« AnteriorContinuar »
ground. No snake, said he, exists in Ireland, and no poet can be found in America.
You are too severe, said I, in your strictures. This country, as a native author observes, can furnish her quota of poets.
Name, will you, one?
Is not Dwight, a candidate for the epic crown? Is he, Sir, not a poet ?
I think not. He wants imagination, and he also wants judgment; Sir, he makes the shield of Joshua to mock the rising sun?
Is not Barlow a poet? Is not his Vision of Columbus a fine poem
The opening is elevated; the rest is read without emotion?
Freneau has one good ode: Happy the Man who safe on Shore! But he is voluminous; and this ode may be likened to the grain in the bushel of chaff.
What is your opinion of Trumbull?
He can only claim the merit of being a skilful imitator.
Well, what think you of Humphreys?
Sir, his mind is neither ductile to sentiment, nor is his ear susceptible of harmony.
What opinion do you entertain of Honeywood?
I have read some of his wretched rhymes. The bees, as it is fabled of Pindar, never sucked honey from his lips.
Of the existence of an American poet, I perceive, Sir, your mind is rather sceptical. But, I hope, you will allow that America abounds with good prose.
Yes, Sir; but, then, mind me, it is imported from the shores of Great Britain.
Oh! monstrous! Is not Dennie a good prosewriter?
Sir, the pleasure that otherwise I should find in Dennie, is soon accompanied with satiety by his unexampled quaintness.
Of Brown, Sir, what is your opinion?
The style of Brown, Sir, is chastised, and he is scrupulously pure. But nature has utterly disqualified him for subjects of humour. Whenever he endeavours to bring forth humour, the offspring of his throes are weakness and deformity. Whenever he attempts humour, he inspires the benevolent with pity, and fills the morose with indignation.
What think you of the style of Johnson, the Reviewer?
It is not English that he writes, Sir; it is American. His periods are accompanied by a yell, that is scarcely less dismal than the warhoop of a Mohawk.
George-Town is built on the South bank of Sampit river; the houses are handsome, and the little streets intersect each other at right angles. But so lovely are the women, that, had this
place existed in an age of antiquity, it would not have been said that Venus fixed her abode at
The academy at George-Town, is under the direction of Mr. Spierin, an Irish clergyman of the episcopal persuasion; a man profoundly versed in the languages of Greece and Rome, not unconversant with the delicacies of the English, and a powerful preacher.
I was delighted with Mr. Spierin's eldest boy. This little fellow, always followed his cousin (Mr. George) to his room, and took more pleasure in hearing the bard repeat to him his compositions, than in listening to the talk of the boarders, whose topic was either horse-racing, cock-fighting, or gunning.
I make the same use of this boy, said Mr. George to me, that Moliere did of his old housekeeper. His feelings are not perverted by the subtilties of criticism; his mind so tender, has acquired no fastidiousness from cultivation; and what charms the boy will charm also the multitude.
I wish, cousin, said the boy, you would read me that poem again about Papa and Doctor who went over to Waccamaw to a ball, and, when they got there, found they could not dance.
What, George, said I, have you been satirizing your uncle! the most learned of the Professors ! and has not Doctor escaped your lash;
the man who instituted and supports your Academy!
Sir, said my friend, whatever may be their attributes, they ruined our dance; nor could the laughter they provoked atone for the time they made us lose.
Do, cousin, said the boy, let me read the poem to this gentleman. It is so funny!-My friend put his manuscript into the boy's hand, who read it aloud.
THE DANCING PHILOSOPHERS.
WHAT dire events from trivial causes rise,
I sing, two chiefs, who lately pass'd the floods,
Of festive dance, and hymeneal rite;
The one a sage disciple of the
The other much renown'd throughout the town,
The rich to fleece, the lingering to kill.
These in a galley, with their sable train,
Press'd to the shore that bounds the distant main ;
Nor had his chin his manhood yet proclaim'd.
Soon as the Priest had join'd them hand in hand,
Then shine the train, in two collected rows,
And bear along the fix'd spectator's soul.
Seiz'd with the scene, the solemn Priest lays down
No text intrusive enters in the mind.
The Doctor too, forgetful that his heels,
And now the merry violin resounds,
And now the DOCTOR, now the PARSON bounds! All gravity was lost; the solemn air,
The frowning eye-brow, and adjusted hair,
No more so venerably met the view,
To damp the ardour of the dancing crew.
The PARSON now, revolving from his place,
But not for hands or nods he car'd at all,
This way and that he whirls around the hall;
Both nymphs and youths contend to set him right;
The ready Parson ceases not to bound,