[To “Voices from 19th-Century America”]

Notes for Truth
by William Joseph Snelling (1831 & 1832)

William Snelling refers to many minor writers and mediocre works in the first and second editions of Truth. It’s difficult to evaluate Snelling’s judgments without having at least a swatting acquaintance with the literary fireflies he attempts to skewer; I’ve sought out contemporary biographies of the writers and early copies of the literary works to which he refers.

I’ve annotated very little, explaining only a few obscure references; the explanation is alphabetized under the phrase (ex., “cats called Thomas” is alphabetized by “cats”). I’ve made no attempt to find translations of Snelling’s Latin quotes.

Writers and their works are arranged alphabetically. In the first edition of Truth, Snelling “disguises” the writers’ names by removing the vowels; because the abbreviations can make for awkward reading, the writers are identified under the heading “abbreviations.” The nicknames Snelling applies to various writers are also included under the heading. Many of the poems to which Snelling refers are transcribed from Specimens of American Poetry, the three-volume anthology edited by Samuel Kettell (Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829). Long works are represented by excerpts.

B-rk-r: James N. Barker

Cl-rk: Clark brothers

D-na: Richard H. Dana

D-wes; “Rufus”: Rufus Dawes

“Edward”: Edward Everett

F-nn: Henry J. Finn

L-gg-t: William Leggett

L-nt: George Lunt

L-w-s: Alonzo Lewis

M’C-ll: John C. M’Call

M’H-nry: James McHenry

M’L-ll-n; “Isaac”: Isaac M’Lellan/McLellan

M-ll-n: Grenville Mellen

M-rr-s; “Mirror Morris”: George P. Morris

N-al: John Neal

P—b-dy: William B. O. Peabody

P—rp-nt: John Pierpont

P-ck-r-ng: Henry Pickering

P-rc-v-l: James G. Percival

P-uld-ng: James K. Paulding

Pr-nt-ce: George Denison Prentice

R-ckw-ll: James Otis Rockwell

Spr-g-e: Charles Sprague

Th-mps-n: Thompson

W—dw-rth: Samuel Woodworth

W-ll-s; “Natty”: Nathaniel P. Willis

W-lsh: Robert Walsh

W-re: Henry Ware, jr.

W-tm-re: Prosper M. Wetmore

Wh-tt-r: John Greenleaf Whittier

[excerpt from the title poem]

On Caledonia’s hills, the ruddy morn

Breathes fresh:—the huntsman winds his clamorous horn.

The youthful minstrel from his pallet springs,

Seizes his harp, and tunes its slumbering strings.

Lark-like he mounts o’er gray rocks, thunder-riven,

Lark-like he cleaves the white mist, tempest-driven,

And lark-like carols, as the cliff he climbs,

Whose oaks were vocal with his earliest rhymes.

With airy foot he treads that giddy height;

His heart all rapture, and his eye all light;

His voice all melody, his yellow hair

Floating and dancing on the mountain air,

Shaking from its loose folds the liquid pearls,

That gather clustering on his golden curls;—

And, for a moment, gazes on a scene,

Tnged with deep shade, dim gold, and brightening green;

Then plays a mournful prelude, while the star

Of morning fades:—but when heaven’s gates unbar,

And on the world a tide of glory rushes,

Burns on the hill, and down the valley blushes;

The mountain bard in livelier numbers sings,

While sunbeams warm and gild the conscious string,

And his young bosom feels the enchantment strong

Of light, and joy, and minstrels, and song.

From rising morn, the tuneful stripling roves

Through smiling valleys and religious groves;

Hears, there, the flickering blackbird strain his throat,

Here, the lone turtle pour her mournful note,

Till night descends, and round the wanderer flings

The dewdrops dripping from her dusky wing.

Far from his native vale and humble shed

By nature’s smile and nature’s music led,

This child of melody has thoughtless strayed,

Till darkness wraps him in her deepening shade.

The scene that cheered him, when arrayed in light,

Now lowers around him with the frown of night.

With weary foot the nearest height he climbs,

Crowned with huge oaks, giants of other times;

Who feel, but fear not, autumn’s breath, and cast

Their summer robes upon the roaring blast,

And, glorying in their majesty of form,

Toss their old arms, and challenge every storm.

Below him, Ocean rolls:—deep in a wood,

Built on a rock, and frowning o’er the flood,

Like the dark Cyclops of Trinacria’s isle,

Rises an old and venerable pile:

Gothic its structure; once a cross it bore,

And pilgrims thronged to hail it and adore.

Mitres and crosiers awed the trembling friar,

The solemn organ led the chanting quire,

When in those vaults the midnight dirge was sung,

And o’er the dead a requiescat rung.

Now, all is still:—the midnight anthem hushed:—

The cross is crumbled, and the mitre crushed.

And is all still?—No: round those ruined altars,

With feeble foot as our musician falters,

Faint, weary, lost, benighted, and alone,

He sinks, all trembling, on the threshold stone.

Here nameless fears the young enthusiast chill:

They ’re superstitious, but religious still.

He hears the sullen murmur of the seas,

That tumble round the stormy Orcades,

Or, deep beneath him, heave with boundless roar

Their sparkling surges to that savage shore;

And thinks a spirit rolls the weltering waves

Through rifted rocks and hollow-rumbling caves.

Round the dark windows clasping ivy clings,

Twines round the porch, and in the sea-breeze swings;

Its green leaves rustle:—heavy winds arise;

The low cells echo, and the dark hall sighs.

Now Fancy sees the ideal canvass stretched,

And o’er the lines, that Truth has dimly sketched,

Dashes with hurried hand the shapes that fly

Hurtled along before her frenzied eye.

The scudding cloud, that drives along the coast,

Becomes the drapery of a warrior’s ghost,

Who sails serenely in his gloomy pall,

O’er Morven’s woods and Tura’s mouldering wall,

To join the feast of shells, in Odin’s misty hall.

Is that some demon’s shriek, so loud and shrill,

Whose flapping robes sweep o’er the stormy hill?

No:—’t is the mountain blast, that nightly rages

Around those walls, gray with the moss of ages.

Is that a lamp sepulchral, whose pale light

Shines in yon vault, before a spectre white?

No:—’t is a glow-worm, burning greenly there,

Or meteor, swimming slowly on the air.

What mighty organ swells its deepest tone,

And sighing heaves a low, funereal moan,

That murmurs through the cemetery’s glooms,

And throws a deadlier horror round its tombs?

Sure, some dread spirit o’er the keys presides!

The same that lifts these darkly thundering tides;

Or, homeless, shivers o’er an unclosed grave;

Or shrieking, off at sea, bestrides the white-maned wave.

Yes!—’t is some Spirit that those skies deforms,

And wraps in billowy clouds that hill of storms.

Yes:—’t is a Spirit in those vaults that dwells,

Illumes that hall, and murmurs in those cells.

Yes:—’t is some Spirit on the blast that rides,

And wakes the eternal tumult of the tides.

That Spirit broke the poet’s morning dream,

Led him o’er woody hill and babbling stream,

Lured his young foot to every vale that rung,

And charmed his ear in every bird that sung;

With various concerts cheered his hours of light,

But kept the mightiest in reserve till night;

Then, throned in darkness, pealed that wildest air,

Froze his whole soul, and chained the listener there.

That Mighty Spirit once from Teman came:

Clouds were his chariot, and his coursers flame.

Bowed the perpetual hills:—the rivers fled:—

Green Ocean trembled to his deepest bed:—

Earth shrunk aghast,—eternal mountains burned,

And his red axle thundered as it turned.

O! Thou Dread Spirit! Beings End and Source!

Check thy bright chariot in its fervid course.

Bend from thy throne of darkness and of fire,

And with one smile immortalize our lyre.

Amid the cloudy lustre of thy throne,

Though wreathy tubes, unheard on earth, are blown,

In sweet accord with the undying hymn

Of angel quires and harping Seraphim,

Still hast thou stooped to hear a shepherd play,

To prompt his measures, and approve his lay.

Hast thou grown old, Thou, who for ever livest!

Has thou forgotten, Thou, who memory givest!

How, on the day thine ark, with loud acclaim,

From Zion’s hill to Mount Moriah came,

Beneath the wings of Cherubim to rest,

In a rich vail of Tyrian purple dressed;

When harps and cymbals joined in the echoing clang,

When psalteries tinkled, and when trumpets rang,

And white-robed Levites round thine alter sang,

Thou didst descend, and, rollng through the crowd,

Inshrine thine ark and altar in thy shroud,

And fill the temple with thy mantling cloud.

And now, Almighty Father, well we know,

When humble strains from grateful bosoms flow,

Those humble strains grow richer as they rise,

And shed a balmier freshness on the skies.

What though no Cherubims are here displayed,

No gilded walls, no cedar colonnade,

No crimson curtains hang around our quire,

Wrought by the cunning artisan of Tyre;

No doors of fir on golden hinges turn;

No spicy gums in golden censers burn;

No frankincense, in rising volumes, shrouds

The fretted roof in aromatic clouds;

No royal minstrel, from his ivory throne

Gives thee his father’s numbers or his own;—

If humble love, if gratitude inspire,

Our strain shall silence even the temple’s quire,

And rival Michael’s trump, nor yield to Gabriel’s lyre.

In what rich harmony, what polished lays,

Should man address thy throne, when Nature pays

Her wild, her tuneful tribute to the sky!

Yes, Lord, she sings thee, but she knows not why.

The fountain’s gush, the long resounding shore,

The zephyr’s whisper, and the tempest’s roar,

The rustling leaf in autumn’s fading woods,

The wintry storm, the rush of vernal floods,

The summer bower, by cooling breezes fanned,

The torrent’s fall, by dancing rainbows spanned,

The streamlet, gurgling through its rocky glen,

The long grass, sighing o’er the graves of men,

The bird that crests yon dew-bespangled tree,

Shakes his bright plumes, and trills his descant free,

The scorching bolt, that, from thine armoury hurled,

Burns its red path, and cleaves a shrinking world;

All these are music to Religion’s ear,—

Music, thy hand awakes, for man to hear.

Thy hand invested in their azure robes,

Thy breath made buoyant, yonder circling globes,

That bound and blaze along the elastic wires,

That viewless vibrate on celestial lyres,

And in that high and radiant concave tremble,

Beneath whose dome adoring hosts assemble,

To catch the notes, from those bright spheres that flow,

Which mortals dream of, but which angels know.

(John Pierpont. Airs of Palestine, and Other Poems. Boston: James Munroe & Co., 1840; pp. 24-30.)

Washington Allston, the descendant of a family of much distinction in South Carolina, was born at Charleston, November 5, 1779. He was prepared for college at the school of Mr. Robert Rogers, of Newport, T. I.; entered Harvard in 1796, and on the completion of his course delivered a poem.

He returned to South Carolina; sold his property; sailed for England, and on his arrival in London became a student of the Royal Academy, then under the presidency of Benjamin West. Here he remained for three years, and then, after a sojourn at Paris, went to Rome, where he resided for four years, and became the intimate associate of Coleridge.

In 1809 he returned to America for a period of two years, which he passed in Boston, and at this time married the sister of the Rev. Dr. Channing. He also delivered a poem before the Phi Beta Kappa Society. In 1811 he commenced a second residence in London, where, in 1813, he published a small volume, The Sylphs of the Seasons, and other Poems, which was reprinted in Boston the same year. The date is also marked in his career by the death of his wife, an event which affected him deeply.

During this sojourn in Europe, which extended to 1818, several of his finest paintings were produced. On his return home he resumed his residence at Boston. In 1830 he maried a sister of Richard H. Dana, and removed to Cambridgeport. His lectures on Art were commenced about the same period. …

In 1841 he published Monabli, an Italian romance of moderate length, which had been written as early as 1821 when Dana published his Idle Man, and, but for the discontinuance of that work, would probably have appeared there. In the latter part of his life he was chiefly engaged on his great painting of Belshazzar’s Feast. After a week’s steady labor on this work, he retired late on Saturday night, July 8, 1843, from his studio to his family circle, and after a conversation of peculiar solemnity, sat down to his books and papers, which furnished the usual occupation of a great portion of his nights. It was thus, sitting alone about midnight, near the dawning of Sunday, with scarce a struggle, he was called from the temporary repose of the holy day to the perpetual Sabbath of eternity. …

His poems, though few in number, are exquisite in finish, and in the fancies and thoughts which they embody. They are delicate, subtle, and philosophical. Though and feeling are united in them, and the meditative eye

which hath kept watch

o’er man’s mortality

broods over all. In The Sylphs of the Seasons he has pictured the successive delights of each quarter of the year with the joint sensibility of the poet and the artist, bringing before us a series of images of the iamgination blended with the purest sentiment.

If the other poems may be described as occasional, it should be remarked they are the occasions not of a trifler or a man of the world, but of a philosopher and a Christian, whose powers were devoted to the sacred duties of life, to his art, to his friends, to the inner world of faith. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 12-14)


’T was a sunset’s hallow’d time—and such an eve

Might almost tempt an angel heaven to leave.

Never did brighter glories greet the eye,

Low in the warm and ruddy western sky:

Nor the light clouds at summer eve unfold

More varied tints of purple, red, and gold.

Some in the pure, translucent, liquid breast

Of crystal lake, fast anchor’d seem’d to rest,

Like golden islets scatter’d far and wide,

By elfin skill in fancy’s fabled tide,

Where, as wild eastern legends idly feign,

Fairy, or genii, hold despotic reign.

Others, like vessels gilt with burnish’d gold,

Their flitting airy way are seen to hold,

All gallantly equipp’d with streamers gay,

While hands unseen, or chance directs their way;

Around, athwart, the pure ethereal tide,

With swelling purple sail, they rapid glide,

Gay as the bark, where Egypt’s wanton queen

Reclining on the shaded deck was seen,

At which as gazed the uxorious Roman fool,

The subject world slipt from his dotard rule.

Anon, the gorgeous scene begins to fade,

And deeper hues the ruddy skies invade;

The haze of gathering twilight nature shrouds,

And pale, and paler, wax the changeful clouds.

Then sunk the breeze into a breathless calm,

The silent dews of evening dropt like balm;

The hungry nighthawk from his lone haunt hies,

To chase the viewless insect through the skies;

The bat began his lantern-loving flight,

The lonely whip-poor-will, our bird of night,

Ever unseen, yet ever seeming near,

His shrill note quaver’d in the startled ear;

The buzzing beetle forth did gaily hie,

With idle hum, and careless blundering eye;

The little trusty watchman of pale night,

The fire-fly trimm’d anew his lamp so bright,

And took his merry airy circuit round

The sparkling meadow’s green and fragrant bound,

Where blossom’d clover, bathed in balmy dew,

In fair luxuriance, sweetly blushing grew.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 180)

Ebenezer Bailey, is a native of Newbury in Massachusetts, and was graduated at Yale College in 1817. He is now Principal of the Young Ladies’ High School in Boston. His prize ode, recited at the Boston Theatre in 1825, is the only performance by which he is known to the public as a poet. He has, however, produced a great number of poetical effusions of high merit, which have obtained anonymously a wide circulation in our various repositories of fugitive verse. If only Mr Bailey had written with a view to distinction, he might at this moment have been one of the most popular and esteemed poets of our country. The Triumphs of Liberty is a chaste and spirited production, superior to anything of the kind which our national anniversaries have called forth. His lighter pieces are thrown off with an ease and playfulness of fancy that we do not often see equalled in the hasty rhymes of a leisure moment. (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 370)

Born 25 June 1795; died 5 Aug 1839

James N. Barker was born at Philadelphia; he was a captain in the artillery, and served on the frontiers during the late war with Great Britain. When the war was over, he returned to his native city, where he continues to live at present. He has been an Alderman, and was for one year Mayor of the city of Philadelphia. Mr Barker is better known by his dramatic than by his other productions. As early as 1807, he produced a comedy at the Philadelphia Theatre, entitled “Tears and Smiles,” and a melo drama founded on the story of Pocahontas, which he called “The Indian Princess, or La Belle Sauvage.” These were represented with success. He dramatised Scott’s Marmion, which was a very popular play, and still keeps possession of the stage. In 1817, he published a remarkably neat and sprightly comedy, entitled “How to try a Lover,” which was never performed, and in 1823, he produced a tragedy, entitled “Superstition,” the scene of which is laid in New England, and one of the principal character is Goff, the regicide. This is the last of Mr Barker’s dramatic efforts, and possesses considerable merit. It was performed but twice at the Chesnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia. Mr Barker is also the author of several occasional pamphlets, the most interesting of which is entitled “Sketches of the Primitive Settlements on the River Delaware.” He has written also in the Atlantic Souvenir. His writings are characterised by good taste, simplicity of language, and adherence to nature. His fancy is playful, and his images are such as are calculated rather to delight than startle. (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 337-338)

Died 9 March 1858

Brainard, the gentle poet of the Connecticut, the sylvan, placid stream which happily symbolizes his verse, was born in the state of that name at New London, October 21, 1796. His father had been a judge of the Superior Court, and the son for a while, after his education at Yale was completed, pursued the study of the law, but it was little adapted to his tastes and constitution, and after a brief trial of its practice at Middletown he abandoned it in February, 1822, for the editorship of a weekly paper at Hartford, the Connecticut Mirror. He is said to have neglected the politics of his paper, dismissing the tariff with a jest, while he displayed his ability in the literary and poetical department. His genius lay in the amiable walks of the belles-lettres, where the delicacy of his temperament, the correspondence of the sensitive mind to the weak physical frame, found its appropriate home and nourishment. His country needed results of this kind more than it did law or politics; and in his short life Brainard honored his native land. His genius is a flower picked from the banks of the river which he loved, and preserved for posterity.

Before entering on the Mirror Brainard wrote a few pieces for a literary paper published by Cornelius Tuthill at New Haven, called The Microscope. His composition in the Mirror were at once relished and appreciated. Though they were mostly on trite and occasional subjects, such as time out of mind had occupied with little notice the corner of the country newspaper, yet they had a freshness of spirit infused in them, a fine poetical instinct, which charmed the youths and maidens of Connecticut. This instinct of Brainard led him to the employment of the ballad, in which he gave rare promise, as he embodied the patriotism or the superstition of the country, in such poems as Fort Griswold and the Black Fox of Salmon River. The annual new year carrier’s address of the newspaper, in place of the usual doggerel, became a poem in his hands. Even album verses assumed a hue of nature and originality. …

In 1825 a first volume of Poems was published by Brainard at New York, mostly made up from the columns of his newspaper, which was favorably received. Not long after, in 1827, the poet was compelled by the inroad of consumption on his constitution to retire from his editorship. He went to the east end of Long Island for his health, and has left a touching memorial of his visit to the sea, in which the animation of his genius overcomes the despondency of his broken frame. He suffered and wrote verse until his death at his father’s home, at New London, September 26, 1828.

After his death a second edition of Brainard’s poems appeared in 1832, enlarged from the first, with the title Literary Remains, accompanied by a warmly written sketch of the poet’s life, by Whittier. This has been since followed by a third edition, with a portrait, an elegant and tasteful volume, published by Edward Hopkins, at Hartford, in 1842.

To the indications we have given of the poet’s genius we have only to add a few personal traits. He was a small man, and sensitive on that score. His friends noticed the fine expression of his countenance when animated. He was negligent of his dress and somewhat abstracted. He wrote rapidly, and was ready in conversation, with playful repartee. His biographer, in the last edition of his poems, gives an instance of his wit. A preacher had come to New London, and labored heavily through a discourse, complaining all the time that his mind was imprisoned. When this difficulty was urged in defence of his dulness Brainard would not allow it, since “the preacher’s mind might easily have sworn out.” At another time he replied to a critic, who had pronounced the word “brine” in his verses on “The Deep,” “to have no more business in sentimental poetry than a pig in a parlor,” that the objector, “though his piece is dated Philadelphia, lives at a greater distance from the sea, and has got his ideas of the salt water from his father’s pork barrel.” (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 226-227)

James Gordon Brooks, the son of David Brooks, an officer of the Revolutionary army, was born at Claverack on the Hudson, September 3, 1801. He was graduated at Union College in 1819, and studied law at Poughkeepsie, but never engaged actively in the practice of the profession. It was in this place that he commenced his poetical career by the publication in the newspapers of the place of a few fugitive poems, with the signature of Florio, which attracted much attention. Various conjectures were made respecting their authorship, but the author succeeded in maintaining his incognito not only among his neighbors, but also in his own household.

In 1823 Mr. Brooks removed to New York, where he became the literary editor of the Minerva, a belles-lettres journal which he conducted about two years. He then started the Literary Gazette, a weekly journal on the model of the English publication of the same name, which, after being continued for a few months, was united with the Athenaeum, and conducted under the care of Mr. Brooks and Mr. James Lawson for two years. He then became an editor of the Morning Courier, with which he remained connected for about the same period. In these journals, and in the Commercial Advertiser, most of his poems were published, with the signature of Florio. They were great favorites, and placed the author in the popular estimate of his day in the same rank with Drake and Halleck as one of the poetical trio of the town.

In 1828 he married Miss Mary Elizabeth Akin, … who had been from an early age a writer of verse for periodicals under the signature of Norna. The year after a volume entitled The Rivals of Este and other Poems, by James G. and Mary E. Brooks, appeared. …

Mr. Brooks died at Albany in 1841. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 323-324)

William Cullen Bryant was born at Cummington, Hampshire County, Mass., on November 3, 1794. His father, a physician, and a man of strength of character and literary culture, took pride in his son’s early ability, and cherished the young poet with paternal affection. We have heard the anecdote of his reciting the poem “Thanatopsis” at the house of one of his friends, with tears in his eyes. “The father taught the son,” we are told in a valuable notice of the poet’s life and writings, “the value of correctness and compression, and enabled him to distinguish between true poetic enthusiasm and fustian.” …

Bryant early displayed the poetic faculty, and fastened upon the genial influences of nature about him. He began to write verses at nine, and at ten composed a little poem to be spoken at a public school, which was published in a country newspaper. At the age of fourteen he prepared a collection of poems, which was published in Boston in 1809. …

Bryant studied at Williams College, which he left to prosecute the study of the law, a profession in which he was engaged in practice at Plainfield for one year, and afterwards for nine years at Great Barrington. In 1816 his poem of Thanatopsis, written in his nineteenth year, was published in the North American Review. … In 1821 he delivered the Phi Beta Kappa poem at Harvard …. This he published in that year with other poems at Cambridge. In 1825, abandoning the law for literature, he came to New York and edited a monthly periodical, the New York Review and Athenaeum Magazine, which in 1826 was merged in a new work of a similar character, also conducted by him, the United States Review and Literary Gazette …. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 183-185)

Died 12 June 1878

How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood!

When fond recollection presents them to view;

The orchard, the meadow, the deep tangled wild wood,

And every loved spot which my infancy knew;

The wide spreading pond, and the mill which stood by it,

The bridge, and the rock where the cataract fell;

The cot of my father, the dairy house nigh it,

And e’en the rude bucket which hung in the well.

The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,

The moss-cover’d bucket which hung in the well.

That moss-cover’d vessel I hail as a treasure,

For often at noon, when return’d from the field,

I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,

The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.

How ardent I seized it with hands that were glowing,

And quick to the white pebbled bottom it fell,

Then soon with the emblem of truth overflowing,

And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well.

The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,

The moss-cover’d bucket arose from the well.

How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it,

As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips!

Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it,

Though fill’d with the nectar that Jupiter sips.

And now far removed from the loved situation,

The tear of regret will intrusively swell,

As fancy reverts to my father’s plantation,

And sighs for the bucket which hangs in the well.

The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,

The moss-cover’d bucket which hangs in the well.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 242-243)


Muse, that upon the top of Pindus sitt’st,

And with the enchanting accents of thy lyre

Dost soothe the immortals, while thy influence sweet

Earth’s favor’d bards confess, be present now;

Breathe through my soul, inspire thyself the song,

And upward bear me in the adventurous flight:

Lo the resistless theme—The Buckwheat Cake.

Let others boastful sing the golden ear

Whose farinaceous treasures, by nice art

And sleight of hand, with store of milk and eggs,

Form’d into pancakes of an ample round,

Might please an epicure—and homebred bards

Delight to celebrate the tassell’d maize

Worn in the bosom of the Indian maid,

Who taught to make the hoe-cake, (dainty fare,

When butter’d well!) I envy not their joys.

How easier of digestion, and, beyond

Compare, more pure, more delicate, the cake

All other cakes above, queen of the whole,

And triumph of the culinary art—

The Buckwheat Cake! my passion when a boy,

And still the object of intensest love—

Love undivided, knowing no decline,

Immutable. My benison on thee,

Thou glorious Plant! that thus with gladness crown’dst

Life’s spring-time, and beneath bright Summer’s eye,

Lured’st me so oft to revel with the bee,

Among thy snow-white flowers: nay, that e’en yet

Propitious, amidst visions of the past

Which seem to make my day-dreams now of joy,

Giv’st me to triumph over the ills of time.

(Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 26-27)

“cats called Thomas”

tomcats, which prowl in search of a mate

The play was unpublished except for the last scene, which appeared in the Saturday News and Literary Gazette; it was reprinted in 1930.

[excerpt from act V, sc 5: Marius dies]

Marius. The icy drops of death

Are on my frame, and the hot blood of old

Metellus, burns like molten lead. See there!

All stain’d with gore, he writhes in agony.

And looks forgiveness on the wretch who slew him.

He stretches forth his hands, imploring mercy;

The hands that foster’d me in early youth!

A cherub’s smile is on his pallid lips,

But now distorted with the pangs of death!—

Madness! Remove him from my sight! Away—

Take him away, I’ll be soldier yet!—

Granius. Alas! my father!

Marius. And trembles, too, my son.

O! what a pang was there! and yet another!

My bosom is too small—it heaves to bursting—

Feel how it throbs!—More air! more air!—I die!—

Help me to rend these close-knit ribs asunder—

Help me! O! help!

Cinna. Look to the Sybil, there—

Granius. Press not thus closely on him.

Marius. Soft. Bend me forward. So—I breathe again.

My eyes grow dim. More air—more air—

Cinna. The Sibyl’s dead!

Marius. Thou dear, devoted one!

Then the last human tie is rent in twain.

The gods have done their worst, for Sylla comes,

And I am breathing still. Death, death, where art thou? (Trumpets.)

Enter Sylla and Soldiers.

Stand off and touch me not, till I am dead;

Avaunt, and let me die as I have lived,

Unshackled both in body and in mind.

Sylla, ’tis past with me, and, I bequeath

An abject world to thy unpitying care.

Now unoppos’d, go drive thy chariot wheels

Across the necks of slaves, who will not groan,

Lest it offend the ears of godlike Sylla.

But for me—Freedom, freedom, freedom

With the gods.      (Dies.)

(American Literature. 2 [1930]: 150-156.)

The twin brothers Clark were born at Otisco, Onondaga county, New York, in the year 1810. Their father had served in the Revolutionary war, and was a man of reading and observation. Willis, on the completion of his education, under the care of this parent and the Rev. George Colton, a relative on his mother’s side, went to Philadelphia, where he commenced a weekly periodical similar in plan to the New York Mirror. It was unsuccessful and soon discontinued. He next became an assistant of the Rev. Dr. Brantley, a Baptist clergyman …, in the editorship of the Columbian Star, a religious newspaper. He retired from this position to take charge of the Philadelphia Gazette …. He became its proprietor, and continued his connexion with it until his death.

One of the most successful of Clark’s literary productions was the Ollapodiana, a series of brief essays, anecdotes, and observations, continued from month to month in the Knickerbocker Magazine, of which his brother Lewis had become the editor. …

[He fell] a victim to a lingering disease in June, 1841.

Clark’s poems, with the exception of The Spirit of Life … are brief, and were written for and published in his own journals and the magazines and annuals of the day. …

Mr. Lewis Gaylord Clark is the editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine, having conducted that periodical since its third volume in 1832. He has become widely known by his monthly Editor’s Table and Gossip with Readers and Correspondents, embracing a collection of the jests and ondits of the day, connected by a light running comment. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 534-535]

Died 3 Nov 1873

Willis Clark published poetry in The Token in 1830 and 1832.

Saw ye that cloud, which arose in the west,

As the burning sun sank down to his rest,

How it spread so wide, and tower’d so high,

O’er the molten gold of that glowing sky,

That it seem’d—Oh! it seem’d like some arched way,

As it beam’d and gleam’d, in that glorious ray,

Where the spirit, freed

From its earthly weed,

And robed in the white

Of the saints in light,

Might pass from the waves of sin and wo,

To that world where ceaseless pleasures flow!

Ye saw that cloud, how it tower’d alone,

Like an arched path o’er the billows thrown,

How its pillars of azure and purple stood,

And mock’d at the dash of the angry flood,

While it beam’d—oh! it beam’d from its battlements high,

As it gleam’d, and stream’d, in that western sky,

Such a flood of mellow and golden light,

As chain’d and fix’d the ravish’d sight,

And pour’d, along our dark’ning way,

The peace and joy of celestial day.

Such, as we haste to our heavenly home,

Saviour! such be the sights that come—

Thus, while the visions of time flit by,

And the fashion of earth grows dim to our eye,

Thus, let the light—oh! the light of thy love,

Beam bright on our sight from the mansions above—

Rending the gloom

Which enwraps the tomb,

And guiding our eye

To that world on high,

Where the people who love thee, for ever shall share

The rest thou hast purchased, and gone to prepare.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 348)

William, the third child of the Rev. Harry Croswell, was born at Hudson, New York, November 7, 1804, and graduated from Yale College in 1822. The next four years were passed in desultory reading and study. His preference was early formed for a clerical career, but from a distrust of his fitness for the holy office, a distrust arising solely from the modesty which characterized him through life, it was not until 1826 that he finally decided to enter the ministry. He commenced his preparatory studies at the General Theological Seminary in New York, where, owing to ill health, he remained but a short time. After passing a brief period at New Haven he went to Hartford, where he edited, with Mr. now Bishop Doane, a religious newspaper, The Episcopal Watchman. He commenced his poetical career in the columns of this journal with a number of sonnets and short poems, which were much admired and widely copied. At the end of the second year of their joint editorship Mr. Doane removed to Boston to become the rector of Trinity church, and Mr. Croswell retired to devote himself exclusively to his studies.

In 1828 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Brownell of Connecticut. …

In 1829 Mr. Croswell was admitted to the priesthood, and became rector of Christ church, an ancient edifice in the vicinity of Copp’s Hill burial-ground, Boston. He continued his poetical contributions, which were almost exclusively on topics connected with church ordinances, or the duties and affections of Christian life. A portion of these were collected and appended by Bishop Doane to the first American edition of Keble’s Christian Year.

… [I]n the delivery of a sermon to the children of the congregation at the afternoon service of Sunday, November 9, 1851, the rector’s voice was observed to falter. He brought his discourse to an brupt close, and gave out the first stanza of the hymn—

Soldiers of Christ, arise

And put your armor on,

Strong in the strength which Christ supplies,

Through his eternal Son.

This he announced instead of the lxxxviii., as the clxxxviii., which contains the following stanza:—

Determined are the days that fly

Successive o’er thy head;

The numbered hour is on the wing

That lays thee with the dead.

The choir, however, following directions previously given, sang the former. At its conclusion he knelt in his ordinary place at the chancel-rail, and said from memory, his book having dropped from his hand, a collect. He then, still kneeling, in place of as usual standing and facing the congregation, delivered, in a faltering voice, the closing benediction. A portion of the auditory went to his assistance, and bore him helpless to the vestry-room and in a carriage to his home. He was conscious, but unable to speak distinctly, and uttered but a few words. Apprised by his physicians of his imminent danger he closed his eyes as if in slumber. His friend, the Rev. Dr. Eaton, was soon by his bedside, and finding him unable to speak, and apparently unconscious, took his hand, and offered the “commendatory prayer for a sick person at the point of departure,” provided by the Book of Common-Prayer. “As the word, amen, was pronounced by the venerable priest, the last breath was perceived to pass, gently, quietly, and without a struggle.” … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, pp. 394-395)

Richard Henry Dana was born at Cambridge, November 15, 1787. His early years were passed at Newport, in the midst of the associations of the Revolution and the enjoyments of the fine sea views and atmosphere of the spot. He entered Harvard, which he left in 1807. He studied law in the office of the his cousin Francis Dana Channing, the eldest brother of Dr. Cahanning. After admission to the Boston bar he spent about three months in the office of Robert Goodloe Harper at Baltimore, where he was admitted to practice. He returned home in 1811 and became a member of the legislature, where he found a better field for the exercise of his federal politics and opinions. His first literary public appearance was as an orator on the Fourth of July celebration of 1814.

The North American Review was commenced in 1815. It grew out of an association of literary gentlemen composing the Anthology Club who for eight years, from 1803 to 1811, had published the miscellany entitled The Monthly Anthology. Dana was a member of the club. …

Dana wrote in the period of two years five papers, one an essay on “Old Times,” the others on literary topics, chiefly poetical. In 1824 Dana began the publication of The Idle Man, a periodical in which he communicated to the public his Tales and Essays. …

[W]hen this publication was discontinued Dana wrote for … The New York Review of 1825, and afterwards the United States Review of 1826-7. … From 1828 to 1831 he contributed four papers to The Spirit of the Pilgrims. …

The first volume of Dana’s Poems, containing The Buccaneer, was published in 1827. In 1833 he published at Boston a volume of Poems and Prose Writings, reprinting his first volume with additions, and including his papers in the Idle Man. … In 1850 he published an edition of his writings in two volumes at New York, adding several essays and his review articles ….

His writings possess kindred qualities in prose and verse; though and rhythm, speculation and imagination being borrowed by each from the other.

The Buccaneer is a philosophical poem; a tale of the heart and the conscience. The villainy of the hero, though in remote perspective to the imagination, appeals on that account the more powerfully to our own consciousness. His remorse is touched with consummate art as the rude hard earthy nature steps into the region of the supernatural, and with unchanged rigidity embraces its new terrors. The machinery is at once objective and spiritual in the vision of the horse. The story is opened by glimpses to the reader in the only way in which modern art can attain, with cultivated minds, the effect of the old ballad directness. The visionary horror is relieved by simple touches of human feeling and sweet images, as in the opening, of the lovely, peaceful scenes of nature. The remaining poems are divided between the description of nature and a certain philosophical vein of thought which rises into the loftiest spculative region of religion, and is never long without indications of a pathetic sense of human life. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 90-91)

Died 2 Feb 1879

Rufus Dawes, the youngest but one of a large family of sixteen, was born at Boston, January 16, 1803. He entered Harvard in 1820, but was refused a degree, in consequence of his supposed participation in a disturbance of the discipline of the institution, a charge afterwards found to be unjust. The incident furnished the occasion of his first published poem, a satire on the Harvard faculty. Mr. Dawes next studied law, was admitted, but never practised the profession. He contributed to the United States Literary Gazette, published at Cambridge, and conducted for a time at Baltimore, The Emerald, also a weekly paper. In 1830, he published The Valley of the Nashaway and Other Poems, and in 1839, Geraldine, Athenia of Damascus, and Miscellaneous Poems.

… In 1840, Mr. Dawes published Nix’s Mate, a spirited and successful historical romance. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 353-354)

The later years of Mr. Dawes’s life were passed as a clerk in one of the Government departments at Washington, in the District of Columbia. He died in that city, at the age of fifty-six, November 30, 1859. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. 1875; vol 2, p. 164)

[C]ergyman, b. in Mansfield, Mass., 30 March, 1784; d. 9 Aug., 1834. He was graduated at Brown in 1805, and in 1810 became pastor of the second church at Scituate, Mass., a charge which he retained for twenty-four years. He published “Populous Village,” a poem (1826); a “History of Scituate” (1831); and a number of sermons and short poems. (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.)

When I am dead, no pageant train

Shall waste their sorrows at my bier,

Nor worthless pomp of homage vain,

Stain it with hypocritic tear;

For I will die as I did live,

Nor take the boon I cannot give.

Ye shall not raise a marble bust

Upon the spot where I repose;

Ye shall not fawn before my dust,

In hollow circumstance of woes:

Nor sculptured clay, with lying breath,

Insult the clay that moulds beneath.

Ye shall not pile, with servile toil,

Your monuments upon my breast,

Nor yet within the common soil

Lay down the wreck of Power to rest;

Where man can boast that he has trod

On him, that was “the scourge of God.”

But ye the mountain stream shall turn,

And lay its secret channel bare,

And hollow, for your sovereign’s urn,

A resting-place for ever there:

Then bid its everlasting springs

Flow back upon the King of Kings;

And never be the secred said,

Until the deep give up his dead.

My gold and silver ye shall fling

Back to the clods, that gave them birth;—

The captured crowns of many a king,

The ransom of a conquered earth:

For e’en though dead will I control

The trophies of the capitol.

But when beneath the mountain tide,

Ye ’ve laid your monarch down to rot,

Ye shall not rear upon its side

Pillar or mound to mark the spot;

For long enough the world has shook

Beneath the terrors of my look;

And now that I have run my race,

The astonish’d realms shall rest a space.

My course was like a river deep,

And from the northern hills I burst,

Across the world in wrath to sweep,

And where I went, the spot was cursed,

Nor blade of grass again was seen

Where Alaric and his hosts had been.

See how their haughty barriers fail

Beneath the terror of the Goth,

Their iron-breasted legions quail

Before my ruthless sabaoth,

And low the queen of empires kneels,

And grovels at my chariot-wheels.

Not for myself did I ascend

In judgment my triumphal car;

’T was God alone on high did send

The avenging Scythian to the war,

To shake abroad, with iron hand,

The appointed scourge of his command.

With iron hand that scourge I rear’d

O’er guilty king and guilty realm;

Destruction was the ship I steer’d,

And vengeance sat upon the helm,

When, launch’d in fury on the flood,

I plough’d my ways through seas of blood,

And in the stream their hearts had spilt

Wash’d out the long arrears of guilt.

Across the everlasting Alp

I pour’d the torrent of my powers,

And feeble Cæsars shriek’d for help

In vain within their seven-hill’d towers;

I quench’d in blood the brightest gem

That glitter’d in their diadem,

And struck a darker, deeper die

In the purple of their majesty,

And bade my northern banners shine

Upon the conquer’d Palatine.

My course is run, my errand done:

I go to Him from whence I came;

But never yet shall set the sun

Of glory that adorns my name;

And Roman hearts shall long be sick,

When men shall think of Alaric.

My course is run, my errand done—

But darker ministers of fate,

Impatient, round the eternal throne

And in the caves of vengeance, wait;

And soon mankind whall blench away

Before the name of Attila.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 53-55)

George Washington Doane was born in Trenton, N. J., May 27, 1799. He was partly educated in New York by the Rev. Edmund D. Barry, a classical instructor …. Pursuing his studies at Geneva in Western New York, Mr. Doane entered Union College, where he was graduated in 1818. He was then for a short time a student of law in the city of New York, in the office of Richard Harrison. In 1821 he was ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church by Bishop Hobart, and was for four years an assistant minister in Trinity church, New York. In 1821 he was appointed Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the new Washington, now Trinity, College, Hartford, Ct. In 1828 he went to Boston as assistant minister of Trinity church, of which he became rector in 1830. In 1829 he was married to Eliza Greene Perkins. On the 31st of October, 1832, he was consecrated Bishop of New Jersey, and the next year became rector of St. Mary’s Church at Burlington.

At this beautiful town on the banks of the Delaware Bishop Doane, in addition to the more immediate duties of his diocese, has devoted himself to the cause of education, in connexion with two institutions known as St. Mary’s Hall and Burlington College. …

The literary productions of Dr. Doane have been numerous, though mostly confined to sermons and charges, and church periodical literature. He has edited the Missionary, a monthly religious newspaper and journal of his diocese. In 1832 a volume of his sermons was published by the Rivingtons in London.

He is the author of numerous short poems chiefly of a lyrical or simple devotional character, which have appeared from time to time in the journals. In 1824 he published a volume of his early poetical writings entitled Songs by the Way, chiefly devotional; with Translations and Imitations. Several of them have been included in the collection of hymns in use in the Protestant Episcopal Church. The translations are of Latin hymns, from the Italian of Metastasio, and from the odes of Horace. He has also edited Keble’s Christian Year, introducing additions from additions from Croswell and others, and a Selection from the Sermons and Poetical Remains of the Rev. Benjamin Davis Winslow, his assistant in St. Mary’s Church.

In all these, and in the prose writings of Bishop Doane, there is an elegant taste, evidence of good English scholarship, and spirited expressions. His pulpit style is marked by brevity and energy; witnessing to an activity of mind which has characterized his numerous labors in his diocese and in the cause of education. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 199-200)

Bishop Doane died at his episcopal residence at Burlington, N. J., April 27, 1859, in the sixtieth year of his age, and twenty-seventh of his episcopate. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. 1875; vol 2, p. 79)

Doane published poetry in The Token in 1829.

There ’s a fierce gray bird—with a sharpen’d beak;

With an angry eye, and a startling shriek:

That nurses her brood where the cliff-flowers blow,

On the precipice-top—in perpetual snow—

Where the fountains are mute, or in secrecy flow—

That sits—where the air is shrill and bleak,

On the splinter’d point of a shiver’d peak—

To a comfortless tune—like a wintry harp—

Bald-headed and stripp’d!—like a vulture torn

In wind and strife!—with her feathers worn,

And ruffled and stain’d—while scattering—bright,

Round her serpent-neck—that is writhing, bare—

Is a crimson collar of gleaming hair!—

Like the crest of a warrior thinn’d in the fight,

And shorn—and bristling—see her! where

She sits in the glow of the sun-bright air!

With wing half-poised—and talons bleeding—

And kindling eye—as if her prey

Had—suddenly—been snatch’d away—

While she was tearing it, and feeding!

A Bird that is first to worship the sun,

When he gallops in flame—’t ill the cloud tides run

In billows of fire—as his course is done:

Above where the fountain is gushing in light;

Above where the torrent is forth in its might—

Like an imprison’d glaze that is bursting from night!

Or a lion that springs—with a roar—from his lair!

Bounding off—all in foam—from the echoing height—

Like a rank of young war-horses—terribly bright,

Their manes all erect!—and their hoofs in the air!

The earth shaking under them—trumpets on high—

And banners unfurling away in the sky—

With the neighing of steeds! and the streaming of hair

Above where the silvery flashing is seen—

The striping of waters, that skip o’er the green,

And soft, spongy moss, where the fairies have been,

Bending lovely and bright in the young Morning’s eye

Like ribands of flame—or the bow of the sky:

Above that dark torrent—above the bright stream—

The gay ruddy fount, with the changeable gleam,

Where the lustre of heaven eternally plays—

The voice may be heard—of the thunderer’s bird,

Calling out to her god in a clear, wild scream,

As she mounts to his throne, and unfolds in his beam;

While her young are laid out in his rich red blaze;

And their winglets are fledged in his hottest rays:

Proud bird of the cliff! where the barren-yew springs—

Where the sunshine stays—and the wind-harp sings,

Where the heralds of battle sit—pluming their wings—

A scream! she ’s awake!—over hill-top and flood;

A crimson light runs!—like the gushing of blood—

Over valley and rock!—over mountain and wood

That bird is abroad—in the vane of her brood!

* * * *

* * * The Bird that laves

Her sounding pinions in the sun’s first gush—

Drinks his meridian blaze and sunset flush:

Worships her idol in his fiercest hour:

Bathes her full bosom in his hottest shower:

Sits amid stirring stars, and bends her beak,

Like the slipp’d falcon—when her piercing shriek

Tells that she stoops upon her cleaving wing,

To drink anew some victim’s clear-red spring.

That monarch Bird! that slumbers in the night

Upon the lofty air-peak’s utmost height:

Or sleeps upon the wing—amid the ray

Of steady—cloudless—everlasting day!

Rides with the Thunderer in his blazing march:

And bears his lightnings o’er yon boundless arch:

Soars wheeling through the storm, and screams away

Where the young pinions of the morning play.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 89-91)

[P]olitician, b. in Tennessee in 1790; d. in Washington, D. C., 17 Nov., 1856. He received a thorough education, studied law, and was admitted to the bar, begining to practise in Nashville, Tenn. He was elected to the U. S. senate as a Democrat, and served till his resignation in 1829. He was a personal friend of Andrew Jackson, and was appointed by him secretary of war, holding the office from 1829 till 1831. … His wife, Margaret L. O’Neill, b. in 1796; d. in Washington, D. C., 8 Nov., 1879, was the daughter of … an Irish hotel-keeper in Washington. After the death of his first husband, … she married Mr. Eaton in 1828. She possessed great beauty and fascination of manner united to a persistent will and high ambition. The appointment of Mr. Eaton to the cabinet gave her a social position that she had long desired, but owing to reports unfavorable to her reputation, she was refused recognition on equal terms by the families of the other members of the cabinet. The feud in society caused by this involved the president, who warmly supported his “little friend Peg,” as he was accustomed to call her. … Finally the president demanded of his secretaries the recognition of the social status of Mrs. Eaton, and was refused by all of them excepting Mr. Van Buren. As a compromise it was suggested that her public status should be conceded, while each lady should act as she chose in regard to private recognition. … The quarrel culminated in a general disruption of the cabinet n 1831. … (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.)

Truth is, as the reviewer for the Boston Literary Magazine pointed out, an “attempt at an imitation of Lord Byron’s English Bards and Scotch Reviewers”—a far more adept piece of literary satire which appears to have inspired also the name of Snelling’s work:


Truth! rouse some genuine bard, and guide his hand

To drive this pestilence from out the land.

E’en I—least thinking of a thoughtless throng,

Just skill’d to know the right and choose the wrong,

Freed at that age when reason’s shield is lost,

To fight my course through passion’s countless host,

Whom every path of pleasure’s flowery way

Has lured in turn, and all have led astray—

E’en I must raise my voice, e’en I must feel

Such scenes, such men, destroy the public weal:

Although some kind, censorious friend will say,

‘What art thou better, meddling fool, than they?’

And every brother rake will smile to see

That miracle, a moralist in me. [lines 687-700]

Yet let them not to vulgar Wordsworth stoop,

The meanest object of the lowly group,

Whose verse, of all but childish prattle void,

Seems blessed harmony to Lamb and Lloyd:

Let them—but hold, my muse, nor dare to teach

A strain far, far beyond thy humble reach:

The native genius with their being given

Will point the path, and peal their notes to heaven.

And thou, too, Scott! resign to minstrels rude

The wilder slogan of a border feud:

Let others spin their meagre lines for hire;

Enough for genius, if itself inspire!

Let Southey sing, although his teeming muse,

Prolific every spring, be too profuse;

Let simple Wordsworth chime his childish verse,

And brother Coleridge lull the babe at nurse;

Let spectre-mongering Lewis aim, at most,

To rouse the galleries, or to raise a ghost;

Let Moore sigh; let Strangford steal from Moore,

And swear that Camoëns sang such notes of yore;

Let Hayley hobble on, Montgomery rave,

And godly Grahame chant a stupid stave:

Let sonneteering Bowles his strains refine,

And whine and whimper to the fourteenth line;

Let Stott, Carlisle, Matilda, and the rest

Of Grub Street, and of Grosvenor Place the best,

Scrawl on, till death release us from the strain,

Or Common Sense assert her rights again. [lines 903-930]

Occasionally, Byron provides the structure for Snelling’s verse. Byron writes

When some brisk youth, the tenant of a stall,

Employs a pen less pointed than his awl,

Leaves his snug shop, forsakes his store of shoes,

St. Crispin quits, and cobbles for the muse,

Heaven! how the vulgar stare! how crowds applaud!

How ladies read, and literati laud! [lines 765-770]

Snelling mocks Nathaniel Parker Willis:

Let but a school-boy pen a twaddling theme,

Ye Gods—how Pa exults!—How Ma will scream!

So Natty, having with a world of pain

Transmuted sacred prose to verse profane,

Was petted, flatter’d, sent forthwith to college,

To store his shallow skull with classic knowledge. [1832 ed., pp. 34-35]

Byron eulogizes Kirke White in lines 831-848:

Unhappy White! while life was in its spring,

And thy young muse just waved her joyous wing,

The spoiler swept that soaring lyre away,

Which else had sounded an immortal lay.

Oh! what a noble heart was here undone,

When Science’ self destroy’d her favourite son!

Yes, she too much indulged thy fond pursuit,

She sow’d the seeds, but death has reap’d the fruit.

’Twas thine own genius gave the final blow,

And help’d to plant the wound that laid thee low:

So the struck eagle, stretch’d upon the plain,

No more through rolling clouds to soar again,

View’d his own feather on the fatal dart,

And wing’d the shaft that quiver’d in his heart;

Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel

He nursed the pinion which impell’d the steel;

While the same plumage that had warm’d his nest

Drank the last life-drop of his bleeding breast.

Mr Everett was born in Dorchester, Mass. His father was pastor to the New South Church in Boston. He studied at Harvard University, and was ordained as a minister over the Brattle Street Church in Boston, at the early age of eighteen. Upon the foundation of the professorship of Greek literature of Cambridge, he was called upon to fill the office, in consequence of which, he relinquished his pastoral duties in Boston. After making a visit to Europe, he entered upon his business as professor, and continued in that station till 1825. Since that time he has been a representative in Congress.

Mr Everett’s reputation, both as a statesman and a scholar, is too widely extended to need any comments from us. Among the great variety of his labors, he has found moments to devote to the muse. [“Dirge of Alaric, the Visigoth”] and a Phi Beta Kappa poem, written in his youth, are, we believe, all that have appeared in public. (Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 52)

Died 15 Jan 1865.

Sumner Lincoln, the son of Dr. Abner Fairfield, a physician of Warwick, Massachusetts, was born in that town on the twenty-fifth of June, 1803. In 1806 his father, who had previously removed to Athens, a village on the Hudson, died, leaving a widow and two children in humble circumstances. The family retired to the home of the mother’s father, a farm house in Western Massachusetts, where Fairfield remained until his twelfth year. After a twelvemonth passed at school he entered Brown University. Here he studied so unremittingly, that, after a few months, he was attacked by a severe fit of sickness. On his recovery he endeavored to eke out his support by teaching, but failing in this was forced to leave college and seek a living as a tutor at the south. He passed two years in this occupation, and in preparation for the ministry, but in consequence of the death of his friend and instructor, the Rev. Mr. Cranston of Savannah, he changed his plan of life and returned to the north. He had during this period published “two pamphlets of rhymes,” which, as we are informed in his biography by his widow “he ever after shrunk from reading,” were probably of indifferent merit.

He returned to the north, with the determination to pursue a literary life, and in December, 1825, sailed for London. He carried letters of introduction to the conductors of periodicals, and obtained engagements as a writer. His poem, The Cities of the Plain, a description of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, appeared in the Oriental Herald …. He returned home in July, 1826, and soon after published a volume of poems, entitled The Sisters of Saint Clara, a Tale of Portugal, which was followed in 1830 by Abaddon, the School of Destruction, and other poems, another volume of poetry.

The next event in his life was his marriage to Miss Jane Frazee. He removed with his wife to Elizabethtown, with the intention of forming a classical school, but before the honeymoon was over the sheriff levied on their furniture and they were set adrift. They afterwards resided at Boston, Harper’s Ferry, and Philadelphia, the husband gaining a precarious subsistence by writing for the press, and becoming somewhat soured by want of success. In 1828 he republished in a volume The Cities of the Plain, with a few miscellaneous pieces. A few months after, by the influence of his Philadelphia friends, he was placed at the head of Newtown Academy, about thirty miles from that city. The situation pleased him, and his affairs went on with unwonted serenity until one July afternoon a favorite pupil, while bathing with him in the river, was unfortunately drowned. The event caused a temporary disarrangement of the duties of the school, and threw such a gloom over the mind of the teacher that he insisted upon leaving his situation and removing to New York. By the exertions of his wife, in personally soliciting subscriptions, the means were secured, principally in Boston, whither the pair resorted in 1829, for the publication of a new poem, The Last Night of Pompeii, which appeared on their return to New York in 1832. It was maintained by Mr. Fairfield that he had anticipated in this poem the leading material of Bulwer’s novel, bearing a similar title, published in London in 1834. His next enterprise was a monthly periodical. His wife was again his canvasser, and the North American Magazine was started in Philadelphia in 1833. He continued to edit it for five years, when, the enterprise proving unproductive, he disposed of the property to Mr. James C. Brooks of Baltimore.

The poet now became completely disheartened, fell into irregularities, and with a family of five children was often straitened in his finances. His health rapidly failed, and in the fall of 1843 he left Philadelphia with his mother for New Orleans. He arrived in the following spring, and was cheered by meeting with his old friend Mr. George D. Prentice. He died soon after, on the 6th of March, 1844. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 376-377)

Henry J. Finn was born in the city of New York, in the year 1782. When a boy he sailed for England, on the invitation of a rich uncle resident there. The vessel sank at sea, and the passengers and crew were for many days exposed in small boats until they were picked up by a ship which landed them at Falmouth. Finn resided in London until the death of his uncle, who made no mention of him in his will. He then returned to New York in 1799, studied law for two years,—became tired of the profession, returned to London, and made his first appearance at the Haymarket Theatre “in the little part of Thomas in the Sleep Walker.” He continued on the stage with success, and in 1811 returning to America made his first appearance at Montreal. He next performed in New York, and afterwards became a member of the stock company of the Federal Street Theatre, Boston. Here he remained for several years, and was at one time manager of the theatre. He was extremely successful here, and in every part of the country which he subsequently visited, as a comic actor, and accumulating a handsome fortune, retired in the intervals of his engagements to an elegant residence at Newport. He was on his way to his pleasant home, when with many others he met a sudden and awful death, in the conflagration of the steamboat Lexington on the night of January 13, 1840.

Finn was celebrated as a comic writer as well as a comic actor. He published a Comic Annual, and a number of articles in various periodicals. The bills of his benefit nights were, says Mr. Sargent, “usually made up of the most extraordinary and inconceivable puns, for which his own name furnished prolific material.” He wrote occasional pathetic pieces, which possess much feeling and beauty, and left behind him a MS. tragedy, portions of which were published in the New York Mirror, to which he was a contributor in 1839. He also wrote a patriotic drama entitled Montgomery, or the Falls of Montmorenci, which was acted at Boston with success and published. He was a frequent versifier, and turned off a song with great readiness. He also possessed some ability as a miniature and landscape painter. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 28)

Hannah Flagg Gould is the daughter of a soldier of the Revolution, who fought in the battle of Lexington, and served in the army throughout the war. She was born at Lancaster, Vermont, but removed soon after to Newburyport, Mass. While yet a child she lost her mother. Her father survived for several years, his declining age being tenderly cared for and cheered by his constant companion, his daughter, whose subsequent poems contain many touching traces of their intercourse.

Miss Gould’s poems, after a favorable reception in several periodicals, were collected in a volume in 1832. By 1835, a second had accumulated, and a third appeared in 1841. In 1846, she collected a volume of her prose contributions, entitled Gathered Leaves.

Miss Gould’s poems are all short, and simple in subject, form, and expression. They are natural, harmonious, and sprightly. She treats of the patriotic themes of the Revolution, and the scenes of nature and incidents of society about the ordinary path of woman; and her household themes have gained her a widely extended audience. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 497)

Miss Gould died at the age of seventy-seven, at her residence in Newburyport, Massachusetts, September 5, 1865. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. 1875; vol 2, p. 343)

Gould published poetry in The Token in 1830-1840 and 1842.


The idols of my heart are fading fast,

And my own fragile being will not long

Endure the fatal memory of the past,

Still less the gathering ills of present wrong,

And unforgetful sighs, a tireless throng,

Which day by day sink deeper than before;—

Weak sighs, which still are mightier than the strong,

Soon—soon—oh, when shall the vain strife be o’er,

And I repose in peace, and ye torment no more?

Yet will I hush this voice of weak lament;—

Yet will I conquer this unmanly grief;—

But the strong pain of passion first must vent

Its throbbing woes in words for sad relief:

’T is done,—my waning pilgrimage be brief,—

Though young and dying, scarcely can I mourn;—

Time cannot bind my feelings’ shatter’d sheaf,

Nor bid the loved, the long, long lost return,—

Then welcome be my journey towards the perilous bourne.

Methinks it scarcely matters when we tread

The road which all must tread who have not trod,

Though the dark journey be replete with dread;—

Firm by the mercy of a pitying God,

And humbled at the chastening of his rod,

How sweet, this aching heart and painful head

Slumbering in peace beneath the grass-green sod,

To join those ancient worthies who have fled,

And meet the mightier spirits of the mighty dead!

With them and such as them I have conversed

More than with men, and thus the fruit has been

That they and their old mouldering tomes have nursed

Feelings and thoughts and hopes which do not win

Men’s charity, though haply not of sin:

For Roman, Grecian lore has been to me

The mistress of my love;—’mid cities’ din

I ’ve loved all Rome while yet she was free,

And wander’d, lost in mists, through sage Philosophy.

Perchance it did not profit me;—at least,

I learnt that knowledge doth not always bring

The fabled pleasures of the mental feast;—

That intellectual streams might own a spring

Of bitter wave, whose sun-bright vapors fling

An arch of promise o’er the cheating source,

Lit by the ray of man’s own hopes, which cling

To all delusion with a desperate force,

Till doubts and darkness soon obstruct their stumbling course. …

(Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 342-343)

Fitz-Greene Halleck was born at Guilford, in Connecticut, August, 1795. He early wrote verses. One of his effusions—it is said there were some earlier—was published in a New York Paper, in 1809, when he was fourteen. At the age of eighteen, in 1813, he came to New York, and entered the banking-house of Jacob Barker, with which he was associated for many years, subsequently performing the duties of a book-keeper in the private office of John Jacob Astor. Not long after the decease of that eminent millionaire, he retired to his birth-place, where he has since resided.

It is said that Halleck’s first appearance in print was in the columns of Holt’s Columbian, New York, where, in 1813, a poem appeared, with the signature of “A Connecticut Farmer’s Boy,” which the editor introduced with the remark that he did not credit that authorship—“the verses were too good to be original!” …

Halleck, however, gained his first celebrity in literature as a town wit, one of the producers, in connexion with his friend Drake, of the poetical squibs which appeared in the columsn of the Evening Post in 1819 ….

The characteristic of Halleck’s poetry is its music; its perfection of versification, whether embalming a trifle of the hour or expressing a vigorous manly eloquence, a true lyric fire and healthy sentiment. … In some of his poems he appears to have been led by dislike to even the suspicion of sentimentality to fasten a ludicrous termination to a serious emotion; but this is more dangerous to his imitators than injurious to his own powers. In Connecticut, which appears to be indebted to a happy idea struck out by Brianard, in his New Year’s verse on the same theme, his subtle humor has happily blended the two qualities. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 207-209)

Died 19 Nov 1867

James Abraham, … poet, b. in New Haven, Conn., 26 Sept 1789; d. there, 5 Jan., 1841, was graduated at Yale in 1808, after which he spent three years in Boston, preparing for a mercantile career. He engaged in business in New York, and in 1819 went to Europe, where he met many distinguished men. Zachary Macaulay, father of the historian, spoke of him “as the most accomplished young man with whom he was acquainted.” In 1822 he married Cornelia, daughter of Isaac Lawrence, of New York, and retired to his country-seat, “Sachem’s Wood,” near New Haven, where he spent the remainder of his life, devoting his attention to literature. He published “The Judgment, a Vision,” a poem delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa society of Yale (New York, 1812); “Percy’s Masque,” a drama (London, 1819; reprinted, with additions, New York, 1820); “Hadad,” a sacred drama (New York, 1825); and a collected edition of his writings, containing the additions of “Demetria,” a domestic Italian tragedy, written in 1813; “Sachem’s Wood,” a poem; and several discourses, under the title of “Dramas, Discourses, and other Pieces” (2 vols., Boston, 1839). (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.)

[excerpt from Hadad, sc 3: Hadad and Tamar, the woman he loves, meet in a garden at twilight]

Had. Delicious to behold the world at rest.

Meek labor wipes his brow, and intermits

The curse, to clasp the younglings of his cot;

Herdsmen, and shepherds, fold their flocks—and hark!

What merry strains they send from Olivet!

The jar of life is still; the city speaks

In gentle murmurs; voices chime with lutes

Waked in the streets and gardens; loving pairs

Eye the red west in one another’s arms;

And nature, breathing dew and fragrance, yields

A glimpse of happiness, which He, who form’d

Earth and the stars, had power to make eternal.

Tam. Ah! Hadad, mean’st thou to reproach the Friend

Who gave so much, because he gave not all?

Had. Perfect benevolence, methinks, had will’d

Unceasing happiness, and peace, and joy;

Fill’d the whole universe of human hearts

With pleasure, like a flowing spring of life.

Tam. Our Prophet teaches so, till man rebell’d.

Had. Mighty rebellion! Had he ’leaguer’d Heaven

With beings powerful, numberless, and dreadful,

Strong as the enginery that rocks the world

When all its pillars tremble; mix’d the fires

Of onset with annihilating bolts

Defensive volleyed from the throne; this, this

Had been rebellion worthy of the name,

Worthy of punishment. But what did man?

Tasted an apple! and the fragile scene,

Eden, and innocence, and human bliss,

The nectar-flowing streams, life-giving fruits,

Celestial shades, and amaranthine flowers,

Vanish; and sorrow, toil, andpain, and death,

Cleave to him by an everlasting curse.

Tam. Ah! talk not thus.

Had. Is this benevolence?—

Nay, loveliest, these things sometimes trouble me;

For I was tutor’d in a brighter faith.

Our Syrians deem each lucid fount, and stream,

Forest, and mountain, glade, and bosky dell,

Peopled with kind divinities, the friends

Of man, a spiritual race allied

To him by many sympathies, who seek

His happiness, inspire him with gay thoughts,

Cool with their waves, and fan him with their airs

O’er them, the Spirit of the Universe,

Or Soul of Nature, circumfuses all

With mild, benevolent, and sun-like radiance;

Pervading, warming, vivifyng earth,

As spirit does the body, till green herbs,

And beauteous flowers, and branchy cedars rise;

And shooting stellar influence through her caves,

Whence minerals and gems imbibe their lustre.

Tam. Dreams, Hadad, empty dreams.

Had. These Deities

They invocate with cheerful gentle rites,

Hang garlands on their altars, heap their shrines

With Nature’s bounties, fruits, and fragrant flowers.

Not like yon gory mount that ever reeks—

Tam. Cast not reproach upon the holy altar.

Had. Nay, sweet.—Having enjoyed all pleasures here

That Nature prompts, but chiefly blissful love,

At death, the happy Syrian maiden deems

Her immaterial flies into the fields,

Of circumambient clouds, or crystal brooks,

And dwells, a Deity, with those she worshipp’d;

Till time, or fate, return her in its course

To quaff, once more, the cup of human joy.

Tam. But thou believ’st not this.

Had. I almost wish

Thou didst; for I have fear’d, my gentle Tamar,

Thy spirit is too tender for a Law

Announced in terrors, coupled with the threats

Of an inflexible and dreadful Being,

Whose word annihilates, whose awful voice

Thunders the doom of nations, who can check

The sun in heaven, and shake the loosen’d stars,

Like wind-toss’d fruit, to earth, whose fiery step

The earthquake follows, whose tempestuous breath

Divides the sea, whose anger never dies,

Never remits, but everlasting burns,

Burns unextinguish’d in the deeps of Hell. …

(Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 360-361)

Edwin C. Holland, a lawyer of Charleston, S. C., published in 1814 a volume of Odes, Naval Songs, and other occasional Poems, suggested for the most part by the war with England pending during their first publication in the Port Folio. His style is fluent, and occasionally somewhat too ornate and grandiloquent. One of the most spirited compositions is his prize poem [“The Pillar of Glory”]. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 139)

Born 1794; died 11 Sept 1824. (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose polished verses and playful satiric wit are the delight of his contemporaries, as they will be cherished bequests of our own day to posterity, is a son of the author of the Annals, the Doctor of Divinity at Cambridge. At that larned town of Massachusetts, he was born August 29, 1809. He was educated at the Phillips Academy at Exeter, and graduated at Harvard in 1829. He then gave a year to the law, during which time he was entertaining the good people of Cambridge with various anonymous effusions of a waggish poetical character, in the Collegian, a periodical published by a number of undergraduates of Harvard University in 1830 ….

As a lawyer, Holmes, like msot of the American literati who have generally begun with that profession, was evidently falling undder the poets’ censure, “penning a stanza when he should engross;” when he turned his attention to medicine, and forswore for a time the Muses. He was, however, guilty of some very clever anonymous contributions to a volume, the Harbinger [in 1836] ….

The muse of Holmes is a foe to humbug. … He clears the moral atmosphere of the morbid literary and other pretences afloat. People breathe freer for his verses. They shake the cobwebs out of the system, and keep up in the world that brisk healthy current of common sense, which is to the mind what circulation is to the body. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 511-512)

Holland published poetry in The Token in 1831, 1833, 1837, and 1838.


God of the earth’s extended plains!

The dark green fields contented lie:

The mountains rise like holy tower,

Where man might commune with the sky:

The tall cliff challenges the storm

That lowers upon the vale below,

Where shaded fountains send their streams,

With joyous music in their flow.

God of the dark and heavy deep!

The waves lie sleeping on the sands,

Till the fierce trumpet of the storm

Hath summon’d up their thundering bands;

Then the white sails are dash’d like foam,

Or hurry trembling, o’er the seas,

Till calm’d by thee, the sinking gale

Serenely breathes, “Depart in peace.[”]

God of the forest’s solemn shade!

The grandeur of the lonely tree,

That wrestles singly with the gale,

Lifts up admiring eyes to thee;

But more majestic far they stand,

When side by side, their ranks they form,

To wave on high their plumes of green,

And fight their battles with the storm.

God of the light and viewless air!

Where summer breezes sweetly flow,

Or, gathering in their angry might,

The fierce and wintry tempests blow;

All—from the evening’s plaintive sigh,

That hardly lifts the drooping flower,

To the wild whirlwind’s midnight cry—

Breathes forth the language of thy power. …

(Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 325-326)

Samuel Kettell, an author to whom American literature is much indebted for his researches into its early history, was born in Newburyport, Mass., in 1800. He was early engaged in literary pursuits, and assisted the late Samuel G. Goodrich in the preparation of his Peter Parley series of juvenile works. He was a good linguist, and, it is stated, in the course of a voyage to Malta, translated one of the Peter Parley books into modern Greek, and it was afterward published in the language. The work by which he is best known, entitled, Specimens of American Poetry, with Critical and Biographical Notices, was published by S. G. Goodrich & Co., in Boston, in 1829. It is in three volumes, contains an historical introduction, noticing various minor authors of the seventeenth century, and fairly opens with Cotton Mather and Roger Wolcott. The series is continued to the author’s own day. The critical observations are acute, and the whole work, which embraces many minor writers not noticed elsewhere, is of an interesting character. All subsequent writers on the subject are under obligations to the author’s diligence, and much aid has been derived from his labors in the preparation of the present work.

During a considerable portion of his life, Mr. Kettell was connected with the newspaper press of Boston. He was brought into notice in this relation as a contributor of occasional articles to the Boston Courier. They were chiefly of a humorous cast, as, satirical letters of “Peeping Tom,” from Hull. When Mr. Buckingham retired from the editorship of the Courier, in 1848, Mr. Kettell became its principal editor, and so continued till his death, December 3, 1855, at his residence in Malden. … (Duyckinck, ed. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. 1875. vol 2, p. 76)

[excerpt from the introduction]

The way was long, though ’twas not cold

But the poor bard was weak and old,

And carried, scor’d upon his front,

Of many a year the long account.

His Fiddle sole remaining pride

Hung dangling down his ragged side,

In faded bag of flannel green,

Through which the well carv’d head was seen

Of gaping lion, yawning wide,

In regal pomp of beastly pride.

The last of all the race was he,

Who charm’d the ear with tweedle dee.

For lack-a-day! full well I ween

The happy times he once had seen,

When in the merry capering days

Of olden time he tun’d his lays,

’Mong gallant lads, or jolly sailors,

And play’d “the de’el among the tailors,’

Had given place to other glee,

And different strains of harmony.

“The bigots of this iron time

“Had called his harmless art a crime;”

And now, instead of dance and song

Pricking the night’s dull pace along,

And sprightly gambols deftly play’d

By rustic lad and gleeful maid,

And all that decks the cheek of toil,

With nature’s warm and heartfelt smile,

No sound is heard borne on the gale,

In village lone or rural dale,

But canting, whining, nasal notes,

Twanging through hoarse and foggy throats,

Ascending to the startled sky,

Mocking the ear of deity

With nonsense blasphemous and wild;

While wretches, of their peace beguil’d,

Scare the dull ear of drowsy night,

With screams that boding screech owls fright,

And hollow moans, that seem to flow

From damned souls in shades below.

Love-feasts are held at midnight’s hour,

When fancy wields her potent power,

And to the trembling wretch’s eyes

Sepulchres ope, and spectres rise,

Gaunt forms, and grisly shapes appear,

And sweet religion turns to fear.

And fiddler now, no wight so poor,

May beg his bread from door to door,

Nor tune to please a peasant’s ear,

Those notes that blithe King Cole might hear. …

([James K. Paulding.] Lay of the Scottish Fiddle. London: James Cawthorn, 1814; pp. 1-3.)

William Leggett, an able and independent political writer, was born in the city of New York in the summer of 1802. He entered the college at Georgetown, in the district of Columbia, where he took a high scholastic rank, but in consequence of his father’s failure in business, was withdrawn before the completion of his course, and in 1819 accompanied his father and family in their settlement on the then virgin soil of the Illinois prairies. The experience of western pioneer life thus acquired, was turned to good account in his subsequent literary career.

In 1822 he entered the navy, having obtained the appointment of midshipman. He resinged his commission in 1826, owing, it is said, to the harsh conduct of the commander under whom he sailed, and shortly after published a volume of verses, written at intervals during his naval career, entitled Leisure Hours at Sea. The poems show a ready command of language, a noticeable youthful facility in versification, and an intensity of feeling; beyond this they exhibit no peculiar merit, either of originality or scholarship. … He also wrote in the Atlantic Souvenir, one of the earliest of the American annuals, a prose tale, The Rifle, in which he portrayed with spirit the scenes and incidents of western adventure. This met with such great success, from the novelty of the subject as well as its excellence of execution, that it was speedily followed by other tales of sea as well as land. The whole were subsequently collected under the title of Tales by a Country Schoolmaster.

[Leggett edited The Critic, the Evening Post, and The Plaindealer]

In May, 1839, he was appointed by Mr. Van Buren Diplomatic Agent to the Republic of Guatemala, an event which gave pleasure to his friends, not only as a recognition of his public services, but from their hopes that a residence in a southern climate would be beneficial to his health. It was but a few days after, however, that the public were startled by the announcement of his death, in the midst of his preparations for departure, from a severe attack of bilious colic, on the evening of May 29, 1839. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 343-344)


“Room for the leper! Room!” And, as he came,

The cry passed on—“Room for the leper! Room!”

Sunrise was slanting on the city gates

Rosy and beautiful, and from the hills

The early risen poor were coming in,

Duly and cheerfully, to their toil, and up

Rose the sharp hammer’s clink, and the far hum

Of moving wheels and multitudes astir,

And all that in a city murmur swells,

Unheard but by the watcher’s weary ear,

Aching with night’s dull silence, or the sick

Hailing the welcome light, and sounds that chase

The death-like images of the dark away.

“Room for the leper!” And aside they stood,

Matron, and child, and pitiless manhood—all

Who met him on his way—and let him pass.

And onward through the open gate he came,

A leper with the ashes on his brow,

Sackcloth about his loins, and on his lip

A covering, stepping painfully and slow,

And with a difficult utterance, like one

Whose heart is with an iron nerve put down,

Crying “Unclean!—Unclean!”

’Twas now the depth

Of the Judean summer, and the leaves,

Whose shadows lay so still upon his path,

Had budded on the clear and flashing eye

Of Judah’s loftiest noble. He was young,

And eminently beautiful, and life

Mantled in eloquent fulness on his lip,

And sparkled in his glance; and in his mien

There was a gracious pride that every eye

Followed with benisons—and this was he! …

(George B. Cheever, ed. The American Common-place Book of Poetry. Boston: American Stationers’ Company, 1831. p. 310-311]

Born 28 Aug 1794

Mr Lewis is a native of Lynn, Massachusetts, where he is now employed as an instructer. A volume of his poems was published in 1823, and he has since contributed others for the newspapers. (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 332)

Died 21 Jan 1861. Lewis published poetry in The Token in 1830.

A bigger-than-life Westerner, Nimrod Wildfire provides a humorous contrast with the effete Easterners and snobbish Europeans he meets when he visits the East Coast.

[excerpt from Act two]

[Nimrod] WILDFIRE: … I was riding along the Mississippi one day when I came across a fellow floating down the stream sitting cock’d up in the starn of his boat fast asleep. Well, I hadn’t had a fight for as much as ten days—felt as though I must kiver myself up in a salt bin to keep—“so wolfy” about the head and shoulders. So, says I, hullo, stranger, if you don’t take keer your boat will run away wi’ you. So he looked up at me “slantindickular,” and I looked down on him “slanchwise.” He took out a chaw of tobacco from his mouth and says, says he, I don’t value you tantamount to that, and then he flopp’d his wings and crowed like a cock. I ris up, shook my mane, crooked my neck, and neighed like a horse. Well, he run his boat foremost ashore. I stopped my waggon and set my triggers. Mister, says he, I’m the best man—if I ain’t, I wish I may be tetotaciously exflunctified! I can whip my weight in wild cats and ride strait through a crab apple orchard on a flash of lightning—clear meat axe disposition! And what’s more, I once back’d a bull off a bridge. Poh, says I, what do I keer for that? I can tote a steam boat up the Mississippi and over the Alleghany mountains. My father can whip the best man in old Kaintuck, and I can whip my father. When I’m good natured I weigh about a hundred and seventy, but when I’m mad, I weigh a ton. With that I fetched him the regular Ingen war-whoop. Out he jumped from his boat, and down I tumbled from my waggon—and, I say, we came together like two steam boats going sixty miles an hour. He was a pretty severe colt, but no part of a priming to such a feller as me. I put it to him mighty droll—tickled the varmint till he squealed like a young colt, bellowed “enough” and swore I was a “rip staver.” Says I, ain’t I a horse? Says he, stranger, you’re a beauty anyhow, and if you’d stand for Congress I’d vote for you next lection. Says I, would you? My name’s Nimrod Wildfire. Why, I’m the yaller flower of the forest. I’m all brimstone but the head, and that’s aky fortis. (James Kirke Paulding. The Lion of the West, rev. John Augustus Stone and William Bayle Bernard. Ed. James N. Tidwell. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1954; pp. 54-55.)


She was, indeed, a pretty little creature,

So meek, so modest: what a pity, madam,

That one so young and innocent, should fall

A prey to the ravenous wolf.

—The wolf, indeed!

You ’ve left the nursery to but little purpose,

If you believe a wolf could ever speak,

Though, in the time of Æsop, or before.

—Was ’t not a wolf, then? I have read the story

A hundred times; and heard it told: nay, told it

Myself, to my younger sisters, when we ’ve shrank

Together in the sheets, from very terror,

And, with protecting arms, each round the other,

E’en sobb’d ourselves to sleep. But I remember,

I saw the story acted on the stage,

Last winter in the city, I and my school-mates,

With our most kind preceptress Mrs Bazely,

And so it was a robber, not a wolf

That met poor little Riding Hood i’ the wood?

—Nor wolf nor robber, child: this nursery tale

Contains a hidden moral.

—Hidden: nay,

I ’m not so young, but I can spell it out,

And thus it is: children, when sent on errands,

Must never stop by the way to talk with wolves.

—Tut! wolves again: wilt listen to me, child?

—Say on, dear grandma.

—Thus then, dear my daughter:

In this young person, culling idle flowers,

You see the peril that attends the maiden

Who, in her walk through life, yields to temptation,

And quits the onward path to stray aside,

Allured by gaudy weeds. …

(Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 338)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, February 27th, 1807, “In an old square wooden house, upon the edge of the sea.” He entered Bowdoin College, where in due time he was graduated in the class with Hawthorne, in 1825. He wrote verses at this time for the United States Literary Gazette, printed at Boston.

For a short time after leaving college, he studied law in the office of his father, the Hon. Stephen Longfellow; but soon fell into the mode of life he has since pursued as a scholar, by the appointment to a Professorship of Modern Languages in his college, to accomplish himself for which he travelled abroad in 1826, making the usual tour of the continent, including Spain. He was absent three years; on his return, he lectured at Bowdoin College, as Professor of Modern Languages and Literature, and wrote articles for the North American Review ….

He also at this time penned the sketches of travel in Outre Mer, commencing the publication after the manner of Irving in his Sketch Book ….

The elegance of the manner, the nice phrases and fanciful illustrations—a certain decorated poetical style—with the many suggestions of fastidious scholarship, marked this in the eye of the public as a book of dainty promise. …

The first volume of original poetry published by Longfellow, was the Voices of the Night at Cambridge in 1839. It contained the “Psalm of Life,” the “Midnight Mass for the Dying Year,” the Manrique translation, and a number of the early poems of the Gazette. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 443-444)

Died 24 March 1882. Longfellow published poetry in The Token in 1832, 1833, 1834, and 1842.

George Lunt was born at Newburyport, Massachusetts. After completing his collegiate course at Harvard in 1824, he studied law at Boston, and has since practised the profession at Newburyport.

In 1839 he published a volume of Poems, followed in 1843 by The Age of Gold and other Poems, and in 1854, by Lyric Poems, Sonnets, and Miscellanies. He is also the author of Eastford, or Household Sketches, by Westley Brooke, a novel of New England life, published in 1854. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 438)

… He has evidently high powers as a poet, which require only the developement [sic] that study and a mature taste will afford, to be duly appreciated. He shows deep sentiment, reminding us occasionally of Percival.” (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 341)

Died 17 May 1885. Lunt also published The Grave of Byron and Other Poems, in 1826. He published poetry in The Token in 1830 and 1842.

apparently J. L. Martin; died 1848. Author of Native Bards


Twelve years are gone since Matthew Lee

Held in this isle unquestioned sway;

A dark, low, brawny man was he;

His law,—“It is my way.”

Beneath his thick-set brows a sharp light broke

From small gray eyes; his laugh a triumph spoke.

Cruel of heart, and strong of arm,

Loud in his sport, and keen for spoil,

He little recked of good or harm,

Fierce both in mirth and toil;

Yet like a dog could fawn, if need there were;

Speak mildly, when he would, or look in fear.

Amid the uproar of the storm,

And by the lightning’s sharp, red glare,

Were seen Lee’s face and sturdy form;

His axe glanced quick in air.

Whose corpse at morn lies swinging in the sedge?

There’s blood and hair, Matt, on thy axe’s edge. …

(Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 5)

John C. M’Call, is a native of Philadelphia, and received an education for the bar, but we understand is not at present engaged in practice. He is known as the author of The Troubadour, The Condottier, Fleurette, and other small poems. This first named of these is the only one we have had an opportunity of seeing. It has many passages of rich and graceful description, which dispose us to think highly of the author’s poetical talent. We must add, that this poem is marked by some of the strangest metrical anomalies that have ever come in our way. Mr M’Call we are informed, writes only for amusement, and does not seem to bestow the necessary attention upon the more mechanical department of poetry. We should be gratified to see him put forth his strength upon a work of higher character, with a studied and persevering effort. (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 314)

Died 3 Oct 1846

[P]hysician, b. in Larne, County Antrim, Ireland, 20 Dec., 1875; d. there, 21 July, 1845. He was the son of a cloth-merchant, who died when the son was but a lad. He was graduated in medicine at the college in Dublin, and also received a diploma from the college at Glasgow. He began practice at Larne, then removed to Belfast, where he also carried on a drug business until he came to the United States in 1817. After living in Baltimore, Md., and Pittsburg, Pa., he came in 1824 to Philadelphia, where he practiced medicine and carried on a mercantile business. From 1842 till his death he was U. S. consul at Londonderry. He was of a romantic disposition, early developed considerable poetic genius, and became noted for his rural stanzas in Ireland, and, on coming to this country, took deeper interest in literary works than in the business of his profession. His house in Philadelphia was much frequented by literary men. His earliest publication in the United States was “The Pleasures of Friendship” (1822), which poem, with others, was reprinted (Philadelphia, 1836). In 1824 he edited at Philadelphia the “American Monthly Magazine,” for which he wrote “O’Halloran, or the Insurgent, a Romance of the Irish Rebellion” …. [Also wrote “The Wilderness, or Braddock’s Times, a Tale of the West” (1823); “A Spectre of the Forest, of Annuals of the Housatonic” (1823); “The Betrothed of Wyoming” (2d ed., 1830); “Meredith, or the Mystery of the Meschianza, a Tale of the Revolution” (1831); “Waltham, an American Revolutionary Tale” (1823)] (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.)

I. M’Lellan, of Boston; he was graduated at Bowdoin College, in 1826, and is now a student at law. His poetry has appeared in various periodicals. (Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 330)

Born 21 May 1806; died 20 Aug 1899. McLellan published many poems in The Token 1828, 1829, 1832, 1834-1837, and 1842.

Grenville Mellen was born at Biddeford, Maine, June 19, 1799. He was the eldest son of Chief-justice Mellen, of the court of common pleas in that state. He was graduated at Harvard in 1818: studied law with his father, and settled at Portland, Maine. In 1823 he removed to North Yarmouth, in the same state, where he remained for five years. His poems at this period and subsequently to his death, appeared frequently in the periodicals, the magazines and annuals, of the time. In 1826 he pronounced before the Peace Society of Maine, at Portland, a poem, The Rest of Empires, and in 1828 an Anniversary Poem, before the Athenian Society of Bowdoin College, The Light of Letters. He wrote for the United States Literary Gazette, supported by Longfellow and others of Cambridge. In 1827 he published Our Chronicle of Twenty-Six, a satire, and in 1829 Glad Tales and Sad Tales, a volume in prose, from his contributions to the periodicals. The chief collection of his poems appeared in Boston in 1833, The Martyrs’ Triumph, Buried Valley, and other Poems.

From Boston he came to reside in New York. His health, which was always delicate, was now much enfeebled; he was lingering with consumption when he made a voyage to Cuba, from which he returned without benefit, and died in New York, September 5, 1841, at the residence of his friend, Mr. Samuel Colman, for whose family he felt the warmest affection, and whose house he had called his home for the latter years of his life. Before his death he was engaged upon a collection of his unpublished poems, which still remain in manuscript.

A glance at his poems shows a delicate susceptibility to poetical impression, tinged with an air of melancholy. He wrote with ease, often carelessly and pretentiously—often with eloquence. With a stronger constitution his verse would probably have assumed a more condensed, energetic expression. With a consciousness of poetic power he struggled with a feeble frame, and at times yielded to despondency. The memory of his tenderness and purity of character is much cherished by his friends. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 277-278)

Mellen published poetry in The Token in 1828-1836, 1838, 1840, and perhaps 1841.

The play was a solid money-maker for tragedian Edwin Forrest, who played the title character off and on for decades. A portrait of Forrest as Metamora was published with a poem in The Token in 1842.

[excerpt from act III, sc 2: Metamora declares war]

METAMORA: When the strangers came from afar off, they were like a little tree; but now they are grown up and their spreading branches threaten to keep the light from you. They ate of your corn and drank of your cup, and now they lift up their arms against you. Oh my people, the race of the red man has fallen away like the trees of the forest before the axes of the palefaces. The fair places of his father’s triumphs hear no more the sound of his footsteps. He moves in the region his proud fathers bequeathed him, not like a lord of the soil, but like a wretch who comes for plunder and for prey. [Distant thunder and lightning]

KAWESHINE: The chief has spoken truly and the stranger is worthy to die! But the fire of our warriors is burnt out and their hatchets have no edge. O son of Massasoit, thy words are to me like the warm blood of the foe, and I will drink till I am full! Speak again!

METAMORA: “Chief of the people,” said a voice from the deep as I lay by the seaside in the eyes of the moon—“Chief of the people, wake from thy dream of peace, and make sharp the point of thy spear, for the destroyer’s arm is made bare to smite. O son of my old age, arise like the tiger in great wrath and snatch thy people from the devourer’s jaws!” My father spoke no more; a mist passed before me, and from the mist the Spirit bent his eyes imploringly on me. I started to my feet and shouted the shrill battle cry of the Wampanoags. The high hills sent back the echo, and rock, hill and ocean, earth and air opened their giant throats and cried with me, “Red man, arouse! Freedom! Revenge or death!” [Thunder and lightning. All quail but Metamora] Hark, warriors! The Great Spirit hears me and pours forth his mighty voice with mine. Let your voice in battle be like his, and the flash from your fire weapons as quick to kill. Nahmeokee, take this knife, carry it to the Narragansett, to thy brother; tell him the hatchet is dug from the grave where the grass is grown old above it; thy tongue will move him more than the voice of all our tribe in the loud talk of war.

NAHMEOKEE: Nahmeokee will not fail in her path; and her eyes will be quick to see where the stranger has set his snare.

[excerpt from act V, sc 4: death of Metamora]

[Metamora and his wife, Nahmeokee, have escaped capture by whites; their infant son died during the escape]

METAMORA: Nahmeokee, I look up through the long path of thin air, and I think I see our infant borne onward to the land of the happy, where the fair hunting grounds know no storms or snows, and where the immortal brave feast in the eyes of the giver of good. Look upwards, Nahmeokee, the spirit of thy murdered father beckons thee.

NAHMEOKEE: I will go to him.

METAMORA: Embrace me, Nahmeokee—’twas like the first you gave me in the days of our strength and joy—they are gone. [Places his ear to the ground] Hark! In the distant wood I faintly hear the cautious tread of men! They are upon us, Nahmeokee—the home of the happy is made ready for thee. [Stabs her, she dies] She felt no white man’s bondage—free as the air she lived—pure as the snow she died! In smiles she died! Let me taste it, ere her lips are cold as the ice. [Loud shouts. Roll of drums. Kaweshine leads Church and Soldiers on bridge, R.]

CAPTAIN CHURCH: He is found! Philip [Metamora] is our prisoner.

METAMORA: No! He lives—last of his race—but still your enemy—lives to defy you still. Though numbers overpower me and treachery surround me, though friends desert me, I defy you still! Come to me—come singly to me! And this true knife that has tasted the foul blood of your nation and now is red with the purest of mine, will feel a grasp as strong as when it flashed in the blaze of your burning dwellings, or was lifted terribly over the fallen in battle.

CAPTAIN CHURCH: Fire upon him!

METAMORA: Do so, I am weary of the world for ye are dwellers in it; I would not turn upon my heel to save my life.

CAPTAIN CHURCH: Your duty soldiers. [They fire. Metamora falls. Enter [the other white characters]. Roll of drums and trumpet till all on]

METAMORA: My curses on you, white men! May the Great Spirit curse you when he speaks in his war voice from the clouds! Murderers! The last of the Wampanoags’ curse be on you! May your graves and the graves of your children be in the path the red man shall trace! And may the wolf and panther howl o’er your fleshless bones, fit banquet for the destroyers! Spirits of the grave, I come! But the curse of Metamora stays with the white man! I die! My wife! My queen! My Nahmeokee! [Falls and dies; a tableau is formed. Drums and trumpet sound a retreat till curtain. Slow curtain]

(John Augustus Stone. Metamora. In America’s Lost Plays, ed. Ralph H. Ware and H. W. Schoenberger. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1940; reissued 1965; vol XIV, pp. 24-25, 39-40)

George P. Morris was born in Philadelphia in 1802. He came early in life to New York, and formed an association with the late Samuel Woodworth, with whom he commenced the publication of the Mirror in 1823.

Mr. Morris conducted this journal with distinguished success till the completion of his twentieth volume in 1842, when its publication was interrupted by the universally spread financial disasters of the times. …

One of the earliest productions of Mr. Morris was his drama of Brier Cliff, which was produced at the Chatham Theatre, New York, in 1837, and acted for forty nights. It was constructed on incidents of the American Revolution. … In 1842, he wrote the libretto of an opera, The Maid of Saxony, which was set to music by Mr. C. E. Horn, and performed for fourteen nights at the Park Theatre.

The songs of Mr. Morris have been produced at intervals during the whole term of his literary career. They have been successfully set to music, and popularly sung on both sides of the Atlantic. The themes include most varieties of situation, presenting the love ballad, the patriotic song, the expression of patriotism, of friendship, and numerous occasional topics. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 347-348)

Review in New England Magazine:

Some months ago our northern bards were threatened by the southern papers with a castigation;—a satire, that was to overwhelm the most eminent of them with confusion. We felt no little alarm at the time, fearing that some of our especial friends would be wholly demolished; but we have read “Native Bards” and our fears are over. It adds one more to the list of American literary failure.

This “Satirical Effusion” consists of about eight hundred lines, most of which are pentameters. In some, the author had generously added a foot or two over and above the lawful measure. It needed no preface to inform us that the thing is the work of an unpractised writer; the structure of the versification shows great carelessness, and the matter wants method and arrangement. In short, it is being guilty of a misnomer to call it a poem; it is a mere string of truisms and common places. As a satire it has little point and no wit.

J. L. M. complains bitterly of the degradation of American literature, acknowledging at the same time, however, and very truly, that his will to disgrace our poor scribblers is greater than his power. Imitators excite his particular displeasure, affectation rouses his indignation, and rhyming in albums fills the cup of his wrath to overflowing. Yankee poets are the special objects of his resentment. After venting his southern spleen at their expense, he says,

With a grateful heart to God,

Devour each day your pudding and your cod,

Comfort yourselves with flagons, courage! cheer

Your maudlin spirits with besotting beer,

Go, plough your fields, teach hopeful youth, engross,

Plant onions, notions vend, for gold sell dross,

Vote, muster, edit journals, import tea,

Make Goshen cheeses, wretched rum for sea,

Bad cloths, and flimsy fabrics for the mart

Of the poor south, that still must pay and smart, &c.

These lines and the few others below, are rather more than fair specimens of our author’s manner and powers. Heaven knows our poetasters have need of reproof, but to be rebuked by one like J. L. M. and that with sectional asperity, is too bad. However, the dullness of the book “nullifies” its ill nature, and it will probably be read by few of those for whose benefit it was written. If J. L. M. had any other object than to vent his overflowing bile, like common swearers, in hard words, we have been unable to discover it. We have been unable to discern the point or gist of a single paragraph, nor do we know a writer, or class of writers, to whom one in twenty of his reproaches can apply. He threatens, if his soi disant satire does not take effect, to print another, which we advise his publisher not to make a joint stock affair. The threat concludes the piece, thus;

Ye mighty small ones, and ye little great,

I’ll to the task again, and try a strain,

Which shall not, by your leave, be heard in vain;

Again Apollo’s aid I will invoke,

And ply my weapon with a closer stroke,

Each recreant rhymester shall behold his name,

And notes and illustrations speak his shame.

Now have I purged my choler, spilt my gall,

And feel more placid, I shall nought recall,

Write, rave, blaspheme, I do despise ye all.

We feel assured the “mighty small ones and the little great,” will cordially reciprocate the sentiment in the last half line, when they shall have read J. L. M.’s book.

The first of the “Occasional Pieces” is a long epistle in verse. The others are short, and all go to prove, that, if the author’s forte is not in satire, neither is it in fugitive poetry. We have given his book more notice than it deserves, and will now take leave of it. (New England Magazine. July 1831: 171-172.)

John Neal … is a native of Portland, Maine. He was born about 1794, and was of a Quaker family, but does not appear to have inherited any Quaker placidity of mind. In his boyhood he was “read out” of the drab fraternity for “knocking a man, who insulted him, head over heels; for paying a militia fine; for making a tragedy, and for desiring to be turned out, whether or no.” He was brought up as a shop-boy, and when he became a man, became also a wholesale dry-goods dealer, in partnership with Pierpont, afterwards the poet. The concern failed, and Neal commenced the study of law, and with it the profession of literature, by an article on the poetry of Lord Byron, who had then just published the third canto of Childe Harold. …

Next came Keep Cool, his first novel. …

The Battle of Niagara, with other Poems, by John O’Cataract, was published in 1818. … Otho, a five act tragedy, was written about the same time. …

These poems possess vigor, spirit, and ease in versification. They consist of the “Battle of Niagara,” which contains some fine passages of description of the scenes and conflict which supply its title; “Goldan, or the Maniac Harper,” a narrative poem, suggested in part by the celebrated slide of the Rossberg, Switzerland, in 1806; and Ode delivered before the Delphians, a literary society of Baltimore, and a few brief miscellaneous pieces. …

The favorable reception of a portion of [his] novels in England, on their republication, induced their author to try his literary fortunes in that country. With his characteristic promptitude he closed up his business affairs, transferred his clients to a professional brother, borrowed cash, and was off in three weeks. He arrived in England in January, 1824, and remained three years, writing for Blackwood … and other periodicals. …

In 1828 he published Rachel Dyer, a story, in a single volume, the subject of which is “Salem Witchcraft.” It is much more subdued in style than his earlier novels, and is a carefully prepared and historically correct picture of the period it presents. …

It was followed in 1830 by Authorship, by a New Englander over the Sea. It is a rambling narrative, whose interest is dependent on the mystery in which the reader is kept until near its close, respecting the character of the chief personages. The Down Easters, and Ruth Elder, which have since appeared, close the series of Mr. Neal’s novels. …

Mr. Neal has written much for the periodicals, and some of his finest poems have appeared in this manner since the publication of his early volume. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 161-163)

Died 21 June 1876


Who that has mingled in the fray,

Or borne the storms of life,

Has not desired to flee away

From all its sin and strife—

Has not desired, to flee away,

Like yonder startled dove,

And seek, in some far wilderness,

A nestling place of love—

Where the tumult, if heard, should excite no alarm,

And the storm and the tempest sweep by, without harm. …

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 343)

James K. Paulding is a native of the state of New York, and resides at present in the city of New York in the capacity of Navy Agent of the United States. Mr Paulding is well known to the public as one of the writers of Salmagundi, and the author of many other popular prose compositions. He wrote during the late war with Great Britain, The Lay of the Scottish Fiddle, a springly and entertaining parody of one of Scott’s poems. His poem of “The Backwoodsman,” published in 1818, was written with the view of pointing out to our native writers the rich materials for poetry with which our country abounds. The most striking characteristic of this work is its distinct and decided nationality. The author has aimed at giving a patriotic and vernacular cast to the train of sentiment which prevails throughout the poem, as well as at preserving the truth and identity of his local descriptions. The design of the work is carried into effect with a proper attention to all the circumstances necessary to give it success so far as the plan can be pronounced suitable; but the writer has not succeeded in giving sufficient interest to his performance to obtain for it any considerable popularity. There is in the story too little attempt to chain our attention by variety and novelty of incident, or striking delineation of individual character. Had more care been bestowed upon the narrative, The Backwoodsman might have been a favorite work. The descriptive parts are the best, and are entitled to much commendation for spirit and fidelity. (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 179)

William B. O. Peabody, a native of Exeter, New Hampshire, was graduated at Cambridge, in 1816. He is now settled in the ministry of Springfield, in Massachusetts. His poems, which have appeared anonymously in various periodicals, show superior talent and good taste. (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 325)

Peabody published poems in The Token in 1828 and 1831.

James Gates Percival was born in Kensington, Connecticut, a town of which his ancestors had been among the earliest inhabitants, on the 15th of September, 1795. He was the second son of Dr. James Percival, a physician of the place, who, dying in 1807, left his three sons to their mother’s care.

An anecdote is related of his early childhood, indicative of strength of mind and purpose. He had just begun to spell, when a book, in compliance with the custom of the district school to which he belonged, was lent to him on Saturday, to be returned on the following Monday. He found, by spelling through its first sentences, that a portion of it related to astronomy. This so excited his interest, that he sat diligently to work, and, by dint of hard study, with the aid of the family, was able to read the portion he desired on the Monday morning with fluency. This achievement seemed to give him confidence in his powers, and he advanced so rapidly in his studies, that he soon compassed the limited resources of the school. At the age of sixteen he entered Yale College, and during his course frequently excited the commendation and interest of President Dwight. He was at the head of his class in 1815, and his tragedy of Zamor, afterwards published in his works, formed part of the Commencement exercises. He had previously begun his poetical career by the composition of a few fugitive verses during his college course, and yet earlier, it is said, had written a satire in his fourteenth year. In 1820 he published his first volume, containing the first part of Prometheus, a poem in the Spenserian stanza, and a few minor pieces. It was well received. …

The poems of Percival have spirit, freshness, and a certain youthful force of expression as the author harangues of love and liberty. The deliverance of oppressed nations; the yearnings and eloquence of the young heart ready to rejoice or mourn with a Byronic enthusiasm; the hour of exaltation in the triumph of love, and of gloom as some vision of the betrayal of innocence or the inroads of disease came before his mind; these were his prominent themes. …

In those days he struck the lyre with no hesitating hand. There is the first spring of life and passion in his verse. It would have been better, sometimes, if the author had waited for slow reflection and patient elaboration—since fancy is never so vigorous as to sustain a long journey alone. Percival, however, has much of the true heat. His productions have been widely popular, and perhaps better than the well filled compositions of many others who deserve more consideration at the hands of the judicious and critical. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 212-213)

Died 2 May 1856. Percival published poetry in The Token in 1836 and 1842.

Henry, the third son of Colonel Timothy Pickering and Rebecca Pickering, was born on the 8th of October, 1781, at Newburgh, in the Hasbrouck house, memorable as having been the headquarters of General Washington. …

In 1801, after a long residence in Pennsylvania, Colonel Pickering returned with his family to his native state, Massachusetts; and subsequently Henry engaged in mercantile pursuits in Salem. In the course of a few years he acquired a moderate fortune, which he dispensed most liberally; among other things, contributing largely towards the support of his father’s family and the education of its younger members. In 1825, in consequence of pecuniary losses, he removed from Salem to New York, in the hope of retrieving his affairs; but being unsuccessful in business, he retired from the city, and resided several years at Rondout, and other places on the banks of the Hudson, devoting much of his time to reading, and finding in poetical composition a solace for his misfortunes. His writings take occasionally a sombre tint from the circumstances which shaded the latter years of his life, although his natural temperament was cheerful. He was a lover of the beautiful, as well in art as in nature, and he numbered among his friends the most eminent poets and artists of our country. …

The following just tribute to his memory appeared in the Salem Gazette, in May, 1838:—“Died in New York on the 8th instant Henry Pickering. … His remains were brought to this city on Friday last, and deposited at the side of the memorial which filial piety had erected to the memory of venerated parents—and amid the ancestral group which has been collecting since the settlement of the country. …”

The poems of Pickering are suggested by simple, natural subjects, and are in a healthy veing of reflection. A flower, a bird, a waterfall, childhood, maternal affection are his topics, with which he blends his own gentle moods. The Buckwheat Cake … first appeared in the New York Evening Post, and was published in an edition, now rare, in Boston, in 1831. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 25-26)

Pickering published poetry in The Token in 1829 and 1833.

The Rev. John Pierpont was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, April 6, 1785. … His early years were watched over with great care by an excellent mother, to whom he warmly expressed his gratitude in his subsequent poems. Entering Yale College he completed his course in 1804, and passed the succeeding four years as a private tutor in the family of Col. William Allston of South Carolina. On his return home he studied law in the celebrated school of his native town, and was admitted to practice in 1812. About the same period, being called upon to address the Washington Benevolent Society, Newburyport, where he had removed, he delivered the poem entitled “The Portrait,” which he afterwards published, and which is included in the collection of his “Patriotic and Political Pieces.” He soon, in consequence of impaired health, and the unsettled state of affairs produced by the war, relinquished his profession and became a merchant, conducting his business at Boston and afterwards at Baltimore. He was unsuccessful, and after a few years retired. In 1816 he published the Airs of Palestine, at Baltimore. It was well received, and was twice reprinted in the course of the following year at Boston.

In 1819 Mr. Pierpont was ordained minister of the Hollis Street Unitarian church in Boston. He passed a portion of the years 1835-6 in Europe, and in 1840 published a choice edition of his poems.

In 1851, on occasion of the centennial celebration at Litchfield, he delivered a poem of considerable length, with the mixture of pleasantry and sentiment called for in such recitations, and which contains, among other things, a humorous sketch of the Yankee character.

Besides his poems, Mr. Pierpont has published several discourses. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 72)

Died 26 Aug 1866. Pierpont published poetry in The Token in 1828, 1838, and 1842.

Hail to the heroes whose triumphs have brighten’d

The darkness which shrouded America’s name;

Long shall their valor in battle that lighten’d,

Live in the brilliant escutcheons of fame:

Dark where the torrents flow,

And the rude tempests blow,

The storm clad spirit of Albion raves;

Long shall she mourn the day,

When, in the vengefeul fray,

Liberty walk’d like a god on the waves.

The ocean, ye chiefs, (the region of glory,

Where fortune has destined Columbia to reign,)

Gleams with the halo and lustre of story,

That curl round the wave as the scene of her fame:

There, on its raging tide,

Shall her proud navy ride,

The bulwark of freedom, protected by heaven;

There shall her haughty foe,

Bow to her prowess low,

There shall renown to her heroes be given.

The Pillar of Glory, the sea that enlightens,

Shall last till eternity rocks on its base,

The splendor of fame its waters that brightens,

Shall light the footsteps of time in his race:

Wide o’er the stormy deep,

Where the rude surges sweep,

Its lustre shall circle the brows of the brave;

Honor shall give it light,

Triumph shall keep it bright,

Long as in battle we meet on the wave.

Already the storm of contention has hurl’d

From the grasp of Old England the trident of war,

The beams of our stars have illumined the world,

Unfurl’d our standard beats proud in the air:

Wild glares the eagle’s eye,

Swift as he cuts the sky,

Marking the wake where our heroes advance;

Compass’d with rays of light,

Hovers he o’er the fight;

Albion is heartless—and stoops to his glance.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 328-329)

The Rev. Norman Pinney was born at Simsbury, in Hartford County, on the 21st of October, 1804. He was graduated at Yale College, in 1823; and, after a course of theological study, was admitted to the ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Brownell. For several years he was connected with Washington College, in Hartford, first as Tutor of Mathematics, and afterward as Professor of Ancient Languages. Subsequently, he removed to the city of Mobile, where he relinquished the ministry, and devoted himself exclusively to the instruction of youth. …

The poetical writings of Mr. Pinney are of a pleasing character. But few of them have been committed to the press …. They were mostly contributed … to the columns of the “New York Weekly Review,” and the “Episcopal Watchman,” at that time published in Hartford. (Charles W. Everett, ed. The Poets of Connecticut, 6th ed. Philadelphia: J. & J. L. Gihon, 1851; p. 335.)

Died 1 Oct 1862


How calm comes on this holy day!

Morning unfolds the eastern sky,

And upward takes her lofty way,

Triumphant to her throne on high.

Earth glorious wakes, as o’er her breast

The morning flings her rosy ray,

And, blushing from her dreamless rest,

Unveils her to the gaze of day;

So still the scene, each wakeful sound

Seems hallow’d music breathing round.

The night-wind to their mountain caves,

The morning mists to heaven’s blue steep,

And to their ocean depths the waves

Are gone, their holy rest to keep.

’T is tranquil all—around—above—

The forests far, which bound the scene,

Are peaceful as their Maker’s love,

Like hills of everlasting green;

And clouds like earthly barriers stand,

Or bulwarks of some viewless land.

Each tree, that lifts its arms in air,

Or hangs its pensive head from high,

Seems bending at its morning prayer,

Or whispering with the hours gone by.

This holy morning, Lord, is thine—

Let silence sanctify thy praise,

Let heaven and earth in love combine

And morning stars their music rais;—

For ’t is the day—joy—joy—ye dead,

When death and hell were captive led.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 222)


There was a time, and that within the span

Of the brief memory of short-lived man,

When, close confined along the Atlantic seas,

The timid settler heard the western breeze,

And shrunk, expectant of the savage dart,

Or whizzing arrow, at his beating heart.

The western Mountains stood in awful forms,

Like clouds surcharged with tempest, fire and storms,

Whence the red bolt of rapid death might fly,

And whirlwinds rend the ocean and the sky;

For there did lurk the white-man’s deadliest foe,

Gathering to burst upon the vales below.

A solemn race—a dark relentless clan,

That own’d no ties of blood with civil man;

A fearful foe—combining human art,

The wiles of serpents, and the tiger’s heart:

Their sternest joy to daunt and scourge a race,

Soften’d by love—refined by Christian grace;

In tangled dells, where not heaven’s light had shined,

They held their home—apt emblem of their mind.

Here many a beauteous stream majestic pours,

From distant mountains, to the ocean shores,

And in their course, enrich the earth in vain—

All unexplored, or hill, or vale, or plain,

And he was passing bold, who dared advance

Up toward their source, or e’en a thought to glance.

The soil was held by unresisted might,

The tiger’s and the wolf’s prescriptive right;

Nay e’en more awful images might wake—

Thick swarming skiffs along the stream and lake,

With desp’rate skill against the rapids glide,

Or down the cataract’s tumultuous tide;

And hark! the warwhoop o’er the valley floats;—

The wolf’s wild howls are music’s softest notes.

But light at length prevails; darkness retreats,

To fix, in distant dens, her gloomy seats:

Improving nature, at this long delay

Indignant, from her barriers bursts away,

Shakes off the savage forms, by which oppress’d

She languish’d long, and with new charms is dress’d.

The dark, cold tribes, less boldly urge the strife,

And melt before the light of civil life:

And gathering courage now, the heroic swain

Pursues them far toward the western main;

Nor yet the flight, nor the pursuit gives o’er,

Until their strength and terrors are no more:

Then turns to peaceful homes, and brightning plains,

Where life to long-protracted age remains. …

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 398-399)

The editor of the Louisville Journal, is a native of Connecticut, born at Preston, New London county, December 18, 1802. He was educated at Brown University, studied law but did not engage in the profession, preferring the pursuits of editorial life. In 1828 he commenced the New England Weekly Review at Hartford, a well conducted and well supported journal of a literary character, which he carried on for two years, when, resigning its management to Mr. Whittier, he removed to the West, established himself in Kentucky at Louisville, and shortly became editor of the “Journal,” a daily paper in that city. In his hands it has become one of the most widely known and esteemed newspapers in the country; distinguished by its fidelity to Whig politics, and its earnest, able editorials, no less than by the lighter skirmishing of wit and satire. …

Mr. Prentice’s own poetical writings are numerous. Many of them first appeared in the author’s “Review” at Hartford. A number have been collected by Mr. Everest in the “Poets of Connectict.” They are in a serious vein, chiefly expressions of sentiment and the domestic affections. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 400)

The poem appeared originally in The Token for 1829.

This grassy hillock, with its rustic urn,

And its light hedge of snowy roses, train’d

By some sweet hand, is the abiding place

Of one most beautiful. A sweeter child

Than this frail tenant of the churchyard cell,

You would not meet through all the village round.

She perish’d in the heyday of her life,

Ere yet the frosts of trouble or of care

Had chill’d the gentle freshness of her youth.

She was of all the rural feasts the queen—

The merriest when the dance wheel’d round the tree

At summer eventide, or when it swept

The hearth-stone of the jocund husbandman,

In winter’s chilly and tempestuous night.

Oh! there is not a happy bird that fills

The open valley with her sylvan song,

When night is darkening all the golden woods,

That might surpass the compass of her voice

In its deep, delicate richness! In the grave

She sleepeth now, where everything is mute!

Long shall the poor man, and the aged dame,

And orphan child, remember her sweet smile

And her benignant acts; for well she loved

To minister unto the broken heart,

And help the poor blind beggar on his way,

And succor him with travel sore athirst,

And shelter, from the rain and wintry hail,

The man that had not where to lay his head;

And ever there the grateful traveller bless’d

That sweet, young face, that smiled his gloom away,

And woke the song of gladness in his heart.

And here her lover rests!

Beneath yon ridge,

Whereon the weeds grow rank, is hid the dust,

The plume, the bloody sword, the spur, and scarf

Of one who fought for fame, and found it not.

He was a wild and reckless, wayward boy,

The leader of the noisy village troop

In all their careless sports—one stout of heart

And strong of hand, and foremost in the rush

Of boyish battle. Yet his fiery soul

Would melt when Sorrow told her wretched tale,

Or Pain the gloomy history of her grief,

Or Age her melancholy words.

The youth

Had pledged his honest love to that meek girl,

And in the innocent fondness of her heart,

She bless’d him with her love.

But time wore on,

And he had heard the savage trump of war

Sound in the peaceful vale, and heard the tramp

And neighing of the charger, and the clang

Of martial arms, and shouts of armed men,

And saw the gairish [sic] flag of battle float

Beside the cottage of his infancy.

He clothed him in the garb of strife, and placed

Its sword upon his thigh, and search’d for fame

“E’en at the cannon’s mouth.”

And he came back

A bruised and sick, and broken-hearted man,

To linger out his few sad days on earth

And die, and be at rest;—and by his side

They placed that bruised reed that leant on him.

“After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well.”

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 330-331)

James O. Rockwell was, to a great extent, a self-made man. He was born at Lebanon, Conn., in 1807, and at an early age placed as an operative in a cotton factory at Patterson, New Jersey. When he was fourteen the family removed to Manlius, N. Y., and James was apprenticed to a printing establishment at Utica. He remained there about four years, writing for as well as working at the press, and then after a short sojourn in New York removed to Boston. After working a short time as a journeyman printer he obtained the situation of assistant editor of the Boston Statesman, from which he was soon promoted, in 1829, to the exclusive charge of a paper of his own, The Providence Patriot. “He continued,” says his biographer Everest, “his editorial labors until the summer of 1831, when a ‘card apologetic’ announced to the readers of the Patriot that its editor had been ‘accused of ill health—tried—found guilty—and condemned over to the physicians for punishment.’ The following number was arrayed in tokens of mourning for his death.” [Note in Duyckinck: See also a further notice from the same pen, South[ern] Lit[erary] Mess[enger], July, 1838, in which a suspicion of suicide is hinted at.]

His poems are scattered through his own and other periodicals, having never been collected. They are all brief, and though bearing marks of an ill regulated imagination and imperfect literary execution, are animated by a true poetic flame. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 437)

Rockwell published poetry in The Token in 1830 and 1833.

One of the most original of American humorists, a fine scholar, and a poet of ardent imagination, was born in the city of New York, May 11, 1799. His father, Comfort Sands, was a mechant of the city, who had borne a patriotic part in the early struggles of the Revolution. Sands early acquired a taste for the ancient classics, which his education at Columbia College confirmed, to which he afterwards added a knowledge of the modern tongues derived from the Latin. One of his college companions, two years his senior, was his friend and partner in his poetical scheme, James Wallis Eastburn. They projected while in college two literary periodicals, The Moralist and Academic Recreations. The first had but a single number; the other reached a volume;—Sands contributing prose and verse. Graduating with the class of 1815, he entered the law office of David B. Ogden, and contrary to the habit of young poets, studied with zeal and fidelity. His talent for writing, at this time, was a passion. He wrote with facility, and on a great vareity of subjects; one of his compositions, a sermon, penned for a friend, finding its way into print, with the name of the clergyman who delivered it. In 1817 he published, in the measure which the works of Scott had made fashionable, The Bridal of Vaaumond …. His literary history is at this time interwoven with that of his friend, Eastburn, with whom he was translating the Psalms of David into verse, and writing a poem, “Yamoyden,” on the history of Philip, the Pequod chieftain. This was planned by Eastburn, while he was pursuing his studies for the ministry, during a residence at Bristol, Rhode Island, in the vicinity of the Indian locality of the poem. It was based on a slight reading of Hubbard’s Narrative of the Indian Wars. The two authors chose their parts, and communicated them when finished to each other; the whole poem being written in the winter of 1817 and following spring. While it was being revised, Eastburn, who in the meantime had taken orders in the Protestant Episcopal Church, died in his twenty-second year, December 2, 1819, on a voyage to Santa Cruz, undertaken to recover his health.

The poem was published the year following, in 1820, with an advertisement by Sands, who, on a further study of the subject, had made some additions to the matter. The proem, which celebrates the friendship of the two authors, and the poetical charm of their Indian subject, is justly considered one of the finest of Sands’s literary achievements. The basis of the poem belongs to Eastburn. …

In 1822 and 1823, Sands was writing for the Literary Review, a monthly New York periodical, in conjunction with some friends, associated in a junto known as the Literary Confederacy. They were four in number, and had already contributed the series of papers, “The Neologist” to the Daily Advertiser, and “The Amphilogist” to the Commercial Advertiser ….

In May, 1824, Sands commenced the Atlantic Magazine, which he edited, and for which he made many of the articles during its first volume; when it became the New York Review he again entered upon the editorship, which he continued, supplying many ingenious and eloquent papers till 1827. …

The “Dream of the Princess Papantzin,” first published in the Talisman, founded on a legend recorded by the Abbe Clavigero, on a poem of more than four hundred lines of blank verse, is considered by Mr. Verplanck “one of the most perfect specimens left by Mr. Sands of his poetic powers, whether we regard the varied music of the versification, the freedom and splendor of the diction, the nobleness and affluence of the imagery, or the beautiful and original use he has made of the Mexican mythology.” …

At the very instant of his death he was engaged upon an article of invention for the first number of the Knickerbocker Magazine upon Esquimaux Literature, for which he had filled his mind with the best reading on the country. It was while engaged on this article on the 17th December, 1832, that he was suddenly attacked by Apoplexy. He had written with his pencil the line for one of the poems by which he was illustrating his topic,

Oh think not my spirit among you abides,

—some uncertain marks followed from his stricken arm; he rose and fell on the threshold of his room, and lived but a few hours longer. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 271-273)

Sands published poetry in The Token in 1830.

Richard Penn Smith was born in Philadelphia, and was educated as a lawyer. His father, William Moore Smith, who transmitted a taste for literature to his son, is spoken of as a poetical writer of reputation. The first appearance of Richard Penn Smith as an author was in the contribution of a series of Essays entitled “The Plagiary” to the Union. He was for five years, from 1822, the proprietor and editor of the Aurora, in which he succeeded Duane. He then returned to his profession of the law, still pursuing his literary tastes. In 1831 he published a novel of the American Revolution, The Forsaken. He is also the author of two volumes of short stories, The Actress of Padua and other Tales. He was a frequent writer of poetical pieces for the newspapers; but chiefly known as a ready writer of dramatic pieces for the stage. His tragedy of Caius Marius, written for Edwin Forrest, was brought out by the latter on the stage. He wrote numerous other successful plays, some of the titles of which are, Quite Correct, The Eighth of January, The Sentinels, William Penn, [T]he Water Witch, Is she a Brigand? &c. Rees, in his Dramatic Authors, enumerates these, and tells an anecdote illustrating his equanimity while turning off these hasty productions for ready money. Leaving the theatre one night at the close of the performance of a piece of his composing, he met an old schoolfellow who, ignorant of his friend’s share in it, saluted him, “Well, this is really the most insufferable trash that I have witnessed for some time.” “True,” replied Smith, “but as they give me a benefit tomorrow night as the author, I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you here again.”

He died at his residence on the Schuylkill, August 12, 1854. He had ceased to write for some years before his death, having suffered from a dropsical affection. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 382)

Born 17 March 1799. Several of his plays are reprinted in volume 13 of America’s Lost Plays, ed. Ralph H. Ware and H. W. Schoenberger. (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1940; reissued 1965.)

Nuns fret not at their Convent’s narrow room;

And Hermits are contented with their cells;

And Students with their pensive citadels;

Maids at the wheel, the Weaver at his loom,

Sit blithe and happy; Bees that soar for bloom,

High as the highest peak of Furness Fells,

Will murmur by the hour in fox-glove bells.

In truth the prison unto which we doom

Ourselves, no prison is; and hence to me,

In sundry moods, ’t was pastime to be bound

Within the sonnet’s scanty plot of ground;

Pleased if some souls (for such there needs must be)

Who ’ve felt the weight of too much liberty,

Should find short solace there, as I have found.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 357-358)

The Spirit of Beauty unfurls her light,

And wheels her course in a joyous flight:

I know her track through the balmy air,

By the blossoms that cluster and whiten there;

She leaves the tops of the mountains green,

And gems the valley with crystal sheen.

At morn, I know where she rested at night,

For the roses are gushing with dewy delight;

Then she mounts again, and around her flings

A shower of light from her purple wings,

Till the spirit is drunk with the music on high

That silently fills it with ecstacy!

At noon she hies to a cool retreat,

Where bowering elms over waters meet;

She dimples the wave, where the green leaves dip,

That smiles, as it curls, like a maiden’s lip,

When her tremulous bosom would hide, in vain,

From her lover, the hope that she loves again.

At eve, she hangs o’er the western sky

Dark clouds for a glorious canopy;

And round the skirts of each sweeping fold,

She paints a border of crimson and gold,

Where the lingering sunbeams love to stay,

When their god in his glory has pass’d away.

She hovers around us at twilight hour,

When her presence is felt with the deepest power;

She mellows the landscape, and crowds the stream

With shadows that flit like a fairy dream:—

Still wheeling her flight through the gladsome air,

The Spirit of Beauty if every where!

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 216)

Charles Sprague was born in 1791, in Boston, where he has always resided. He was educated at one of the public schools in his native town, and during the early part of his life, gave his attention to mercantile pursuits. He is at present the Cashier of the Globe Bank, which situation he has held for several years. He has ever been actively devoted to business, and has cultivated letters only during hours of leisure.

Mr Sprague, we believe, was first introduced to the public, as a poet, on the occasion of obtaining a prize for a theatrical prologue. He has since written several others, which have not only been adjuged worthy of prizes, but are esteemed superior to all productions of the kind, excepting only those of Pope and Johnson. These, however they may be the principal things by which this author is known to the public at large, are not all that he has written, nor in our opinion, are they the best. …. (Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 185)

John Augustus Stone, the author of Metamora, was born in 1801, at Concord, Mass. He was an actor as well as dramatic writer, and made his first appearance in Boston as “Old Norval” in the play of Douglas. He acted in New York in 1826, and in Philadelphia afterwards at intervals. He received five hundred dollars from Mr. [Edwin] Forrest for Metamora. He wrote two other plays in which Mr. Forrest performed, The Ancient Briton, in which he took the part of Brigantine, and for which he paid the author a thousand dollars; and Fauntleroy, The Banker of Boston, a version of the story of the English personage of that name. … Stone also wrote La Roque the Regicide, The Democrat, Tancred, and other pieces.

The circumstances of his death were melancholy. In a fit of derangement he threw himself into the Schuylkill and was drowned. The date of this event is recorded on a monument over his remains which bears this inscription: “To the memory of John Augustus Stone, who departed this life June 1, 1834, aged thirty-three years,” and on the reverse, “Erected to the Memory of the Author of Metamora, by his friend Edwin Forrest.” (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 280-281)

A robin strews leaves over the dead children in the English story, “The Babes in the Woods.”

That silent moon, that silent moon,

Careering now through cloudless sky,

Oh! who shall tell what varied scenes

Have pass’d beneath her placid eye,

Since first, to light this wayward earth,

She walk’d in tranquil beauty forth.

How oft has guilt’s unhallow’d hand,

And superstition’s senseless rite,

And loud, licentious revelry,

Profaned her pure and holy light:

Small sympathy is hers, I ween,

With sights like these, that virgin queen.

Dispersed along the world’s wide way,

When friends are far, and fond ones rove,

How powerful she to wake the thought,

And start the tear for those we love!

Who watch, with us, at night’s pale noon,

And gaze upon that silent moon.

How powerful, too, to hearts that mourn,

The magic of that moonlight sky,

To bring again the vanish’d scenes,

The happy eves of days gone by;

Again to bring, ’mid bursting tears,

The loved, the lost of other years[]

And oft she looks, that silent moon,

On lonely eyes that wake to weep,

In dungeon dark, or sacred cell,

Or couch, whence pain has banish’d sleep:

Oh! softly beams that gentle eye,

On those who mourn, and those who die.

But beam on whomsoe’er she will,

And fall where’er her splendor may,

There ’s pureness in her chasten’d light,

There ’s comfort in her tranquil ray:

What power is hers to soothe the heart—

What power, the trembling tear to start!

The dewy morn let others love,

Or bask them in the noontide ray;

There ’s not an hour but has its charm,

From dawning light to dying day:—

But oh! be mine a fairer boon—

That silent moon, that silent moon!

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 342-343)

Benjamin B. Thatcher was born in the state of Maine in the year 1809. His father was a distinguished lawyer, and for many years a representative in Congress. The son, on the completion of his course at Bowdoin College in 1825, commenced the study of law, and was admitted to practice at Boston, where he resided during the remainder of his life. He was a constant contributor to the leading literary periodicals of the day, and in 1832 published a work entitled Indian Biography, which forms two volumes of Harpers’ Family Library. He afterwards prepared two volumes on Indian Traits, for a juvenile series, “The Boys’ and Girl’s Library,” issued by the same house. He also wrote a brief memoir of Phillis Wheatley. In 1838 he visited Europe for the benefit of his health, but returned after passing nearly two years in England, in a worse state than that in which he left home. He died on the fourteenth of July, 1840. His poems are numerous, and mostly of a meditative and descriptive character. They are all brief, and like most of his prose productions, are scattered over a number of annuals and magazines. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 496-497)

Thatcher published poetry in The Token in 1830-1837.

Perhaps Charles West Thompson, who published two poems in The Token in 1834.


Perhaps Daniel Pierce Thompson, author, b. in Charlestown (now a part of Boston), Mass., 1 Oct., 1793; d. in Montpelier, Vt., 6 June, 1868. … He was brought up on a farm, prepared himself for college under difficulties, taught for one winter, and then entered Middlebury college, where he was graduated in 1820. Going to Virginia as a family tutor, he studied law there, and was admitted to the bar in 1823, after which he returned to Vermont and settled in Montpelier. … He was a popular lecturer before lyceums and orator on public occasions. Mr. Thompson began to contribute poems and sketches to periodicals while he was in college, and continued to write frequently for the newspapers and magazines besides publishing political pamphlets. … (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.)

According to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, blind soothsayer Tiresias was for seven years a woman and then changed back into a man:

Once he had come upon two serpents mating

In the green woods, and struck them from each other,

And thereupon, from man was turned to woman,

And was a woman seven years, and saw

The serpents once again, and once more struck them

Apart, remarking: “If there is such magic

In giving you blows, that man is turned to woman,

It may be that woman is turned to man. Worth trying.”

And so he was a man again ….

(Ovid. Metamorphoses, trans. Rolfe Humphries. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1955, 1973; p. 67)


In Bryan’s hall the revels were begun,

Many a heart had now been lost and won.

Blazing with light the rich and festive room,

With scorn shut out the coming night’s dull gloom.

The pride of France and chivalry had met,

And winsome pleasure wanton’d without let:

The joyous laugh from lip to lip went round,

And sense enchanted drank the thrilling sound.

* * * *

The moon held pale dominion o’er the scene,

While light and fleecy clouds were oft between

Her and the earth in all their beauty seen,

Alt’ring their vaporous forms and sailing on,

Their magic changes hardly seen ere gone,

Veiling the silver graces of that orb,

Whose modest charms all other charms absorb.

A bugle’s call then sounded from the gate.

The warder enter’d, and with feudal state,

Whisper’d his lord, who cries “throw ope the door,

And let us welcome greet the Troubadour,

He comes with skilful harp, and soft’ning lay:

Ne’er to such guests can courtly knights say nay.”

The doors flew open, and with graceful mien,

The Minstrel enter’d in his garb of green.

In wild luxuriance o’er his front there play’d,

Thick, clustering locks that even blacker made

The swarthy hue that darken’d in his face,

And lent his flashing eye a gloomier grace;

While in the lowly bow he made around,

More of the knight than peasant there was found.

Now ceased the lively dance, and dames drew near

The harp’s full tone and melody to hear.

Then lowly bending o’er the strings he rung

A wild and mournful prelude ere he sung.

* * * *

With wilder’d eye the lady Ella stood,

Watching the Troubadour as though she would

Recall some well-known air, or former tone,

Shadow or light that o’er his face had flown.

“It is—and yet it cannot be—that air!

And yet his brow was wont to be so fair.

That voice and I should sure be well acquaint.”

* * * *

The Minstrel watch’d the changes of her thought,

And when the warm ane well-known glance he caught,

Like Egypt’s statue kiss’d by golden beams

Of mantling morn new-waking from her dreams,

A full, harmonious peal of music threw

From chords melodious—soft as summer dew.

He ceased—and bowing lowly once again,

The melting echoes of his wondrous strain,

Borne on the bosom of the evening breeze

Died ’mid the shadows of the distant trees.

Then came a burst of rich and noble praise,

The poet’s choicest meed for all his lays,

From pleasure-beaming eyes and lips where smiles,

With wildest sporting, flung around their wiles.

O’er one fair face the hue of joy was thrown;

With lustrous gladness every feature shone.

She look’d her thanks, but trusted not her voice,

Content in blissful silence to rejoice.

With courteous grace his thanks the Baron made,

And turning to his glittering menials, bade

Them bear the gold-embossed beaker near,

Then pledged his guest and every high-born peer

But as he quaft’d the sparkling liquor down,

His searching eye was lower’d with a frown;

A sudden thought seem’d crossing o’er his mind,

And with his falcon-glance he seem’d to find,

As every lineament he sternly scann’d,

With look so long accustom’d to command,

Some well-known feature in the Minstrel’s face,

Whose dusky forehead gave of change no trace.

* * * *

While through the hall loud peals of rapture rung

And pleasure’s accents dwelt on every tongue,

A happy moment then the Minstrel caught,

Whispering, to tell the tidings that he brought.

“Oft, my beloved Ella, since that hated morn,

When fierce—and more—when unrequited scorn,

Fell withering from thy father’s lip, to blast

My fair and knightly fame—but that is past,

I will not strike upon a chord that rings

No mellow music—but that wildly flings

Its piercing discord on the shuddering air.

Oft with various guise and subtle care

I watched thy casement—under which I sung

Some air of kinder days past by, and hung

On quivering lights, and gliding forms that past

With breathless hope, still praying that at last,

Thy form would glad my sight, and once again

Thy melting accents chase acutest pain.

Alas! you came not—then with desperate hand,

I caught the harp of Minstrels of our land;

Threw o’er my face the nut-brown oliver hue,

And from the knight a wandering poet grew,

Hoping amid the revels of the time,

An entrance for the Trouvere and his rhyme;

Then won with melody, like him of old,

A prize denied to conquering love of gold.”

Here glancing on a stern and martial form

Whose features bore the impress of the storm;

Like some fierce figure by Salvator drawn,

Darkling and towering in his strength of brawn;

’Mid rocks and gloomy woods and savage men

Waiting at th’ entrance of some banditt’s [sic] den;

The fire’s dull embers pouring their red light

On stern, wild features, and on armor bright:

The brow of Guiscard darken’d, and his eye

Threw out a light, as though he would defy,

In th’ hour of gasping death, the warrior dark,

Who took of song and dance but slender mark. …

(Samuel Kettell. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 2, p. 316-318)

The evening heavens were calm and bright;

No dimness rested on the glittering light,

That sparkled from that wilderness of worlds on high

Those distant suns burn’d on with quiet ray;

The placid planets held their modest way;

And silence reign’d profound o’er earth, and sea, and sky.

Oh what an hour for lofty thought!

My spirit burn’d within; I caught

A holy inspiration from the hour.

Around me man and nature slept;

Alone my solemn watch I kept,

Till morning dawn’d, and sleep resumed her power.

A vision pass’d upon my soul.

I still was gazing up to heaven,

As in the early hours of even;

I still beheld the planets roll,

And all those countless sons of light

Flame from the broad blue arch, and guide the moonless night.

When, lo, upon the plain,

Just where it skirts the swelling main,

A massive castle, far and high,

In towering grandeur broke upon my eye.

Proud in its strength and years, the pond’rous pile

Flung up its time-defying towers;

Its lofty gates seem’d scornfully to smile

At vain assault of human powers,

And threats and arms deride.

Its gorgeous carvings of heraldic pride

In giant masses graced the walls above,

And dungeons yawn’d below.

Yet ivy there and moss their garlands wove,

Grave, silent chroniclers of time’s protracted flow.

Bursting on my steadfast gaze,

See, within, a sudden blaze!

So small at first, the zephyr’s slightest swell,

That scarcely stirs the pine tree top,

Nor makes the wither’d leaf to drop,

The feeble fluttering of that glame would quell.

But soon it spread—

Waving, rushing, fierce, and red,

From wall to wall, from tower to tower,

Raging with resistless power;

Till every fervent pillar glow’d,

And every stone seemed burning coal,

Instinct with living heat, that flow’d

Like streaming radiance from the kindled pole.

Beautiful, fearful, grand,

Silent as death, I saw the fabric stand.

At length a crackling sound began;

From side to side, throughout the pile it ran;

And louder yet, and louder grew,

Till now in rattling thunder-peals it grew,

Huge shiver’d fragments from the pillars broke,

Like fiery sparkles from the anvil’s stroke.

The shatter’d walls were rent and riven,

And piecemeal driven

Like blazing comets through the troubled sky.

’T is done; what centuries had rear’d,

In quick explosion disappear’d,

Nor even in its ruins met my wondering eye.

But in their place,—

Bright with more than human grace,

Robed in more than mortal seeming,

Radiant glory in her face,

And eyes with heaven’s own brightness beaming,

Rose a fair majestic form,

As the mild rainbow from the storm.

I mark’d her smile, I knew her eye;

And when, with gesture of command,

She waved aloft the cap-crown’d wand,

My slumbers fled mid shouts of “Liberty!”

Read ye the dream? and know ye not

How truly it unlock’d the word of fate?

Went not the flame from this illustrious spot,

And spreads it not, and burns in every state?

And when their old and cumbrous walls,

Fill’d with this spirit, glow intence,

Vainly they rear their impotent defence—

The fabric falls!

That fervent energy must spread,

Till despotism’s towers be overthrown;

And in their stead,

Liberty stands alone!

Hasten the day, just Heaven!

Accomplish thy design;

And let the blessings thou hast freely given,

Freely on all men shine;

Till equal rights be equally enjoy’d,

And human power for human good employ’d;

Till law, not man, the sovereign rule sustain,

And peace and virtue undisputed reign.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 118-120)

Robert Walsh was born in the city of Baltimore in 1784. His father was by birth an Irishman, bearing the same name; his mother was of Quaker Pennsylvanian origin. He received his early education at the Catholic College at Baltimore, and the Jesuit College at Georgetown. He was sent to Europe after passing through the usual school course to complete his education, and remained abroad until his twenty-fifth year, when he returned, married, and commenced the practice of the law, having prosecuted his studies under the superintendence of Robert Goodloe Harper. Owing in part, probably to his deafness, he soon abandoned this profession.

He commenced his literary career as a writer in the Port Folio, and in 1809 published A Letter on the Genius and Disposition of the French Government, including a View of the Taxation of the French Empire, in which he commented with severity on the measures of Napoleon. …

In 1811 he commenced with the year the publication of the first quarterly attempted in America, The American Review of History and Politics. Eight numbers appeared, carrying the work through two years. Most of the articles were from the pen of the editor.

In 1813 his Correspondence with Robert Goodloe Harper respecting Russia and Essay on the Future State of Europe appeared. He also furnished several biographical prefaces to an edition of the English poets, in fifty eighteenmo. volumes, then in course of publication in Philadelphia. …

In 1821 he commenced, with Mr. William Fry, the National Gazette, a small newspaper, published on alternate afternoons. It was soon enlarged, and published daily. Mr. Walsh remained connected with this journal for fifteen years, and during that period did much to enlarge the scope of the newspaper literature of the country by writing freely and fully upon books, science, and the fine arts, as well as politics ….

Mr. Walsh was also connected with the editorship of The American Magazine of Foreign Literature, the forerunner of the Museum and Living Age of Mr. Littell, but in 1822 resigned that charge for the more agreeable task of the resuscitation of his original Review. The first number of the American Review was published in March, 1827. It was continued with great ability for ten years, and among its many excellent qualities is to be commended for its frequent and thorough attention to home literature and other subjects of national interest. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 37-38)

Died 7 Feb 1859

[C]lergyman, b. in Hingham, Mass., 21 April 1794; d. in Framingham, Mass., 22 Sept., 1843, was graduated at Harvard in 1812. He was assistant teacher at Phillips Exeter academy in 1812-’14, studied theology under his father’s direction, and was ordained pastor of the Second church (Unitarian) at Boston, 1 Jan., 1817. He took an active part in organizing the Unitarian body, and edited its organ, the “Christian Disciple,” whose name was subsequently changed to the “Christian Examiner” in 1819-’22. He visited Europe in 1829-’30 for the benefit of his health, resigned his pastorate soon after his return, and was appointed Parkman professor of pulpit eloquence and pastoral care in the divinity-school of Harvard in 1830, which chair he resigned in 1842. He … published “Hints on Extemporaneous Preaching” (Boston, 1824); “Sermons on the Offices and Character of Jesus Christ” (1825); “The Formation of Christian Character” (1831); “The Life of the Saviour” (1832); memoirs of Joseph Priestley, Noah Worcester, and others; and separate sermons, essays, and poems. (Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, ed. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske. NY: D. Appleton & Co., 1888.)

Prosper Montgomery Wetmore was born at Stratford on the Housatonic, Connecticut, in 1799. At an early age he removed with his parents to New York. His father dying soon after, he was placed, when scarcely nine years of age, in a counting-room, where he continued as a clerk till he reached his majority. He has since that period been engaged in mercantile business in the city of New York.

With scant early opportunities for literary culture, Mr. Wetmore was not long in improving a natural tendency to the pursuits of authorship. He made his first appearance in print in 1816, at the age of seventeen, and soon became an important aid to the struggling literature, and, it may be added, writers of the time. He wrote for the magazines, the annuals, and the old Mirror; and as literature at that period was kept up rather as a social affair than from any reward promised by the trade, it became naturally associated with a taste for the green-room, and the patronage of the theatrical stars of the day. Mr. Wetmore was the companion of Price, Simpson, Brooks, Morris, and other members of a society which supported the wit and gaiety of the town.

In 1830 Mr. Wetmore published in an elegant octavo volume, Lexington, with other Fugitive Poems. This is the only collection of his writings which has been made. Lexington, a picture, in an ode, of the early revolutionary battle, is a spirited poem. It has fire and ease of versification. The Banner of Murat, The Russian Retreat, Greece, Painting, and several theatrical addresses possessing similar qualities, are aimong the contents of this volume.

In 1832 Mr. Wetmore delivered a poem in Spenserian stanza on Ambition, before one of the literary societies of Hamilton College, New York, which has not been printed.

In 1838 he edited a volume of the poems of James Nack, prefaced with a brief notice of the life of that remarkable person.

Mr. Wetmore, however, has been more generally known as a man of literary influence in society than as an author. He has been prominently connected with most of the liberal interests of the city, both utilitarian and refined—as Regent of the University, to which body he was appointed in 1833, promoting the public school system; as chairman of the committee on colleges and academies in the State Legislature, to which he was elected in 1834 and 1835; as member of the City Chamber of Commerce; as an efficient director of the Institution for the Deaf and Dumb; as President of the American Art-Union, which rapidly extended under his management to a national institution; and as a most active member and supporter of the New York Historical Society. …

The military title of General Wetmore, by which he is widely known, is derived from his long and honorable service in the militia organization of the state, of which he was for many years Paymaster-General. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 279)

Died 16 March 1876. Wetmore published poetry in The Token in 1830 and 1831.

I ’m much too young to marry,

For I am only seventeen;

Why think I then of Harry?—

What can it mean—what can it mean?

Whenever Harry meets me,

Beside the brook, or on the green,

How tenderly he greets me!

What can it mean—what can it mean?

Whene’er my name he utters,

And blush upon my cheek is seen,

And then my heart so flutters—

What can it mean—what can it mean?

And when he mentions Cupid,

Or, smiling, calls me “fairy queen,”

I sigh and look so stupid!—

What can it mean—what can it mean?

Oh, mercy! what can ail me?

I ’m growing pale and very lean;

My spirits often fail me!

What can it mean—what can it mean?

I ’m not in love!—oh smother

Such a thought at seventeen:

I ’ll go and ask my mother

What it can mean—what it can mean.

(Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. Boston: S. G. Goodrich & Co., 1829; vol 3, p. 352-353)

White, Kirke, eulogized by George Gordon, Lord Byron

In “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers

John Greenleaf Whittier is of a Quaker family, established, in spite of old Puritan persecutions, on the banks fo the Merrimack, where, at the homestead in the neighborhood of Haverhill, Massachusetts, the poet was born in 1808. Until his eighteenth year he lived at home, working on the farm, writing occasional verses of the Haverhill Gazette, and turning his hand to a little shoemaking, one fo the industrial resources with which the New England farmer sometimes ekes out the family subsistence. Then came two years of town academy learning, when he became editor, in 1829, at Boston, of the American Manufacture, a newspaper in the tariff interest. In 1830 he became editor of the paper which had been conducted by Brainard at Hartford, and when the “Remains” of that poet were published in 1832, he wrote the prefatory memoir. In 1831 appeared, in a small octavo volume, at Hartford, his Legends of New England, which represents a taste early formed by him of the quaint Indian and colonial superstitions of the country, and which his friend Brainard had delicately touched in several of his best poems. The Supernaturalism of New England, which he published in 1847, may be considered a sequel to this volume. There was an early poem published by Whittier, Moll Pitcher, a tale of a witch of Nahant, which may be classed with these productions, rather poetical essays in prose and verse on a favorite subject than, strictly speaking, poetical creations. …

Mr. Whittier has written too frequently on occasional topics of local or passing interest, to claim for all his verses the higher qualities of poetry. Many of them are purely didactic, and serve the purposes of forcible newspaper leaders. In others he has risen readily to genuine eloquence, or tempered his poetic fire by the simplicity of true pathos. Like most masters of energetic expression, he relies upon the strong Saxon elements of the language, the use of which is noticeable in his poems. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 472-473)

Died 7 Sept 1892

Nathaniel Parker Willis was born in Portland, Jan. 20, 1807. His father removed to Boston when he was six years of age. He was for a year or two a pupil of the Rev. Dr. McFalane of Concord, N. H.; but at the Latin School of Boston and at the Phillips Academy at Andover, he received his principal education, previous to entering college. He was graduated at Yale in 1827. While in college he published several religious pieces of poetry under the signature of “Roy,” and gained the prize of fifty dollars for the best poem, offered by “The Album,” a gift book published by Lockwood. …

After his graduation, Mr. Willis first became the editor of “The Legendary,” a series of volumes of tales published by S. G. Goodrich. He next established the “American Monthly Magazine,” which he conducted for two years, then merging it in the “New York Mirror,” conducted by Geo. P. Morris—that he might carry out a cherished purpose of a visit to Europe. His “Pencillings by the Way,” contributed to the Mirror, give the history of his next four years of travel and adventure. …

The contributions of Mr. Willis to the various periodicals upon which he has been engaged, have been written with that invariable care and finish, which enable him now, in their collected form of nine volumes, to look upon them as the even and steady product of a career of literary industry, varying only in place and circumstances. They are severally characterized by their acute perception of affairs of life and the world; a delicate vein of sentiment, an increased ingenuity in the decoration and improvement of matters which in the hands of msot writers would be impertinent and wearisome; in fine, their invention which makes new things out of old, whether among the palled commonplaces of the city, or the scan monotony of the country. …

The poetry of Mr. Willis is musical and original. His Sacred Poems belong to a class of compositions which critics might object to, did not experience show them to be pleasurable and profitable interpreters to many minds. The versification of these poems is of remarkable smoothness. Indeed, they have gained the author reputation where his nicer powers would have failed to be appreciated. In another view, his novel in rhyme, of Lady Jane, is one of the very choicest of the numerous poems cast in the model of Don Juan; while his dramas are delicate creations of sentiment and passion, with a relish of the old poetic Elizabethan stage. … (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 439-440)

In the latter years of his life, Mr. Willis was an invalid. He suffered so intensely from the ravages of chronic disease as to live in the continual anticipation of death. Yet, although repeatedly warned by his physician, he would not intermit his regular and choicely-written contributions to his paper. … “ ‘I have made up my mind to die in the harness,’ he would say; and he kept his word.” He died at Idlewild, January 20, 1867, on his sixty-first birthday. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. 1875; vol 2, p. 274)

Willis published poetry in The Token in 1828-1832 and edited the volume for 1829. He appears in Fern Leaves from Fanny’s Portfolio and Ruth Hall, by his sister, Sara Payson Willis (“Fanny Fern”).

The author of the Old Oaken Bucket, was the youngest son of a farmer and revolutionary soldier, and was born at Scituate, Mass., January 13, 1785. He had but few educational advantages, as, according to the memoir prefixed to his poems in 1816, no school was taught in the village, except during the three winter months; and as a mistaken idea of economy always governed the selection of a teacher, he was generally as ignorant as his pupils.

Some juvenile verses written by young Woodworth attracted the attention of the vilage clergyman, the Rev. Nehemiah Thomas, who gave him a winter’s instruction in the classics, and endeavored to raise an amount sufficient to support him at college, but without success. He was soon after apprenticed to a printer, the trade of his choice, Benjamin Russell the editor and publisher of the Columbian Centinel, Boston. He remained with his employer a year after the expiration of his indentures, and then removed to New Haven, where he commenced a weekly paper called the Belles Lettres Repository, of which he was “editor, publisher, printer, and (more than once) carrier.” The latter duty was probably one of the lightest, as the periodical, after exhausting the cash received in advance, was discontinued at the end of the second month.

Several of Woodworth’s poems first appeared in The Complete Coiffeur …. By J. B. M. D. Lafoy, Ladies’ Hair Dresser, 1817. This is a small volume of about two hundred pages, one half being occupied with a French translation of the other. M. Lafoy was probably ambitious to follow in the footsteps of the illustrious Huggins, or perhaps regarded the affair as a shrewd mode of advertising. It is to be hoped he paid Woodworth well for this literary job.

Woodworth left New Haven, and after a brief sojourn in Baltimore, removed to New York in 1809. … During the contest of 1812 he conducted a quarto weekly paper entitled The War, and a monthly Swedenborgian magazine, The Halcyon Luminary and Theological Repository. Both were unsuccessful. His next literary undertaking was a contract in 1816 “to write a history of the late war, in the style of a romance, to be entitled The Champions of Freedom.” The work was commenced in March, and the two duodecimos were ready for delivery in the following October. It possessed little merit as history or novel.

In 1818, a small volume of Woodworth’s poetical contributions to various periodicals was published in New York. A second collection appeared in 1826.

… He was a frequent contributor of occasional verses to the newspaper, and his patriotic songs on the victories of the war of 1812- 14, and on other occasions, were widely popular. He was the author of several dramatic pieces, mostly operatic, which were produced with success. One of these, The Forest Rose, keeps possession of the stage, on account of the amusing Yankee character who forms one of the dramatis personae.

In the latter years of his life he suffered from paralysis. …

He died on the 9th of December, 1842. “The Old Oaken Bucket” is by far the best of his numerous lyrics. It will hold its place among the choice songs of the country. (Evert & George Duyckinck. Cyclopaedia of American Literature. NY: Charles Scribner, 1855; vol 2, p. 70-71)

[excerpt from Introduction]

Homeward we turned to that fair land, but late

Redeemed from the strong spell that bound it fast,

Where Mystery, brooding o’er the waters, safe,

And kept the key, till three millenniums past;

When, as creation’s noblest work was last,

Latest, to man it was vouchsafed to see

Nature’s great wonder, long by clouds o’ercast,

And veiled in sacred awe, that it might be

An empire and a home, most worthy for the free.

And here forerunners strange and meet were found

Of that blest freedom, only dreamed before;—

Dark were the morning mists, that lingered round

Their birth and story, as the hue they bore.

“Earth was their mother;” or they knew no more,

Or would not that their secret should be told;

For they were grave and silent; and such lore,

To stranger ears, they loved not to unfold,

The long-transmitted tales their sires were taught of old.

Kind Nature’s commoners, from her they drew

Their needful wants, and learned not how to hoard;

And him whom strength and wisdom crowned they knew,

But with no servile reverence, as their lord.

And on their mountain summits they adored

One great, good Spirit, in his high abode,

And thence their incense and orisons poured

To his pervading presence, that abroad

They felt through all his works,—their Father, King, and God

And in the mountain mist, the torrent’s spray,

The quivering forest, or the glassy flood,

Soft falling showers, or hues of orient day,

They imaged spirits beautiful and good;

But when the tempest roared, with voices rude,

Or fierce, red lightning fired the forest pine,

Or withering heats untimely seared the wood,

The angry forms they saw of powers malign;

These they besought to spare, those blessed for aid divine.

As the fresh sense of life, through every vein,

With the pure air they drank, inspiring came,

Comely they grew, patient of toil and pain,

And, as the fleet deer’s, agile was their frame:

Of meaner vices scarce they knew the name;

These simple truths went down from sire to son,—

To reverence age,—the sluggish hunter’s shame,

And craven warrior’s infamy, to shun,—

And still avenge each wrong, to friends or kindred done.

From forest shades they peered, with awful dread,

When, uttering flame and thunder from its side,

The ocean-monster, with broad wings outspread,

Came, ploughing gallantly the virgin tide.

Few years have passed, and all their forests’ pride

From shores and hills has vanished, with the race,

Their tenants erst, from memory who have died,

Like airy shapes, which eld was wont to trace,

In each green thicket’s depths, and lone, sequestered place.

And many a gloomy tale tradition yet

Saves from oblivion, of their struggles vain,

Their prowess and their wrongs, for rhymer meet

To people scenes where still their names remain;

And so began our young, delighted strain,

That would evoke the plumed chieftains brave,

And bid their martial hosts arise again,

Where Narragansett’s tides roll by their grave,

And Haup’s romantic steeps are piled above the wave. …

(George B. Cheever, ed. The American Common-place Book of Poetry. Boston: American Stationers’ Company, 1831. p. 117-118]

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