Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

528

TRAVELLERS AND GEOGRAPHERS.

tendent there, and WINGROVE COOKE, Special Correspondent of the Times; and Japan by LAURENCE OLIPHANT, Secretary to Lord Elgin. The Rev. JOSIAS PORTER, now a Professor of Biblical Criticism in Belfast, is author of Five Years in Damascus, and Murray's Hand-book for Palestine and Syria. Captain SHERARD OSBORNE, author of Stray Leaves from an Arctic Journal, has since written A Cruise in Japanese Waters.

Arctic travel and discovery, during this period of English literature, are represented by many eminent names, among which those of Dr. RAE, Sir ROBERT M'CLURE, discoverer of the North-West. Passage, and Sir LEOPOLD M‘CLINTOCK, commander of the Fox, are prominent. Sir FRANOIS HEAD (born 1793), før some time Governor of Upper Canada, wrote a popular work upon the Pampas and the Andes (1826); and a Yorkshire Squire, CHARLES WATERTON (born 1782), has depicted his wonderful adventures and toils in Wanderings in South America, the North-West of the United States, and the Antilles.

Murray's Hand-books, some of which have been already named, form in them. selves a most valuable geographical library. They are not the work of mere compilers, but, in nearly every case, of men who can describe clearly and grace. fully what they have seen and heard in the land of wbich they write.

[blocks in formation]

UPON the opposite shores of the Atlantic a branch of our literature is flourishing in green and vigorous youth. We subjoin a brief view of American writers and their works, following the plan which has been adapted in the foregoing chapter.

POETS.

WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, who divides the crown of American pæetry with Longfellow, was born in 1794, at Cummington in Massachusetts. At first a lawyer, he afterwards devoted hiniself to journalism. His poem called Thanatopsis (a view of death) is full of Wordsworth's clear and pensive beauty of expression. The AgesLines to a Waterfowl-Green River— The Yellow Violet --and The Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood, are among his

finest poems.

[ocr errors]

LYDIA HUNTLY SIGOURNEY, born in 1791, at Norwich in Connecticut, is the Mrs. Hemans of American poetry. As. Miss : Huntly she appeared before the public in 1815. later she married a merchant of Hartford. The delicate pathos (18)

34

Four years

[graphic]

530

AMERICAN LITERATUFE.

of The Dying Infant, The Emigrant Mother, and To-morrow, is worthy of all praise. Pocahontas is her most elaborate poem. Mrs. Sigourney died in 1865.

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, born in 1807, at Portland in Maine, has been since 1835 Professor of Modern Languages and Belles-Lettres in Harvard College, Cambridge. He first appeared as a poet in 1840, when he published Voices of the Night. The study of European literature, especially that of Germany, has had a powerful influence upon his mind. Tennyson is the English writer whom he most resembles. His chief works, verse and prose, are as follows:

VERSE.

VERSE-Conto
Dante translated.
New England Tragedies.

Voices of the Night.
Poems on Slavery.
The Spanish Student, a play.
The Belfry of Bruges.
Evangeline (in English hexameters).
The Sea-side and the Fire-side.
The Golden Legend (mediæval).
Hiawatha, an Indian tale.
The Courtship of Miles Standish.

Outre-Mer, or Sketches from Beyond

Sea.
Hyperion, a Romance.
Poets and Poetry of Europe.
Kavanagh, a Tale.

Many translations, from Spanish, German, Swedish, Danish, and Anglo-Saxon, attest the linguistic power and poetic skill of this favourite author. On this side of the Atlantic Longfellow and Washington Irving are as well known as Tennyson and Goldsmith.

NATHANIEL PARKER WILLIS, born in 1817 at Portland, has written poetry and prose with grace and lightness. There is something of Leigh Hunt about his pen. He was the editor of the New York Mirror. Some of his Scriptural picces, such as The Leper, The Daughter of Jairus, and The Shunamite Mother, are very beautiful. Melanie and Lord Ivon and his Daughter afford good specimens of his romantic style. But such sweet, natural lyrics as Better Moments, and Lines to a City Pigeon, surpass his more laboured works. In prose he produoed various clever, readable, gossipy books,-Pencillings by the Way-Inklings of Adventure-Loiterings of Travel, &c. Willis died in 1867.

AMERICAN LITERATURE.

531

EDGAR ALLAN POE, author of that exquisite piece of mystery and music, The Raven, was born in 1811 at Baltimore. Annabel Lee, a tender lament for his dead wife, is one of the sweetest lyrics in the language. His prose tales are full of wild and absorbing interest. Reckless intemperance brought his short life to a close in 1849.

Supplementary List. John PIERPONT.-(1785)—Litchfield, Connecticut-Airs of Palestine; Lyrics. RICHARD DANA.-(1787)—Cambridge, Massachusetts—The Buccaneer; Thoughis

on the Soul ; also noted as an Essayist. CHARLES SPRAGUE.-(1791)—Boston-a bank cashier-Curiosity; The Brothers ;

The Family Meeting. JAMES GATES PERCIVAL.-(1785)—Kensington, Connecticut - Lyric Poems. FITZ-GREENE HALLECK. — (1795) – Guilford, Connecticut - Fanny; Alnwick

Castle; Marco Bozzaris. JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.-(1819)—Boston-author of many serious poems

(Rhæcus, Prometheus, &c.), but better known for the Papers of Hosca

Biglow, abounding in Yankee fun and shrewd sarcasm. Southey gave great praise to Zophiel, or the Bride of Seven, by Maria BROOKS. CHARLES HOFFMAN, author of The Vigil of Faith; and John GREENLEAF WEITTIER, à Quaker poet, may be added to this list.

[ocr errors]

HISTORIANS.

WILLIAM HICKLING PRESCOTT, born in 1796, at Salem in Massachusetts, is the chief of American historians. An accident at college—the throwing of a crust—deprived him almost wholly of one eye. Thus situated, he began a career of literary toil which resulted in the production of four great historical works,—The Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, The Conquest of Mexico, The Conquest of Peru, and The History of Philip II.,—all of which have been remarkably successful. The sight of his single eye failing, he was for several years unable to read. He died of a paralytic stroke in 1859.

GEORGE BANCROFT, born in 1800, at Worcester in Massachusetts, is the author of the principal existing History of the United States. He was for three years (1846-49), Minister for the States at the British Court.

[graphic]

532

AMERICAN LITERATURE.

GEORGE TICKNOR, born in 1791 at Boston, preceded the poet Longfellow in the chair of Modern Literature at Harvard. A llistory of Spanish Literature from his pen ranks, for learning, sound criticism, and literary merit, with the very highest works of its class.

JOHN LOTIIROP MOTLEY has won a high place among historians by his Dutch Republic and United Netherlands, on the latter of which he is at present engaged. He excels in vivid and pictorial description.

Supplementary List.

JOHN WINTHROP.-(1587-1649)--one of the Pilgrim Fathers—Governor of Mas

sachusetts-Diary of Events in that colony down to 1644. COTTON MATHER. — (1663–1728) - a Puritan minister at Boston - Magnalia

Christi Americana, an Ecclesiastical History of New England. JARED SPARKS.-(1794)-editor of the Library of American Biography,

author of a Life of Washington, and an edition of Franklin's Works. RICHARD HILDRETI.-(1807)—Deerfield, Massachusetts History of the United

States; Japan as it was and Is. Among various local histories, containing much valuable materiai, we may name Maine, by WILLIAMSON; Virginia, by CAMPBELL ; Georgia, by STEVENS ; Kentucky, by MANN BUTLER; and the Indian Tribes, by M‘KENNEY and HALL.

WRITERS OF FICTION.

WASHINGTON IRVING, born in 1783 at New York, was the scion of an old Orkney family. His father was a merchant. The literary career of this Goldsmith of the States began in 1807, the year after his admission to the bar, by contributions to Salmagundi, a humorous serial of short life. Then came that queer, delightful burlesque of old Dutch and Swedish colonist life, called The History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker. The management of a branch of Irving Brothers, in Liverpool, being confided to him, lic crossed the Atlantic for the second time in 1815. But the house fa led, and the young merchant turned author by profession. It was up-hill work at first; but Scott having pronounced a most favourable opinion upon The Sketch-book, which was sub

« PreviousContinue »