« PředchozíPokračovat »
"General Gage has made very few new manquvres since you left us.
He has indeed rendered the entrenchments, at the entrance of the town, as formidable as he possibly could. I have frequently been sent to him on committees, and have several times had private conversations with him. I have thought him a man of honest, upright principles, and one desirous of accommodating the difference between Great Britain and her colonies in a just and honorable way. He did not appear to be desirous of continuing the quarrel, in order to make himself necessary, which is too often the case with persons employed in public affairs; but a copy of a letter via Philadelphia, said to be written from him to Lord North, gives a very different cast to his character. His answer to the provincial congress,
which was certainly ill judged, I suppose was the work of some of that malicious group of harpies, whose disappointments make them desirous to urge the governor to drive every thing to extremes; but in this letter (if it be genuine) he seems to court the office of a destroyer of the liberties, and murderer of the people of this province. But you have doubtless read the paper, and thought with indignation on its contents.
I wish to know of you how affairs stand in Great Britain, and what was the principal motive of the dissolution of Parliament. If the late acts of Parliament are not to be repealed, the wisest step for both countries is fairly to separate, and not spend their blood and treasure in destroying each other. It is barely possible that Britain may depopulate North America, but I trust in God, she never can conquer the inhabitants ; and if the cruel experiment is made, I am sure, whatever fortunes may attend America, that Britain will curse the wretch, who, to stop the mouths of his ravenous pack of dependants, bartered away the wealth and glory of her empire.
I have not time to say more at present, than to assure you that from this time you may expect to hear from me, news or no news, by every vessel, and that my earnest wish is that your abilities and integrity may be of eminent service to your country. pp. 204—209.
Dr Franklin did not continue long in England after the departure of Mr Quincy. He remained until all hope of the adoption of the mild and reconciliatory measures, which he so studiously promoted, was dissipated, and then returned to share in the impending dangers of his country. These two eminent men, like the elder and younger Pliny, held high converse together, as on the brink of a volcano. The fate attending the ancient wortbies was reversed.
The aged Franklin survived for many years, and witnessed the independence of his country. Mr Quincy did not live to reach
his beloved home. A hurried, incoherent letter, written on the British coast, and another at sea, on the 21st of April, prepare us for the sad scene which ensued.
The last was written at his dictation, by a seaman, who paid devoted attentions to the interesting sufferer. • It was a letter, full of the most interesting and affecting communications to his family and nearest friends. This letter still exists among his papers, in the rude hand writing of an illiterate sailor.' To this seaman he repeatedly said, 'that he had but one desire and prayer, which was that he might live long enough to have an interview with Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren ; that granted, he should die content.' From his last letter some interesting extracts are given in the Memoir.
My going to America at this time was very considerably against my inclinations, especially as Doctor Fothergill was of opinion, that Bristol waters would be of great advantage to me.
But he did not dissuade me from going to America, but advised it very strongly in preference to my staying in London, or its environs.
The most weighty motive of all, that determined my conduct, was the extreme urgency of about fifteen or twenty most stanch friends to America, and many of them the most learned and respectable characters in the kingdom, for my immediately proceeding to Boston. Their sentiments what ought to be the conduct of Boston, and of the continent, at this, and the approaching season, I had heard very often in the social circle ; and in what things they differed, I perfectly knew. It appeared of high importance, that the sentiments of such persons should be known in America. To commit their sentiments to writing, was neither practicable nor prudent at this time. To the bosom of a friend they could intrust what might be of great advantage to my country. To me that trust was committed, and I was, immediately upon my arrival, to assemble certain persons, to whom I was to communicate my trust, and had God spared my life, it seems it would have been of great service to my country.'
Had Providence been pleased, that I should have reached America six days ago, I should have been able to converse with my friends. I am persuaded that this voyage and passage are the instruments to put an end to my being. His holy will be done!' pp. 346-348.
To recall to view the sad and affecting circumstances, attending the departure of that exalted spirit, is a melancholy office. We would follow, in silent musings, the filial steps of his biographer, then an orphan child, unconscious of his loss,
and who now, after the lapse of half a century, performs the pious duty of recording the life and death of his father, with vivid affection; presenting his revered image, in the best expression, to the admiring view of his beloved country.
Mr Quincy expired on the 26th of April, 1775. A few hours afterwards, the ship bearing his remains arrived at Gloucester. There the funeral rites were performed, in gloomy unison with the storm of war, which he so often foreboded, and which had then commenced. The body was afterwards conveyed to Braintree, and deposited in the burial ground at that place.* On the death of his widow, in 1798, a monument was erected to their memory by their son, furnished with an appropriate epitaph, written by John Quincy Adams, concluding with the following lines.
of filial gratitude, and affection,
* Mr Quincy's will bears date February 28, 1774. Francis Dana, Jonathan Jackson, John Adams, William Phillips junior, and John Lowell, were named
A specific legacy to his son is characteristic, and indicates the school to which he was devoted. "I give to my son, when he shall arrive to the age of fifteen years, Algernon Sidney's Works, John Locke's Work, Lord Bacon's Works, Gordon's Tacitus, and Cato's Letters. May the spirit of liberty rest upon him.' Two thousand pounds were bequeathed to Harvard University, in case his son should die in his minority, as a foundation for a Professorship of Moral Philosophy, Law, and Oratory.
Art. X.-CRITICAL NOTICES.
1.-Ode for the Celebration of ihe Battle of Bunker Hill, at the
Laying of the Monumental Stone, June 17, 1825. By
Hilliard, and Co. 1825. This, being an occasional ode, suffers of course, under the unfavorable circumstances attending such productions. There is usually on these festal or national occasions, even too much competition among the brothers of the lyre. They fairly overwhelm the literary public, somewhat in the way, in which a crowd of spectators may be supposed to press on the hero of the occasion. The excitement of good or grateful feelings, too, renders everything, which adorns or heightens them, agreeable at the time, without very unkind examination, and when those excited feelings have past, these performances are apt to be forgotten with them. What a myriad of odes and poems a great national event inspires, especially in those countries, where the poetic ranks are formed by bands of professional veterans, instead of our thin partisan corps Scores of volumes might have been done up, from the monodies and elegies on Charlotte of England, or the triumphal odes on Waterloo, and how little of all could now be easily remembered, except Lord Byron's share of both. Having, however, been often pleased and sometimes delighted, with certain former occasional pieces of Mr Mellen, we read the • Ode on Bunker Hill,' when it appeared, and have found it highly superior to much of the poetry which that occasion produced.
It is an omen of the poetic aspiration of the author, to attempt the ode, more especially in these matter of fact times, when even the least regular of its forms must have method in its fine madness. It was permitted to Pindar, to give a stanza or two to the subject of his piece, and then to diverge through all the tangles of the mythology, guided in the labyrinth by a thread, which it requires very fine optics to see. Thus in the third Pythian ode, we should imagine Hiero must have thought the bard rather long in coming to his theme, and as having quite as much to say of Chiron as himself. It is something as if a modern poet should open an ode to Napoleon, of more than two hundred lines, by a hundred devoted to the art of printing, and finally bring in the hero, with some such brief apothegm, as that “Xerxes the great did die. This irregularity of allusion and digression, corresponded in some measure to the license Lord Byron allowed himself, in some of his VOL. XXII.-NO. 50.
later poems. In the ancient ode, the name or city of the hero was authority for allusion enough, to bring in the history of the family or city, the circumstances attending the foundation of the latter, and the lives and history of the colonists. Nay, if ever other hero had done or suffered the like before, he is sure to be introduced, not as an example, or illustration only, but through all the details of his birth and parentage. Thus in a Pindaric Ode on the battle of Bunker Hill, it would be indispensable to begin with General Putnam, and relate his birth, family, and education ; the annals of Pomfret would be run through, and its great men eulogised; the Indian adventures of the General, and particularly his thorough roasting at their hands, would follow ; this would lead to the burnings at Smithfield; from Queen Mary to Spain, from Spain to the colonies, and the cruelties practised on the natives ; this to the African slave trade, and that back again to the negro servant of the General, who declined the hazardous service' of shooting a wolf in his own den, afterwards performed by the hero. It is needless to pursue the illustration farther. We have in fact ailuded to this difficulty, as one additional cause, why this most brilliant and lofty walk of the art has not been trod with
Mr Mellen's Ode has the fault of being written to be spoken and not sung. The very irregular stanza, which is permitied to this species of production, becomes unpleasant without the musical cadence, which cannot exist where the passage has not been written with an accompaniment. This it is, in the lighter style of
. song writing, which has given Mocre one of the most exquisite charms of his songs, a delightful privilege of possessing the two talents, 'the words, the harper's skill at once.' And by the usual compensation of all natural gifts, it is this which makes bis long poems, whole
operas without the music, dull forced marches without flute or bugle. This Ode, also, for we will close this unpleasant duty at once, has the error of attempting to render each passage equally brilliant in execution, whatever is the character of the sentiment expressed. Like the glowing pictures of David, the great French artist, the effect of many modern poems is bright and romantic, but not lasting. There has been, and is, so much fine talent in these later ages enlisted in literature, that the writer, especially a student, despairs of success but from efforts, which have a dangerous tendency to produce an unnatural effect. The young artists at Rome, of the most delicate taste, are said to wander among its matchless works, with desponding admiration, and pass by afraid to deviate from what they cannot equal, and will not imitate. This perfectly natural sentiment is not confined to one of the fine arts, but pervades the age of improvement, when that of invention has passed. The young poet reads his master