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teen colonies at the time of their separation from England. They have cities whose inhabitants number hundreds of thousands, well equipped universities, libraries, cathedrals, costly public buildings, all the outward appliances of an advanced civilization; and yet what have Canada and Australia contributed to British literature ?

American literature had no infancy. That engaging naïveté and that heroic rudeness which give a charm to the early popular tales and songs of Europe find, of course, no counterpart on our soil. Instead of emerging from the twilight of the past, the first American writings were produced under the garish noon of a modern and learned age. Decrepitude rather than youthfulness is the mark of a colonial literature. The poets, in particular, instead of finding a challenge to their imagination in the new life about them, are apt to go on imitating the cast off literary fashions of the mother country. America was settled by Englishmen who were contemporary with the greatest names in English literature. Jamestown was planted in 1607, nine years before Shakspeare's death, and the hero of that enterprize, Captain John Smith, may not improbably have been a personal acquaintance of the great dramatist. “They have acted my fatal tragedies on the stage,” wrote Smith. Many circumstances in The Tempest were doubtless suggested by the wreck of the Sea Venture on “the still vext Bermoothes,” as described by William Strachey in his True Reportory of the Wrack and

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Re:temption of Sir Thomas Gates, written at Jamestown, and published at London in 1510. Shakspere's contemporary, Michael Drayton, the poet of the Polyolbion, addressed a spirited valedictory ode to the three shiploads of “brave, heroic minds” who sailed from London in 1606 to colonize Virginia ; an ode which ended with the prophecy of a future American literature:

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“And as there plenty grows
Of laurel every-where, -
Apollo's sacred tree-
You it may see
A poet's brows
To crown, that may sing there.”

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Another English poet, Samuel Daniel, the author of the Civil Wars, had also prophesied in a similar strain:

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“And who in time knows whither we may vent

The treasure of our tongue, to what strange shores ...
What worlds in the yet unformed Occident

May come refined with accents that are ours."




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It needed but a slight movement in the balances of fate, and Walter Raleigh might have been reckoned among the poets of America. He was one of the original promoters of the Virginia colony, and he made voyages in person to Newfoundland and Guiana. And more unlikely things have happened than that when John Milton left Cambridge in 1632, he should have been tempted to follow Winthrop and the colonists of Massachusetts Bay,


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who had sailed two years before. Sir Henry Vane, the younger, who was afterward Milton's friend

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came over in 1635, and was for a short time Governor of Massachusetts. These are idle speculations, and yet, when we reflect that Oliver Cromwell was on the point of embarking for America when he was prevented by the king's officers, we may, for the nonce," let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise," and fancy by how narrow a chance Paradise Lost missed being written in Boston. But, as a rule, the members of the literary guild are not quick to emigrate. They like the feeling of an old and rich civilization about them, a state of society which America has only begun to reach during the present century.

Virginia and New England, says Lowell, were the "two great distributing centers of the English race.' The men who colonized the country between the Capes of Virginia were not drawn, to any large extent, from the literary or bookish classes in the Old Country. Many of the first settlers were gentlemen—too many, Captain Smith thought, for the good of the plantation. Some among these were men of worth and spirit, “ of good means and great parentage.” Such was, for example, George Percy, a younger brother of the Earl of Northumberland, who was one of the original adventurers, and the author of A Discourse of the Plantation of the Southern Colony of Virginia,

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which contains a graphic narrative of the fever and famine summer of 1607 at Jamestown. But many of these gentlemen were idlers, “unruly gallants, packed thither by their friends to escape ill destinies;" dissipated younger sons, soldiers of fortune, who came over after the gold which was supposed to abound in the new country, and who spent their time in playing bowls and drinking at the tavern as soon as there was any tavern. With these was a sprinkling of mechanics and farmers, indented servants, and the off-scourings of the London streets, fruit of press gangs and jail deliveries, sent over to "work in the plantations.”

Nor were the conditions of life afterward in Virginia very favorable to literary growth. The planters lived isolated on great estates, which had water fronts on the rivers that flow into the Chesapeake. There the tobacco, the chief staple of the country, was loaded directly upon the trading vessels that tied up to the long, narrow wharves of the plantations. Surrounded by his slaves, and visited occasionally by a distant neighbor, the Virginia country gentleman lived a free and careless life. He was fond of fox-hunting, horse-racing, and cock-fighting. There were no large towns, and the planters met each other mainly on occasion of a county court or the assembling of the Burgesses. The court-house was the nucleus of social and political life in Virginia as the town-meeting was in New England. In such a state of society schools were necessarily few, and popular education did


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Sir William Berkeley, who was the royal governor of the colony from 1641 to 1677, said, in 1670, “I thank God there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years." In the matter of printing, this pious wish was well-nigh realized. The first press set up in the colony, about 1681, was soon suppressed, and found no successor until the year 1729. From that date until some ten years before, the Revolution one printing-press answered the needs of Virginia, and this was under official control. The earliest newspaper in the colony was the Virginia Gazette, established in 1736.

In the absence of schools the higher education naturally languished. Some of the planters were taught at home by tutors, and others went to England and entered the universities. But these were few in number, and there was no college in the colony until more than half a century after the foundation of Harvard in the younger province of Massachusetts. The college of William and Mary was established at Williamsburg chiefly by the exertions of the Rev. James Blair, a Scotch divine, who was sent by the Bishop of London as missary" to the Church in Virginia. The college received its charter in 1693, and held its first commencement in 1700. It is perhaps significant of the difference between the Puritans of New England and the so-called “Cavaliers” of Virginia, that while the former founded and supported Harvard College in 1636, and Yale in 1701, of


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