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Outlines of English and American Literature
New England and the West
by Long, William J.


In New England was still another group, who fortunately avoided the name of any school. Sparks, Prescott, Ticknor, Story, Dana,--the very names indicate how true was Boston to her old scholarly traditions. Meanwhile Connecticut had its popular poet in James Gates Percival; Maine had its versatile John Neal; and all the northern states were reading the "goody goody" books of Peter Parley (Samuel Goodrich), the somewhat Byronic Zophiel and other emotional poems of Maria Gowen Brooks (whom Southey called "Maria del Occidente"), and the historical romances of Catherine Sedgwick and Sarah Morton.

The West also (everything beyond the Alleghenies was then the West) made its voice heard in the new literature. Timothy Flint wrote a very interesting Journal from his missionary experiences, and a highly colored romance from his expansive imagination; and James Hall drew some vigorous and sympathetic pictures of frontier life in Letters from the West, Tales of the Border and Wilderness and Warpath.

There are many other writers who won recognition before 1840, but those we have named are more than enough; for each name is an invitation, and invitations when numerous are simply bothersome. For example, the name of Catherine Sedgwick invites us to read Hope Leslie and The Linwoods, both excellent in their day, and still interesting as examples of the novels that won fame less than a century ago; or the name of Kennedy leads us to Swallow Barn (alluring title!) with its bright pictures of Virginia life, and to Horseshoe Robinson, a crude but stirring tale of Revolutionary heroism. The point in naming these minor writers, once as popular as any present-day favorite, is simply this: that the major authors, whom we ordinarily study as typical of the age, were not isolated figures but part of a great romantic movement in literature; that they were influenced on the one hand by European letters, and on the other by a host of native writers who were all intent on reflecting the expanding life of America in the early part of the nineteenth century.

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