The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XIX. Early Humorists

§ 6. David Crockett

It must suffice barely to mention a number of the earlier volumes of American humour which attained popularity but which today are known only to the student. David Crockett’s Autobiography (1834) may not belong here, though it is certainly one of the raciest of all the books in its kind.

Crayon Sketches (1833), by William Cox (d. 1851), an English journalist working in New York, consists of a series of amusing essays contributed to The New York Mirror, satirizing the literary infirmities of the times and hitting off well-known actors. Especially popular were the sketches of himself and the burlesque biography of the old city constable, Jacob Hays. The Life and Adventures of Dr. Didimus Duckworth, A. N. Q. to which is added the History of a Steam Doctor (1833), is a mock-heroic biography of a spoiled child, in the style of broadest farce; The Perils of Pearl Street (1834) tells of the fortunes and misfortunes of a country lad who comes to New York in search of wealth. Both were written by Asa Green (d. 1837), a New England physician, who moved to New York and established himself as bookseller. A clever book, hustling with action, is Novellettes of a Traveller, or, Odds and Ends from the Knapsack of Thomas Singularity, Journeyman Printer (1834), which was written by Henry Junius Nott (1797–1837), of South Carolina, distinguished at the bar for his learning and afterwards as professor of belles-lettres. The Ollapodiana Papers, in the style of a more boisterous Lamb, were contributed to The Knickerbocker Magazine by Willis Gaylord Clark (1810–41), whose twin brother, Lewis Gaylord Clark (d. 1873), for a long time editor of the Knickerbocker, was an accomplished journalist and humorist of the chatting sort. The Motley Book (1838) was a collection of original sketches and tales by Cornelius Mathews (1817–89), a versatile poet, dramatist, and journalist who was very prolific during the forties and whose Career of Puffer Hopkins (1841) is one of the most interesting of minor American political satires. The sprightly and observant Sketches of Paris (1838), by John Sanderson (1783–1844), were made a good deal of in London and Paris for a decade or so after their first appearance. George P. Morris (1802–64), one of the founders of The New York Mirror, collected in 1838 a volume of his sketches of New York life; the leading one, called The Little Frenchman and his Water Lots, is a pathetic but graphic account of a little French merchant duped by a Manhattan real estate dealer. The Annals of Quodlibet, a Political Satire by Solomon Secondthought, Schoolmaster (1840), by John Pendleton Kennedy, has been treated elsewhere in this history. The influence of Dickens is potent in Charcoal Sketches or Scenes in a Metropolis (1840), by Joseph Clay Neal (1807–47), whose work was seen through the press in England by Dickens himself.