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regret to hear of the corruptions and barbarous innovations which are hourly obtaining in the speech of our trans-atlantic colonies [sic]. In their literature they are lamentably backward, especially in that branch of it called dramatic. . . and we are the less surprised at this when we are told that "the language of their conversation is becoming incorrect."-"In America," says the writer" "authors are to be found, who make use of new or obsolete words, which no good writer in this country would employ; and were it not for my destitution of leisure, which obliges me to hasten the occlusion of these pages, as I progress I should bottom my assertion on instances from authors of the first grade; but were I to render my sketch lengthy, I should illy answer the purpose, which I have in view." p. 82.
We can subjoin, from our own experience, that Americans of a liberal education very commonly use the v for the w; and their delivery more resembles singing than speaking, and, if said to be either, it is the perfection of badness.
The few citations in the present chapter will give some idea of the way in which English and Scottish critics treated. America; and this will be made more evident by the comments on individual works, to be considered later. In general, it may be said that British utterances regarding the intellectual state of America show a strange combination of bewildered curiosity, ignorance of exact conditions, prejudice, and more or less condescending good will. Only a few extreme conservatives had any real animosity toward struggling American men of letters, and most critics showed a tolerant interest in all trans-Atlantic attempts. It was inevitable, however, that there should be something a trifle patronizing in all this. The Englishman traditionally condescends a little, even toward French and German literature; and, at best, he looked on the efforts of the former colonists in something the way a prosperous author might look on the literary publications of an ambitious high school. Even his praise often seemed to imply that he was applying less rigid standards than he would use in writing of his countrymen, and that when he said a book was good he of course meant that it was good for the work of an American. He felt it his duty, also,
The writer of a pro-Federalist pamphlet under review, evidently an Englishman.
to bestow advice in a paternal fashion, and to protest against the extravagance and exuberance of patriotic claims. All this was perfectly natural. It could hardly have been otherwise. But conditions equally natural made Americans keenly sensitive; and the situation was one that would inevitably lead to unfortunate international misunderstanding.
NOTICES OF NON-LITERARY WRITINGS
A great part of the criticism in English periodicals at the close of the eighteenth century was non-literary-that is, it dealt with books that were not, in the phrase of the time, belles-lettres, and it discussed content with little or no attention to form. Even to-day, much of the space in critical journals is often given to works that are not in the strictest sense literary"; and in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, before specialization was carried far, every general reader was supposed to be interested in the literature of the pure and the applied sciences and the professions. A magazine like the Gentleman's, for example, informed its readers concerning legal and medical treatises, and gave abstracts of scientific articles and the proceedings of learned societies. Theological and religious works, still far more conspicuous in English than in American publishers' lists, received much attention. State papers and political pamphlets and orations were also, in an age when the newspaper was less highly developed than at present, the subject of frequent comment in the magazines. The interest in America centered largely around political matters, and the American publications that received most frequent mention were those of a political nature. Histories of the new world and accounts of explorations and travel were interesting both because of the light they shed on political and economic questions, and because of the new and curious facts that they revealed; and they, too, were eagerly discussed. Such scientific publications as America produced also received at least due attention, and religious treatises were frequently mentioned. Though the reviews of this great mass of material are not literary criticism, they still have value for the student of Anglo-American
literary relations. They reveal the general attitude of the review or the reviewer toward the new nation, and they often contain remarks that have a distinct literary bearing.
As has been said, the largest group of non-literary writings was the political. American state papers, such as presidents' messages and reports of important congressional committees, were sent to England, and many of them were reprinted there. So were speeches in congress, occasional orations dealing with political matters, and controversial pamphlets. The briefer of these were often published in full under the head of "Foreign Intelligence," sometimes of "American Intelligence." The longer ones might receive editorial comment, or be noticed with other publications. Rarely, of course, did the reviewer devote more than a few words to literary form, yet this consideration was not ignored. For example, in discussing Address and Recommendations to the States, by Congress, the European Magazine and London Review says:1
Both this address of Congress, and the subjoined papers, which authenticate the facts, and illustrate the reasoning which the Address contains, are written in a strain of uncommon eloquence and vigour.
Of the same work the Monthly Review or Literary Journal remarks:2
Should we, now, think ourselves little interested in the subjects of these American state-papers, we may, however, be much gratified in perusing them, as pieces of fine, energetic writing, and masterly eloquence. It would be a curious speculation for the philosophical inquirer, to account for the perfection to which the English language has been carried in our late colonies, amidst the distresses, the clamours, and horrors of war.
The true explanation of the pleasure which the Monthly Review enjoyed in the literary style of American state papers
1IV: 277 (Oct., 1783).
2LXIX: 433 (Nov., 1783).
may probably be found in the intense whiggism of that journal, which rarely, even before peace was formally concluded, spoke of an American state paper or political pamphlet without praise. Thus, as early as February, 1783, it says of The Constitutions of the Several Independent States, etc.:3
This interesting publication (of the authenticity of which there can be no doubt), contains, take it altogether, a greater portion of unsophisticated wisdom and good sense, than is, perhaps, to be met with in any other legislative code that was ever framed.
In general, however, the comments on purely political writings are valuable to the student of literature only as they show the attitude of periodicals and groups of men toward the United States, and toward its individual founders. Washington was, almost from the first, spoken of with respect, and often with admiration. Only occasionally did some irascible and implacable Tory insist that he should be considered as a "traitor." Most comments on his Farewell Address, and most notices at the time of his death were flattering. The Anti-Jacobin Review was almost alone in repeating at this time the old slanders on Washington's private character.* Hamilton, also, though his writings were not frequently noticed, was regarded favorably. Jefferson, on the other hand, was generally condemned for his pro-French leanings, and sometimes for his infidelity. Regarding the writings of John Adams there were different opinions, some of them no doubt colored by impressions of the author as a diplomat. The Monthly Review departed from its usual attitude of friendliness toward all things American in a severely unfavorable though dignified review of Vol. I of Adams's Defense of the Constitutions." The objections raised in this article are rather to the literary form than to the political philosophy, the reviewer complaining of "an ostentatious display of extensive reading," and of "somewhat of an embarrassed af
'See Anti-Jacobin Rev., VI: 530 et seq and 558 et seq. (Appendix, May-Sept. 1800).
LXXVI: 394 (May, 1797): For reviews of Vols. II and III respectively in the Mo. Rev. see LXXVIII: 285 (April, 1788) and LXXIX: 289 (Oct., 1788).