Memorials of American Authors

JUST now it is the fashion, much heard of in the press, to purchase the houses in which our American authors have lived, and set them apart forever as shrines in the great men’s honor. Though I do not see why the house of a literary man should be deemed his most appropriate memorial, any more than the house of a general or a President should be his, there is something to be said in behalf of this sort of monument, either in default of or as a supplement to a better one. When to the house is added sufficient land to make a public pleasure-ground which may bear the author’s name the monument becomes a really worthy one, whether the distinction of the man thus celebrated were won in literature or in any other field. But if the spot is to become a shrine of curiosity alone, so that its chief function shall be to receive the visits of impertinent people in large numbers, who come to gaze and say, “ Is it possible that Hawthorne slept in this room ? Could he have composed The Scarlet Letter, do you suppose, on this very spot where we are sitting?” and who then straightway begin to look about furtively for a splinter to carry away, then it must tend to keep the public interest in authors down on that dreadful plane of curiosity where it has dwelt so long, and from which it should be one object of literature to raise it.

However, a public memorial of any sort indicates the existence of a disposition to remember ; and as the disposition has not been apparent in a marked degree in this country, we may look with some encouragement on a great author s home turned into a place of merely curious resort,— if we may also accept it as the promise of a time when we may have more dignified memorials. Up to the present we have few; and so far as monuments are a sign of public appreciation of our great authors, we have not held them in high honor.

Indeed, several of the most noteworthy memorials of the kind that we possess represent an attempt on the part of individual munificence to supply a deficiency of public recognition. Generally speaking, a monument built by one man to the fame of another is the evidence of one man’s estimation ; but if the people give proof of a considerable rejoicing in the possession of such a monument, it may well take on the character of a genuine public memorial. A monument built by a public subscription manifestly is a better evidence of public appreciation ; and the Statue or monument raised by the appropriation of public money to the purpose is probably more distinctly a public memorial than one raised in any other way. We have few monuments in the country that were built by public money ; I am not acquainted with one of this sort raised to the memory of a man who was merely a man of letters. At Washington there is a National Hall of Statuary, to which every State is invited by the federal government to send the statues of two of its most illustrious citizens. Thus far, no State has found among its sons a man of letters whom it has deemed worthy of this distinction; and as most of the older States, which are practically the only ones in which literature has heretofore been cultivated, have already sent their representatives to this Senate of Genius, we have a prospect of seeing the hall filled with ninety of the nation’s great men, — with more to come by and by, — not one of whom was a man of letters !

In any of our large cities — generally speaking, the only places where there are statues at all — nine tenths of the statues and monuments are likely to be commemorative of men or events connected with our political history. I think this proportion would be found somewhat less, but still large, in England ; in Continental European countries it is much less. In the Continental European countries, too, though the payers of taxes are commonly under much more distressing financial burdens than are our own, there is a much greater proportion of memorials raised by the appropriation of public funds. Our great cities are not now exactly poor in statues; but the exceedingly accidental character of these memorials, due to the fact that they are mainly the result of private subscription, is evidenced by a glance at the public out-of-door statues and other memorials in New York city. Of American literary men, distinctly as literary men, not one statue has been raised in that city; but there are statues of Shakespeare, Walter Scott, and Robert Burns. One bust of an American author— Washington Irving — is found ; and there are also busts of Cervantes, Schiller, and Thomas Moore ! It would be hard to object to these memorials of Old World authors, provided they are works of art; but one would like to see with them at least as many memorials of Americans.

One of the best instances of what the statue of any great man should be, at any rate in respect of its situation, its perspective with regard to other memorials, and the local estimation in which it is held, is the statue of Longfellow at Portland, by Mr. Franklin Simmons. It is a dignified seated figure of the poet, in bronze, occupying a conspicuous site in the best part of the town, in the middle of a square which is now known as Longfellow Square. This statue was raised a few years ago by a fund solicited from a wide field, but obtained chiefly, I believe, in Portland. The sculptor was chosen through that curious local spirit which has affected unfavorably many of our architectural and other monuments: he was avowedly selected because he was a “ Maine man,” though he had never seen the poet. However, in this case the result seems to have been happy. The statue has much beauty, and the likeness is said to be excellent.

This statue stands in the poet’s native town, as is entirely proper. It may appeal every day to thousands of young people, born under conditions very much like his, who should see in it the suggestion of possibility for them ; poetically, it makes the stranger fancy the genius or spirit of the man still lingering among the scenes of his youth ; and it symbolizes the satisfaction which every man feels when his name is remembered in his native town. This is an idea which is entertained as a matter of course in Europe, where, if the state erects a monument, it ordinarily chooses the great man’s native place for it, even if the place is an insignificant hamlet. Municipal agencies in the Old World are quick to claim for their towns the honor of the first memorial of any famous man who was born in them. If the same spirit had prevailed in this country, the city of Boston would long ago have reared a statue of Edgar Allan Poe, quite without regard to the prejudice which the poet entertained against his native town ; at least one of the various statues or busts of Webster would ornament the solid New Hampshire town of Franklin ; and the printers’ statue of Greeley would have been reared in the village of Amherst, in the same State.

In addition to the statue of Longfellow, Portland is to have as a memorial of him the Wadsworth house, after the death of its present tenant; it was the poet’s home from early infancy until his acceptance of a professorship at Bowdoin College. Cambridge, whose right in the matter certainly ranks next to Portland’s, has an appropriate memorial in a pleasant public park, which was set apart, by a public subscription, from the poet’s land there. No doubt the little park will be a proper site for a future statue of Longfellow. Meantime, the public interest in this poet undoubtedly does not centre in the smallest perceptible degree in the pleasure - ground, but beats itself in futile waves of curiosity against the house in which he lived in Cambridge.

The honor and affection in which John Greenleaf Whittier is held by nearly all the people over a great part of the country have begun to find expression — though chiefly, so far, by means of the munificence of individuals — in memorials. One subscription, quickly raised, placed a bust of him, by Mr. Preston Powers, in the Boston Public Library. Many schools and “ institutes ” in various parts of the country, intended for the education of the negro race, bear his name. As yet, however, the principal memorial of him, in the monumental sense, is the house in which he was born, at East Haverhill, which a generous citizen of Haverhill has presented to a board of trustees, expressing in his deed of gift the desire that the house and the ground about it be restored as nearly as possible to their original condition, and that access to them be freely given to the public, “ that thereby the memory of and a love for the poet and the man may be cherished and perpetuated.”Whether such a monument really exalts the memory of a man may be doubted. Already many articles of furniture which were taken away from the old house in 1836 have been gathered and restored to it; the desk on which Whittier wrote his first verses is in its old place in the kitchen ; and the visitor to the interesting old house beholds the adulation of curiosity in full movement, and perhaps wishes that his countrymen were less curious and more respectful, — that their adoration centred more around high ideals and their symbols in art, and less around penholders, writing-desks, and easy-chairs. An attempt has been made to preserve, also as a memorial, Whittier’s house at Amesbury, which contains his library and furniture, including the desk on which Snow-Bound was written ; but this movement has fallen through for the present.

It may not be out of place to suggest that if there is any American poet who deserves the statue of a man of action, — not the seated or half-recumbent effigy of the thinker or philosopher, but the figure in bronze standing in the attitude of intellectual combat with the world,— that poet is Whittier. No figure, it would seem, could more readily inspire the sculptor, especially if the man be taken in the prime of his life. Every one who has described him at that epoch has left an account of a most impressive personality. Colonel T. W. Higginson saw in him, at thirty-five, “ a man of striking personal appearance : tall, slender, with olive complexion, black hair, straight black eyebrows, brilliant eyes, and an Oriental, Semitic cast of countenance.”Not an ill moment for the sculptor’s consideration would be that of Whittier’s appearance at the anti-slavery convention at Philadelphia, in 1833, when, according to Mr. J. Miller McKim, who was with him, his figure, “with his dark frock coat with standing collar, black flashing eyes and black beard,” was noticeable ; and if it be objected that it is the poet, and not the agitator, who should be represented, the answer may surely be made that the ethical basis was never lacking in Whittier’s verse, and that it is as the poet moving his fellow countrymen by his works to humaner feelings that he should be depicted.

I have mentioned the circumstance that it has never occurred to the town of Boston to erect a monument to Poe, who, next to Franklin, probably has the most world-wide fame of all the men of letters native to that town ; and Poe was connected with Boston not alone by the important accident of his birth, but by the commencement there of his literary career, itself an event worth commemoration. So far as I am aware, Boston never awarded to Poe the honor which, in the case of her dead literary men of eminence, she sometimes deems it fitting to give in lieu of any further monumental attention, namely, the calling of a public meeting by the mayor, at which addresses are made and complimentary resolutions adopted. The name of Poe is indeed carved on the outer wall of the Public Library at Boston; so are several hundred other names. Their purpose is chiefly decorative. However, Boston’s neglect in respect of Poe was but the neglect of all the rest of the country. His kindred left his grave at Baltimore unmarked, and a fund of about one thousand dollars had to be raised by public subscription to place above his ashes the unbeautiful mortuary monument which now bears his name. If an enterprising commercial person had not hired the cottage in which Poe lived at Fordham, just out of New York, and put up above its door the large sign “ Poe Laundry,” surmounting it with the figure of a raven, thereby arousing the wrath of many people, including the owner of the cottage, and shaming them into a protest, it is probable that the poet’s fame would still be quite destitute of any public memorial. As it is, the land for a little public pleasure-ground to surround the Fordham cottage has been bought, the cottage is to be removed some sixty or seventy feet to the middle of this ground, and the place is to be called Poet’s Park. Though there is about this name something which suggests that the poet’s own name was avoided because it was not respectable, the memorial is perhaps on the whole more than Poe could have expected.

The extremely slight honor which has been paid the memory of this literary genius is in itself an indication that the American people do not readily thrill with the sort of pride which seeks grateful expression at the thought of the credit which has been brought to them by the work of their writers of reputation. If we go abroad, we find that we gain somewhat in the estimation of many people from the fact that we are the countrymen of Edgar Poe ; we might at such moments regard ourselves a little the more highly if we were conscious of having paid to his genius the tribute of a worthy memorial.

The memory of Hawthorne seems to have failed even more completely than that of Poe to receive any public honor. He was born and spent the greater part of his life in Massachusetts. The town of Salem, where he was born and where he wrote his most famous work, has gained distinction in no small measure through his fame. It is a rich and cultivated town, but so far as I am aware it has no public memorial of any sort in his honor; no statue stands in its marketplace, and no bust adorns its town hall. Though it has derived some profit from the unworthy sort of curiosity-worship which beyond doubt has been lavished in no small measure upon Hawthorne, and though it possesses two or three houses which have long done duty in a private way as “shrines,” no public recognition of Hawthorne’s genius seems ever to have been seriously attempted in Salem.

A modest stone marks his burial-place at Concord, but its modesty is well in keeping with the quiet rustic state which genius maintains in one corner of Sleepy Hollow ; no bronze or marble magnificence would be fitting there. Both the houses in which Hawthorne lived at Concord, the Old Manse and the Wayside, have also been in some sense “ shrines ; “ but they are still in private hands. Indeed, in the respect of its command of merely curious attention, Hawthorne’s genius cannot be said to have lacked honor in his own country. Throngs of people have swarmed in upon his various and numerous residences in Salem and Concord. His son pathetically says, in his volume of memoirs of Hawthorne and his Wife : “ Probably there will always exist in the public mind a belief that the Wayside and the Old Manse are one and the same building ; and such persons as have ventured to inhabit the former edifice since Hawthorne’s death have often found it difficult or impossible to convince investigating travelers to the contrary. Nor is it easy to overstate the indignation and resentment of these same travelers when an attempt is made to insinuate the idea that the house may even now be a private dwelling, not at all hours of the day and night open to the inquisitive presence of strangers.” It may be worth while to inquire whether we are not in some degree encouraging this vulgar curiosity, which is an affront rather than an honor to the memory of a great man, by setting apart the houses of authors as their most appropriate memorials, and filling these houses with articles of furniture and other objects connected with their private life. Possibly it is well that none of the residences of Hawthorne, who was peculiarly jealous of intrusion, has yet been so set apart. The manifestation of so much vulgar curiosity in his case makes our minds revert to the thought of the superior fitness and nobility of a monument to a great man to which the inspiration of art shall have lent dignity, and around which sentiments of veneration may cluster.

In the burial-place at Concord which I have just mentioned — a ground where the “ Hollow ” itself is disfigured by many glaring white stones in bad taste, and where the beauty of simplicity in burial is to be found chiefly on the neighboring hilltop — there lies the great pink stone, unmarred by any inscription, which marks the grave of Emerson. Standing beside this marvelously simple gravestone, I feel for a moment as if it somehow gave the lie to the wish I have expressed that our men of letters might have monuments wrought by the hand of Art. Why not always some such burial monument as this, full of the distinction of simplicity, and more expressive of the veneration of hearts which comprehend the master, perhaps, than a grander monument could be ? For this moment the thought of Emerson seems to come to me in such words as these:

“ Go ; there shall be no more statues of anybody : they are vain, and sculpture is dead, and art is but an unworthy attempt to spoil the beauty of common things; and if a man has not caused himself to be remembered in the hearts of his fellows, he is not fit to be kept in remembrance.” But the contrary thought presently comes over me, with that inevitable Emersonian pendulum-swing. Art is initial, as he has said ; it is the spiritual cause which puts beauty into matter ; the noble bust of Emerson which I see daily — the statue that I hope some time to see — shall lead me to greet Emerson in the man on the street. “ When I have been reading Homer, all men look like giants.”

It is pleasing, indeed, to see the memory of Emerson apparently unprofaned by the intrusion of curiosity. His fame, like his body, seems to rest in a kind of boundless peace of nature. But it is inevitable that he must grow in esteem, and a visible memorial of him become almost a necessity. Doubtless there are many who would join me in hoping that there might be a special memorial to honor Emerson the poet as soon as there should be one to honor Emerson the philosopher, if not sooner. Will the debt that American letters owe to Emerson ever he paid? He was one of the few eminent American men of letters who were born in Boston, and certainly Boston owes him a statue ; but I have heard of no movement to raise it.

In this same Concord there stands — or still did stand when last I was there — what seems to me an impressive memorial of a very great American man of letters. It is the cairn which has been raised by pilgrim hands at the site of Thoreau’s hermitage on the shore of Walden Pond. In this heap of stones there is one, I believe, which was laid by Walt Whitman; I know there is one that John Burroughs put there, and one from the hand of Bradford Torrey, and two which the ornithologists, Brewster and Faxon, added ; many more were put in place by known and unknown disciples. I would certainly rather have contributed a stone to this Thoreau cairn than have given any amount of money to preserve the cabin which Thoreau built there, to be splintered away by souvenirgatherers. Perhaps this cairn would be the best monument, after all, for Thoreau, if one could but be sure that some thrifty farmer of the neighborhood would not haul it away on a dull day, when other agricultural operations did not bid fair to prosper, to reinforce his barnyard wall. So simple and fitting a memorial needs a love of the common people toward the man to whom it is raised, to protect it, and the common people of New England know not Thoreau as yet.

Though I should say that the talent and discretion of a great sculptor might be depended upon to produce for the Common in Concord a monument of Thoreau which would cast no ridicule on his memory, but should beautifully commemorate his immense literary and philosophical service to his countrymen, I am not, for one, in favor of haste in attempting to provide any such memorial. I should like to see the seed which he sowed fructify a little more abundantly. It is a slow-growing seed, but it holds the ground like an oak. And meantime, I trust that the cairn on the site of his lordly hut will grow, and that even the thrifty farmer of Concord may come to know that the heap of stones means more, even to him, where it stands than it would walling his barnyard.

All the memorials thus far provided in honor of Dr. Holmes have been, I believe, of a private nature. Possibly his death is too recent, as such matters go in this country, to give opportunity for a monument to be much talked about; such a monument must become a crying matter before it arrives, and in the case of authors a very long time is apt to elapse before the matter cries. A monument to Holmes is a part of the debt which Cambridge owes to its famous native men of letters. I cannot help thinking that the people of this country feel that his service to our literature, in making a place in it for what is genial and graceful as well as wise, was well worthy of a notable memorial. We should, perhaps, lament less in his case than in any other author s the setting up of a personal “shrine,”because he never minded intrusion in the least while he lived, and had a familiar personality ; but, luckily or unluckily, the one house which could with any propriety have been turned into a Holmes shrine is gone long ago, and for nine months of the year cheerful college boys play various athletic games over the ground where it stood.

The memory of Lowell should be assisted to a monument by the fact that he was in some sense a public man. In this country, though a great man’s fame were what it is ten times more through letters than through politics, the political side of it would win him ten statues while the literary side of it was gaining him one. This fact comes very near supplying an absolute test of our people’s appreciation of literature. The statues of Franklin and of Edward Everett, in Boston, are cases in point. It was as a man of letters that Benjamin Franklin left his impress upon the world ; but I venture to doubt whether statues of him would stand in such number in our cities as they do to-day if he had not been also, during a part of his life, a statesman. Philadelphia, New York, and Boston have statues of Franklin, and other worthy memorials of him exist, such as the great pleasure-ground in Boston which bears his name, and the school for the training of mechanics which is about to be built, and which, indeed, has been founded by the legacy which he left the town. Philadelphia has not nourished so thriftily the equal fund which he left that town, nor honored him in so many noteworthy and beautiful ways.

As to the second statue which I have mentioned as illustrating the easy honor which a man of letters gains if he become a statesman, that of Edward Everett, it may be said that the attitude of the bronze figure itself (by Story, in the Boston Public Garden), which is that of the traditional legislative orator who demands with hand and voice the eye of Mr. Speaker, — unless, indeed, Wendell Phillips was right in declaring that he is pointing out the road to Brighton, — shuts out all suspicion that it may have been raised partly in honor of a man of letters.

Lowell’s fame, I have said, should profit by the fact that he went as minister to Spain and England, — though, like Hawthorne, Motley. Bancroft, and many others, it is not likely that he would ever have been honored thus if he had not first been eminent as a man of letters. However that may be, the matter of a memorial to Lowell does not as yet proceed very brilliantly. As I write, a movement has been on foot for many months to raise a fund for the purchase from Lowell’s heirs, for a public pleasure-ground, of the pine grave near his house in Cambridge, of which he has written so delightfully in his essays ; but only a small fraction of the money needed has been subscribed. This is a pity. The proposed memorial, though far from being worthy to be considered definitive, would be fitting and beautiful.

William Cullen Bryant’s memory has not been neglected. For many years his popularity was certainly great, and it has borne fruit in the park or square in New York city which bears his name and has a bust, — not of him, but of Irving, — and in a monument and memorial library in his native village, Cummington. Probably no better arrangement of memorial matters is to be expected in the case of a man who, like Bryant, was half poet, half journalist, and whose verse derived its merit from the meditations of a youth sublimely nourished among New England hills, while his life was mainly spent in the conscientious daily service of the people of a great city ; and yet one would logically have expected to see his statue reared in that city sooner than one even of Walter Scott. There are many fine busts of Bryant in existence, the most noteworthy being that by Launt Thompson, intended for the Metropolitan Museum at New York, and that by story, meant, for Central Park.

The appreciation of Washington Irving has found its expression in the bust which has already been referred to. I am sure that Sunnyside, his home, near Tarrytown, has been the shrine of a good many pilgrimages, but it remains in private hands. This author’s popularity has been attested, and to that extent his memory has been honored, by the bestowal of his name on a great number of small towns and post - offices throughout the country ; one of these places, Irvington, is on the Hudson, quite near his old residence.

The only monument to James Fenimore Cooper that I know of is one which was erected by public subscription in a cemetery on the shore of Otsego Lake, near Cooperstown. A mortuary monument can hardly be considered a public memorial; and yet this one has a public character, because it does not mark Cooper’s grave, which is in another place,—the Episcopal churchyard at Cooperstown, — because of the manner of its erection, and also because it stands near the spot which was the scene of the opening passage of The Pioneers. The name of the town of Cooperstown was not bestowed in his honor, but in that of his father, its founder.

Though Boston’s shortcomings in providing memorials of its distinguished sons have been mentioned, it is fair to say that Boston has probably a greater number of memorials of men of letters than any other city in this country. A fund has been gathered there, chiefly among the clubs, to raise a monument of some kind to the memory of Francis Parkman, on the spot where, for many years, he grew his roses on the shore of Jamaica Pond, within the present limits of Boston. The money is in such hands that a fitting memorial, on a most interesting site, — which is now, by the way, a part of the public park system, — is assured. The Paine Memorial Hall, built by free-thinkers, honors the name of Thomas Paine doubtless in precisely the way he would himself have chosen, namely, in affording a platform open for the discussion at every moment of all manner of new ideas. Funds were raised for a monument to Theodore Parker, and the work on it was partly done ; but the monument, in such state as it is, remains, I am told, in a storage warehouse. In the State House yard stands an indifferent statue of Horace Mann, who is honored as an “ educator ” rather than as a man of letters, but who could never have been an “educator” if he had not also been a man of letters ; and a noteworthy school for the deaf also daily honors this most useful teacher’s name. One of the memorials which have been erected to men who were incidentally men of letters, but which, of course, would never have been erected if the men had not also been something else, is the statue of Alexander Hamilton, by Dr. Rimmer ; built, I fancy, for one reason, to express a silent protest of Boston’s conservatives against the multiplication of monuments which glorify the revolutionary idea. The statue certainly lacks the spirit of the revolutionary memorials : it is a cold, dead, stony figure, — the “ indifferent work of a man of genius,” it has been truly called ; it seems to give color, in its ponderous frostiness, to the commonly accepted story that, for want of a studio, it was modeled in winter in an unwarmed church basement, where the sculptor’s clay froze nightly. Still another monument —and a most remarkable and beautiful one — owes its existence to something more than the literary renown of its subject. This is the Boyle O’Reilly memorial, by French, which stands in a pleasure-ground in one of Boston’s most fashionable quarters. Few more lovely monuments have ever been erected than this; and it worthily commemorates, to judge from the emblems which it bears, not so much the poet as the Irish patriot and the friend of the common people. However that may be, literature may graciously enough take its part in the honor. If the exceeding beauty and conspicuousness of this memorial seem to establish in O’Reilly’s behalf a renown out of proportion to that which greater American men of letters are awarded, it is only to be answered that the monument does not accuse the reputation of native American men of letters of littleness, but their friends of indifference.

There is at Kennett Square, in Pennsylvania, a very worthy monument to another American man of letters, of a secondary rank, who was also in his way a public man. It is the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library, — a fine building, within which, besides the local library, is found a bust of Taylor. It keeps in memory a man of a type of which American letters has reason to be proud, —the country boy, educated through his own efforts, who has proved that scholarship can be attained outside the schools, though possibly not without their aid, and that the steady and faithful endeavor of a conscientious journalist to do his best in his own field may fairly ally journalism with literature.

Another great journalist, Horace Greeley, has attained the extraordinary and somewhat anomalous honor of two statues in a single city. One of these, erected in Printing House Square, New York, by the printers of the United States, was possibly intended to honor chiefly the working printer who had risen to the eminence of a nomination for the presidency. The other stands in a square which bears his name. Greeley’s works between covers are not his greatest title to fame ; and yet I am sure he may truly be classed among men of letters.

There is another American author who has won fame abroad, but whose title to monumental honors is likely to be very slow in obtaining recognition at home. I have read in a German review of high standing that this man was a greater metaphysician than Hegel, and in a French review that, compared with his philosophical concept, that of Ernest Renan was as a will - o’ - the - wisp. There is a growing impression abroad that he was our very greatest poet; and at home the appreciation and study of a considerable circle are carrying his thoughts and words into the intelligence and feeling of his countrymen. But to the majority he is still a kind of monster. It is almost superfluous to say that there is no talk of a statue to Walt Whitman. I fancy I have, indeed, heard of a movement in a limited field to buy and keep as a kind of “ shrine the poor tenement in which Whitman lived in Camden ; but if this were done, the purchase could hardly escape the imputation of having been made for the purpose of casting a reproach on Whitman’s contemporaries, which is hardly a worthy purpose of a memorial.

It is possible that I have not mentioned here all the public memorials of American authors that exist, but whether or not there are others, it is true that there are not many. It seems to me that this want is significant of certain things. As a rule, our people are as susceptible to the glamour of letters as any other. They appear to be quite sufficiently given to the worship of living literary heroes. Their discrimination in the selection of the objects of their adoration has not always been acute ; but literary gods they must have. How is it that their sentiment has been on the whole so unstable, so little representative of any demand to be expressed in a concrete way ? They have national ideals and aspirations that are deeply felt and steadfast, and they are particularly tenacious of their social, industrial, and economic purposes. Can it be possible that they have felt the influence of an uncertainty of possession with regard to their literature ? Have they appreciated, perhaps unconsciously, its colonial character, and been unable to distinguish it sharply from the literature of a mother country which takes care of its own heroes ? Has the national appreciation of letters awaited a characteristic expression in them ?

I think it would be absurd to assert that such an expression has been quite wanting. It had begun, I am sure, before the Civil War, and the voice of it has been rising day by day since that time. But in the mean time this characteristic expression of the national life has itself been hindered by the want of national or distinctive feeling in other fields of art. So much remains to be thought out and wrought out before the national life shall be roused to the knowledge of itself !

As yet, American public sentiment does not appear fully to comprehend the mission of our authors, and its interest in them remains largely a thing of curiosity. I fear that the honor which it pays to their memory is not great, as evinced either by memorials of them or by its use of their works ; and that the ultimate and adequate honor must await the real awakening of the national artistic consciousness.

Joseph Edgar Chamberlin.