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