Imagination in Colonial Literary Taste
Article publication date: 1 February 1933
IN an address at the dedication of Brooks Library, Brattle‐borough, Mellen Chamberlain made the statement that “before 1700 there was not in Massachusetts, so far as is known, a copy of Shakespeare's or of Milton's poems.” In taking account of the cultural background of colonial America, it is both interesting and instructive to compare this statement with Macaulay's appraisal of seventeenth century England, to the effect that “few of the knights of the shire had libraries as good as may now be found in a servant's hall or in the back parlour of a shop‐keeper. An Esquire passed among his neighbours for a great scholar if Hudibras or Baker's Chronicle, Tarlton's Jests and The Seven Champions of Christendom lay in his hall window among the fishing rods and fowling pieces.” In the light of the foregoing, it is not to be expected that the colonies would produce much by way of literature. As a matter of fact, colonial literature is largely disappointing, but the remarkable thing about it is that there is as much of it as there is, and that it is as good as it is.
LYLE, G.R. (1933), "Imagination in Colonial Literary Taste", Library Review, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 56-59. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb011964
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 1933, MCB UP Limited