THE PRESENT VOLUME is the first ever written with the purpose of proving the wide interest in American literature displayed by the English people. It is meant primarily for specialists in American literary history, for students of the Victorian Age, and for political historians who are particularly interested in Anglo-American relations.
While the study is confined to the nineteenth century, it will be apparent that most of the illustrations come from the period following the Reform Bill of 1832. There are two reasons for the limitation. First, the consumption of American books in England before 1833 was insignificant compared with that which followed later; and, secondly, the late William B. Cairns has already provided a number of able studies concerned especially with British criticisms of American writings prior to 1833. There are many aspects of the reception of American literature among the British which are either neglected altogether or merely mentioned incidentally in this volume, for example, the record of the enormous quantity of American plays which were produced in London. The failure to cover more terrain in my studies is a natural consequence of the hugeness of my topic. Ubi ingenium par materiae? It will be found, also, that a large share of my attention has been claimed by the history of the English booktrade. This is due to my belief that literary history, especially that of the nineteenth century, which merely records critical opinions and forgets that publishing was a business conducted for profit is as flimsy as the study of psychology without reference to the nervous system.
The method of this book probably needs initial elucidation, for it may seem to be merely a collection of essays. In the Introduction I have retraced the general view of the United States held by the British during the century and have offered the suggestion that the literature of the United States has a "great tradition" of its own, a tradition which, it is hoped, will enhance interest in the record of its impact upon the English. In the following chapter, by presenting certain