chapter  XVIII
Pages 16

CoBBETT's sojourn in America from 1817 to 1819 was the beginning of what one of his biographers has called his " great literary period." 1 It gave him leisure enough from the daily preoccupation of political journalism to begin work on the numerous books which he wanted to write. His Letters to Benbow, written at the end of 1817, explain what he had in mind. 2 His purpose was educational. He wanted the poorer classes to learn for themselves the things necessary to their salvation. They had abundant intelligence: all they lacked was the means of applying it. Their resolutions and petitions showed plenty of common sense: those who drew them up lacked only the knowledge needed to make them "grammatically correct." Because of this lack they were hampered and despised. Cobbett wanted them to learn grammar as a tailor learns to cut out a gown, or a cobbler a shoe. He set to work to teach them, bidding them despise the pretensions of the so-called "learned languages," and use their wits to make themselves truly learned in their own.