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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Margaret Fuller Ossoli, Chapter 9: a literary club and its organ. (search)
e remote glimpse of art through engravings, at least; they had around them the inspiration of a great republic, visibly destined to overspread a continent; and they had two or three centuries of romantic and picturesque pioneer history behind them. We now recognize that Irving, Cooper, Bryant, Whittier did not create their material; they simply used what they found; and Longfellow's fame did not become assured till he turned from Bruges and Nuremberg, and chose his theme among the exiles of Acadia. It was not Irving who invested the Hudson with romance, but the Hudson that inspired Irving. In 1786, when Mrs. Josiah Quincy, then a young girl, sailed up that river in a sloop, she wrote: Our captain had a legend for every scene, either supernatural or traditional, or of actual occurrence during the war; and not a mountain reared its head, unconnected with some marvelous story. Irving was then a child of three years old, but Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane — or their equivalents — we