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loved than myself. Hoping that all health and happiness may attend you, and that your Libraries in future may escape the ravages of the flames of Goths and Barbarians,
I remain dear Sir
One more letter to Madison concludes the correspondence on the subject of the poems.
NEW YORK, May 10th, 1815.
SIR, - Mrs. Anna Smyth, the lady of Charles Smyth Esquire, a respectable Citizen of this place, being to set out in a few days on a tour to Virginia, and expecting to be in your neighborhood either at Washington, or at Montpelier, does me the favour to take under her particular care, to put or transmit into your hands, the two little Volumes I mentioned to you in my letter last winter, and to which I received your friendly and obliging Answer. - Be pleased to accept them as a mark of my attention, respect, and esteem, in regard to your private as well as public character. I have written to Mr. Carey, in Philadelphia, a bookseller there, to forward on to you, if he has them, the two Volumes of the Revolutionary Poems published in Philadelphia in the Summer of 1809, and which you wished to regain, since the loss of your copies in the conflagration at Washington last year. I flatter myself, the arrangement I have made with him will replace them in your hand - I will only add, that any attention paid by you to Mrs. Smyth, I will consider as conferred on myself. I am, Sir, with the highest consideration, Your obedient humble servant, PHILIP FRENeau.
THE HONORABLE JAMES MADISON,
After the disastrous fire at Mount Pleasant which consumed the fine library mentioned in Mrs. Freneau's letter to her brother, Samuel Forman, and in which much as yet unpublished poetry of Freneau's had been consumed, Freneau with his wife and two unmarried daughters removed, that is, themselves and the clothing
they wore, to a house which was building; in which they remained up to the death of Mrs. Freneau's brother, when they took possession of his house, which had formerly belonged to Mrs. Freneau's father and had been the home of her childhood. Freneau lived in this house till his death.
Freneau was naturally sociable, and, being a great walker, he frequently met his friends in the evening at the rooms of the circulating library of the town. On the evening of the eighteenth of December, 1832, he remained there somewhat later than usual, having been interested in a political discussion. The Hon. William L. Dayton, afterwards U. S. Minister to France, offered to accompany him home; but Freneau persistently refused, and started alone. After a time a sudden snow-storm came up and hid from his view the lamp his wife always left burning in a window to light him home. It is supposed that he was blinded by the snow and benumbed by the intense cold, and, falling, broke his hip. He sank down by the side of the road, and, with the snow for his winding-sheet and the wild winter wind singing his requiem,1 the freedom-loving spirit of Philip Freneau passed into the presence of his Maker.
Mr. Delancey says, "Such was the tragic end of one of the most original and gifted poets that America, up to his day, and I may say to ours, has ever produced."
In speaking of his death the "Monmouth Inquirer"
"Captain Freneau was a staunch Whig in the time of the Revolution, a good soldier, and a warm patriot. The productions of his pen animated his countrymen in the dark days of
1 They do not err
Mute Nature mourns her worshipper
seventy six, and the effusions of his muse cheered the desponding soldier as he fought the battles of freedom; he was the popular poet of the Revolution."
His death is recorded in the old Bible by his daughter Agnes, and closes the Freneau record.
"My dear father, Philip Freneau, was buried, by his own particular request, in the Locust Grove, very near his beloved. mother, on Friday afternoon the twenty-first of December, 1832."
Freneau was buried under the tree of which we have already spoken as being his favorite seat, and under whose shade he composed many of his poems. His tombstone is a very simple one, of marble surmounted by a draped urn, and bears the inscription:
died December 18th. 1832
ae. 80 years, 11 months, and 16 days.
"He was a native of New York, but for many years a resident of Philadelphia and New Jersey. His upright and honest character is in the memory of many, and will remain when this inscription is no longer legible.
"Heaven lifts its everlasting portal high,
And bids the pure in heart behold their God." By his side on another tombstone we read,
"Sacred to the memory of Eleanor, wife of Philip Freneau, and daughter of Samuel and Helena Forman, who died September 1st, 1850, aged 86 years 9 months and 20 days.”
The third book we have mentioned as lying on the desk proves that Freneau was not unmindful of his end, and shows his faith in God, and his deep affection for his loved ones. It, strangely enough, is marked
by the firm hand of his early youth, and the trembling one of his old age. On its inner cover it bears the date of his entrance to the Penolopen Latin School, that of his initiation into Princeton College, and also that of his graduation. Through it are versified translations of different Latin verses; and in trembling pencil-strokes of later days, the following lines are traced:
"I am growing fit, I hope, for a better world, of which the light of the sun is but a shadow; for I doubt not but God's works here, are what come nearest to his works there; and that a true relish of the beauties of nature is the most easy preparation and gentlest transition to an enjoyment of those of heaven: I'm endeavoring to put my mind into as quiet a situation as I can, to be ready to receive that stroke which, I believe, is coming upon me, and have fully resigned myself to yield to it. The separation of my soul and body is what I could think of with less pain; for I am sure he that made it will take care of it, and in whatever state he pleases it shall be, that state must be right. But I cannot think without tears of being separated from my friends, when their condition is so doubtful, that they may want even such assistance as mine. Sure, it is more merciful to take from us after death all memory of what we loved or pursued here: for else what a torment would it be to a spirit, still to love those creatures it is quite divided from! Unless we suppose, that in a more exalted life, all that we esteemed in this imperfect state will affect us no more, than what we lov'd in our infancy concerns us now."1
On the inner side of the last cover is written,
"Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view
66 Stronger by weakness, wiser men become
1 Letters of Alexander Pope.
NOR reasons already given, we deem it best to give the criticisms of others upon the poetry of Freneau, and begin with the remarks of a London publisher1 who, notwithstanding Freneau's hostile feeling towards all that savored in the least of Great Britain, has had the magnanimity to overlook all such sentiment, and bring before the public, of his own free will, a reproduction of the volume of Freneau's poems, as published by Francis Bailey of Philadelphia in the year 1786. In his introduction to the British public he says: "It has been remarked with justice that, in the states which have arisen out of the British settlements in America, literature as a profession is a thing of recent growth. Till within. the present century, it was only taken up as a matter of taste, and at leisure, from time to time, by those whose lives were absorbed in other duties and other pursuits, and most frequently took its character from temporary feelings and impulses. It hence happens that a good proportion of the best of the older American literature was temporary in its character, and has become more or less obsolete even in America, and it is only very considerable excellence that has preserved some of it from comparative oblivion. To this latter class belongs the poet whose works are given in the present volume, and who arrived at fame amidst the turbulence of the revolutionary period."
After giving a synopsis of the poet's varied career, he mentions his first notable poem composed in his
1 John Russell Smith, Soho Sq., London, 1861.