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tion contains ; but as tastes have proverbially differed from the days of the venerable dame who kissed her cow -not to extend our researches into the condition of things anterior to that interesting event-we will not insist upon our view of the matter, but take it for granted that he has disentombed from forgotten reviews, newspapers, pamphlets, and posters, a fair relative proportion of "authors” for both North and South, for which "American Literaturt" is unquestionably under infinite obligations to him !
Griswold's “Poets and Poetry of America" and Thomas Buchanan Read's “ Female Poets of America” furnish evidence, equally conclusive, of the benumbing influence of slavery upon the intellect of a country. Of course, these compilers say nothing about Slavery, and probably never thought of it in connection with their respective works, but none the less significant on that account is the testimony of the facts which they give. From the last edition of Griswold's compilation, (which contains the names of none of our female writers, he having included them in a separate volume) we find the names of one hundred and forty-one writers of verse : of these one was foreign-born, serenteen natives of the slaveholding, and one hundred and twenty-three of the non-slaveholding States. Of our female poets, whose nativity is given by Mr. Read, eeren are natives of the South ; and serenty-three of the North ! These simple arithmetical figures are God's eternal Scripture against the folly and madness of Slavery, and need no aid of rhetoric to give emphasis to the startling eloquence of their revelations.
But, after all, literature is not to be estimated by cubic
feet or pounds averdupois, nor measured by the bushel or the yardstick. Quality, rather than quantity, is the true standard of estimation. The fact, however, matters little for our present purpose ; for the South, we are sorry to say, is as much behind the North in the former as in the latter. We do not forget the names of Gayarre, Benton, Simms, and other eminent citizens of the Slave States, who have by their contributions to American letters conferred honor upon themselves and upon our common country, when we affirm, that those among our authors who enjoy a cosmopolitan reputation, are, with a few honorable exceptions, natives of the Free North ; and that the names which most brilliantly illustrate our literature, in its every department, are those which have grown into greatness under the nurturing influence of free institutions. "Comparisons are odious," it is said ; and we will not, unnecessarily, render them more so, in the present instance, by contrasting, name by name, the literary men of the South with the literary men of the North. We do not depreciate the former, nor overestimate the latter, But let us ask, whence come our geographers, our astronomers, our chemists, our meteorologists, our ethnologists, and others, who have made their names illustrious in the domain of the Natural Sciences ? Not from the Slave States, certainly. In the Literature of Law, the South can furnish no name that can claim peership with those of Story and of Kent; in History, none that tower up to the altitude of Bancroft, Prescott, Hildreth, Motley and Washington Irving; in Theology, none that can challenge favorable comparison with those of Edwards, Dwight,
Camicz. Tarlar, Bashnell, Tyler and Wayland : in Fioti... note that take rank with Coper, and Mrs. Stowe ; azd lat few that may do so with even the second class Delists of the North ;* in Poetry, none that can command Nitin with Bryant, Halleck, and Percival, with Whitter, Loc., and Lowell, with Willis, Stoddard and Terr, with Himnes, Saxe, and Burleigh; and—we might acl wreaty ogier Sortlern names before we found their Sin peter, with the esception of poor Poe, who, within a Larrut range of subjects, showed himself a poet of Camate art, and occupies a sort of debatable
er lettera cur first and second-class writers. Wein extend this comparison to our writers in erery dartment of letters, from the compiler of school1. ss to the auier of the mist profound ethical treatise, a.) w:h paris the same result. But we forbear. Te task is disias:ctul to our State pride, and would have banesaridad had not a higher principle urged us 1. is perimance. It remains for us now to enquire,
WHAT HAS FRECCED THES LITERARY PAUPERISM OF THE SOUTH ? 02e sande woni, most pregnant in its terrible meanings, answers the question. That word is—SLATERT! But we Lare leen so long accustomed to the ugly thing itself, and are beame so familiar with its no less ugly fruits, that the common mind fails to apprehend the connection between the one, as cause, and the other as effect; and
• We Suns all story in the literary reputation of Mr. Simms; rei we must atelis irfer: rity to Cooper, and prejudice alone will refuse to alm.it that, while in the art of the novelist he is the savoir of Mrs. Stowe, in genius he must take position below her.
it therefore becomes necessary to give a more detailed answer to our interrogatory.
Obviously, then, the conditions requisite to a flourishing literature are wanting at the South. These are
I. Readers. The people of the South are not a reading people. Many of the adult population never learned to read ; still more, do not care to read. We have been impressed, during a temporary sojourn in the North, with the difference between the middle and laboring classes in the Free States, and the same classes in the Slave States, in this respect. Passing along the great routes of travel in the former, or taking our seat in the comfortable cars that pass up and down the avenues of our great commercial metropolis, we have not failed to contrast the employment of our fellow-passengers with that which occupies the attention of the corresponding classes on our various Southern routes of travel. In the one case, a large proportion of the passengers seem intent upon mastering the contents of the newspaper, or some recently published book. The merchant, the mechanic, the artizan, the professional man, and even the common laborer, going to or returning from their daily avocations, are busy with their morning or evening paper, or engaged in an intelligent discussion of some topic of public interest. This is their leisure hour, and it is given to the acquisition of such information as may be of immediate or ultimate use, or to the cultivation of a taste for clegant literature. In the other case, newspapers and books seem generally ignored, and noisy discussions of village and State politics, the tobacco and cotton-crops, filibusterism in Cuba, Nicaragua,
or Sonora, the price of negroes generally, and especially of "fine-looking wenches,” the beauties of lynch-law, the delights of horse-racing, the excitement of street fights with bowie-knives and revolvers, the “manifest destiny" theory that justifies the stealing of all territory contiguous to our own, and kindred topics, constitute the warp and woof of conversation. All this is on a level with the general intelligence of the Slave States. It is true, these States have their educated men,—the majority of whom owe their literary culture to the colleges of the North. Not that there are no Southern colleges-for there are institutions, so called, in a majority of the Slave States. Some of them, too, are not deficient in the appointments requisite to our higher educational institutions ; but as a general thing, Southern colleges are colleges only in name, and will scarcely take rank with a third-rate Northern academy, while our academies, with a few exceptions, are immeasurably inferior to the public schools of New-York, Philadelphia, and Boston. The truth is, there is a rast inert mass of stupidity and ignorance, too dense for individual effort to enlighten or remove, in all communities cursed with the institution of slavery. Disguise the unwelcome truth as we may, slavery is the parent of ignorance, and ignorance begets a whole brood of follies and of vices, and every one of these is inevitably hostile to literary culture. The masses, if they think of literature at all, think of it only as a costly luxury, to be monopalized by the few.
The proportion of white adults over twenty years of age,