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The cheerful bottle and the venison store;
THE WILD HONEYSUCKLE.
Fair flower, that dost so comely grow,
No roving foot shall crush thee here,
By Nature's self in white array'd,
She bade thee shun the vulgar eye,
Smit with those charms, that must decay,
Unpitying frosts and Autumn's power
From morning suns and evening dews
For when you die you are the same;
THE PROSPECT OF PEACE.
Though clad in winter's gloomy dress1
To greet our western shore;
No more the vales, no more the plains,
Peace guards our doors, impels our swains
1 The winter of 1814-15.
PHILLIS WHEATLEY PETERS, 1754-1784.
In the year 1761 there was brought to Boston, in a vessel from Africa, a young girl of about seven years of age, slenderly formed, in feeble health from the change of climate and the miseries of the voyage, and not able to speak a word of English. Mr. John Wheatley, a wealthy merchant, saw her, and, touched by her interesting face and modest demeanor, took her to his own house, and his wife, with a true woman's heart, devoted herself to the wants of the little stranger. In a short time, the effects of comfortable clothing, wholesome food, and kind treatment were clearly visible, and Mrs. Wheatley's daughter undertook to teach her to read and write. So astonishing was her progress, that in sixteen months from the time of her arrival in this humane family she had so mastered the English language as to read with ease any portion of the Bible; and to this attainment she soon added that of writing, which she acquired solely by her own unassisted efforts.
So rapid was her progress in learning, that she became an object of general attention, and corresponded with several persons of great distinction.1 She attracted the notice of the literary characters of Boston, who supplied her with books and encouraged her intellectual efforts. Mrs. Wheatley, too, did all she could to promote her happiness, and to aid her in the acquisition of knowledge, treating her as a child, and introducing her into the best society of Boston. But, notwithstanding all the attentions she received, she still retained her original and native modesty of deportment, and never presumed upon the kindness of her friends and admirers. She studied Latin, and, at the age of fourteen, made her first attempts at poetry, in translations from Ovid's Fables. So creditable were these to her scholarship, taste, and poetic talent, that she was encouraged to write
1 Some years after this, she addressed a poem to General Washington, while he was at his head-quarters at Cambridge, Mass., February, 1776; who thus kindly replied: "I thank you most sincerely for your polite notice of me in the elegant lines you enclosed; and, however undeserving I may be of such encomium and panegyric, the style and manner exhibit a striking proof of your poetical talents, in honor of which, and as a tribute justly due to you, I would have published the poem, had I not been apprehensive that, while I only meant to give the world this new instance of your genius, I might have incurred the imputation of vanity. This, and nothing else, determined me not to give it place in the public prints.
"If you should ever come to Cambridge, or near head-quarters, I shall be happy to see a person so favored by the Muses, and to whom Nature has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations."
more; and before she was nineteen a volume of her poems was published in London, in 1772.
In 1773, her health had so far declined, from her close attention to her studies, that her physicians recommended a sea-voyage, and accordingly she sailed for England. Her fame had gone before her, and she was received with marked respect by many distinguished individuals. But in the midst of the attentions of the court she heard that her former mistress was sick, and her heart prompted her to return home at once. She did so in time to minister to Mrs. Wheatley, whose sickness terminated in death the next year; and the year after, Mr. Wheatley followed her to the grave. Thus deprived of her best friends, poor and desolate, she accepted an offer of marriage from a colored man by the name of Peters, of polished manners and a good education. He had studied law; and tradition says that he actually plead many cases at the bar. But soon after their marriage he became a bankrupt, and they were reduced to utter want. After living with him three years in great poverty, and becoming the mother of three children, her health rapidly declined, and she died on the 5th of December, 1784.
With any of our poets prior to the year 1800, Phillis Wheatley will bear a favorable comparison, whether we consider the ease and correctness of her versification, her elevated moral and religious sentiments, or her pure fancy. Indeed, when we take into view the times in which she lived, the little attention then paid to female education, her youthful years, and the difficulties of race and language which she surmounted, her poems are very remarkable.2
LINES ON THE DEATH OF DR. SEWALL.
Lo, here a man, redeem'd by Jesus' blood,
1 From a Boston newspaper of May 10, 1773:-"Saturday last, Captain Calef sailed for London, with whom went passengers Mr. Wheatley, merchant; also Phillis, the extraordinary negro poet."
2 Read "Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley," Boston, 1834; "Christian Examiner," xvi. 169. "A Tribute for the Negro," p. 332.
The writer of the article in the "Christian Examiner" thus remarks:-"Such was the fate of Phillis Wheatley, a heroine, though a black one. Perhaps her genius, her unquestionable virtues, the vicissitudes of her life, and her melancholy end, ought to excite as much interest as the fate of Lady Jane Grey, or Mary Queen of Scots, or any other heroine, ancient or modern; but such, we fear, will not be the case."-Christian Examiner, May, 1834.
I, too, have cause this mighty loss to mourn,
ON THE DEATH OF AN INFANT.
Through airy fields he wings his instant flight,
Full glories rush on my expanding soul."
Clapp'd their glad wings: the heavenly vaults resound.
Say, parents, why this unavailing moan?
Why heave your pensive bosoms with the groan?
To yon bright regions let your faith ascend,
A FAREWELL TO AMERICA.
To Mrs. Susannah Wright.
Adieu, New England's smiling meads,