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tion being contiguous to a stable, and the signers wearing short clothes; the flies, he asserted, troubled their long hose to such a degree as to keep them continually switching them off with their handkerchiefs. Mr. Jefferson acknowledged that he affixed his signature as quickly as possible and beat a hasty retreat. Old New York was an ever interesting theme with Freneau, and his dear friend and room-mate, James Madison, was a particularly pleasant one; he described him as being of a very retiring disposition and fond of skating, it being his only recreation. According to him, Madison could never be induced to appear upon the stage to debate with the other students, although in after years his training in the House of Representatives and in the various Congresses and councils of state caused him to acquire a habit of self-possession which facilitated the use of the rich resources of his brilliant and discriminating mind; and his extensive information caused him to become the centre of every assembly of which he was a member. His early seclusion had the effect of giving him such a close application to the thread of his subject that he never wandered from it, but ever followed it in the purest and most classical language; and his gentleness and kindly expressions and manner caused even his adversaries to feel kindly disposed towards him. His spotless virtue never allowed calumny a momentary resting-place. He was the only one of Freneau's contemporaries that outlived him.1
Extremely hospitable, Freneau always warmly welcomed his friends at Mount Pleasant, where he devoted his declining years to reading and answering his numerous correspondents, and in occasionally penning an article for the press. He always retained his original frankness in expressing himself, but it was
1 Although Madison graduated the same year with Philip, he remained another year at college.
softened down considerably as he advanced in years. In fact it was his pen, as some author has said, more than his heart that was so acrimonious in his early years; no personal malice ever rested in his mind, and he was ever ready to pardon those who had injured him. Even his adversaries, some of whom he had treated pretty roughly with his pen in early days, in later times claimed him as a friend. In his friendships he was ardent and sincere, and they were usually life-long.
Freneau lived to see his classmate Burr tried for treason, and finally stain his hand in the blood of his own old adversary, Alexander Hamilton. He saw his room-mate on the presidential chair, and others filling the first places in the States; and he rejoiced in their honors, desiring none for himself and refusing those that were offered him. He saw the white sails give place to iron-bound steam, and the old printingpresses he had he had once manipulated moved by the same power. He saw his contemporaries pass away before him, and he laid in turn his own dear ones to rest. He sang the events of the second great war, and decked with the laurel of his song the brave and gallant deeds of his countrymen. He saw the flames consume the home of his childhood till it lay in ashes at his feet, and his aged hand closed the record his boyish one had commenced in the Bible of his fathers:
"Old house at Mount Pleasant took fire Sunday afternoon at four o'clock, Oct. 18th 1818. It was burned to the ground with a large quantity of valuable property therein. Said old house was built in 1752 by my father."
Freneau, like most persons of intellect, education, and energy, had from his earliest years of public life associated mostly with persons much in advance of him in years; consequently, as we have seen, many passed away before him; which fact he sadly alludes
to in a letter to Madison dated three years before he saw the home of his father laid in ashes. The letter refers to two volumes of poems published by Freneau, commemorating the stirring events of the war of 1812. In these poems, with his usual freedom from all sentiments of jealousy, he celebrates the naval actions of Hull, Porter, and Macdonough. These books were printed by David Longworth in 1815, entitled "A Collection of Poems on American Affairs and a Variety of other Subjects, written between the years 1797 and the present time."
Freneau to Madison.
MOUNT PLEASANT, NEAR MIDDLETOWN POINT. MONMOUTH COUNTY, NEW JERSEY, JANUARY 12th, 1815.
SIR,Since my last return from the Canary Islands in 1807 to Charleston and from thence to New York, with my Brigantine Washington, quitting the bustle and distraction of active life, my walks have been confined, with now and then a short excursion, to the neighbourhood of the Never Sink hills, and under some old hereditary trees, and on some fields, which I well recollect for sixty years. During the last Seven Years my pen could not be entirely idle, and for amusement only now and then I had recourse to my old habit of scribbling verses. A Bookseller in New York, Mr. Longworth, by some means discovered this, and has prevailed on me to put my papers into his hands for publication. With some reluctance I consented to gratify his wish, altho' I think after the age of fifty, or thereabouts, the vanity of authorship ought to cease, at least it has been the case with myself. Mr. Longworth informs me the work will be published early in February in two duodecimo volumes. I have directed him, when done, to forward a copy to yourself, of which I beg your acceptance. I do not know that the Verses are of any superior or very unusual merit, but he tells me the Town will have them; and of course, have them they will, and must, it seems. The Work cannot be very tedious, for in two small Volumes there will be upwards of one hundred and thirty
Poems on different subjects, moral, political, or merely amusing, and not a few upon the events of the times since May 1812. However, you know a short production may sometimes be tedious, and a long one very lively and captivating. None of my effusions in these Volumes much exceed two hundred lines, and several do not reach more than the fourth part of that number of lines.
When I left Philadelphia, about the middle of September 1809, the ten copies of the Revolutionary Poems, which you subscribed for, were put into a box well secured, and forwarded according to your direction, under the care of General Steele, then Collector of the Port of Philadelphia; I have not since heard whether they reached you or not.
That Edition was published by Subscription merely for the benefit of, and to assist Mrs. Bailey, an unfortunate but deserving widowed female, niece to General Steele, and this consideration alone induced me to pay some attention to that third Edition. But, in mentioning these matters I fear I am intruding both on your time and patience, constantly, or always perpetually engaged, as you undoubtedly are, in the duties of your station at a stormy period, a tempestuous Presidency indeed! May you weather all the conflicts of these mighty times, and return safe at the proper period to your Virginia Groves, fields, and streams: sure I am, different very different indeed from your long intercourse with political Life and the affairs of a "grumbling Hive." My best wishes attend Yourself, and Mrs. Madison, to whom, tho' I never had the pleasure of her acquaintance, I beg you to present my best compliments and regards.
I remain, Sir, (I hardly need to say)
HONBLE. JAMES MADISON,
Freneau to Madison.
NEW YORK, March 3d, 1815. SIR,- When I mentioned in my few lines to you, dated from my residence in New Jersey on the 22d of January last, the two Volumes of Poems publishing in this city by Mr.
Longworth, I did really think to have had a small box of them at Washington by the middle of February at farthest, with a particular direction of a couple of copies to Yourself bound in an elegant manner. Finding, however, that the business went on slowly here, and a little vexed to be under the necessity of leaving my Solitude and the wild scenes of nature in New Jersey for the ever execrated streets and company of this Capital, I embarked near Sandy Hook in a snow storm, about the last of January, and shortly after arrived here, fortunately unnoticed and almost unknown. . . . At my time of life, 63!!! abounding however in all the powers of health and vigour, though I consider my poetry and poems as mere trifles, I was seriously out of humour on my arrival here to see my work delayed, as well from the severity of the cold, which has been unremitting for more than a month past, and perhaps to some other causes it would not be prudent here to explain.
By my incessant exertions in spurring on the indolence of typography, the work, such as it is, is now finished, in two small Volumes of about 180 pages each. The moment they are out of the bookbinder's hands, Mr. Longworth will forward you a Copy, and by the first Vessel to Alexandria, Georgetown, or Washington a Box of them to his correspondents in these places. A Copy or two of the Revolutionary poems will be forwarded to your direction. I am sorry the Copies you had were doomed to the flames, but the author had nearly suffered the same fate in the year 1780. Yesterday I received from New Jersey a Copy of your friendly Letter of the 1st. February. A Copy, I say, for my wife, or some one of my four Girls, daughters, would not forward me the original, but keep it until my return for fear of accidents. To-morrow morning I embark again for Monmouth, and among other cares, when I arrive at my magical grove, I shall hasten to exert all the poetical energy I possess, on the grand Subject of the Repulse of the British Army from New Orleans. There is a subject indeed! far above my power, I fear. If there be anything in inspiration, it will be needful on such a theme. Eight hundred lines in Heroic Measure I mean to devote to this animating subject. In due time you shall hear more from me on this business if I am not anticipated by some one more muse be