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centuries were not sterile; rather indeed the amount of native American writing which each produced is surprising. What is more, the American writings of the eighteenth century differed from those of the seventeenth quite as distinctly as did the American history or the American character.

Of both centuries, meanwhile, two things are true : neither in itself presents much literary variety, and most of what was published in each has already been forgotten. Our task, then, is becoming plainer; it is to glance at the literary history of America during the seventeenth century and the eighteenth, and to study, with what detail proves possible, that literary history during the past hundred years.

From all this, too, an obvious method of proceeding begins to define itself. Taking each century in turn, we may conveniently begin by reminding ourselves briefly of what it contributed to the history and to the literature of England. With this in mind we may better understand a similar but more minute study of America during each of the three periods in question. When we come to the last and most important of these, the nineteenth century, we may find ourselves a little troubled by the fact that so much of it is almost contemporary with ourselves. Contemporary life is never quite ripe for history; facts cannot at once range themselves in true perspective ; and when these facts are living men and women, there is a touch of inhumanity in writing of them as if we had already had the misfortune to lose them. In these straits one decision seems unavoidable, so far as our study concerns individuals, we must confine it to those who are no longer living. Unhappily the list has so swollen that these should prove quite enough for our main purpose. For this, we should constantly remember, is chiefly to discern what, if anything, America has so far contributed to the literature of our ancestral English language.

BOOK I

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

BOOK I

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

I

ENGLISH HISTORY FROM 1600 To 1700

WHATEVER else people remember about seventeenth-century England, they will pretty surely know the names of the sovereigns who came to the throne. In 1600 the reign of Queen Elizabeth was drawing to its close. After her came the pragmatic Scotchman, James I. After him came Charles I., whose tragic fate has combined with the charm of his portraits to make him at least a pathetically romantic hero. Then came Cromwell, quite as sovereign in his fleeting Commonwealth as ever king was in monarchy. Then came Charles II., with all the license of the Restoration ; then James II., ousted in less than five years by the Glorious Revolution ; finally came the Dutch Prince of Orange with his English Queen, royal in England only by glorious revolutionary grace. Seven sovereigns in all we find, if we count William and Mary together; and of these only six were technically royal. Of the six royalties, four were Stuarts, who came in the middle of the list; and the Stuart dynasty was broken midway by the apparition of Cromwell, the one English sovereign not of royal blood and dignity. Literally, then, Cromwell may be termed the central figure of English history during the seventeenth century.

It is in the full literary spirit of that period to remark this fantastic fact as if it were significant, saying that just as Cromwell stands central in the list of those who during the seventeenth century of our Christian era were sovereign in Protestant England, so in the eyes of them who seek among these a fitting centre for their thoughts and meditations he proves central too. Love him or hate him, reverence or detest his memory, one fact you must grant: never before in English history had men seen dominant the type of which he is the great representative ; never since his time have they again seen that dominant type, now irrevocably vanished with the world which brought it forth, — the type of the dominant Puritan.

The Puritan character, of course, is too permanently English to be confined to any single period of English history. Throughout English records we may find it, first gathering the force which led to its momentary sovereignty, and later, even to our own time, affecting the whole course of English life and thought. In the seventeenth century, however, Puritanism for a while acquired the unique importance of national dominance, which it proved politically unable to maintain beyond the lifetime of its chief exponent. A religious system, one generally thinks it; and rightly, for it was profoundly actuated by conscious religious motives, and by passionate devotion to that system of Christian theology which is known by the name of Calvin. A political movement, too, it often seems; and rightly, for never in the course of English history have native Englishmen so striven to alter the form and the course of constitutional development. In such a study as ours it has both aspects; the dominance of Puritanism may best be thought of as the period when for a little while the moral and religious ideals which underlie our language were uppermost, when for once the actuating impulse of authority was rather that the v will of God should be done on earth than that any custom

however fortified and confirmed by the experience formulated in the Common Law - should for its own sake be maintained.

That the will of God should be done, on earth as it is in

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