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CENTURY, 1850-1880





The thirty years from 1850 to 1880 were marked by great movements in national life and thought. We are too near this period to be able to judge it perfectly, but we can trace some of the leading lines of thought and action which are reflected in the Literature. A notable characteristic of the time is the accel- Rapid

Growth of erated rate at which the population grew, and the

Population. waste places of the western territories were occupied. Two chief features of this movement were the enormous increase of immigration, especially from Ireland and Germany, and the rapid development of steam transportation. We shall detect the Irish and German elements in our Literature, and we shall notice the appearance of the railroad and the steamboat

Connected with the same process of development is the opening of the gold mines of California, and the silver mines of the Rocky Mountains, bringing with it a new phase of life and experience, sure to find expression in a living Literature. Perhaps more important than all these, in its effect

Diffusion of upon the literary life of our country, is the wide diffu- Intelligence.




sion of intelligence during this period. The common school system grew to its full development, and extended itself into all sections of the country; and we thus came to have the largest reading public that has ever been known in history.

With the extension of the public school, came the Sunday- wide growth of the Sunday-school. This has, prob

ably, never been recognized in such a work as this, as an influence having any special bearing upon Literature. But every Sunday-school was a society for arousing interest in the English Bible, the greatest monument of English Literature. Every Sundayschool, moreover, with few exceptions, maintained a circulating library. Doubtless the ideas of those who managed these little libraries were often crude. The "good little girl who never said I won't," and "the good little boy who died,” figured largely in the books they circulated. Yet these libraries tended strongly to foster a taste for reading; and they were largely influential in leading to the development of juvenile Literature, which in some instances has reached a high point of artistic excellence.

A very important outgrowth of the Sunday-school movement, in this respect, is the increase of summer gatherings for study and lectures, and the formation,

all over the country, of circles for reading and study, Chautauqua.

the movement which the name “Chautauqua” suggests to every intelligent American.

Another sign of the same general diffusion of intelJournalism. ligence is the rapid growth of journalism. We have

already noted the establishment of the first newspaper,

in Boston, in 1690. In the period now under review,
every community of a thousand people must have
its newspaper or two; and the great metropolitan
journals publish the material of a large volume every
day. The honor of the first attempt to establish a
monthly magazine probably belongs to Philadelphia, First

Monthly where, in 1741, Franklin conducted from February to

Magazine, July “The General Magazine and Historical Chroni- 1741. cle for all the British Plantations in America," and John Webbe published three numbers of the “American Magazine; or a Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies." Thomas Paine conducted “The Pennsylvania Magazine; or American Monthly Museum ” at Philadelphia for about a year, 1775-1776; and issued the “Crisis” at irregular intervals from 1776 to 1783. The “Portfolio was The “Portestablished in Philadelphia, 1801, by Joseph Dennie (“Oliver Oldschool”). At first a weekly publication, it afterwards became a monthly, and as such lasted till 1827. Charles Brockden Brown and John Quincy Adams were among its contributors. This probably deserves the honorable place of the first monthly magazine to reach a really vigorous life in America. The year 1815 saw the establishment of the “North American Review,” which had the honor of first presenting Bryant's “Thanatopsis" to the public; which for many years was a dignified literary and philosophical quarterly; and which now is published in New York as a political monthly. “The Knickerbocker; or New York Monthly Magazine” was founded in 1833, and lived till 1858. In the follow


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