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not more than two feet square, and exclaims; — How can these things be? It is altogether impossible.' He has read the Arabian Nights' Entertainment, and he hears this wonderful account of America; he believes the one as much as the other. ...

“It is not so in America. The lowest tradesman there is not without some degree of general knowledge. They turn their heads to everything; their situation obliges them to do so. A farmer there cannot run to an artist upon every trifling occasion. He must make and mend and contrive for himself. This I observed in my travels through that country. In many towns and in every city they have public libraries. Not a tradesman but will find time to read. He acquires knowledge imperceptibly. He is amused with voyages and travels and becomes acquainted with the geography, customs, and commerce of other countries. He reads political disquisitions and learns the great outlines of his rights as a man and as a citizen. He dips a little into philosophy, and knows that the apparent motion of the sun is occasioned by the real motion of the earth. In a word, he is sure that, notwithstanding the determination of the king, lords, and commons to the contrary, two and two can never make five.

“Such are the people of England, and such the people of America."

It is worth while to compare with this sketch of Hopkinson's a passage concerning Americans written a little later by a Frenchman, named Creveceur, who resided near New York from 1754 to 1780:

“ What then is the American, this new man? He is either a European or a descendant of a European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater.

“ Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry which began long since in the East; they will finish the great circle. The Americans were once scattered all over Europe ; here they are incor. porated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared, and which hereafter will become distinct by the power of the different climates they inhabit. The American is a new man, who

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acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence, penury, and useless labour, he has passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence. — This is an American.”

The contrast between these two passages is sharp. Hopkinson's American is, after all, a human being; Crèvecæur's American is no more human than some ideal savage of Voltaire; and yet, in Crèvecæur's time and since, it has been the fashion to suppose that the French understand us better than our true brothers, the English.

For this there is a certain ground. Englishmen are not accessible to general ideas; and they are not explosive. The French are both; and so, like the subjects of Queen Elizabeth, are the native Americans. Since 1775, then, America has often seemed more nearly at one with France than with England. Suggestive evidence of a deeper truth may be found in the career of the national hero whom the French cherish in common with ourselves, - Lafayette. Stirred by enthusiasm for the rights of man, he offered his sword to those rebellious colonies whom he believed to be fighting for mere abstract principles; and he had warrant for his belief, in the glittering generalities of the Declaration of Independence. He saw our Revolution triumphant. He went back to France, and saw the Revolution there end in tragic failure. To the last he could never guess why the abstract principles which had worked so admirably in America would not work in France. The real truth he never perceived. Whatever reasons the revolutionary Americans gave for their conduct, their underlying impulse was one which they had inherited unchanged from their immigrant ancestors ; namely, that the rights for which men should die are not abstract but legal. The abstract phrases of the American Revolution, deeply as they have affected the surface of American thought, remain superficial. By 1775, however, the course of American history had made our conception of legal rights different from that of the English. We had developed local traditions of our own, which we believed as immemorial as ever were the local traditions of the mother country. The question of representation, for example, was not abstract; it was one of established constitutional practice; but when we came to discussing it, we did not understand each other's terms. Misunderstanding followed, a family quarrel, a civil war, and world disunion. Beneath this world disunion, all the while, is a deeper fact, binding America and England at last together at heart, — each really and truly believed itself to be asserting the rights which immemorial custom had sanctioned. Revolutionary France, on the other hand, tried to introduce into human history a system of abstract rights different from anything which ever Aourished under the sun. Naturally it came to grief. And Lafayette, who never even in his dreams suspected the force and vitality of that Common Law tradition which is instinctively cherished by every English-speaking race, never understood what either revolution really signified.

Slight, vague, and cursory as our consideration has been, we can now perhaps begin to see what the American Revolution means. By 1775, the national experience which had been accumulating in England from the days of Queen Elizabeth had brought the temper of the native English to a state very remote from what this native temper had been under the Tudor sovereigns. In that same year the lack of economic pressure to which we have given the name of national inexperience had kept the original American temper singularly unaltered. When at last, on the accession of George III., legal and constitutional questions were presented in the same terms to English-speaking temperaments on different sides of the Atlantic, these temperaments had been forced, by mere historic circumstance, so far apart that they honestly could not understand each other. Neither of them, then, would have been true to the deepest traditions of their common race, had anything less than the Revolution resulted.

VIII

LITERATURE IN AMERICA FROM 1776 to 1800

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The first six chapters of Mr. Henry Adams's “ History of the United States” admirably set forth the stagnation of mental life in America between the close of the Revolution and the beginning of the nineteenth century. For half a generation or our newly independent country was adrift; the true course of our national life was slow in declaring itself. Until the very end of the eighteenth century, then, we remained without trace of lasting literature. But just as in earlier periods there had been writing which a study like ours cannot quite neglect, so during the last quarter of this eighteenth century there was a good deal of publication at which we must glance.

One fact is instantly salient. No one who has written of our literary expression during the period in question has made much distinction between public men and those who for courtesy's sake may be styled pure men of letters. It is doubtful whether anything could much more have surprised Washington, or John Adams, or Jefferson, or Madison, or Hamilton, or the rest, than to find themselves discussed in the literary history of their country much as their eminent contemporary Dr. Johnson is discussed in the literary history of England. Without doubt, however, the father of our country, together with that eminent band of political obstetricians who cooperated at its birth, not only displayed practical skill, but also wrote memorably about the matters which engaged their attention. So, for want of any memorable literature during our early years of independence, our literary historians have

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been glad to treat our eider public men as men of letters too.

In this the historians have been right. During the last quarter of the eighteenth century our public men wrote in admirable style. They were earnestly thoughtful; they had strong common sense; they were far-sighted and temperate; and they expressed themselves with that dignified urbanity which in their time marked the English of educated people. In purely literary history, however, they can hardly be regarded as much more important than Blackstone is in the literary history of England.

This kind of American writing reached its acme in 1787 and 1788, when Hamilton, Madison, and John Jay supported the still unaccepted Constitution of the United States in a remarkable series of political essays, named the “Federalist.” As a series of formal essays, the “ Federalist " groups itself roughly with the “ Tatler,” the “Spectator,” and those numerous descendants of theirs which fill the literary records of eighteenth-century England. It differs, however, from all these, in both substance and purpose. The “Tatler,” the

Spectator,” and their successors dealt with superficial matters in a spirit of literary amenity : the “ Federalist” deals, in an argumentative spirit as earnest as that of any Puritan divine, with political principles paramount in our history; and it is so wisely thoughtful that one may almost declare it the permanent basis of sound thinking concerning American constitutional law. Like all the educated writing of the eighteenth century, too, it is phrased with a rhythmical balance and urbane polish which give it claim to literary distinction. After all, however, one can hardly feel it much more significant in a history of pure letters than are the opinions in which a little later Judge Marshall and Judge Story developed and expounded the constitutional law which the « Federalist” commented on. Its true character appears when we remember the most important thing published in England during the

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