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suspense; but reason says, if you go, and your at- | ples, and she went to hear Doctor Withertempt proves unsuccessful, you will be ten times
spoon preach before Congress. John Page more wretched than ever.
I hear that Ben Harrison has been to Wilton. Let me know was urged to stand for orders and take the his success.
Virginia miter when it was first decided to
send a bishop to the colony, but he de. Ben Harrison's success at Wilton, where clined. The importunity of his friends at he was courting Anne Randolph, a cousin length worried him so, that he said “he'd of both Jefferson and Page, was greater be damned if he would be their bishop” — than that of either the writer of the letter a resolution which probably saved him with “R. B." or of the recipient with further trouble on that score. “ Nancy.” Miss Anne, after leading her After the Revolution, the master of lover a reasonable dance, married him, and Rosewell became governor of Virginia, had the honor of being the wife of a signer and continued to be reëlected, until, after of the Declaration of Independence and the three terms, he became ineligible by constigovernor of Virginia. “Nancy” and “Lit
Nancy” and “Lit- tutional limitation. Like his friend Jeffertle Becky” might have sat in high places son, he was an advanced Republican. themselves had they only smiled a little So long as the master lived, Rosewell,
on their lovers. Cupid, however, although mortgaged for debts contracted lacks the gift of prophecy; and Fame will for the cause of liberty, was kept up-a not tell her secrets till the time comes, for grand old Virginia mansion, open to all, the sweetest lips that ever smiled.
gentle and simple, the home of hospitality Young Page, having failed with Nancy, more boundless than the wealth of all its found consolation at the feet of his sweet owners. In 1808 the master died. He cousin, Frances Burwell, of Carter's Creek, sleeps in “ Old St. John's " church-yard, in who was the niece of President and Secre- Richmond, Virginia, with his head not tary Nelson. When quite a young man he three feet from the old door of the church, became a member of the King's Council and within a few yards of the spot where and of the Board of Trustees of the Col- he stood when Patrick Henry thrilled him lege, and represented that institution in the with the famous “Give me liberty or give General Assembly.
me death." When the storm came, Page was the head of the Republican element in the Council. He represented Gloucester in the Great Convention, and received votes for governor when Patrick Henry was elected first governor of Virginia. He was elected president of the Privy Council, and was a member of the Committee of Safety that had control of the Virginia forces. He was also a member of the first Congress, and continued a representative from Virginia for eight years, and until, as he said, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton shut him out.
Like their kinsmen, the Nelsons, the Pages were Episcopalians, living after the straitest sect of their religion so strictly that they were regarded as the pillars of the establishment in the colony. Yet, great as was their love for the church, their love of liberty was not less, and they took an active part in the disestablishment. The purity of their motives will be understood when it is learned that the families were such rigid churchmen that Mrs. General Nelson never was in a “meeting-house” in her life, and never heard a senter" preach, except when, being present with her husband in Philadelphia, in July, 1776, her patriotism overcame her princi
POETRY IN AMERICA.
ing not to detect whatever might be found of
value in those new plantations. Can this HAVING given an outline of the situation mold of the colonial period be touched with which rendered the new country, in the ear- the sunlight of to-day? Can these dry lier periods of settlement, an untoward bones live? Yes, under the hands of a region for the pursuit of song, and also of man with the patience, firmness, and kindly the specific aids which at last have enabled humor of their historian, to whom American America to have some voice and inspiration literature is so indebted for this review of of her own, I now wish to glance at the its progress that his name will be enviably actual record of her lyrical exploits before connected with it henceforth. the rise of the group of poets to whom these And in the two large volumes, covering essays chiefly are devoted. To do this our first and second periods,-more than a minutely would require us to travel over century and a half-from 1607 to 1765,dreary wastes indeed, though gaining rest the product of the poets appears so valueat last upon the borders of a land of prom- less and meager that, if the narrative deise. From what has been written, I shall pended on them alone, there would be no rightly be understood to agree with Mr. great reason for its compilation.
A larger Whipple in his statement that the course of proportion of educated men belonged to Our literature has been, upon the whole, sub- the early colonies than is to be found elsesidiary to the general movement of the where upon the rolls of emigration. Nearly American mind; that our imagination has all writers then wrote verse, at first printing found exercise in the subjugation of a con- their works in London, and afterward by tinent, in establishing liberty, in war, politics, means of the few and meanly furnished and government,-above all, in the invent- presses along this coast. These folk were ive and constructive energy and the finan- simply third-rate British rhymsters, who cial boldness needed to develop and control copied the pedantry of the tamest period the material heritage which has fallen to us. known. The only marks of distinction But to this let me add that the course of our between their prose and verse were, that poetry, for the same reasons, was long sub- while the former might be dull, the latter sidiary to the course of other literature—at must be, and must pay a stilted regard to once, or by turns, to our theological, politi- measure and rhyme. How hard for our cal, or educational achievements in prose, amiable historian to make poetical finds and to those in the departments of historical that can lighten the pages of his record! narrative and romance.
How he seizes upon some promising The means for a survey of the early estray, like the anonymous ode on the waste, and of its few and unimportant oases,
death of picturesque Nat. Bacon, like are to be found in the libraries of collectors, Norton's “ Funeral Elegy” upon Mistress and in the compilations of Duyckinck, Gris- Anne Bradstreet, or Urian Oakes's upon wold, and others, who have made for us as Thomas Shepard, and makes the most of cheery a showing as they could. But how it! Surely a time that fed its imagination can a reader, who has not access to the rare with the offerings of the “Tenth Muse,” books of a succession of by-gone authors, and expressed religious exaltation in those gain with more satisfaction a correct idea of measures of the Bay Psalm-book that seem their worth and purport than by the study to break from a cow's horn or a Roundof such a work as Professor Tyler's “His- head's nose, and in the lyrical damnations tory of American Literature"
He well of Michael Wigglesworth,- such a time, may avail himself, so far as it is completed, from its beginning with George Sandys of a critical digest whose facts will not be even to the generation that founded hopes gainsaid, a clear and wholesome exposition of a native drama upon the genius of of our early literature, presenting judgments Thomas Godfrey, had derived few creative and inferences with which he usually must impulses from its own experience, and could be in accord. It is a result of scholarly give no real intimation of a national future. labor, closely examining the field, and fail- | This was a time which now seems
venerable to us than the daylight eras of | instinct of government which animates terancient civilization,-drearily old-fashioned, ritorial centers-should be publicists, setting like its town halls and college barracks, still forth the principles of order, economy, and remaining, all the older and moldier be- social weal. The colonial separation ended; cause they are not antique. To its very the national movement began with stormy close, when the different colonies began to agitation and progressed to union in counmove toward cohesion, the most of it seems cil and war. With the Revolution came not to me night-utter night. Its poetical relics only the great orators, but an outburst, are but the curios of a museum—the queer otherwise than tuneful, of patriotic baland ugly specimens of an unhistoric age. lads, songs, and doggerel satires—to all of
Manifestly, and as at a later time, New which, at this distance, the sounds of the England claimed the lead in whatsoever there Continental fife and drum seem a fitting was of thought, or wit, or fancy; and accompaniment. Nor did staid and learned Cambridge even then had her poets, who personages disdain to pay homage to the accounted themselves true children of Par- precept of Andrew Fletcher, and to supplenassus, doubtless with far more self-assur- ment the new-born national ardor by the ance than is displayed by their
aid of their muses. Trumbull's “ McFinin our own day. Tyler plainly shows how gal” is a work that will not go quite out the feudal policy of dispersion, and a con- of repute. It still speaks well for the tempt for book-learning as compared with character, wit, and facility of the stanch active life, placed a ban upon letters in and acute author, and shows genuine origVirginia; while the New England policy of inality although written after a model. Not numerical and intellectual concentration “ Hudibras” more aptly seizes upon brought forward the learned men of that the ludicrous phases of a turbulent epoch. region, and made its colonists a literary | In New York, bluff Captain Freneau, maripeople from the first. In spite of their ner, journalist, and poet, proved himself the moroseness, pedantry, asceticism, a lurking ready laureate of the war. Read the story perception of beauty, an ästhetic sensibility, of his impetuous life, and look through the was to be found among them. But the collection of his ditties and poems, with manifest, the sincere genius of the colonies, their pretentious defects and unwittingly is displayed elsewhere than in their laborious clever touches. A strange and serio-comic
Noble English and a simple, heroic medley they are, and no less a varied reprewonder give zest to the writings of the early sentation of the poetic standards reached in chroniclers, the annals of discovery and America a hundred years ago. Among the adventure. Such traits distinguish the nar- relics which I call to mind of the jingling ratives of the gallant and poetic Captain verse produced in quantity by Treat Paine John Smith, and of Strachey, whose picture and his contemporaries, there is scarcely a of a storm and wreck in the Bermudas so lyric that breathes what we now recognize roused the spirit that conceived “The Tem- as the essential poetic spirit, excepting two pest." They pervade the memorials of or three of Freneau's, such as the stanzas Bradford and Winthrop, of Johnson and upon “ The Wild Honeysuckle," and a Gookin, of Francis Higginson, and Winslow, delicate little song, by John Shaw, of Maryand William Wood. There are power and land, entitled “Who has Robbed the Ocean imagination in the discourses of the great Cave ?" preachers,—Hooker, Cotton, Roger Will- After the close of the Revolution, and iams, Oakes,—who founded a dominion of until the War of 1812, the genius of our the pulpit that was not shaken until after people was devoted to the establishment, the time of Edwards and Byles. Verse through peaceful labor, of the security and making was but the foible of the colonial resources which should be the first fruits of New-Englanders ; law, religious fervor, a conflict for independence. Writers occusuperstition, were then the strength of life; pied themselves with analyzing the science and the time that produced Increase and of government, its principles and practice. Cotton Mather fostered a progeny quite as No American library, however, was comstriking and characteristic as the melodists plete without copies of Dr. Dwight's hisof our late Arcadian morn.
torico - didactic masterpiece, “Greenfield When the Middle Colonies began to have Hill," and Joel Barlow's quarto epic, “ The a literature, it was natural that the chief Columbiad.” The popular ear was content writers—men of the learned professions, with patriotic songs, among them “ Hail busied in affairs and already feeling that | Columbia,” which owed their general adop
tion, like a successor, “The Star-Spangled | lyrics. Their type has survived, almost to Banner,” to the music that carried them or our day. Throughout the swift development to an early possession of the field. It was of the Northern States, the South-agricultnot until peace, for a second time, became ural, feudal, provincial—loyally clung to its a habit that the imagination of a young eighteenth-century taste, making no intelpeople, assured of nationality, slowly found lectual changes so long as human slavery expression upon the written page. In view was the basis of its physical life. I shall of the conditions already described, what hereafter refer to the quality of the newtraits might we reasonably expect would born Southern imagination. That it exists, characterize poetic effort at this stage of in fresh and hopeful promise, is now beyond development ?
doubt. A few of the earlier Southern writFirst,—and although the form and ideal ers—one of whom was Simms, the novelistof American verse should still correspond, poet-worked courageously, but with more like all our early fashions, to the modes will and fluency than native power; so that, prevailing in England, -it would seem that, in spite of their abundant verse, such a lyrist gradually, poets should appear, hampered as Pendleton Cooke was long the typical by this instinct of correspondence, and not Southern poet-a name joined with the quite knowing or daring to be original, yet memory of a single song. A collection of the possessing graces and thoughts of their earlier Southern poetry worth keeping would own, and looking at things, after all, in a be a brief anthology, which a little volume different way from the English; that they might contain. Poe, whose pieces would should seek for home themes, and study occupy one-third of it, sought the literary their surroundings, most likely in a doubt market
, deserting Richmond and Baltimore ful and groping manner; that a diversity for Philadelphia and New York. He lived of subject, thought, and language should in the Northern atmosphere, and, like Brybe observed in the distinct sections of the ant, took his part in the busy movement of Republic — the poets of the South being its civic life and work. more courtly and romantic, and those of Besides the Eastern poets whom I have the Middle States more national and more named, there were others who still more upon the search for aboriginal and histori- closely followed English models. Among cal flavor; that local successes should be them, the orthodox bards of Connecticut, marked where there was the least inflow of Hillhouse and Brainerd, compared with new foreign elements, the sincerest faith, whom Percival, the eccentric scholar and the most intelligent thought; that poetry recluse, shines by virtue of a gift improved should be the more learned, the more by no mean culture. His lyrics and poems subtle and earnest, in the scholarly region of Nature, though inferior to Bryant's, so of the East, and that poets should thrive resemble them that he would be called the best there, where the practice of literature latter's pupil had not the two composed in had long obtained-since all forms of art the same manner from the outset. require more time for growth than other These writers and some others of their products of national organization.
time must, in all fairness, be judged by it. Somewhat after this wise, in fact, as we | They had their modest laurels and rewards, recur to the earliest promise of an American and were the bright selected few of their school, we find that it began with the second country and period, -no less distinguished, quarter of this century. Imaginative youths, though within a smaller horizon, than their born and educated in the new republic, dis- latter-day successors. Their work was the covered that they were poets, and strove to best of its kind which America could show; express the spirit of their birth and training. it had the knack of making itself read in the Among them, Pierpont, Dana, Allston, annuals and school-books, and influenced the Sprague, Bryant,—the gentle stars of the sentiments of more than one generation. East, – began to show their light, and Were Dana and Allston flourishing now, offered their tender or patriotic lyrics, their they would accomplish feats then impracmeditative verse, their placid monographs on ticable, and doubtless would be at no disthe phases of American scenery and tradi- advantage among our present favorites, nor tion. Of these, Bryant was the one whose less receive our honor and support. Fashion genius had the lasting modernness that gives is a potency in art, making it hard to judge permanence to the work of assured poets. | between the temporary and the lasting. Are In the South, a few scattered minstrels, such we sure that our popular poets are better as Wilde and Pinkney, sang their Lovelace | in native faculty ? If they have a finer understanding, and a defter handling of Halleck, whose choicest pieces were comtheir craft, this may be partly a consequence posed before he had outlived the sense of of the fact that not Montgomery and Drake's recent companionship. He, too, Wilson, but Keats, and Wordsworth, and was a natural lyrist, whose pathos and eloTennyson, and their greater masters, have quence were inborn, and whose sentiment, supplied the models of a recent school. though he wrote in the prevailing English
It was natural, also, that the literary mode, was that of his own land. As we read center should shift from place to place, along those favorites of our school-boy days, a sea-board whose capital was scarcely yet “ Burns” and “Red Jacket,” and “ Marco defined. New York early drew together Bozzaris," we feel that Halleck was, within a number of bright young wits and song- his bounds, a national poet. Circumstances sters. The fame of the prose-romancers, dulled his fire, and he lived to write drivel Cooper and Irving, and their success with in his old age. But the early lyrics rehome-themes, were gratifying to the local main, nor was there anything of their kind and national pride, and encouraged at the in our home-poetry to compete with them time, so far as literature was concerned, a until long after their original production. broader American sentiment than prevailed The impulse given to poetry and bellesin New England. That was a spirited little lettres by the example of the early poets group of rhyming satirists whose fancy and novelists increased with the appearbrightened the pages of Coleman's “ Even- ance of fresh strivers after literary fame. ing Post.” Two young writers, Halleck In the East, names began to be mentioned and Drake, worked together in comradeship that now are great indeed; others, then until the one sustained a more than common more commonly known, have passed almisfortune in the other's untimely death. most out of memory. A few teachers of These two men, I take it, were real poets; sound literary doctrine, like E. T. Chansuch is the impression left as one reëxam- ning, of Cambridge, were sowing good ines, after many years, the verse composed seed for future harvests. In New York, by them. Had they been born half a cent- the writings of Willis and Tuckerman, of ury later, they certainly would work more the song-makers Hoffman and Morris, of elaborately, but could not be surer of reputa- Verplanck, Duyckinck, Benjamin, Gristion. Their best pieces, however different wold, and other editors and bookwrights, from the new mode, were at once so received and the parade of new versifiers, male and into popular affection that the authors' female, betokened a positive taste, however names still last. Both of these poets had crude and ill-regulated, for the pursuit of humor, and a perception of its legitimate letters. Occasionally a note of promise use. They, with Bryant and his school, was heard, from some quaint genius like and with Brockden Brown, Paulding, Ralph Hoyt, or some aspirant like Lord, Cooper, Irving, and Miss Sedgwick, writers of whom great things were predicted, and of prose, were the first Americans whose who, in spite of Poe's vindictive onslaught, work gave any substantial evidence of a was a poet. A good deal of eloquent and home-movement in ideal or creative litera- high-sounding verse was produced by such ture. Drake died in his twenty-sixth year, writers as Ross Wallace and Albert Pike. leaving a daughter, through whom his poetic In the East, John Neal, Ware, Mrs. Child, gift has been transmitted to our day. He and in regions farther South, Conrad, Kenhad a quick, genuine faculty, and could be nedy, and Simms,—were active at this time. frolicsome or earnest at will. As an exercise Among these writers were others whose of that delicate imagination which we term claim to our attention is frequent through fancy, “The Culprit Fay,” although the
out these essays. But to enumerate all work of a youth schooled in fairy-lore and who, in the second quarter of this century, the meters of Coleridge, Scott, and Moore, held themselves of much account, is quite boded well for his future. “ The American beyond our need and intention. Of the Flag" is a stirring bit of eloquence in rhyme. New York group, Willis perhaps had the The death of this spirited and promising most adroit and graceful talent, but it was writer was justly deplored. His talent was slight, and not always exercised as by one healthy; had he lived, American authorship possessing convictions. His kindness, tact, might not so readily have become, in Gris- and experience of the world made him an wold's time, a vent for every kind of arbiter in a provincial time. They also romantic and sentimental absurdity. He seriously exposed him to the three worldly would also have stimulated the muse of perils of which, no less than in the days of