, who seems to feel that freedom of speech should be gratefully
acknowledged by indulgence to the farthest extreme. And thus we can
account for Mr. Ernest Poole, who, in "His Family," has presented an
extraordinarily fine summary of the broad and perplexing theme.

The English novel is nearing the end of its second century of
influence. It is a constant in literature which will probably attract
more readers than any other single form. Yet it will have its times of
greater and lesser popularity, and it seems to have passed the height
of a wave shortly after 1900. First the drama came forward with a new
challenge to serious attention, and of late poetry has reëstablished
itself as a living language.


                               BOOK LIST

=_General References_=

  BESANT, SIR WALTER. The Art of Fiction. 1884.

  BURTON, RICHARD. Forces in Fiction. 1902.

  CRAWFORD, F. MARION. The Novel: what it is. 1903.

  CROSS, W. L. The Development of the English Novel. 1899.

  FISKE, H. S. Provincial Types in American Fiction. 1903.

  GARLAND, HAMLIN. Crumbling Idols. 1894.

  HOWELLS, W. D. Criticism and Fiction. 1895.

  HOWELLS, W. D. Heroines of Fiction. 1901.

  JAMES, HENRY. The Art of Fiction, in _Partial Portraits_.

  JAMES, HENRY. The New Novel, in _Notes on Novelists_. 1914.

  LANIER, SIDNEY. The English Novel. 1883.

  MATTHEWS, BRANDER. Aspects of Fiction. 1896.

  MATTHEWS, BRANDER. The Historical Novel and Other Essays. 1901.

  NORRIS, FRANK. The Responsibilities of the Novelist. 1901.

  PATTEE, F. L. American Literature since 1870, chaps. xi, xii, xvii.
     1916.

  PERRY, BLISS. A Study of Prose Fiction, chap. xiii. 1902.

  PHELPS, W. L. Essays on Modern Novelists. (Howells, Mark Twain.) 1910.

=_Individual Works_=

  The field is so extensive that no lists of works by the authors
  mentioned are included here. The novels selected for reading can be
  taken from the specific references in the text. All the works are in
  print and easily available.

=_Magazine Articles_=

  The magazine articles on fiction are extremely numerous. From among
  those since 1900 the following are of special interest:

  1900-1904. New Element in Modern Fiction. N. Boyce. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XIII, p. 149. April, 1901.

             Novel and the Short Story. G. Atherton. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XVII, pp. 36-37. March, 1903.

             Novel and the Theater. _Nation_, Vol. LXXII, pp. 210-211.
               March 14, 1901.

  1905-1909. Confessions of a Best-Seller. _Atlantic_, Vol. CIV, pp.
               577-585. November, 1909.

             Convention of Romance. _Bookman_, Vol. XXVI, pp. 266-267.
               November, 1907.

             Humor and the Heroine. _Atlantic_, Vol. XCV, pp. 852-854.
               June, 1905.

             Mob Spirit in Literature. H. D. Sedgwick. _Atlantic_, Vol.
               XCVI, pp. 9-15. July, 1905.

             Purpose Novel. F. T. Cooper. _Bookman_, Vol. XXII, pp.
               131-132. October, 1905.

  1910-1914. American and English Novelists. _Nation_, Vol. XCVIII,
               pp. 422-423. April 16, 1914.

             American backgrounds for fiction:

               Georgia. W. N. Harben. _Bookman_, Vol. XXXVIII, pp.
                 186-192. October, 1913.

               North Carolina. T. Dixon. _Bookman_, Vol. XXXVIII, pp.
                 511-514. January, 1914.

               Tennessee. M. T. Daviess. _Bookman_, Vol. XXXVIII, pp.
                 394-399. December, 1913.

               North Country of New York. I. Bacheller. _Bookman_, Vol.
                 XXXVIII, pp. 624-628. February, 1914.

               Pennsylvania Dutch. H. R. Martin. _Bookman_, Vol.
                 XXXVIII, pp. 244-247. November, 1913.

             American Novel in England. G. Atherton. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XXX, pp. 633-640. February, 1910.

             Recent Reflections of a Novel-Reader. _Atlantic_, Vol.
               CXII, pp. 689-701. November, 1913. Vol. CXIII, pp.
               490-500. April, 1914.

             Big Movements in Fiction. F. T. Cooper. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XXXIII, pp. 80-82. March, 1911.

             Characters in Recent Fiction. M. Sherwood. _Atlantic_,
               Vol. CIX, pp. 672-684. May, 1912.

             Fault-Findings of a Novel-Reader. _Atlantic_, Vol. CV, pp.
               14-23. January, 1910.

             Morality in Fiction and Some Recent Novels. F. T. Cooper.
               _Bookman_, Vol. XXXVIII, pp. 666-672. February, 1914.

             Newest Woman. K. F. Gerould. _Atlantic_, Vol. CIX, pp.
               606-611. May, 1912.

             Relation of the Novel to the Present Social Unrest.
               _Bookman_, Vol. XL, pp. 276-303. November, 1914.

             Art in Fiction. E. Phillpotts. _Bookman_, Vol. XXXI, pp.
               17-18. March, 1910.

       1915. American Style in American Fiction. F. F. Kelly.
               _Bookman_, Vol. XLI, pp. 299-302. May, 1915.

             Free Fiction. H. S. Canby. _Atlantic_, Vol. CXVI, pp.
               60-68. June, 1915.

             Advance of the English Novel. W. L. Phelps. _Bookman_,
               Vol. XLII, pp. 128-134, 381-388, 389-396.
               October-December, 1915.

             Literary Merchandise. G. Atherton. _New Republic_, Vol.
               III, pp. 223-224. July 3, 1915.

       1916. New York of the Novelists: a New Pilgrimage. A. B.
               Maurice, _Bookman_, Vol. XLII, pp. 20-41, 165-192,
               301-315, 436-452, 569-589, 696-713. September,
               1915-February, 1916.

             Realism and Recent American Fiction. H. W. Boynton.
               _Nation_, Vol. CII, pp. 380-382. April 6, 1916.

             Russian View of American Literature. A. Yarmolinsky.
               _Bookman_, Vol. XLIV, pp. 44-48. September, 1916.

             Recent Reflections of a Novel-Reader. _Atlantic_, Vol.
               CXVII, pp. 632-642. May, 1916.

             Sex in Fiction. _Nation_, Vol. CI, p. 716. Dec. 16, 1915.

             Woman's Mastery of the Story. G. M. Stratton. _Atlantic_,
               Vol. CXVII, pp. 668-676. May, 1916.

       1917. Analysis of Fiction in the United States, 1911-1916. F.
               E. Woodward. _Bookman_, Vol. XLV, pp. 187-191. April,
               1917.

             Apotheosis of the Worker in Modern Fiction. L. M. Field.
               _Bookman_, Vol. XLV, pp. 89-92. March, 1917.

             New Orthodoxy in Fiction. L. M. Field. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XLV, pp. 175-178. April, 1917.

             Outstanding Novels of the Year. H. W. Boynton. _Nation_,
               Vol. CV, pp. 599-601. Nov. 29, 1917.

              Sixteen Years of Fiction. A. B. Maurice. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XLIV, pp. 484-492. January, 1917.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII

                           CONTEMPORARY DRAMA


From 1865 to 1900 the American drama occupied a place of so little
artistic importance in American life that the literary historians
have ignored it. There is no word about it in the substantial volumes
by Richardson and Wendell, none in the ordinary run of textbooks,
not a mention of playwright, producer, actor, or stage even in the
four-hundred-odd pages of Pattee's "American Literature since 1870."
This silence cannot, of course, be accounted for by any conspiracy
among the historians; it must be acknowledged that in itself the period
had almost no dramatic significance. Quinn's collection of twenty-five
"Representative American Plays" includes only three produced between
these dates. The basic reason for this is that literary conditions did
not induce or encourage play-writing in the English-speaking world
on either side of the Atlantic. The greatest artistry was expressing
itself in poetry, and in America no major poet but Longfellow attempted
even "closet drama." The greatest genius in story-telling was let
loose in the channel of fiction, and many of the successful novels
were given a second incarnation in play form. The names that stand
out in stage history in these years are the names of controlling
managers, like Lester Wallack and Augustin Daly, or of players, like
Charlotte Cushman, Booth, Barrett, Jefferson, and Mansfield; and the
writers of plays--encouraged by stage demands rather than by literary
conditions--were the theatrical successors of Dunlap and Payne (see
pp. 94-96)--men like Dion Boucicault (1822?-1890) with his hundred
and twenty-four plays, and Bronson Howard (1842-1908) with his less
numerous but no more distinguished array of stage successes. Side
by side with these, and quite on a level with them, rose one eminent
critic of stagecraft and the drama, William Winter (1836-1917).

With the last decade of the nineteenth century, however, a new
generation of playwrights began to win recognition--men who knew
literature in its relation to the other arts and who wrote plays out of
the fullness of their experience and the depth of their convictions,
hoping to reach the public with their plays but not concerned chiefly
with immediate "box-office" returns. The movement started in England
and on the Continent and--as we can now see--in America as well, but
the traditional American neglect of American literature[38] led the
first alert critics on this side the Atlantic to lay all their emphasis
on writers of other nationalities. Thus in 1905 James Huneker's
"Iconoclasts" discussed Norwegian, French, German, Russian, Italian,
Belgian, and English dramatists. E. E. Hale's "Dramatists of To-day"
of the same year dealt with four from Huneker's list, substituted
one Frenchman, and added two Englishmen. This selection was quite
defensible, for the significant contemporary plays which reached the
stage came from these sources. But by 1910 the drift of things was
suggested by the contents of Walter Pritchard Eaton's "At the New
Theatre and Others." In this book, of twenty-three plays reviewed, ten
were by American authors, and in the third section, composed of essays
related to the theater, two of the chief units were discussions of
Clyde Fitch and William Winter. And the dedication of Eaton's book is
perhaps the single item of greatest historical significance, for it
gives due credit to Professor George P. Baker of Harvard as "Founder
in that institution of a pioneer course for the study of dramatic
composition" and as "inspiring leader in the movement for a better
appreciation among educated men of the art of the practical theater."

  [38] See "American Neglect of American Literature" by Percy H.
       Boynton. _Nation_ (1916), Vol. CII, pp. 478-480.

The field into which we are led is so broad and so near that in a brief
excursion we can undertake only a rough classification of the main
products and the soil in which they are growing. Such a classification
may be found if we consider in turn first the better play written for
a better theater, which began to appear about 1890, then the various
new types of theater which grew from the people's interest instead of
from managerial enterprise, and, finally, the literary drama in poetry
or prose which profits from the coöperation of actor and stage-manager,
but can survive in print unaided.

"The movement for a better appreciation among educated men of the art
of the practical theatre," although led by one college professor, was
itself a symptom of fresh developments in the art to which he addressed
himself. Omitting--but not ignoring--the rise of the modern school of
European dramatists in the 1890's, we must be content for the moment
to note that this decade brought into view in America several men who
were more than show-makers, even though they were honestly occupied in
making plays that the public would care to spend their money for. The
significant facts about these playwrights are that they gave over the
imitation and adaptation of French plays, returned to American dramatic
material, and achieved results that are readable as well as actable.
Their immediate forerunners were Steele MacKaye (1842-1894) and James
A. Herne (1840-1901)--the former devotedly active as a teacher of
budding players and as a student of stage technique, the latter the
quiet realist of "Shore Acres" and other less-known plays of simple
American life. Coming into their first prominence at this time were
Augustus Thomas (1859- ) and Clyde Fitch (1865-1909).

They both appeared as theatrical craftsmen of the new generation, and
like their prototypes in America, Dunlap and Payne (see pp. 96-98),
they wrote abundantly, for audiences rather than for readers, and
with definite actors and actresses in mind as they devised situations
and composed lines. Clyde Fitch in twenty years wrote and produced
on the stage thirty-three plays and adapted and staged twenty-three
more--an immense output. In the first ten years the most important
were all built on historical themes: "Beau Brummel," "Nathan Hale,"
and "Barbara Frietchie." It is easy to see and to say that in writing
these he was carrying on the tradition of Bronson Howard with his
Civil War melodramas,--a half truth, however, since "Beau Brummel" in
no way fits the generalization, and other plays of the decade were
on contemporary social life. In the second ten years the keynote was
struck with "The Climbers," a social satire on a shallow city woman
and her two daughters whose social ambition deadens them to any fine
impulses or natural emotions. In the long roster of Fitch's successes
a few constant traits are obvious. He built his stories well, set them
carefully, combined the resources of the playwright who knows how to
devise a "situation" with those of the stage-manager who knows how
to present it, and cast his stories into simple, rapid-fire, clever
dialogue. He took advantage of up-to-date material for the superficial
dress of his plays, introducing the background of latest allusion,
recently coined turns of phrase, the newest songs, the quips and turns
of fashion. And he went beneath the surface to the undercurrents
of human motive as in the wifely constancy in "The Stubbornness of
Geraldine," the jealousy of "The Girl with the Green Eyes," and the
weak mendacity of Becky in "The Truth." Fitch was never profound,
never sought to be; but he was deservedly popular, for he combined no
little skill with an alert sense of human values in everyday life,
and he brought an artistic conscience to his work. Because he was so
successful his influence on other dramatists has been far-reaching; and
those who have been neither too small nor too great to learn from him
have learned no little on how to write a play.

Mr. Augustus Thomas has lived in the atmosphere of the theater from
boyhood. He began writing plays at fourteen, was directing an
amateur company at seventeen, and had his first New York success
in his twenty-eighth year. Since 1887 he has been a professional
playwright; he has nearly fifty productions to his credit, and he is
now art director of the Charles Frohman interests. His first widely
known works were the plays of states: "Alabama" (1891), "In Mizzoura"
(1893), and "Arizona" (1899)--plays which exerted the same general
appeal as "Shenandoah" and "Barbara Frietchie." As a practical man of
the theater he adapted and worked over material, dramatizing novels of
Mrs. Burnett, Hopkinson Smith, and Townsend. His attractive "Oliver
Goldsmith" was built not only around the character of that whimsical
man of letters but included as its own best portion an act out of the
hero's play "The Good-Natured Man." With the kind of adaptability
which belongs equally to the practical man of the theater and to the
enterprising journalist, he undertook in time the type of play that
deals with questions or problems of modern interest. The same current
of speculation that led Mark Twain to write his essay on "Mental
Telepathy" and Hamlin Garland his book on "The Shadow World" accounts
for Thomas's "The Witching Hour" (1907), which interweaves the strands
of hereditary influence and mental suggestion; and he contributed his
word on the complex problems of the modern family in "As a Man Thinks"
(1911). Up to 1917 he had written and adapted forty-six plays, of which
eleven had been published after their production, but his work of real
distinction belongs to the period opening with "The Witching Hour." In
his later plays he has coupled his highly developed ability to tell a
story with a vital feeling for the positive values in life. In "The
Harvest Moon" he makes a playwright-character say, "I would willingly
give the rest of my life to go back and take from my plays every word
that has made men less happy, less hopeful, less kind." And in "The
Witching Hour" he declares through Jack Brookfield the text of that and
succeeding plays, "You're a child of _the everlasting God_ and nothing
on the earth or under it can harm you in the slightest degree"--a text
which, said of the soul, is immortally true.

In a short chapter it is impossible to discuss in detail any other of
the play-writers who have done with less applause but with no less
devotion the kind of writing represented by the best of Fitch and
Thomas; and it would be invidious to attempt a mere list of the others,
as if a mention of their names would be a sop to their pride. The case
must rest here with the statement that these two men were the leaders
of an increasing group and that the desire to compose more skillful
and more worthy plays was paralleled by a revival of respect for the
modern drama and the modern stage. This leads to the middle section
of our survey, and turns from the drama itself to the fifteen-year
struggle for possession of the American stage--the actual "boards" on
which the plays could be presented. It is as dramatic as any play,
this story of the conflict between intelligent idealism,--whether in
playwright, actor or theatergoer, and commercial greed,--and it is far
from concluded, though a happy dénouement seems to be in sight.

The first step has already been mentioned: the development of a student
attitude toward the contemporary play and its production. Professor
Baker at Harvard and Professor Matthews at Columbia were looked at by
some with wonder and by others with amused doubt when they began as
teachers to divide their attention between the ancient and the modern
stage. Yet as the study progressed their students became not only
intelligent theatergoers but constructive contributors, as critics and
creators, to the literature of the stage; and then in the natural order
of events the whole student body came to realize that the older drama
should be reduced to its proper place and restored to it; that it was
an interesting chapter in literary and social history because it was
not a closed chapter, but a preliminary to the events of the present.
At the same time modest but important beginnings were being made in
the education of the actor, and men like Franklin Sargent, President of
the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, opened the way to a professional
training for actors that would compare with the training demanded of
and by the singer, painter, or sculptor. These beginnings were full
of promise, but the promise was to be long held in abeyance by the
machinations of the theatrical syndicate.

This commercial trust is the heavy villain of the play, the charge
against it being that whereas the business management of the theater
was called into being in order to serve the drama, it managed so
effectively that by the winter of 1895-1896 it was strong enough to
demand that henceforth the drama support the business management.
The six men who were able to assume control handled their business
according to the approved methods of the trust, trying to get salable
goods and to multiply the output of what the public wanted, trying to
control all the salesmen (players) and all the distributing points
(playhouses) and to put out of business any player or local manager who
would not market their choice of goods at their schedule of dates and
prices. For nearly fifteen years the syndicate were as effective in
their field as the Standard Oil or United Shoe Machinery Companies were
in theirs. One actress, Mrs. Fiske, endured every sort of discomfort
and, no doubt, heavy losses for the privilege of playing what, when,
and where she pleased; but for a while she had her own way only to the
extent of appearing in theaters so cheap that they were beneath the
contempt of the monopoly. In the meanwhile, however, discontent spread,
a rival firm of managers erected rival theaters, and, conducting
their business on principles of more enlightened selfishness, in 1910
enlisted twelve hundred of the smaller revolting theaters with them and
forced the syndicate to share the field. Since that time the theaters
of America have been administered as well, perhaps, as the system
will allow; but it is a mistaken system that puts a fine art in the
market place and demands that it maintain itself because "business is
business."

The first really great attempt to ask anything less of the modern
drama in America, to demand no more of the play than is demanded
of the opera or the symphony, was the founding of the celebrated
and short-lived New Theater in New York (1909-1911). That it failed
within two years is not half so important as that it was founded, that
others on smaller scales have since been founded and have failed,
that municipal theaters have sprung up here and there and are being
supported according to various plans, that scores upon scores of little
theaters, neighborhood playhouses, and people's country theaters have
been founded, that producers like Winthrop Ames and Stuart Walker are
established in public favor, that the Drama League of America is a
genuine national organization, and that the printing of plays for a
reading public is many fold its proportions of twenty years ago. The
Napoleonic theatrical managers are still in the saddle in America, and
the commercial stage of the country is still managed from Broadway, but
the uncommercial stage is coming to be more considerable every season.
The leaven of popular intelligence is at work.

With developments of this sort taking place and gaining in momentum,
there is a growing attention to the printed literary drama and an
encouraging prospect for it in the theater. As far back as 1891, when
Clyde Fitch and Augustus Thomas were coming into their reputations,
Richard Hovey (1864-1900) published "The Quest of Merlin," the first
unit in his "Launcelot and Guenevere," which he described as a poem in
dramas. It was a splendidly conceived treatment of the conflict between
the claims of individual love and the intruding demands of the outer
world. In resorting to the Arthurian legends Hovey "was not primarily
interested in them," according to his friend and expounder, Bliss
Carman, "for their historic and picturesque value as poetic material,
great as that value undoubtedly is ... the problem he felt called upon
to deal with is a perennial one, old as the world, yet intensely
modern, and it appealed to him as a modern man.... The Arthurian cycle
provided Tennyson with the groundwork of a national epic; ... to
Richard Hovey it afforded a modern instance stripped of modern dress."
It was to have been completed in three parts, each containing a masque,
a tragedy, and a romantic drama; but only the first was completed--"The
Quest of Merlin" (1891), "The Marriage of Guenevere" (1891), and "The
Birth of Galahad" (1898). Shortly after finishing "Taliesin," the
masque for the second part, Hovey died.

Another and greater cycle of poetic dramas which was interrupted by a
premature death was a trilogy on the Promethean theme by William Vaughn
Moody (1869-1910). The theme is the unity of God and man and their
consequent mutual dependency. "The Fire-Bringer" (1904) presents man's
victory at the supreme cost of disunion from God through the defiant
theft of fire from heaven. "The Masque of Judgment" (1900) is a no
less fearful triumph of the Creator in dooming part of himself as he
overwhelms mankind. The final part, "The Death of Eve," was to have
achieved the final reconciliation, but it was left a fragment at the
poet's death in 1910 and so stands in the posthumous edition of his
works. It is significant in the literary history of the day that the
culminating product of both these young poets was an uncompleted poetic
play-cycle. Moody's connection with the stage, however, was closer
than Hovey's, for he wrote two prose plays which were successfully
produced--"The Great Divide" (1907) and "The Faith Healer" (1909).
In "The Great Divide," produced first under the title of "The Sabine
Woman," Moody wrote a dramatic story on a fundamental, and hence a
modern, aspect of life. The problem of the play is stated flippantly
yet truly by the heroine's sister-in-law:

  Here on the one hand is the primitive, the barbaric woman, falling
  in love with a romantic stranger, who, like some old Viking on a
  harry, cuts her with his two-handed sword from the circle of her
  kinsmen, and bears her away on his dragon ship toward the midnight
  sun. Here on the other hand is the derived, the civilized woman, with
  a civilized nervous system, observing that the creature eats bacon
  with his bowie knife, knows not the manicure, has the conversation
  of a preoccupied walrus, the instincts of a jealous caribou, and the
  endearments of a dancing crab in the mating season.... Ruth is one of
  those people who can't live in a state of divided feeling. She sits
  staring at this cleavage in her life.... All I mean is that when she
  married her man she married him for keeps. And he did the same by her.

The play was produced in Chicago, put on for a long run in New York
and on tour, and presented in London, and in 1917 was revived for a
successful run in New York again. "The Faith Healer," the idea for
which occurred to Moody in 1898, was completed ten years later, after
the success of the first play. The theme is not so close to common
experience as that of "The Great Divide," and perhaps because of this
as well as the subtler treatment it did not draw such audiences. Both
plays end on a high spiritual level, but the second failed to register
in the "box office" because the relief scenes are grim rather than
amusing and because there is no fleshly element in the love of the hero
and the heroine.

Percy MacKaye (1875- ) embodies the meeting of the older traditions--his
father was Steele MacKaye (see p. 439)--and the most recent development
in American drama, the rise of pageantry and the civic festival. As a
professional dramatist he has been prolific to the extent of some
twenty-five plays, pageants, and operas. His acted plays have varied in
range and subject from contemporary social satire to an interesting
succession of echoes from the literary past--plays like "The Canterbury
Pilgrims" (1903), "Jeanne D'Arc" (1906), and "Sappho and Phaon" (1907),
which he seems to have undertaken, in contrast to Hovey, for their
picturesque and poetic value alone. His special contribution, however,
has been to the movement for an uncommercialized civic and national
theater through the preparation of a number of community celebrations.
These include the Saint Gaudens Pageant at Cornish, New Hampshire
(1905), the Gloucester Pageant (1903), "Sanctuary, a Bird Masque"
(1913), "St. Louis, a Civic Masque" (1914), and "Caliban, a Community
Masque" (New York, 1916, and Boston, 1917). The fusing interest in a
common artistic undertaking has brought together whole cities in the
finest kind of democratic enthusiasm, and the effects have not been
merely temporary, for in a community such as St. Louis the permanent
benefits are still evident in the community chorus and in the beautiful
civic theater which is the annual scene of memorable productions
witnessed by scores of thousands of spectators.

Charles Rann Kennedy (1871- ), the last of the dramatists to be
considered here, is a man in whom a technical mastery of the play is
combined with a high degree of poetic fervor. He was born in Derby,
England, coming from a family which has been famed for classical
scholarship.[39] His own education was largely pursued outside of
the schools, and he is not a university man, but no element is more
important in his preparation for play-writing than his intimate
knowledge of the classical and, especially, the Greek drama. Between
the ages of thirteen and sixteen he was office boy, clerk, and
telegraph operator, but always imaginatively interested in the
technical aspects of his jobs. During his early twenties he was a
lecturer and writer, and it is a matter of literary as well as personal
moment that in 1898 he married Edith Wynne Matthison, widely known for
her work with Irving, with Tree, and at the New Theater and as the
creator of leading parts in her husband's plays. Since the beginning of
his authorship Mr. Kennedy has lived in the United States, of which he
is now a citizen.

  [39] In the "Sketch Book" Washington Irving concludes "Rural Life
       in England" with a poem by the Reverend Rann Kennedy, A.M., a
       great-uncle of the dramatist.

His dramatic work has fallen into two groups: "The Terrible Meek" and
"The Necessary Evil"--Short Plays for Small Casts--and his Seven Plays
for Seven Players. As in the cases of Moody and Hovey already cited,
his plays are part of an inclusive program--a program which is the
more remarkable on account of the fact that it took definite shape in
the course of a single discussion with a group of literary friends--G.
B. Shaw, Gilbert Chesterton, and Hilaire Belloc among them--before he
came to this country. As a result of this discussion he undertook to
write seven plays: each for five men and two women, each holding the
mien between a heightened and decorative romance and an objective and
unimaginative realism, each dealing with a separate great central theme
in life, each attempting a new or revived technical difficulty in play
construction, and each subjected to the most rigid conformity to the
dramatic unities, being written with no break in time sequence or shift
of scene.

The series includes (1) "The Winterfeast" (1906), of which the central
theme is "The Lie and Hate in Life which destroy"; (2) "The Servant
in the House" (1907), on "The Truth and Love in Life which preserve";
(3) "The Idol-Breaker" (1913), on "Freedom"; (4) "The Rib of the Man"
(1916), on "The New Woman already in the World, and the New Warrior
coming as fast as the European War will let him"; (5) "The Army with
Banners" (1917), on "The Coming of the Lord in Power and Glory and the
New World now culminating." Of these five, all but the fourth have been
produced, "The Rib of the Man" having been withheld temporarily because
of its nonmilitant theme and the resultant managerial timidity; and all
but the fifth have been published. The series will be completed with
"The Fool from the Hills," the central theme being "The Bread of Life,
or The Food Problem"; and the last will be "The Isle of the Blest," on
"The Consummation of Life in what Men call Death."

Plays written in such a progression are clearly approached in a spirit
of high seriousness and with little regard or any expectation of
immediate applause. But they are also written in a spirit of high
defiance, with deliberate consciousness of the methods employed, and
an inspired certainty that they will be heard at last. Adam--the
Idol-Breaker--has thrown down the definite challenge:

"I've told these people things before. Many times. Why, it was me, six
years ago, as called them here, and told them of the brotherhood of
man." [Cf. "The Servant in the House."]

"Well, didn't they listen to you, that time?" says Naomi.

"Ay, at first," replies Adam, "while I was new to them. Then they
turned again to idols; and twisted my plain meaning into tracts for
Sunday School. I up and spoke again, and told them of the lies and
hate they lived by. [Cf. "The Winterfeast."] Shewed them the death and
bitterness of it!--Well, they soon let me know about that. I preached
their own God's gospel to them, and brought Christ's Murder to their
blood-stained doors. [Cf. "The Terrible Meek."] They spat upon me.
I told them of the lusts as fed their brothels; [cf. "The Necessary
Evil"] and every red-eyed wolf among them said I lied. Even when they
didn't speak, I knew the meaning of their leering silence. This time,
it's freedom--the thing they're always bragging of; and as long as I am
in the world, they'll have it dinned into their heads, as freedom isn't
all a matter of flags and soldiers' pop-guns. It's something they've
got to sweat for. Don't you think they're going to get off easy, once I
see them stuck in front of me!

"Oh, I make them laugh, all right. They want to be amused. Lot of jaded
johnnies! Every one of them thinking I mean his next-door neighbor; and
I mean just him!"

In "The Winterfeast" there is no laughter; at most only a smile in
the first meeting of the two young lovers. It is a relentless tale
of Nemesis following on the path of hatred, set in Iceland of the
eleventh century, told in the tone and at times plainly in the manner
of Sophocles. All the others of the Seven Plays, however, are put in
the present day, with characters who are modern examples of perennial
types, with abundant "relief scenes" in confirmation of Adam's "I make
them laugh," and with an undertone of irony,--whimsical, derisive,
grave, or bitter, as the occasions demand. Of these "The Servant in the
House" has been the preëminent popular success because of its appeal to
the conventionally religious, who accepted its pervasive beneficence
and ignored its strictures on the church.

None of Mr. Kennedy's plays is more completely representative of his
spirit, his purpose, and his method than "The Rib of the Man." It is
located on an island in the Ægean, amid "the never-ending loveliness
of all good Greek things." It is dedicated to the New Woman, to whom
a recently unearthed altar inscribed "To the Mother of the Gods" has
given the authority of the ages. The persons of the play are morality
types, although intensely human. They are "David Fleming, an image of
God, the Man; Rosie Fleming, an help-meet for him, the Rib; Archie
Legge, a gentleman, a Beast of the Earth; Basil Martin, an aviator, a
Fowl of the Air; Peter Prout, a scientist, the Subtle One; Ion, the
gardener, the Voice Warning; and Diana Brand, a spare rib, the Flaming
Sword." And finally, the play is written "with an inner and an outer
meaning, symbolical, instinct with paradox and irony, leading deeply
unto truth."

Only one of Mr. Kennedy's plays has achieved a popular triumph, and
the success of that one was due to its limited and somewhat perverted
interpretation. They all, however, repay study and disclose new depths
with each re-reading. Serious art rarely makes quick conquests.
Audiences of spirit and intellect will develop for them as they have
for the plays of Ibsen and Maeterlinck. The new audience, the new
theater, and the new drama--old as the oldest literature--in due time
will come to their own again.


                               BOOK LIST

=_Plays by Individual Men_=

  CLYDE FITCH. The Plays of Clyde Fitch, Memorial Edition, edited by M.
     J. Moses and Virginia Gerson, 1915.

  RICHARD HOVEY. Plays, uniform edition, 1907-1908.

  CHARLES RANN KENNEDY. The plays have been published in succession by
     Harper's.

  PERCY MACKAYE. Poems and Plays. 1916. 2 vols.

  WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY. Poems and Plays. 1912. 2 vols.

  AUGUSTUS THOMAS. Arizona, Alabama. Dramatic Publishing Co. As a Man
     Thinks. Duffield. The Witching Hour, Oliver Goldsmith, The Harvest
     Moon, In Mizzoura, Mrs. Leffingwell's Boots, The Other Girl, The
     Capitol, and The Earl of Pawtucket. Samuel French.

     =Collections=

       DICKINSON, THOMAS H. Chief Contemporary Dramatists. Boston,
         1915. (Contains four American plays.)

       MOSES, MONTROSE J. Representative Plays by American Dramatists.
         3 vols. Vol. I, 1918 (contains ten plays, 1759-1824); Vols. II
         and III announced.

       PIERCE, JOHN ALEXANDER. The Masterpieces of Modern Drama.
         Abridged in Narrative with Dialogue of the Great Scenes.
         Preface with a critical essay by Brander Matthews. (Vol. II
         contains selections from twelve American plays.)

       QUINN, A. H. Representative American Plays. 1917. Twenty-five
         plays, 1769-1911.

     =Criticism=

       ANDREWS, CHARLTON. The Drama To-day. 1913.

       BURTON, RICHARD. The New American Drama. 1913.

       CHENEY, SHELDON. The New Movement in the Theatre. 1914.

       CLARK, BARRETT H. The British and American Drama of To-day. 1915.

       DICKINSON, THOMAS H. The Case of American Drama. 1915.

       EATON, W. P. The American Stage of To-day. 1908.

       EATON, W. P. At the New Theatre and Others. 1910.

       HAPGOOD, NORMAN. The Stage in America, 1897-1900. 1901.

       HENDERSON, ARCHIBALD. The Changing Drama. 1914.

       MACKAYE, PERCY. The Playhouse and the Play. 1909.

       MACKAYE, PERCY. The Civic Theatre. 1912.

       MATTHEWS, BRANDER. Inquiries and Opinions. 1907.

       MATTHEWS, BRANDER. The Historical Novel and Other Essays. 1901.

       MOSES, M. J. The American Dramatist. 1911.

       RUHL, ARTHUR. Second Nights. 1914.

=_Magazine Articles_=

  The magazine articles on the drama cited in the "Reader's Guide" are
  extremely numerous. From among those since 1900 the following are of
  special interest:

  1900-1904. Development of the drama. B. Matthews. _Nation_, Vol.
               LXXVII, pp. 346-347. Oct. 29, 1903.

             Poetry and the stage. H. W. Boynton. _Atlantic_, Vol. XCII,
               pp. 120-126. July, 1903.

             Theater and the critics. _Nation_, Vol. LXXIII, p. 106.
               August 8. _Outlook_, Vol. LXIX, pp. 528-529. Nov. 2,
               1901.

             Future of drama. B. Matthews. _Bookman_, Vol. XVII, pp.
               31-36. March, 1903.

             Makers of the drama of to-day. B. Matthews. _Atlantic_,
               Vol. XCI, pp. 504-512. April, 1903.

  1905-1909. Literature and the modern drama. H. A. Jones.
               _Atlantic_, Vol. XCVIII, pp. 796-807. December, 1906.

             Playwright and the playgoers. B. Matthews. _Atlantic_,
               Vol. CII, pp. 421-426. September, 1908.

             Elevation of the stage. _Atlantic_, Vol. XCIX, pp.
               721-723. May, 1907.

             New theatre. M. Merington. _Bookman_, Vol. XXVII, pp.
               561-566. August, 1908.

             Theatrical conditions. _Nation_, Vol. LXXXIV, pp. 182-183.
               Feb. 21, 1907.

  1910-1914. What is wrong with the American drama? C. Hamilton.
             _Bookman_, Vol. XXXIX, pp. 314-319. May, 1914.

             Exotic plays. _Nation_, Vol. XCIV, pp. 142-143. Feb. 8,
               1912.

       1915. Decay of respectability. F. Hackett. _New Republic_, Vol.
             II, p. 51. Feb. 13, 1915.

             Work of the Drama League of America. R. Burton. _Nation_,
               Vol. XCIX, pp. 668-669. Dec. 3, 1914.

       1916. Realism of the American stage. H. de W. Fuller.
               _Nation_, Vol. CII, pp. 307-310. March 16, 1916.

             The Public and the theater. C. Hamilton. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XLIV, pp. 252-257. November, 1916.

             The Public and the theater. Reply to Mr. Hamilton. G. R.
               Robinson. _Bookman_, Vol. XLIV, p. 401. December, 1916.

       1917. Belasco and the independent theater. C. Hamilton.
               _Bookman_, Vol. XLV, pp. 8-12. March, 1917.

             East and West on the stage. _Nation_, Vol. CIV, p. 321.
               March 15, 1917.



                              CHAPTER XXIX

                            THE LATER POETRY


All of the calculated activities for the promotion of the stage during
the last few years in America have as yet been limited and indirect in
their results. Among them it is very possible that there was a blazing
of the way for another development of great importance which has taken
place without any leagues or schools or organized propaganda. This has
been the restoration of poetry as a living language. Not only have
authors' readings taken the place of dramatic interpretations in the
lecture market but the audiences who flock to hear Tagore and Noyes
and Masefield and Gibson and Bynner and Lindsay and Frost go to listen
to poems with which they are already familiar and to get that sense of
personal acquaintance with poets which ten years ago they coveted with
playwrights and, further back, with novelists. The dominant fact about
the contemporary reading public is its reawakened zest for poetry.

In 1890 the English poetry-reading world was chiefly conscious of the
passing of its leading singers for the last half century. It was a
period when they were recalling Emerson's "Terminus" and Longfellow's
"Ultima Thule," Whitman's "November Boughs" and Whittier's "A
Lifetime," Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar" and Browning's "Asolando."
There was no group in the prime of life who were adequate successors
to this greater choir. Stedman, Aldrich, and Stoddard had courted
the muse as a kind of alien divinity and enjoyed excursions into the
distant land of her dwelling-place. But their poetry was a poetry of
accomplishment; an embellishment of life, and not an integral part of
it (see pp. 324-326). It was a period when people were tempted with
some reason to dwell on the "good old days," and for a while it seemed
as though it would be long before the world would see their like again.

The spirit of the times seemed to be expressed by a group of younger
artists who were in conscious revolt against Victorian literature and
rather noisily assertive on their favorite theme of art for art's sake.
They were occupied in composing intricate and ingenious poems. They
were engrossed like Masters's "Petit, the Poet" in inditing

      Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus,
      Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick,
      Tick, tick, tick, what little iambics,
      While Homer and Whitman roared in the pines!

Some of them did pastels in prose, and many edited transitory little
periodicals like _The Yellow Book_, _The Chap Book_, _The Lark_,
and _Truth in Boston_. Fourteen of these came into existence in the
United States in the first two months of 1897, and almost none of them
survived till the Fourth of July of that year. Probably the only lines
in any of them recalled by the readers of to-day are Gelett Burgess's
quatrain on the purple cow. The burden of these young poets was many
words fairly spoken of "organic growth," "development," "progress,"
"liberalism," "freedom of speech," and "independent thought"; and the
chief product of their thinking was a frank and free Bohemianism, an
honest unconventionality much more real than the diluted thing about
which Stedman and Aldrich had rimed thirty years before.

The most vigorous and enduring of the new group was Richard Hovey
(1864-1900). He was Western-born, schooled at Washington, and a
graduate of Dartmouth in 1885. His next years included study in the
General Theological Seminary in New York, an assistantship in a New
York ritualistic church, excursions into journalism and acting, and
then, after some years as poet and dramatist, a professorship of
English literature in Barnard College, Columbia University. Hovey grew
perceptibly during his eager enjoyment of these various pursuits. For a
while he seemed content to sing the praises of convivial comradeship:

      For we know the world is glorious
        And the goal a golden thing,
      And that God is not censorious
        When his children have their fling;

but he passed before long to the stage in which the good fellowship of
youth was a symbol of something far larger than itself--nothing less
than the promise of humankind. The ode delivered before his fraternity
convention in 1896 quite transcends the sort of effusion usually evoked
by such occasions. The spring in the air, in the world, and in the
heart of youth culminate in the oft-sung "Stein Song"; and after it the
poem goes on to "The first low stirring of that greater spring,"

      Of something potent burning through the earth,
      Of something vital in the procreant air.

This potent something is the "unceasing purpose" of Tennyson, but with
a difference, for in Hovey's mind it is not the purpose of a detached
God who imposes his will benevolently on mankind from without, but the
creative impulse which is inherent in life itself, the evidence of the
divine spirit in the heart of man. Comradeship, then, became to Hovey
a symbol of altruism, and he looked beyond this springtide of the year
and of the youthful collegians to the time when science, art, and
religion should emancipate men in the truth that should set them free
and bring them, in spite of delays, in the fullness of time to "the
greater to-morrow."

Yet while Hovey was uplifted by the fine fervor of such a faith, he
experienced a reaction with the outbreak of the Spanish-American
War. In the sudden self-righteousness of an inflamed patriotism he
nationalized God and deified war. Excited beyond measure by the
immediate issue, he not only justified America against Spain but,
forgetting all the lessons of evolution, he declared that the race
could develop only through the repetition of old experiences.

      By strife as well as loving--strife,
      The Law of Life,--
      In brute and man the climbing has been done
      And shall be done hereafter. Since man was
      No upward-climbing cause
      Without the sword has ever yet been won.

His mistake lay in justifying all wars in order to justify the national
altruism of the war with Spain, and his fallacy came in his assumption
that biological and physical life were governed by the same laws. For
the moment Hovey turned "jingo," as most of his countrymen did, yet
even then he invoked the sword for the suppression of tyranny and not
in the name of nationalistic ambition.

The home of Hovey's imagination was where the true poet's always
is--"far in the vast of sky, ... too high for sound of strife, or
any violation of the town." From this high vantage point he sang
the glories of the things he loved the best, but with maturity he
moved from the world of material pleasure to the realms of spiritual
adventure. In 1893 he wrote

      Down the world with Marna!
      That's the life for me!
      Wandering with the wandering wind,
      Vagabond and unconfined!

Five years later he could no longer catalogue his places on the map,
for his goal was "the unknown" and "the wilderness" in pursuit of the
high human adventure which Moody was to celebrate in his "Road Hymn for
the Start." In a parallel way Hovey's first conception of fellowship
rose from the early relish for beer and song to the fellowship of
kindred souls of which the fine flowering is the love of man and woman.

      Spirit to spirit finds its voiceless way,
      As tone melts meeting in accordant tone,--
      Oh, then our souls, far in the vast of sky,
        Look from a tower, too high for sound of strife
        Or any violation of the town,
      Where the great vacant winds of God go by,
        And over the huge misshapen city of life
        Love pours his silence and his moonlight down.

At the age of thirty-six, just on the threshold of maturity, Hovey died.

William Vaughn Moody (1869-1910) was another son of the Middle West.
Born in southern Indiana, he lost his mother in his fifteenth year and
his father, a river-steamboat captain, in his seventeenth. By alternate
study and teaching he prepared himself for Harvard, and entering at
somewhat more than the average age he completed his college work in
three years and followed these with a year in Europe as private tutor.
In addition to a receptiveness for learning he had the capacity for a
rich and varied culture which is sometimes mistakenly thought to belong
only to blue-blooded inheritors of family tradition. From the close
of his residence in Cambridge till his death, seventeen years later,
Moody's life included long and extended travels, varied and profound
study, eight years' teaching at the University of Chicago, from
which President Harper was reluctant to accept his resignation, and
distinguished work as painter, poet, and dramatist. Suddenly stricken
with a fatal illness, he died in 1910.

Mention has already been made of his work as playwright (see pp. 445,
446). His lyric and narrative poems all have the same breadth of view
which is inherent in his poetic dramas. He was familiar with a wide
range of the world's art and literature, but in the work which he chose
to collect for republication he was imitative of none. His imagination
roved freely through all time and space. "Gloucester Moors" were the
vantage point from which he conceived the earth as a "vast, outbound
ship of souls"; "Old Pourquoi" challenged the scheme of creation
from beneath the Norman sky; "The Death of Eve" is derived from the
Hebrew past, "The Masque of Judgment" from the Greek, "A Dialogue
in Purgatory" from the Italian, "The Fountain" from early American
legend, "On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines" from a current event.
Thus he did not maintain his citizenship of the world by any denial
of allegiance to America. In the third section of "An Ode in Time of
Hesitation" he sketched as splendid a pageant of America as has ever
been devised. The Cape Ann children seeking the arbutus, the hill lads
of Tennessee harking to the wild geese on their northern flight, are
one with the youth of Chicago, the renewing green of the wheat fields,
the unrolling of the rivers from the white Sierras, the downward creep
of Alaskan glaciers, and the perennial palm-crown of Hawaii. It is in
very truth

            the eagle nation Milton saw,
          Mewing its mighty youth.

Moody's love of America did not lead him to embrace the "manifest
destiny" illusion. He was quite as conscious of the misdirection of
human leadership as he was of the riches with which God had endowed
the natural land. "Gloucester Moors" is deeply solicitous for a future
which seems to be insured for the grasping capitalist; "The Brute" is
both more vigorous and more hopeful in its certitude that the factory
system in its worst forms is a short-lived social abortion. The demon
of the machine is sure to be caught and subdued:

  He must give each man his portion, each his pride and worthy place;
  He must batter down the arrogant and lift the weary face.
  On each vile mouth set purity, on each low forehead grace.

These poems were of life within America or without it, but in "An Ode
in Time of Hesitation" and "On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines"
Moody warned the rulers in Washington that the country, now awake to
its duties in the world, would forgive blindness, but baseness it would
smite. Finally, in "The Quarry" he cried out in pride at America's fine
part in preventing the partitioning of helpless China by the grasping
European empires,--the achievement of the poet-diplomat, John Hay.

Throughout all Moody's work is a constant undercurrent of evolutionary
thought--not the brutal mechanism associated with the term "Darwinism,"
but the aspiring impulse within all life which makes it rise not
through struggle against outer forces so much as through the innate
impulse to develop. In the sardonic "Menagerie" the idea is ironically
stated:

      Survival of the fittest, adaptation,
      And all their other evolution terms,
      Seem to omit one small consideration,

which is no less than the existence of souls:

      Restless, plagued, impatient things,
      All dream and unaccountable desire;

and these souls are expressions of the universal soul which finds
its own salvation in unceasing "groping, testing, passing on,"--the
creative struggle described by Raphael in "The Masque of Judgment" as

      The strife of ripening suns and withering moons,
      Marching of ice-floes, and the nameless wars
      Of monster races laboring to be man.

In his attitude toward and his literary treatment of woman Moody was
emphatically modern. He was far beyond the supercilious and hollow
amenities with which eighteenth-century poetry was filled, and he
was not satisfied with the sincerer expression of deep personal
tributes to individual women. In his philosophy woman was the dominant
influence in the development of humankind. Eve and Prometheus were one
in seeking the knowledge and power to lift man above brute creation
and in producing the clash between God and man which was the price
of knowledge and the cost of progress. But Prometheus was a poor and
defeated character in comparison; for Moody, in Eve and Pandora,
presented woman not only as the donor and the fulfillment of love but
as the final agent of reconciliation between the human and the divine.
In the various poems there are acknowledgments of awe, of reverence,
of spiritual love, and of passion; taken together they show the same
breadth of view that belongs to the human equation in which Moody
regards woman as the greatest factor. It is most significant that the
dramatic trilogy was planned to conclude with a song of Eve, and that
twice--in "I am the Woman" and part five of "The Death of Eve"--Moody
composed studies toward that final song that was never perfected.
Both progress through the ages when woman was subtly molded by man's
conception of her, so that her happiness and her very being consisted
in conforming herself to him.

      Still, still with prayer and ecstasy she strove
      To be the woman they did well approve,
      That narrowed to their love,
      She might have done with bitterness and blame.

And in both she appears as the indomitable Promethean spirit who in the
end was to fulfill that plan which in the beginning she had endangered.
There is no reference to any woman in any of Moody's poems which is out
of harmony with this dominating and progressive idea.

For several reasons Moody's poetry is not easy to read and is therefore
undestined to wide popularity (see pp. 263, 264). He was not interested
to compose simple lyrics or narratives. Seldom does he aid the reader
by means of even an implied narrative thread. The poems inspired by
history are not self-explanatory nor accompanied by footnotes. Moody
consistently employed events, whether actual or imagined, as mere
avenues of approach to emotional and spiritual experiences, and he
expected the reader to contribute to the poems from his own resourceful
imagination. It is because the whole meaning is not laid out on the
surface of his verses--like Christmas-card sentiments--that Moody
has become very largely a poet's poet. Their instinctive grasp of
the figurative deeper meanings, their immediate response to elusive
metaphor, and their understanding of his vigorous, exact, but sometimes
recondite diction make them his best audience. For they too can most
nearly appreciate the distinguished beauties of his work--his wide and
intimate knowledge of world literature, the opulence of his style, the
firmness of his structure, the scrupulousness of his detail. Through
the rising and the risen poets of the present generation Moody's
influence is exerted on thousands who are all unconscious of it.

An approach to contemporary American poetry in a fraction of a chapter
at the end of a general history can be justified on only one ground:
it serves the purpose of a guideboard on a transcontinental highway.
American literature was not concluded with the deaths of the great New
England group nor has it come to an end since then. The student should
recognize this in his respect for the fine promise of what is now being
written, and he should recognize that the study of our past literature
can bear no richer fruit than a sane understanding of the literature
of the day. Furthermore he should be intelligent enough to see that
literature need not be old to be fit for study--that it is not only
absurd but vicious to assume (as used to be said, with a difference, of
the Indian) that there is no good poet but a dead poet. These few pages
are therefore devoted to a half-dozen writers who represent tendencies.
They are arbitrarily selected as the contemporary dramatists in the
preceding chapter were. Yet their weight is greatly reënforced by the
many others to whom no allusion can be made. A comparison of the three
books on recent American poetry suggests the speed of the literary
current. Miss Rittenhouse's "The Younger American Poets" (1904)
includes eighteen poets of whom thirteen were born before 1865. Miss
Lowell's "Tendencies in Modern American Poetry" (1917) includes six
poets, none of whom were mentioned in the earlier book, and the oldest
of whom was born in the closing days of 1869. Of the sixteen poets
indicated by name in the chapter headings of Mr. Louis Untermeyer's
"New Era in American Poetry" (1919), only three were born before 1875.

The reading of contemporary poetry should be done with zest and without
calculation, but the study of the same material must be approached with
self-conscious deliberateness and with a definite resolve not to be
carried away by the cheap and easy generalizations current on the lips
of the careless talker. Contemporary poetry is not all of one kind nor
is it chiefly characterized by defiant revolt against old forms and
old ideas. It is true that in all branches of artistic endeavor new
methods and new points of view are being advanced. In music Debussy and
Schoenberg, in painting Cézanne and Matisse, in sculpture Rodin and
his disciples, in stage setting and costuming Gordon Craig and Leon
Bakst, have shocked and surprised quite as many as they have edified,
and have given rise to the same sort of querulous protest indulged in
by those who talk as if all modern poetry were typified by the most
extravagant verses of Alfred Kreymborg, or "Anne Knish." But in poetry
most of the recent work has not been wantonly bizarre, most of the
more distinguished verse has not been "free," and most of the men and
women who have written free verse have shown and have practiced a firm
mastery of the established forms. The point, then, is to maintain an
open mind and to make sure of conclusions before adopting them, and
the surest method of doing these two student-like things is to read
and study authors by the bookful and not by the pseudo-royal road of
anthologies and eclectic magazines. If you want to become acquainted
with a man you will sit down at leisure with him in his study, instead
of forming snapshot judgments from contact at afternoon teas, and
you will form your own opinion in preference to gleaning it from the
conversation of others.

Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869- ), the oldest of this latter group,
was born in the same year with Moody and is now in the prime of
life. The Tilbury of many of his poems is really the town of his
upbringing--Gardiner, Maine. It is an unusual but not a unique village
in America--a colonial old-world village. The atmosphere of Puritanism
had not been blown away from it, and it still felt the subtle influence
of a preëminent family. When "the squire" passed,

      We people on the pavement looked at him;
      He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
      Clean-favored, and imperially slim.

It is easy to think of Tilbury as an English town; it is utterly
different from Lindsay's Springfield or Masters's Spoon River. It is
not without significance that the clearest single picture presents a
little boy of twelve as the companion of "Isaac and Archibald," two old
men on the ominous verge of superannuation. It was life in Gardiner
that gives so real a sense of the town on the Avon in "Ben Jonson
Entertains a Man from Stratford." In 1891 Mr. Robinson entered Harvard,
withdrawing at the end of two years and entering business in New York
City. Here he remained till 1910, the last five years as an appointee
of President Roosevelt in the New York Customhouse, and since the
latter date he has lived again in Gardiner, bearing some resemblance
in his mellowed maturity, perhaps, to Larry Scammon in his play "The
Porcupine."

As a matter of literary history the most striking fact about Mr.
Robinson is that the poetry-reading public has been redeveloped since
he began to write. Although his first volume, "The Children of the
Night," appeared in 1897, and his second, "Captain Craig," in 1902, it
was possible for him to be omitted from "The Younger American Poets" of
1904. With "The Town down the River" in 1910 his recognition began to
come, and with the republication of "Captain Craig" the public became
aware of a volume which they could have been reading for full thirteen
years.

Miss Lowell displays a mild contempt for the title poem of this book,
and Mr. Phelps--in his "Advance of English Poetry in the Twentieth
Century"--echoes her verdict. Yet for many readers there is a splendor
in it and a richness that brings them back to it again and again.
It is doubtless long, discursive, and condensible. In fact it is
already condensed in such a bit as "Flammonde." It is an elaboration
of the title lyric for "The Children of the Night"; but only a wanton
perversion of criticism will discount a philosophical poem for not
submitting to lyric standards. It is a poem of childhood, sunlight,
laughter, and hope declaimed by an indomitable old vagabond of eternity
who is invincible in death and is fittingly borne to the grave while
the trombones of the Tilbury band blare the Dead March in "Saul."
Captain Craig is a character who would not be his complete self
without his verbosity. His type, in fact, is never succinct. They are
extravagant of time, of gesture, of vocal and rhetorical emphasis, of
words themselves. Out of the abundance of their hearts their mouths
speak all sorts of irresponsible, whimsical, exalted, and splendid
extravagance. They give voice to the dumb, and they amuse and stimulate
the good listeners, but they bore the cleverly communicative, who
dislike any consecutive talk but their own. Thus, for example, the
captain writes on one May day:

                             I have yearned
      In many another season for these days,
      And having them with God's own pageantry
      To make me glad for them,--yes, I have cursed
      The sunlight and the breezes and the leaves
      To think of men on stretchers and on beds,

             *       *       *       *       *

      Or of women working where a man would fall--
      Flat-breasted miracles of cheerfulness
      Made neuter by the work that no man counts
      Until it waits undone; children thrown
      To feed their veins and souls with offal....
        Yes,
      I have had half a mind to blow my brains out
      Sometimes; and I have gone from door to door
      Ragged myself, trying to do something--
      Crazy, I hope.--But what has this to do
      With Spring? Because one half of humankind
      Lives here in hell, shall not the other half
      Do any more than just for conscience' sake
      Be miserable? Is this the way for us
      To lead these creatures up to find the light,
      Or the way to be drawn down to find the dark
      Again?

Captain Craig, in a word, is self-expression in very being and condemns
in joyous scorn the man who believes that life is best fulfilled
through discipline and renunciation. Instead he offers something
positive:

                             Take on yourself
      But your sincerity, and you take on
      Good promise for all climbing; fly for truth,
      And hell shall have no storm to crush your flight,
      No laughter to vex down your loyalty.

This is the note throughout all Robinson's poems and plays. His
disbelief in negativism leads him often to be impatient and caustic
and leads the cloudy minded to timid deprecation of his cynicism,
not knowing the difference between this and irony; but Mr. Robinson
is never cynical toward the things that are more excellent. He is
only convinced that people's Puritan convictions as to what is more
excellent result in a perverted estimate; he is only attempting to
substitute light for shadow, laughter for gloom; he is only saying with
Larry Scammon:

  "Stop me if I am too cheerful; but at the same time, if I can instil
  the fertile essence of Hope into this happy household, for God's
  sake, let me do it.... You had far better--all of you--begin to
  get yourselves out of your own light, and cease to torment your
  long-bedevilled heads with the dark doings of bogies that have no
  real existence."

As a craftsman Mr. Robinson has won distinction by his simple, direct
realism. He employs for the most part the old iambic measures, a
sentence structure which is often conversational, and a diction which
is severe in its restraint. There are few "purple patches" in his
poetry, but there are many clear flashes of incisive phrasing. His work
is like a May day in his own seacoast town--not balmy, but bracing,
with lots of sparkle on the blue, and the taste of the east wind
through it all.

Robert Frost (1875- ) is known as the author of three books of verse:
"A Boy's Will," 1913, "North of Boston," 1914, and "Mountain Interval,"
1916. He is known also--and rightly--as the voice and embodiment of
rural New England. Yet he was born in San Francisco, his mother was
born in Edinburgh, he first came to New England at the age of ten, and
he lived for the next eight schoolboy years in a mill town, Lawrence,
Massachusetts. Nevertheless, in his capacity for receiving impressions,
he seemed to have a selective memory which made him sensitive to the
aspects of country life in the regions north of Boston--the regions
trod by nine generations of forbears on his father's side of the
family. And so it was that though his first two volumes were published
in London, there is no local trace of the old country in them, nothing
in them that he had not known in farm or village between 1885 and 1912,
when he set sail with his wife and children toward a residence of two
and a half years in England. On his return to America he bought a farm
in New Hampshire. Since 1916 he has taught in Amherst College.

The common statement that Mr. Frost is content solely to present the
appearances of New England life should be given distinct qualifications
in two respects: the first is that his earliest book, "A Boy's Will,"
is wholly subjective and analytical, completely falling outside the
generalization. And the second is that while "North of Boston" and
"Mountain Interval" are objective pictures of New England life, the
truth in them is by no means limited to New England, but is pertinent
to human kind, although deeply tinged with the hue of that particular
district.

"A Boy's Will," a little volume, is made up of thirty-two lyrics,
each of them complete and most of them lovely. They are not, however,
detached, although it is an open question how many readers would
see their relationship if this were not indicated in the table of
contents. It is the record of a young artist's experience who marries,
withdraws to the country, revels in the isolation of winter, in the
coming of spring, and in the farm beauties of summer. This isolation,
however, cannot satisfy him long. Let the contents for Part Two show
what happens: "'Revelation'--He resolves to become intelligible,
at least to himself, since there is no help else--'The Trial by
Existence'--and to know definitely what he thinks about the soul; 'In
Equal Sacrifice'--about love; 'The Tuft of Flowers'--about fellowship;
'Spoils of the Dead'--about death; 'Pan with Us'--about art (his own);
'The Demiurge's Laugh'--about science." With the five lyrics of Part
Three, the youth and his bride return to the world with misgivings:

          Out through the fields and the woods
            And over the walls I have wended;
          I have climbed the hills of view
            And looked at the world, and descended;
          I have come by the highway home,
            And lo, it is ended.

                 *       *       *       *       *

          Ah, when to the heart of man
            Was it ever less than a treason
          To go with the drift of things,
            To yield with a grace to reason,
          And bow and accept the end
            Of a love or a season?

This book does not represent the work of Frost as it appears in his
later volumes, but it does represent the poet himself:

          A lover of the meadows and the woods,
          And mountains; and of all that we behold
          From this green earth.

The second volume, "North of Boston," is twice as long as "A Boy's
Will" and contains half as many titles. There would be nothing in this
mathematical formula if it did not carry with it a real difference
in content. But this second book is made up not of lyrics, but of
unimpassioned vignettes of New England life. This is the grim New
England which the poet attempted to shut out in "Love and a Question":

      But whether or not a man was asked,
        To mar the love of two
      By harboring woe in the bridal house,
        The bridegroom wished he knew.

The book presents the death of a farm laborer, the maddened bereavement
of a mother whose child is buried within sight of the house, the black
prospect faced by a household drudge who faces the insanity which is
an inherited blight in her blood. They are not amiable pictures, and
they offer neither problem nor solution, only the life itself. They
are not, however, all equally grim. "The Mountain" tells of a township
of sixty voters with only a fringe of level land around the looming
pile. It dominates life, limits it, and rises above it, for few have
either time or curiosity to reach the top. "The Black Cottage" presents
a widowed relict of the Civil War who knew only her sacrifice and
whose unthinking orthodoxy was as hazy as her political creed. With
liberalism in the parish, the preacher was inclined to omit "descended
into Hades" from the ritual:

      ... We could drop them
      Only--there was the bonnet in the pew,
      Such a phrase couldn't have meant much to her.
      But suppose she had missed it from the Creed
      As a child misses the unsaid Good-night,
      And falls asleep with heartache--how should I feel?

Of another sort are the poems which have most of outdoor in them:
"Mending Wall," the symbol of barriers between properties which the
winters throw down; "Blueberries," which indicates the complex of
ownership in a countryside filled with nature's gifts of uncultivated
fruit; "After Apple Picking," the weariness forced upon the farmer
in his effort to husband an embarrassment of orchard riches; and
"The Woodpile" with its suggestion of the slow processes of nature
contrasted with the temporal efforts of man. The woodpile is discovered
far out in a swamp, long abandoned and vine-covered:

      ... I thought that only
      Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
      Could so forget his handiwork on which
      He spent himself, the labour of his axe,
      And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
      To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
      With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

The last volume, "Mountain Interval," is something of a composite,
with elements in both the former two. One reads Mr. Frost's pages
thoughtfully and leaves them in a thoughtful mood. Not all are grim,
but very few are gay. They have the rock-ribbed austerity of the
country from which they spring and some of its beauty, too. They are
suffused with the smoky haze of an Indian-summer day.

Edgar Lee Masters (1869- ) was born in Kansas in the same year with
Moody and Robinson. In the next year his family moved to Illinois,
which is his real "native" state. As a boy he had wide opportunities
for reading. At the age of twenty-one he entered Knox College and
plunged with zest into the study of the classics, but was forced
to withdraw at the end of the year because Mr. Masters, Sr., would
acknowledge no value in these studies for the practice of law,
toward which he was directing his son. After a brief experiment in
independence the young man surrendered and eventually entered on a
successful career as a Chicago attorney. Yet the law did not take
complete possession of him; he has always been a devoted reader of
Greek literature. "Songs and Satires," published in 1916, contains
a few lyrics from a volume of 1898 which was printed, but through
an accident of the trade never published. One of these ends with the
significant stanza:

      Helen of Troy, Greek art
      Hath made our heart thy heart,
        Thy love our love.
      For poesy, like thee,
      Must fly and wander free
        As the wild dove.

Mr. Masters's next venture was a poetic drama in 1900, "Maximilian," a
tragedy in verse which was accorded a few sympathetic reviews but no
wide reading. Other works followed in the next fifteen years, some in
law and some in literature. And finally, in 1915, appeared the "Spoon
River Anthology." This is in all probability the most widely circulated
book of new poems in the history of American literature; others may
have achieved a greater total of copies during a long career, but it is
doubtful whether any others have equaled fifty thousand within three
years of publication.

The most valuable single utterance on this much-discussed work is the
richly compacted preface of Mr. Masters in "Toward the Gulf," with its
inscription to William Marion Reedy. Mr. Masters had submitted various
contributions to Reedy's _Mirror_, but had received most of them back
with friendly appeals for something fresh. The first five Spoon River
epitaphs were written almost casually in answer to this repeated
challenge. At the same time they were a more than casual application
of a hint from the Greek: a "resuscitation of the Greek epigrams,
ironical and tender, satirical and sympathetic," assembled into an
ultimate collection of nearly two hundred and fifty brief units, each
a self-inscribed epitaph by one of the Spoon River townsfolk. These
represent the chief types in an American country town and recognize in
particular the usual line of cleavage between those who choose to be
considered virtuous and those who do not care what they are considered.
Unfortunately the first of these classes includes both the idealist
and the hypocrite; and the second, both the conscious radical and
the confirmed reprobate. A typical issue which might arise in such a
town, as well as a typical alignment of forces, is described in "The
Spooniad," the closing mock-heroic fragment and the longest unit in the
book.

The "Anthology" has been violently assailed as a wantonly cynical
production, each assault on this ground carrying within itself a
proof that the censor either had not read the book through or did not
understand it. As a matter of fact the most impressive element in the
book and the one which bulks largest in the last quarter of it are the
victorious idealists. There is Davis Matlock, who decided to live life
out like a god, sure of immortality. There is Tennessee Claflin Shope,
who asserted the sovereignty of his own soul, and Samuel Gardiner,
who determined to live largely in token of his ample spirit, and the
Village Atheist, who knew that only those who strive mightily could
possess eternal life, and Lydia Humphrey, who in her church found the
vision of the poets. In spite of the protests of readers who were so
disgusted with the Inferno of the earlier portion that they never
progressed to the concluding Paradiso, the book achieved its great
circulation among a tolerant public and enviable applause from the most
discriminating critics.

"Spoon River" established Mr. Masters's reputation and prepared the
public for further thrills and shocks in the volumes to follow. This
expectation has been only half fulfilled. The certainty of a public
hearing has naturally encouraged the poet to more rapid production, but
the subsequent books--"Songs and Satires" and "The Great Valley" of
1916 and "Toward the Gulf" of 1918--have been divided both in tone and
content between the caustic informality for which Mr. Masters was known
in his earlier work and the classic finish which is a return to his
unknown, earliest style.

In his treatment of sex, however, Mr. Masters has supplied the shocks
and thrills expected, dealing with various aspects of passion with
a frank minuteness which is sometimes distasteful and sometimes
morbid. Unusually his discussions of passion are more analytical than
picturesque. He assumes its existence as a dominant factor in life
and discusses not the experience itself so much as its influence.
Frequently whole poems are concerned with it. He takes for granted
passionate love without benefit of clergy, recording it without either
idealizing it or defending it. Doubtless life has included the material
for the "Dialogue at Perko's," for "Victor Rafolski on Art," and for
"Widow La Rue," and certainly modern poetry supplies parallels in the
works of other men. In a more significant way the sex psychology of
Freud crops out in many poems not ostensibly devoted to it, as, for
example, in "To-morrow is my Birthday." This soliloquy attributed to
Shakespeare in his tercentenary year stands in striking contrast to Mr.
Robinson's "Ben Jonson Entertains a Man from Stratford." In these two
poems (of about four hundred lines each) Mr. Robinson writes in the
manner of Ben Jonson, paying his tribute to Shakespeare at the height
of his powers in London, touching on his susceptibility to women but
passing this to dilate on his almost superhuman wisdom; Mr. Masters
devotes the last two thirds of Shakespeare's monologue on the night of
his last carousal to sex confessions which become increasingly gross as
the bard becomes increasingly drunk. Mr. Robinson's passage is only a
few lines in length and concludes:

      There's no long cry for going into it,
      However, and we don't know much about it.

Mr. Masters's approaches two hundred and fifty lines, begins with "The
thing is sex," continues with

      Give me a woman, Ben, and I will pick
      Out of this April, by this larger art
      Of fifty-two, such songs as we have heard,
      Both you and I, when weltering in the clouds
      Of that eternity which comes in sleep,
      Or in the viewless spinning of the soul
      When most intense,

and ends with common brothel profanity. The popular method of
justifying the Masters treatment is to gibe at the Robinson reticence
as Puritan prudishness, but it is a gibe which for many enforces the
value of reticence even in modern art.

So much for the negative side of Mr. Masters's work--the so-called
cynicism declaimed at by the inattentive reader and the preoccupation
with sex which is fairly open to criticism. On the positive side the
greater weight of his work lies in poems of searching analysis. "So
We Grew Together" is the changing relations of an adopted son for
his Bohemian father; "Excluded Middle," an inquiry into the mystery
of inheritance; "Dr. Scudder's Clinical Lecture," the study of a
paranoiac--dramatic monologues suggestive of Browning in execution
as well as content. The reader of Mr. Masters as a whole is bound to
discover in the end that all these analyses are searchings into the
mystery of life. It appears in "The Loom" as it does in "The Cry":

      There's a voice in my heart that cries and cries for tears.
      It is not a voice, but a pain of many years.
      It is not a pain, but the rune of far-off spheres.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Deep in darkness the bulb under mould and clod
      Feels the sun in the sky and pushes above the sod;
      Perhaps this cry in my heart is nothing but God!

And he is bound to confess that Mr. Masters, instead of being a cynic,
is a sober optimist. Take the last lines of the opening and closing
poems in "Toward the Gulf":

      And forever as long as the river flows toward the Gulf
      Ulysses reincarnate shall come
      To guard our places of sleep,
      Till East and West shall be one in the west of heaven and earth!

             *       *       *       *       *

                          "And after that?"
          "Another spring--that's all I know myself,
          There shall be springs and springs!"

Nicholas Vachel Lindsay (1879- ), born in Springfield, Illinois, of
which he is the most devoted and distinguished citizen since Lincoln,
studied for three years at Hiram College and then for five years as
an art student in Chicago and New York. Unfortunately his drawings
are accessible only in a quarto pamphlet--"A Letter to Program
Managers"--which is not for sale. They show the same vigor and the same
antic play of fancy inherent in his verse. In 1906 he took his first
long tramp through Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, and in 1908 a
second through the northeastern states. During these two, as in his
latest like excursion through the Western wheat belt, he traveled as a
minstrel, observing the following rules:

(1) Keep away from the cities.

(2) Keep away from the railroads.

(3) Have nothing to do with money. Carry no baggage.

(4) Ask for dinner about quarter after eleven.

(5) Ask for supper, lodging and breakfast about quarter of five.

(6) Travel alone.

(7) Be neat, truthful, civil and on the square.

(8) Preach the Gospel of Beauty.

These appeared at the head of a little pamphlet entitled "Rhymes to
be Traded for Bread," the only baggage he carried besides a further
printed statement called "The Gospel of Beauty." In smiling defense
of his course Mr. Lindsay has said that up to date there has been no
established method for implanting beauty in the heart of the average
American. "_Until such a way has been determined upon by a competent
committee_, I must be pardoned for taking my own course and trying
any experiment I please." Mr. Lindsay has not limited himself to this
way of circulating his ideas. He has posted his poems on billboards,
recited them from soap boxes and on the vaudeville stage, and has
even descended to select club audiences. He has, however, not allowed
the calls of the lyceum managers to convert him from a poet to an
entertainer.

His books have been six in number and, according to his own advice,
are to be read in the following order: "A Handy Guide for Beggars,"
"Adventures while Preaching the Gospel of Beauty," "The Art of the
Moving Picture," "General William Booth Enters into Heaven," "The
Congo," and "The Chinese Nightingale." The first three are prose
statements of his social and religious philosophy; the second three
are poems. His seventh volume is announced as "The Golden Book of
Springfield." In its title it is a reaffirmation of what appears in
many of his poems and of what he stated in "The Gospel of Beauty"
(1912): "The things most worth while are one's own hearth and
neighborhood. We should make our own home and neighborhood the most
democratic, the most beautiful, and the holiest in the world."

The obvious first point about the poetry of Mr. Lindsay is that in it
he lives up to his own instructions. He keeps quite as close to his own
district as Mr. Masters and Mr. Frost do and he indulges in as wide a
play of imagination as does Mr. Robinson. In the rôle of an apostle
he tries to implant beauty in the heart of the average American. Yet
"implant" is not the proper word; his own word is "establish," for he
re-enforces a latent sense of beauty in hearts that are unconscious of
it and he reveals it in the lives of those whom the average American
overlooks or despises. On the one hand, he carries whole audiences into
an actual participation in his recitals and, on the other, he discloses
the "scum of the earth" as poets and mystics.

Thus "General William Booth Enters into Heaven" tells of Booth's
apotheosis as it is seen and felt by a Salvation Army sympathizer.
Booth with his big bass drum, followed by a motley slum crowd, leads to
the most impressively magnificent place within the ken of a small-town
Middle Westerner. This is an Illinois courthouse square. As a matter of
fact, it is bleak, treeless, dust-blown, mud-moated--the dome of the
courthouse in the middle, flanked on all sides with ugly brick blocks
and alternating wooden shacks with corrugated iron false fronts; but
this is splendor to the mind of the narrator. And so in all reverence
he says:

      (_Sweet flute music_)

      Jesus came from out the court-house door,
      Stretched his hands above the passing poor.
      Booth saw not, but led his queer ones there
      Round and round the mighty court-house square.

From this scene General Booth ascends into heaven. "The Congo" is a
similar piece of interpretation. Few types could seem more hopeless
than the levee negroes, yet through them Mr. Lindsay makes a study
of their race. In a drunken saloon crowd he sees the basic savagery
which back in the Congo forests displays itself in picturesque poetry
stuff. In a group of crapshooters who laugh down a police raid he finds
the irrepressible high spirits which carry the negroes in imagination
back to a regal Congo cakewalk, and in the exhortations of an African
evangelist he sees the same hope of religion which the slave brought
with him from his native soil. Once again, "The Chinese Nightingale"
is written in the same spirit, this time accounting for the Chinese
laundry-man's tireless industry through the fact that while his iron
pounds in the dead of night he is living in a world of oriental romance.

Mr. Lindsay's poetry has two chief aspects, sometimes separated,
sometimes compounded. One of these is an ethical seriousness. He might
be called an ideally provincial character. He chooses to express
himself in terms of his home and neighborhood, but his interests move
out through a series of concentric circles which include his city, his
state, America, and the world federation. The poems on Springfield,
therefore, are of a piece with the poems on "America Watching the
War" and those on "America at War." "The Soul of the City," with Mr.
Lindsay's own drawings, is quite as interesting as any of the poems
above mentioned. "Springfield Magical" suggests the source of his
inspiration:

      In this, the City of my Discontent,
      Sometimes there comes a whisper from the grass,
      "Romance, Romance--is here. No Hindu town
      Is quite so strange. No Citadel of Brass
      By Sinbad found, held half such love and hate;
      No picture-palace in a picture-book
      Such webs of Friendship, Beauty, Greed and Fate!"

"The Proud Farmer," "The Illinois Village," and "On the Building of
Springfield"--three poems which conclude the General William Booth
volume--are all on his favorite thesis and were favorites with his
farmhouse auditors.

His poems related to the war reveal him as an ardent democrat, a hater
of tyranny, a peace-loving socialist, and, in the end, like millions
of his countrymen, a combatant pacifist, but none the less a pacifist
in the larger sense. A pair of stanzas, "Concerning Emperors," are
a very pretty cue both to himself and his convictions. The first in
fervent seriousness prays for new regicides; the second states the case
unsmilingly, but as it might be put to any newsboy, concluding:

      And yet I cannot hate the Kaiser (I hope you understand).
      Yet I chase the thing he stands for with a brickbat in my hand.

This leads naturally to his verses of fancy and whimsy, like the
group called the "Christmas Tree," "loaded with pretty toys," or the
twenty poems in which the moon is the chief figure of speech. And
these lead naturally to his distinctive work in connection with poetic
form, his fanciful and often whimsical experiments in restoring the
half-chanted Greek choral odes to modern usage--what W. B. Yeats calls
"the primitive singing of music" (expounding it charmingly in the
volume "Ideas of Good and Evil"). Mr. Lindsay, in the "Congo" volume
has indicated on some of the margins ways in which the verses might
be chanted. Before many audiences he has illustrated his intent with
awkwardly convincing effectiveness. And with the Poem Games, printed
with "The Chinese Nightingale," he has actually enlisted unsuspecting
audiences as choruses and sent them home thrilled and amused at their
awakened poetic susceptibility. Mr. Lindsay's theories are briefly
indicated in the two books just mentioned, in Miss Harriet Monroe's
introduction to the former and in the poet's explanation of Poem Games
in the latter. They are briefly stated and should be read by every
student of his work. Like most of the developments in modern poetry
they are very new only in being a revival of something very old, but in
their application they are local, and they partake of their author's
genial, informal, democratic nature in being very American. Among the
contemporary poets who are likely to leave an individual impress on
American literature, Mr. Lindsay, to use a good Americanism, is one of
the few who "will certainly bear watching."

Miss Amy Lowell (1874- ) was born in Brookline, Massachusetts. James
Russell Lowell was a cousin of her grandfather, and she numbers among
her relatives her mother's father, Abbott Lawrence, minister to
England, and a brother, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, president of Harvard.
In her education general reading and wide travel were the most
important factors. In 1902, at the age of twenty-eight, she decided
to devote herself to poetry, and for the next eight years she studied
and wrote without attempting publication. Her first verse was printed
in the _Atlantic Monthly_ in 1910, and her first volume, "A Dome of
Many-Colored Glass," was published in 1912. Her further volumes have
been "Sword Blades and Poppy Seed" (1914), "Six French Poets" (1915),
"Men, Women and Ghosts" (1916), "Tendencies in Modern American Poetry"
(1917), and "Can Grande's Castle" (1919),--in all, four volumes
of verse and two of prose criticism. She has been a conspicuous
personality among contemporary poets in France, England, and America,
and though she has not been lacking in self-assertiveness she has been
without question chiefly interested in the progress of contemporary
poetry and finely generous in both theory and practice in the support
of her fellow-poets.

As one of her most recent critics has pointed out, she has been
notable and notably American in her zest for argument and in her love
of experiment--"a female Roosevelt among the Parnassians." She has
championed the cause of modern poetry and has fought the conventions of
Victorian verse wherever she has encountered them, and in her liking
for experiment and her absorption in technique she has taken up the
cudgels successively for free verse, for the tenets of Imagism, and
for polyphonic prose. She has been most closely identified with the
activities of the Imagist poets,--three Englishmen, two Anglicized
Americans, and herself,--and it is therefore well to summarize the six
objects to which they committed themselves: (1) to use the language of
common speech, but to employ always the exact word, (2) to create new
rhythms as the expression of new moods, (3) to allow absolute freedom
in the choice of subject (within the limits of good taste), (4) to
present an image (hence the name "Imagist"), (5) to produce poetry that
is hard and clear, (6) to insist on concentration as the essence of
poetry. A stanza from "Before the Altar," the opening poem in her first
book, serves to illustrate her technique as an Imagist:

      His sole condition
      Love and poverty.
      And while the moon
      Swings slow across the sky,
      Athwart a waving pine tree,
      And soon
      Tips all the needles there
      With silver sparkles, bitterly
      He gazes, while his soul
      Grows hard with thinking of the poorness of his dole.

The fourth section of "Spring Day," the poem in "Men, Women and Ghosts"
which begins with the much-discussed "Bath," is an example of her
"polyphonic prose":

                     MIDDAY AND AFTERNOON

  Swirl of crowded streets. Shock and recoil of traffic. The
  stock-still brick façade of an old church, against which the waves
  of people lurch and withdraw. Flare of sunshine down side-streets.
  Eddies of light in the windows of chemists' shops, with their blue,
  gold, purple jars, darting colors far into the crowd. Loud bangs and
  tremors, murmurings out of high windows, whirring of machine belts,
  blurring of horses and motors. A quick spin and shudder of brakes
  on an electric car, and the jar of a church-bell knocking against
  the metal blue of the sky. I am a piece of the town, a bit of blown
  dust, thrust along with the crowd. Proud to feel the pavement under
  me, reeling with feet. Feet tripping, skipping, lagging, dragging,
  plodding doggedly or springing up and advancing on firm, elastic
  insteps. A boy is selling papers, I smell them clean and new from
  the press. They are fresh like the air, and pungent as tulips and
  narcissus.

  The blue sky pales to lemon, and great tongues of gold blind the
  shop-windows, putting out their contents in a flood of flame.

In her essay on John Gould Fletcher, in "Tendencies in Modern American
Poetry," Miss Lowell has defined the æsthetic intent of this poetic
form: "'Polyphonic' means--many-voiced--and the form is so-called
because it makes use of all the 'voices' of poetry, namely: metre,
_vers libre_, assonance, alliteration, rhyme and return. It employs
every form of rhythm, even prose rhythm at times, but usually holds
no particular one for long.... The rhymes may come at the ends of the
cadences, or may appear in close juxtaposition to each other, or may
be only distantly related." These two forms, with the aid of the two
formulas, may be tested at leisure from an abundance of passages; they
correspond with their recipes, are distinct from each other, and have
certain distinctive beauties. But a further experiment--the attempt to
make the cadences of free verse harmonize with the movements of natural
objects--is by no means so successful. "If the reader will turn," says
Miss Lowell, in the preface to "Men, Women and Ghosts," "to the poem 'A
Roxbury Garden,' he will find in the first two sections an attempt to
give the circular movement of a hoop bowling along the ground, and the
up-and-down, elliptical curve of a flying shuttlecock." The following,
presumably, is a segment of the circular movement:

      "I will beat you Minna," cries Stella,
      Hitting her hoop smartly with her stick.
      "Stella, Stella, we are winning," calls Minna,
      As her hoop curves round a bed of clove-pinks.

It is an example, in fact, of the fruitlessness of dwelling on a matter
of artistic form till it becomes more important than the artistic
content. Miss Lowell admits in this connection that there flashed into
her mind "the idea of using the movement of poetry." The student,
therefore, should not regard the resultant verses as anything more than
experiments in technique, and at the same time he should speculate as
to whether a vital artistic form can ever be imposed upon a subject
instead of springing spontaneously from it.

Yet, although Miss Lowell's reputation rests mainly on her experiments
in novel and striking poetic forms, most of her work has been written
in conformity with classic traditions. The opening volume is all in
common rhythms, and so is most of the second, and quite half of the
third. The last alone is devoted to a new form; "Can Grande's Castle"
contains four long poems in polyphonic prose. The tendency is clearly
in the direction of the innovations, but thus far the balance is about
even between the new and the old.

As to subject matter, Miss Lowell's thesis is Poe's: that poetry should
not teach either facts or morals, but should be dedicated to beauty; it
is a stained-glass window, a colored transparency. And the poet is a
nonsocial being who

        spurns life's human friendships to profess
      Life's loneliness of dreaming ecstacy.

Like Poe she limits herself to the production of lyrics and tales and
resorts not infrequently to grotesques and arabesques. Unlike Poe her
resort to horror leads her to the composition of sex infidelities which
are sometimes boring, sometimes foul, and rarely interesting. On this
point (rule three for the Imagists) Miss Lowell falters awkwardly.
"'How can the choice of subject be absolutely unrestricted?'--horrified
critics have asked. The only reply to such a question is that one had
supposed one were speaking to people of common sense and intelligence."
The bounds of taste are assumed; yet these, she hastens to state,
differ for different judges, and she illustrates her contention by
the extreme extensiveness of her own. Finally, and again like Poe,
Miss Lowell is to a high degree bookishly literary in her choice and
treatment of subjects.

After all, for the attentive reader of contemporary poetry Miss
Lowell's most distinguished service has been in her two books of
criticism. In the concourse of present-day poets she is a kind of drum
major. One cannot see the procession without seeing her or admiring the
skill with which she swings and tosses the baton. But when the parade
is past, one can easily forget her until the trumpets blare again. She
leads the way effectively, and one is glad to have her do it,--glad
that there are those who enjoy being excellent drum majors. Then one
pays farewell to her in the words with which she salutes Ezra Pound in
her verses headed "Astigmatism": "Peace be with you, [Sister]. You have
chosen your part."

Witter Bynner (1881- ) was born in Brooklyn and is a graduate of
Harvard in the class of 1902. He took the impress of his university and
recorded it not only in an "Ode to Harvard" (1907)--reprinted in "Young
Harvard and Other Poems"--but also in the two plays that followed,
"Tiger" (1913) and "The Little King" (1914), neither of which have
anything to do with Harvard, but both of which reflect the intelligent
interest in drama encouraged at that seat of learning. Aside from
"Iphigenia in Tauris" (1915), his remaining work, in which his real
distinction lies, is the single poem "The New World" (1915) and the
collection "Grenstone Poems" (1917). Into both of these are woven
threads of the same story,--the poet's love and marriage to Celia, the
inspiration which comes to him from her finer nature, the birth and
loss of their child, the death of Celia, his dull bereavement, the
dedication of his life to the democracy which Celia had taught him to
understand.

"Grenstone Poems" is a series of little idyls comparable in some
respects to Frost's "A Boy's Will." They are wholly individual in
tone, presenting in brief lyrics, nearly two hundred in number, the
quaint and lovely elements in the humor and the tragedy of life. "The
New World," in contrast, contains by implication much of this, but is
constructed in nine sections which trace the progressive steps in the
poet's idealization of America. Always Celia's imagination leads far
in advance of his own. Again and again as he strives to follow, his
triumphant ascent reaches as its climax what to her is a lower round
in the ladder. Two passages suggest the theme in the abstract, though
the beauty of the poem lies chiefly in the far implications of definite
scenes and episodes. The first is a speech of Celia's:

      It is my faith that God is our own dream
      Of perfect understanding of the soul.
      It is my passion that, alike through me
      And every member of eternity,
      The source of God is sending the same stream.
      It is my peace that when my life is whole,
      God's life shall be completed and supreme.

The second, with which this volume may well conclude, is in the poet's
own words:

          In temporary pain
      The age is bearing a new breed
      Of men and women, patriots of the world
      And one another. Boundaries in vain,
      Birthrights and countries, would constrain
      The old diversity of seed
      To be diversity of soul.
          O mighty patriots, maintain
      Your loyalty!--till flags unfurled
      For battle shall arraign
      The traitors who unfurled them, shall remain
      And shine over an army with no slain,
      And men from every nation shall enroll
      And women--in the hardihood of peace!
          What can my anger do but cease?
      Whom shall I fight and who shall be my enemy
      When he is I and I am he?

          Let me have done with that old God outside
      Who watched with preference and answered prayer,
      The Godhead that replied
      Now here, now there,
      Where heavy cannon were
      Or coins of gold!
      Let me receive communion with all men,
      Acknowledging our one and only soul!
          For not till then
      Can God be God, till we ourselves are whole.


                               BOOK LIST


=_General References_=

  The Younger American Poets. Jessie B. Rittenhouse, 1904.

  Tendencies in Modern American Poetry. Amy Lowell, 1917.

  The Advance of English Poetry in the Twentieth Century. W. L. Phelps,
     1918. (Latter half, American Poetry.)

  Convention and Revolt in Poetry. G. L. Lowes, 1919.

  The New Era in American Poetry. L. Untermeyer, 1919.

     =Collections=

       A Little Book of Modern Verse. Edited by Jessie B. Rittenhouse.

       Some Imagist Poets (three annual volumes in a completed series)
         1915, 1916, 1917.

       An Anthology of Magazine Verse (annual volumes in a continuing
         series). Edited by W. S. Braithwaite, since 1915.

       The Poetry of the Future. Edited by W. T. Schnittkin.

       A Book of Princeton Verse. Edited by Alfred Noyes and Others.

=_Works of Individual Men_=

  WITTER BYNNER. Ode to Harvard, 1907; Tiger, 1913; The Little King,
     1914; Iphigenia in Tauris, 1915; The New World, 1915; Grenstone
     Poems, 1917; Any Girl, 1917.

  ROBERT FROST. A Boy's Will, 1913; North of Boston, 1914; Mountain
     Interval, 1916.

  RICHARD HOVEY. Plays (uniform edition), 1907-1908.

  NICHOLAS VACHEL LINDSAY. General William Booth Enters into Heaven,
     1913; Adventures while Preaching the Gospel of Beauty, 1914; The
     Congo, 1914; The Art of the Moving Picture, 1915; A Handy Guide
     for Beggars, 1916; The Chinese Nightingale, 1917.

  AMY LOWELL. A Dome of Many-Colored Glass, 1912; Sword Blades and
     Poppy Seed, 1914; Six French Poets, 1915; Men, Women and Ghosts,
     1916; Tendencies in Modern American Poetry, 1917; Can Grande's
     Castle, 1919.

  EDGAR LEE MASTERS. Poems, 1898; Maximilian, 1900; The Spoon River
     Anthology, 1915; Songs and Satires, 1916; The Great Valley, 1916;
     Toward the Gulf, 1918.

  WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY. Poems and Plays. 1912. 2 vols.

  EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON. The Children of the Night, 1897; Captain
     Craig, 1902 and 1915; The Town down the River, 1910; The Man
     against the Sky, 1916; Prose plays: Van Zorn, 1914; The Porcupine,
     1915; Merlin, 1917.

=_Magazine Articles_=

The magazine articles on poetry are extremely numerous. From among
those since 1900 the following are of special interest:

  1900-1904. Poetry and the Stage. H. W. Boynton. _Atlantic_, Vol.
               XCII pp. 120-126. July, 1903.

             Poetry of a Machine Age. G. S. Lee. _Atlantic_, Vol.
               LXXXV, pp. 756-763. June, 1900.

  1905-1909. Certain Vagaries of the Poets. _Atlantic_, Vol. C, pp.
               431-432. September, 1907.

             On the Slopes of Parnassus. A. Repplier. _Atlantic_, Vol.
               CII, pp. 397-403. September, 1908.

             Our Strepitous Poets. _Nation_, Vol. LXXXV, pp. 277-278.
               Sept. 26, 1907.

             Poetry and Elocution. F. B. Gummere. _Nation_, Vol.
               LXXXIX, pp. 453-454. Nov. 11, 1909.

             State of Pseudo-Poetry at the Present Time. J. A. Macy.
               _Bookman_, Vol. XXVII, pp. 513-517. July, 1908.

  1910-1914. Democracy and Poetry. _Nation_, XCIII, pp. 413-414. Nov.
               2, 1911.

             New Poetry. R. M. Alden. _Nation_, Vol. XCVI, pp. 386-387.
               April 17, 1913.

  1910-1914. New Poets and Old Poetry. B. Hooker. _Bookman_, Vol.
               XXXI, pp. 480-486. July, 1910.

             Taking Poetry too Seriously. _Nation_, Vol. XCVI, pp.
               173-174. Feb. 20, 1913.

       1915. Imagism, Another View. W. S. Braithwaite. _New
               Republic_, Vol. III, pp. 154-155. June 12, 1915.

             Limits to Imagism. C. Aiken. _New Republic_, Vol. III, pp.
               204-205. June 26, 1915.

             New Movement in Poetry. O. W. Firkins. _Nation_, Vol. CI,
               pp. 458-461. Oct. 14, 1915.

             Place of Imagism. C. Aiken. _New Republic_, Vol. III, pp.
               75-76. May 22, 1915.

       1916. New Manner in Modern Poetry. A. Lowell. _New Republic_,
               Vol. VI, pp. 124-125. March 4, 1916.

             New Naïveté. L. W. Smith. _Atlantic_, Vol. CXVII, pp.
               487-492. April, 1916.

             Poetry To-day. C. A. P. Comer. _Atlantic_, Vol. CXVII, pp.
               493-498. April, 1916.

             Poetry under the Fire Test. J. N. Hall. _New Republic_,
               Vol. IX, pp. 93-96. Nov. 25, 1916.

       1917. From Florence Coates to Amy Lowell: a Glance at
               Modernity. O. W. Firkins. _Nation_, Vol. CIV, pp.
               522-524. May 3, 1917.

             Poetry, Education, and Slang. M. Eastman. _New Republic_,
               Vol. IX, pp. 151-152, 182-184. Dec. 9, 16, 1916.

             Singers and Satirists. O. W. Firkins. _Nation_, Vol. CIV,
               pp. 157-158. Feb. 8, 1917.

             Critical Notes on American Poets. E. Garnett. _Atlantic_,
               Vol. CXX, pp. 366-373. Sept., 1917.

             See also the periodicals _Poetry, a Magazine of Verse_
               (see p. 497), as well as _The Poetry Journal_, _The
               Poetry Review of America_, and _Poet Lore_, entire.

[Illustration:
  CHRONOLOGICAL CHART III. LEADING PERIODICALS ESTABLISHED SINCE 1800
  WHICH HAVE SERVED AS VEHICLES FOR AMERICAN WRITINGS

      New York Evening Post, 1801-
      The Portfolio, 1806-1827
      North American Review, 1815-
      Saturday Evening Post, 1821-
      New York Mirror, 1823-1846
      New York Review and Athenæum Magazine, 1826-1827
      Casket, 1826-1840
      Godey's Lady's Book, 1830-1898
      New England Magazine, 1831-1835
      Liberator, 1831-1865
      Baltimore Saturday Visiter, 1833-?
      Western Monthly Magazine, 1833-1836
      Knickerbocker Magazine, 1833-1865
      Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1865
      Western Messenger, 1835-1841
      Gentleman's Magazine, 1837-1841
      Democratic Review, 1837-1859
      Dial (Boston), 1840-1844
      Graham's Magazine, 1841-1859
      Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1841-
      New York Tribune, 1841-
      New Englander, 1843-1892
      Littell's Living Age, 1844-
      Broadway Journal, 1845
      Home Journal, 1847-
      Independent, 1848-
      Congregationalist, 1849-
      Harper's Magazine, 1850-
      Putnam's Magazine, 1853-1858, 1868-1870, 1906-1910
      Russell's Magazine, 1857-1860
      Atlantic Monthly, 1857-
      Saturday Press, 1858-1860
      Round Table, 1864-1869
      Every Saturday, 1865-1874
      Nation, 1865-
      Galaxy, 1866-1878
      Overland Monthly, 1868-1875, 1883-
      Lippincott's Magazine, 1868-1916
      Scribner's Monthly, 1870-1881
      Outlook, 1870-
      Southern Magazine, 1871-1875
      American Magazine, 1875-
      Dial (Chicago-New York), 1880-
      Critic, 1881-1906
      Century Magazine, 1881-
      Scribner's Magazine, 1886-
      Poet-Lore, 1889-
      Conservator, 1890-
      Yale Review, 1892-
      McClure's Magazine, 1893-
      Everybody's Magazine, 1899-
      Poetry Magazine, 1912-
      New Republic, 1914-
]



            INDEX TO LEADING NINETEENTH-CENTURY PERIODICALS


The following list of periodicals represents a small fraction of those
which were established and throve for longer or shorter periods in the
United States between 1800 and the present time. The basis of selection
has been to include only those which published a generous amount of
literature which is still remembered or those of which leading men of
letters were editors.

It was intended at first to make the list identical with the
periodicals mentioned in the text, but this proved not to be practical.
On some of the earlier ones it was not possible to secure exact data
concerning length of life, editors, and contributors. Some others
mentioned in the text were not of importance enough to justify
inclusion. Still others, though not mentioned in the text, were too
important to be omitted. The list as it stands, therefore, represents
the judgment of the author and would not coincide with that of any
other compiler of a list of equal length. It will serve, however, as a
fairly representative list and will, perhaps, move some other student
of American literature to what is greatly needed--a relatively complete
and compact "Who's Who" of American periodicals.

As yet such material is very meager and unsatisfactory. The great
number of magazines and the bewildering consolidations, changes
of editorship, title, form, period of publication, and place of
publication have apparently discouraged anyone's attempting a
definitive piece of work. On this account and with this explanation the
following brief appendix has been prepared.

AMERICAN MAGAZINE, THE, 1875----. A New York monthly.

Founded in 1875. From 1884 to 1888 the _Brooklyn Magazine_, then
resumed its own name, continuing without important developments till it
entered on its present régime in 1905. This came with the absorption of
_Leslie's_ and the assumption of control by Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln
Steffens, and Ida Tarbell, all former staff writers for _McClure's_.
In this latter period it has been specially successful in recognizing
younger authors. It has printed much by Bynner, O. Henry, Lindsay,
Whitlock, and Poole; by Eaton and Hamilton on the drama; by F. P. Dunne
("Mr. Dooley"), George Ade, and Irvin Cobb; and, among foreign authors,
by Wells, Bennett, Kipling, and Locke. It is popular in policy and
content.

ATLANTIC MONTHLY, THE, 1857----. A Boston monthly.

Founded in 1857, Francis H. Underwood the prime mover, with the
intention of setting new standards for a literary magazine of American
authorship. Lowell was first editor; the first notable essay series
Holmes's "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table"; the first popular serial
story, Mrs. Stowe's "Dred." The field has been consistently divided
among fiction, essay, and poetry, and the book reviewing has always
been scrupulous. The editors have been Lowell, James T. Fields, W. D.
Howells, T. B. Aldrich, Horace Scudder, W. H. Page, Bliss Perry, and
the present editor and chief owner, Ellery Sedgwick. Early important
contributors were Emerson, Holmes, Longfellow, Lowell, Thoreau,
Whittier, Hawthorne, Wendell Phillips. Later issues have included
Lafcadio Hearn, Edith Wharton, Frank Norris, Agnes Repplier, Gerald
Stanley Lee, S. M. Crothers, William Vaughn Moody, Richard Hovey, and
most of the contributors to the best traditions in American literature.
(See "The Atlantic Monthly and its Makers," by M. A. De Wolfe Howe.)

BALTIMORE SATURDAY VISITER, 1833----(?). A Baltimore weekly.

Started by Lambert A. Wilmer, who continued with it for only six
months. In October of this year Poe's "MS. Found in a Bottle" was
published as the winner of a prize competition. This was Poe's one
contribution and the _Visiter's_ sole apparent title to fame.

BROADWAY JOURNAL, 1845. A New York weekly.

Founded by C. F. Briggs ("Harry Franco") in January, 1845. So named
according to the first editorial from "the first street in the first
city of the New World.... We shall attempt to make it entirely
original, and instead of the effete vapors of English magazines ...
give such thoughts as may be generated among us." Poe and Briggs were
associate editors in the spring, until in July, 1845, it went under the
sole charge of Poe, who bought it from Briggs for $50. During this year
it was Poe's chief vehicle, printing or reprinting some fifteen of his
prose tales and two poems. Its business failure took place at the end
of the first year. (See "Life of Poe," by George E. Woodberry.)

BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE, 1841. A Brooklyn daily.

Isaac Van Anden, first editor and publisher. A democratic newspaper
with independent judgment. From 1844 (?) to 1848 Walt Whitman was its
editor. From 1885, until his recent death, it was under charge of St.
Clair McKelway, a brilliant writer and speaker and a constructive
educator.

BURTON'S GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE (see _Gentleman's Magazine_).

CASKET, THE (_Graham's Magazine_), 1826-1840. A Philadelphia
monthly.

Called _Atkinson's Casket_, 1831-1840. Was combined with _Gentleman's
Magazine_ and became _Graham's Magazine_.

CENTURY MAGAZINE, THE, 1881----. A New York monthly.

A continuation of the older _Scribner's Monthly_ (1870-1881) on the
assumption of control by Roswell Smith. R. W. Gilder was editor from
the second number, till his death in 1907. Its policy was to publish
articles, singly and in series, related to broad aspects of American
life, exposition and poetry playing a larger part in the earlier
years than of late. In travel it published Lowell's "Impressions of
Spain" and van Dyke's "Sicily"; in biography later portions of Hay and
Nicolay's "Lincoln," Jefferson's autobiography, and a Napoleon series.
Riis, Bryce, Darwin, Tolstoy, and Burroughs have contributed from their
own fields. Notable fiction series have been contributed by Howells,
Mark Twain, Crawford, Weir Mitchell, Garland, London, and Mrs. Wharton;
and verse by Emerson, Whitman, Gilder, Moody, Markham, and Cawein. (See
also _Scribner's Monthly_, p. 499.)

CONGREGATIONALIST AND CHRISTIAN WORLD, THE, 1849----. A Boston
weekly.

Founded in 1816 as the _Boston Recorder_ by Nathaniel Willis, father
of the more famous Nathaniel Parker Willis, and conducted by him until
1844. From then till about 1890 it was the sectarian organ of the
Congregationalists, playing a rôle similar to that of the _Independent_
and the _Christian Union_. In the latter part of the nineteenth century
it was under the editorship of W. A. Dunning, who was succeeded by the
present editor, Horace Bridgman. It has had a consistent career as a
religious weekly, changing with the times, but not modifying itself for
the sake of a secular circulation so frankly as the other two have done.

CONSERVATOR, THE, 1890. A Philadelphia monthly.

Founded in 1890 by Horace Traubel, an independent exponent of the
world movement in ethics. In 1892 W. H. Ketler, Joseph Gilbert, W.
Thornton Innes, and James A. Brown added to the editorial staff and
enlarged to contain articles of timely interest, a book-review section,
and a "Budget" for the reports of the ethical societies. The chief
contributors: Stanton Coit, William Salter, Robert Ingersoll, and M.
M. Mangasarian. The magazine gradually dropped its study of ethical
questions and became an exponent of "the Whitman argument," treated
by Bucke, Harned, Kennedy, Platt, and Helena Born. In 1890 Traubel
added extensive dramatic criticism and enlarged the book-review
department. Since 1898 the magazine has been an expression of Traubel's
radical theories. It contains a long editorial "Collect," which is an
uncompromising criticism of the times, a long poem by Traubel, and
reviews of current books of socialistic tendencies. During the Great
War it was frankly pacific, before the entrance of the United States.

CRITIC, THE, 1881-1906. A New York bi-weekly (1881-1882),
weekly (1883-1898), and monthly.

Founded as a "fortnightly review of literature, the fine arts, music,
and the drama." The best known of its editors were the latest--J. L.
and J. B. Gilder. After the first four years art and music notes were
dropped and book reviews were made the leading feature, original essays
giving place to extracts from other magazines. In 1900 the design was
stated to be "an illustrated monthly review of literature, art, and
life." From 1905 politics and technical science were dropped. In 1906
it was absorbed by _Putnam's_. Best-known contributors: E. C. Stedman,
Edith M. Thomas, R. W. Gilder, John Burroughs, E. E. Hale, F. B.
Sanborn, J. C. Harris, Brander Matthews.

DEMOCRATIC REVIEW, THE UNITED STATES, 1837-1859 (?). A
Washington and New York quarterly.

A note in Vol. XXXVIII stated that with Vol. XXXIX it would be issued
as a newspaper. At the outset it was the most successful political
magazine in the country. It was characterized by Carlyle as "_The Dial_
with a beard." It was at first partisan, until, with payment for its
articles, it became broader. Early contributors and best known were
Orestes Augustus Brownson, Bancroft, Whittier, Bryant, and Hawthorne.

DIAL, THE, 1840-1844. A Boston quarterly.

Founded as a quarterly organ for the group of Transcendentalists
centering about Emerson. Editors: 1840-1842, Margaret Fuller;
1842-1844, Emerson. The issues of 128 pages contained philosophical
essays, discussions of German and oriental thought, comments on
contemporary art and literature, book reviews, and poetry. The
circulation never reached 300 copies, and at the end of the fourth year
it was discontinued, the final debts being paid by Emerson. Leading
contributors were the editors: Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, Theodore
Parker, George Ripley, C. P. Cranch, J. F. Clarke, and Ellery Channing.
There was a reprint by the Rowfant Club, Cleveland, in 1901-1902,
with the addition of a historical and biographical introduction. (See
introduction to the reprint of _The Dial_, Vol. II, George Willis
Cooke, 1902.)

DIAL, THE, 1881----. A Chicago (1881-1918) and New York
fortnightly.

Founded and edited for a third of a century by Francis F. Browne as a
literary review, and able to refer to itself on its thirtieth birthday
as "the only journal in America given up to the criticism of current
literature" and "the only literary periodical in the country not owned
or controlled by a book publishing house or a newspaper." After one or
two changes of control, following the death of its founder, _The Dial_
was transferred to New York in July, 1918, extending its editorial
policy to include, besides the literary features, discussions of
internationalism and of industrial and educational reconstruction.

EVERYBODY'S MAGAZINE, 1899----. A New York monthly.

Founded by John Wanamaker and for the first four years a miscellany
best characterized by the purchasers in 1903. The Ridgway-Thayer
Company on taking control announced their purpose to do away with the
"mawkish, morbid, and unreal," to repress questionable advertising,
and in general to transform the magazine. Since then _Everybody's_ has
attempted in content to satisfy all sorts of intellectual tastes and at
the same time to have a hand in the social and economic investigation
of the period. The most celebrated series, which multiplied the
circulation, was Thomas W. Lawson's "Frenzied Finance." Literary
contributors in recent years have included Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, O.
Henry, Frank Norris, Booth Tarkington, Ernest Poole, Dorothy Canfield,
and in poetry Margaret Widdemer, Witter Bynner, and others.

EVERY SATURDAY, 1865-1874. A Boston weekly.

A Ticknor and Field publication; one of the numerous "eclectic"
mid-century periodicals made up of selected materials chiefly from
English magazines. It is of interest partly as a type and partly
because Thomas Bailey Aldrich was editor for the nine years of its
life. In 1874 it was merged with _Littell's Living Age_(see p. 493).

GALAXY, THE, 1866-1878. A New York monthly.

"An illustrated magazine of entertaining reading." The first volume
illustrated the practice of the day in featuring English authors with a
leading serial by Anthony Trollope. The American contributors include
Bayard Taylor, Howells, Stedman, and William Winter. Later Charles
Reade was accompanied by Henry James, John Burroughs, E. R. Sill, and
Paul Hamilton Hayne. With contributors of this substantial secondary
rank, later still supplemented by Sidney Lanier and Joaquin Miller, the
_Galaxy_ completed and died with its twelfth year.

GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, Burton's (1837-1841). A Philadelphia
monthly.

Founded by William E. Burton, the actor. Poe was an early, important
contributor and in the second year the editor. Although he and Burton
separated in 1839, the proprietor saw to it that Poe was reëmployed
when in 1841 George R. Graham bought out its circulation of 3500 and
merged it with _Atkinson's Casket_ as _Graham's Magazine_.

GODEY'S LADY'S BOOK, 1830-1898. A Philadelphia monthly.

Founded by Louis A. Godey, July, 1830, and managed by him as a monthly
until 1877. In 1837 it absorbed the Boston _Lady's Magazine_ and took
over its editor, Sarah J. Hale. Its chief distinction and highest
circulation (150,000) came under its first manager. It printed much
early work of Longfellow, Holmes, Poe, Bayard Taylor, Mrs. Sigourney,
and Harriet Beecher Stowe. In its last years it was renamed _Godey's
Magazine_. In 1898 it was absorbed by the _Puritan_.

GRAHAM'S MAGAZINE, 1841-1859. A Philadelphia monthly.

Founded by George R. Graham by combining his _Atkinson's Casket_
with his purchase of Burton's _Gentleman's Magazine_. Within a year,
largely through Poe's editorial work, the circulation rose from 5000
to 30,000. By 1850 it had reached a circulation of 135,000. Among the
later editors were R. W. Griswold, Bayard Taylor, and Charles Godfrey
Leland, and among the contributors, Cooper, Longfellow, Poe, Hawthorne,
Lowell, N. P. Willis, E. P. Whipple, the Cary sisters, William Gilmore
Simms, Richard Penn Smith, and Thomas Dunn English. In January, 1859,
_Graham's_ became the _American Monthly_ (see "Philadelphia Magazines
and their Contributors," A. H. Smyth, 1892, and the _Critic_, Vol. XXV,
p. 44).

HARPER'S NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE, 1850----. A New York monthly.

Founded by Harper Brothers in order "to place within the reach of
the great mass of the American people the unbounded treasures of the
periodical literature of the present day"; thus it was an "eclectic"
magazine, and in the early years it supplemented this borrowed
magazine material with serials by the most popular English novelists.
Within four years it had a circulation of 125,000. During the 1860's
it became more American in content, and in the 1870's it included a
notable series on the transformed South. In the last thirty years it
has drawn on the best-known American authors for single articles and
serials: Aldrich, Howells, Lowell, Wister, Mrs. Deland, Mark Twain,
James, Harte, Mrs. Wharton, Tarkington, Allen; and it has shared in
the publication of recent significant poetry by Cawein, Le Gallienne,
Untermeyer, Bynner, and the Misses Thomas, Teasdale, Widdemer, and
Lowell. (See "The House of Harper," J. H. Harper, 1912, and "The Making
of a Great Magazine," Harper & Brothers, 1889.)

HOME JOURNAL, THE, 1847----. A New York monthly.

Jointly founded and conducted by George P. Morris and N. P. Willis as
a continuation of their _National Press_ (founded 1845). Both remained
with it till death--Willis, the survivor, till 1865. "It was and is,"
wrote H. A. Beers in his Life of N. P. Willis (1885), "the organ of
'japonicadom,' the journal of society, and gazette of fashionable
literature, addressing itself with assiduous gallantry to 'the ladies.'"

INDEPENDENT, THE, 1848----. A New York weekly.

A periodical "Conducted by Pastors of Congregational Churches"; Leonard
Bacon, the first editor; Reverend George B. Cheever and Reverend Henry
Ward Beecher, contributing editors. Its purpose was to be a progressive
religious journal, particularly for Congregationalists, who protested
against conservatism in theology and proslavery politics. Eventually
it became an open forum for the liberally minded of all sects, being
carefully nonpartisan in politics. From 1870 to 1890 it printed
good verse, notably poems by Joaquin Miller and Sidney Lanier. The
religious and political viewpoints broadened out from 1873. By 1898 an
evident attempt was made to popularize the magazine. Since 1914 it has
absorbed the _Chautauquan_, the _Countryside_, and _Harper's Weekly_.

KNICKERBOCKER MAGAZINE, THE, 1833-1865. A New York monthly.

The first editor was Charles Fenno Hoffman. From 1839 to 1841 Irving
wrote monthly articles for a salary of $2000. Bryant, Whittier,
Longfellow, Holmes, Halleck, and most of the secondary writers
contributed. The second editor, from 1841 to 1861, was Lewis Gaylord
Clark. In its later years the magazine declined, chiefly because it was
carrying the tradition of polite and aimless literature into Civil-War
times. During its period it stood in the North for the same interests
that its contemporary, the _Southern Literary Messenger_, did in the
South (see "The Knickerbocker Gallery," 1855, and _Harper's Magazine_,
Vol. XLVIII, p. 587).

LIBERATOR, THE, 1831-1865. A Boston weekly.

The most famous and effective abolition journal, founded and edited
throughout by William Lloyd Garrison. It was proscribed in the South
and denounced in the North. Wendell Phillips and Henry Ward Beecher
praised it, but Mrs. Stowe criticized and Horace Greeley misrepresented
it. The financial straits it passed through were augmented by the
rivalry of other abolition papers. After the Emancipation Proclamation
and Lincoln's second Inaugural, announcement of discontinuance was
made. The last issue appeared December 29, 1865.

LIPPINCOTT'S MAGAZINE, 1868-1916. A Philadelphia monthly.

One of three magazines founded near 1870--the others _Scribner's
Monthly_ and the _Galaxy_--that made an active market for American
writers. _Lippincott's_, "a magazine of literature, science, and
education," made an unpretentious start and throughout its career
published little prose of distinction. Its poetry, however, was
excellent. Bayard Taylor and Paul Hamilton Hayne appeared in the
first and following numbers. Margaret Preston, Emma Lazarus, Thomas
B. Read, George H. Boker, Thomas Dunn English, and Christopher P.
Cranch contributed frequently. Whitman, rare in the magazines, wrote
in prose, and, most important of all, Lanier found here a channel for
much of his verse from 1875 on. In later years a feature of many issues
was a complete short novel. In 1916 _Lippincott's_ was absorbed by
_Scribner's Magazine_.

LITTELL'S LIVING AGE, 1844----. A Boston monthly.

This is the longest-lived of the eclectic, or "scissors and paste-pot,"
magazines. It has been made up of reprints from foreign periodicals,
sometimes quoting from English apparent sources articles which had been
borrowed there from original American publications. In 1874 it absorbed
_Every Saturday_ (see p. 491) and in 1898 the _Eclectic Magazine_. It
still survives.

MCCLURE'S MAGAZINE, 1893----. A New York monthly.

S. S. McClure publisher and editor. Fiction and poetry have been
the dominant features. Contributors (fiction): Kipling, Stevenson,
Arnold Bennett, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Booth Tarkington, Robert
Chambers, O. Henry, Jack London; (verse): Wordsworth, Browning, Walt
Whitman (reprints), Kipling, Witter Bynner, Edgar Lee Masters, Hermann
Hagedorn, Louis Untermeyer. It was the first magazine to sell at the
popular price of fifteen cents. The nonliterary articles on affairs
of the day were prepared on assignment by expert writers such as Ida
Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker, and Lincoln Steffens, years sometimes
being spent on a single series. In 1905 these three assumed control of
the _American_, but the policy has been continued to the present.

MIRROR, THE NEW YORK, 1823-1846. A New York weekly.

Founded by George P. Morris and Samuel Woodworth (remembered
respectively for "Woodman, Spare that Tree" and "The Old Oaken
Bucket"). In 1831 the _Mirror_ absorbed the _Boston American Monthly_
together with its editor, Nathaniel Parker Willis. In the next year
Willis wrote for it the first of his travel series, "Pencillings by the
Way," continuing with weekly letters for four years. In 1839 Hawthorne
became a contributor. In 1844-1845 Poe was subeditor and critic, his
most famous contribution being "The Raven," January, 1845. In 1845
the weekly became a daily--the _Evening Mirror_--and in 1846 it was
discontinued.

NATION, THE, 1865----. A New York weekly.

Publishers: Joseph H. Richards, 1865; Evening Post Publishing Co.,
1871; E. L. Godkin Co., 1874; _Evening Post_, 1881; _New York Evening
Post_, 1902; Nation Press, Inc., New York, 1915. Editors have changed
frequently, the most famous being the first, E. L. Godkin, who was
in the chair from 1865 to 1881. Oswald Garrison Villard, present
editor. It has been devoted to discussions of politics, art, and
literature and to reviews of the leading books in these fields.
Representative contributors have been Francis Parkman, T. R. Lounsbury,
B. L. Gildersleeve, J. R. Lowell, Carl Schurz, James Bryce, William
James, Paul Shorey, and Stuart Sherman. (See "Fifty Years of American
Idealism," edited by Gustav Pollak. 1915. Also the "Semicentenary
Number," 1915.)

NEW ENGLAND COURANT, THE, 1721-1727. A Boston weekly.

Founded by James Franklin and carried on by him and a group of friends
known as the Hell-Fire Club. The _Courant_ represents a violent and
somewhat coarse reaction against the domination of the New England
clergy. It was written after the manner of the _Spectator_ with
frequent paraphrased and a few quoted passages. After the imprisonment
of James the paper was carried on by the youthful Benjamin Franklin,
who had already contributed the fourteen "Do-Good Papers." The
_Courant_ gave evidence of much wit and enterprise, but quite lacked
the urbanity of its English model.

NEW ENGLAND MAGAZINE, THE, 1831-1835. A Boston monthly.

Founded by Joseph T. Buckingham, former editor of the
_Polyanthus_,1805-1807 and 1812-1814, the _Ordeal_,1809, the _New
England Galaxy_,1817-1828, and the _Boston Courier,_, a daily,
1814-1848. The _New England Magazine_, superior to any of these, was
the project of Edwin, a son, who gave it distinction in a single year
of editorship before his death, at the age of twenty-two. The father
continued in charge for eighteen months, relinquishing it for the final
year to Charles Fenno Hoffman and Park Benjamin. These latter took
the magazine to New York in January, 1836, renaming it the _American
Monthly Magazine_. The younger Buckingham showed enterprise in
enlisting well-known contributors and acuteness in securing copy from
Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, and Hawthorne before they were widely
known. It was in the _New England_ that Holmes originated "The Autocrat
of the Breakfast Table" in two numbers of 1832, reviving the theme in
his first _Atlantic_ series twenty-five years later; and here also
Hawthorne printed many stories now in "Twice-Told Tales" and "Mosses
from an Old Manse." (See "The First _New England Magazine_ and its
Editor," by George Willis Cooke, _New England Magazine_ (N. S.), March,
1897.)

NEW YORK EVENING POST, THE, 1801----. A New York daily.

A Federal paper at first. Alexander Hamilton and John Jay aided in its
establishment. William Coleman, first editor. Bryant began to write for
the _Post_ in 1826. He was editor from 1829 to 1878.

NEW YORK REVIEW AND ATHENÆUM MAGAZINE, THE, (?)-1827. A New
York monthly.

A type of the short-lived magazine which rose and then combined with
or absorbed others in a succession of changes. This was first the
_Review_, then in March, 1826, it was merged with another periodical
into the _New York Literary Gazette or American Athenæum_, and a little
later it combined with Parson's old paper, the _United States Literary
Gazette_, to form the _United Stales Review and Literary Gazette_. It
is mentioned because of Bryant's contributions and his editorship from
1826 until its discontinuation.

NEW YORK TRIBUNE, THE, 1841----. A New York daily.

Started by Horace Greeley as a reform newspaper in support of President
Harrison. In 1847 Greeley enlisted the support of several of the Brook
Farm group--George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, Charles A. Dana, and George
William Curtis--and secured as later contributors Carl Schurz, John
Hay, Henry James, William Dean Howells, Bayard Taylor, Whitelaw Reid,
E. C. Stedman, and others. The _Tribune_ made much of its literary
side, not only in book reviews and discussions of contemporary art
and letters but in the inclusion of much significant verse. The
_Tribune_ was an important ally in securing the election of Lincoln and
supporting his policies. It has continued to be one of the leading New
York dailies, but its great days were concluded with the resignation of
Greeley in 1872.

NEW REPUBLIC, THE, 1914----. A New York weekly.

A "journal of opinion" founded with the assistance of Mr. Willard
Straight by Herbert Croly and associates. As its subtitle indicates,
it is chiefly concerned with problems of national and international
import, but, in addition to the articles by editors and contributors
on affairs of the day, it includes papers on the art, music, and
literature of the present and the recent past, occasional light essays,
discriminating book reviews, and verse. Representative contributors
have been John Graham Brooks, John Dewey, William Hard, Elizabeth
Shipley Sargent, Louis Untermeyer, Robert Frost, Edwin Arlington
Robinson, and, from England, Norman Angell, H. M. Brailsford, and H. G.
Wells.

NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, THE, 1815----. A Boston and New York
quarterly.

Successor to the _Boston Monthly Anthology_, 1803-1811, being founded
by an editor, William Tudor, and several contributors who had been
members of the Anthology Club. After three years as a general literary
bimonthly it became a quarterly review. Among early contributors,
besides well-known leaders in political thinking, were George Ticknor,
George Bancroft, Bryant, and Longfellow. Until the founding of the
_Atlantic_ it was the leading organ of conservative thought in New
England. For the decade from 1864 it was under the joint editorship
of James Russell Lowell and Charles Eliot Norton. Since 1878 it has
been in New York, changing in editorship and periods of publication.
It became settled as a monthly under George Harvey. The more purely
literary American contributors of the last few years have been Howells,
Mabie, Matthews, Woodberry, Miss Repplier, Miss Teasdale, Miss Lowell,
Hagedorn, Robinson, Mackaye, and Ficke. (See _North American_, Vol. C,
p. 315, and Vol. CCI.)

OUTLOOK, THE, 1870----. A New York weekly.

Founded in 1870 as the _Christian Union_, an undenominational paper,
by Henry Ward Beecher. In 1876 he shared his duties as editor with
Lyman Abbott, present editor. In 1884 Hamilton Wright Mabie was added
as associate editor. Title was changed to _The Outlook_ in 1893.
Mabie secured contributions from men like James Bryce and Edward
Dowden, translations from the works of Daudet and François Coppée.
Recent American literary contributors: Ernest Poole, Vachel Lindsay,
Cawein, Oppenheim. New political impetus came with contributions from
Theodore Roosevelt, beginning 1909. The paper has had more or less of
ecclesiastical character all along, but at present may be characterized
as seeking to mold public opinion and interpret current events. One
number of each month is enlarged to contain special departments; called
Illustrated Magazine Number from 1896 to 1905.

PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE, THE, 1729-1821. A Philadelphia weekly.

The new name and new periodical founded by Benjamin Franklin when he
purchased Samuel Keimer's _Universal Instructor_ in October, 1729. The
news element was slight and unreliable, but the literary, Addisonian
essays gave the paper character at once. These gave way later to essays
more distinctly peculiar to Franklin's own point of view and kind of
humor. The book advertisements supplemented this essay material in
contributing to the broader culture of the readers. After Franklin's
personal withdrawal the traditions of the _Gazette_ were continued. In
1765 Franklin sold out to his partner David Hall. With the death of his
grandson, also David Hall, the paper passed into the hands of Atkinson
and Alexander and was renamed the _Saturday Evening Post_ (p. 498).

POETRY, 1912----. A Chicago monthly.

A magazine of verse. Harriet Monroe, editor. Ralph Fletcher Seymour
Co., Chicago, publishers. Advisory committee: H. B. Fuller, Edith
Wyatt, and H. C. Chatfield Taylor. It was guaranteed for five years
by endowment fund and contained no advertisements at the beginning.
It has been a vehicle for poetry from all parts of the world by poets
with or without fame. Now it contains book-list awards, reviews, and
poetry announcements and advertisements. The original staff is almost
unchanged. It seems to be on a sound financial footing.

POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC, 1733-1748.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin. Its chief feature was its inclusion in
the reading matter of the proverbial sayings, the best of which were
combined in "The Way to Wealth." It was characterized by a French
critic of the day as "the first popular almanac which spoke the
language of reason." It was conducted by Franklin until 1748.

PORT FOLIO, THE, 1806-1827. A Philadelphia weekly and monthly.

Founded by Joseph Dennie as a weekly newspaper. From 1806 to 1809,
though continuing as a weekly, it assumed the character of a literary
magazine, and in the latter year became a monthly. Its most distinctive
period was in the first eleven years before the death of Dennie. While
he was editor the _Port Folio_ was a vehicle of "polite letters." It
was imitative in style and reminiscent in point of view, but it was
wholesome in its honesty about American matters and manners and exerted
a strong and healthy influence. The best-known contributors were the
editor, "Oliver Oldschool," John Quincy Adams, and Charles Brockden
Brown.

PUTNAM'S, 1853-1858, 1868-1870, 1906-1910. A New York monthly.

Publishers, G. P. Putnam and Co., New York. _Putnam's Monthly Magazine_
of American literature, science, and art. Established by George P.
Putnam with the assistance of George William Curtis and others.
In 1857 merged into _Emerson's United States Magazine_, which was
continued as _Emerson's Magazine and Putnam's Monthly_. Discontinued
November, 1858. January, 1868-November, 1870, _Putnam's Monthly
Magazine_. Original papers on literature, science, art, and national
interests. Merged into _Scribner's Monthly_, December, 1870. October,
1906-March, 1910, reëstablished and merged with the _Critic_, founded
in 1881; issued by Messrs. Putnam since 1898. An illustrated monthly
of literature, art, and life. Absorbed the _Reader_, March, 1908.
Titles vary during this period. A large number of full-page and smaller
illustrations. One serial running, small proportion of verse, special
articles, comments, and criticisms on literature and the fine arts,
science, travel, statesmanship. Alternating emphasis with successive
issues on the different arts. Typical contributors and contributions,
with illustrations concerning: Lafcadio Hearn, Mark Twain, William
Dean Howells, Stedman, Stoddard, Henry James, Longfellow, Franklin,
Margaret Deland, Maeterlinck, Thomas Edison, Binet, Corot, Helen
Keller, Nazimova, Gladstone, the Bonapartes. Absorbed by the _Atlantic
Monthly_, April, 1910.

ROUND TABLE, THE, 1864-1869. A New York monthly.

A literary journal founded in New York in emulation of Boston's
_Atlantic_ and supported with great interest by Aldrich, Stedman,
Bayard Taylor, and their circle. It was suspended during parts of
1864-1865 and discontinued in July, 1869, in spite of the efforts to
secure a subsidy for it from the wealthy men of New York.

RUSSELL'S MAGAZINE, 1857-1860. A Charleston monthly.

Founded by John Russell, Charleston bookseller, with Paul Hamilton
Hayne as editor. A monthly periodical for the literary group centering
around William Gilmore Simms. Contained fiction, sketches, addresses,
reviews, and essays on various topics--political, historical, literary,
artistic, scientific. These were mainly unsigned, but the leading
contributors were Simms, Hayne, Timrod, James L. Petigru, John D.
Bruns, and Basil Gildersleeve. With the approach of the Civil War it
was discontinued March, 1860. (Lives of P. H. Hayne and W. G. Simms.
Three Notable Ante-Bellum Magazines of South Carolina, Sidney J. Cohen,
University of South Carolina, _Bulletin 42_.)

SATURDAY EVENING POST, THE, 1821----. A Philadelphia weekly.

A lineal descendant of Franklin's _Pennsylvania Gazette_(see p. 496).
It was given its present name in 1821 when Samuel C. Atkinson and
Charles Alexander took control, Atkinson being the surviving partner
of David Hall, grandson and namesake of Franklin's partner to whom the
_Gazette_ was sold in 1765. In one hundred and eighty years the only
interruption to consecutive issues was during the British occupation of
Philadelphia. The _Post_ of recent years has been one of the American
weeklies of largest circulation. It contains fiction, up-to-date
personalia, and brisk articles on the affairs of the moment. Its
attitude toward thrift, industry, and the way to wealth is completely
consistent with the ethics of Franklin. It is conducted by the Curtis
Publishing Company and edited by George H. Lorimer.

SATURDAY PRESS, THE, 1858-1860. A New York weekly.

The special organ of the "Bohemians"--a group of New Yorkers who
acknowledged Henry M. Clapp as their leader. Other contributors were
Fitz-James O'Brien, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, R. H. Stoddard, William
Winter, and E. C. Stedman, The _Press_ was brilliant but short-lived,
announcing in its last number in early 1860 that it was "discontinued
for lack of funds which [was], by a coincidence, precisely the reason
for which it was started." (See H. M. Clapp in Winter's "Other Days,"
and "The Life of Stedman," by Stedman and Gould.)

SCRIBNER'S MAGAZINE, 1886----. A New York monthly.

Founded December, 1886, by Messrs. Scribner (entirely distinct from old
_Scribner's Monthly_), with E. L. Burlingame as editor. Illustrated.
Typical contributors, in the early years: H. C. Bunner, Joel Chandler
Harris, Sarah Orne Jewett, Barrett Wendell, E. H. Blashford, Richard
Henry Stoddard, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, T. W. Higginson, W. C. Brownell,
Charles Edwin Markham, Robert Louis Stevenson; in recent years: Winston
Churchill, J. L. Laughlin, W. C. Brownell, Meredith Nicholson, John
Galsworthy, etc. Articles of popular interest on art, music, nature,
travel, and since 1914 a section given to the World War. Aim and policy
unchanged.

SCRIBNER'S MONTHLY, 1870-1881. A New York monthly.

Founded by Roswell Smith, manager, and J. G. Holland, editor,
and published as _Scribner's_, but not like _Harper's_ as a
publishing-house magazine. The design from the first was to deal with
matters of social and religious opinion from the liberal viewpoint.
At the outset it absorbed _Hours at Home_ and _Putnam's_ and in 1873
Edward Everett Hale's _Old and New_. It was the first to undertake
a series on the new South and to encourage Southern contributors,
including Lanier, Thomas Nelson Page, George W. Cable, and Joel
Chandler Harris. Most notable among its series were portions of
Grant's Memoirs and Hay and Nicolay's "Life of Lincoln," George
Kennan's Siberian papers, and Hay's anonymous novel "The Breadwinners."
_Scribner's Monthly_ was a pioneer in the use of illustrations made by
the new mechanical methods of reproduction. The magazine never printed
or sold less than 40,000 copies, and when in 1881 it changed ownership
and became the _Century_ it had a circulation of 125,000. (See Tassin's
"The Magazine in America," pp. 287-301.)

SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER, 1834-1865. A Richmond monthly.

Founded at Richmond, Virginia, in August, 1834, by Thomas W. White, as
a semimonthly, but changed to a monthly almost at once. Poe contributed
to the seventh number and from then on in each number till he became
assistant editor from July, 1835, to January, 1837. During this period
the circulation increased from 700 to 5000. Well established by this
time, it continued as the most substantial and longest lived of the
Southern magazines. A vehicle for literature between the too heavy
and the frivolous, and an honest review. Poe's contributions outrank
those of any other writer, but the list of contributors includes N. P.
Willis, C. F. Hoffman, R. W. Griswold, J. G. Holland, R. H. Stoddard,
W. M. Thackeray, Charles Dickens, G. P. R. James, John Randolph, R. H.
Bird, Philip P. Cooke, J. W. Legare, P. H. Hayne, Henry Timrod, John P.
Kennedy, and Sidney Lanier. (See "The Southern Literary Messenger," by
B. B. Minor.)

SOUTHERN MAGAZINE, THE, 1871-1875. A Baltimore monthly.

The most distinguished of the several short-lived Southern magazines
established in the Civil War reconstruction period. It was a
continuation of the _New Eclectic_, but included, in addition to
the English reprints, original work by many Southern authors. These
were, among others, Margaret Preston, Malcolm Johnson, Sidney Lanier,
Paul Hamilton Hayne, and Professors Gildersleeve and Price. It
could pay nothing for manuscript, however, and the new interest in
Southern writing awakened by _Scribner's_ in 1873, and responded to
by _Harper's_, the _Atlantic_, _Lippincott's_, the _Independent_,
and others, furnished support as well as stimulation to its best
contributors and hastened its death at the end of five years.

WESTERN MESSENGER, THE (Cincinnati), 1835-1841.

Begun by Reverend Ephraim Peabody. Published by Western Unitarian
Society aided by American Unitarian Association. Purposed to make it
a vehicle for clear, rational discussion of important and interesting
topics. Discussed reform movements, religious questions and creeds,
and encouraged expression of all cultural ideas,--literary articles,
poetry, book reviews, etc. Contributors: Mann Butler, W. D. Gallagher,
James H. Perkins, R. W. Emerson, J. S. Dwight, Elizabeth P. Peabody,
Jones Very, James Freeman Clarke, Dr. Lyman Beecher, Professor Calvin
E. Stowe, Margaret Fuller, C. P. Cranch. Sought to make it Western
in spirit with many Western contributors and articles on history of
the West. 1836-1839 in Louisville, under J. F. Clarke, then back to
Cincinnati, under William H. Channing, till April, 1841.

WESTERN MONTHLY MAGAZINE, THE (Cincinnati), 1833-1836.

Edited for two and one-half years by James Hall and for six months
by Joseph R. Foy. Thirty-seven contributors, of whom six were women
and only three from east of the Alleghenies. Harriet Beecher won "the
prize tale" in April, 1834, and contributed another story in July.
The contents made up largely of expository articles on art, history,
biology, travel, education, economics, and modern sociology. The book
notices were independent and discriminating.

YALE REVIEW, THE, 1892-1911, 1911----. Issued quarterly.

Continued _New Englander and Yale Review_. G. P. Fisher and others,
editors. In 1900 changed from a "journal of history and political
science" to a "Journal for the Scientific Discussion of Economic,
Political, and Social Questions"; 1911---- "a quarterly magazine
devoted to Literature, Science, History, and Public Opinion." Yale
Publishing Association, Inc., Wilbur D. Cross, chief editor. Not an
official publication of Yale University. Made up of serious articles
and essays, some light essays and verse, and literary criticism.
Leading contributors, prose: W. H. Taft, Norman Angell, Walter
Lippman, Simeon Strunsky, Vida D. Scudder; verse: Witter Bynner, Louis
Untermeyer, Sara Teasdale, Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Frost, John
Masefield. Thus its place as a literary periodical has been assumed
only within the last decade. The old _New Englander_ (1843-1892) was a
substantial and dignified journal but included the work of no writer of
even minor literary achievement.



                                 INDEX

  "Abraham Davenport" (Whittier), 261