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Endowed with a mind of no common mould, he had gathered from the paths of science her richest and sweetest flowers. Possessed of genius rarely bestowed, and rightly guided and directed by unusual taste and ardor in scientific attainment, he became distinguished as a scholar. Beloved by all who knew him, for those traits which never fail to excite esteem and affection, he was equally distinguished for the correctness of his morals, the innocence of his habits, and the purity of his principles.
In his manners, pleasing; in his disposition, mild and ingenuous; in his understanding, vigorous and powerful, he bade fair to arrive at an eminence which few of a similar age could hope to attain. Thus favored of heaven in the morning of life, no one ever commenced to tread its chequered path with brighter prospects. Assisted and encouraged in his career by the best wishes and heart-felt prayers of his associates and friends, he went forth to the fulfilment of his high destiny. Alas ! how little did he imagine that · Disappointment had marked him for her own!
The period had now arrived, when the secret fires, long struggling in the breasts of our fathers, burst from their confinement. The friends of liberty had begun to rally in her defence, and the slumbering spirits of her sons were aroused :
"Then said the mother to lier son,
And pointed to his shield,
Or on it, from the field !' The daring spirits of the land had assembled, and their cry was heard rising high above the cannon's roar :. Our country first — our country last our country always !' The voice of Nathan Hale was heard in that cry. He had seen his country's danger, and he was among the first to enlist in her defence. The flowery paths of science, intellectual honor, and advancement self-interest, present happiness, and the endearments of home — were all forgotten, and merged in one feeling - love of country.
Having obtained a commission in the army, he commenced the active duties of a soldier, with the same vigor and activity which marked his character when engaged in the fields of literature. Prompt to every duty, his influence here was extensive as it had been in private life.
Passing over intervening events, we now arrive at one of the most critical epochs into which the American army had ever fallen; and it was during this period, that the fate of Hale was sealed. The battle of Long Island had been fought; and for a little time the guardian spirit of freedom seemed to have withdrawn its protecting hand. But it was only momentary. Under the guidance of the • Father of his Country,' the army was led to a place of safety. To the prudence of Washington, under God, are the people of America indebted for the rescue of their army at this hour of its peril. Having retreated to New York, it became a matter of moment to the commander-in-chief to ascertain the situation of the British forces ; their strength, and their future movements. It were needless to spe. cify the plan which was adopted to gain the information desired. It is already familiar to the reader. The desire of Washington being stated to his assembled officers, they retired to their meditations. Who
among them was willing to undertake a service so fraught with danger?
Among these officers, was Nathan Hale. After mature deliberation, impelled by a sense of duty, he resolved to undertake the task. Though urged by the pleadings of a friend, not to undertake a service so hazardous, his mind still remained fixed and steadfast; and no motive, however powerful, could induce him to neglect an opportunity to be useful to his country. Being told that his success was extremely doubtful, and his danger imminent, he replied, that, .conscious of all this, as he was, he could not consent to withhold his services. Accordingly, he passed over to the enemy, and succeeded in obtaining the desired information.
What must have been his feelings, now that he had performed his duty to his country? What emotions must have filled his bosom, at the thought of returning to his great commander, the immortal Washington,laden with the fruits of his daring enterprise? Indeed no reward was expected, none was offered, to him who should undertake this task. No bribe of promotion, no glorious prize, was held out in case of success; but all that could be gained, at most, was the approving smile of the Pater Patriæ, and the thanks of his countrymen! Such noble disinterestedness, such patriotic devotion, can only be found in the hearts of those who, like him, could appreciate the blessing of freedom.
But while such happy thoughts were passing in his mind; while his heart beat high with the expectation of a speedy return to his fellow soldiers, and his friends; a sudden cloud dimmed the bright vision. Arrested by the hand of the enemy, he was already beyond the reach of mercy. His object discovered, he frankly confessed it. The die was cast. He was tried and convicted ; and now he stands upon the scaffold. Let us pause, and for a moment contemplate the awful scene which is soon to close. Calm, collected, firm – no servile fear of death is marked upon his brow. Conscious of no guilt, how dignified his deportment ! — how undaunted his courage! As he looks around upon the assembled multitude, who are gathered together to behold his departure from the world, and sees before him none but his enemies, he neither hesitates nor falters; but with an undaunted look, resolved to die for his country, he yields to the sacrifice.
As a dying request, he asks that a Bible may be furnished him. With a fiendish malice, this last dying prayer is refused; and his letters which he desires may be conveyed to his mother and his friends, are destroyed. His last sad farewell they never will receive! Still firm amid all this cruelty, he utters no complaint; but as his eyes are turned for the last time toward the home of his birth, whil a beam of patriotic fire kindles up his countenance, he exclaims : ‘I only lament that I have but one life to lose for my country;' and he dies, a martyr in the cause of liberty.
Such was the fate of Hale. Though no marble column rears its
head, to tell that he died for the republic, yet on the hearts of his countrymen his name is engraved, in living characters. Let his memory be cherished. Let it be transmitted to the latest posterity. And long after the frailer monuments of marble and brass shall have crumbled into dust, his story shall survive.
F. W. S.
The lady who has kindly presented the author of “Ship and Shore' with a KNICKERBOCKER Pipe, will accept, as a slight token of bis gratitude, the following lines, in eulogy of its beauty and breath.
Thy purple wreaths, in solemn ringlets curled,
Float on the breeze to join that pall of cloud,
Will lie at last, in its unheaving shroud.
Away, poor trifle ! what with thee is death?
Only the spark put out, that lit thy bowl,
With man, it is a summons for his soul
BACON'S POEMS. *
Perhaps no young writer in this country has produced a more promising volume of poetry than the one before us. There is a great deal more than ordinary merit in it; and hence it is deserving of cordial commendation. The reception which some of our critics have given this book, is not a little to be wondered at. Although it is, as we have said, a volume of poetry evincing undoubted genius, yet there has been an attempt, as it seems to us, to depreciate it, and that too without intelligence or justice. Some of the critics have seemed to shut their eyes, and with a book in their hands, on almost every page of which there is much of genuine poetry, they have thought fit to denounce the author; accusing him of faults which he does not possess, and denying him excellencies of which his book bears abundant testimony. There are some passages in this volume which would do credit to any American poet. They have a vigor of thought, a delicacy of sentiment, a simplicity and strength of diction, and withal a moral dignity, worthy of all praise.
The reception of young American writers among us is by no means always what it should be. There is not sufficient attention given them. Their faults are not kindly pointed out, and their excellences commended; and they have too often no other way but to get along as they can, and find at last, that if success does crown their efforts, it is so embittered, that they would almost as soon do without it. In support of this position, we might adduce the
reception of Mr. Bacon. He has not been without liberal supporters ; still, one or two critics of reputation have come down upon him with such ponderous bludgeons, as might well have beaten bis brains out. We trust, however, that his brains are safe, and we are glad of it; for, in our opinion, such brains as his should not be scattered, unless he makes a worse use of them than appears in this volume. As a first effort, the work, as might well be expected, has not the uniformity and finish of older writers; still there is such manifest ability in it, as makes us confident the author can do much in future. There is a soundness in his thoughts; the language evinces much taste and talent; while the great moral independence of the volume gives it an additional claim upon our attention.
* Poems by WILLIAM Trompson Bacos, Bostou: WEEKS, JORDAN AND COMPANY,
One of the first requisites for the production of good poetry, is a good understanding; we mean by this, common sense. We give Mr. Bacon credit here. Indeed, the mind that could produce the essay at the end of the volume, would leave prettinesses, affectations, and languishings, to moon-struck lovers. The subject there discussed is one about which many young poets have made themselves ridi. culous; but the last sin of that very sensible and elegant essay, is a poetic mania. Mr. Bacon writes with enthusiasm, yet as if he thought the world had at times something else to do, beside read verses; and though our admiration of Wordsworth is not of the same temperature as our author's, yet bis views are propounded in such a manly style, that we will praise his sense, though we like not his system. Some of the critics have seized this to his disadvantage ; yet they have certainly failed. Not one twentieth of the book is at all Wordsworthian, either good or bad ; and the pieces selected as such, and censured, are altogether of another school. The following poem has been censured as 'tinctured with the Lake Spirit. Let a man who has a heart, read it :
LESSON OF LIFE.
The fancies of our early years,
Can thus melt manhood into tears!
''Tis very strange, the simplest things,
No matter what they were, we loved,
And those the last to be removed.
A bird, a bee, a leaf, a flower;
And all of them they have this power;
* And all about the heart they bring
Their memories — a potent spell!
And must, yet cannot say, farewell.
As much to see, and feel, and love;
The sky is just as blue above;
'Birds sing, bees hum, brooks prattle ncar,
Music is of the world a part,
And heart beats fondly unto heart.
* And yet, the heart lies cold and dead —
Its finer feelings will not glow;
We once did love and cherish so;
At things of Life's young morning-hour,
Have not as soft and sweet a power.
"And then we ask, since this we see,
If thus, in running out life's span,
That cold, care-fretted creature, man 3