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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing) 539 1 Browse Search
Cambridge History of American Literature: volume 3 (ed. Trent, William Peterfield, 1862-1939., Erskine, John, 1879-1951., Sherman, Stuart Pratt, 1881-1926., Van Doren, Carl, 1885-1950.) 88 0 Browse Search
Cambridge History of American Literature: volume 1, Colonial and Revolutionary Literature: Early National Literature: Part I (ed. Trent, William Peterfield, 1862-1939., Erskine, John, 1879-1951., Sherman, Stuart Pratt, 1881-1926., Van Doren, Carl, 1885-1950.) 58 0 Browse Search
C. Edwards Lester, Life and public services of Charles Sumner: Born Jan. 6, 1811. Died March 11, 1874. 54 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Women and Men 54 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Book and heart: essays on literature and life 44 0 Browse Search
Adam Badeau, Grant in peace: from Appomattox to Mount McGregor, a personal memoir 39 1 Browse Search
George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent, Vol. 7, 4th edition. 38 0 Browse Search
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book 38 0 Browse Search
Edward L. Pierce, Memoir and letters of Charles Sumner: volume 2 36 0 Browse Search
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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, Preface (search)
by my friend David Atwood Wasson and entitled, The New World and the New Man. I am indebted to the proprietors of the Century, the Independent, the Christian Union, and Harper's Bazar for permission to reprint such of the remaining chapters as appeared in their respective columns. Nothing is farther from the present writer's wish than to pander to any petty national vanity, his sole desire being to assist in creating a modest and reasonable self-respect. The civil war bequeathed to us Americans, twenty-five years ago, a great revival of national feeling; but this has been followed in some quarters, during the last few years, by a curious relapse into something of the old colonial and apologetic attitude; enhanced, no doubt, by the vexations and humiliations of the long struggle for international copyright. This is the frame of mind which is deprecated in this volume, because it is the last source from which any strong or self-reliant literary work can proceed. In the words of
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, II (search)
sm. He instanced Ticknor and Sumner; and we can all remember that there were at first similar criticisms on Lowell. It is indeed a form of comment to which all Americans are subject in England, if they have the ill-luck to have color in their cheeks and not to speak very much through their noses; in that case they are apt to passication. If a nation is not to be saved by pointing out is own physiological perils, what is to save it? As a matter of fact, it will be generally claimed by Americans, I fancy, that whatever else their much-discussed nation may have, it has at least developed a temperament for itself; an ill-favored thing, but mine own, as Toug. The same difference of temperament, in the direction of a greater quickness—what the wit of Edmund Quincy once designated as specific levity—on the part of Americans is certainly very apparent to every one of us who visits England; and not infrequently makes itself perceptible, even without a surgical operation, to our Englis
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, III (search)
Yet Emerson showed that there was an influence at work more potent than steamers, and the colonial spirit in our literature began to diminish from his time. In the days of those first ocean voyages, the favorite literary journal of cultivated Americans was the New York Albion, which was conducted expressly for English residents on this continent; and it was considered a piece of American audacity when Horace Greeley called Margaret Fuller to New York, that the Tribune might give to our literad reputation betray, when on ground we know, defects of method that seem hopeless, what reverence is left for those who keep on ground that we do not know? In time, the shadow of Europe must lose something of its impressiveness. Dr. Creighton, in his preface to the English Historical Review, counts in all Americans as merely so manly outlying English; but it is time to recognize that American literature is not, and never again can be, merely an outlying portion of the literature of England.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, IV (search)
has been waged in this generation, wrote Motley in one of his letters, was of no more interest to her, except as it bore upon the cotton question, than the wretched little squabbles of Mexico or South America. Letters, I., 373. And so those Americans who are spending their lives in the effort to remove the very defects visible in our letters, our arts, our literature, are met constantly by the insolent assumption, not that these drawbacks exist, but that they are not worth removing. How interest in the spectacle of a nation of sixty million people laboring with all its might to acquire the means and resources of civilized life, then there is nothing interesting on earth. A hundred years hence, the wonder will be, not that we Americans attached so much importance, at this stage, to these efforts of ours, but that even we appreciated their importance so little. If the calculations of Canon Zincke are correct, in his celebrated pamphlet, the civilization which we are organizi
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, VI (search)
ment of the unexpected. Europe demands from America not so much a new thought and purpose, as some new dramatis personoe; that an author should exhibit a wholly untried type,—an Indian, as Cooper; a negro, as Mrs. Stowe; a mountaineer, as Miss Murfree; a California gambler, as Bret Harte; a rough or roustabout, as Whitman. There are commonly two ways to eminent social success for an American in foreign society,—to be more European than Europeans themselves, or else to surpass all other Americans in some amusing peculiarity which foreigners suppose to be American. It is much the same in literature. Lady Morgan, describing the high society of Dublin in her day, speaks of one man as a great favorite who always entered every drawing-room by turning a somersault. This is one way of success for an American book; but the other way, which is at least more dignified, is rarely successful except when combined with personal residence and private acquaintance. Down to the year 1880 Lowel
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, VII (search)
merica because he wrote of England, and Cooper's novels were regarded as a sort of daring eccentricity of the frontier. Fifty years ago Anglomania could scarcely be said to exist in this country; for the nation was still, for all purposes of art and literature, a mere province of England. Now all is changed; the literary tone of the United States is more serious, more original, and, in its regard for external forms, more cultivated than that now prevailing on the other side. Untravelled Americans still feel a sense of awe before the English press, which vanishes when they visit London and talk with the young fellows who write for its journals; and when these youths visit us, what lightweights they are apt to seem! Emerson said of our former literary allegiance to England that it was the tax we paid for the priceless gift of English literature; but this tax should surely not be now a heavy one; a few ballades and villanelles seem the chief recent importations. The current Ameri
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, X (search)
tion whatever; that Willis indeed boasted to Longfellow of making ten thousand dollars a year by his pen, when Longfellow wished that he could earn one-tenth of that amount,—we must certainly admit that the equation of fame may require many years for its solution. Fuller says in his Holy State that learning hath gained most by those books on which the printers have lost; and if this is true of learning, it is far truer of that incalculable and often perplexing gift called genius. Young Americans write back from London that they wish they had gone there in the palmy days of literary society—in the days when Dickens and Thackeray were yet alive, and when Tennyson and Browning were in their prime, instead of waiting until the present period, when Rider Haggard and Oscar Wilde are regarded, they say, as serious and important authors. But just so men looked back in longing from that earlier day to the period of Scott and Wordsworth, and so farther and farther and farther. It is easy
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XIV (search)
But if this last is true, why did it not occur to Mr. Bryce to say it; and had he said it, is it not plain that the whole tone and statement of his proposition would have been different? It occurs to him to specify Darwin and Tennyson, but the two men who above all others represent creative intellectual power, up to this time, in America, are not so much as named in his whole chapter of thirteen pages. Of course it is too early for comparison, but it is undoubtedly the belief of many Americans —at any rate, it is one which I venture to entertain—that the place in the history of intellect held a hundred years hence by the two Americans he forgets to mention will be greater than that of the two Englishmen he names. Greater than Darwin's, from the more lasting quality of literary than of scientific eminence. Darwin was great, as he was certainly noble and lovable; but he was not greater, or at least held greater, than Newton:— Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night, God sa<
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVII (search)
extending through both its branches. Miss Mitford says of one of her heroes in a country town, He translated Horace, as all gentlemen do; and Mrs. Austin speaks of Goethe's Faust as that untranslatable poem which every Englishman translates. Americans are not behind their British cousins in these labors; and Professor Boyesen —who, as a Norseman by birth and an American by adoption, is free of all languages—has written an agreeable paper in Book News 1 August, 1888. on the general subjectre difficult work of Jean Paul Richter. These he handled, especially the Hesperus and Titan, with a felicity and success unequalled among Richter's translators; and it is an illustration of the ignorance in England of the successes achieved by Americans in this direction, that Mr. Brooks's works of this series are there so little recognized. Another remarkable American translator from the German is Charles G. Leland, whose version of Heine's Reisebilder under the name of Pictures of Travel is
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, The new world and the new book, XVIII (search)
f these catalogues—the large quarto volume which enumerates the English books in the Cleveland (Ohio) public library. This selection is made partly because of the thoroughness and excellence of the work itself, and partly because, as Emerson once said, Europe stretches to the Alleghanies, and, by going west of them, we at least rid ourselves of any possible prejudices of the Atlantic border. I have carefully counted the list of entries in this catalogue under the names of many prominent Americans not now living; and the results have been such as to surprise not merely the present writer, but all with whom he has compared notes. No person to whom he has put the question has yet succeeded in hitting, at a guess, the first four names upon the list presently to be given; the list, that is, of those under whose names the entry of biographical and critical literature is largest. The actual table, arranged in order of pre-eminence, is as follows, the number following each name represent
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