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she was accused consisted only, in the attempt to maintain principles tending to limit the advantage (great enough note withstanding all restrictions) which neutral navigation and commerce enjoyed in time of war. The question of the liberty of the seas resolved itself, into that of the rights of the neutral flag. But, by a most strange inconsistency, from whatever cause or motive-France, the ostentatious protectress of neutrality, has never brought forward this question, in any of her negotiations with England. There is not a trace of it to be found, either in that of Lille in 1797, or in that of 1801, which led to the preliminaries at London, or in that of 1802 which terminated in the treaty of Amiens, or in that of 1803, which preceded the rupture, or in that, in fine, of 1806. It is a fact which must at once strike every one with surprise - although within my knowledge, it has never yet been observed by any writer,--that after so much furious declamation and invective, after so many solemn protestations "to sacrifice every thing for the sacred cause of the liberty of commerce and of the seas,” the French government could yet negotiate during eight months with England, without having accorded to the rights of the neutral flag, I will not say an hour's discussion, but even the sterile honors of a proces verbal. This incomprehensible neglect, or rather this act of unparalleled bad faith, was committed at the very time, when," the order of the 16th May 1806, had just annihilated, by a single word, the rights of all maritime states," and but a few months before the promul. gation of the Berlin decree.
And here is the government, which now, when, thanks to its care, there no longer remains a neutral power on the globe, and when every question of neutrality seems to be buried in that fatal gulf, which has swallowed up all public law-unites the ban and arrière-ban of Europe in a new crusade, against the oppressors of maritime freedom, and to put its sincerity beyond a doubt, menaces with destruction, the only continental power, who has yet persisted, in allowing neutral navigation, a last remnant of protection in its ports.
I know well with what eye, the world looks, at present, on the solitary and impotent efforts of an individual writer, to support truth and right in political matters.--"Why,” it is asked, * undertake to combat the sophisms of those, whose bayonets we cannot repel-will your arguments be equivalent to four hundred thousand men?” Such is the common language, and such the natural effect, of that degradation and secret degeneracy, which the habit of obeying in silence, produces insensibly, in every heart. But let those at least, who have kept themselves free from the fatal contagion, never cease to protest against this pernicious doctrine. Let us indeed, support with resignation what we cannot remedy: let us not aggravate our calamities by passionate, and ill-advised measures, which would only tend to render them irreparable; or by noisy de clamation, which incenses, without weakening our oppressors. But let us beware of confounding, through a cowardly indifference, good and evil, the innocent and the culpable, the tyrant, and the victim. Let us detect and expose sophistry, and imposture, were it only for the instruction and satisfaction of a sinall number of elect, or, in order that posterity may not suppose us all accomplices in the crimes, which we have not been able to prevent. In this critical and decisive period, whea new scenes of desolation are to be opened, let the attention of just, and enlightened men, be diverted from the spectacle about them, to the true character and merits of the great cause. Let serious reflections upon the real authors of the public calamities, rouse and occupy good minds. And above all, for the preservation of what is superior to the evils of the day, let pot the love of truth, and hatred for falsehood, be extinguished in honest minds.
Hubert and Ellen, with other Poems. The Trial of the Harp
Billowy Water- The Plunderer's Grave-The Teur-Drop -The Billow. By Lucius M. Sargent. Boston, published by Chester Stebbins. 1812. i vol. 8vo. pp. 135.
A VOLUME of American poetry is, under all circumstances, an obiect of unconmon interest. It is, setting aside other considerations, a rare offering to the public: not that poetry, or rather, ryhme, is by any means scarce among us. On the contrary, this makes up, perhaps, the most considerable portion of our literature. We sacrifice to the Nine, as liberally as our parent stock abroad, and our votive lay” can be said with justice to be, at least as “ elaborately void of sense," and as “sweetly" or as roughly thoughtless," as that of any other people. But, in this country, it does not often happen, that so much as a volume, is hazarded on the altar of Apollo. The worshipper of the Muses is generally content, with paying a much humbler tribute; a sheet or two of metre. He rarely risks his effusions by themselves, but deposits them in a vehicle, some periodical work, --where they may find society and support. It is wonderful, when we consider the paucity of our literati of another sort, how many poets of this description, are scattered over these States, and lamentable, alas! how great a proportion of them belongs to the importunate tribe mentioned by Churchill,
Whose numbers in one even tenor flow,
As at some ghost affrighted start and stare, &c. A truly good volume of American poetry, is among the objects of our most eager aspiration. We shall grasp at it with fondness, and in our critical capacity, omit no effort, which may serve to emblazon its merits, and establish its reputation. Possessing, with every advantage of absolute pro. prietorship,--save that of having produced them,--the best models of poetry extant, -enjoying a language already enriched to affluence, and refined to perfection, with new and abundant materials for the operations of poetic fancy, our countrymen should, ere this, have raised some great monument in verse, and have supported by evidence, their just pretensions, to an equality at least, in the poetical, no less than in every other department of genius, with the nations of Europe. This has not been done, and it is full time that it should be achieved.
Of their ability we have no doubt, and it is therefore, that we · are the more impatient for the trial.
We have said that a volume of American poetry, is a rare offering to the public. We recollect but few, and of those few, none which deserves commendation, if we except the M-Fingal of Trumbull; in itself, however, of a subordinate species of poetry, and written before this nation was well formed. One ponderous work, indeed, has been given to us, which, as to the mere point of avoirdupois, might be deemed equivalent to many volumes; one huge, Cyclopean attempt has been made to accomplish what, as we have just remarked, should ere this have been achieved. But so vast is the accumulation of nonsense in this instance, --so signal and disastrous the failure,that we wish, if possible, to forget the existence, of such a production of the American intellect, as the Columbiad of Mr. Barlow; and would be almost better satisfied, that he should remain as he is, the suitable plenipotentiary of our national impotence, at the court of St. Cloud, -than return to revive the memory of his book, or resume the functions of the American Laureat. We never think of Mr. Barlow's poetical la. bors, without recollecting the character drawn in the Absalom and Achitophel of Dryden, of a dull versifier.
Doeg tho' without knowing how or why,
And, in one word, heroically mad.
The volume is quite respectable in point of size, and fashioned after the London model, having a quarto page, with a large and fair type, and a most ample margin. It contains Hu
bert and Ellen, a long poem in the ballad style, and five others of more moderate length and claims. The first is, of course, the most prominent, and, as the reputation of the collection must be ultimately decided, by the reputation of this particular poem, we shall take little notice of the others.
Hubert and Ellen comes forward, with no lofty or ambitious pretensions. It boasts neither variety of scenery, activity of incident, nor uncommon boldness of character. The fable is short and simple. Hubert, a knight, seduces Ellen, the daughter of a widowed cottager, and abandons her. In despair, she leaves her home, and soon afterwards, Edwy, an old servant attached to Hubert, comes to the cottage and learns the fact from Mary, Ellen's mother. Hubert, in the mean time, has resorted to dissipation to drive out remorse, and is engaged in one of his midnight revels, when Edwy returns, full of honest indignation at the discovery he has made. He betrays his feelings in his countenance, and the intoxicated knight, unable to bear reproach in any form, retorts the accusing luok of his servant, with insult and outrage. Edwy receives the wrong with silent contempt, and the revellers disappear, astonished and alarmed at his frown. When the hall is emptied of its rude guests, he charges Hubert with the crime. The knight confesses it with sighs of deep repentance, and swears, that he will never rest, until he has found and married Ellen. Edwy hastens with the glad intelligence to the cottage, but finds that Mary had died in solitude of a broken heart. On his return, he sets out in search of Ellen, and after some time discovers her. Hubert performs his vow, at the expense of being driven froin his father's house; but, Ellen dies soon after. In consequence of her death, he becomes crazy, and spends all his time at her tomb. The story is related in the person of Edwy, about five years after Ellen's death, in the neighbourhood of her grave, and in the presence of the maniac.
In this fable, the reader will observe there is nothing whatsoever new; no incident or combination of incident, which is not, as well as the general outline of the story,--to be found in almost every magazine, and every collection of fugitive poetry. The dramatis personæ most common in the volumes that fill our circulating libraries, are, an artless peasant girl, a lordly seducer, a faithful old domestic, an avaricious sire, a cottage dame, and a cottage dog. No catastrophe is, at the same time, more usual, than the drooping and death of the victim, the repentance and insanity of the seducer &c. &c. To compensate in any degree, for the reproduction of so familiar