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IV.
Thus to repose

All Nature goes ;
Month after month must find its doom;

Time on the wing,

May ends the Spring,
And Summer frolics o'er her tomb.

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.' 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 wero these to her scholarship, taste, and poetic talent, that she was encouraged to write

She

1 Some years after this, she addressed a poem to General Washington, while be 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 Nuture has been so liberal and beneficent in her dispensations."

more; and before she was nineteen a volume of her poems was published in Lon. don, 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 rhich she surmounted, her poems are very remarkable.2

LINES ON THE DEATH OF DR. SEWALL.

Lo, here a man, redeem'd by Jesus' blood,
A sinner once, but now a saint with God;
Behold, ye rich, ye poor, ye fools, ye wise,
Nor let his monument your hearts surprise.
He sought the paths of piety and truth,
By these made happy from his early youth!
In blooming years that grace divine he felt
Which rescues sinners from the chains of guilt.
Mourn him, ye indigent, whom he has fed,
And henceforth seek, like him, for living bread,-
E'en Christ, the bread descending from above,
And ask an interest in his saving love.
Mourn him, ye youth, to whom he oft has told
God's gracious wonders from the times of old.

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 ber 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,
For he, my monitor, will not return.
Oh, when shall we to his blest state arrive?
When the same graces in our bosoms thrive.

ON THE DEATH OF AN INFANT. .

Through airy fields he wings his instant flight,
To purer regions of celestial light;
Enlarged he sees unnumber'd systems roll,
Beneath him sees the universal whole;
Planets on planets run their destined round,
And circling wonders fill the vast profound.
Th’ ethereal now, now the empyreal skies,
With glowing splendors strike his wondering eyes:
The angels view him with delight unknown,
Press his soft hand, and seat him on his throne;
Then smiling thus: “ To this divine abode,
The seat of saints, of seraphs, and of God,
Thrice welcome thou.” The raptured babe replies:
“ Thanks to my God, who snatch'd me to the skies
Ere vice triumphant had possess'd my heart,
Ere yet the tempter had beguiled my heart,
Ere yet on sin's base actions I was bent,
Ere yet I knew temptation's dire intent;
Ere yet the lash for wicked actions felt,
Ere vanity had led my way to guilt;
Early arrived at my celestial goal,
Full glories rush on my expanding soul.”
Joyful he spoke; exulting cherubs round
Clapp'd their glad wings: the heavenly vaults resound.
Say, parents, why this unavailing moan?
Why heave your pensive bosoms with the groan?
Say, would you tear him from the realms above
By thoughtless wishes and mistaken love?
Doth his felicity increase your pain?
Or could you welcome to this world again
The heir of bliss ? With a superior air
Methinks he answers with a smile severe;
“ Thrones and dominions cannot tempt me there."

*

*

To yon bright regions let your faith ascend,
Prepare to join your dearest infant friend
In pleasures without measure, without end.

A FAREWELL TO AMERICA.

To Mrs. Susannah Wright.
Adieu, New England's smiling meads,

Adieu, the flowery plain ;
I leave thine opening charms, 0 Spring!

And tempt the roaring main.

In vain for me the flow'rets rise,

And boast their gaudy pride,
While here beneath the northern skies

I mourn for health denied.
Celestial maid of rosy hue,

Oh, let me feel thy reign!
I languish till thy face I view,

Thy vanish'd joys regain.
Susannah mourns, nor can I bear

To see the crystal shower,
Or mark the tender falling tear,

At sad departure's hour;
Nor unregarding can I see

Her soul with grief opprest;
But let no sighs, no groans for me,

Steal froin its pensive breast.
In vain the feather'd warblers sing,

In vain the garden blooms,
And on the bosom of the spring

Breathes out her sweet perfumes.
While for Britannia's distant shore

We sweep the liquid plain,
And with astonish'd eyes explore

The wide extended main.
Lo! Health appears, celestial dame,

Complacent and serene,
With Hebe's mantle o'er her frame,

With soul-delighting mien,
To mark the vale where London lies,

With misty vapors crown’d,
Which cloud Aurora's thousand dyes,

And veil her charms around.
Why, Phæbus, moves thy car so slow?

So slow thy rising ray ?
Give us the famous town to view,

Thou glorious king of day!
For thee, Britannia, I resign

New England's smiling fields; To view again her charms divine,

What joy the prospect yields !
But thou, Temptation, hence away,

With all thy fatal train,
Nor once seduce my soul away

By thine enchanting strain.
Thrice happy they whose heavenly shield

Secures their soul from harms, And fell Temptation on the field

Of all its power disarms.

JOEL BARLOW, 1755—1812.

Joel Barlow, the author of The Columbiad, was born in Reading, Fairfield County, Connecticut, in 1755. He entered Dartmouth College in 1774, but soon left that institution and went to Yalo, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1778. He then entered upon the study of law, which he soon exchanged for theology, and received a license as chaplain to the army, in which he remained till the close of the war. While in this situation, he composed, with his friends, Rev. Timothy Dwight and Colonel Humphreys, various patriotic songs and alldresses, which exerted no little influence upon the minds of the soldiery. Ho commenced, also, at this time, The Vision of Columbus, which afterwards formed the basis of his larger work, The Columbiad.

After the peace in 1783, Barlow went back from the gospel to the law, for which he was much better suited; and settled in Hartford. To add to his income, he established a weekly gazette, called The American Mercury, which gained for him considerable reputation by its able editorial management. About this time, he revised and published the Psalms and Hymns of Dr. Isaac Watts; and two years after, in 1787, appeared his first large poem, on which he had been laboring for many years, The Vision of Columbus. To increase the sale of these, he gave up his newspaper and opened a book-store. But his books not doing so well as he expected, the next year he went to England as agent of a fraudulent land-company, of the nature of which he was at first ignorant: he gave up his

agency, however, as soon as the character of the company became known to him. He was absent seventeen years, most of which time he spent in France, where he published a number of political pamphlets, and also his best and most celebrated poem, Hasty Pudding. In 1795, Washington appointed him consul at Algiers, with power to negotiate a treaty of peace with the Dey, and to ransom all Americans held in slavery on the coast of Barbary. He accepted the appointment, concluded the treaty favorably, and made similar ones with the Governments of Tripoli and Tunis. He was thus the happy means of freeing large numbers of Americans from Algerine slavery.' In 1797, be returned to France, entered into commercial pursuits, and amassed a large fortune. In 1805, he sold all his property in France, returned home, and took up his residence at Georgetown, District of Columbia. In 1808, bis Columbiad was published in quarto, in splendid style. The mechanical execution of this work entitles it to admiration; but this is about all that can be said in its praise. It is the history of Columbus in rhyme; and in poetical merit is about equal to Addison's Campaign. In 1811, he was appointed minister-plenipotentiary to France, to obtain indemnification for injuries sustained by American commerce. The next year he was invited to meet Napoleon at Wilna, in Poland, for a personal conference; but the great severity of the climate, fatigue, and exposure, brought on an inflammation of the lungs, and he died in an obscure village near Cracow, in Poland, on the 22d of December, 1812.

1 For much valuable information on this subject, read a Lecture before the Boston Mercantile Library Association, entitled “White Slavery in Algiers,” by Charles Sumner.

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