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There are some things which it is very certain that he did not mean. He certainly did not accept the Matthew Arnold attitude, that to talk of a distinctive American press at all is an absurdity. Arnold finds material for profound ridicule in the fact that there exists a ‘Primer of American Literature;’ this poor little Cinderella, cut off from all schooling, must not even have a primer of her own. Irving certainly did not assume the (Goldwin Smith attitude, that this nation is itself but a schism, and should be viewed accordingly; as if one should talk of there being only a schism between an oak-tree and its seedling, and should try to correct the unhappy separation by trowel and gardener's wax. He certainly did not accept the theory sometimes so earnestly advocated among us, of a ‘cosmopolitan tribunal,’ which always turns out to mean a tribunal where all other nations are to be admitted to the jury-box, while America is to get no farther than the prisoners' dock. Irving would have made as short work with such a cosmopolitan tribunal as did Alice in Wonderland with the jury-box of small quadrupeds, when she refused to obey

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Washington Irving (2)
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