Anglo-American Literary Relations

By George Stuart Gordon | Go to book overview

IV
BRITISH AUTHORS IN AMERICA

I PROMISED in this lecture to say something of the long line of English travellers to the United States, so many of whom promoted literature and their own fortunes by lecturing in that country, and by writing the almost proverbial book about it afterwards. The earliest of these travellers were business men and prospectors, and the tone of their comments was dictated by the success or failure of their hopes. The first literary traveller, and the first, also, to raise that storm of indignation in America which was to become, I am afraid, the almost habitual consequence of these British commentaries, was Captain Basil Hall, the friend of Scott. Mrs. Trollope, while preparing her own wasps' nest, noted that Hall's book was 'read in city, town, village and hamlet, steamboat and stage-coach', and that 'a sort of war-whoop was sent forth' unprecedented in her recollection. She was told that the book contained not one word of truth from beginning to end; that the British Government had commissioned Hall to write it, in order to depress the English Radical admirers of American institutions. The 'moral earthquake' which the book produced was active for years.

Her own book, first published in 1832, was to eclipse even Hall's in the perturbation it occasioned. 'At every corner of the street', we are told, '. . . a large placard met the eye, "For sale here, with plates, Domestic Manners of the Americans, by Mrs. Trollope". At every table d'hôte, on board of every steamboat and in all societies, the first question was, "Have you read Mrs. Trollope?" And half the people would be seen with a red or blue half-bound volume in their hand, which you might vouch for being the odious book, and

-62-

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Anglo-American Literary Relations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Prefatory Note 5
  • Contents 8
  • I - Early American LIterature 11
  • II - The Rise of American LIterature 31
  • III - Friendship in Letters 44
  • IV - British Authors in America 62
  • V - British Authors' Copyright 82
  • VI - The LIterary Hopes of America 99
  • Index of Persons 117
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