A Manual of American Literature

Cover of book A Manual of American Literature
Categories: Nonfiction

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RARY FORCES IN THE COLONIAL TIME Colonial Isolation.?The study of American literature in the colonial time is the study of a literature produced, in isolated portions, at the several local seats of English civilisation in America. Before the year 1765, we find in this country, not one American people, but many American peoples. At the various centres of our colonial life?Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts ?there were, indeed, populations of the same English stock; but these populations differed widely in personal and social peculiarities?in spirit, in opinion, in custom. The germs of a future nation were here, only they were far apart, unsympathetic, at times even unfriendly. No cohesive principle prevailed, no centralising life; each little nation was working out its own destiny in its own fashion. In general, the characteristic note of American literature in the colonial time is, for New England, scholarly, logical, speculative, unworldly, rugged, sombre; and as one passes southward along the coast, across other spiritual zones, this literary note changes rapidly toward lightness and brightness, until it reaches the sensuous mirth, the satire, the persiflage, the gentlemanly grace, the amenity, the jocular coarseness, of literature in Maryland, Virginia, and the farther South. Colonial Fellowship.?On the other hand, the fact must not be overlooked that, while the tendency toward colonial isolation had its way, throughout the entire colonial age, there was also an opposite tendency?a tendency toward colonial fellowship?that asserted itself even from the first, and yet at the first faintly, but afterward with steadily increasing power as time went on; until at last, in 1765, aided by a...

A Manual of American Literature
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