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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Walcott Boynton, Reader's History of American Literature, Chapter 2: the secular writers (search)
n a magazine, and had by heart, and which he knew were American. He was told that they were by Freneau, when he (Scott) remarked, The poem is as fine a thing as there is of the kind in the language. Mary S. Austin's Life of Freneau, quoted from Duyckinck, pp. 219, 220. Circumstances did not allow Freneau to develop a disinterested poetic art. In those stirring days there was, as he complained, little public favor for anything but satire. He had inherited hatred for tyranny with his Huguenot blood; and there was a vein of bitterness in him which was ready enough to be worked, no doubt, when the time came. Mr. Tyler calls him the poet of hatred rather than of love; certainly his reputation at the moment was won as a merciless satirist. The Hartford wits Freneau was a classmate of James Madison at Princeton. Contemporary with him were three men of Connecticut and Yale,--Timothy Dwight, Joel Barlow, and Jonathan Trumbull. Like Freneau, these writers began by tentative exp
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Walcott Boynton, Reader's History of American Literature, Chapter 6: the Cambridge group (search)
life he had studied in New England history, -none better,--but what real awe did it impose on him who had learned at his mother's knee to seek the wilderness with William Penn or to ride through howling mobs with Barclay of Ury? The Quaker tradition, after all, had a Brahminism of its own which Beacon Street in Boston could not rear or Harvard College teach. John Greenleaf Whittier was born in Haverhill, Mass., on Dec. 17, 1807. His earliest American ancestor, Thomas Whittier, was of Huguenot stock, and not, like his descendants, a Quaker, though a defender of Quakers. Upon the farm and in the homestead inherited from this ancestor, Whittier passed his boyhood. He was as tall as most of his family, but not so strong. He took his full share of the farm duties; he had to face the winter weather in what we should call scanty clothing: it was before the period had arrived when, in Miss Sedgwick's phrase, the New England Goddess of Health held out flannel underclothing to everybod