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vice of the muses. They have all turned aside into other walks of intellectual labour, and several of them have arrived at high distinction in politics and learning. The productions of this school of poets, if it may be termed so, were mostly called forth by occasional subjects, and were all written by young men engaged in the study or practice of some profession. From these circumstances, as well as from the unsettled and dubious aspect of public affairs, at that period, and from the want of a ready communication between distant parts of our country, an evil then universal, and still, though in a much less degree, felt as a serious impediment to successful literary exertions, most of their poets have attained to little more than a temporary and local popularity. Yet of the little good poetry which America has produced, their works constitute a large proportion. Their satirical verses are among the happiest imitations of Butler; and their graver poetry is formed upon the purest models of the silver age of English poetry-upon the style of Dryden, of Pope, and of Goldsmith. In the imitation of their favourite authors, like all young artists, they have copied some of the defects of their models, while many of the more delicate graces have escaped. What in the original is languid, in the copy becomes tame. Their imagination is too closely reined in by a taste formed upon the study of particular models, and not refined by the general contemplation of every forin of beauty. With these faults they have much excellence, and in a state of society which would have allowed of a more careful and exclusive cultivation of their poetical talents, some who at first limited their ambition to correct versification and happy imitation, might, like Lord Byron, after baving thus familiarized themselves to the mechanical arts of poetry, have suddenly burst forth in all the daz. zling glories of original genius. Among their happiest efforts may be numbered the M Fingal of Trumbull, the Conquest of Canaan, and Greenfield Hill, of Dr. Dwight, the elegant translations, and some of the original verses, of Alsop, and many of the satiric pieces of Dr. Hopkins, and the wits of Hartford.
Barlow participated in the general taste of his young literary friends, and was soon “smit with the love of sacred song.”
He displayed a talent for versification which gained him grex
reputation among his fellow students, and introduced him to the particular notice and friendship of Dr. Dwight, then a tutor in Yale College. These circumstances contributed to excite bis poetical ambition still more strongly, and thus fixed the character of bis future life. The first verses which he is known to have produced, were some mock heroic lines on a combat at snowballing between the Freshmen and Sophomore classes, an annual custom which formerly prevailed at New Haven upon the falling of the first snow in every winter.
At the commencement of our revolutionary war he was entering the third year of the academic course. Naturally ardent and enthusiastic, he could not remain a cool spectator of a contest in which the dearest interests of his country were at stake. The militia of Connecticut, at that period, formed a considerable part of Gen. Washington's army; and young Barlow, more than once during the vacations of the college, seized his musket as a volunteer, and joined the camp, where four of his brothers were on duty. He was present at several skirmishes in the beginning of the war, and is said to have borne a part in the battle of the White Plains. His love of letters, and a generous ambition to prepare himself for future usefulness, rather than any abatement of zeal for the glorious cause, induced him to return from these military excursions, to pursue his studies at New Haven. He passed through the usual course of study with much reputation, and in 1778 received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, on which occasion he appeared for the first time before the public in his poetical character, by reciting an original poem at the public commencement. This was soon after printed. Those of my readers who are curious to trace the progress of Barlow's muse, may find it, with some other of his minor pieces, in a collection entitled “ American Poems,” printed some years ago at Litchfield.
Upon his leaving college the state of his finances did not allow him to devote any time to general study. He found himself compelled to make as speedy a preparation as possible for some profession which might yield him an immediate support, and accordingly applied himself assiduously to the study of the law. But he continued this pursuit only for a few months. The Massachusetts line of the American army was at this time deficient in chaplains, and Barlow was strongly urged by some influential friends to qualify himself for that station. It was at the same time intimated to him, that such was the confidence reposed in his character and talents, and so strong the desire to serve him, that a brief preparation was all that would be demanded, and that every indulgence should be shown him in his theological examination. Under these assurances, being well grounded in general literature, and having passed his whole life among a people with whom almost every man has some knowledge of speculative divinity and religions controversy, he without hesitation applied himself most strenuously to theological studies, and, at the end of six weeks, sus. tained a reputable examination, was licensed to preach as a congregational minister, and repaired immediately to the army.
Here he is said to have been regular in the discharge of his clerical duties, and to have been much respected as a preacher. In the camp he continued to preserve bis devotion to the muses. The spirit of the American soldiery is supposed to have been not a little encouraged and supported through their many hardships by numerous patriotic songs and occasional addresses which were written and circulated through the army by Mr. Barlow, Dr. Dwight, and Col. Humphreys. In 1780 Barlow composed and published an elegy on the death of his early friend and patron, the Hon. Titus Hosmer. He remained in the army until the close of the war, and during the whole of this period was engaged in planning and in part composing the poem which he afterwards published under the title of the Vision of Columbus, and has since expanded into his great work the Columbiad.
In 1781 he took the degree of M. A. at New Haven, when he pronounced a poem which he soon after published with the title of "the Prospect of Peace." This was announced as a specimen of the larger poem upon which he was employed; the greater part of it was embodied in the Vision of Columbus, and still, with some alterations, keeps its place in the Columbiad.
About this time he married Miss Baldwin, of New Haven, a sister of the late Hon. Abraham Baldwin, for several years a dig. tinguished senator in congress from the state of Georgia.