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to have been developing into an independent nationality as conservative of its traditions as England was of hers, but less obviously so because American traditions were far less threatened. The geographical isolation of America combined with the absorptive power of our native race to preserve the general type of character which America had displayed from its settlement. In the history of native Americans, the seventeenth century has already defined itself as a period of untrammelled inexperience. The fact that American conditions changed so little until the Revolution implies that this national inexperience persisted. Inexperience leaves character far less altered than can be the case when experience accumulates. In many superficial aspects, no doubt, particularly if of the prosperous class, the native Americans of 1776 appeared to be men of the eighteenth century. In personal temper, however, Thomas Hutchinson and Samuel Adams were far more like John Winthrop and Roger Williams than Chatham and Burke were like Bacon and Burleigh. One inference seems clear: the Americans of the revolutionary period retained to an incalculable degree qualities which had faded from ancestral England with the days of Queen Elizabeth.
LITERATURE IN AMERICA FROM 1700 to 1776
Until 1728, when Cotton Mather died, the general state of literature in America remained unaltered. Between 1729 and 1776, the titles recorded by Whitcomb indicate decided change both in the character of the publications and in their distribution. Out of some two hundred and thirty of these titles, only thirty-seven are precisely religious ; thirty-eight are historical; forty-seven are political ; forty-eight — though none have survived in literature are at least as literary as the verses of Wigglesworth or of Mrs. Bradstreet; and the rest including scientific works, almanacs, periodicals, and the like - can be classed only as miscellaneous. In religious writing, New England remained more prolific than the rest of the country ; but the most memorable religious work of this period, that of Jonathan Edwards, was produced not in eastern Massachusetts, but in the Connecticut valley, - in other words, under the influence not of Harvard College but of Yale. Each of the other classes of publication - historical, political, literary, and miscellaneous — appeared in slightly greater numbers elsewhere than in New England. These rough memoranda indicate two significant facts. As the material prosperity of America increased, it tended to develop the middle colonies; during the greater part of the eighteenth century the most important town in America was not Boston, but Philadelphia. And though in purely religious writing New England kept the lead, the centre of its religious thought had shifted from the shore of Massachusetts Bay to that of Long Island Sound.
Some familiar dates in the history of American education emphasise these facts. Yale College, founded in 1700, began its career under King William III., until whose reign the only established school of higher learning in America had been Harvard College, founded under Charles I. The avowed purpose of the founding of Yale was to maintain the orthodox traditions threatened by the constantly growing liberalism of Harvard. Under George II., three considerable colleges were founded in the middle colonies. In 1746, Princeton College was established to maintain an orthodoxy as stout as that of Yale. In 1749, partly under the auspices of the American Philosophic Society which had lately been founded by Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania began an academic history which more than any other in America has kept free from entanglement with dogma. In 1754, King's College was founded at New York, where, under the name of Columbia, it still maintains admirable traditions of learning in friendly relation with the ancestral Church of England. Meanwhile Harvard College had done little more than preserve its own prudently liberal traditions, with no marked alteration in either character or size. The higher intellectual activity of America was clearly tending for a while to centralise itself elsewhere than in those New England regions where the American intellect had first been active.
During the first half of the eighteenth century, too, there had rapidly grown up in America a profusion of periodical publications. We had no" Tatler,” to be sure, or “Spectator ; but from 1704, when the “ Boston News Letter ” was established, we had a constantly increasing number of newspapers. A dozen years before the Revolution these had everywhere become as familiar and as popular, in a country where technical illiteracy was rare, as were those annual almanacs which had already sprung up in the seventeenth century, and of which the most highly developed example was the “ Poor Richard's Almanac,” begun by Franklin in 1733. Pretty clearly, this eighteenth century was a period of growing intellectual activity and curiosity among the whole people of America ; and these same people were showing disposition to concern themselves rather with the affairs of this world than with those of the next.
In the Middle Colonies there was meanwhile developing an aspect of religion very different from that which commended itself to the orthodox Calvinism of New England. Undoubtedly the most important religious writing in America at the period with which we are now concerned was that of Jonathan Edwards. But the memory of another American, of widely different temper, has tended, during a century and more, to strengthen in the estimation of those who love comfortable spiritual thought expressed with fervid simplicity. John Woolman was a Quaker farmer of New Jersey, born in 1720, who became in 1746 an itinerant preacher, who began to testify vigorously against slavery as early as 1753, and who died during a visit to England in 1772. His record of a vision will show at once why he held himself bound to oppose slavery, and how the eternities presented themselves to American Quakers of the eighteenth century :
“In a time of sickness with the pleurisy, . I was brought so near the gates of death that I forgot my name. Being then desirous to know who I was, I saw a mass of matter of a dull, gloomy colour, between the south and the east; and was informed that this mass was human beings in as great misery as they could be and live; and that I was mixed in with them, and that henceforth I might not consider myself as a distinct or separate being. In this state I remained several hours. I then heard a soft, melodious voice, more pure and harmonious than any I had heard with my ears before; I believed it was the voice of an angel, who spake to the other angels. The words were ;
John Woolman is dead.' I soon remembered that I once was John Woolman, and being assured that I was alive in the body, I greatly wondered what that heavenly voice could mean. ...
" I was then carried in spirit to the mines, where poor, oppressed people were digging rich treasures for those called Christians, and heard them blaspheme the name of Christ, at which I grieved, for his name to me was precious.
“Then I was informed that these heathen were told that those who oppressed them were the followers of Christ ; and they said amongst themselves, if Christ directed them to use us in this sort, then Christ is a cruel tyrant.
“ All this time the song of the angel remained a mystery; and in the morning my dear wife and some others coming to my bedside, I asked them if they knew who I was; and they telling me I was John Woolman, thought I was light-headed, for I told them not what the angel said, nor was I disposed to talk much to any one, but was very desirous to get so deep that I might understand this mystery.
“My tongue was often so dry that I could not speak till I had moved it about and gathered some moisture, and as I lay still for a time, at length I felt divine power prepare my mouth that I could speak, and then I said: 'I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ that liveth in me; and the life I now live in the flesh is by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, himself for me.'
“ Then the mystery was opened, and I perceived there was joy in heaven over a sinner who had repented, and that the language John Woolman is dead'. meant no more than the death of my own will.”
According to the Quaker faith, in brief, man was not essentially lost, nor was God the grimly just autocrat of Calvinism. The Quakers, to quote one of themselves, “ drank in the truth of the universal love of God to all men in Christian, Jewish, or Pagan lands, that God so loved the world that He sent His Son, that Christ died for all men, and that His atonement availed for all who in every land accepted the light with which He enlightened their minds and consciences, and who listening to His still small voice in the soul turned in any true sense toward God, away from evil and to the right and loving.” If we choose, these Quakers held, we may save ourselves by voluntarily accepting Christ — by willing attention to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
Though words like Woolman's throw light on a growing phase of American sentiment, however, they are not precisely literature. Neither was such political writing as we shall consider more particularly when we come to the Revolution ; nor yet was the more scholarly historical writing of which the prin