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ber, 1796, an interesting and meaty article which he describes as "the result of many inquiries, and some years research into the state of printing and bookselling in North America," and which is notable not only for the place it holds in a leading periodical, but for the facts which it gives." After remarking that "The people of North America have now professors in every Art and Science, with adequate salaries; and, whatever they may want to import, men of eminence in literature are not of the number," Lemoine goes on to say that the price of labor in America prevents the publication of most works except laws, pamphlets, newspapers, etc. "Of late, in the Northern States, they print a few school books, and occasionally, in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, print any tract not remarkably large." He further mentions "a miserable edition of Cook's Voyages," a Philadelphia reprint of Blackstone "very ill-done," and an American edition of the Bible which, though "recommended by a resolution of Congress, was a losing concern."
Of the book-trade he says: "The greatest book-sellers are in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Northward of New York, there is none of any consequence; not any in Boston of note; or Southward of Baltimore." He notes that New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore have "many considerable stores of books daily imported from Europe; and there
1 XLVI: 914.
"The whole matter of printing and bookselling as it affected the relations of the two countries would form the basis of an interesting and a valuable study. There is especial need of more light on the custom of republishing American books in England. Almost every literary work was reissued there, as were many collections of state papers and other documents. It is hard to see how some of these could have been sold in paying quantities in Great Britain, and it is hard to see how they could have been exported to America in profitable competition with the native editions from which they were reprinted. The latter, even if more expensive and not so well done, would have been in the field for some months before the pirated copies could arrive, and they would be preferred for patriotic reasons. It seems probable, without investigation, that it must after all have been the British sale that was depended on for profit; and the large number of such reprints would indicate that the publishers could not always have been disappointed. The student who can gain access to the old accounts of publishers, or in any other way learn how many readers such books had, and of what class they were, will render good service to the historian of American literature.
are few publications that cannot be purchased here except very heavy and expensive ones.
Their sales are very great; for it is scarcely possible to conceive the number of readers with which every little town abounds. The common people are on a footing, in point of literature, with the middle ranks in Europe; they all read and write, and understand arithmetick. Almost every little town now furnishes a small circulating-library.
Prints are a good article to carry over, and so are engraved copper-plates.... Artists in drawing, designing, and engraving, are very rare in America....
Novels and useful histories are the best articles to be considered here [in the South] after Dictionaries....
Whatever is useful sells; but publications on subjects merely speculative, and rather curious than important, controversial divinity, and voluminous polemical pieces, as well as heavy works on the Arts and Sciences, lie upon the importer's hands. They have no ready-money to spare for anything but what they find useful; and, in literary purchases, enquire minutely into the cui bono- of the article.
Scotch books, like their countrymen, are not much in repute in any part of North America....
According to an article in the Columbian Magazine it appears that the demand of foreign books is but inconsiderable....German books are in some degree an exception; for they sell in places inhabited by the Dutch.
Though many persons speak French, they read, according to this authority, but few French books.
In the same connection as the preceding may be noticed an item in the Scot's Magazine3 under the heading of "Foreign Literary Notes."
The first fair for books lately established at New York, in imitation of those of Leipsick and Franckfort, exceeded the most sanguine hopes of success. There were sold at it no less than 520,000 volumes. Another fair of the same kind is about to be established at Philadelphia, which will be held upon the first Tuesday of September. Another will take place at New York in the month of October.
LXIV: 845 (Oct., 1802).
A bibliography entitled Bibliotheca Americana, or a chronological catalogue of books, pamphlets, state papers, etc., upon the subject of North and South America. With an introductory discourse on the present state of literature in these countries, published in London in 1789, elicited several reviews.*
In the earlier years after the Revolution but little comment on literary conditions in America is to be found. The European Magazine and London Review says in a brief review of Smith's Poems on Several Occasions:
From a country like America, where Nature sets before the eyes of the poet the most luxuriant and the most terrific scenes; where the people, yet unaccustomed to those refinements which, while they
'See Gents. Mag. LIX: 637 (1789), and Mo. Rev. or Lit. Jour. Enlgd., II: 474 (Aug., 1790). I have not seen this work, which is described in the British Museum Catalogue as chiefly compiled by H. Homer from the Bibliothecae Americanae Primordia of Bishop Kennett White published in 1713. The reviewer in the Gentleman's Magazine refers in an ironical footnote to the indebtedness to White which apparently was not acknowledged-and considers the earlier work the better of the two. It also quotes an amusing paragraph from the Introduction:
"In North America every Science has not only reared her head, but flourishes with a degree of vigour in the New World that threatens to surpass the Old. Their orators, lawyers, physicians, historians, philosophers, and mathematicians, may be fairly opposed to our most successful cultivators of science and the liberal arts; and poets have lately put in claims, backed by productions that evince a very slender inferiority. At the head of their philosophers and politicians stands the venerable Franklin. In the first class, the ingenious Lorimer must not be forgotten. In mathematics the self-taught Rittenhouse. In divinity, Witherspoon. In history, criticism, and policy, the modern Tacitus, Payne. In poetry, Barlowe, Smith, and Ray. In painting, West. In law and oratory,-how shall I enumerate them?-take the first class: in Georgia, George Walton; German Baker, in Virginia; Jennings, in Maryland: Lewis, Bradford, and Chambers, in Pennsylvania; Boudinot, in Jersey; Hamilton and Bird, in New York; Johnson in Connecticut; and Parsons in Massachusetts."
The author of this clearly speaks in the character of an Englishman, though it sounds much like American bragging. The Monthly Review says: "This elaborate composition, we are informed, was undertaken in London preparatory to a new history of America, by a gentleman resident on that continent. As a catalogue, no more can be said, than that it is a curiosity, and required patient labour to form it." The Reverend Henry Homer, whose dates are given as 1752-91. was a classical scholar of Emanuel College, Cambridge, and author of several works, but it is hard to believe that the paragraph quoted above was from his pen.
A bibliography of North America prepared in 1713 must have been greatly supplemented to be up to date in 1789.
X: 256 (Oct., 1786).
subtilize the understanding, and refine what, in modern times, is called taste, cramp the imagination; we might expect wild effusions of fancy, and those nervous glowing thoughts and expressions, whose irregular beauty and sublimity set criticism at defiance. But our author seems, from what we will venture to call a culpable diffidence in his own powers, seldom to have ventured to give the reins to his imagination. Instead of copying from Nature he has generally copied from the copiers of her copiests, and those Europeans. However he is, when he pleases to exert himself, by no means deficient in energy or even elegance. But we will venture to say, that the American poets are yet far distant from the time when they can venture, instead of painting the stronger emotions of the soul, to sport with its more delicate feelings. To make a trifle interesting, one of his countrymen would say, requires a levity of mind which shews a degenerate nation.
The reviewer goes on to say that if an American would follow Homer in painting "the great scenes of Nature, and the effects of the strongest passions of the human soul" "his works too might become the delight of the world; but till they shake off the trammels of Europe in poetry as well as European government, they will not rise above mediocrity." The last remark, on shaking off the trammels of Europe, may, judging from its tone, have had its source in political liberalism rather than in any deep concern for literature; but it is just what many American critics were saying, and continued to say for generations.
A writer in the Monthly Review or Literary Journal evidently irritated by some of the patriotic claims in Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, says:
It is but a very few years since the Americans set up for themselves as an independent people, and these children of yesterday, with the usual presumption of youth, affect to consider themselves as the most enlightened race existing; and hold the contemporary descendants of their ancestors very cheap!
As to the articles of genius and learning, the Americans do not require our antiquity before they produce a 'Shakespeare or a Milton'; they had not to undergo the progressive drudgery of emerging from barbarism, for they carried over with them all the knowledge of the age which produced these poets, and have enjoyed regu
LXXVIII: 377, 459 (1788).
lar importations from thence down to the present day. Rural scenery is favourable to poetic inspiration; so that amid the wild novelty which the Americans have for near two centuries enjoyed 'should this reproach be still true' some other cause must be assigned, for the Muses not having accompanied British freedom, when they crossed the Atlantic.
Five years later the same journal,' in an unusually gushing review of Mrs. Morton's Ouabi, adopts a different tone:
Since the Muses have often been represented as loving the haunts and shades of liberty,-instead of receiving this Bostonian production with any degree of surprise, we might rather be induced to wonder at not having seen more specimens of trans-atlantic poetry: but whatever may be thought as to the influence of freedom on poetic genius, we must regard the cultivation of this species of elegant composition in the United American States, as an undoubted proof of their advancing in refinement and literary taste. Viewing the poem before us in this light, it has afforded us double pleasure. While we bestow our commendation on Philenia, we would congratulate America on having become the seat of the Muses. If we may judge from the production before us, poetry has made no inconsiderable progress on the western shores; and of which [sic] we have given several instances in some late volumes of our Review.
After objecting to a few imperfect rhymes the reviewer says:
We are not ignorant that Pope and Prior have many such rhimes: -but no precedent can be allowed to justify the Muses in any deviation from the rules of accuracy and elegance. We wish our fair authoress to consider this observation, and to present to the poets of America an example in every respect worthy of imitation.
In the preface to its reviews of American books in the appendix for 17898 the Anti-Jacobin Review laments that America does not do more in literature, saying: "To what general or particular cause or causes we are to ascribe their differing, in this respect, so essentially from the people from whom it is to their honour that they are descended, we are not now called on to enquire." It expresses the hope that, since all animosities are buried, the citizens of the new na
Mo. Rev. Enlgd., XII: 72 (Sept., 1793).
• III: 578.