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时间:2019-12-15 23:56:30 作者:打狗棒全集 浏览量:63855

Finally, and surely not the least notable of American traits, is public spirit. Triumphant[Pg 82] individualism checks itself, or is rudely checked in spite of itself, by considerations of the general good. How often have French critics confessed, with humiliation, that in spite of the superior socialization of the French intelligence, France has yet to learn from America the art and habit of devoting individual fortunes to the good of the community. Our American literature, as has been already pointed out, is characteristically a citizen literature, responsive to the civic note, the production of men who, like the writers of the Federalist, applied a vigorous practical intelligence, a robust common sense, to questions affecting the interest of everybody. The spirit of fair play in our free democracy has led Americans to ask not merely what is right and just for one, the individual, but what are righteousness and justice and fair play for all. Democracy, as embodied in such a leader as Lincoln, has meant Fellowship. Nothing finer can be said of a representative American than to say of him, as Mr. Norton said of Mr. Lowell, that he had a "most public soul."One need not be a poet like Keats or an inveterate psychologist like Henry James, in order to become aware how the commonplaceness of the world rests like a fog upon the mind and heart. No one goes to his day's work and comes home again without a consciousness of contact with an unspiritual atmosphere, or incompletely spiritualized forces, not merely with indifference, to what Emerson would term "the over-soul," but with a lack of any faith in the things which are unseen. Take those very forces which have limited the influence of Emerson throughout the United States; they illustrate the universal forces which clip the wings of romance. The obstacles in the path of Emerson's influence are not merely the religious and denominational differences which Dr. George A. Gordon portrayed in a notable article at the time of the Emerson Centenary.[Pg 160] The real obstacles are more serious. It is true that Dr. Park of Andover, Dr. Bushnell of Hartford, and Dr. Hodge of Princeton, could say in Emerson's lifetime: "We know a better, a more Scriptural and certificated road toward the very things which Emerson is seeking for. We do not grant that we are less idealistic than he. We think him a dangerous guide, following wandering fires. It is better to journey safely with us."

What one can abundantly prove, however, is that the United States afford a new national field for certain types of humor and satire. Our English friends are never weary of writing magazine articles about Yankee humor, in which they explain the peculiarities of the American joke with a dogmatism which has sometimes been thought to prove that there is such a thing as national lack of humor, whether there be such a thing as national humor or not. One such article, I remember, endeavored to prove that the exaggeration often found in American[Pg 186] humor was due to the vastness of the American continent. Our geography, that is to say, is too much for the Yankee brain. Mr. Birrell, an expert judge of humor, surely, thinks that the characteristic of American humor lies in its habit of speaking of something hideous in a tone of levity. Many Englishmen, in fact, have been as much impressed with this minimizing trick of American humor as with the converse trick of magnifying. Upon the Continent the characteristic trait of American humor has often been thought to be its exuberance of phrase. Many shrewd judges of our newspaper humor have pointed out that one of its most favorite methods is the suppression of one link in the chain of logical reasoning. Such generalizations as these are always interesting, although they may not take us very far.特区彩票论坛 The atmosphere of that score of years in New England was now superheated, now rarefied, thin, and cold; but it was never quite the normal atmosphere of every day. On the purely literary side, it is needless to say, these men and women sought inspiration in Coleridge and Carlyle and other English and German romanticists. In fact, the most enduring literature of New England between 1830 and 1865 was distinctly a romantic literature.[Pg 152] It was rooted, however, not so much in those swift changes of historic condition, those startling liberations of the human spirit which gave inspiration to the romanticism of the Continent, as it was in the deep and vital fervor with which these New Englanders envisaged the problems of the moral life.A8娱乐城代理申请What one can abundantly prove, however, is that the United States afford a new national field for certain types of humor and satire. Our English friends are never weary of writing magazine articles about Yankee humor, in which they explain the peculiarities of the American joke with a dogmatism which has sometimes been thought to prove that there is such a thing as national lack of humor, whether there be such a thing as national humor or not. One such article, I remember, endeavored to prove that the exaggeration often found in American[Pg 186] humor was due to the vastness of the American continent. Our geography, that is to say, is too much for the Yankee brain. Mr. Birrell, an expert judge of humor, surely, thinks that the characteristic of American humor lies in its habit of speaking of something hideous in a tone of levity. Many Englishmen, in fact, have been as much impressed with this minimizing trick of American humor as with the converse trick of magnifying. Upon the Continent the characteristic trait of American humor has often been thought to be its exuberance of phrase. Many shrewd judges of our newspaper humor have pointed out that one of its most favorite methods is the suppression of one link in the chain of logical reasoning. Such generalizations as these are always interesting, although they may not take us very far.A8娱乐城代理申请"We all lean on England; scarce a verse, a page, a newspaper, but is writ in imitation of English forms; our very manners and conversation are traditional, and sometimes the life seems dying out of all literature, and this enormous paper currency of Words is accepted instead. I suppose the evil may be cured by this rank rabble party, the Jacksonism of the country, heedless of English and of all literature鈥攁 stone cut out of the ground without hands;鈥攖hey may root out the hollow dilettantism of our cultivation in the coarsest way, and the new-born may begin again to frame their own world with greater advantage."A8娱乐城代理申请

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Despite the universality of the objects of contemporary American humor, despite, too, its prevalent method of caricature, it remains true that its character is, on the whole, clean, easy-going, and kindly. The old satire of hatred has lost its force. No one knows why. "Satire[Pg 205] has grown weak," says Mr. Chesterton, "precisely because belief has grown weak." That is one theory. The late Henry D. Lloyd, of Chicago, declared in one of his last books: "The world has outgrown the dialect and temper of hatred. The style of the imprecatory psalms and the denunciating prophets is out of date. No one knows these times if he is not conscious of this change." That is another theory. Again, party animosities are surely weaker than they were. Caricatures are less personally offensive; if you doubt it, look at any of the collections of caricatures of Napoleon, or of George the Fourth. Irony is less often used by pamphleteers and journalists. It is a delicate rhetorical weapon, and journalists who aim at the great public are increasingly afraid to use it, lest the readers miss the point. In the editorials in the Hearst newspapers, for instance, there is plenty of invective and innuendo, but rarely irony: it might not be understood, and the crowd must not be left in doubt.Yet the curious and the endlessly fascinating thing about these forces of reaction is that they themselves shift and change. We have seen that external romance depending upon strangeness of scene, novelty of adventure, rich atmospheric distance of space or time, disappears with the changes of civilization. The farm expands over the wolf's den, the Indian becomes a blacksmith, but do the gross and material instincts ultimately triumph? He would be a hardy prophet who should venture to assert it. We must reckon always with the swing of the human pendulum, with the reaction against reaction. Here, for example, during the last decade, has been book after book written about the reaction against democracy. All over the world, it is asserted, there are unmistakable signs that democracy will not practically work in the face of the modern tasks to which the world has set itself. One reads these books, one persuades himself that the hour for democracy is passing, and then one goes out on the street[Pg 162] and buys a morning newspaper and discovers that democracy has scored again. So is it with the experience of the individual. You may fancy that the romance of the seas passes, for you, with the passing of the square-sailed ship. If Mr. Kipling's poetry cannot rouse you from that mood of reaction, walk down to the end of the pier to-morrow and watch the ocean liner come up the harbor. If there is no romance there, you do not know romance when you see it!A8娱乐城代理申请"O Beautiful! my Country!"A8娱乐城代理申请

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"Und was uns alle b?ndigt, das Gemeine."重庆商标申请 A8娱乐城代理申请No line in our literature is more truly American,鈥攗nless it be that other splendid metaphor, by David Wasson, which says the same thing in other words:鈥擜8娱乐城代理申请

A8娱乐城代理申请"The soul is form and doth the body make."A distinguished professor in the Harvard Divinity School once began a lecture on Comedy by saying that the study of the comic had made him realize for the first time that a joke was one of the most solemn things in the world. The analysis of humor is no easy matter. It is hard to say which is the more dreary: an essay on humor illustrated by a series of jokes, or an exposition of humor in the technical terms of philosophy. No subject has been more constantly discussed. But it remains difficult to decide what humor is. It is easier to declare what seemed humorous to our ancestors, or what seems humorous to us to-day. For humor is a shifting thing. The well-known collections of the writings of American humorists surprise us by their revelation of the changes in public taste. Humor鈥攐r the sense of humor鈥攁lters while we are watching. What seemed a[Pg 167] good joke to us yesterday seems but a poor joke to-day. And yet it is the same joke! What is true of the individual is all the more true of the national sense of humor. This vast series of kaleidoscopic changes which we call America; has it produced a humor of its own?

"Societies, parties, are only incipient stages, tadpole states of men, as caterpillars are social, but the butterfly not. The true and finished man is ever alone."A8娱乐城代理申请A8娱乐城代理申请We are familiar, perhaps too remorsefully familiar, with the fact that romance is likely to run a certain course in the individual and then to disappear. Looking back upon it afterward, it resembles the upward and downward zigzag of a fever chart. It has in fact often been described as a measles, a disease of which no one can be particularly proud, although he may have no reason to blush for it. Southey said that he was no more ashamed of having been a republican than of having been a boy. Well, people catch Byronism, and get over it, much as Southey got over his republicanism. In fact Byron himself lived long enough鈥攖hough he died at thirty-six鈥攖o outgrow his purely "Byronic" phase, and to smile at it as knowingly as we do. Coleridge's blossoming period as a romantic poet was tragically brief. Keats and Shelley had the good fortune to die in the fulness of their romantic glory. They did not outlive their own poetic sense of the wonder and mystery of the world. Yet many an old[Pg 133] poet like Tennyson and Browning has preserved his romance to the end. Tennyson dies at eighty-three with the full moonlight streaming through the oriel window upon his bed, and with his fingers clasping Shakespeare's Cymbeline.A8娱乐城代理申请

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The words "romance" and "romanticism" have been repeated to the ears of our generation with wearisome iteration. Not the least of the good luck of Wordsworth and Coleridge lay in the fact that they scarcely knew that they were "romanticists." Middle-aged readers of the present day may congratulate themselves that in their youth they read Wordsworth and Coleridge simply because it was Wordsworth and Coleridge and not documents illustrating the history of the romantic movement. But the rising generation is sophisticated. For better or worse it has been taught to distinguish between the word "romance" on the one side, and the word "romanticism" on the other. "Romantic" is a useful but overworked adjective which attaches itself indiscriminately to both "romance" and "romanticism." Professor Vaughan, for example, and a hundred other writers, have pointed out that in the narrower and more usual sense, the words "romance" and "romanticism" point to a love of vivid coloring and strongly marked contrasts; to a craving for the unfamiliar, the marvellous, and the supernatural. In the[Pg 131] wider and less definite sense, they signify a revolt from the purely intellectual view of man's nature; a recognition of the instincts and the passions, a vague intimation of sympathy between man and the world around him,鈥攊n one word, the sense of mystery. The narrower and the broader meanings pass into one another by imperceptible shades. They are affected by the well-known historic conditions for romantic feeling in the different European countries. The common factor, of course, is the man with the romantic world set in his heart. It is Gautier with his love of color, Victor Hugo enraptured with the sound of words, Heine with his self-destroying romantic irony, Novalis with his blue flower, and Maeterlinck with his Blue Bird.

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As one meditates upon the idealism of the first colonists in America, one is tempted to ask what their "reverences" were. Toward what tangible symbols of the invisible did their eyes instinctively turn?"There iz 2 things in this life for which we are never fully prepared, and that iz twins."

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If asked to select the three periods of our history which in this sense have been most significant, most of us, I imagine, would choose the first vigorous epoch of New England Puritanism, say from 1630 to 1676; then, the epoch of the great Virginians, say from 1766 to 1789; and finally the epoch of distinctly national feeling, in which New England and the West were leaders, between 1830 and 1865. Those three generations have been the most notable in the three hundred years since the permanent settlements began. Each of them has revealed, in a noble fashion, the political, ethical, and emotional traits of our people; and although the first two of the three periods concerned themselves but little with literary expression of the deep-lying characteristics of our stock, the expression is not lacking. Thomas Hooker's sermon on the "Foundation of Political Authority," John Winthrop's grave advice on the "Nature of Liberty," Jefferson's "Declaration," Webster's "Reply to Hayne," Lincoln's[Pg 33] "Inaugurals," are all fundamentally American. They are political in their immediate purpose, but, like the speeches of Edmund Burke, they are no less literature because they are concerned with the common needs and the common destiny. Hooker and Winthrop wrote before our formal national existence began; Jefferson, at the hour of the nation's birth; and Lincoln, in the day of its sharpest trial. Yet, though separated from one another by long intervals of time, the representative figures of the three epochs, English in blood and American in feeling, are not so unlike as one might think. A thorough grasp of our literature thus requires鈥攁nd in scarcely less a degree than the mastery of one of the literatures of Europe鈥攁 survey of a long period, the search below the baffling or contradictory surface of national experience for the main drift of that experience, and the selection of the writers, of one generation after another, who have given the most fit and permanent and personalized expression to the underlying forces of the national life.

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"Oh, East is East, and West is West, And never the twain shall meet,"

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Let us take an even simpler illustration. We all know the comfortable sense of proprietorship which we experience after a few days' sojourn at a summer hotel. We know our place at the table; we call the head waiter by his first name; we are not even afraid of the clerk. Now into this hotel, where we sit throned in conscious superiority, comes a new arrival. He has not yet learned the exits and entrances. He starts for the kitchen door inadvertently when he should be headed for the drawing-room. We smile at him. Why? Precisely because that was what we did on the morning of our[Pg 176] own arrival. We have been initiated, and it is now his turn.

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