When in 1786, Mrs. Josiah Quincy
, then a young girl, sailed upon 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 marvellous story.’
was then but three years old, yet Ichabod Crane
and Rip Van Winkle
or their prototypes were already on the spot waiting for biographers; and it was much the same with Cooper
, who was not born until three years later.
What was needed was self-confidence and a strong literary desire to take the materials at hand.
, had already done this; but Longfellow
followed with more varied gifts, more thorough training; the ‘Dial’ writers followed in their turn, and a distinctive American literature was born, this quality reaching a climax in Thoreau
, who frankly wrote, ‘I have travelled a great deal—in Concord
And while thus Longfellow
found his desire for a national literature strengthened at every point by the example of his classmate Hawthorne
, so he may have learned much, though not immediately, through the warning unconsciously given by Bryant
, against the perils of undue moralizing.
's early poem, ‘To a Water-Fowl,’ was as profound in feeling and as perfect in structure as anything of Longfellow
's, up to