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


Page 8

the name “Charlotte Temple” in concession to the legend but which probably contains the ashes of a certain Charlotte Stanley whom a British officer named Montrésor seduced from her home in England and deserted in New York, much as in the novel. This simple story Mrs. Rowson embroidered with every device known to the romancer—sentimentalism, bathos, easy tears, high-flying language, melodrama, moralizings without stint or number; and yet something universal in the theme has kept it, in its way, still alive without the concurrence of critics or historians of literature.
  The tradition that Abigail Stanley, mother of Elizabeth Whitman, was a cousin of Charlotte, serves to illustrate the process by which Charlotte Temple and The Coquette won a hearing from a community which winced at fiction: like sagas they stole upon their readers in the company of facts. A similar companionship appears in Royall Tyler’s The Algerine Captive (1797). The hero, Updike Underhill, after an account of his youth and education in the backwoods of New England, and of his experiences as a schoolmaster there, goes on to Boston, begins the practice of medicine, proceeds to Philadelphia, where he meets Franklin, and to Virginia, where he is shocked at encountering a figure quite unknown to New England, a sporting parson; later he goes to sea, visits London, tells of Tom Paine, observes the horrors of a slave ship, and is captured by the Algerines, among whom he spends the six years recounted in the second volume. The value of the book lies largely in its report of facts, which it gives clearly and freshly. That Tyler thought



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