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[287] scraps of irony and censure which he had been producing since 1787, when he had set out to imitate Hudibras. His prose is better than his verse, plain and simple in style, by his own confession following that of Hume, Swift, and Fielding. Swift was his dearest master. Very curious, if hard to follow, are the successive revisions by which Brackenridge kept pace with new follies.

Smollett had something to do with another novel which, though less read than Modern Chivalry, deserves mention with it, The Algerine Captive (1797) of Royall Tyler, poet, wit, playwright, and jurist.1 The first volume has some entertaining though not subtle studies of American manners; the second, a tale of six years captivity in Algiers, belongs with the many books and pamphlets called forth by the war with Tripoli.2 Historically important is the preface, which declared that the American taste for novels had grown in the past seven years from apathy to a general demand.

Apparently the time was slowly ripening to the point at which taste begins to support those who gratify it, and it is notable that the first American to make authorship his sole career had already decided for fiction. Charles Brockden Brown came of good Quaker stock long settled in Pennsylvania, where, at Philadelphia, he was born 17 January, 1771. He was a frail, studious child, reputed a prodigy, and encouraged by his parents in that frantic feeding upon books which was expected, in those days, of every American boy of parts. By the time he was sixteen he had made himself a tolerable classical scholar, contemplated three epics — on Columbus, Pizarro, and Cortez-and hurt his health by over-work. As he grew older he read with a hectic, desultory sweep in every direction open to him. With his temper and education, he developed into a hot young philosopher in those days of revolution. He brooded over the maps of remote regions, glowed with eager schemes for perfecting mankind, and dabbled in subterranean lore as an escape from humane Philadelphia. He kept a journal and wrote letters heavy with self-consciousness. Put into a law office by his family, he found that his legal studies only confirmed him in his resolution to be a man of letters. His

1 See also Book I, Chap. IX and Book II, Chaps. II.

2 See also Book II, Chap. III.

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