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Page 295

CHAPTER XIV
AMERICAN LITERATURE

of Harvard, and an energetic persecutor of supposed witches. He wrote an ecclesiastical history of New England, and set forth his views on witchcraft in Wonders of the Invisible World. Various colonial Governors tried their hands at writing prose, and the daughter of one of these, Anne Dudley Bradstreet, actually dabbled in poetry. But in general the tone of American literature was serious, and even gloomy, right up to the beginning of the nineteenth century.
During the ten years' struggle with England 1773-I783-yeoman service was done to the Republican cause by men like Patrick Henry The and Alexander Hamilton, whose speeches, politicians. manifestos, and pamphlets often deserved to rank as literature, though composed for propagandist or political purposes only. Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, deserves, however, to rank as a man of letters, in addition to being a printer, a scientist, and a first-rate journalist. His Poor Richard's Almanac, a collection of wise and witty odds and ends, was the first of many American works of its kind.
With William Cullen Bryant, 1794-1878, American poetry suddenly sprang to life. Bryant was born in Cummington, Massachusetts, the son of a country doctor. He was brought up almost as strictly as if he had been born a century and a half earlier. There was much to enjoy in the quiet village life, but there was little money to spare ; good books, however, had a habit of finding their way to Bryant's home, and the boy was encouraged by his father to read poetry and to write it.
When Bryant was sixteen he went to Williams College for a short time, afterwards returning home to study law. He did not forget poetry, however,

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