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Quaker (Missouri, United States) (search for this): chapter 7
plicity would then have made the picture unfaithful. One has only to read over the private letters of any educated family of that period to see that people did not then express themselves as they now do; that they were far more ornate in utterance, more involved in statement, more impassioned in speech. Even a comparatively terse writer like Prescott, in composing Brown's biography only sixty years ago, shows traces of the earlier period. Instead of stating simply that his hero was a born Quaker, he says of him: He was descended from a highly respectable family, whose parents were of that estimable sect who came over with William Penn, to seek an asylum where they might worship their Creator unmolested, in the meek and humble spirit of their own faith. Prescott justly criticises Brown for saying, I was fraught with the apprehension that my life was endangered ; or his brain seemed to swell beyond its continent ; or I drew every bolt that appended to it ; or on recovering from deli
Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, United States) (search for this): chapter 7
a youth of good fortune and family,--nankeen coat striped with green, a white silk waistcoat elegantly needle-wrought, cassimere pantaloons, stockings of variegated silk, and shoes that in their softness vie with satin. When dressing himself, this favored youth ties his flowing locks with a black ribbon. We find from him that stage boats then crossed twice a day from New York to Staten Island, and we discover also with some surprise that negroes were freely admitted to ride in stages in Pennsylvania, although they were liable, half a century later, to be ejected from street-cars. We learn also that there were negro free schools in Philadelphia. All this was before 1800. It has been common to say that Brown had no literary skill, but it would be truer to say that he had no sense of literary construction. So far as skill is tested by the power to pique curiosity, Brown had it; his chapters almost always end at a point of especial interest, and the next chapter, postponing the so
Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, United States) (search for this): chapter 7
VI. Charles Brockden Brown When, in 1834, the historian Jared Sparks undertook the publication of a Library of American Biography, he included in the very first volume — with a literary instinct most creditable to one so absorbed in the severer paths of history — a memoir of Charles Brockden Brown by W. H. Prescott. It was an appropriate tribute to the first imaginative writer worth mentioning in America,--he having been born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 17, 1771, and died there of consumption on February 22, 1810,--and to one who was our first professional author. He was also the first to exert a positive influence, across the Atlantic, upon British literature, laying thus early a few modest strands towards an ocean-cable of thought. As a result of this influence, concealed doors opened in lonely houses, fatal epidemics laid cities desolate, secret plots were organized, unknown persons from foreign lands died in garrets, usually leaving large sums of money; the
Staten Island (New York, United States) (search for this): chapter 7
roan and totter and the curtain and roof admit the wet at a thousand seams. We learn the proper costume for a youth of good fortune and family,--nankeen coat striped with green, a white silk waistcoat elegantly needle-wrought, cassimere pantaloons, stockings of variegated silk, and shoes that in their softness vie with satin. When dressing himself, this favored youth ties his flowing locks with a black ribbon. We find from him that stage boats then crossed twice a day from New York to Staten Island, and we discover also with some surprise that negroes were freely admitted to ride in stages in Pennsylvania, although they were liable, half a century later, to be ejected from street-cars. We learn also that there were negro free schools in Philadelphia. All this was before 1800. It has been common to say that Brown had no literary skill, but it would be truer to say that he had no sense of literary construction. So far as skill is tested by the power to pique curiosity, Brown h
Anna Seward (search for this): chapter 7
tome in question was Johnson's dictionary, as it may have been, it would explain both Brown's style of writing and the milder amplifications of his biographer. Nothing is more difficult to tell, in the fictitious literature of even a generation or two ago, where a faithful delineation ends and where caricature begins. The four-story signatures of Micawber's letters, as represented by Dickens, go but little beyond the similar courtesies employed in a gentlewoman's letters in the days of Anna Seward. All we can say is that within a century, for some cause or other, English speech has grown very much simpler, and human happiness has increased in proportion. In the preface to his second novel, Edgar Huntley, Brown announces it as his primary purpose to be American in theme, to exhibit a series of adventures growing out of our own country, adding, That the field of investigation opened to us by our own country should differ essentially from those which exist in Europe may be readily
Arthur Mervyn (search for this): chapter 7
women was constantly endangered, though usually saved in time; people were subject to somnambulism and general frenzy; vast conspiracies were organized with small aims and smaller results. His books, published between 1798 and 1800, made their way across the ocean with a promptness that now seems inexplicable; and Mrs. Shelley, in her novel of The last man, founds her whole description of an epidemic which nearly destroyed the human race, on the masterly delineations of the author of Arthur Mervyn. Shelley himself recognized his obligations to Brown; and it is to be remembered that Brown himself was evidently familiar with Godwin's philosophical writings, and that he may have drawn from those of Mary Wollstonecraft his advanced views as to the rights and education of women, a subject on which his first book, Alcuin, offered the earliest American protest. Undoubtedly his books furnished a point of transition from Mrs. Radcliffe, of whom he disapproved, to the modern novel of re
Edward Everett (search for this): chapter 7
earliest American protest. Undoubtedly his books furnished a point of transition from Mrs. Radcliffe, of whom he disapproved, to the modern novel of realism, although his immediate influence and, so to speak, his stage properties, can hardly be traced later than the remarkable tale, also by a Philadelphian, called Stanley; or the man of the world, first published in 1839 in London, though the scene was laid in America. This book was attributed, from its profuse literary quotations, to Edward Everett, but was soon understood to be the work of a very young man of twenty-one, Horace Binney Wallace. In this book the influence of Bulwer and Disraeli is palpable, but Brown's concealed chambers and aimless conspiracies and sudden mysterious deaths also reappear in full force, not without some lingering power, and then vanish from American literature forever. Brown's style, and especially the language put by him into the mouths of his characters, is perhaps unduly characterized by Prof
Mary Wollstonecraft (search for this): chapter 7
798 and 1800, made their way across the ocean with a promptness that now seems inexplicable; and Mrs. Shelley, in her novel of The last man, founds her whole description of an epidemic which nearly destroyed the human race, on the masterly delineations of the author of Arthur Mervyn. Shelley himself recognized his obligations to Brown; and it is to be remembered that Brown himself was evidently familiar with Godwin's philosophical writings, and that he may have drawn from those of Mary Wollstonecraft his advanced views as to the rights and education of women, a subject on which his first book, Alcuin, offered the earliest American protest. Undoubtedly his books furnished a point of transition from Mrs. Radcliffe, of whom he disapproved, to the modern novel of realism, although his immediate influence and, so to speak, his stage properties, can hardly be traced later than the remarkable tale, also by a Philadelphian, called Stanley; or the man of the world, first published in 1839
Charles Brockden Brown (search for this): chapter 7
Shelley himself recognized his obligations to Brown; and it is to be remembered that Brown himselfBrown himself was evidently familiar with Godwin's philosophical writings, and that he may have drawn from thoseen vanish from American literature forever. Brown's style, and especially the language put by hif their own faith. Prescott justly criticises Brown for saying, I was fraught with the apprehensiont that he had a tinder-box. The criticism on Brown is fair enough, yet Prescott himself presently, he tells us that from his earliest childhood Brown gave evidence of studious propensities, being ry, as it may have been, it would explain both Brown's style of writing and the milder amplificatiohe preface to his second novel, Edgar Huntley, Brown announces it as his primary purpose to be Amerbefore 1800. It has been common to say that Brown had no literary skill, but it would be truer till is tested by the power to pique curiosity, Brown had it; his chapters almost always end at a po[4 more...]
Edgar Huntley (search for this): chapter 7
literature of even a generation or two ago, where a faithful delineation ends and where caricature begins. The four-story signatures of Micawber's letters, as represented by Dickens, go but little beyond the similar courtesies employed in a gentlewoman's letters in the days of Anna Seward. All we can say is that within a century, for some cause or other, English speech has grown very much simpler, and human happiness has increased in proportion. In the preface to his second novel, Edgar Huntley, Brown announces it as his primary purpose to be American in theme, to exhibit a series of adventures growing out of our own country, adding, That the field of investigation opened to us by our own country should differ essentially from those which exist in Europe may be readily conceived. He protests against puerile superstition and exploded manners, Gothic castles and chimeras, and adds: The incidents of Indian hostility and the perils of the western wilderness are far more suitable.
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