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and difficulties of running a surveyor's line across the Dismal Swamp. There was John Woolman, the Quaker, so tender of conscience that he believed it wasteful and therefore wrong to injure the wearing qualities of cloth by coloring it; and of such charming frankness that he confesses how uneasy he felt lest his fellow Friends should think he was "affecting singularity" in wearing a hat of the natural color of the fur. Some of the paragraphs of his journal might almost have come from the pen of Whittier, so full are they of the poet's sensitiveness and shyness and his boldness in doing right. There were newspapers, the Boston News Letter the first of all. There were almanacs, the first appearing at Cambridge almost as soon as Harvard College was founded.
The colonial days passed swiftly, and the time soon came when the country was aroused and thrilled by an event that changed the aim and purpose of all colonial writings. In 1765 the Stamp Act was passed; and after that date, when men took their pens in hand, their compositions did not belong to the Colonial Period; for, consciously or unconsciously, they had entered into the second period of American literature, the literature of the Revolution.
THE COLONIAL PERIOD
The New England Primer
In the early part of the seventeenth century England was aglow with literary inspiration. American literature began in
Massachusetts, in the histories written by Bradford and Winthrop. The Bay Psalm Book was the first book published in America. Much verse of good motive but small merit was written, the longest piece being Wigglesworth's Day of Doom. Anne Bradstreet wrote the best of the colonial verse. The only book for children was the New England Primer. Cotton Mather was the last of the typical colonial ministers. Sewall's diary pictures colonial days. Edwards was the greatest preacher of the first half of the eighteenth century. He won world-wide fame as a metaphysician. Among the minor writers were Williams, Eliot, Ward, Byrd, and Woolman. The passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 marked the beginning of the second period of American literature, the literature of the Revolution.
THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD
11. Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790. The Stamp Act was an electric shock to the colonists. They expected to be ruled for the benefit of the mother country, for that was the custom of the age; but this Act they believed to be illegal, and it aroused all their Anglo-Saxon wrath at injustice. There was small inclination now to write religious poems or histories of early days. Every one was talking about the present crisis. As time passed, orations and political writings flourished; and satires and war songs had their place, followed by lengthy poems on the assured greatness and glory of America.
At the first threat of a Stamp Act, Pennsylvania had sent one of her colonists to England to prevent its passage if possible. This emissary was Benjamin Franklin, a Boston boy who had run away to Philadelphia. There he had become printer and publisher, and was widely known as a shrewd, successful business man, full of public spirit. He spent in all nearly eighteen years in England as agent of Pennsylvania and other colonies. On one of his visits home he signed the Declaration of Independence. Almost immediately he was sent to France to secure French aid in our Revolutionary struggles. Then he returned to America, and spent the five years of life that remained to him in serving his country and the people about him in every way in his power.
Such a record as this is almost enough for one man's life, but it was only a part of Franklin's work. He specialized in everything. His studies of electricity gained him honors from France and England. Harvard, Yale, Edinburgh, and Oxford gave him
honorary degrees. He invented, among other things, the lightning-rod and the Franklin stove. He founded the Philadelphia Library, the University of Pennsylvania, and the American Philosophical Society. He it was
who first suggested a union of colonies, and he was our first postmaster-general. His motto seems to have been, "I will do everything I can, and as well as I can."
When he was a boy in Boston, he wrote a ballad about a recent shipwreck, which sold in large numbers. "Versemakers are usually beggars," declared his father; and the young poet wrote no more ballads, for he intended to "get on" in life. A little later, he came across an odd volume of The Spectator, and was delighted with its clear, agreeable style. "I will imitate that," he said to himself; so he took notes of some of the papers, His literary rewrote the essays from these, and then compared his work with his model. After much of this practice, he concluded that he "might in time come to be a tolerable English writer."
The hardworking young printer had but a modest literary ambition, but it met with generous fulfilment ; for if he had done nothing else, he would have won fame by his writings. These consist in great part of essays on historical, political, commercial, scientific, religious, and moral subjects. He had studied The Spectator to good purpose, for he rarely wrote a sentence that was not strong and vigorous, and, above all, clear. Whoever reads a paragraph of Franklin's writing knows exactly what the author meant to say. His first liter- Poor Richary glory came from neither poem nor essay, nac, 1732but from Poor Richard's Almanac, a pamphlet 1757. which he published every autumn for twenty-five years. It was full of shrewd, practical advice on becoming well-todo and respected and getting as much as possible out of life. The special charm of the book was that this advice was put in the form of proverbs or pithy rhymes, every one with a snap as well as a moral. "Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing." "Honesty is the best