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Alleghany Mountains (United States) (search for this): chapter 19
lready grown up around each eminent man, we can obtain a certain rough estimate of the extent and variety of interest inspired by him in the public mind. Let us take, for instance, one of the best and most recent of these catalogues—the large quarto volume which enumerates the English books in the Cleveland (Ohio) public library. This selection is made partly because of the thoroughness and excellence of the work itself, and partly because, as Emerson once said, Europe stretches to the Alleghanies, and, by going west of them, we at least rid ourselves of any possible prejudices of the Atlantic border. I have carefully counted the list of entries in this catalogue under the names of many prominent Americans not now living; and the results have been such as to surprise not merely the present writer, but all with whom he has compared notes. No person to whom he has put the question has yet succeeded in hitting, at a guess, the first four names upon the list presently to be given;
H. D. Thoreau (search for this): chapter 19
e Cleveland catalogue. The actual works of the author himself are not included. The list is as follows:— Washington.48 Emerson, Lincoln (each)41 Franklin 37 Webster34 Longfellow33 Hawthorne25 Jefferson23 Grant22 Irving21 Clay19 Beecher, Poe, M. F. Ossoli (each)16 Theodore Parker, Lowell (each)15 John Adams, Sumner (each)14 Cooper, Greeley, Sheridan, Sherman (each)12 Everett11 John Brown, Channing, Farragut (each)10 Garrison, Hamilton, Prescott, Seward, Taylor (each) 9 Thoreau7 Bancroft6 Allston5 Edwards, Motley (each)5 This list certainly offers to the reader some surprises in its details, but it must impress every one, after serious study, as giving a demonstration of real intelligence and catholicity of taste in the nation whose literature it represents. When, for instance, we consider the vast number of log cabins or small farmhouses where the name of Lincoln is a household word, while that of Emerson is as unknown as that of Aeschylus or Catullus,
it by any other test succeed much better. The balloting in various newspapers for the best hundred authors or the forty immortals has always turned out to be limited by the constituency of the particular publication which attempted the experiment; or sometimes even by the action of jocose cliques, combining to force up the vote of pet candidates. As regards American authors, the great Library of American Literature of Stedman and Hutchinson aims to furnish a sort of Westminster Abbey or Valhalla, where the relative value of different writers may be roughly gauged by the number of pages assigned to each candidate for fame. But this again is determined by the taste of the compilers, and their judgment, however catholic, is not infallible. Still another test, and one coming nearer to a general popular consensus may be sought in the excellent catalogues which are now prepared for our public libraries—catalogues in which the list of each author's works is supplemented by appending the
ll leaders are recognized for what they have given. The result is a tribute to that natural inequality of men which is as fully recognized, in a true republic, as their natural equality; that is, they are equal in the sense of being equally men, but not equal in their gifts as men. It is curious to see how the social falsities of English society tell on educated Englishmen, so surely as they grow old enough to shed the generous impulses of youth. It was in vain that Tennyson wrote Clara Vere de Vere, and Froude The Nemesis of Faith, and Ruskin Modern Painters, and Swinburne the Song in Time of Order: let them once reach middle life and they are all stanch Tories and accept dukes; and now Huxley follows in their train. But here in America we find no difficulty in selecting our natural leaders, sooner or later, and owning them; they do not have to fight for recognition, in most cases; it comes by a process like the law of gravitation. In our colonial town records the object of the
Daniel Webster (search for this): chapter 19
ntly to be given; the list, that is, of those under whose names the entry of biographical and critical literature is largest. The actual table, arranged in order of pre-eminence, is as follows, the number following each name representing the number of books, or parts of books, referring to the person named, and enumerated in the Cleveland catalogue. The actual works of the author himself are not included. The list is as follows:— Washington.48 Emerson, Lincoln (each)41 Franklin 37 Webster34 Longfellow33 Hawthorne25 Jefferson23 Grant22 Irving21 Clay19 Beecher, Poe, M. F. Ossoli (each)16 Theodore Parker, Lowell (each)15 John Adams, Sumner (each)14 Cooper, Greeley, Sheridan, Sherman (each)12 Everett11 John Brown, Channing, Farragut (each)10 Garrison, Hamilton, Prescott, Seward, Taylor (each) 9 Thoreau7 Bancroft6 Allston5 Edwards, Motley (each)5 This list certainly offers to the reader some surprises in its details, but it must impress every one, after seri
Walt Whitman (search for this): chapter 19
ne, it really would afford as fair an approximation as we are likely to obtain to a National gallery of eminent persons. It is easily to be seen that no similar gallery of living persons would have much value. It is not, ordinarily, until after a man's death that serious criticism or biography begins. Comparing a few living names, we find that there are already, in the Cleveland catalogue, subsidiary references to certain living persons, as follows:— Holmes, Whittier12 Mrs. Stowe8 Whitman5 Ex-President Cleveland4 Harte3 Blaine, Howells, James2 Hale, Parkman1 These figures, so far as they go, exhibit the same combination of public and literary service with those previously given. Like those, they effectually dispose of the foolish tradition that republican government tends to a dull mediocrity. Here we see a people honoring by silent suffrages their National leaders, and recording the votes in the catalogue of every town library. There is no narrow rivalry between
J. G. Whittier (search for this): chapter 19
d catalogues instead of one, it really would afford as fair an approximation as we are likely to obtain to a National gallery of eminent persons. It is easily to be seen that no similar gallery of living persons would have much value. It is not, ordinarily, until after a man's death that serious criticism or biography begins. Comparing a few living names, we find that there are already, in the Cleveland catalogue, subsidiary references to certain living persons, as follows:— Holmes, Whittier12 Mrs. Stowe8 Whitman5 Ex-President Cleveland4 Harte3 Blaine, Howells, James2 Hale, Parkman1 These figures, so far as they go, exhibit the same combination of public and literary service with those previously given. Like those, they effectually dispose of the foolish tradition that republican government tends to a dull mediocrity. Here we see a people honoring by silent suffrages their National leaders, and recording the votes in the catalogue of every town library. There is n
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