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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 59

The wittiest was Caroline Matilda Stansbury Kirkland, a native of New York, who wrote from the Michigan frontier, among other lesser books, A New Home—Who’ll Follow? (1839), a volume of keen and sprightly letters avowedly in the manner of Miss Mitford, an English imitator of Irving. Still closer to Irving was Judge James Hall of Pennsylvania, who went west in search of adventure, lived in Illinois and Ohio, and by his various literary enterprises served as an interpreter between West and East much as Irving did between America and Europe. Hall’s manner is like Irving’s in its leisurely, genial narrative, its abundant descriptions, and its affection for supernatural legends which could be handled smilingly. He had real powers of fidelity, the only merit he claimed, to the life he knew, but he had also a florid style and a vein of romantic sentiment which have denied his best book, The Wilderness and the Warpath (1846), a permanent vitality. Nearest of all to Irving, however, was his friend and admirer, John Pendleton Kennedy. Of excellent Virginia connections, but born in Baltimore, he served as bloodlessly as Irving in the War of 1812, like him was admitted to the bar, and like him lived merrily thereafter in his native town. His Red Book (1818–19) was a Baltimore Salmagundi in prose and verse, and his Swallow Barn (1832), an amiable and admirable record of life on a Virginia plantation, was a Virginia Bracebridge Hall, even to certain incidents and characters which give the effect of having been introduced rather because Kennedy had observed them in Irving than because he had observed them in Virginia. But Kennedy’s easy humor and real skill at description and characterization



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