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and during much of the time after the close of the Revolution he was in that country and in France. Still, the important part of his public career began with his emigration to Pennsylvania, and until his religious liberalism gave offense he was honored by America as one of the greatest of patriots. Justly or not, European critics considered his political philosophy and in a lesser degree even his manner of argument as representatively American.
Paine was not only a controversial writer, but the cause of controversy in others. His name sprinkles the pages of the magazines, sometimes attached to extracts from his writings, or in reviews of his larger works, fully as often in criticisms of his theories and attacks on his personality. The judgments that were passed upon his writings were affected largely by the political leanings of each individual journal, though after the publication of the Age of Reason some critics distinguished sharply between his political and his religious views.
The so-called "Letters" which Paine was in the habit of addressing to public men were often summarized and commented upon. Of these, one which has a slight literary interest is that to the Abbé Reynal. This was praised by the Monthly Review, which said that "The Author's remarks on the progress of civilization, and on national prejudice, discover enlarged views, and a liberal spirit;" and it was treated without hostility, if without marked favor, by the Gentleman's Magazine.o
Paine was the kind of agitator who is likely to be extravagantly worshipped by his admirers, and ignored so far as possible by those who disapprove his views. This is probably the reason why so large a proportion of the available extended notices of the Rights of Man are favorable. Those who condemned the book preferred to treat it as unworthy of notice. The Literary Magazine and British Review10 is highly commendatory, saying:
The strong and masterly reasoning of the author of Common
LXIII: 324 (April, 1783).
LIII: 49 (Jan., 1783).
10 VI: 302, 377 (1791); review of second part, VIII; 211 (1792).
Sense, opposed to the flimsy declamation of Mr. Burke, may be compared to the breaking of a fly upon the wheel.
We shall not hesitate to declare our opinion, that in future ages, however party or prejudice may now prevail, the name of Paine will stand as high in the political, as Bacon does in the philosophical world.
The Monthly Review11 approves the author's general conclusions, but disapproves his manner, saying of Part I:
Without admiring Mr. Paine's pamphlet, however, we are very ready to admit, that it contains many plain truths, often expressed in forcible, though seldom in accurate, language....
In the argumentative part, Mr. Paine's chief merit is that of placing "common sense" in a strong and striking light.
When he attempts to reason scientifically.....he reasons very superficially.
The reviewer of Part II12 is also, on the whole, strongly favorable, but is more critical of Paine's unfortunate manner. He speaks of "this most immethodical pamphlet," and continues, "We can compare it to nothing but political tabletalk." He ridicules Paine's self-satisfied way of speaking of himself, and says:
We every where trace the same features and the same characteristic manners; the same strong, but hard and coarse lineaments; the same bold and daring front; the same awkward and desultory gait; the same whimsical and burlesque attitudes....
The construction is still very harsh, rude, and inelegant; and many of the words and phrases are such as have not been used by anybody before, and such as we would not advise any body to use again.
A short review of Part I of the Rights of Man in the Gentlemen's Magazine 13 is strongly unfavorable, though not objectionably severe. The second part is dismissed in a very brief
Mo. Rev. Enlgd., V: 81 (May, 1791); this article is reprinted in the Scot's Mag., LIII: 228, 282.
12 Ibid., VII: 317 (March, 1792); reprinted in Scot's Mag. LIV, 121. 13 LXI: 737 (Aug., 1791).
Ibid., LXII: 550 (June, 1792).
The Age of Reason called forth few serious reviews, considering the great hostility that it aroused. It may be that its natural enemies were too horrified to write much, and only those who were inclined to favor the author's political views were calm enough to bestow blame in readable form. Thus, the Monthly Review15 condemns Part I, though not violently, and says it will indirectly help the cause of Christianity. Part II was too much, however, for even this journal. In discussing this the reviewer says he must find in himself "patience and self-possession,"
because such confidence, dogmatism, and indecent levity" as Mr. Paine not infrequently displays are irritating at all times, and hardly to be tolerated on a subject so highly interesting and important as that which he professes to discuss . . . In this second part, Mr. P. seems to consider all believers in revelation as a herd of fools; and himself as a clear-sighted individual capable at one glance of detecting all the cheats and fallacies, by which men through a succession of ages have been deluded and led astray.
As might be expected, the Anti-Jacobin Review was greatly incensed at the Age of Reason. In the section "The Reviewers Reviewed''18 it attacks tolerant and even half-tolerant criticisms in other journals, and characterizes the work itself as a "malignant and blasphemous pamphlet."
The Universal Magazine contains many favorable references to Paine between 1807 and 1811. A large number of these are due to one contributor, Clio Rickman, who was a professed admirer of the author of the Rights of Man, and who sent in for publication extracts from Paine's writings, reviews, and an elegy of his own composition.19
Though the references to Paine are so numerous, they seem after all to have no great significance for the student of literary relations. This is due in part to the fact, already noted, that the more important journals did not print reviews of some of the works that they might be expected to dis
15 Mo. Rev. Enlgd., XIV: 393 (Aug., 1794).
19 Ibid., XIX: 157 (Feb., 1796).
17 See what he says of Mary Magdalen, p. 74, [Reviewer's note]. 18 III: 338 (July, 1799).
See Universal Mag. n. s. VII: 324 (April, 1807); IX: 501 (June, 1808); X: 34 (July, 1808); X: 489 (Dec., 1808); XII: 137 (Aug., 1809); XIII: 481 (June, 1810); XIII: 367 (May, 1910); XVI: 15 (July, 1811).
cuss, and that the reasons for their omission must be matters of conjecture. Moreover, Paine's manner in religious and political controversy as well as his radical ideas was so calculated to irritate his opponents that calm criticism was hardly to be expected. Again, Paine could not in fairness be treated as a representative of America. His adopted country might be blamed for admiring him, and possibly for corrupting his ideas, but, in view of his maturity when he emigrated, she could hardly be held responsible for his literary style.
Taken as a group, the criticisms of Franklin and Paine go to show that Great Britain was ready enough to give attention to any new ideas or striking personalities that America might have to offer; and that while the feeling might be general that Americans were naturally odd, uncouth, and unpolished in expression, there was little disposition to slight their utterances on that account, and no serious inclination to disparage such literary merit as they really possessed. Discussions of both men considered in the present chapter were colored, in some cases highly colored, by political prejudices; but in view of the important part both had so recently played in the loss of the colonies it is surprising that this coloring was not even more marked.
CRITICISM OF BELLES-LETTRES
The division of American writings into literary and nonliterary is one which cannot be made with definiteness, and though convenient may even be misleading. Many of the non-literary works already discussed-the political and some of the religious writings were partisan; so, inevitably, if unintentionally, were the historical works produced immediately after the war. It was natural that in judging these writings, or any of the writings of such prominent controversialists as Franklin and Paine, an English critic should be swayed by his political and religious sympathies.
It might be said that in the criticism of pure literature no such bias could find a legitimate, or even a natural place; and this would be true if the writings were, in themselves, free from taint of controversy, or the effects of controversy. This was, however, not the case. Before and during the war the troubles with the mother country occupied so largely the minds of all Americans that those who wrote were forced to concern themselves with political affairs. Young men like Freneau and Trumbull who had begun with imaginative verse or social and sentimental trifles found themselves writing political satire. After the war these same men continued, naturally enough, to imply, if not to express, the same hostile attitude toward England. As a slightly younger generation arose and began the self-conscious task of creating a national literature they, too, found it convenient to praise America by reviling her former enemy. "Perfidious Albion" seemed to be a necessary rhetorical contrast to "Glorious Columbia." There was little show of magnanimity in the way in which America took her victory. Perhaps no such feeling could