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developed into the United States were finally established, and the English conquest of the middle colonies founded by the Dutch or the Swedes was virtually complete. In 1700 every one of the American colonies was loyally subject to the government of King William III. ; in 1800 there remained throughout them no vestige of British authority. In 1800, the last complete year of the presidency of John Adams, the United States were still an experiment in government of which the result remained in doubt; the year 1900 has found them, whatever else, a power which seems as established and as important as any in the world. Clearly these three centuries of American history are at least as distinct as three generations in any race.

Again, though the political crises which decided the distinct features of these centuries were far from coincident with the centuries themselves, the typical American character of the seventeenth century differed from that of the eighteenth, and that of the eighteenth from that of the nineteenth, as distinctly as the historical limits of these centuries differed one from the other. In the seventeenth century the typical American, a man of English-speaking race, seemed to himself an immigrant hardly at home in the remote regions where his exiled life was perforce to be passed. In the eighteenth century the typical American, still English at heart, was so far in descent from the immigration that almost unawares his personal ties with the mother country had been broken. By tradition, perhaps, he knew from what part of the old world his ancestors had come, but that old home itself had probably both lost all such traditions of those ancestors and ceased to feel even curiosity about their descendants. For better or worse, this new America had become the only real home of its natives. In the nineteenth century the typical American, politically as well as personally independent of the old world, and English only so far as the traditions inseparable from ancestral law and language must keep him so, has often felt or fancied himself less at one with contemporary Englishmen than with Europeans of other and essentially foreign blood.

Yet, English or not, we Americans are English-speaking still ; and English-speaking we must always remain. An accident of language and nothing more, this fact may seem to many. To those who think more deeply it can hardly fail to mean that for better or worse the ideals which underlie our blundering conscious life must always be the ideals which underlie the conscious life of the mother country, and which for centuries have rectified and purified her blunders. Morally and religiously these ideals are immortally consecrated in King James's version of the Bible; legally and politically these ideals are grouped in that great legal system which, in distinction from the Canon Law or the Civil, may broadly be called the Common Law of England. What these ideals are, every one bred in the traditions of our ancestral language instinctively knows; but such knowledge is hard to phrase. Perhaps we come as near as may be to truth when we say that in their moral aspect the ideals which underlie our language are comprised in a profound conviction that, whatever our station or our shortcomings, each of us is bound to do right; and that in their legal aspect these ideals may similarly be summarised in the statement that we are bound on earth to maintain our rights. But the rights contemplated by our ancestral law are no abstract ones ; they are those which the gradually varying custom and experience of the centuries have proved in actual exercise to be safely favourable to the public and private welfare of men like ourselves.

ague and general as all this may seem, it has lately come to possess significance hardly paralleled since at the beginning of our Christian era the imperial power, the law and the language, of Rome dominated what was then the world. Our law and our language, our ideals and our vital energies, which had their earliest origin in England, are at this moment struggling for world-existence with what else in ideals, in law, and in lan

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guage have developed themselves otherwise in modern time, Yet for a century or more the two great English-speaking races, the native English and that of independent America, have been so disunited that each has often seemed to the other more hostile than many an alien. There are no feuds fiercer than the feuds of kindred. As we pursue our study, we shall perhaps see how this breach between the two branches of our race has

grown. In brief, from the first settlement of Virginia until the moment when the guns of Admiral Dewey brought America unawares but fatally face to face with the problem of Asiatic empire, there has never been an instant when to native Englishmen and to English-speaking Americans the great political problems have presented themselves in the same terms. To-day at last there is little difference. To-day, then, the disunion of sympathy which for a century and more has kept Americans apart from the native English takes on worldwide significance.

An important phase of our study must accordingly be that which attempts to trace and to understand the changes in the native character of the Americans and of the English, which so long resulted in disunion of national sentiment. scrutinise them, however, only as they appear in literary history, and mostly in that of America. For our chief business concerns only the question of what contributions America has made, during its three centuries, to the literature of the English language.

Recurring to our rough, convenient division of native Americans into the three types which correspond to these three centuries of American history, we can instantly perceive that only the last, the Americans of the nineteenth century, have produced literature of any importance. The novelists and the historians, the essayists and the poets, whose names come to mind when American literature is mentioned, have all flourished since 1800. The greater part of our study, then, must concern the century just at an end. For all that, the two earlier 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 liyo ing. 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

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