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

I. Travellers and Explorers, 1583–1763

§ 14. George Keith

Another traveller who did his best to scour the colonists of heretical opinions, his own opinions being as pronounced when he was directed by the Quaker spirit as when he followed the Anglican order, was George Keith. He knew the controversially-minded Americans better than anyone else at the end of the seventeenth century. The descriptions of his opponents which are scattered through his hundred-odd publications are an invaluable elucidation of the state of mind which fructified in the revivals of forty years later, when George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards came to make plain the way to salvation. Whitefield kept a diary during his constant journeyings between England and America and through the mainland colonies. These personal records were published at the close of each important stage of his wanderings, and the seven pamphlets in which they appeared were reprinted in numerous editions. They contributed largely to the success of the great revivalist’s ministry. Upon the reader of two hundred years later they still leave the impression of a dominating spirit, and of a sweet nature unconscious of its power. Worn out by wordy wrestlings with a recalcitrant sinner, Whitefield would cheerfully get out of a sick bed to preach to the Free Masons, “with whom I afterwards dined, and was used with the utmost civility.”

An elemental fondness for rhyme and rhythm was responsible for the preservation of a few records of travellings not in themselves as remarkable as the effusions for which they gave the occasion. Two of these were A Monumental Memorial of A Late Voyage from Boston in New-England To London, Anno 1683. In a Poem. By Richard Steere, and a broadside, A Journal of the Taking of Cape-Breton, Put into Metre By L.G., One of the Soldiers of the Expedition, in 1745.