Infomotions, Inc.Three men of letters [microform] / by Moses Coit Tyler. / Tyler, Moses Coit, 1835-1900




Author: Tyler, Moses Coit, 1835-1900
Title: Three men of letters [microform] / by Moses Coit Tyler.
Publisher: New York : G.P. Putnam, 1895.
Tag(s): barlow, joel, 1754-1812; berkeley, george, 1685-1753; dwight, timothy, 1752-1817; berkeley; barlow; dwight; joel barlow; joel; george berkeley; yale; timothy; yale college; college; poem; timothy dwight; america; greenfield hill; american; george; president
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Identifier: threemenoletters00tylerich
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REESE LIBRARY 

OF THF. 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. 




THREE MEN OF LETTERS 



BY 



MOSES COIT TYLER 




G. P. PUTNAM S SONS 

NEW YORK LONDON 

27 WRST TWENTY-THIRD STREET 24 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND 



1895 






COPYRIGHT, 1895 

BY 
MOSES COIT TYLER 

Entered at Stationers Hall, London 



Electrotyped, Printed and Bound by 

Ubc Iknicfeerbochcr prces f f^ew 
G. P. PUTNAM S SONS 



PREFACE. 

Of the three chapters in literary biography 
and criticism here brought together, the first 
was an incidental J]>ix)duet of the researches 
which I made some years ago when working 
upon my " History of American Literature dur 
ing the Colonial Time ; " and while the subject 
of this monograph could hardly fail to throw a 
curious and a not unpleasing side-light upon 
the conditions and moods of intellectual life in 
America during the half-century just prior to 
the Revolution, it could not properly be in 
cluded in the book in connection with which it 
was written. As it has never been in print, 
except in a form well-nigh inaccessible to the 
general reader, I hope I shall not offend him 
by now revising it, amending it, and giving it 
a place in this little book. I will not deny that 
I shall be very glad if, by seeking a larger 
publicity for my paper on Berkeley, I may 
succeed in extending somewhat the memory 






IV PREFACE. 

and the appreciation of our great debt to 
one of the wisest, friendliest, and helpfulest of 
European visitors who ever touched on these 
shores. 

Tne last two monographs here given were 
prepared for a work on which I have been for a 
considerable time engaged, and which is soon to 
be sent to the press, " The Literary History 
of the American Revolution ; " but as the chief 
activity of the two writers thus dealt with be 
longs to the period immediately after the Revo 
lution, I have deemed it best to exclude them 
from that work. Without question, however, 
for our literary history during the first thirty 
or forty years of the independent republic, 
these two writers are representative men ; and 
both for their own sakes, and for their obvious 
use in the interpretation of American thought 
and life in that period of national gestation, I 
have hoped that the monographs devoted to 
them might have some value even in this de 
tached form. 

M. C. T. 

CORNELL UNIVERSITY, 
2 November, 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

I. GEORGE BERKELEY AND HIS AMERICAN 

VISIT 3 

II. A GREAT COLLEGE PRESIDENT AND 

WHAT HE WROTE . . . . 71 

III. THE LITERARY STRIVINGS OF MR. JOEL 

BARLOW 131 

LIST OF BOOKS CITED . . . . . 181 

INDEX 189 



I. 

GEORGE BERKELEY AND HIS AMERI 
CAN VISIT. 



^s\ 

UN/VERs/TY 

OF 



GEORGE BERKELEY AND HIS AMERI 
CAN VISIT. 

I Berkeley s arrival at Newport in 1729 Personal appear 
ance and ways His settlement at "Whitehall" His 
sojourn here a subject of mystery and suspicion at the 
time Its real import characteristic of an idealist and a 
moral enthusiast. 

II His early life Distinction as a student and fellow at 
Trinity College, Dublin His benevolent enthusiasm 
Great range of his talents and accomplishments As a 
preacher His ideal theory of the universe Its use in the 
refutation of atheism. 

Ill Leaves college to study men and their ways His bril 
liant success in London society His long sojourn upon 
the continent. 

IV Convinced that the corruptions of the Old World are 
incurable and portend some dire catastrophe His " Essay 
towards preventing the Ruin of Great Britain" Turns 
from the Old World to the New His plan for saving the 
latter from the follies and crimes that have brought the 
former to the verge of ruin His belief in America as the 
predestined seat of the world s civilization His celebrated 
poem embodying this dream Two things needful for 
realizing it, learning and religion Resolves to found a 
great American university His preparation therefor. 

V His return to Dublin, 1721 His legacy from Dean Swift s 
"Vanessa" Becomes Dean of Derry in 1724 Returns 



4 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

to London to arrange for his great project Dean Swift s 
letter about it Publishes his " Proposal" His success 
Parliamentary grant Walpole s promise of twenty 
thousand pounds Berkeley sails for America Why he 
first went to New England Walpole s delay and final 
refusal. 

VI Berkeley s disappointment The reaction upon his mind 
of his American visit Seen in his sermons, in " Alci- 
phron," in " Siris." 

VII Effects of his visit as regards American life and civiliza 
tion Especially upon intellectual activity in the colonies 
His influence on the cultivated society of Newport 
Visited by philosophical and other pilgrims The stim 
ulus he gave to higher education His friendship for 
existing American colleges His generosity to Yale and 
Harvard The Berkeleyan scholars at Yale His perma 
nent interest in America after his return to Europe 
Suggests the plan of King s College Later American 
recognitions of his influence. 

VIII Berkeley s place in the long line of distinguished 
European visitors to America Failure of his dream of 
preventing corruption in the New World His remedy 
for corruption. 



I. 



ON the 23d of January, 1729, a British ship 
of about two hundred and fifty tons was 
seen hovering off the coast of Rhode Island 
and making signals for a pilot. In response to 
these signals two pilots boarded the ship. It 
proved to be the hired vessel of an eminent 



GEORGE BERKELEY $ 

Anglican clergyman, the Very Reverend George 
Berkeley, Dean of Derry, who had with him his 
wife and a small party of friends, and was 
desirous of landing somewhere in Rhode Island. 
The pilots informed him that the harbor of New 
port was near, and that in the town there was 
an Episcopal church, the minister of which was 
the Reverend James Honyman. At once the 
Dean wrote a letter to Mr. Honyman, notifying 
him of his approach. What followed is best told 
in the picturesque narrative of a local historian 
of the event. The pilots took the Dean s let 
ter " on shore at Conanicut Island, and called 
on Mr. Gardner and Mr. Martin, two members 
of Mr. Honyman s church, informing them that 
a great dignitary of the Church of England, 
called Dean, was on board the ship, together 
with other gentlemen passengers. They handed 
them the letter from the Dean, which Gardner 
and Martin brought to Newport with all possi 
ble dispatch. On their arrival they found Mr. 
Honyman was at church, it being a holiday on 
which divine service was held there. They 
then sent the letter by a servant, who delivered 
it to Mr. Honyman in his pulpit. He opened 



6 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

it, and read it to the congregation, from the con 
tents of which it appeared the Dean might be ex 
pected to land in Newport every moment. The 
church was dismissed with the blessing, and Mr. 
Honyman, with the wardens, vestry, and congre 
gation, male and female, repaired immediately 
to the wharf, where they arrived a little before 
the Dean, his family, and friends." 

On the day after this notable event a New 
port correspondent of " The New England 
Weekly Courier " thus announced the news 
to the people of Boston ; " Yesterday arrived 
here Dean Berkeley, of Londonderry, in a 
pretty large ship. He is a gentleman of middle 
stature, of an agreeable, pleasant, and erect 
aspect. He was ushered into the town with a 
great number of gentlemen, to whom he 
behaved himself after a very complaisant man 
ner. T is said he proposes to tarry here with 
his family about three months." 

Instead of tarrying there only about three 
months the Dean tarried there nearly three 
years. He soon purchased a farm three or 

1 W. Updike, " History of the Episcopal Church in Narra- 
gansett," 395. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 7 

four miles from Newport, near the sea ; and he 
built there a large house, which he named 
"Whitehall." He had brought with him not 
only ample wealth in money and in personal 
and household goods, but a library of several 
thousand volumes. During the whole time of 
his sojourn in America he lived very quietly, 
and in almost unbroken retirement. He was 
kindly and familiar with people of all religious 
faiths in Newport. Occasionally he preached 
in the Newport church, or went with the faith 
ful missionary, Mr. Honyman, among the Nar- 
ragansett Indians. He was the highest officer 
of the Anglican Church who had ever been in 
America; and his coming hither, and his long 
stay here were a mystery to the public, and to 
some of them, likewise, a source of alarm. It 
was said that he intended to found a college at 
the Bermudas : but, if so, why did he not go 
to the Bermudas, and set about it ? There 
were some who suspected that he might be an 
emissary of the English Church, and that he 
had come to New England with the subtile 
purpose of laying some kind of prelatical mine 
for the blowing up and destruction of the ec- 



8 THREE MEN- OF LETTERS 

clesiastical system already established there. 
Several years before Berkeley s arrival, Timo 
thy Cutler, the president of Yale College, Daniel 
Brown, its tutor, together with two prominent 
Congregational pastors in Connecticut, Samuel 
Johnson and James Wetmore, had gone over 
in a body to the English Church. The event 
had produced no little consternation. Was it 
not likely that the astute and plausible Dean 
of Deny had come out to America to entice 
others of the New England ministry into a 
similar defection ? At any rate the proceed 
ings of the Dean would bear watching. 

And on his part, there seemed to be not the 
least objection to their being watched. He had 
nothing to conceal. It did appear somewhat 
strange that an ambitious and dangerous ecclesi 
astical emissary, instead of pushing out into the 
colonies, and making acquaintances among the 
people, should have retired to the solitude of 
an island on the coast, and should have spent 
his time there after the manner of a philosophi 
cal hermit. Certainly he was affable to all 
whom by any accident he fell in with ; and he 
courteously received all, whether distinguished 



GEORGE BERKELEY g 

or undistinguished, who chose to call upon him ; 
but he solicited no man s company ; he inter 
fered with no man s opinions. In the way of 
charity he gave much, but himself had no fav 
ors to ask. Excepting occasional missionary 
tours among the Indians, and a single visit to 
Boston for the purpose of taking ship for Eng 
land, he made no journeys into the country 
that he .was credited with the design of subju 
gating ; and when at last he took his leave of 
America, and returned to England, he left after 
him only a beautiful and gracious memory, 
the memory of a blameless, wise, benignant, 
and helpful presence upon these shores. Here 
was born to him his eldest son, Henry; and 
here also was born, and here died, his second 
child, Lucia, whose body was laid tenderly in 
Trinity churchyard at Newport ; here he wrote 
his greatest and most famous literary work, the 
philosophical dialogue called "Alciphron "; and 
here, by the disinterested and catholic love 
which he manifested for America, by the stimu 
lus he gave to philosophical and classical studies 
in this country, and especially by the magnani 
mous and inspiring faith he uttered in the des- 



IO THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

tinies of civilization in America, he won for 
himself a title to our perpetual remembrance 
and gratitude. 

As has been already mentioned, Berkeley s 
visit to America, and his long and seemingly 
purposeless residence here, were not understood 
in his own time by the public on either side of 
the Atlantic ; and it maybe added that, though 
the materials for understanding the reasons 
both for his coming and for his going have at 
last been fully spread before the public, 1 there 
still lingers over the subject something of the 
mystery which invested it a hundred and fifty 
years ago. To persons who have not yet taken 
the pains to study carefully the materials just 
referred to, it may still seem strange, that a 
devout and aggressive clergyman of the English 
Church, holding the high office of Dean, in the 

1 The chief depositaries of materials relating to Berkeley 
are the following : " The Works of George Berkeley," edited 
by A. C. Fraser, 3 vols., Oxford, 1871 ; " Life and Letters of 
George Berkeley," by A. C. Fraser, 1871 ; " Berkeley," by A. 
C. Fraser, Edinburgh and Philadelphia, 1881, containing bio 
graphical facts brought to light since 1871 ; and the series of 
admirable historical and biographical works produced by the 
Reverend E. E. Beardsley, of New Haven, particularly his 
" Life and Correspondence of Samuel Johnson, D.D.," New 
York, 1874. 



GEORGE BERKELEY it 

prime of his life, in the full vigor of his health, 
should have withdrawn himself from his duties 
at home, and with his wife, his household 
goods, his books, and a few friends, should 
have settled down in a secluded spot on the 
coast of America ; should have there sauntered 
and loitered for nearly three years, and then, 
apparently without achieving, or trying to 
achieve, any visible result which he could not 
have accomplished as well by staying at home, 
should have gathered up his effects, and have 
sailed back to England. 

In reality, however, Berkeley s American 
visit was, in its plan, its execution, and its 
fruit, much more than it seemed to the public 
eye, either at that time or since ; and while it 
was a thing that could have been projected 
only by an idealist and a moral enthusiast 
such as Berkeley was it must be pronounced, 
even on cool survey, a mission of chivalric 
benevolence certainly, but also of profound and 
even creative sagacity. In its boldness and its 
generosity it was dictated by an apostolic dis 
interestedness and courage to which, of course, 
that age was unaccustomed, and which places 



12 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

it in the light of an almost comic incongruity 
with the spirit of the time in which it occurred. 
In the history of our colonial period it forms a 
romantic chapter. But, in order to understand 
it, we need first to understand Berkeley him 
self, as well as his attitude toward the period 
he lived in. 

II. 

He was born in Ireland, County Kilkenny, 
on the I2th of March, 1685, being descended 
from Cavalier English ancestry, and particu 
larly related to the family of Lord Berkeley, 
of Stratton. He studied at the famous Kil 
kenny school, which has been called " the 
Eton of Ireland"; and in 1700 he entered 
Trinity College, Dublin, where he continued 
to reside as student and fellow for the next 
thirteen years, and where he achieved the 
highest distinction for scholarship, and espe 
cially for original philosophical thought. 

From childhood he had been an unusual 
person. To his associates in particular he 
had been an object of wonder or of mirth, by 
the eccentricity of his enthusiasms, and by his 



GEORGE BERKELEY 13 

marvellous fertility in the dreaming of gor 
geous and impossible dreams for the improve 
ment of mankind in knowledge, virtue, and 
happiness. As he ripened into manhood he 
became a person of extraordinary attractions. 
He was of singular beauty and geniality ; 
his learning was great ; he had uncommon 
genius for scientific and metaphysical specula 
tion ; as a conversationist he was remarkable 
even in an age in which conversation was cul 
tivated as a fine art ; and all these brilliant 
qualities in him were crowned by the mildness, 
the tender and earnest chanty, of a devout 
Christian. In 1709 he received his first ordi 
nation ; and thenceforward to the end of his 
days, though he never had regular service as 
a parish priest, he was a frequent and a very 
impressive preacher ; indeed, he was a great 
and an eloqent philosopher in the pulpit, tak 
ing his place in that illustrious line of mighty 
thinkers in the Christian ministry in which 
stand Butler, Cudworth, Barrow, Hooker, 
Fenelon, Malebranche, Aquinas, Augustine, 
Origen, and Saint Paul, men to whom theo 
logy was " the highest form of philosophy, 



14 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

and the reverential spirit of religion its noblest 
consecration." 

" Even before his ordination, in 1709, Berke 
ley had begun to produce those philosophical 
writings in which he gradually unfolded his 
celebrated ideal theory of the universe. 1 This 
theory begins with a negative proposition 
a denial of the existence of matter indepen 
dent of spirit. But it at once proceeds to an 
affirmative proposition, involving a " truth of 
unsurpassed grandeur, simplicity, profundity, 
and weight," namely, that the only true sub 
stance is spirit ; that the only true cause is an 
intelligent will ; therefore, that whatever exists, 
or appears to exist, can be philosophically ex 
plained only through the powers and quali 
ties of spirit. 

The special use which Berkeley made of his 
theory was in refutation of the anti-religious 

1 The writings particularly referred to are " Common 
Place Book/ in "Life and Letters," 419-502 ; "An Essay 
towards a New Theory of Vision," published in 1709; "A 
Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge," 
1710 ; ^Three Dialogues between Hylasand Philonus," 1713. 
In these writings his theory is progressively stated and de 
fended ; and the last of them is what Fraser calls it, " the 
gem of British metaphysical literature." 



GEORGE BERKELEY 15 

philosophy of his time. He thought that a 
belief in the absolute existence of matter leads 
to atheism. Against this tendency he set his 
own theory, one of great subtlety and logical 
power, wherein the so-called material universe 
is but a vast system of symbols " through which 
the Deity makes His being and His attributes 
known to man. . . . What seems, or is taken 
to be, the material universe, is simply the mani 
fested ideas of God." 

Since our sensible perceptions " must be 
caused, and since they cannot be caused by 
non-causative and hence non-existent, matter, 
they must be ascribed to the agency of God, 
the Supreme Spirit. Thejvvprld is God s voice, 
His language a set of symbols or signs. Physi 
cal science, neglecting the questions of essential 
being and causation, has but to ascertain and 
record these symbols in their observable order 
of co-existence and sequence. Philosophy 
shows that through them we are in commu 
nion with, and gracious dependence on, an 
omnipresent Deity." 2 

1 F. Ueberweg, " A History of Philosophy," ii., 383-384. 

2 George S. Morris, " British Thought and Thinkers," 221- 



1 6 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

III. 

Thus, down to the year 1713, when he had 
reached his twenty-third year, the life of George 
Berkeley had passed in studious retirement, 
mainly in Trinity College, Dublin. He had 
got well acquainted with books ; he knew little 
of men, of cities, of the ways of society in the 
great world outside the walls of his college. 
Now began the epoch in his life, nearly eight 
years long, in which he devoted himself to 
travel, and to the direct study of human nature 
and human society. He had already begun to 
reap some portion of his great fame as a meta 
physician. Moreover, he had won the especial 
friendship of Jonathan Swift, who in the same 
year became Dean of Saint Patrick s, and who 
was destined directly and indirectly to have 
a decisive influence on Berkeley s fortunes. 
Early in January, 1713, young Berkeley went 
over to London, in order, as he said at the time, 
to print his " new book of Dialogues and to 
make acquaintance with men of merit." J 

222. A condensed exposition of Berkeley s theory is given by 
Fraser in his edition of Berkeley s " Works," i., 118-121. 
1 " Berkeley," 97. 



GEORGE BERKELEY I/ 

From the first he was under the powerful 
patronage of Swift, and by him was soon pre 
sented at the court of Queen Anne, as well as 
at the more illustrious court of the poets, wits, 
and philosophers who were shedding lustre upon 
that period. By his extraordinary conversa 
tional powers and by the charm of his charac 
ter he at once made his way there into universal 
favor. Addison and Steele took him to their 
hearts. At Steele s request he wrote several 
papers for " The Guardian." By Pope and 
his troop of literary friends he was welcomed 
with affectionate admiration ; and Pope him 
self formed for Berkeley that friendship which 
prompted him, years afterward, when Berkeley 
had risen to be Bishop of Cloyne, to pay to the 
prelate a superb poetic tribute : 

" Even in a bishop I can spy desert. 
Seeker is decent ; Rundle has a heart ; 
Manners with candor are to Benson given ; 
To Berkeley every virtue under heaven." 

One of the great figures in London society, 
at the time of Berkeley s entrance into it, was 
Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester. He 
had been hearing, on all hands, praises of the 



1 8 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

brilliant young Dublin philosopher and divine, 
who had made a sudden and brilliant dash into 
the elegant world of London, and he expressed 
a desire to see him. Accordingly, one day, the 
Earl of Berkeley introduced his kinsman to the 
Bishop, and after the interview was over, the 
Earl said, " Does my cousin answer your lord 
ship s expectations?" The Bishop, lifting up 
his hands, said fervently, " So much under 
standing, so much knowledge, so much inno 
cence, and such humility, I did not think had 
been the portion of any but angels, till I saw 
this gentleman." 

After a few months spent by him in these 
splendid scenes in London, Berkeley s mind 
seemed eager to inspect still more of the life 
and manners of men ; and accordingly, in 
the autumn of 1713, he accepted the position 
of chaplain and secretary to the Earl of 
Peterborough, who was then setting out as 
ambassador to the King of Sicily. Thus 
began Berkeley s long sojourn upon the conti 
nent, first, for a single year, and afterward 
for four years, a sojourn which gave him the 

1 " Life and Letters of George Berkeley," 59. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 19 

opportunity of making profound and exten 
sive studies into the condition of European 
society. 



IV. 



Upon his final return to England from the 
continent, in 1720, Berkeley found there nearly 
everything that could shock and grieve him. 
The famous South-Sea speculations had just 
before reached their summit of madness and 
corruption, and fallen to the ground with a 
great crash, spreading almost inconceivable dis 
tress over England. The appalling spectacle 
of personal and social proflicacy which then met 
the eye of Berkeley in his own country, came 
to him as a dreadful sequel to all the revela 
tions of folly and crime which his life upon 
the continent had made to him ; and upon his 
sensitive and meditative spirit this wrought 
an impression that fixed the direction of his 
thoughts for the next ten years of his life. It 
was amid these mournful scenes of misery and 
wrong in Europe that he conceived the mag 
nificent project that henceforward for a long 



20 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

time absorbed him, and that brought him at 
last to America to attempt its realization. 

By a pamphlet of Berkeley s, published anony 
mously in London in 1721, and entitled "An 
Essay towards preventing the Ruin of Great 
Britain," we are enabled to ascertain that in 
that year he had become well-nigh convinced 
that the political and moral diseases of the 
Old World, and especially of his own country, 
had at last reached the vital organs of civili 
zation, and were incurable. " I know it is 
an old folly to make peevish complaints of 
the times, and charge the common failures of 
human nature on a particular age. One may 
nevertheless venture to affirm that the pres 
ent hath brought forth new and portentous 
villanies, not to be paralleled in our own or 
any other history. We have been long pre 
paring for some great catastrophe. Vice and 
villany have by degrees grown reputable among 
us. ... We have made a jest of public 
spirit, and cancelled all respect for whatever 
our laws and religion repute sacred. The old 
English modesty is quite worn off ; and, in 
stead of blushing for our crimes, we are 



GEORGE BERKELEY 21 

ashamed only of piety and virtue. In short, 
other nations have been wicked, but we are 
the first who have been wicked upon principle. 
The truth is, our symptoms are so bad that, 
notwithstanding all the care and vigilance of 
the legislature, it is to be feared the final period 
of our state approaches." 

These being his fears respecting the future 
of civilization in the Old World, he seems to 
have concluded that there was no hope for the 
human race except in a gradual transfer of it 
self from the Old World to the New, where, 
freed from the clogs and goads of evil tradi 
tion, freed from the palsy and blindness and 
barrenness of society in its dotage, mankind 
might, at any rate, begin its career over again ; 
and, avoiding the follies and the crimes that 
had brought Europe to the verge of destruc 
tion, might build for itself a future higher, 
broader, nobler, than its past. Whatever we 
may now think of this brave scheme, it was the 
scheme of no sordid or commonplace nature ; 
it was the scheme of a profound thinker and of 
a most benevolent enthusiast. As he brooded 
1 Berkeley s " Works," iii., 210. 



22 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

over this great thought, his mind had to utter 
itself in some expression loftier than even such 
noble prose as he could command. In those 
years it was, probably, that he composed that 
curious and now celebrated poem, on the 
decay, the helplessness, the hopelessness, of 
the Old World, and on the approach of a new 
and a grander era for human nature in the 
world beyond the sea, a poem which will 
last among us as long as civilization shall 
hold out in this hemisphere, a poem that utters, 
perhaps, the most generous and most inspiring 
word about America ever spoken by any 
European. In the light of our present narra 
tive we may be glad to read once more these 
familiar verses, as now having for us, possibly, 
the force of a fresh and a richer meaning : 

; The muse, disgusted at an age and clime 

Barren of every glorious theme, 
In distant lands now waits a better time, 

Producing subjects worthy fame. 

" In happy climes, where, from the genial sun 
And virgin earth such scenes ensue, 

The force of art by nature seems outdone, 
And fancied beauties by the true. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 2$ 

" In happy climes, the seat of innocence, 
Where nature guides and virtue rules, 

Where men shall not impose for truth and sense 
The pedantry of courts and schools, 

" There shall be sung another Golden Age, 

The rise of empire and of arts, 
The good and great inspiring epic rage, 

The wisest heads and noblest hearts. 

" Not such as Europe breeds in her decay ; 

Such as she bred when fresh and young, 
When heavenly flame did animate her clay, 

By future poets shall be sung. 

" Westward the course of empire takes its way ; 

The four first acts already past, 
A fifth shall close the drama with the day ; 

Time s noblest offspring is the last." 

Such was George Berkeley s superb and 
generous dream. To his spiritual and pro 
phetic genius it seemed to be revealed, with 
the distinctness of vision, that the next great 
shifting in the central seat of the world s civi- 

1 Berkeley s " Works," iii., 232. In "R.I. Hist. Soc. Coll.," 
iv., 36, Professor Romeo Elton states that these verses "were 
written by Bishop Berkeley during his residence in Newport." 
Elton gives no authority for his statement ; and it seems to 
have been carelessly made. All internal and collateral evi 
dence points to the place and period suggested in the text. 




24 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

lization was to be from the eastern hemisphere 
to the western, from Europe to America. 
But when that event should take place, what 
was to prevent American civilization from 
going over the steps, and finally reaching the 
fatal end of civilization in Europe? In Berke 
ley s opinion nothing could avert this result 
but these two things : religion and learning, 
the two walking hand in hand. The Old 
World was advancing to its doom, because the 
people of the Old World had lost the old- 
fashioned virtues of faith, reverence, and sim 
plicity ; had, consequently, ceased to be a 
" religious, brave, sincere people, of plain, 
uncorrupt manners, respecting inbred worth 
rather than titles and appearances ; " had ceased 
to be " assertors of liberty, lovers of their 
country, jealous of their own rights, and un 
willing to infringe the rights of others " ; had 
ceased to be " improvers of learning and use 
ful arts, enemies to luxury, tender of other 
men s lives, and prodigal of their own " ; and 
had become idlers, gamblers, spendthrifts, 
mockers, libertines, and atheists. Of course, 
1 Berkeley s "Works," iii., 211. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 2$ 

the only way to save the New World, when it 
should finally become the seat of civilization, 
from advancing to the same doom, was to save 
it from falling into the same degeneracy ; and 
this could be accomplished in no other way 
than by the prompt, wise, and efficient organi 
zation in America, first, of religious training, 
second, of intellectual training, in short, of the 
Christian church, and of the Christian school. 

Both of these needs had been already in some 
measure provided for by the efforts of various 
bodies of Christians. It was chiefly to the 
second need of the New World its intellectual 
need that Berkeley resolved to devote his 
powers ; and to this end he wrought out his 
scheme of a great American university. His 
idea was to establish this university at some spot 
that should be favorable to the health, industry, 
and morals of the students, and at the same time 
central and commodious for all the English pos 
sessions in the Western hemisphere, both insular 
and continental ; and with this view, he fixed 
upon the islands of Bermuda. There he would 
begin by the erection of a single college, to 
be called " The College of St. Paul " ; to be 



26 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

governed by a president and nine fellows, who 
were to form the corporation. His own life he 
would devote to the great work, by going out 
personally as president ; and he hoped to take 
with him as fellow-laborers the requisite num 
ber of accomplished and earnest scholars, whom 
he might be able to enlist for the task. The 
Bishop of London was to be the official visitor 
of the college ; and the secretary of state for the 
American Colonies was to be its chancellor. In 
the charter which he drew up, the college was 
declared to be " for the instruction of students 
in literature and theology, with a view to the 
promotion of Christian civilization alike in the 
English and in the heathen parts of America." 1 
In a letter to his friend Lord Percival, written 
in March, 1723, he revealed his purpose of giv 
ing his life to that object, mentioning, likewise, 
the reasons for preferring the Bermuda Islands ; 
at the same time presenting " the bright vision 
of an academic home in those fair lands of the 
West, whose idyllic bliss poets had sung, and 
from which Christian civilization might now 
be made to radiate over the vast continent of 

1 " Life and Letters," 108. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 2? 

America, with its magnificent possibilities in 
the future history of the race of man. Berke 
ley seemed to see a better republic than Plato s, 
and a grander Utopia than More s, as the issue 
of his ideal university in those Summer Isles." l 
Of course, the realization of this scheme 
would require a large endowment. Berkeley 
himself had not sufficient fortune for the 
purpose ; but he had what was more than 
equivalent to a fortune, a wonderful power 
of imparting to others his own ideas, and 
even his own enthusiasms. Evidently his true 
course was to take such promotion in the 
Church at home as should come to him ; and 
then, using all his opportunities for winning 
over men of wealth and influence, to keep 
steadily at work, and to bide his time. This 
course he took. 

V. 

In the latter part of 1721 he had returned 
to Dublin, as chaplain to the Lord-Lieutenant 
of Ireland, and at once had resumed his old 
relations in Trinity College in which he was 

1 Frazer in " Berkeley," 121-122. 



28 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

soon made divinity lecturer, Hebrew lecturer, 
senior proctor, and university preacher. Early 
in the following year, he had been made Dean 
of Dromore a non-resident incumbency, the 
value of which was probably about fourteen 
hundred pounds. In 1723, Esther Vanhom- 
righ the " Vanessa " of Dean Swift s love 
scandals died, and in her will she surprised 
Berkeley by leaving him a legacy of about four 
thousand pounds. In 1724 good fortune still 
pursued him ; for in that year he was given 
the Deanery of Derry, which both he and Dean 
Swift described as " the best preferment in 
Ireland." Thus he was well advanced on the 
glittering highway of promotion in the Church ; 
but, instead of pursuing that path, he was still 
swayed by his eager purpose of giving up all 
and going out into the American wilderness to 
spend his life in founding a university there. 
He now thought that the time was fully ripe 
for him to go over to London, and to press 
for the accomplishment of his project. His 
success there was promoted in no small 
measure by Dean Swift, who, among other 
friendly acts, wrote from Dublin on behalf of 



GEORGE BERKELEY 29 

Berkeley a letter to Lord Carteret, a statesman 
whose influence Berkeley particularly wished to 
secure. This letter of Dean Swift s is an amus 
ing revelation, both of his own character and 
of Berkeley s, the one, worldly, ambitious, 
and without enthusiasm, yet steady and hearty 
in friendship ; the other, spiritual, self-forget- 
ing, and lost in daring schemes of doing some 
great service in the world for God and man. 
After mentioning to Lord Carteret Berkeley s 
personal history, and especially his recent pro 
motion to be Dean of Derry, Swift continues : 
" Your Excellency will be frightened when I 
tell you all this is but an introduction ; for I 
am now to mention his errand. He is an abso 
lute philosopher with regard to money, titles, 
and power ; and for three years past has been 
struck with a notion of founding a university 
at Bermudas, by a charter from the Crown. 
He has seduced several of the hopefullest young 
clergymen arid others here, many of them well 
provided for, and all in the fairest way for prefer 
ment ; but in England his conquests are greater, 
and I doubt will spread very far this winter. 
He showed me a little tract which he designs 



30 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

to publish ; and there your Excellency will see 
his whole scheme of a life academico-philo- 
sophical, ... of a college founded for 
Indian scholars and missionaries ; where he 
most exorbitantly proposes a whole hundred 
pounds a year for himself, fifty pounds for 
a fellow, and ten for a student. His heart 
will break if his Deanery be not taken from 
him, and left to your Excellency s disposal. I 
discouraged him by the coldness of courts and 
ministers, who will interpret all this as impossi 
ble, and a vision ; but nothing will do. And, 
therefore, I humbly entreat your Excellency 
either to use such persuasions as will keep one 
of the first men in the kingdom, for learning 
and virtue, quiet at home, or assist him by your 
credit to compass his romantic design ; which, 
however, is very noble and generous, and di 
rectly proper for a person of your excellent 
education to encourage." 

On reaching London one of the first things 
that Berkeley did was to publish the " little 
tract " to which Swift had referred. 2 In order 

1 " Life and Letters of George Berkeley," 102-103. 

2 " A Proposal for the Better Supplying of Churches in 
our Foreign Plantations, and for Converting the Savage 



GEORGE BERKELEY 31 

to raise the endowment necessary for the col 
lege therein described, his original purpose 
probably was to depend on voluntary gifts 
rather than on an appropriation from the gov 
ernment. Had he steadily adhered to this plan, 
it is likely that he would have succeeded, and 
would have saved himself the bitter disappoint 
ment that came in after years. No doubt the 
intellectual indifference of London society at 
that period, its frivolty, and its sordid spirit, 
would have been barriers to his immediate suc 
cess in an appeal for pecuniary aid in such a 
project as his ; yet even those barriers could 
not long have resisted the magic of his brilliant 
and contagious earnestness. Several anecdotes 
have come down to us illustrating the incom 
parable powers of persuasion with which he 
prosecuted his undertaking. For example, the 
famous club of wits, " the Scriblerus Club," 
met one day for dinner at the house of Lord 
Bathurst, and before Berkeley came in the mem 
bers agreed among themselves that they would 
rally him on his wild scheme of going out to 

Americans to Christianity, by a College to be erected in the 
Summer Islands, otherwise called the Isles of Bermuda." 
Berkeley s "Works," iii., 213-231. 



32 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Bermuda. Lord Bathurst says that they fully 
carried out their programme ; but that " Berke 
ley having listened to all the lively things they 
had to say, begged to be heard in his turn ; and 
displayed his plan with such an astonishing and 
animating force of eloquence and enthusiasm 
that they were struck dumb, and, after some 
pause, rose up all together with earnestness, 
exclaiming, Let us all set out with him imme 
diately. " 

He also captivated many other distinguished 
persons ; and he raised by subscription more 
than five thousand pounds, a sum which 
might have been greatly increased had he not 
been tempted to seek a government appropri 
ation. He even made his way to the ear and 
the heart of King George the First ; and, more 
difficult still, to the friendly forbearance of Sir 
Robert Walpole, from whom he got, not only a 
personal subscription of two hundred pounds, 
but the promise of not opposing in the House 
Berkeley s scheme of an appropriation. Be 
sides a charter for his college Berkeley procured 
the introduction of a bill wherein a suitable 
portion of the proceeds arising from the sale 



GEORGE BERKELEY 33 

of certain lands in the West Indies was to be 
bestowed upon the college. Evidently Wai- 
pole consented to this bill, fully believing 
that in the nature of things, and without any 
effort on his part, it would fail of passing the 
House of Commons. But he did not rightly 
estimate the energy and the persuasiveness of 
Berkeley. In May, 1726, the bill was carried 
through the House, " none having the confi 
dence to speak against it, and not above two 
giving their negative, which was done in so low 
a voice as if they themselves were ashamed of 
it." 

Accordingly, Walpole gave to Berkeley a 
promise of twenty thousand pounds. Thus 
far all seemed prosperous ; but Berkeley had 
still to learn that it was one thing to get from 
a statesman like Walpole a promise of twenty 
thousand pounds, and quite another thing to 
get the twenty thousand pounds. He was, 
however, full of hope. He spent the next two 
years in completing his preparations for going, 
and especially in waiting for the promised 
grant. Berkeley s long delay in England began 
1 " Life and Letters," 125. 



34 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

to be the occasion of a new embarrassment. 
" Had I continued there," he wrote, " the re 
port would have obtained (which I had found 
beginning to spread) that I had dropped the de 
sign after it had cost me and my friends so much 
trouble and expense. . . . This obliged me 
to come away. . . . Nothing less could have 
convinced the world that I was in earnest." 1 
Moreover, Walpole is said to have told him 
that the grant could not be paid until he had 
actually made some investment in America 
for the college. 2 

In this lies the secret of all his subsequent 
proceedings and of his final failure. He had 
put his trust in Walpole, who had too much 
use for money at home, in adapting to mem 
bers of parliament his favorite methods of po 
litical persuasion, for him to be willing to waste 
twenty thousand pounds in a fantastic educa 
tional project in the Bermudas. 

Nothing was left for Berkeley but to start, 
to get to the other side of the Atlantic, and to 
buy there land enough to constitute an actual 

1 "Berkeley," 133. 

8 " Life and Letters," 153, 



GEORGE BERKELEY 35 

investment for the college. He thought it 
best to go first to New England, and there to 
await the further proceedings of the prime 
minister ; and his purchase of the farm near 
Newport and all his long delay there were due 
to the necessity of deferring to the inclinations 
of that great officer. 

All this it was that gave to his movements 
an air of mystery, of incertitude, of fickleness; 
and all this could not at that time be publicly 
explained. Month after month passed over 
him in Rhode Island, as he waited for the ful 
filment of Walpole s promise. Rewrote letters 
of entreaty, of expostulation. Nothing was 
done. A whole year passed by. He then 
wrote to his friend Lord Percival : " I wait 
here, with all the anxiety that attends suspense, 
until I know what I can depend upon, and 
what course I am to take. I must own the dis 
appointments that I have met with have really 
touched me, not without much affecting my 
health and spirits. If the founding of a college 
for the spread of religion and learning in 
America had been a foolish project, it cannot 
be supposed the court, the ministers, and the 



36 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

parliament could have given such encourage 
ment to it ; and if, after that encouragement, 
they who engaged to endow and protect it let 
it drop, the disappointment indeed may be to 
me, but the censure I think will light else 
where." 1 At last came a message from Walpole, 
which crushed out of him the last spark of hope 
for the success of his plan. The Bishop of 
London, who was a friend of Berkeley s, pressed 
upon Walpole the direct question respecting 
the payment of the money. " If," said Wal 
pole, " you put this question to me as a minister, 
I must and can assure you that the money 
shall most undoubtedly be paid as soon as suits 
with public convenience ; but if you ask me as a 
friend whether Dean Berkeley should continue 
in America, expecting the payment of twenty 
thousand pounds, I advise him by all means to 
return home to Europe, and to give up his 
present expectations." 2 

This cruel word drove a dagger into the 

1 "Berkeley," 133. In the latter part of this sentence I 
have deviated from the text from which I quote, by venturing 
to correct two obvious typographical errors therein, which 
make nonsense of the passage. 

2 " Life and Letters of Berkeley," 186. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 3? 

heart of Berkeley s hopefulness. Even to him 
it was now obvious that his beautiful project 
was dead. There was but one thing left for 
him to do, namely, to bury it, and then to turn 
to other tasks. After lingering a few months 
longer in the soothing quiet of his Rhode 
Island hermitage, Berkeley went back to Lon 
don. This was in the autumn of 1731. In 
1734 he was made Bishop of Cloyne. In 1753 
he died. 

VI. 

Such is the true secret of Berkeley s visit to 
America, an incident in his life which was 
misunderstood and ridiculed at the time, and 
was in some quarters the occasion of groundless 
suspicion and of needless alarm. Its real mean 
ing, with what it contained of saintly enthusi 
asm, and of a wiser than worldly statemanship, 
is made apparent by being simply and truth 
fully narrated. The years during which Berke 
ley was in personal presence upon these shores 
will be forever ennobled in our annals by that 
splendid and gracious memory. 

Although Berkeley returned from his Ameri- 



3 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

can visit, he never recovered from it. He was 
a changed man ever afterwards. With the 
shattering of that gorgeous and eager dream 
of his against the rough touch of reality, some 
thing of the bloom of being went from him, 
something, too, of his old elasticity in hope 
and joy ; and in their place came the sadness 
of a riper wisdom, and the sweetness of having 
drunk of a bitter cup. And if in him and his 
family and his best writings one can trace the 
effects of his contact with America, so still, in 
a hundred benignant ways, one can trace in 
America the effects of its contact with him. 

But few written memorials remain of Berke 
ley s preaching anywhere ; but by far the 
larger number of these memorials are the 
rough notes made for sermons preached by 
him in America. 1 In looking over these jagged 
memoranda, one cannot help reading between 
the lines Berkeley s own criticism, always acute 
and delicate, and sometimes almost satirical, 
upon the tone of life and thought in New 
England in the first half of the eighteenth 

1 These are published in the volume of " Life and Letters 
of Berkeley," 629 649. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 39 

century ; upon its prevailing dissent from the 
Anglican Church ; upon the discordance and 
the pettiness of its sectarian divisions ; upon 
its Puritanic moroseness ; upon the incipient 
stages of that reaction which took place some 
what later in New England, from believing 
too much to believing too little ; upon the 
duties of Christian masters in a relation of 
religious responsibility to their slaves ; and 
especially upon the vices peculiar to a people 
distinguished for sobriety. The population of 
Newport, at the time of Berkeley s residence 
there, was probably even more variegated in 
religious opinions than were other towns in 
America. It consisted, as Berkeley wrote, 
" of many sorts and subdivisions of sects. 
Here are four sorts of Anabaptists, besides 
Presbyterians, Quakers, Independents, and 
many of no profession at all," not to mention 
Moravians, Jews, and several other religious 
bodies which, doubtless, Berkeley had not then 
heard of as being here. " They all agree," he 
adds, " in one point, that the Church of Eng 
land is the second-best." l 

1 " Life and Letters," 160. 



40 THREE MEtf OP LETTERS 

And yet the manly, reasonable, and concil 
iatory way in which Berkeley met all these 
people, mottled as they were with their man 
ifold badges of disagreement, won for him 
among them great liking and respect. " All 
sects ," we are told, " rushed to hear him ; even 
the Quakers with their broad-brimmed hats 
came and stood in the aisles." Evidently 
Berkeley found as much interest in studying 
them, as they found in studying him ; and, ob 
serving the several topics discussed by him in 
the sermons which he preached there, we can see 
how wisely, how frankly, with how catholic and 
gentle a fidelity, he adjusted his teaching to 
their spiritual and intellectual needs : 

" Divisions into essentials and circumstan 
tials in religion. Circumstantials of less value 
(i) from the nature of things; (2) from their 
being left undefined ; (3) from the concession 
of our Church, which is foully misrepresented." 2 

" Sad that religion, which requires us to 
love, should become the cause of our hating 
one another. But it is not religion, it is," etc. 

1 " Life and Letters," 160. 
* Ibid., 632. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 4* 

" Joy in the Holy Ghost, not sullen, sour, 
morose, joyless, but rejoicing." 

" Since we have so great things in view, let 
us overlook petty differences ; let us look up to 
God our common Father; let us bear one 
another s infirmities ; instead of quarrelling 
about those things wherein we differ, let us 
practise those things wherein we agree." 1 

Two of the most notable of his American ser 
mons are significant of his penetrating study 
into the characteristic vices of a community 
neither sensual nor frivolous, vices born of the 
ungenerous activity of a legion of unbridled 
tongues. 2 These sermons furnish us with ex 
amples of his aptitude for social criticism, 
criticism so finely edged as to culminate into 
something like satire. " Vices, like weeds, dif 
ferent in different countries ; national vice 
familiar ; intemperate lust in Italy ; drinking 
in Germany ; tares wherever there is good seed ; 
though not sensual, not less deadly ; e. g., 
detraction : would not steal sixpence, but rob a 
man of his reputation ; they who have no rel- 



1 " Life and Letters," 633. 

2 Ibid., 645-648. 



42 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

ish for wine have itching ears for scandal ; this 
vice often observed in sober people ; praise and 
blame natural justice ; where we know a man 
lives in habitual sin unrepented, we may pre 
vent hypocrites from doing evil ; but to judge 
without inquiry, to show a facility in believing 
and a readiness to report evil of one s neigh 
bor; frequency, little horror, great guilt." 1 
Satan "tempts men to sensuality, but he is 
in his own nature malicious and malignant ; 
pride and ill-nature, two vices most severely 
rebuked by our Saviour. All deviations sin 
ful, but those upon dry purpose more so ; 
malignity of spirit like an ulcer in the nobler 
parts ; . . . age cures sensual vices, this grows 
with age ; . . . more to be guarded against be 
cause less scandalous ; imposing on others and 
even on themselves as religion and a zeal for 
God s service, when it really proceeds only from 
illwill to man, and is no part of our duty to 
God, but directly contrary to it." 2 

These passages from Berkeley s sermons are 
probably enough to indicate for that branch of 

1 " Life and Letters," 646. 

2 Ibid., 647-648. 



GEORGE SERKELEY 43 

his writings the reaction upon his mind of his 
American visit. But in his more elaborate com 
positions, especially in "Alciphron" and in 
" Siris," the tokens of this reaction are far more 
distinct and impressive. Indeed, the former of 
these works, as it was begun and ended in Amer 
ica, so is it pervaded by allusions to his life in 
America, to his home there, to his seaside 
study, to the beautiful scenery about him, to the 
notable traits and customs of the people in the 
neighborhood, to his own daily employments, to 
the friends who visited him or whom he visited, 
and especially to the great and bitter disappoint 
ment which had overtaken him on these shores. 
The writing of " Alciphron " was a wholesome 
diversion of his mind from the grief caused by 
that disappointment ; and its first sentences are 
a tender and manly acknowledgment of the 
grief from which his new literary task was to 
enable him in some measure to work himself 
free : " I flattered myself, Theages, that before 
this time I might have been able to have sent 
you an agreeable account of the success of the 
affair which brought me into this remote corner 
of the country. But instead of this, 1 should 



44 THREE MEN OF 

now give you the detail of its miscarriage, if I 
did not rather choose to entertain you with 
some amusing incidents, which have helped to 
make me easy under a circumstance I could 
neither obviate nor foresee. Events are not 
in our power, but it always is to make a good 
use even of the very worst. And, I must needs 
own, the course and event of this affair gave 
opportunity for reflections that make me some 
amends for a great loss of time, pains, and ex 
pense. A life of action, which takes its issue 
from the counsels, passions, and views of other 
men, if it doth not draw a man to imitate, will 
at least teach him to observe. And a mind at 
liberty to reflect on its own observations, if it 
produce nothing useful to the world, seldom 
fails of entertainment to itself. For several 
months past I have enjoyed such liberty and 
leisure in this distant retreat, far beyond the 
verge of that great whirlpool of business, 
faction, and pleasure, which is called the 
world." 1 

In 1744, thirteen years after his return from 
America, Berkeley published his wonderful lit- 

1 Berkeley s " Works," ii., 23-24. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 45 

tie treatise, entitled " Siris : A Chain of Philo 
sophical Reflections and Enquiries concerning 
the Virtues of Tar-Water, and Divers other 
Subjects Connected together and Arising one 
from Another." " On the whole," says the 
latest editor of Berkeley s writings, " the scanty 
speculative literature of these islands in the last 
century contains no other work nearly so re 
markable. . . . There is the unexpectedness 
of genius in its whole movement. It breathes 
the spirit of Plato and the Neoplatonists, in 
the least Platonic generation of English his 
tory since the revival of letters ; and it draws 
this Platonic spirit from a thing so common 
place as Tar. It connects Tar with the highest 
thoughts in metaphysics and theology, by links 
which involve some of the most subtle, botani 
cal, chemical, physiological, optical, and me 
chanical speculations of its time. Its immediate 
aim is to confirm rationally the benevolent 
conjecture that Tar yields a water of health 
fitted to remove, or, at least, to mitigate, all 
the diseases of our organism in this mortal 
state, and to convey fresh supplies of the very 

1 Berkeley s " Works," ii., 341-508. 



46 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

vital essence itself into the animal creation. 
Its successive links of physical science are 
gradually connected, first, with the ancient and 
modern literature of the philosophy of fire, 
and, next, with the meditations of the greatest 
of the ancients, about the substantial and 
casual dependence of the universe upon con 
scious mind." 1 

Berkeley s confidence in the medicinal effi 
cacy of tar-water thus became the master en 
thusiasm of the last twelve years of his life ; 
and, as usual, the enthusiasm which he himself 
felt upon the subject he succeeded in com 
municating to the public. His book rose into 
instant celebrity. It ran through several edi 
tions in England. Translations of it into 
French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, were pub 
lished on the continent. Tar-water " became 
the rage in England as well as in Ireland. 
Manufactories of Tar-Water were established 
in London, Dublin, and other places in the 
course of the summer. The anger of the pro 
fessional physicians was aroused against the 
ecclesiastical intruder into their province. 

1 Berkeley s " Works," ii., 343-344. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 47 

Pamphlets were written against the new medi 
cine, and other pamphlets were written in re 
ply. A Tar-Water controversy ensued. The 
infection spread to other countries. Tar-Water 
establishments were set agoing in various parts 
of Europe and America." 1 Now, all this was 
another of the effects upon him and upon 
his whole after-life produced by his American 
visit ; for it was in America, and among the 
Narragansett Indians, that he had first learned 
of the invigorating and curative properties of 
tar. 

VII. 

There can be little doubt that when, in 1731, 
Dean Berkeley took ship in Boston harbor, and 
sailed out into the sea for England, he felt that 
his visit to America had been a failure, and 
that he was returning home a baffled man, the 
golden hope of his life blighted. What glad 
ness it would have brought to him could he 
but have had a glimpse into the far future, and 
could have seen how all along its unfolding 

1 " Life and Letters," 294. 



48 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

centuries that seemingly baffled visit of his was 
to keep on bearing fruit in the innumerable 
benign effects it was to have upon civilization 
in the New World, upon the establishment of 
universities here ; upon the cultivation of all 
liberal studies ; upon the improvement of soci 
ety in morals and in manners ; upon the up 
building of the institutions of religion. He had 
not, indeed, accomplished the immediate object 
of his expedition the founding of an American 
university in the Bermuda Islands ; but, by 
methods different from those intended by him, 
and in ways more manifold than even he could 
have dreamed of, he has since accomplished, 
and through all coming time, by a thousand 
ineffaceable influences, he will continue to ac 
complish, some portion at least of the results 
the beneficent, beautiful, superb results 
.vhich he had aimed at by the founding of his 
university. It is the old story over again the 
tragedy of a Providence wiser than man s fore 
sight, God giving the victory to His faithful 
servant, even through the bitterness of over 
ruling him and defeating him. 

To trace with proper fulness of detail the 



GEORGE BERKELEY 49 

direct and indirect effects which Berkeley s 
sojourn in America has wrought upon the in 
tellectual life of this country, in philosophy, in 
literature, in learning, in the spirit and method 
of higher education, would require a more 
extended presentation than can here be given 
to it. A mere grouping of hints is all that 
will now be attempted. 

Of course, in those days of difficult and 
dangerous ocean-travel, when the spectacle of 
a distinguished European visitor in America 
was, even more than is now the case, some 
thing to awaken awe in the American mind, 
it was an immediate and an immense intel 
lectual stimulus to have as an actual visitor 
among us for two or three years a ripe Euro 
pean scholar, of great genius, of exquisite 
accomplishments, of noble ideals, of fascinating 
gifts in expression. Naturally the cultivated 
society of Newport was the first to feel the 
intellectual effect of his visit ; and from it 
sprang the philosophical society of that town, 
and ultimately the Redwood Library, an in 
stitution at once the parent and the model of 
many others in America, and still prosperous 

4 



50 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

and useful now in the second century of its 
existence. 1 

Then, too, there soon began to come to 
Berkeley, in his new home, various American 
pilgrims to seek his counsel, men of letters, 
like John Adams, the poet ; and men of science, 
like Samuel Johnson, the metaphysician and 
the founder of Columbia College ; all of whom 
seem to have found inspiration and guidance 
in the great man s brotherly and brilliant 
words. Johnson, indeed, became Berkeley s 
disciple in philosophy ; and for many years 
afterward, in his books, in his sermons, in his 
academical lectures, he kept alight and he held 
aloft in this land, the torch of Berkeley s radi 
ant and consoling idea. 2 Moreover, during 
those years of Berkeley s sojourn in Rhode 
Island there was in a frontier western par 
ish in Massachusetts a young theologian 
trained only in a small colonial college, already 
beginning to droop under the burdens of pov 
erty, of public care, and of ill-health, but 

1 W. Updike, " Memoirs of the R. I. Bar," 61-62 ; " Public 
Libraries of the U. S.," Part I., 15-16. 

2 E. E. Beardsley, "Life and Correspondence of Samuel 
Johnson," 67, 70, 75, 77, 82, 131, 132, 169. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 5 I 

endowed with a philosophical genius not un 
worthy to be matched with that of Berkeley 
himself. We have no evidence that Jonathan 
Edwards ever made the rugged journey from 
Northampton to Newport to see George Berke 
ley ; but the Northampton pastor had already, 
several years before, worked his way, perhaps 
by an independent process, to Berkeley s very 
doctrine ; and it can hardly be doubted that 
the celebrity of Berkeley s visit here, and the 
keen attention to his philosophy which his 
visit awakened among thoughtful New Eng- 
landers, were felt as a boon of intellectual sym 
pathy by that lonely student in the wilds of 
Western Massachusetts, and may have helped 
somewhat to strengthen him for his service as a 
u defender of Berkeley s great philosophical con 
ception in its application to the material world." 1 
Undoubtedly the great influence of Berkeley 
on the intellectual life of this country is seen 
most conspicuously in the stimulus which he 
gave to higher education here. The mere fact 

1 " Life and Correspondence of George Berkeley," 182 ; 
George P. Fisher, " Discussions in History and Philosophy," 
229-234. See, also, the author s " History of American 
Literature," ii., 182-183. 



52 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

that such a man as Berkeley, with such induce 
ments as he had to remain in his place at home, 
had been willing to give up time, and wealth, 
and chosen studies, and official advancement, 
and the charms of an ancient society, and had 
brought hither across the sea into the wilder 
ness nearly all that was sacred and precious to 
him in the world, and that he here stood ready, 
year after year, to devote his life, his genius, 
all his energies, to the promotion of higher 
education in America, was itself a dramatic 
demonstration at least of his own sense of the 
vast importance to America of higher educa 
tion. Though he did not succeed, in his own 
person, in founding an American college, that 
spectacle of his noble failure to found one 
stands for all time in its pathos, bearing wit 
ness to an imperishable and an unsurpassable 
duty. 

Moreover, almost as soon as Berkeley touched 
land, he began to give out sympathy and coun 
sel and help to the men who were already work 
ing in American colleges, or who were working 
for them. It did not hinder him that the col 
leges nearest to him were under the control of 



GEORGE BERKELEY 53 

dissenters from his church ; and yet, even in his 
purpose to befriend these colleges he found him 
self the object of some ecclesiastical suspicion. 
"Pray let me know," he wrote to Samuel John 
son in March, 1730, "whether they would ad 
mit the writings of Hooker and Chillingworth 
into the library of the college in New Haven." 1 
Two years afterward, when Berkeley had re 
turned to England, and had sent thence to 
Yale College a munificent gift of books, a fa 
mous Boston preacher, Benjamin Colman, wrote 
to the president of the college urging that the 
gift be not accepted, if it be " clogged with any 
conditions that directly or indirectly tend to the 
introduction of Episcopacy." 2 

But tokens of suspicion like these not un 
natural under the circumstances did not chill 
the flow of Berkeley s kind feeling toward the 
New England colleges, or his desire to help 
them. When he was upon the point of em 
barking for England he sent to Johnson some 
Greek and Latin books, to be given, if it should 
seem best, to Yale College ; and he accompa- 

1 " Life and Correspondence of Samuel Johnson," 75. 

2 E. Turell, " Life of Benjamin Colman," 59-61. 



54 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

nied the gift by the promise of still trying to 
help, even after his return to the Old World, 
the cause of education in America. " My en 
deavors shall not be wanting, some way or 
other, to be useful, and I should be very glad 
to be so in particular to the college at New 
Haven." This promise was not forgotten. In 
less than a year after his departure he trans 
mitted to the president of Yale College a deed 2 
conveying to that institution his farm in Rhode 
Island ; " the yearly rents and profits " from 
which were to be spent, not only for the pur 
chase of books in Greek and Latin, as prizes 
for proficiency in those languages, but also as 
scholarships for the maintenance of three Bach 
elors who should be selected for their excel 
lence in Latin and Greek, and should reside in 
the college in graduate studies for three years. 
It would be hard to enumerate all the effects 
of this gift in stimulating classical culture in 
this country. This single fact may be men 
tioned, however, that in the long roll kept by 
Yale College, of Berkeleyan " scholars of the 
house," from 1733 to the present, one finds 

1 " Life and Correspondence of Samuel Johnson," 78. 

2 Given in full in " Life and Letters of Berkeley," 193-194, 
note. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 55 

many names that have become distinguished 
for classical learning, for literary talent, and 
especially for service in the higher educational 
work of the country : Eleazer Wheelock, the 
founder and first President of Dartmouth Col 
lege ; Aaron Burr, President of Princeton Col 
lege ; William Samuel Johnson, President of 
Columbia College ; Naphtali Daggett and Tim 
othy Dwight, Presidents of Yale College ; 
Abraham Baldwin, founder and President of 
the University of Georgia ; Samuel Austin, 
President of the University of Vermont; 
Jeremiah Atwater, President of Middlebury 
and Dickinson Colleges ; Sereno Edwards 
Dwight, President of Hamilton College ; Joel 
Jones, first President of Girard College ; Ed 
ward Beecher, President of Illinois College ; 
besides jurists, statesmen, scholars, and writ 
ers, like Jared Ingersoll, James Abraham Hill- 
house, Silas Deane, John Trumbull, Joseph 
Buckminster, Abiel Holmes, James Murdock, 
Norman Pinney, William Moseley Holland, 
Charles Astor Bristed, and Eugene Schuyler. 1 

1 A full list of the Berkeleyan scholars at Yale from 1733 to 
1851 is given in " The Yale Literary Magazine," for Feb., 
1852, 152-154; and to 1865, in " Papers of N. II. Coll. Hist. 
Soc.," i., 157-160. 



56 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

In 1733, the year following that of his gift of 
land to Yale College, Berkeley proved his 
undiminished remembrance of the struggling 
young colleges in America by sending over 
both to Yale and to Harvard valuable presents 
of books. The collection which he thus gave 
to Yale College was the larger one of the two. 
It consisted of about a thousand volumes, and 
included well-chosen works in Greek and Latin 
literature, in the Fathers, in church histoiy, 
in divinity, in philosophy, in mathematics, in 
medicine and natural history, in English and 
French literature altogether, according to an 
early historian of Yale, " the best collection of 
books which had ever been brought at one 
time to America." 

Perhaps it may be said, also, that his help 
to higher education in America was quite as 
effective in the form of sympathy and good 
counsel as it was in that of good gifts. To the 
very end of his life he kept up his correspon- 

1 President Clap, cited in " Life and Letters of George Ber 
keley," 194. A copy of the invoice of the books sent by Ber 
keley to Yale College has been published by President Daniel 
C. Oilman, in " Papers of New Haven Col. Historical So 
ciety," i. ( M7-I70. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 57 

dence with America, and even handed down 
to his widow and to his children a legacy of 
American friendships ; and in nearly all his 
letters sent hither there breathes the same 
glowing and affectionate zeal for the cause of 
good letters in America, and, through that, of 
noble thinking and of noble living, to be pro 
moted by the young colleges of the New 
World. So long as he lived, tidings were 
regularly sent to him from Yale College re 
specting the progress of learning there, par 
ticularly under the impulse given by his en 
dowment. In 1750 he writes : "I find also 
by a letter from Mr. Clap that learning con 
tinues to make notable advances in Yale Col 
lege. This gives me great satisfaction." 1 In 
1751 he writes: "I am glad to find by Mr. 
Clap s letter, and the specimens of literature 
enclosed in his packet, that learning continues 
to make a progress in Yale College, and hope 
that virtue and Christian charity may keep 
pace with it." 2 In the same year he writes to 
President Clap himself : " The daily increase 

1 " Life and Correspondence of Samuel Johnson," 170. 
8 Ibid., 171. 



58 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

of religion and learning in your seminary of 
Yale College gives me very sensible pleasure, 
and an ample recompense for my poor endea 
vors to further these good ends." And when, 
but a few years before his death, his advice 
was asked by Samuel Johnson, respecting plans 
for a college at New York, he wrote back a 
letter of wise and faithful counsel, which did 
much to mould the organization both of King s 
College 2 and of the College of Philadelphia. 3 

Indeed, as respects King s College, we have 
documentary evidence that it was formed by its 
first trustees explicitly and consciously upon 
the model thus conveyed to them, through 
Samuel Johnson, from Bishop Berkeley. 4 This 
fact has not been sufficiently known. The 
true spiritual founder of Columbia College 
was George Berkeley. To one who loves the 
memory of that wise and saintly prelate, and 
who has been touched by the grief he suf 
fered over the apparent discomfiture of his 

1 " Life and Letters of George Berkeley," 327. 

2 Now Columbia College. 

3 Now the University of Pennsylvania. 

4 " Life and Correspondence of Samuel Johnson," 154-155 ; 
170. 



GEORGE BERKELEY 59 

hope of founding " a college for the spread of 
religion and learning in America," it must give 
pleasure to learn that before he passed away 
from this earth he had the assurance that the 
college at New York was to be founded 
upon the model furnished by him. So that, 
after all, a part of the beautiful dream of 
Berkeley s life was granted to him, and in a 
way wiser than he had thought. Not, indeed, 
in the Bermuda Islands, which would have 
been too remote and too isolated a spot for a 
great American university, but in the very 
heart of the future metropolis of the New 
World ; not, indeed, by the labor of his own 
hand, and yet according to the express 
directions of his most mature judgment; not, 
indeed, under his own presidency, and yet 
under the presidency of his most beloved 
American friend and of his most devoted 
American disciple, was Berkeley finally per 
mitted to establish a college for " the promo 
tion of Christian civilization alike in the Eng 
lish and in the heathen parts of America." 
And there can be little doubt that from the 
first the college should have been named for 



60 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Berkeley rather than for the king. And, 
without any doubt, when, just after the Rev 
olutionary war, the original royalist name of 
the college was necessarily dropped, and a 
new name was sought for, nothing could have 
been more appropriate than that the college 
should then have received the beautiful and 
significant name of Berkeley. 

But though Berkeley s own college in Amer 
ica has not been called by his name, Berkeley s 
effort for " the spread of religion and learning 
in America " has not been without many tokens 
of commemoration among us. In the college 
at New Haven, of which he was so generous a 
benefactor, his name is woven into imperish 
able association with the noblest and the most 
stimulating studies ; while from a memorial 
window in its chapel that name beams like a 
benediction upon all who, like him, would unite 
sincere piety with sincere love of truth. In 
the oldest college-town in America a street has 
been named in honor of Berkeley, by an 
eminent writer 1 who was devoted to the studies 
which Berkeley loved, and to the higher inter- 

1 Richard H. Dana, the second.- 



GEORGE BERKELEY 6 1 

ests of society of which Berkeley was the cham 
pion. In the cities of New York and Providence, 
in recent years, institutions for the best secon 
dary education have been named in memory 
of Berkeley, as " a missionary who crossed the 
seas to bring to this land the torch of knowl 
edge." And far away upon the western verge of 
this continent a continent which Berkeley be 
lieved to be the predestined seat of the last and 
most glorious act in the drama of Man s History 
upon Earth, over against the very gleam of the 
Golden Gate of San Francisco, and almost 
within sound of the surf crashing upon the 
sands of the Pacific, a great state has founded 
a great university ; and, while it has given its 
own name to the university, it has bestowed 
upon the university-town the name of Berkeley, 
in remembrance of " one of the very best of 
the early friends of college education in Amer 
ica." At Trinity College, in Hartford, a col 
lege that was founded and has been faithfully 
reared in the very spirit of Berkeley s ideas 
upon education, the president, at the annual 

1 The name was given to the first of these schools by Presi 
dent Oilman, of Johns Hopkins University, whose words I 
quote above. 



62 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

commencement, sits in the chair in which 
Berkeley used to sit at Newport, in which 
Berkeley is believed to have written his "Alci- 
phron," and from which Berkeley must have 
dreamed many a dream and prayed many a 
prayer " for the spread of religion and learning 
in America." Finally, at Middleton has been 
planted " The Berkeley Divinity School," with 
the purpose that it should be for many years 
a monument and something more productive 
than a monument to the sacred and dear 
memory of that apostolic scholar, who, in an 
age of sensualists and of self-seekers, gave up 
all earthly pleasures and gains, and came forth 
over the sea, that he might found in America 
a college to train up young men worthily for 
the service both of religion and of civil society 
in this New World. 

VIII. 

Ever since the time when the English settle 
ments in America became large enough to pro 
vide for European visitors, and complex enough 
to tempt them hither, we have had among us 
an almost unbroken procession of such visitors, 



GEORGE BERKELEY 63 

eminent, condescending, beneficent, and oth 
erwise, including personages so dissimilar as 
Peter Kalm, Wesley, Whitefield, Lafayette, 
Chastellux, Brissot de Warville, Talleyrand, 
Volney, Louis Philippe, Thomas Moore, Francis 
Jeffrey, Basil Hall, Mrs. Trollope, the Duke of 
Wurtemberg, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisen- 
ach, Tocqueville, Charles Lyell, George Combe, 
George Thompson, Harriet Martineau, Fredrika 
Bremer, Lakieren, Arfevedsen, Charles Dickens, 
Friedrich von Raumer, Macready, Jenny Lind, 
Kossuth, Thackeray, Kohl, the Prince of Wales, 
Kingsley, Goldwin Smith, Matthew Arnold, 
Froude, Irving, Bernhardt, James Bryce. The 
visitors who have thus taken the trouble to 
come this way, have done so, apparently, for 
reasons too various to be here adequately de 
scribed, to find a temporary rest or refuge 
among us, to fight for us, to preach to us, to in 
vestigate us, to instruct us, to amuse themselves 
with us, to sing to us, to play to us, to give us 
needed advice, to write books about us, to hold 
us up as frightful examples, and perchance, not 
seldom, to relieve us of the burden of those re 
dundant dollars with which our land flows as 



64 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

with milk and honey. At the head of this vast 
and variegated procession of European visitors 
at the head of it, certainly, in the order of 
time, and not far from the head of it in the 
order of unselfish and benign intention walks, 
and will forever walk, the form of George 
Berkeley. 

Moreover, who of European men was in ad 
vance of this man in the avowal of a large and 
gracious vision of the significance for all the 
world of the new social structures which men 
were then building in this part of the world, and 
of the incalculable importance of their building 
those structures aright ? 

Can there be much doubt, also, that in his 
conception of the place and part of the New 
World in the development of human happiness 
everywhere, he did at first overestimate its in 
nocence transferring, perhaps, to the infancy 
of society here those moral conditions, that 
purity and sweetness, which are characteristic 
of infancy in the individual almost identifying 
a geographical transmigration with a moral and 
a spiritual one forgetting for a while some 
choice and ancient testimony as to the persist- 



GEORGE BERKELEY 65 

ence of personal character even under a change 
of skies ? For is -it not probable that at the 
very time when George Berkeley, in his first con 
tact with real life, was standing aghast at the 
ineffable corruption of society in Europe and 
was planning a scheme by which to avert such 
corruption from society in America, already 
society in America was, in proportion to its 
materials and to its opportunities, just as 
corrupt ? 

At any rate, in view of Berkeley s most 
generous thought of us, above all, in view of 
his supposition that the New World might be 
saved from the profligacy political, commer 
cial, social, and individual, with which the Old 
World was then reeking, there should be for 
us much food for meditation in the fact of the 
existence among us, at the present moment, 
of all such profligacy. What, then, was Ber- 
keley s scheme for the prevention or the 
cure of the moral diseases of society ? And was 
it, indeed, a scheme largely visionary and de 
lusive ? On the contrary, was it not then, and 
is it not still, the only true or possible scheme 
for the prevention or the cure of such diseases 

5 



66 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

here or anywhere? In one word, it was edu 
cation ! Yes, but what sort of education ? An 
education of the whole man, or of only a part 
of him ? For, if it be the latter an education 
of the intellect only, or of the intellect and the 
body only then, according to Berkeley, we 
have no guarantee that education will result in 
virtue, or will avert crime ; since, in his belief, 
such education is but the training of a personal 
power which may almost as likely be spent for 
the moral injury of society, as for its moral 
benefit. 

Nevertheless, it is, upon the whole, just this 
one sided and amorphous education this cul 
ture of the intellect and of the body, without 
that of the conscience that we in America 
have been for a long time supporting and ador 
ing, as the one sure and omnipotent means of 
saving the commonwealth from rottenness 
political, commercial, social, individual. But, 
lo ! the commonwealth has not been saved from 
rottenness nor will it ever be, in that fashion ! 
The scheme which Berkeley proposed a hun 
dred and sixty years ago for preventing the 
moral diseases of society here was, indeed, 



GEORGE BERKELEY 6? 

education, but it was complete education, 
education of all the faculties and forces of a 
man, rather than of a part of them : his formula 
was " religion and learning." Our failure thus 
far to prevent corruption from fastening upon 
the vitals of American society does no dis 
credit to Berkeley s plan, but to our use of it. 
Such education as that attempted by the train 
ing now so generally given in the schools of 
America, can have but the result which Ber 
keley foresaw, and which one of the wisest of 
our living leaders has lately pointed out, that 
of producing a race of men and women " less 
concerned about virtue than about knowledge, 
not as good as they are sharp, not as pure, 
truthful, and temperate as they are smart, rather 
knowing than wise, and quickwitted than trust 
worthy." u He who opens a school," said Victor 
Hugo, " closes a prison." But does it so ? Much 
depends on the sort of school one opens. Far 
wiser, even if not so epigrammatic, was that 
English statesman who, a few years ago, gave 
public warning to his countrymen, that " if they 
educated the intellect of the nation without the 

1 F. D. Huntington, 



68 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

conscience, they would only prepare accom 
plished villains to pick the locks and break into 
the treasure-houses of civil society." Let us 
not then do Berkeley the injustice of forget 
ting that his plan for averting corruption from 
American society, namely, by the education of 
the individuals who should compose American 
society, clearly meant education of the moral 
and spiritual natures of men as well as of their in 
tellectual and their physical nature. If we, in 
this bold young land which Berkeley loved, and 
which he wanted to save from corruption, have 
nevertheless advanced into forms of corruption 
as gross and as appalling as those that have been 
known in any country, in any age, the fault 
has been not in his plan, but in our partial, 
shallow, and most inadequate rendering of it. 



II. 

A GREAT COLLEGE PRESIDENT 
AND WHAT HE WROTE. 



6g 




II. 

A GREAT COLLEGE PRESIDENT 
AND WHAT HE WROTE. 

I Outline of Timothy Dwight s life His precocity in learn 
ing and aspiration His career as a student at Yale His 
excesses in self-discipline. 

II His great influence as a tutor at Yale At nineteen begins 
the writing of an epic poem Chaplain in the army of the 
Revolution A writer of patriotic songs His song of 
" Columbia." 

Ill Retires from the army in 1778 Farmer, legislator, pastor 
His "Conquest of Canaan," in 1785 Contemporary 
English criticism of it William Cowper. 

IV His attempt at satire in " The Triumph of Infidelity," 
in 1788. 

V His best poem, " Greenfield Hill," 1794. 

VI His minor poems The quality and power of his per 
sonality as an explanation of his vast contemporary influ 
ence His varied and minute knowledge His intellectual 
interests and sympathies His life the triumph of a sufferer 
His extraordinary command over his own mental pos 
sessions Composed by dictation The defects of his 
literary work. 

VII His career culminates in the presidency of Yale at the 
age of forty-three The range of his labors there His 
ascendancy. 

VIII His pre-eminence as a champion of Christianity His 

71 



7 2 THREE MEN- OF LETTERS 

brilliancy in conversation His services as a preacher 

" Theology Explained and Defended " His discourse on 

Washington. 
IX His "Travels in New England and New York" Its 

merits and defects. 
X His intellectual activity during the last two years of his 

life " Remarks on the Review of Inchiquin s Letters" 

Other writings then executed or planned. 



I. 



^TIMOTHY DWIGHT, a grandson of Jona 
than Edwards, and himself illustrious as 
a theologian, teacher, writer, orator, man of 
affairs, was born at Northampton, Massachu 
setts, on the fourteenth of May, 1752. He was 
graduated at Yale College in 1769. During 
the subsequent two years, he taught in a 
grammar school in New Haven. From 1771 
to 1777, he was a tutor in Yale College. From 

1 For the biographical facts about Timothy Dwight, the chief 
sources are, " Memoir of the Life of President Dwight," pre 
fixed to the four volumes of D wight s " Theology," and, though 
anonymous, known to be the work of his two sons, William 
T. and Sereno E. Dwight ; " The Life of Timothy Dwight," 
by William B. Sprague, forming a part of volume iv. of the 
second series of " The Library of American Biography," con 
ducted by Jared Sparks ; and the sketch of Dwight, with most 
interesting letters of reminiscence by some of his eminent 
pupils, in the second volume of Sprague s "Annals of the 
American Pulpit." 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 73 

the autumn of that year until the autumn of 
the year following, he acted as chaplain in the 
American army. From 1778 to 1783, he lived 
at the paternal home in Northampton, work 
ing upon the farm, preaching the gospel, and 
for two terms serving as a member of the leg 
islature of Massachusetts. From November, 
1783, to September, 1795, he was pastor of the 
Congregational Church at Greenfield, Connecti 
cut. At the date last mentioned, he entered 
upon the presidency of Yale College, in which 
office he died on the eleventh of January, 1817. 

These nude statistics give us the exterior 
framework of a life, not uncommonly long, al 
most never exempt from severe bodily pain, 
but pervaded throughout by singular activity, 
power, and productiveness, and challenging 
the public admiration, then and since then, by 
its breadth, versatility, and robust sense ; its 
brilliance, its purity, its dignity of tone, its 
moral aggressiveness, its many-sided and be 
nign achievement. 

Almost as soon as he was able to speak, he 
had begun to receive regular instruction in 
books. He had learned the alphabet at a single 



?4 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

lesson. Before he was four years old, he had 
learned to read the Bible easily and correctly. 
While still a small boy and listening to the 
talk which he often heard in his father s house, 
concerning the famous men of the world, he 
" formed a settled resolution ... to equal 
those whose talents and character he had 
heard so highly extolled." 1 Thenceforward 
to his last breath, the most persistent trait of 
this person seems to be a note of aspiration, a 
tireless energy of purpose to be great. At six 
years of age, he began to attend the grammar- 
school ; and as his father thought him still too 
young to study Latin, he used to forage among 
the books of his school-mates while they were 
at play, and thus feloniously he learned the 
whole of Lily s " Grammar." When at last his 
father s consent was obtained, he wrought at 
Latin and Greek with so much fierceness that 
he would have been quite ready, when only 
eight years old, for the freshman class at Yale 
College, had it not been for the sudden break-up 
of the grammar-school, and his fortunate re 
turn to his mother, who at once proceeded to 

1 " Memoir," in Dwight s " Theology," i., 6. 



T1MOTHV D WIGHT f$ 

appease his frenzy for knowledge, by a diver 
sion into the fields of history and geography. 
From that time, for several years, he was en 
gaged in devouring Salmon s " Geographical and 
Historical Grammar," also the historical parts of 
the Bible, likewise such unfrivolous books as 
Josephus, Prideaux, Rollin, Hooke, and the 
principal histories of the modern world, espe 
cially of England and the English Colonies. 
When eleven years old, he resumed the study 
of Latin and Greek; and in September, 1765, 
he entered Yale College, being then thirteen 
years old, and already familiar with the classic 
authors read there during the freshman and 
sophomore years. 

By this redundance of erudition, he seems 
to have been beguiled for a time into some 
lapses toward juvenile light-mindedness. What 
with card-playing, late suppers, an occasional 
fever, an accidental poisoning, a broken arm, 
and other academic amusements, our hero suc 
ceeded in disposing all too rapidly of the first 
two years of his career as an undergraduate. 
At the beginning of his junior year, goaded 
by remorse, he roused himself against every 



? THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

form of self-indulgence in the future; and he 
kept to the high level of his purpose, with an 
austerity of which one now reads with a feeling 
something like humiliation and fatigue. 

In those days, the ancient superstition touch 
ing the peculiar virtue of early-rising was still 
rampant at the college. The students were, 
indeed, not required to be at their morning de 
votions in the chapel earlier than half-past five 
o clock in winter, or than half-past four in sum 
mer; but young Dwight, unable to sanction by 
his example the sluggish habits thus engen 
dered, proudly betook himself from bed every 
morning in time to read and construe, before 
chapel, a hundred lines of Homer. Moreover, 
no day could at all justify itself in his eyes, 
unless it had yielded to him fourteen hours for 
close study. When he came to be a tutor at 
the college, his demands upon himself grew 
still more strict. Covetous of time, he deter 
mined to avoid all waste of it through so base 
a thing as bodily exercise, by extinguishing the 
need of bodily exercise ; and this he expected 
to accomplish by gradually lessening the quan 
tity of his food. His success was very striking. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 77 

He so far reduced his diet that he was able to 
dine on just twelve mouthfuls. That, of course, 
was his most luxurious meal ; but for breakfast 
and supper he deemed it his duty to be less aban 
doned to gluttony. Just how many mouthfuls 
he permitted to himself at those minor repasts, 
history does not record. However, having con 
tinued for about six months this system of diet, 
he was still unsatisfied with himself ; he felt 
" less clearness of apprehension than was de 
sirable " ; and suspecting that the effect com 
plained of might be due to the animal food 
which had thus far been a part of his daily 
regimen, he resolved thenceforth to confine 
himself to a vegetable diet, but without any 
increase in the number of mouthfuls allotted 
to each meal. By the summer of 17/4, he had 
so far prospered in his hygienic experiments, 
that he had nineteen hard attacks of bilous 
colic in the course of two months. Being by 
that time reduced nearly to a skeleton, and 
having scarcely strength enough left to raise 
his head from the pillow, his father was sum 
moned, and with the greatest difficulty took 
him home to Northampton, apparently to die. 



7 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

To die at that time, however, he was not. 
In consequence of certain perspicuous remarks 
addressed to him by his physician touching the 
fatuity of his recent proceedings, the young 
gentleman was induced to submit himself to 
proper food, to rest, and finally to exercise in 
the open air ; and after a time he was restored 
to the posession of his vigorous constitution, 
though with a retributive legacy of weakness 
in the eyes, and of excruciating pain in the 
part of the head just back of the eyes, from 
which he never afterward found relief. 

II. 

With the recovery of his lost health, he was 
soon back again at his work in the college, 
where his extraordinary success as a guide and 
an inspirer of young men had already made a 
sort of epoch in the history of the place. For 
English literature he had an inextinguishable 
passion, which he was able in some measure to 
communicate to his pupils and to his associates, 
thereby doing much to give to the college and 
even to the town that notable impulse toward 
literary cultivation, and toward literary produc- 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 79 

tiveness, which characterized both town and 
college during the remainder of his life. Along 
with his passion for English literature went, 
as a matter of course, an invincible passion to 
distinguish himself in it ; and it accords with 
every trait of the man that, for the purpose of 
winning such distinction, he should very early 
have chosen for himself the most arduous and 
the most majestic form of literary expression, 
that of the epic. In 1771, being then nineteen 
years of age, he had celebrated his entrance 
upon his tutorship at Yale by entering likewise 
upon the composition of an heroic poem, in 
eleven books, entitled " The Conquest of 
Canaan ", which he virtually finished during 
the subsequent three years. 1 

1 In his " Poets and Poetry of America" 14, Griswold attri 
butes to Timothy Dwight " America, A Poem," as published in 
1772 and as "in the style of Pope s * Windsor Forest. " No 
mention of such poem was made by Kettell in his account of 
Dwight published thirteen years before this book of Griswold s. 
("Specimens of American Poetry" i. 223-259.) Griswold s 
statement, however, has since been followed, apparently upon 
trust, by such compilers as Allibone, Sabin, and the author of 
the sketch of Dwight in " Appleton s Cyclopaedia of American 
Biography." In my own researches, I have never been able to 
come across a poem exactly corresponding to the one mentioned 
by Griswold, the nearest approach to it being a very rare 



SO THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Early in October, 1777, he threw himself 
with great energy into the service of the coun 
try as a chaplain in the army, his immediate 
duty being with Parsons s Brigade, then posted 
near Peekskill on the Hudson. Dropping the 
shyness of an academic recluse, he quickly 
caught the ways of the camp, and the spirit of 
men who were set apart to a vocation not at all 
contemplative. The hopes and the fears for 
which those men then stood in arms, he well 
knew, and could utter for them in prompt, ener 
getic, and splendid speech. He seems not to have 
been disconcerted by the lack of ecclesiastical 
environment. Standing on the grass, with a 
pile of regimental drums before him for a pul 
pit, he harangued his embattled farmers in 

small quarto of about a dozen pages, for the sight of which I 
was indebted to my friend, Mr. James L. Whitney of the Public 
Library of Boston. It is entitled "America, or, A Poem on the 
Settlement of the British Colonies ; addressed to the Friends of 
Freedom and their Country. By a Gentleman Educated at 
Yale College." It was printed at New Haven, but without date; 
and is not at all in the style of Pope s " Windsor Forest." From 
the Library of Yale College the very shrine of St. Timothy 
Mr. Addison Van Name writes: "We do not know the 
author of America, and have no copy of the poem." I suspect 
that in attributing it to Timothy Dwight, Griswold was merely 
putting a guess into an affirmation. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 8 1 

words and tones which carried to their hearts 
thrilling inspiration, and strengthened them for 
such rough business as might happen to lie 
before them. A somewhat uncertain tradition 
declares that in the midst of the general excite 
ment connected with Burgoyne s invasion, he 
preached a sermon of wonderful power, on this 
significant text from Joel ii. 20, " But I will 
remove far off from you the northern army, 
and will drive him into a land barren and deso 
late, with his face toward the east sea, and his 
hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his 
stink shall come up, and his ill savor shall come 
up, because he hath done great things." This 
sermon is said to have been printed, and to 
have done duty afterward by many a camp 
fire : in one case, being read to a garrison that 
was closely beleaguered and in desperate dan 
ger, it so quickened the men with its great 
passion of patriotism, its faith, its courage, that 
they " resolved to hold out to the last extrem 
ity, and made the sally in which they routed 
and drove off their besiegers." 

1 Johnston, "Yale and Her Honor-Roll in the American 

Revolution," 258 ; Goodrich, "Recollections," etc., i. 351 
6 



82 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Not alone as a preacher, but as a song-writer 
also, did the flame of his patriotism, in those 
grim days, warm and set on fire the hearts of 
many struggling men, bucolic warriors, they 
were, heroes half-equipped, tattered, hungry, 
then and there in much stress and danger for 
an idea on behalf of which the best of men 
have been glad to live or die. His biogra 
phers tell us that this indomitable chaplain 
then " wrote several patriotic songs which were 
universally popular," l and stirred the soldiers 
to that sort of enthusiasm for an ideal good in 
this life, for an object above mere pelf and 
self, out of which alone really great deeds 
come. Only one of these war-songs, his fam 
ous " Columbia," seems to have lived beyond 
the occasion from which it sprang; and very 

note. The sermon above referred to, I have never found. The 
details given by the unhesitant and ever-gushing Goodrich, as 
from "the venerable Colonel Platt," may possibly be true in 
substance, though certainly not true as to matters of place and 
time. On the occasion of the news of Cornwallis s surrender, 
Dwight preached a sermon at Northampton ; and this was 
printed at Hartford. I found a copy of it at the Congrega 
tional Library in Boston, in a bundle labelled " Patriotic Ser 
mons Previous to 1800." 

1 " Memoir" in " Theology," i., 13. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 83 

likely, to those who now read it as a detached 
text, and who do not re-create for themselves 
the very scene, the atmosphere, the needs, the 
moods, from the midst of which this song came 
into life, it will be but ponderous and hum 
drum verse. Of course winged words these 
are not, and were not ; and yet so true was 
this song to the very heart of its time that, up 
and above the hail and smoke and curses of 
the battle-field, it really lifted the hearts of 
men who were just then overburdened by a 
dreadful task, who were just then bewildered 
in the dust and cries of the fighting, and 
begrimed with its soilure and blood ; and it 
actually gave to them, for some great moments, 
a clear vision of the triumphant issue of all this 
havoc and horror, home, country, a new fath 
erland in the world, " the last and the noblest 
of time," which should erect its power and 
renown not on the antique vulgarities of con 
quest and slaughter, but on the happiness of 
men, on liberty, justice, opportunity, science, 
beauty, genius: 

" A world is thy realm : for a world be thy laws, 
Enlarged as thine empire, and just as thy cause." 



84 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Therefore, with this vision before him, the 
singer, alone on the armed hill-sides of the 
Hudson, there trying to find some lofty cheer 
for others, finds it likewise for himself : 

" Thus, as down a lone valley, with cedars o er- 
spread, 

From war s dread confusion I pensively strayed 

The gloom from the face of fair heav n retired ; 

The winds ceased to murmur ; the thunders ex 
pired ; 

Perfumes, as of Eden, flowed sweetly along, 

And a voice, as of angels, enchantingly sung, 

Columbia, Columbia, to glory arise, 

The queen of the world, and the child of the 
skies. " 

III. 

For the detail of this man s life from the 
time that he left the army in 1778 until, in 
1795, he attained to his true and sovereign 
place in the world that of the presidency of 
Yale College we need not here concern our 
selves. Those were for him years of noble 
striving, in many capacities ; and they prepared 
some portion of the public for that amazing 
1 " American Poems," etc., 62 64. 



TIMOTHY DWIGHT 85 

and almost incomparable development of his 
personal influence, which burst forth with the 
beginning of his presidency, and went on for 
the subsequent twenty-two years, gathering 
volume and force to the very end. Into this 
earlier period, however, fall three literary inci 
dents which had at the time a large place in 
his thoughts, but which, in this retrospect, 
may be justly set forth in few words. These 
incidents were the successive publication of 
three carefully wrought and very ambitious 
compositions, in the three different forms of 
epic, satirical, and descriptive poetry. 

The first was " The Conquest of Canaan," in 
eleven books of rhymed pentameter verse, fin 
ished in 1774, but on account of the Revolu 
tionary War kept back from publication until 
1785. The motto on the title-page, taken from 
Pope- 

" Fired, at first sight, with what the Muse imparts, 
In fearless youth we tempt the height of arts " ; 

is perhaps an intimation that the author was 
troubled by a momentary suspicion of the au 
daciousness of his poetic attempt, and is even 



86 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

the proffer of an apology therefor in the im 
probable case of its failure. Self-distrust, how 
ever, was not a Timothean infirmity ; and by 
the time our poet has travelled from his title- 
page to his dedication, and thence to the pre 
face, he has resumed his native composure, and 
is able to speak quietly of " The Conquest of Ca 
naan " as the first epic poem that had then ap 
peared in America, and to adjust it to some sort 
of friendly familiarity with its true predecessors, 
the " JEneid " and the " Iliad." For example, 
refering in the preface to himself and his poem, 
he says : " It may be thought the result of inat 
tention or ignorance, that he chose a subject in 
which his countrymen had no national interest. 
But he remarked that the Iliad and the ^Eneid 
were as agreeable to modern nations, as to 
the Greeks and Romans. ... If he is not mis 
taken, the subject he has chosen possesses in 
a degree the same advantages." 

Surely, " The Conquest of Canaan," with its 
eleven dreadful books of conventional rhymed 
pentameters, all tending more or less to dis 
arrange and confuse the familiar facts of Bib 
lical history, as well as to dilute, to render 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 8/ 

garrulous, and to cheapen, the noble reticence, 
the graphic simplicity, of the antique chronicle, 
is such an epic as can be grappled with, in 
these degenerate days, by no man who is not 
himself as heroic as this verse assumes to be. 
In trying, therefore, to record here some equit 
able account of the poem, we may be permitted 
to turn away from the altered literary moods 
of our own age, and to offset the impatience 
and the repugnance which this epic is likely to 
beget within us, by the forbearing critical judg 
ment pronounced upon it at the time of its 
first publication in England, by the most cele 
brated English poet then living. In 1788, an 
edition of " The Conquest of Canaan " appeared 
in London ; and a copy of it having come into 
the hands of Cowper, received from him an 
attentive reading. "Poetry," says he, in his 
review of the American epic, " cannot be with 
out fancy, and fancy can content herself with 
no materials as she finds them. The poet be 
fore us, availing himself of this privilege, has 
modelled the sacred narrative to his mind, and 
in such manner that he who would learn by 
what steps the Israelites became possessed of 



88 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

the promised land, must still seek his informa 
tion in the Bible. He fights all his battles 
under the walls of Ai, and opposes Jabin, King 
of Hazor, to Joshua, throughout the poem. 
The friendly disposition of the Gibeonites he 
ascribes, not to its true cause, the terror with 
which the miracles wrought in favor of Israel 
had inspired them, but to their previous con 
version by Mina, a virgin of Edom, herself in 
structed in the camp of Israel. It is to be 
regretted, perhaps, that for the sake of simpli 
fying his plan he has excluded from it the story 
of Rahab and the spies, and consequently of 
the fall of Jericho, incidents which had great 
influence on all that followed, beautiful in 
themselves, and susceptible of much poetical 
embellishment. 

" Such are some of the liberties which the au 
thor had taken with the story. A more sparing 
use of the potestes quidlibet audendi might 
have been advisable on a scriptural subject. 
Readers, influenced by a due respect for scrip 
ture, do not well endure a violent disturbance 
of its order. In that case something more than 
criticism is offended. He makes, however, all 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 89 

the atonement that can be expected from a 
poet: in his fictions he discovers much warmth 
of conception, and his numbers are very har 
monious. His numbers, indeed, imitate pretty 
closely those of Pope, and therefore cannot fail 
to be musical ; but he is chiefly to be com 
mended for the animation with which he writes, 
and which rather increases as he proceeds, than 
suffers any abatement. His seventh book, in 
which he describes with great spirit the horrors 
of a battle fought by the light of a city in 
flames, affords one proof of it ; and his tenth 
book, which is the last but one, another. Here 
an angel reveals to Joshua, in vision, the future 
destiny of his nation, and the poet takes his 
course through all the great events of prophecy, 
beginning with the settlement of the chosen 
race in Canaan, and closing with the consum 
mation of all things. A strain of fine enthu 
siasm runs through the whole book ; and we 
will venture to affirm, that no man who has 
a soul impressible by a bright display of the 
grandest subjects that revelation furnishes, will 
read it without emotion. 

" The composition, however, is not without 



9O THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

a fault ; and as we have candidly praised, we 
will censure with fidelity. By the motto 
which the author has chosen, we are led to 
suspect that he is young, and the chief blemish 
of his poem is one into which hardly anything 
but youth could have betrayed him. A little 
mature consideration would have taught him, 
that a subject nearly four thousand years old 
could not afford him a very fair opportunity 
for the celebration of his contemporaries. 
We found our attention to the wars of Joshua 
not pleasantly interrupted by a tribute of 
respect paid to the memory of a Mr. Wooster, 
slain on Ridgefield Hills in America ; of a Mr. 
Warren, who fell in battle at Charlestown ; 
and of a Mr. Mercer, who shared a similar 
fate at Princeton. He would plead, perhaps, 
his patriotism for his apology ; but it is best to 
admit nothing that needs one." Cowper s 
neat discussion of the poem is then followed 
by a few verbal criticisms, in which the Eng 
lishman s knowledge of English seems not 
always to be superior to that of the Ameri 
can ; whereupon he selects some passages from 
" The Conquest of Canaan," as illustrations of 



TIMOTHY DWIGHT QI 

its ordinary quality, such as the " beautiful 
description of a maiden going forth to meet 
her victorious lover on his return from battle," 
and the description of Night, which Cowper 
calls " highly poetical." 1 



IV. 



In 1788, occurred the second of the three 
literary events alluded to above : the publi 
cation, without the author s name, of a satire 
in verse, entitled " The Triumph of Infidelity." 
In this work, Dwight enters upon a function in 
which as poet, teacher, preacher, prose-writer, 
or conversationist, he was ever afterward to 
be conspicuous, that of defender of the 
Christian faith and even of Calvinistic ortho 
doxy, against all unfriendly comers, particu 
larly those of the eighteenth century, whether 
French, English, Scotch, or American. From 
title-page to colophon, the intended method 
of the satire is irony, a method calling, of 
course, for delicacy of movement, for arch and 

1 Cowper s review of " The Conquest of Canaan," first ap 
peared in " The Analytical Review," and is reprinted in his 
" Works," Southey s ed., iv. 355-358. 



92 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

mocking sprightliness, for grace and levity of 
stroke, and obviously beyond the quality of 
one who being, in the first place, always dead- 
in-earnest, emphatic, and even ponderous, and 
secondly quite guiltless of humor, was above 
all things an intellectual gladiator, and could 
hardly think of any other *way of dealing with 
an antagonist than by the good old-fashioned 
one of felling him to the floor. Probably 
there can now be left for us on this planet few 
spectacles more provocative of the melancholy 
and pallid form of mirth, than that presented 
by these laborious efforts of the Reverend 
Doctor Timothy Dwight to be facetious at the 
expense of David Hume, or to slay the dread 
ful Monsieur de Voltaire in a duel of irony. 

V. 

In 1794, Dwight published a poem, mostly 
written seven years before that date, his 
" Greenfield Hill," l that one of his larger 
poems which almost attained to popular favor, 
and fairly deserved to do so. The plan of 
this poem was evidently taken from that of Sir 
1 New York : 1794. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 93 

John Denham s " Cooper s Hill," even as Den- 
ham s poem followed the hint given by Ben 
Jonson in his " Penshurst," and in its turn gave 
the hint upon which Pope wrote his " Windsor 
Forest." After all, however, the plan demands 
no great effort of originality : it is the obvious 
one of founding a series of narrative and de 
scriptive verses on such views of nature and 
of human nature as may be spread out before 
the eyes of a poet who takes his stand on 
some eminence, and looks off. In the present 
case, the eminence was furnished by the poet s 
own home at Greenfield. Standing upon that 
height, he looks abroad over an outspreading 
scene of great natural loveliness, and this gives 
to him " The Prospect," the first of the seven 
parts of which the poem is composed. After 
paying homage to the charm of natural scenery 
abounding there, he celebrates the social felic- 
ity to be seen all about him, equality of con 
dition, fairness, freedom, peace, universal 
thrift, manly dignity : 

" How bless d the sight of such a numerous train 
In such small limits, tasting every good 
Of competence, of independence, peace, 



94 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

And liberty unmingled ; every house 

On its own ground, and every happy swain 

Beholding no superior but the laws, 

And such as virtue, knowledge, useful life, 

And zeal, exerted for the public good, 

Have raised above the throng. For here, in 

truth, 

Not in pretence, man is esteem d as man. 
Not here how rich, of what peculiar blood, 
Or office high, but of what genuine worth, 
What talents bright and useful, what good deeds, 
What piety to God, what love to man, 
The question is. To this an answer fair 
The general heart secures. Full many a rich, 
Vile knave, full many a blockhead, proud 
Of ancient blood, these eyes have seen float 

down 

Life s dirty kennel, trampled in the mud, 
Stepp d o er unheeded, or push d rudely on, 
While Merit, rising from her humble skiff 
To barks of nobler, and still nobler size, 
Sail d down the expanding stream, in triumph 

gay, 

By every ship saluted." 1 

Thinking of all this social happiness abound 
ing in his native land, and remembering, too, 
in those years that were even then ushering 
in the French Revolution, the awful contrast 
1 "Greenfield Hill," 12-13. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 95 

presented by the condition of the Old World, 
he counsels his fellow-countrymen to be self- 
centred and content : 

" Ah then, thou favor d land, thyself revere ! 
Look not to Europe for examples just 
Of order, manners, customs, doctrines, laws, 
Of happiness, or virtue. Cast around 
The eye of searching reason, and declare 
What Europe proffers, but a patchwork sway, 
The garment Gothic, worn to fritter d shreds, 

Of silly pomp, and meanness train d t adore ; 
Of wealth enormous, and enormous want, 
Of lazy sinecures, and suffering toil. 

See thick and fell her lowering gibbets stand. 



See the world 

All set to sale ; truth, friendship, public trust, 
A nation s weal, religion, scripture, oaths, 
Struck off by inch of candle. 
See war, from year to year, from age to age, 
Unceasing, open on mankind the gates 
Of devastation ; earth wet-deep with blood, 
And pav d with corpses ; cities whelm d in 

flames, 
And fathers, brothers, husbands, sons, and 

friends, 
In millions hurried to the untimely tomb, 



96 THREE MEN 1 OF LETTERS 

To gain a wigwam built on Nootka Sound, 
Or Falkland s fruitful isles, or to secure 
That rare soap-bubble, blown by children wise, 
Floated in aif, and ting d with colors fine, 
Pursu d by thousands, and with rapture nam d 
National honor. .... 

Say then, ah say, would st thou for these ex 
change 

Thy sacred institutions ? thy mild laws ? 
Thy pure religion ? morals uncorrupt ? 
Thy plain and honest manners, order, peace, 
And general weal ? " l 

This being the subject and manner of the 
first canto, each of the others has its own 
theme, relating to the past, present, or future, 
and suggested to the writer as he gazes off 
from his rural hill-top over forest, plain, or dis 
tant sea, " The Flourishing Village," " The 
Burning of Fairfield," " The Destruction of the 
Pequods," " The Clergyman s Advice to the 
Villagers," " The Farmer s Advice to the Vil 
lagers," and " The Vision, or Prospect of the 
Future Happiness of America." 

As a whole, it may be said of " Greenfield 
Hill " that the poem is even yet by no means 
impossible to read ; and that there are in it 
1 " Greenfield Hill," 18-19. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 97 

occasional passages which may be recalled with 
pleasure, such as the description of the country 
pastor, in the first canto 1 ; the picture of the 
village, in the fifth canto 2 ; the invective against 
slavery, in the second 3 ; the song of Death, in 
the third. 4 Undoubtedly the one fault of the 
poem at which every reader will most quickly 
take offence, is a fault of manner, its imita- 
tiveness. Even when the poem does not de 
scend quite to the depth of parody, 5 it does 
reproduce too closely, and too often, the very 
notes of Thomson, or Goldsmith, of Beattie, 
Edward Moore, or Gay ; and for all this, the 
author s own apology 6 is rather an explanation 
than a defence. 

VI. 

Of Dwight s minor poems and fragments of 
poems, nearly all were written and published 
before his accession to the presidency of Yale 
College, such as " The Critics, A Fable," 7 and 

1 Pp. 23-26. 2 P. no. 3 P. 38. 4 Pp. 85-87. 

5 As in " The Flourishing Village." 

" Fair Verna ! loveliest village of the west," etc, 

6 Introduction, 8. 

7 " American Poems," 70-75. 

7 



90 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

the " Epistle to Colonel Humphreys," both 
in 1785; "The Trial of Faith," 2 in 1786; 
" Address of the Genius of Columbia to the 
Members of the Continental Convention," 3 in 
1787 ; and " Message of Mordecai to Esther," 4 
being the conclusion of the second book of 
manuscript poem, in 1793. 

Such is nearly the entire record of Timothy 
Dwight as a poet, the chief omitted portion 
of the record being that which should celebrate 
his service as a writer of hymns, 6 and particu- 

1 " Works of David Humphreys," ed. 1790, 102-110 ; also, 
" American Poems," 75-84. 

2 "American Poems," 33-54. 

3 Ibid., 55-62. 4 Ibid., 299-304. 

5 "The Psalms of David, Imitated in the language of the 
New Testament, and applied to the Christian Use and Worship, 
by I. Watts, D.D. A New Edition, in which the Psalms 
omitted by Dr. Watts are versified, local passages are altered, 
and a number of Psalms are versified anew, in proper Metres. 
By Timothy Dwight, D. D. , President of Yale College. At the 
Request of the General Association of Connecticut. To the 
Psalms is added a Collection of Hymns. Hartford : Printed 
by Hudson and Goodwin, 1801." This well-packed title-page is 
the placid record of an ecclesiastical scandal and tragedy. In 
1785, precisely the same revision of Dr. Watts s psalm-book 
had been made by Joel Barlow, under the sanction of the same 
high authority, and had been issued by the same publishing 
house. The book had given universal satisfaction, until poor 
Joel went over to France, and dabbled in the French Revolu- 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 99 

larly of one hymn which has gone abroad over 
English Christendom, 

" I love thy kingdom, Lord." 

Plainly enough, therefore, it is not by his poetry 
that we can account for the place which this 
man held in the homage of his contemporaries, 
or for the greatness and force of the stimulus 
which he gave to the intellectual life of his 
time. Moreover, when we look into his prose 
writings, we do not find ourselves much nearer 
to a solution of the problem. That solution is 
to be found, not in anything he wrote, but in 
everything he was, in the man himself, in the 
amazing energy, variety, and charm of his per 
sonality. He was himself greater than any 
thing he ever said or did ; and for those who 
came near him, all that he did or said had an 
added import and fascination as proceeding 

tion, and fell, as was supposed, into all manner of French im 
piety and abomination. Of course, the saints of Connecticut 
could not be expected to enjoy any longer the psalms and 
hymns of the great sinner of Paris ; and the task of President 
Dwight, as recorded on the above title-page, was really to 
demephitise and disinfect the book ; it was to cast out of it 
all the writings of Joel, and to put into it, in their stead, as 
many as possible of the writings of Timothy. 



100 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

from one so overpoweringly competent and 
impressive. 

Whatever gifts of intellect or of spirit he 
possessed, were housed in a bodily frame most 
imposing by its kingly largeness, graciousness, 
and majesty. One who knew him testifies that 
" on account of his noble person the perfec 
tion of the visible man he exercised a power 
in his day and generation somewhat beyond 
the natural scope of his mental endowments." 
His eyes were black and piercing ; his voice had 
extraordinary strength and richness, and a sym 
pathetic quality whereby it entered " into the 
soul like the middle notes of an organ " 2 ; and 
he moved and spoke like one who had come 
into the world in order to command it. Indeed, 
for all the ways by which men can be pro 
foundly and honorably moved, he seems to 
have had an extraordinary equipment, the 
highest social position, peculiar authority in his 
stations of pastor and college-president, im 
mense contemporary renown as scholar, poet, 
prose-writer, thinker, and, finally, a faculty of 

1 S. G. Goodrich, " Reminiscences," etc , i., 353- 

2 Ibid., 349. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT ioi 

oral speech, whether in public or private, 
which enthralled and drew after him all who 
heard. 

So far as could be tested by his associates, 
his knowledge was nearly boundless, and was 
as wonderful with reference to small things as 
to great. " I think," said one of the ablest of 
his pupils, " I never knew the man who took so 
deep an interest in everything, the best mode 
of cultivating a cabbage, as well as the phe 
nomena of the heavens, or the employments 
of angels." He was as pleased to talk with 
lowly people as with lofty ones, his kitchen 
servant, the college janitor, blacksmiths, hos 
tlers, boatmen, ploughmen : he drew from 
them what they best knew, and he well paid 
them in kind for what they gave. Experts and 
specialists were surprised by what he could tell 
them of their own crafts. One day, several 
workmen were sinking a well for him. It was 
their business, and not his ; but when they 
encountered a certain difficulty which was too 
much for them, it seemed to be quite in the 
natural order of things, that he should instruct 

1 N. W. Taylor, in Sprague s "Annals," ii., 161. 



1O2 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

them how to proceed. Once, on horseback, he 
saw men in the act of raising the frame of a 
house. His quick eye discovered a defect 
which had escaped the carpenters ; and, calling 
out to them from the highroad, he " prevented 
a crash of the frame, which would probably 
have been fatal to the lives of several persons." l 
On one of his journeys, he arrived at a little 
village in New England, and was entertained 
there by a kinsman, the principal people of 
the neighborhood, mostly farmers, being in 
vited in to pass the evening with the great 
man, and to hear him talk, probably, as they 
supposed, on high themes of church, and state, 
and college, on literature, on philosophy. " I 
was disappointed," said one of the ladies after 
ward, "that he spent at least half the evening 
in talking to my husband and the other gentle 
men about the cultivation of potatoes and the 
raising of sheep." a So, too, as a young man, 
when he went home after his father s death, 
and for a time carried on for his mother their 
two farms, the hired men in the field " used to 

1 Sprague, in Sparks s " American Biography, "2nd series, iv., 
267. 

* Ibid., 268. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 103 

contest for the privilege of mowing next to 
Timothy that they might hear him talk. " 

They who looked upon him from day to day 
thought him in no respect more extraordinary 
than in the power of his spirit to overstep and 
conquer his bodily limitations. During the 
last forty years of his life, he was seldom free 
from great anguish in the region of the head 
just back of the eyes, and was seldom able to 
employ his own eyesight for more than a quar 
ter of an hour in any one day. In spite of this, 
he continued to be one of the men the best 
informed of his time, with respect to the doings 
of the world in letters, science, criticism, inven 
tion, industry, politics, war. Being unable, for 
the work of attention and memory, to trust to 
mechanical assistance, it happened in his case 
that every faculty which has to do with the 
seizing and holding of knowledge, grew to 
enormous strength. Whatsoever found admis 
sion to his mind, was straightway bestowed in 
its proper place, and there abode steadfast, 
being ever afterward at command. " His 
mind " such is the testimony of two of his 

1 S. G. Goodrich, " Reminiscences," etc., i. 350, note. 



104 THREE MEN- OF LETTERS 

sons " resembled a well-arranged volume, in 
which every subject forms a separate section, 
and each view of that subject a separate page. 
He perfectly knew the order of the subjects ; 
could turn to any page at will ; and always 
found each impression as distinct and perfect 
as when first formed." So, during the most of 
his life, all his writing of whatever sort, in prose 
or verse, was done by the hand of another ; and 
in this act of dictation, his utterance was so 
ready and so sure, that no amanuensis could 
ever keep pace with it, and no sentence thus 
produced was in need of amendment thereafter. 
While engaged in literary composition, he had 
no objection to the presence of company, and 
could " proceed with two trains of thought by 
the hour together, conversing with the com 
pany, and also dictating to the amanuensis." 
" Not only did the conversation of those around 
him not interrupt his course of thinking, 
but while waiting for his amanuensis to finish 
the sentence which he had last dictated, he 
would spend the interval in conversing with 
his family or his friends, without the least 
embarrassment, delay, or confusion of thought. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT fO$ 

His mind took such firm hold of the sub 
ject which principally occupied it, that no 
ordinary force could separate it from its grasp. 
He was always conscious of the exact pro 
gress which he had made in every subject. 
When company, or any other occurrence, com 
pelled him to break off suddenly, it would 
sometimes happen that he did not return to 
his employment until after the expiration of 
several days. On resuming his labors, all he 
required of his amanuensis was, to read the 
last word, or clause, that had been written ; and 
he instantly would proceed to dictate as if no 
interruption had occurred. In several instances 
he was compelled to dictate a letter at the 
same time that he was dictating a sermon. In 
one, a pressing necessity obliged him to dictate 
three letters at the same time. He did so. 
Each amanuensis was fully occupied ; and the 
letters needed no correction but pointing." 
" To conceive, to invent, to reason, was in 
such a sense instinctive, that neither employ 
ment appeared to fatigue or exhaust him. 
After severe and steady labor, his mind was as 
prepared for any species of exertion, as if it 



Io6 THREE MEN- OF LETTERS 

had done nothing : for the activity and spright- 
liness of conversation, for the closer confine 
ment of investigation, or for the excursive 
range of poetry." 

These extraordinary powers brought with 
them their own literary defect : nearly all his 
work has the fatal note of dictation. Every 
where what he seems to write is mere oratory ; 
composition by the tongue, rather than the 
pen ; the style of an eloquent declaimer with 
his audience in front of him ; clever improvisa 
tion, affluent, emphatic, sonorous, moving on 
and on in balanced members, accented by im 
posing gestures, stately, conventional, seldom 
mitigated by the modesty of an understate 
ment, by forbearance in epithets, by lightness 
of touch, friendly ease, the charm of infor 
mality, the grace of a broken rhythm. Every 
where are the traces of his disastrous facility in 
the emission of sentences that could go into 
print without grammatical censure : most im 
pressive, no doubt, as they rolled from his 
musical tongue, but, when lying cold and stark 
on the printed page, obviously marred by the 

1 " Memoir" in " Theology," etc., i., 43 ; 27 ; 43-44. 



TtMOTHV D WIGHT 1 6? 

blemishes of nearly all extemporaneous and 
unchastised speech, excess of assertion, mo 
notony of form, redundance, and a notable 
aptitude for the commonplace whether in 
thought or phrase. 

VII. 

It will not be easy for us to get the true im 
pression of this man, even in the work he did 
as an author, unless we see him actually en 
gaged upon the great and manifold tasks at 
which he wrought, with a sort of Briarean 
versatility, during the culminating and most 
splendid period of his life. At the age of forty- 
three, he became president of Yale College. 
The institution had been in a deplorable state. 
Its true greatness begins with the day when he 
took command of it. With the joy of a strong 
man conscious that he had come to a task call 
ing for all his powers, and worthy of them all, 
he gave himself, for the remainder of his life, 
and without reserve or stint, to the various 
and the enormous labors which it pleased him 
to regard as attaching to his office. The work 
of five different academic functions, each 



to THREE ME ft OF LETTERS 

enough for the energies of a single ordinary 
man, he seized and performed alone : the gen 
eral superintendence of the college ; the entire 
instruction of the senior class, mainly in logic, 
ethics, and metaphysics ; the professorship of 
literature and oratory ; the professorship of 
theology ; finally, the college chaplaincy. His 
commanding position before the whole country 
and his great fame as an orator brought upon 
him, also, many demands for public service 
beyond the college walls. He was visited by 
most strangers passing through the place ; his 
counsel was sought by young and old, by 
preachers, politicians, law-makers, magistrates ; 
he became, as one of his pupils described him, 
" a Father to New England, her moral legis 
lator." ] In the churches, his authority rose to 
such predominance that envious and ungodly 
persons were wont to avenge themselves by 
alluding to him as " Old Pope Dwight " ; while 
children grew up in the faith that he was " sec 
ond only to St. Paul." 2 So vast, indeed, and so 
benign was his general influence upon Ameri- 

1 " Memoir" in "Theology," etc., i., 52. 

2 S. G. Goodrich, " Reminiscences," etc., i., 348, 349. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 1 09 

can society, as an educator, preacher, publicist, 
a leader of men, a well-nigh resistless moral 
and intellectual chieftain, that one eminent 
judge who knew him, declared him to have 
been next to Washington as a national bene 
factor. 1 

VIII. 

Of all the many forms of intellectual action 
into which his overflowing energies poured 
themselves, none so well fitted his talent as 
that wherein he stood and fought as a cham 
pion of the Christian religion, particularly 
against those assaults which were begotten in 
France in the eighteenth century, and which, 
in consequence of our close relations with 
France in the struggles of the American Revo 
lution, had a prompt and a peculiarly favorable 
introduction into this country. For a time, 
the novelty, brilliance, and impetuosity of 
these assaults seemed to sweep all resistance 
before them, even in Puritan New England, 
and even in the strongholds of New Eng 
land s piety and faith. Among cultivated 

1 Roger Minot Sherman, in Sprague s "Annals," ii., 165. 



HO THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

people everywhere, an impression had be 
gun to obtain that Christianity could not 
confront this new criticism ; that henceforth 
Christianity must be deemed a mere supersti 
tion the pitiable cult of the ignorant ; and 
that the perception of this was itself a badge 
of mental and even social superiority. 

Such, especially, was the state of things at 
Yale College when, in 1795, Dwight entered 
upon its presidency. One of the earliest duties 
which met him there was that of presiding over 
the forensic discussions of the senior class. An 
amusing trait of the situation was that nearly 
all the members of that class had jocularly 
assumed the names of the leading infidels of 
the eighteenth century, being known to one 
another as Voltaire, Hume, Rousseau, Chubb, 
Collins, Tindal, Tom Paine, and so forth. It 
happened that, in submitting to their new 
president the topics which they desired to dis 
cuss before him, the first division of the class 
thought it a fine jest to offer him a certain 
question which they supposed he would in 
stantly reject : " Are the Scriptures of the Old 
and New Testaments the word of God ? " To 



TIMO THY D IVIGH T III 

their astonishment, he accepted this question 
without the least demurral ; and in arranging 
for its discussion, he requested all who chose 
to do so, to take the negative side, and to be 
entirely untrammelled in the production of 
their facts and arguments, only remembering 
that such a subject was to be handled without 
irreverence or flippancy. Nearly all the mem 
bers of the division came forward as assailants 
of the Bible. Having listened attentively to 
all they had to say, the new president began 
very quietly to review the discussion. With 
the utmost kindness, but clearly and conclu 
sively, he pointed out the inaccuracies and fal 
lacies into which they had fallen, " and to their 
astonishment convinced them that their ac 
quaintance with the subject was wholly super 
ficial." Having thus cleared the field of 
supposed objections, he then advanced to a 
rapid presentation of the great positive proofs 
of the divine character of Christianity. Here 
his almost unrivalled gifts for dialectical state 
ment were fully aroused ; and as he went for 
ward, step by step, in the development of the 
subject, his arguments seemed to fall upon his 



112 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

hearers with an overwhelming and an ever- 
increasing force. Gradually every man in the 
room became convinced ; and before the 
speaker had finished, his own deep emotion, 
expressing itself in looks, in gestures, and in 
the tones of a most thrilling and commanding 
eloquence, produced an effect upon those young 
men which no one could adequately describe. 
In their new president, at any rate, they saw a 
master whom they could admire and love ; and 
with the swift and measureless generosity of 
youth, their hearts sprang to his side, giving 
him a fealty which never afterward failed him. 
Of course, the report of that great scene in his 
class-room sped fast through the college and 
through the town. Once for all, during his 
lifetime, that neighborhood was swept clear of 
the fashionable doctrine that the acceptance 
of Christianity was presumptive evidence either 
of a feeble brain, or of a cowardly heart. 1 

Moreover, the open and chivalrous stand 
which he thus took at the outset of his career 
as president, on behalf of ideas which were 

1 " Memoir" in " Theology," etc., i., 22-23 ; Sprague, in 
Sparks s "American Biography," 2nd series, iv., 316-318. 



TIMO THY D WIGHT I I 3 

most dear to him, and in opposition to ideas 
which he thought to be full of falsehood and 
blight, was maintained by him to the very end. 
In academic instruction, in the college pulpit, 
in general society where his talk was nearly the 
most brilliant then to be heard, on public occa 
sions to which he was often solicited outside 
the college grounds, he let slip no suitable op 
portunity for striking down what he deemed 
to be the false, and for building up what he 
deemed to be the true. For example, in 1797, 
in addressing the candiates for the baccalau 
reate, he gave two masterly discourses on 
" The Nature and Danger of Infidel Philoso 
phy," which were soon afterward laid before 
the public in print. 1 Again, in 1801, in " A 
Discourse on Some Events of the Last Cen 
tury," a he reviewed, and arraigned with great 
force, the efforts which were made during that 
period, especially in Europe, to destroy the 
confidence of mankind in Christianity, these 
efforts being not " a candid and logical opposi- 

1 New Haven, 1798 ; republished in "Sermons," Edinburgh, 
1828, i., 320-393. 

2 New Haven : i&oi. 



114 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

tion to Christianity, consisting of facts fairly 
stated and justly exhibited," but " an onset of 
passion, pride, and wit ; a feint of conjectures 
and falsified facts ; an incursion of sneers, and 
jests, gross banter, and delicate ridicule ; a 
parade of hints and insinuations ; a vigorous as 
sault of fancy, passion, and appetite." " These," 
he adds," were never the weapons of sober con 
viction ; this was never the conduct of honest 
men." Furthermore, on each Sunday morn 
ing during the academic year, he delivered in 
the chapel an elaborate sermon on some dis 
tinct doctrine of theology, natural or revealed, 
each sermon having its own place in a care 
fully wrought series which it required four 
years for him to deliver. Soon after his 
death, this vast collection of theological dis 
courses was published, in five volumes, under 
the title of " Theology Explained and De 
fended." 2 Since that time, these discourses have 
been published again and again, in America and 
in England ; in both countries, and for more than 
two generations, they have found multitudes 

1 " A Discourse," etc., 21. 

8 First ed. Middletown, Connecticut : 1818-1819. 



TIMO TH Y D WIGH T 115 

of readers ; they have been praised by Robert 
Hall 1 as among " the most important contri 
butions which have been made to the science 
of theology in modern times " ; and they un 
doubtedly form a more adequate embodiment 
than any other in our possession, of the mental 
resources, and particularly of the acumen and 
the argumentative eloquence, of their author. 

In addition to such discourses, devoted to the 
exposition and defence of Christian theology, 
he produced, of course, a multitude of sermons 
of a more direct and practical kind, of which 
a selection, filling two volumes, was published 
in Edinburgh in i828. 2 One of these sermons 
on "The Dignity and Excellency of the 
Gospel," had been read, while still in manu 
script, by William Cowper, and had received 
the somewhat facile meed of that gentle poet s 
applause. " It pleased me/ said he, " almost 
more than any that I have either seen or 
heard." Two other sermons to be found in 

1 In conversation with William B. Sprague. Sparks s " Am 
erican Biography" ; 2nd series, iv., 358. 

2 " Sermons by Timothy Dwight, D.D., LL.D." 

8 Hayley, " Life and Letters of William Cowper," iii., 330 ; 
with which compare " Sermons," i., Preface, viii-ix. 



Il6 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

this collection, the one entitled " Life a 
Race," and the other, " The Harvest Past," 
may be profitably glanced at by any one de 
sirous of inspecting the most brilliant and 
impressive examples left to us, of that spe 
cies of pulpit eloquence for which President 
Dwight was in his life time so renowned. 
Eloquent, no doubt, many of these sermons 
are ; yet in them all is nothing intellectually 
rare, or truly fine, no originality of insight, no 
deep or subtle suggestiveness, no gleam of 
spiritual genius, but ever and forever a master 
ful and exuberant array of the hard common 
places of the sort of Calvinism that was then 
predominant in New England. Surely, it must 
have been some greatness in the preacher who 
once stood behind these sermons, which made 
them seem so great. 

Perhaps nothing in all the multitude of his 
sermons is now so pleasant to read, because so 
simple and so genuine, as certain things he 
said, out of the fulness of personal knowledge 
and affection, concerning his contemporary and 
friend, George Washington. Thus, in giving 
an account of the mental traits of our supreme 



TIMO THY D WIGHT 1 1 7 

American, Dwight says that he " was great, not 
by means of that brilliancy of mind, often ap 
propriately termed genius, and usually coveted 
for ourselves and our children, and almost as 
usually attended with qualities which preclude 
wisdom, and depreciate or forbid worth ; but 
by a constitutional character more happily 
formed. His mind was indeed inventive and 
full of resources ; but its energy appears to 
have been originally directed to that which is 
practical and useful, and not to that which is 
shewy and specious. His judgment was clear 
and intuitive beyond that of most who have 
lived, and seemed instinctively to discern the 
proper answer to the celebrated Roman ques 
tion, Cui bono erit ? . . . Although his 
early education was in a degree confined, his 
mind became possessed of extensive, various, 
and exact information. Perhaps there never 
was a mind on which theoretical speculations 
had less influence, and the decisions of common 
sense more." 

Where can one find a fairer statement of 

1 " A Discourse, delivered at New Haven, Feburuary 22 
1800." New Haven : 1800. Pp. 23-24. 



Il8 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

what constituted the military greatness of 
Washington, than in these compact sentences? 
" As a warrior, his merit has, I believe, been 
fully and readily acknowledged ; yet I have 
doubted whether it has always been justly es 
timated. His military greatness lay not prin 
cipally in desperate sallies of courage, in the 
daring and brilliant exploits of a partisan. 
These would have ill suited his station, and 
most probably have ruined his cause and coun 
try. It consisted in the formation of extensive 
and masterly plans ; effectual preparations ; 
the cautious prevention of great evils, and the 
watchful seizure of every advantage ; in com 
bining heterogeneous materials into one mili 
tary body, producing a system of military and 
political measures, concentering universal con 
fidence, and diffusing an influence next to 
magical ; in comprehending a great scheme of 
war, pursuing a regular system of acquiring 
strength for his country, and wearing out the 
strength of his enemies. To his conduct, both 
military and political, may, with exact propri 
ety, be applied the observation which has been 
often made concerning his courage, that in the 



TIMO TH Y D WIGH T 1 1 9 

most hazardous situations, no man ever saw 
his countenance change." 

When the orator comes to speak of the qual 
ity and largeness of the debt which the Ameri 
can people owe to Washington, his thought 
utters itself in an emotional passage, the evi 
dent sincerity of which lifts it quite above the 
level of a mere bravura of rhetoric : " The 
things which he has done are too great, too in 
teresting, ever to be forgotten. Every object 
which we see, every employment in which we 
are engaged, every comfort which we enjoy, 
reminds us daily of his character. The general 
peace, liberty, religion, safety, and prosperity 
strongly impress, in every place, what he has 
done, suffered, and achieved. When a legisla 
ture assembles to enact laws, when courts meet 
to distribute justice, when congregations gather 
to worship God, they naturally, and almost 
necessarily, say, To Washington it is owing, 
under God, that we are here. The farmer 
pursuing his plough in peace, the mechanic 
following the business of his shop in safety, 
ascribes the privilege to Washington. The 

1 "A Discourse," etc., 28. 



120 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

house which, uninvaded, shelters us from the 
storm, the cheerful fireside surrounded by our 
little ones, the table spread in quiet with the 
bounties of Providence, the bed on which we 
repose in undisturbed security, utters, in silent 
but expressive language, the memory and the 
praise of Washington. Every ship bears the 
fruits of his labors on its wings, and exultingly 
spreads its streamers to his honor. The stu 
dent meets him in the still and peaceful walk ; 
the traveller sees him in all the prosperous and 
smiling scenes of his journey ; and our whole 
country, in her thrift, order, safety, and morals 
bears, inscribed in sunbeams, throughout her 
hills and her plains, the name and the glory of 
Washington." 1 

IX. 

That book of Timothy Dwight s by which 
he is likely to be remembered the longest, his 
" Travels in New England and New York," 2 is 
one which was begun by him probably with the 
least literary ambition, was certainly but an in- 

" A Discourse," etc., 29-30. 
2 First ed., 4 vols., New Haven : 1821-1822. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 121 

cidental product of his energies, and was not 
published at all until four years after his death. 
This huge work grew out of the fact that, during 
his first year in the presidency of Yale College, 
he formed the plan of indemnifying himself for 
the sedentary confinements of the term-time, 
by spending his vacations in a regular course of 
travelling, either in his gig or on horseback, 
through the Northern States, and that he perse 
vered in this plan until near the close of his 
life, by which time he had made a series of 
journeys, with his own horse, long enough to 
have carried him two thirds of the distance 
round the globe. On his first journey, in the 
autumn of 1796, he jotted down in a note-book 
such bits of daily experience as seemed to him 
likely to be of interest to his family when he 
should return home. In the following year, 
this plan broadened out into that of a system 
atic journal, for the possible benefit of the 
whole family of man, and elastic enough to 
admit into itself everything, directly or indi 
rectly suggested by his journeys, which could 
give instruction or diversion to any mind, in 
cidents of travel, natural scenery, statistics of 



122 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

population and of social progress ; talks by the 
way ; local histories, legends, superstitions ; 
sketches of towns, buildings, domestic life ; 
notable persons ; comments on the past, pres 
ent, or future of our country, on forms of gov 
ernment, politics, religion, irreligion, climate, 
soil, trees, rocks, mountains, rivers, beasts, 
birds, storms, earthquakes, the public health, 
longevity, schools, colleges, ministers, lawyers, 
doctors, butchers, bakers, and candle-stick mak 
ers, together with race-problems, the aboriginal 
savages and their descendants, the inaccuracies 
and scurrilities of foreign travellers in America, 
international discourtesy, and so forth, and so 
forth. 

Thus, under the frail disguise of a mere book 
of travels, the thing grew to be a vast literary 
miscellany ; not a book, but a bibliotheca ; in 
short, the private dumping ground of a philoso 
pher, into which he could cast all the odds and 
ends of knowledge or opinion for which he 
happened to have no other convenient recepta 
cle, and much of which might as well have oc 
curred to him while sitting cross-legged by his 
own fireside, as while abroad on horseback. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 123 

Unluckily, in giving to us what he entitles his 
u Travels," he has not chosen to lay before us the 
original memoranda, the rough jottings actu 
ally made by him from day to day, in taverns, 
under the shadow of a hill, by the road side, 
or in the friendly covert of a hay-stack. In 
their original form, doubtless, there would have 
been much gain for us, especially in the direc 
tion of reality, of off-hand friendliness, and 
simplicity. We should have been glad to see 
so august a being as President Dwight, for 
once, without his presidential robes on ; nay, 
possibly, even in his shirt-sleeves ; hungry, 
thirsty, hot, clamoring for his dinner, the sweat 
on his forehead, his trousers gray with dust or 
bespattered with mud, his slouch hat far gone 
in collapse, his rusty old saddle-bags lying on 
the floor by the side of his dirty boots. We 
should have been glad to find in his records 
of travel some occasional marks of human 
spontaneity, one symptom of haste, disappoint 
ment, vexation ; here and there, possibly, a bro 
ken sentence, something unfinished, a crudity, 
an informality. Ah ! not so, not so. Surely, 
President Dwight may not thus be seen of 



124 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

mortal eyes. Therefore it is that every touch 
of realism, of homeliness, of familiarity, if 
such there was in the original record, is here 
obliterated ; all things so natural as mere jot 
tings are hammered out into formal and bal 
anced sentences, are polished smooth and 
placed in line, in stately paragraphs, on dress 
parade, fit to go to court ; while the memo 
randa meant for an itinerary are afterward, in 
cold blood, elaborated into the meaningless 
form of " Letters " destitute of every sparkle 
of an epistolary quality and addressed to a 
dummy called " an English Gentleman." 

In spite, however, of such freezing officialism, 
such wearisome stiffness, it cannot be overlooked 
that some portions of the " Travels" are capa 
ble of giving entertainment. Everywhere, too, 
they are rich with the spoils of intellectual 
vigilance. Finally, as testimony touching the 
condition of the northern parts of the Ameri 
can Republic at about the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, they must grow in value as 
the generations pass. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 125 



X. 



At no other period was his intellectual activ 
ity greater than during the last two years of his 
life. In 1815, he sent to the press, but without 
his own name, his " Remarks on the Review of 
Inchiquin s Letters, published in the Quarterly 
Review," a little book of outspoken and per 
fectly fruitless expostulation with the English 
journalists and other hack writers of that period, 
on account of their habitual dishonesty and 
incivility their envy, hatred, and malice, and 
all uncharitableness, in commenting on the 
people and affairs of this country. In Febru 
ary, 1816, in the midst of his abounding labors 
of every sort, and in the apparent freshness 
and fulness of all his powers, he was smitten 
with the torturing disease to which, after a 
struggle of eleven months, he slowly and heroi 
cally succumbed. Notwithstanding the anguish 
of that long combat with Death, and in addi 
tion to all his labors as president, professor, 
and preacher, he wrote a considerable volume 
of essays, chiefly on the Evidences of a Divine 



126 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Revelation ; he also finished the last half of a 
long poem on " A Contest between Genius and 
Common-Sense " ; he likewise published in the 
" Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts 
and Sciences " two papers in the domains respec 
tively of philology and physics, the one being 
entitled " Observations on Language," and the 
other, " On Light " ; and having projected a 
periodical, to be christened "The Friend," 2 to 
be published in half-sheet once a week, and to 
blend, somewhat after the manner of " The 
Spectator," literary criticism with discussions of 
individual and social duty, he wrote out several 
numbers, " for the purpose of satisfying him 
self, by the experiment, how many he could 
compose in a given space of time, without 
interfering with his other duties." Besides 
all these writings, which with one exception 
still remain unpublished, this tireless giant is 

1 This manuscript is in the possession of Professor Egbert 
C. Smyth of Andover, to whose courtesy I am indebted for a 
careful description of its contents. 

2 In the selection of this title, the President of Yale did not 
illustrate his power of origination, Coleridge s essays under 
the same title having first appeared in 1809. 

8 " Memoirs " in " Theology," i., 36. 



TIMOTHY D WIGHT 12? 

said to have left in manuscript a large work on 
the life and writings of St. Paul. 1 

1 Sprague, in Sparks s " American Biography," 2nd series, iv., 
346. This statement I give on the testimony of a writer usually 
well-informed and accurate ; but I suspect that the work thus 
mentioned is the same as that above described as being " chiefly 
on the Evidences of a Divine Revelation." 



III. 



THE LITERARY STRIVINGS OF MR. 
JOEL BARLOW. 



129 



III. 



THE LITERARY STRIVINGS OF MR. 
JOEL BARLOW. 



I Barlow in New Haven in 1779 His letters to Noah Web 
ster on the difficulties of a literary career in America 
The need of bread a great inconvenience to a man of 
letters David Humphreys intercedes for him with Gen 
eral Greene. 

II Becomes chaplain in the army His experiences as de 
picted in his own letters Witnesses the execution of 
Major Andre Works on his poem, " The Vision of 
Columbus." 

Ill His earliest plan for this poem Fails to get it published 
in 1782 His miscellaneous employments until 1787, in 
which year his "Vision of Columbus" is published Its 
final revision and publication in 1807 as " The Colum- 
biad." 

IV Outline of the poem. 

V The idea of " The Columbiad " both poetic and noble. 
Barlow s mistake in abandoning the earlier and simpler 
form of it Its faults Its true character that of a huge 
philosophical and political essay in verse Both in its 
merits and in its defects a fair expression of American 
national consciousness and character at that time. 

VI Minor writings "The Conspiracy of Kings," 1792 Bar 
low is made a citizen of France by the National Conven 
tion Candidate for the Convention from the Department 



132 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

of Mont Blanc At Chambery writes his one popular 
poem, " Hasty Pudding." 

VII Barlow s true literary work in prose, especially in his 
tory and argumentative discussion By Jefferson s advice 
he plans a History of the American Revolution His 
chief work as a prose writer " Advice to the Privileged 
Orders " A Letter to the National Convention of 
France" " A Letter to the People of Piedmont" Later 
writings addressed to his own countrymen His " Let 
ter to Henry Gregoire " in disavowal of anti-Christian 
opinions or acts. 



I. 



DURING the earlier months of the year 
1779, there was living at Yale College 
an alert young man, Joel Barlow by name, 
ostensibly devoting himself to graduate studies 
there, but really absorbed in the not in 
congruous employments of cultivating poetry, 
the affections of a certain young lady in the 
town, and his own fond hopes of a college- 
tutorship. In the July of the previous year 
he had taken at the college his first degree, 
and on that occasion had won for himself a 
quite exhilarating tea-pot reputation by a poem 
which, from the midst of all the clouds and 
clamors of that low-spirited war, celebrated 
" The Prospects of Peace." He was already in 



JOEL BARLOW I$$ 

his twenty-fifth year, his small patrimony spent, 
his eyes anxiously turned for some scholarlike 
employment which would permit him to take 
speedily unto himself the wife of his choice, 
and to set about the writing of a certain huge, 
patriotic, and philosophic poem with which his 
soul was even then uneasily swelling. So, on 
the 3Oth of January, of this year 17793 he 
poured out his heart by letter to his class-mate, 
Noah Webster, then plodding as a school 
master in a country-town in Connecticut : 
" You and I are not the first in the world who 
have broken loose from college without friends 
and without fortune to push us into public 
notice. Let us show the world a few more 
examples of men standing upon their own 
merit and rising in spite of obstacles. ... I 
am yet at a loss for an employment for life, 
and unhappy in this state of suspense. The 
American Republic is a fine theatre for the 
display of merit of every kind. If ever virtue 
is to be rewarded, it is in America. Literary 
accomplishments will not be so much noticed 
till sometime after the settlement of peace, 
and the people become more refined. More 



134 THKEE MEN OF LETTERS 

blustering characters must bear sway at 
present, and the hardy veterans must retire 
from the field before the philosopher can 
retire to the closet. I don t feel as if ever I 
should enter upon either of the learned profes 
sions for a livelihood." 

As the months slipped away, his hope of 
the tutorship slipped away likewise ; and to 
the brotherly heart of Noah Webster he once 
more spoke out his solicitude : " At present, 
I must own, my prospects are clouded. Mr. 
Perkins . . . advises me to go into business 
for a living, and make poetry only an amuse 
ment for leisure hours. . . . These leisure hours 
will never come to me, after I am buried in 
business for life." ! 

Then a whole year passed. The tutorship 
never came ; but instead of it, there dawned 

1 " Life and Letters of Joel Barlow," by Charles Burr Todd, 
18-19. My study of the published writings of Barlow was 
finished before the appearance of this capital book, in the 
preparation of which its author had the use of the great col 
lection of Barlow papers made with so much perseverence by 
the late Lemuel G. Olmsted. The book has been of much 
use to me for personal items concerning Barlow, and especi 
ally for many passages from his private correspondence pre 
viously existing only in manuscript. 

2 " Life and Letters," etc., 20. 



JOEL BARLOW 135 

upon him the plan of finding a livelihood, to 
gether with some literary leisure, by going into 
the army as a chaplain. Of all this situation, a 
contemporary glimpse is given in a letter writ 
ten to General Greene from New Haven, on 
the loth of April, 1780, by Barlow s brother- 
poet, Captain David Humphreys : u There is 
a hopeful genius ... in this town, who is 
so far gone in poetry, that there is no hope of 
reclaiming and making him attentive to any 
thing else. To be more serious about the 
matter, the person intended is a young gentle 
man by the name of Barlow, who I could wish 
was introduced to your notice. He is certainly 
a very great genius, and has undertaken a work 
which, I am persuaded, will do honor to him 
self and his country if he is enabled to prose 
cute it in the manner he has proposed. It is 
entitled the Vision of Columbus and in the 
course of the poem will bring into view upon a 
large scale all the great events that have or 
will take place on the continent. From a sight 
of the first book, which he has nearly finished, 
I have conceived an exceeding high idea of 
the performance. But the difficulty is, it will 



136 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

be a labor of three years at least ; and his 
patrimony, which consisted in continental bills, 
is by no means sufficient to support him." 



II. 



As a result of all these conferences over his 
affairs, it turned out that in the September 
following, with much reluctance and even with 
some desperation, he accepted a chaplaincy in 
the army, not as having any sort of voca 
tion to the sacred ministry, but only as having 
present need of bread, and the willingness to 
earn it, in this capacity of extemporized and 
amateur parson, by putting to pulpit uses his 
capacity to compose sonorous sentences and 
to declaim them. In a letter to his beloved, 
written on the I ith of September from the camp 
near Paramus in New Jersey, he sets forth, in 
entirely secular language, his earliest experi 
ence of the sacred office : " Did not arrive at 
camp till Saturday night. I lodged in a tent 
on a bed of bark that wet night. . . . Mon 
day, the army marched ... a few miles . . . 

1 " Humphreys Family in America," 155-156. 



JOEL BARLOW 

On Thursday evening I began to open my 
mouth, which is none of the smallest and 
out of it there went a noise which the bri 
gade received as the duty of my office. On 
Sunday ... I gave them a preachment, 
and . . . was flattered afterward by some 
of the most sensible hearers with the great 
merit of the performance. I know you will 
ask me how I made out : I really did well, far 
beyond my expectations, and I find it all a 
joke, as much as Cassius did, to be in awe of 
such a thing as myself." : 

Presently, compliments for his sermons were 
succeeded by other agreeable things, marked 
civilities from great generals, the sight of im 
posing military pageants, even the place of 
honor at dinner with Washington himself, 
all tending to convince our large-mouthed 
young evangelist, that his irruption into the 
sacred office, as amateur parson, was turning 
out no bad speculation after all. On the 23d 
of September, 1780, writing as usual to his be 
loved, he says : " This is Saturday afternoon. 
I have fixed my magazine for to-morrow, and 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 31-32. 



138 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

my thoughts are at liberty to dwell upon their 
favorite object, the centre of all my happiness. 
We have to-day made a move back from Hack- 
ensack to an old encampment here near the 
river, where I have taken lodgings in an old 
Dutchman s bedroom. . . . The worst dif 
ficulty is, the Sabbath days come rather too 
thick." As this comfortable young chaplain, 
snugly sitting there in the "old Dutchman s 
bedroom," scribbled away merrily to his sweet 
heart, little knew he of a great thing that had 
been happening but a few hours before, and 
not many miles off, just across the Hudson, a 
deed of hell baffled, a deed of sorrow begun, 
through the arrest by three militiamen on the 
high road near Tarrytown, of a handsome 
young gentleman, journeying southward on 
horseback, and found, after close investigation, 
to be carrying precious documents in his boots, 
not the least precious document of them all 
being the man himself who wore the boots, to 
wit, Major John Andre, Adjutant-General of the 
British army. Even on the subsequent Mon 
day morning, the news of Arnold s treachery 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 33-34, 



JOEL BARLOW 

and of Andre s arrest seems not to have reached 
Barlow s camp ; for the careless strain of his 
love-letter still holds : " My dear, it is now 
Monday morning. I have left that blank in 
the line for Sunday, when I had no feelings 
worth communicating, except a few anxious 
thoughts about the preachment, which I made 
in a great Dutch barn. This is the third ser 
mon I have given them, and I feel pretty well 
about it." 

The ink that formed those words could hardly 
have been dry on the paper, when Rumor, blow 
ing furiously upon all her winds the names of 
Arnold and Andre, stormed into Barlow s quar 
ters with her now prodigious babblement ; and, 
just one week later, Barlow himself had some 
thing very unusual to write about. On the 
morning of that day, Monday, the 2d of Octo 
ber, riding a few miles northward to Tappan, 
he had seen a ghastly sight a new-made gal 
lows and the handsome young spy hanged 
thereon. Coming back to his quarters, he 
wrote to his confidante : " I have been since 
to attend the execution of Major Andre, Adju- 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 34. 




140 THREE MEN- OF LETTERS 

tant-General of the British army, hanged as a 
spy. A politer gentleman, or a greater charac 
ter of his age, is not alive. He was twenty- 
eight years old. He was dressed completely, 
and suffered with calmness and cheerfulness. 
With an appearance of philosophy and hero 
ism, he observed that he was buoyed above the 
fear of death by the consciousness that every 
action of his life had been honorable, that in 
a few minutes he should be out of all pleasure 
or pain. Whether he has altered his mind, or 
whether he has any mind, is now best known 
to himself." 

After this rather pagan conclusion respect 
ing poor Andre, thus ignobly impelled into that 
state wherein he was to ascertain what truth 
there might be in our dim earth-dream of a 
disembodied mind, the young chaplain reverts, 
by a natural and somewhat habitual transition, 
to the greater and more attractive subject of 
himself: "My situation in the army grows 
more and more agreeable. I am as hearty and 
as healthy as I can be in your absence. I gave 
them a preachment yesterday for the fourth 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 35. 



JOEL BARLOW 141 

time a flaming political sermon, occasioned 
by the treachery of Arnold. I had a number 
of gentlemen from the other brigades, and I 
am told it did me great honor. ... I had a 
billet last week from General Greene to dine 
with him." 

It is obvious that the temporarily Reverend 
Joel Barlow was now getting on in the world ; 
and one observes without displeasure how, all 
along that period, his letters ripple with inti 
mations of his own consciousness of the fact. 
Above all things, in the expected military in 
activity of the approaching winter, he was glad 
to see his way to leisure for that huge patriotic 
and philosophic poem, which was struggling to 
break forth from within the brain of him, and 
which was to blazon in deathless verse the tri 
umph of human freedom and of human nature 
then insupportably advancing toward its stately 
consummation in America. On the i8th of 
October, from Notaway, he writes : " My pros 
pects for my poem are better now than ever. 
I shall have more leisure than I expected, and 
in winter shall have scarcely any interruption 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 35. 



142 THREE MEN OF LEISTERS 

if I choose to pursue the plan. I intend to 
take winter quarters in the vicinity of camp, 
wherever it may be, and set Quamminy * to 
work like a sprite all winter. I will tell you 
more about it when I see you. Yesterday, the 
Reverend Mr. Claremont * had a billet from 
General Washington to dine. How do you 
think I felt when the greatest man on earth 
placed me at his right hand, with Lord Sterling 
at his left, at table? . . . Since the preach 
ing of my sermon on the treason of Arnold and 
the glory of America, several gentlemen who 
did not hear it, and some who did, have been 
to read it. They talk of printing it. Colonel 
Humphreys has made me promise to loan him 
the plan and the first book of my poem to read 
at headquarters." : 

III. 

The poem, of which Barlow thus early in his 
life began to dream, and which proved to be, 
likewise, the one absorbing task and inspiration 
of nearly all his remaining years on earth, was 

1 A nickname for himself. 

* Another of his jocose aliases. 

3 "Life and Letters," etc., 36-37. 



JOEL BARLOW 143 

originally named by him The " Vision of Colum 
bus/ It was to be " rather of the philosophic 
than epic kind." Moreover, it was " on the 
subject of America at large," and was " to ex 
hibit the importance of this country in every 
point of view as the noblest and most elevated 
part of the earth, and reserved to be [the] last 
and greatest theatre for the improvement of 
mankind in every article in which they are 
capable of improvement." 

Whether this, our not over-bashful prophet 
Joel, whilom of Connecticut, hath truly within 
him, in any sufficient measure, the heaven-born 
vision and the strength for so mighty an argu 
ment of song, is doubtless a thing that may be 
very easily called into question. Meantime, 
no one can justly fail to note the sincerity of 
his early enthusiasm for a most noble idea, and 
the persistence of the same through all the toils, 
and distractions, and disenchantments of a busy 
and a conspicuous life. By the autumn of 1782, 
using sturdily whatsoever leisure he could pluck 
from his duties and diversions as military parson, 
he had got the poem so far advanced as to be 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 15. 



144 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

able, after the manner of those days, to invite 
subscriptions for its immediate publication. 
Luckily, the public eagerness for the poem 
seems to have been expressed in a manner so 
temperate as to indicate to the author that any 
delay which he might choose to interpose in its 
publication, would probably be borne by man 
kind with becoming fortitude. 

A delay of five years was, in fact, so inter 
posed, five years of extremely laborious and 
miscellaneous occupation on the part of Joel 
Barlow. He had been married in 1781 ; and 
having in 1783 established his home in Hart 
ford, and having ceased to maintain any longer 
the tiresome farce of being a preacher, he went 
into the business of keeping a printing-office 
and of editing a weekly newspaper; he likewise 
undertook and performed the job of revising, 
for the Congregational churches of Connecti 
cut, Watts s version of The Psalms, himself 
adding new metrical paraphrases of fourteen 1 ; 

1 In the Mass. Hist. Society s Library is a small volume, 
given by George Ticknor, and containing the contributions 
made by Barlow to the book of Psalms and Hymns of which 
he was editor. His translations of the Psalms are numbers 
28, 43, 52, 53, 54, 59, 70, 79, 88, 113, 118, 137, 138, and 140. 
His hymns are as follows : numbers 63, 65, 66, 67, 68. 



JOEL BARLOW 145 

he also studied law, and was admitted to the 
bar; finally, according to his biographer, he 
" wrote a great deal of poetry, annuals, New 
Year s verses, bon mots, political squibs, and 
satires," of the latter, the most notable being 
his contributions to " The Anarchiad." 

Not until the spring of the year 1787, was 
he able to give to the public the great poem 
upon which he had been so long engaged, and 
even then in a form which he afterward char 
acterized as a mere " sketch." In a small oc 
tavo volume, with a dedication to America s 
gracious ally, " His Most Christian Majesty, 
Louis the Sixteenth, King of France and 
Navarre," and with an appendix containing 
a list of nearly eight hundred subscribers in 
Europe and in America, "The Vision of Colum 
bus," a philosophical poem in nine books and in 
nearly five thousand lines, made its entrance 
into the world, receiving, it is said, a not un 
friendly reception in America, in England, and 
in France, and procuring for its author a lead 
ing position as an American man of letters. 2 

1 Todd, in " Life and Letters" etc., 46. 

2 " Life and Letters," etc., 54. 



146 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Even then, however, the poem failed to re 
lieve the author of his burden, his still un 
speakable conception of the magnificent part 
which America was then playing, and was 
destined to play, in the development of man 
kind throughout all the world, and throughout 
all time ; and the subsequent twenty years of 
his life years passed chiefly in France, and in 
no obscure relation to some of the great men 
and great events of that mighty time were 
given by him consciously or unconsciously, to 
the reconstruction, recomposition, and enlarge 
ment of this poem. In 1807, having then re 
turned to America, and being possessed of 
ample wealth as well as of a considerable name 
in the world, he issued the work, in its final 
form, under the title of "The Columbiad." 

Probably no book, at once so ambitious in 
design, so imposing in bulk, and so superb in 
all the physical accessories of paper, type, 
illustration, and binding, had ever before pro 
ceeded from an American press. It contains 
twelve full-paged steel engravings, from designs 
painted expressly for the book by Fulton and 
Smirke. In place of the original dedication to 



JOEL BARLOW 147 

King Louis the Sixteenth, whom the author 
in the meantime had indirectly helped to de 
throne and to decapitate, the work is inscribed 
to the American inventor of steam navigation. 
Then follows a preface in explanation of the 
poetic form, as well as of the poetic and the 
moral objects, of the work. This, again, is 
followed by an elaborate introduction, rehears 
ing in clear and stately prose the leading facts 
in the career of Columbus, after which the im 
petuous reader is no longer withheld from ac 
cess to " The Columbiad " itself. 



IV. 



The poem opens with a night-scene in Valla- 
dolid, the palace of King Ferdinand dimly 
discovered through " the drizzly fogs," and 
beneath one of its towers a dungeon, in which 
Columbus, old, sick, ruined, disheartened, lies 
in chains. Here, starting feverishly from a 
troubled sleep, the hapless old man moans to 
his dungeon walls the story of his life, a life 
of vast, high-hearted endeavor and of world- 
enriching achievement, all basely rewarded by 



148 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

poverty, imprisonment, pain, and shame. At 
the end of his sorrowful monologue, 

" A thundering sound 
Roll d thro the shuddering walls and shook the 

ground ; 

O er all the dungeon, where black arches bend, 
The roofs unfold, and streams of light descend ; 
The growing splendor fills the astonish d room, 
And gales ethereal breathe a glad perfume. 
Robed in the radiance, moved a form serene, 
Of human structure, but of heavenly mien ; 
Near to the prisoner s couch he takes his stand, 
And waves, in sign of peace, his holy hand. 
Tall rose his stature ; youth s endearing grace 
Adorn d his limbs and brighten d in his face ; 
Loose o er his locks the star of evening hung, 
And sounds melodious moved his cheerful 

tongue." 1 

This resplendent and gracious visitor, who 
enters the dungeon in the midst of such super 
natural demonstrations, is of the ancient race 
of Titans, Hesper by name, the brother of At 
las, himself the guardian genius of the western 
regions of the earth, and especially of those 
enormous twin-continents to which Columbus 
had at last opened the way. To Columbus, in 
1 Booki., 127-140. 



JOEL BARLOW 149 

this his uttermost misery, has Hesper come 
with a message and a mission of comfort ; he 
assures the broken-hearted old man that, al 
though he is thus ignobly treated by an age 
in which the rewards of life are dealt out by 
" blinded faction," an age in which the millions 
are " awed into slaves," while 

" blood-stained steps lead upward to a throne," 

yet the future has in store for him a boundless 
recompense, and of this he promises to give 
him an immediate vision. At the word of 
Hesper, 

" Columbus raised his head ; 
His chains dropt off ; the cave, the castle fled " ; 

while together they walked forth from the 
prison. Steep before them stretched "a 
heaven-illumined road " leading up a moun 
tain, of a height so enormous that it could 
overlook all the earth, even its summit being 
fragrant with the breath of flowers. This is 
the mount from which, for his consolation, the 
vision of distant lands, and of distant ages, 
and of peoples and civilizations unborn, is to 



ISO THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

be enrolled before the eyes of the weary and 
dying old man : 

" Led by the Power, the hero gain d the height ; 
New strength and brilliance flush d his mortal 

sight ; 

When calm before them flow d the western main, 
Far stretch d, immense, a sky-encircled plain. 
No sail, no isle, no cloud invests the bound, 
Nor billowy surge disturbs the vast profound ; 
Till, deep in distant heavens, the sun s blue ray 
Topt unknown cliffs and call d them up to day ; 
Slow glimmering into sight wide regions drew, 
And rose and brighten d on the expanding view ; 
Fair sweep the waves, the lessening ocean smiles, 
In misty radiance loom a thousand isles ; 
Near and more near the long drawn coasts arise, 
Bays stretch their arms and mountains lift the 

skies ; 
The lakes, high mounded, point the streams their 

way, 

Slopes, ridges, plains their spreading skirts dis 
play, 
The vales branch forth, high walk approaching 

groves, 
And all the majesty of nature moves." 1 

From this miraculous altitude, therefore, and 
by the aid of this miraculous conductor, does 
Columbus now look abroad over all that portion 
1 Book i., 197-214. 



JOEL BARLOW \^\ 

of the world which " his daring sail descried," his 
eyes being suddenly clothed, for that stupen 
dous undertaking, with the gift of piercing 
alike into distance and into futurity ; and what 
he thus sees, as regards nature and man and 
man s doing, is then reported, with eager and 
unflagging energy, and likewise in the con 
ventional rhymed pentameters of eighteenth 
century English verse, through the generous 
profusion of these ten books. Over all tht 
new-found hemisphere, do the anointed eyes 
of Columbus travel, on their swift and heart- 
thrilling quest, from land to land, from age to 
age, taking inventory of what those far-off realms 
contain : the lavish amplitude on which all things 
there are builded, mountains, rivers, cataracts, 
forests, plains; the beauty and the benignity 
and the costliness which dwell there in earth and 
sky and sea ; and the myriad tokens that there 
indeed were felt the last culminating, and most 
bountiful, and most tender, touches of the 
divine workmanship in the act of creation : 

" For here great nature, with a bolder hand, 

Roll d the broad stream, and heaved the lifted 
land ; 



152 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

And here, from finish d earth, triumphant trod 
The last ascending steps of her creating God." 

After this colossal topographical survey of 
the hemisphere he had discovered, Columbus is 
enabled by the same resplendent and all-com 
petent cicerone to look forth on the various 
tribes and nations that dwell there, to learn the 
story of their origin, and to inspect the cities 
which they had founded, especially lingering 
over the romantic and pathetic history of Peru. 
From the past, Hesper now turns to the future, 
giving to Columbus, in the first place, a vision 
of the maleficent, dire catastrophe brought 
upon Peru in consequence of its invasion and 
conquest by his own successors ; whereat recoil 
ing in grief from so dreadful a result of the 
great deed of his life, he begs to be permitted 
to see no more. To assuage this burst of grief, 
Hesper then causes all Europe to be displayed 
before the eyes of Columbus, exhibiting to him 
the manifold and magnificent effects which 
mankind was to experience from the discovery 
of America, commerce quickened, letters re- 

1 Book i., 357-360. 



JOEL BARLOW 153 

vived, religion reformed, government amelio 
rated, and finally the enormous exodus of the 
western nations from Europe to America begun, 
particularly the establishment of England s 
colonies in the northern continent. Thence 
forward, through several books of the poem, 
the vision is confined to that continent, and to 
the unfolding of its colonial experience ; the 
sharp and fatal antithesis there developed 
between the colonies of England and those of 
France ; the outbreak of war between them ; 
Braddock s last battle, and the apparition of 
Washington on that field of slaughter ; the 
actions of Abercrombie, of Amherst, of Wolfe ; 
finally, peace. Now, the English colonies, 
freed from the appalling danger which had so 
long menaced them from their French rivals, 
seem about to enter on their golden age, when 
lo, dark clouds gather over the eastern seas, 
and roll westward, and bury the continent in 
their black folds. Upon sight of this dismal 
eclipse, Hesper explains to Columbus its mean 
ing. " Here," he tells him, " march the trou 
blous years," during which the colonies, in 
order to save themselves from " lawless rule," 



154 THREE MEAT OF LETTERS 

are forced to repudiate their allegiance to Eng 
land, and to assert an untrammelled national 
life. Then, as Columbus continues to gaze into 
the darkness, the central cloud bursts and 
moves away, giving to him a sudden view of 
the continental congress in full session in the 
"throng d city" of Penn, of the several free- 
minded and indomitable communities which 
its members represent, and of " their endeavors 
to arrest the violence of England." As these 
endeavors prove futile, " the demon War " is 
seen " stalking over the ocean," leading against 
America the English forces : 

" Slow, dark, portentous, as the meteors sweep, 
And curtain black the illimitable deep, 
High stalks, from surge to surge, a demon Form, 
That howls thro heaven and breathes a billow 
ing storm. 

His head is hung with clouds ; his giant hand 
Flings a blue flame far flickering to the land ; 
His blood-stain d limbs drip carnage as he strides, 
And taint with gory glume the staggering tides ; 
Like two red suns his quivering eyeballs glare, 
His mouth disgorges all the stores of war, 
Pikes, muskets, mortars, guns, and globes of fire, 
And lighted bombs that fusing trails expire. 
Perch d on his helmet, two twin sisters rode, 



JOEL BARLOW 155 

The favorite offspring of the murderous god, 

Famine and Pestilence ; . . . 

Then earth convulsive groan d, high shriek d the 

air, 

And hell in gratulation call d him War. 
Behind the fiend, swift hovering for the coast, 
Hangs o er the wave Britannia s sail-wing d host ; 
They crowd the main, they spread their sheets 

abroad, 

From the wide Lawrence to the Georgian flood, 
Point their black batteries to the peopled shore, 
And spouting flames commence the hideous 

roar." l 

As Columbus and his conductor continue 
to gaze upon this far-off scene of havoc, of 
gigantic destruction, of portentous cruelty, 
they witness what proves to be a prophetic 
rehearsal of all the great events of the Ameri 
can Revolutionary War, the conflagration of 
towns along the coast from Falmouth to Nor 
folk ; the Battle of Bunker Hill; the arrival 
of Washington to take command of the 
American forces before Boston ; the death of 
Montgomery under the walls of Quebec ; the 
loss of New York ; Washington s retreat across 
the Delaware ; his brilliant and victorious 
1 Book v., 471-498. 



156 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

exploit in return ; the cruelties inflicted on 
American prisoners by the British in their 
prison ships ; Burgoyne s invasion, defeat, sur 
render ; the interposition of France, and the 
renewal of the struggle under her assistance ; 
finally, the investiture of Yorktown, and the 
surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army. 
At the end of all this military tumult, blend 
ing " the groans of death and battle s bray," 
" the drum s rude clang, the war wolf s hideous 
howl," the description of which fills three 
books, the author, as a matter of course, 
addresses a hymn to Peace, proclaiming his 
own delight in the privilege, at last, of cele 
brating her victories. 

But not at once is the poet permitted to 
yield his verse to the service of merely joyous 
and unimperilled peace ; and addressing in his 
own person his fellow-countrymen as they 
emerge from the Revolutionary War, he says: 

" Think not, my friends, the patriot s task is done, 
Or Freedom safe, because the battle s won." 1 

Peace, he tells them, hath her responsibilities 
and her dangers, no less than her delights; and 

1 Book viii., 79-80. 



JOEL BARLOW 157 

the treasure of civic freedom which they have 
now gained through so much suffering, they 
may lose again through too much confidence 
and through too little care. He solemnly 
summons them to the exercise of the highest 
virtues of men and of patriots ; and he im 
plores them above all things to enquire 
whether they, Americans, the loud-voiced 
champions before all the world, of the prin 
ciple of freedom for man, are not themselves, 
even then, guilty of a most atrocious and a 
most damning violation of that vaunted prin 
ciple. At this reference to the ineffable crime 
then perpetrated by Americans upon Africans, 
there follows a passage of genuine poetic 
sublimity : it is the tremendous expostula 
tion of Atlas, the guardian-genius of Africa, 
addressed to Hesper, the guardian-genius of 
America : 

" Hark ! a dread voice, with heaven-astounding 

strain, 
Swells like a thousand thunders o er the main. 

t is Atlas, throned sublime, 

Great brother guardian of old Afric s clime ; 
High o er his coast he rears his frowning form, 



158 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

O erlooks and calms his sky-borne fields of storm, 
Flings off the clouds that round his shoulders 

hung, 

And breaks from clogs of ice his trembling tongue ; 
While far thro space with rage and grief he 

glares, 
Heaves his hoar head and shakes the heaven he 

bears : 

- Son of my sire ! Oh latest brightest birth 
That sprang from his fair spouse, prolific Earth ! 
Great Hesper, say what sordid ceaseless hate 
Impels thee thus to mar my elder state. 
Our sire assign d thee thy more glorious reign, 
Secured and bounded by our laboring main, 
That main (tho still my birthright name it bear) 
Thy sails o ershadow, thy brave children share. 
I grant it thus ; while air surrounds the ball, 
Let breezes blow, let oceans roll for all. 
But thy proud sons, a strange ungenerous race, 
Enslave my tribes, and each fair world disgrace, 
Provoke wide vengeance in their lawless land, 
The bolt ill placed in thy forbearing hand. " 

As he continues to describe and to denounce 
the insolence and the inhumanity of the vast 
institutional crime perpetrated, age after age, 
upon the people of Africa by America s 
" strange ungenerous race," the angry Titan 
waxes every moment angrier and still more 
angry, under the effects of his own eloquence ; 



JOEL BARLOW 159 

and his ever-accumulating wrath explodes in a 
series of grim, huge taunts such, indeed, as 
any right-minded Titan would very naturally 
give way to over the contrast then to be seen, 
between the lofty political pretensions of the 
American patriots, and that most foul perform 
ance of theirs in actual life : 

" Enslave my tribes ! then boast their cantons free, 
Preach faith and justice, bend the sainted knee, 
Invite all men their liberty to share ? 

Enslave my tribes ! what half mankind imban, 
Then read, expound, enforce the rights of man ? 
Prove plain and clear how nature s hand of old 
Cast all men equal in her human mould ? 

Write, speak, avenge, for ancient sufferings feel, 
Impale each tyrant on their pens of steel, 
Declare how freemen can a world create, 
And slaves and masters ruin every state ? 
Enslave my tribes ! and think with dumb disdain, 
To scape this arm and prove my vengeance vain ? 
But look ! methinks beneath my foot I ken 
A few chain d things that seem no longer men, 
Thy sons, perchance, whom Barbary s coast can tell 
The sweets of that loved scourge they wield so 
well." 

1 Book viii., 214-240. 



l6o THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

The hint, lurking in those four lines, of some 
bitter retaliation in kind to be inflicted by Af 
rica upon America, leads up to a vivid prophecy 
of the sufferings of American captives at the 
hands of the Barbary pirates. If, however, this 
retaliation be not sufficient, it shall prove, con 
tinues the Titan, but the beginning of a penal 
vengeance that will certainly be subject to no 
imputation of incompleteness : 

" Nor shall these pangs atone the nation s crime ; 
Far heavier vengeance in the march of time, 
Attends them still, if still they dare debase 
And hold enthrall d the millions of my race, 
A vengeance that shall shake the world s deep 

frame, 
That heaven abhors, and hell might shrink to 

name." ] 

The threat of final and all-sufficing vengeance, 
which the guardian genius of Africa then hurls 
across the ocean at his offending brother, the 
guardian genius of America, has indeed a very 
impressive energy and sublimity. Deep down 
" in earth s mid caves," where the very bases of 
the Alps and of the Andes meet together, and 

1 Bookviii., 261-266. 



JOEL BARLOW l6l 

" lock their granite feet," are already " caul- 
dron d floods of fire," which fire, says Atlas : 

" Waits but the fissure that my wave shall find, 
To force the foldings of the rocky rind, 
Crash your curst continent, and wheel on high 
The vast avulsion vaulting thro the sky, 
Fling far the bursting fragments, scattering wide 
Rocks, mountains, nations o er the burning tide." 

So complete shall be this avenging cataclysm, 
that the whole continental barrier hitherto in 
terposed between the Atlantic and the Pacific 
Oceans, shall be devoured, and nothing be left 
visible save 

" Two oceans dasht in one that climbs and roars, 
And seeks in vain the exterminated shores." 

Nothing shall be left visible, indeed, of all 
that proud, crime-enacting continent, except a 
single, solitary crag jutting out above the deso 
late fury of the waters : 

" A dim lone island in the watery waste 
Mourns all his minor mountains wreck d and hurl d, 
Stands the sad relic of a ruin d world, 
Attests the wrath our Mother kept in store, 
And rues her judgments on the race she bore," 



1 62 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

And in this void and desolation, henceforth, 
no living thing shall stir, save only that imperial 
Eagle which the people thus annihilated had 
once dared to claim as their own : 

" His own bald Eagle skims alone the sky, 
Darts from all points of heaven her searching eye, 
Kens thro the gloom her ancient rock of rest, 
And finds her cavern d crag, her solitary nest." 

At the conclusion of this prodigious protest 
against the crime of American slavery, a pro 
test, the conception of which is in a very high 
degree majestic and poetic, the author speaks 
once more in his real character; and with a 
noble intensity of passion, he implores his fel 
low-countrymen, themselves just emerging in 
triumph from a war for freedom, not to deny 
to others that freedom which they had so well 
won for themselves : 

" Fathers and friends, I know the boding fears 
Of angry genii and of rending spheres 
Assail not souls like yours, whom Science bright 
Thro shadowy nature leads with surer light ; 
For whom she strips the heavens of love and hate, 
Strikes from Jove s hand the brandisht bolt of 
fate, 

l Book viii., 271-304, 



JOEL BARLOW 163 

Gives each effect its own indubious cause, 
Divides her moral from her physic laws, 
Shows where the virtues find their nurturing food, 
And men their motives to be just and good. 
You scorn the Titan s threat ; nor shall I strain 
The powers of pathos in a task so vain 
As Afric s wrongs to sing ; for what avails 
To harp for you these known familiar tales ? 
To tongue mute misery, and re-rack the soul 
With crimes oft copied from that bloody scroll 
Where Slavery pens her woes ? tho t is but there 
We learn the weight that moral pain can bear. 
The tale might startle still the accustomed ear. 

Melt every heart, and thro the nation gain 

Full many a voice to break the barbarous chain." 

But not alone to the compassion of his breth 
ren will he appeal, but rather and especially to 
their self-respect, and to their homage for that 
ancient and unpitying law whereunder he who 
takes freedom from another, takes it likewise 
from himself : 

" Tyrants are never free ; and, small and great, 
All masters must be tyrants soon or late ; 
So nature works ; and oft the lordling knave 
Turns out at once a tyrant and a slave. 

Ah ! would you not be slaves, with lords and kings, 
1 Bookviii., 309-330. 



164 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Then be not masters, there the danger springs. 

The whole crude system that torments the earth, 

Of rank, privation, privilege of birth, 

False honor, fraud, corruption, civil jars, 

The rage of conquest and the curse of wars, 

Pandora s total shower, all ills combined 

That erst o erwhelm d and still distress mankind, 

Box d up secure in your deliberate hand, 

Wait your bequest, to fix or fly this land. 

Equality of Right is nature s plan ; 

And following nature is the march of man." ] 

Rallying from this strong and not inharmo 
nious digression, the poem once more resumes 
its natural course, and flows on and on to 
its many-membered close, through two more 
books, during which our most affable, erudite, 
and philosophical Titan reveals to Columbus 
the gradual advancement of mankind in all the 
great elements and attributes of civilization ; 
likewise explains to him nature s law of pro 
gress, " from the birth of the universe to the 
present state of the earth and its inhabitants " ; 
and after much more instructive discourse on 
politics, philosophy, history, chemistry, physics, 
constitutional law, and mechanical inventions, 

Book viii., 335-364. 



JOEL BARLOW l6$ 

not altogether omitting the Hanseatic league, 
Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Herschel, 
Descartes, Bacon, the magnetic needle, and the 
printing-press, he exhibits to him with a lim 
ning of quite undisturbed optimism, the com 
plete success of the federal system in America, / 
the extension of that system over all the earth,/ 
and at last, in one august dissolving view] 
the millenium of cosmopolitan statesmanship 
through " a general congress of all nation s, 
assembled to establish the political harmony 
of mankind." l 

V. 

However great may be the faults to be found 
with the execution of this poem, it is hardly 
possible to deny that its idea, at any rate, is 
both poetic and noble ; it is to connect, in a 
work of high imaginative literature, all that is 
beneficent and soul-stirring in the aggregate 
contribution made by America to the general 
stock of the world s welfare, with all that is 
heroic and pathetic in the career of him, the 
undismayed idealist, the saint, the admiral of 

1 Book x., Argument. 



1 66 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

boundless faith and sorrow, who made Amer 
ica known to the rest of the world. 

Barlow s earlier and less ambitious project 
for his poem, as seen in his draft written in 
1779, was the wiser one : " The poem will be 
rather of the philosophic than epic kind." 
Even eight years afterward, at the time of its 
first publication, he still saw that, as the stu 
pendous consequences of the discovery of 
America could be represented to Columbus 
only in vision, 2 so such representation would 
be likely to produce, not a real story, but 
merely a succession of scenes painted on the 
air, too impalpable and flitting, as well as too 
disconnected, for the purposes of an epic. No 
title for the poem, therefore, could have been 
better than its first title, " The Vision of Colum 
bus " ; because, being perfectly accurate, it was 
also quite unpretentious, and involved no haz 
ards by a challenge which might result in dis 
comfiture and derision. Unfortunately, in his 
final reconstruction of the poem, this sane 
thought seems to have yielded to the cravings 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 15. 

2 " The Vision of Columbus," Introcl., 20, fifth ed. London : 
1794. 



JOEL BARLOW IO/ 

of an inordinate literary ambition ; and by the 
new title which he gave to his work, and by its 
new prelude, and by its new supernatural ma 
chinery of river gods and other clumsy and 
incongruous imitations of Homer and Virgil, 
he claimed for his poem the awful honors 
of an epic, and thereby invoked upon it liter 
ary comparisons and critical tests which it 
could not endure. Nay, it may perhaps be 
said, that the very pomp and opulence of typo 
graphical costume which attended its re-en 
trance into the world, its grandiose and too 
prosperous equipment, even its physical mag 
nitude its arrogant and preposterous bigness, 
as a mere book, all had the effect of averting 
sympathy and of inviting scorn, as though it 
were an attempt by mere bulk and bravado 
and good clothes to overawe the sentinels who 
guard the approaches to Parnassus. 

Better would it have been, both for the poem 
and for the poet, if, in his later revision of the 
work, he had attempted no change in its essen 
tial character. A philosophical poem exhibit 
ing, under the device of a vision seen by the 
discoverer of America, the vast and benign 



l68 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

function assigned to the New World in the 
development of mankind, might have deserved 
and received in our literature the homage at 
least of serious consideration. Of course, 
never upon any plan could the poem have 
taken rank as a work of genius, or have es 
caped the penalties of the author s great liter 
ary defects. Under any character, it would 
have had no tender or delicate qualities, no 
lightness of touch, no flashes of beauty, not a 
ripple of humor, no quiet and dainty charm ; 
a surfeit, rather, of vehemence and proclama 
tion, sonorous, metallic, rhetorical ; forced 
description, manufactured sentiment, sublimity 
generated of pasteboard and starch ; an ever- 
rolling tattoo of declamation, invective, eulogy; 
big, gaudy flowers of poetry which are also 
flowers of wax. Moreover, not even genius 
could have saved this poem from the literary 
disaster involved in its adoption of that con 
ventional poetic diction and of that worn-out 
metrical form from which, after a whole century 
of favor, English literature was just then turn 
ing away in a recoil of weariness and disgust. 
And yet, with all his limitations as a poet, 



JOEL BARLOW 169 

the author of " The Columbiad " is entitled to 
the praise due to a sturdy and effective ethical 
teacher in verse. In didactic expression, the 
poem is often epigrammatic, trenchant, and 
strong ; nay, in strenuous moral exposition and 
enforcement, it is at times even noble and im 
pressive. Everywhere is the author faithful 
to the great object of his poem, namely, " to 
inculcate the love of rational liberty, and to 
discountenance the deleterious passion for vio 
lence and war ; to show that on the basis of the 
republican principle all good morals, as well 
as good government and hopes of permanent 
peace, must be founded ; and to convince the 
student in political science that the theoretical 
question of the future advancement of human 
society ... is held in dispute and still unset 
tled only because we have had too little 
experience of organized liberty in the govern 
ment of nations, to have well considered its 
effects." Everywhere in the poem one finds 
an invincible hope for human liberty, for the 
victories of reason, for the ultimate conquest 
of moral evil in the world. It represents, too, 

1 " The Columbiad," Preface, x. 

A 



THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

the manifold intellectual aspirations of the time 
in which he lived, its scientific progress, its 
mechanical ingenuity and daring, its wish to 
reject all degrading forms of faith, the un 
quenchable confidence of human nature in the 
final and happy solution of all those problems 
that then pained the earth with their unutter 
able menace. Finally, there breathes through 
the poem the most genuine love of country. 
In the eyes of this writer America is, by favor 
of Heaven, the superior land of all the earth. 
His love for America is something more than 
a clannish instinct, something better than the 
mere greed of provincialism ; and this huge po 
litical and philosophical essay in verse, the writ 
ing of which formed the one real business of 
Barlow s life, may be accepted by us, whether 
we are proud of the fact or not, as an involun 
tary expression, for that period, of the Ameri 
can national consciousness and even of the 
American national character itself, as sincere, 
and as unflinching as were, in their different 
ways, the renowned state-paper of Jefferson, 
the constitution of 1789, and Washington s 
farewell address. 



JOEL BARLOW 17! 

VI. 

Respecting the minor writings of Joel Barlow, 
we may note, in passing, two products of his 
callow academic muse : " An Elegy on the late 
Honorable Titus Hosmer, Esquire," in 1780 ; 
and "A Poem" spoken at the Public Commence 
ment at Yale College, in I78i. 2 Eleven years 
after the latter date, when he had acquired 
something like reputation by his " Vision of 
Columbus," and something like notoriety by 
his active political radicalism in England and in 
France, he published a poetical diatribe entitled 
" The Conspiracy of Kings." : The poem is of 
the kind called satire ; attempts to catch the 
tone of Juvenal ; aims to be very exasperating, 
even appalling ; somehow succeeds in being only 
abusive ; emits mere howls of metrical vituper 
ation against those unhappy gentlemen 

" for blood and plunder famed, 
Sultans, or Kings, or Czars, or Emp rors named," 

1 "American Poems," 108-117. 

2 Ibid., 94-107. 

3 " The Columbian Muse," i-io, where it is printed without 
the " Preface " and " Note on Mr. Burke," both of which are 
given in " The Political Writings of Joel Barlow," 237-258. 



17 2 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

and especially against their triumphant literary 
champion, Edmund Burke. 

Late in the year 1792, Barlow, who had been 
made by the National Convention a citizen of 
France an honor then bestowed on no other 
American except Washington and Hamilton 
went by invitation into Savoy, in the hope 
of being returned for the new Department 
of Mont Blanc as one of its deputies in 
the National Convention. At Chambery he 
remained several weeks, captivated by its 
scenery, finding great refreshment in the sim 
ple life of its people, and every day, amid 
its green mountain slopes and its pretty farm 
houses, reminded of his own early life among 
the hills of western Connecticut. Writing to 
his wife, he said: " With you and a little 
farm among these romantic mountains and 
valleys, I could be happy, content ; I would 
care no more for the pleasures of the plain. 
But America the word is sweetness to my 
soul ; it awakens all the tenderness of my 
nature." In this mood of patriotic reminis 
cence and of longing for home, it happened 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 99. 



JOEL BARLOW 173 

to him, one evening, as he sat down to supper 
" under the smoky rafters of a Savoyard inn," 
to find steaming hot upon the table the favor 
ite dish of his own New England " Hasty- 
Pudding," a dish for which he had many a 
time enquired in vain in London and Paris. 
The exile s heart was touched ; and with 
genuine enthusiasm, and in lucky disregard 
of his usual poetic stilts, he then produced the 
one really popular poem he ever wrote, the 
famous mock pastoral which bears the name of 
the dish that had so inspired him, and which 
in its opening lines preserves a glimpse of 
the romantic Italian scene wherein it was 
written, even as it is pervaded throughout 
by the homely tones and tints of domestic 
life in colonial New England : 

" Ye Alps audacious, through the heavens that rise, 
To cramp the day and hide me from the skies ; 
Ye Gallic flags that, o er their heights unfurled, 
Bear death to kings and freedom to the world, 
I sing not you. A softer theme I choose, 
A virgin theme, unconscious of the Muse, 
But fruitful, rich, well suited to inspire 
The purest frenzy of poetic fire. 

Dear Hasty-Pudding, what unpromised joy 



1/4 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

Expands my heart to meet thee in Savoy ! 
Doomed o er the world through devious paths to 

roam, 

Each clime my country, and each house my home, 
My soul is soothed, my cares have found an end, 
I greet my long-lost, unforgotten friend. 

For thee through Paris, that corrupted town, 
How long in vain I wandered up and down, 
Where shameless Bacchus, with his drenching 

hoard 

Cold from his cave, usurps the morning board. 
London is lost in smoke, and steeped in tea ; 
No Yankee there can lisp the name of thee. 
The uncouth word, a libel on the town, 
Would call a proclamation from the Crown. 

But here, though distant from our native shore, 
With mutual glee we meet and laugh once more. 
The same ! I know thee by that yellow face, 
That strong complexion of true Indian race, 
Which time can never change, nor soil impair, 
Nor Alpine snows, nor Turkey s morbid air ; 

My song, resounding in its grateful glee, 

No merit claims, I praise myself in thee. 

My father loved thee through his length of days ! 

For thee his fields were shaded o er with maize ; 

From thee what health, what vigor he possessed, 

Ten sturdy freemen from his loins attest. 

Thy constellation ruled my natal morn, 



1 

f 

JOEL BARffiw 



175 



And all my bones were made of Indian corn. 

Delicious grain ! whatever from it take, 

To roast or boil, to smother or to bake, 

In every dish t is welcome still to me, 

But most, my Hasty-Pudding ! most in thee." 

VII. 

The field of literature in which Barlow seems 
to have been capable of real mastership was 
that of prose, particularly in the forms of his 
tory and argumentative discussion ; and his 
laborious and life-long devotion to poetry 
merely illustrates a tendency occasionally to 
be seen in the history of men of letters the 
tendency to mistake the whispers of ambition 
for the invitations of genius. Certainly Barlow 
was a robust, sagacious, and very able man ; 
he had wide and enlightened sympathies, an 
extraordinary capacity for practical affairs 
either in finance, politics, or diplomacy, and a 
many-sidedness of intellectual activity and ac 
complishment which might, perhaps, justify 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 99-108, where the poem is given 
entire. A better copy, as having the " Preface" and the 
original division into three Cantos, may be read in Burton, 
" Cyclopaedia of Wit and Humor," i,, 19-22, 



i;6 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

the title of " universal genius," which an emi 
nent historian has lately given to him 1 ; but, as 
a man of letters, his real aptitude lay in a di 
rection in which his work, at the time of his 
premature death, had been only incidental. 
Had his life been spared and it was laid down 
deliberately in the cause of his country and for 
the peace of the world he would probably 
have found his true literary vocation in the 
writing of that history of the American Revo 
lution, which Jefferson had long urged him to 
undertake. 

Perhaps the two least significant specimens 
of his work as a prose writer are a pair of ora 
tions, which were produced under special temp 
tations to rhetorical effusion and aridity, the 
one for the Fourth of July, i^S/, 2 the other for 
the Fourth of July, iScx). 3 

During his long residence abroad, he had two 
or three periods of activity as a prose writer, 
and chiefly in the discussion of political ques 
tions. His year of greatest productiveness 
seems to have been 1792, during which he 

1 H. Adams, " Hist. U. S.," i., no-ni. 

2 Niles, " Prin. and Acts," etc., 384-389. 

3 Pamphlet, 1809. 



JOEL BARLOW 1 77 

wrote portions of the notes, and perhaps the 
preface, for a London edition of Trumbull s 
" M Fingal " ; likewise, " Advice to the Privi 
leged Orders in the Several States of Europe, 
resulting from the Necessity and Propriety of a 
General Revolution in the Principle of Govern 
ment, 01 the most elaborate, and upon the 
whole, the ablest of his prose writings ; also, 
"A Letter to the National Convention of 
France, on the Defects in the Constitution of 
1791, and the Extent of the Amendments 
which ought to be Applied ; " 2 finally, "A Let 
ter to the People of Piedmont, on the Advan 
tages of the French Revolution, and the Neces 
sity of adopting its Principles in Italy." 3 

Toward the close of the last decade of the 
eighteenth century, his mind seems to have 
turned with uncommon interest to the affairs 

1 Part I., London, 1792. Part II., though written in 1792, 
was not published, owing to the interference of the govern 
ment, until 1795, when it was " Printed and Sold by Daniel 
Isaac Eaton, Printer and Bookseller to the Supreme Majesty 
of the People, at the Cock and Swine, No. 74 Newgate Street." 
Part II. did not complete the work. A copy is in " The 
Political Writings of Joel Barlow," pp. iii.-xvi., 17-157. 

2 London, 1792. Also in Barlow s " Political Writings," 
156-198. 

3 Barlow s " Political Writings," 199-235. 



1/8 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

of his own country, as is shown, for example, 
by his pamphlet published in London in 1800, 
entitled "A View of the Public Debt, Receipts, 
and Expenditures of the United States," as 
well as by his first and second " Letter from 
Paris to the Citizens of the United States," 
the one in 1800 and the other in 1801. 

In 1806, after his return to America, he pub 
lished " Prospectus of a National Institution to 
be established in the United States," an ably 
written and a very impressive scheme for a 
grand national university, to be founded at the 
capital, with the most enlightened and liberal 
provision both for original research and for in 
struction. 

Perhaps nowhere else in his writings does 
Barlow appear to better advantage than he 
does in nearly the last product of his pen, his 
" Letter to Henry Gregoire, Bishop, Senator, 
Compte of the Empire, and Member of the In 
stitute of France, in reply to his Letter on the 
Columbiad." 2 This brochure, which is an ex 
pression of the author s whole mind and char- 

1 Pamphlet, printed anonymously. Washington, 1806. 

2 Washington, D. C., 1809; and reprinted, though without 
the full title, in " Life and Letters," etc., 221-233, 



JOEL BARLOW 179 

acter at a time when both had reached their 
highest point of ripeness and of gentle wisdom, 
can hardly fail to renew and to enlarge one s 
impression, not only of Barlow s intellectual 
ability, but of the breadth and beauty of his 
spirit. It is a model, also, of courteous theo 
logical discussion, furnishing, as he himself said, 
" one example of the calmness and candor with 
which a dispute may be conducted, even on the 
subject of religion." Moreover, it is of espe 
cial interest for the authentic indications it 
affords as to Barlow s attitude toward Christian 
ity, a matter upon which he had been greatly^ 

/ / 
misrepresented. He avows himself as still ad- f 

hering, " from a conviction that they are right,"^u vvt 
to the religious sect in which he was born and ^u%Jj 
educated 2 ; and he solemnly denies the charges 
of religious apostasy which had been made 
against him in America by his political ene- (J ~^^ u 
mies. " It has even been said and published. 
. . . that I went to the bar of your Con 
vention, when it was the fashion so to do, and 
made a solemn recantation of my Christian 
faith, declaring myself an atheist or deist, or 

J " Life and Letters," etc., 233. 2 Ibid., 223. 



180 THREE MEN OF LETTERS 

some other anti-Christian apostate. . . . Now, 
as an active member of that Convention, 
a steady attendant at their sittings, and my 
most intimate friend, you know that such a 
thing could not have been done without your 
knowledge ; you know therefore that it was not 
done ; you know I never went but once to the 
bar of that Convention, which was on the oc 
casion to which you allude in the letter now 
before me, to present an address from the Con 
stitutional Society in London, of which I was 
a member. You know I always sympathized 
in your grief, and partook of all your resent 
ment, while such horrors and blasphemies were 
passing, of which these typographical cannibals 
of reputation have made me a participant." 
" You will see that I have nothing to do with 
the unbelievers who have attacked the Chris 
tian system, either before the French Revolu 
tion, or during, or since that monumental 
period. I am not one of them." 2 

1 " Life and Letters," etc., 230-231. 2 Ibid., 228. 



LIST OF BOOKS, 



AND OTHER PRINTED DOCUMENTS, CITED IN 

THE FOREGOING WORK, WITH PLACES 

AND DATES OF PUBLICATION. 



ADAMS, HENRY, History of the United States of America. 
Nine volumes. 
New York : 1890-1891. 

AMERICA, or, A Poem on the Settlement of the British 
Colonies addressed to the Friends of Freedom and their 
Country. By a Gentleman educated at Yale College. 
New Haven : n. d. 

[The only copy of this poem known to me is in the Public 
Library of Boston]. 

AMERICAN POEMS, Selected and Original. 

Litchfield : 1793. 
[Only one vol. was issued. This was published anonymously ; 

but the editor is known to have been Elihu Hubbard 

Smith]. 

BARLOW, JOEL, Dr. Watts s Imitation of the Psalms of David, 
Corrected and Enlarged by Joel Barlow. To which is 
added a Collection of Hymns ; the Whole applied to the 
State of the Christian Church in General. The Third Ed. 
Hartford : n. d. 

181 



1 82 LIST OF BOOKS CITED 

BARLOW, JOEL, A Translation of Sundry Psalms which were 
omitted in Doctor Watts s Version ; To which is added a 
Number of Hymns. The whole contained in the New 
Edition of Psalms and Hymns. 
Hartford : 1785. 

[Separately printed thus, to show just what Barlow had done 
for the new edition. Not given in Todd s list]. 



BARLOW, JOEL, The Vision of Columbus. A Poem, in Nine 
Books. The Fi 
London : 1794. 



Books. The Fifth Ed. Corrected. 



BARLOW, JOEL, Editor, with others, of M Fingal : A Modern 
Epic Poem, in Four Cantos. The Fifth Ed., with Ex 
planatory Notes. 
London : 1792. 

[Author s name given in Preface. Names of editors not given]. 

BARLOW, JOEL, A Letter to the National Convention of 
France, on the Defects of the Constitution of 1791, and 
the Extent of the Amendments which ought to be 
Applied. 
London : 1792. 

BARLOW, JOEL, Advice to the Privileged Orders in the several 
States of Europe, Resulting from the Necessity and 
Propriety of a General Revolution in the Principle of 
Government. 

Part i., without author s name. London : 1792. 
Part ii., with author s name. London : 1795. 

[The last three Chapters of the work, as originally projected, 
appear never to have been published]. 

BARLOW, JOEL, The Political Writings of. Containing 
Advice to the Privileged Orders, Letter to the National 
Convention, Letter to the People of Piedmont, The 
Conspiracy of Kings. A New Ed. Corrected. 
New York : 1794. 



LIST OF BOOKS CITED 183 

BARLOW, JOEL, Letter from Paris to the Citizens of the 
United States on the subject of the fallacy heretofore 
pursued by their government relative to the commercial 
intercourse with England and France. 
London : 1800. 4 

BARLOW, JOEL, View of the Public Debt, Receipts and 
Expenditures of the United States. 
London : 1800. 

BARLOW, JOEL, Second Letter to his fellow-citizens of the 
United States on certain political measures proposed to 
their consideration. 
New York : 1801. 

BARLOW, JOEL, Prospectus of a National Institution to be 
established in the United States. 
Washington : 1806. 

BARLOW, JOEL, The Columbiad, A Poem. 
Philadelphia : 1807. 

BARLOW, JOEL, An Oration, delivered at Washington, July 
4th, 1809. 
Washington : 1809. 

BARLOW, JOEL, Letter to Henry Gregoire, Bishop, Senator, 
Compte of the Empire, and Member of the Institute of 
France, in reply to his Letter on " The Columbiad." 
Washington : 1809. 

[A copy of this Letter is in the Library of the New York 
Historical Society, where I read it ; but in quoting from 
it, I have used the reprint as given by Todd, in his " Life 
and Letters of Joel Barlow," 221-233]. 

BEARDSLEY, EBEN EDWARDS, Life and Correspondence of 
Samuel Johnson, D.D., Missionary of the Church of Eng 
land in Connecticut, and First President of King s Col 
lege, N. Y. 
New York : 1874. 



1 84 LIST OF BOOKS CITED 

BERKELEY, GEORGE, The Works of. Edited by A. C. Fraser. 
Three volumes. Oxford : 1871. 

BURTON, WILLIAM EVANS, The Cyclopaedia of Wit and 
Humor. 
Two volumes. New York : 1858. 

THE COLUMBIAN MUSE. A Selection of American Poetry, 
from Various Authors of Established Reputation. 
New York : 1794. 

COWPER, WILLIAM, The Works of, Comprising his Poems, 
Correspondence, and Translations, With a Life of the 
Author by the Editor, Robert Southey. 
Eight volumes. London : 1854. 

D WIGHT, TIMOTHY, The Conquest of Canaan ; A Poem, in 
Eleven Books. 
Hartford : 1785. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, The Triumph of Infidelity: A Poem. 

Printed in the World : 1788. 
[Without the name of author or publisher, or of the exact 

place of publication], 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, Greenfield Hill : A Poem, in Seven 
Parts. 
New York : 1794. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, The Nature and Danger of Infidel 
Philosophy, Exhibited in Two Discourses, Addressed to 
the Candidates for the Baccalaureate in Yale College. 
. . . September gth, 1797. 
New Haven : 1798. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, A Discourse, delivered at New Haven 
Feb. 22, 1800, On the Character of George Washington, 
Esq. At the Request of the Citizens. 
New Haven ; 1800. 



LIST OF BOOKS CITED 185 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, A Discourse on Some Events of the Last 
century, Delivered in the Brick Church in New Haven, 
on Wednesday, January 7, 1801. 
New Haven : 1801. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY : The Psalms of David, Imitated in the 
Language of the New Testament, and applied to the 
Christian Use and Worship. By I. Watts, D.D. A new 
Edition, in which the Psalms omitted by Dr. Watts are 
versified, Local Passages are altered, and a Number of 
Psalms are versified anew, in proper Metres. By Timothy 
Dwight, D.D., President of Yale College. At the Re 
quest of the General Association of Connecticut. To the 
Psalms is added a Collection of Hymns. 
Hartford : 1801. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, Observations on Language, Published 
in Memoirs of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and 
Sciences, vol. i., part iv., 365-386. 
New Haven : 1816. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, On Light. Published in Memoirs of the 
Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. i., part 
iv., 387-392. 
New Haven : 1816. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, Travels in New England and New York. 
4 volumes. London: 1823. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, Sermons. 

2 volumes. Edinburgh : 1828. 

DWIGHT, TIMOTHY, Theology Explained and Defended in a 

Series of Sermons. With a Memoir of the Life of the 

Author. 

4 volumes. New York : 1854. 
[The Memoir was written by President Dwight s two sons, 

Sereno Edwards Dwight, and William Theodore Dwight.] 



1 86 LfST OF BOOKS CITED 

FISHER, GEORGE PARK, Discussions in History and Phi 
losophy. 
New York : 1880. 

FRASER, ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, Life and Letters of George 
Berkeley, D.D., Formerly Bishop of Cloyne. 
Oxford: 1871. 

FRASER, ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, editor. See the Works of 
George Berkeley. 

FRASER, ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, Berkeley. 

Philadelphia and Edinburgh : 1881. 
[Of the series of Philosophical Classics for English Readers.] 

GILMAN, DANIEL COIT, Bishop Berkeley s Gifts to Yale 
College. A Collection of Documents Illustrative of 
The Dean s Bounty. In Papers of the New Haven 
Colony Historical Society, i., 147-170. 
New Haven : 1865. 

[Contains list of the Berkeleyan " scholars of the house " from 
1733 to 1865, thus supplementing the list given in The 
Yale Literary Magazine for 1852]. 

GOODRICH, SAMUEL GRISWOLD, Recollections of a Lifetime. 
Two volumes. New York : 1857. 

GRISWOLD, RUFUS WILMOT, The Poets and Poetry of 
America. With an Historical Introduction. 
Fourth Edition, Revised. 
Philadelphia : 1843. 

HAYLEY, WILLIAM, The Life and Letters of William Cowper, 
Esq. With Remarks on Epistolary Writers. 
A New Edition. 4 volumes. Chichester : 1809. 

HUMPHREYS, DAVID, The Miscellaneous Works of. 
1st ed. New York : 1790. 
2d ed. New York : 1794. 



LIST OF BOOKS CITED 1 87 

HUMPHREYS, DAVID, An Essay on the Life of the Honourable 
Major-General Israel Putnam. With an Appendix con 
taining an historical and topographical Sketch of Bunker 
Hill Battle, by S. Swett. 
Boston : 1818. 

HUMPHREYS, FREDERICK, The Humphreys Family in America. 
New York : 1883. 

JOHNSTON, HENRY PHELPS, Yale and Her Honor Roll in the 
American Revolution. 1775-1783. 
New York: 1888. 

KETTELL, SAMUEL, Specimens of American Poetry, With 
Critical and Biographical Notices. 
Three volumes. Boston : 1829. 

MORRIS, GEORGE S., British Thought and Thinkers ; Intro 
ductory Studies, Critical, Biographical, and Philosophical. 
Chicago: 1880. 

THE NEW HAVEN COLONY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, PAPERS OF. 
New Haven : 1865. 

NILES, HEZEKIAH, Principles and Acts of the Revolution in 
America. 
Baltimore : 1822. 

PUBLIC LIBRARIES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA : 
Their History, Condition, and Management. Special 
Report. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Edu 
cation. 
Part I. Washington : 1876. 

THE RHODE ISLA ND HISTORICAL SOCIETY, COLLECTIONS OF. 
Volume iv. Providence : 1838. 

SPRAGUE, WILLIAM BUEL, Life of Timothy Dwight. The 
Library of American Biography. Conducted by Jared 
Sparks. Second Series, iv., 223-364. 
Boston: 1845. 



1 88 LIST OF BOOKS CITED 

SPRAGUE, WILLIAM BUEL, Annals of the American Pulpit. 
Volume ii. New York : 1859. 

TODD, CHARLES BURR, Life and Letters of Joel Barlow, 
LL.D. Poet, Statesman, Philosopher. With Extracts 
from his Works and hitherto unpublished Poems. 
New York and London : 1886. 

TURELL, EBENEZER, The Life and Character of the Reverend 
Benjamin Colman, D.D. 
Boston : 1749. 

UEBERWEG, FRIEDRICH, A History of Philosophy, From 
Thales to the Present Time. Translated from the Fourth 
German Edition, by George S. Morris. With Additions 
by Noah Porter. 
New York : vol. i., 1872 ; vol. ii., 1874. 

UPDIKE, WILKINS, Memoirs of the Rhode Island Bar. 
Boston : 1842. 

UPDIKE, WILKINS, History of the Episcopal Church in Narra- 
gansett, Rhode Island. 
New York: 1847. 

THE YALE LITERARY MAGAZINE, for February, 1852. 
New Haven : 1852. 



INDEX. 



Abercrombie, James, 153 

Adams, John, the poet, 50 

Addison, Joseph, his friendship for Berkeley, 17 

"Advice to the Privileged Orders," ablest of Barlow s prose 
writings, 177 

" Alciphron," Berkeley s most famous literary work, written at 
" Whitehall," 9, 62 ; shows reaction upon Berkeley s mind 
of his American visit, 43-44 

"America, A Poem," criticism of Griswold s statement attri 
buting this to Dwight, 79-80, note 

Amherst, Jeffrey, 153 

Andre, Major John, his arrest, 138-139; his execution, 139- 
140 

Aquinas, Thomas, 13 

Arfevedsen, 63 

Arnold, Benedict, 138, 139 ; Barlow s sermon on his treason, 
140-142 

Arnold, Matthew, 63 

Atterbury, Francis, Bishop of Rochester, praises Berkeley, 18 

Atwater, Jeremiah, 55 

Augustine, 13 

Austin, Samuel, 55 

Bacon, 165 

Baldwin, Abraham, 55 

189 



1 90 INDEX. 

Barlow, Joel, in New Haven in 1779, 152-133 ; his letters to 
Noah Webster on the difficulties of a literary career in 
America, 133-134 ; David Humphreys intercedes for him 
with General Greene, 135-136 ; he becomes chaplain in 
the army, 136; his experiences as depicted in his own 
letters, 136-142 ; witnesses the execution of Major Andre, 
139-140 ; works on his poem, " The Vision of Columbus," 
141-142 ; his earliest plan for this poem, 142-143 ; fails 
to get it published in 1782, 143, 144 ; his miscellaneous 
employments for the next five years, 144-145 ; his revi 
sion of Dr. Watts s psalm-book, 98-99, note, 144 ; pub 
lishes his "Vision of Columbus" in 1787, 145 ; its final 
revision and publication in 1807 as " The Columbiad," 
146-147 ; outline of the poem, 147-165 ; the idea of 
"The Columbiad" both poetic and noble, 165-166; his 
mistake in abandoning the earlier and simpler form of the 
poem, 166-168 ; its faults, 168 ; its merits, 168-170 ; its 
true character that of a huge philosophical and political 
essay in verse, 170; both in its merits and in its defects a 
fair expression of American national consciousness and 
character at that time, 170 ; his minor writings, 171- 
172; his " Conspiracy of Kings," 1792, 171-172; is 
made a citizen of France by the National Convention, 
172 ; candidate for the Convention from the Department 
of Mont Blanc, 172 ; at Chambery writes his one popular 
poem, " Hasty Pudding," 172-175 ; his true literary work, 
in prose, especially in history and argumentative discus 
sion, 175-176 ; by Jefferson s advice he plans a History 
of the American Revolution, 176 ; his chief work as a 
prose writer, 176-180; "Advice to the Privileged 
Orders," 177 ; "A Letter to the National Convention of 
France," 177; "A Letter to the People of Piedmont," 
177 ; later writings addressed to his own countrymen, 
177-178 ; his " Letter to Henry Gregoire," in disavowal 
of anti-Christian opinions or acts, 178-180 

Barrow, Isaag. 13 



INDEX. IQI 

Bathurst, Lord, gives anecdote of Berkeley s enthusiasm, 
31-32 

Beardsley, The Rev. E. E., his historical and biographical 
works, jo, note 

Beattie, James, imitated by Dwight in " Greenfield Hill," 97 

Beecher, Edward, 55 

Benson, Joseph, 17 

Berkeley, George, his early life, 12 ; distinct-ion as a student 
and fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, 12 ; chief materials 
relating to, 10, note ; his benevolent enthusiasm, 12-13 ; 
the great range of his talents and accomplishments, 13 ; 
as a preacher, 13-14 ; his early philosophical writings, 14, 
note ; his ideal theory of the universe, 14 ; uses it to 
refute atheism, 14-15 ; leaves college to study men and 
their ways, 16 ; his acquaintance with Swift, Addison, 
and Steele, 16-17 ; is admired by Pope, 17 ; is praised 
by Atterbury, 18 ; his brilliant success in London society, 
17-18 ; becomes chaplain and secretary to the Earl of 
Peterborough, 18 ; his long sojourn upon the continent, 
1 8, 19 ; direction of his thoughts fixed by the state of 
affairs in Europe, 19 ; publishes " An Essay towards pre 
venting the Ruin of Great Britain," 20 ; is convinced that 
the corruptions of the Old World are incurable and por 
tend some dire catastrophe, 20-21 ; turns from the Old 
World to the New, 21 ; his plan for saving the latter from 
the follies and crimes of the former, 21, 24-27 ; his belief 
in America as the predestined seat of the world s civiliza 
tion, 2124 ; his celebrated poem embodying this dream, 
22-23 ; believes religion and education are the two things 
needful for realizing this dream, 24-25 ; resolves to found 
a great American university, 25 ; his preparations therefor, 
25-27 ; returns to Dublin as chaplain to the Lord-Lieuten 
ant of Ireland, 27 ; becomes lecturer and preacher in Trin 
ity College, 27-28 ; is made Dean of Dromore, 28 ; his 
legacy from Dean Swift s " Vanessa," 28 ; becomes Dean 
pf Derry in 1724, 28 ; goes to London to arrange for his 



1 92 INDEX. 

great project, 28-29 ; Dean Swift s letter to Lord Carteret 
on his behalf, 28-30 ; his character, 29 ; publishes his 
" Proposal," 30; his success, 31-33 ; his earnestness and 
enthusiasm, 31-32 ; Parliamentary grant, 32-33 ; Wai- 
pole s promise of twenty thousand pounds, 33 ; his reasons 
for leaving England, 33-34 ; sails for America, 34-35 ; 
his arrival at Newport in 1729, 4-6 ; his personal appear 
ance and ways, 6 ; his settlement at " Whitehall," 6-7 ; 
his manner of life here, 7-11 ; his sojourn here a subject 
of mystery and suspicion at the time, 7-8 ; real import of 
his American visit, 11-12 ; Walpole s delay and final 
refusal to give the promised aid, 33-36 ; returns to Lon 
don in 1731, 9, 37, 47 ; becomes Bishop of Cloyne, 37 ; 
his disappointment, 37-38 ; the reaction upon his mind of 
his American visit, 38-47 ; this reaction seen in his ser 
mons, 38-43 ; his criticism upon New England life and 
thought, 38-39 ; his teachings adjusted to the needs 
of the people, 40-41 ; his social criticism, 41-42 ; this 
reaction shown in " Alciphron," 43-44; in "Siris," 
44-47 ; publishes "Siris" in 1744, 44-45 ; character and 
influence of this treatise, 45-46 ; his confidence in the 
medicinal efficacy of tar-water becomes his master enthu 
siasm, 46-47 ; effects of his visit as regards American life 
and civilization, 47-59 ; effects upon intellectual activity 
in the colonies, 48-59 ; his influence on the cultivated 
society of Newport, 49-50 ; visited by philosophical and 
other pilgrims, 50 ; gives stimulus to higher education in 
America, 51-59 ; his friendship for existing American 
colleges, 52-56 ; his generosity to Yale and Harvard, 
53-56 ; Berkeleyan scholars at Yale, 54-55 ; his perma 
nent interest in America, 56-59 ; suggests the plan of 
King s College, 58-60 ; later American recognitions of his 
influence, 60-62; his place in the long line of distinguished 
European visitors to America, 62-64 , failure of his dream 
of preventing corruption in the New World, 64-65 ; his 
remedy for corruption, 65-68 



INDEX. 193 

Berkeley, Lord, of Stratton, 12 
Bernhardt, 63 
Braddock, General, 153 
Bremer, Fredrika, 63 
Brissot de Warville, 63 
Bristed, Charles Astor, 55 
Brown, Daniel, 8 
Bryce, James, 63 
Buckminster, Joseph, 55 

Burgoyne, invasion of, 156 ; Dwight s reputed sermon in con 
nection with this event, 81-82, note 
Burke, Edmund, 172 

Burr, Aaron, President of Princeton College, 55 
Butler, Joseph, 13 

Carteret, Lord, letter from Dean Swift to, on behalf of 

Berkeley, 28-30 
Chastellux, 63 
Chillingworth, William, 53 
Chubb, Thomas, no 
Clap, President of Yale, his estimate of the value of books 

given to Yale by Berkeley, 56 ; his correspondence with 

Berkeley, 57, 58 
Collins, Anthony, no 
Colman, Benjamin, letter to President of Yale in regard to 

books given by Berkeley, 53 
" Columbia," war-song by D wight, 82-84 
Columbia College, founded by Samuel Johnson, 50 ; its plan 

suggested by Berkeley, 58-59 ; its name, 58-60 
"Columbiad," Barlow s "Vision of Columbus" as finally 

revised and published in 1807 (see " Vision of Columbus"), 

147-170 

Combe, George, 63 
" Conquest of Canaan," heroic poem by Dwight, written 

between 1771 and 1774, 79, 85 ; published in 1785, 85-91 
"Conspiracy of Kings," a satire by Barlow, 171-172 
3 



194 INDEX. 

Copernicus, 165 

Cormvallis, surrender of, 156 ; D wight s sermon in connection 

with this event, 82, note 
Cowper, William, his criticism of " The Conquest of Canaan," 

87-91 ; praises Dwight s sermon on "The Dignity and 

Excellency of the Gospel," 115 
Cudworth, Ralph, 13 
Cutler, Timothy, President of Yale College, 8 

Daggett, Naphtali, 55 

Deane, Silas, 55 

Denham, Sir John, his "Cooper s Hill" furnishes plan for 
Dwight s " Greenfield Hill," 92-93 

Descartes, 165 

Dickens, Charles, 63 

Dwight, Sereno Edwards, President of Hamilton College, 55 ; 
together with his brother, William T., writes "Memoir 
of the Life of President Dwight," 72, note 

Dwight, Timothy, 55 ; outline of his life, 72-73 ; chief sources 
for biographical facts about, 72, note ; his precocity in 
learning and aspiration, 73-75 ; his career as a student at 
Yale, 75-78 ; his great influence as a tutor at Yale, 78- 
79 ; at nineteen begins the writing of an epic poem, 79 ; 
chaplain in the army of the Revolution, 72-73, 80-84 ; 
his reputed sermon in connection with Burgoyne s inva 
sion, 81-82, note ; a writer of patriotic songs, 82-84; his 
song of "Columbia," 82-84; retires from the army in 
1778, 84; farmer, legislator, pastor, 73, 84-85; his 
"Conquest of Canaan," in 1785, 85-91 ; contemporary 
English criticism of it, William Cowper, 87-91 ; his at 
tempt at satire in " The Triumph of Infidelity," in 1788, 
91-92 ; his best poem, "Greenfield Hill," 1794, 92-97 ; 
his minor poems, 97-99 ; as a writer of hymns, 98-99, 
note ; the quality and power of his personality as an 
explanation of his vast contemporary influence, 99-101 ; 
his varied and minute knowledge, 101-102 ; his intellect- 



INDEX. 19$ 

ual interests and sympathies, 101-103 ; his life the 
triumph of a sufferer, 103 ; his extraordinary command 
over his own mental possessions, 103-106 ; composed by 
dictation, 104-105 ; the defects of his literary work, 106- 
107 ; his career culminates in the presidency of Yale at 
the age of forty-three, 107 ; the range of his labors there, 
107-108 ; his ascendancy, 108-109 ; his pre-eminence .as 
a champion of Christianity, 109-115 ; his brilliancy in 
conversation, 100-101, 113 ; his services as a preacher, 
113-116; "Theology Explained and Defended," 114- 
115 ; other sermons, 115-116; his discourse on Washing 
ton, 116-120; his "Travels in New England and New 
York," 120-124 ; its merits and defects, 122-124 ; his 
intellectual activity during the last two years of his life, 
125-127 ; "Remarks on the Review of Inchiquin s Let 
ters," 125 ; other writings then executed or planned, 
125-127 ; his death, 73, 125 
Dwight, William T. (see Dwight, Sereno Edwards) 

Edwards, Jonathan, his relation to Berkeley, 50, 51 ; grand 
father of Timothy Dwight, 72 

Elton, Professor Romeo, his statement in regard to Berkeley s 
verses criticised, 23, note 

England, condition of, in 1720, 19 

Fenelon, 13 

Fisher, George P., 51, note 

Fraser, A. C., works by, relating to Berkeley, 10, note 

Fronde, James Anthony, 63 

Fulton, paints designs for " The Columbiad," 146 

Galileo, 165 

Gay, John, imitated by Dwight in " Greenfield Hill," 97 

Gilman, President Daniel C., 56, note, 61, note 

Goldsmith, Oliver, imitated by Dwight in "Greenfield Hill," 

97 
Goodrich, Samuel G., 81-82, note 



196 INDEX. 

Greene, General, 141 ; letter to, from David Humphreys 
interceding for Barlow, 135136 

"Greenfield Hill," Dwight s best poem, published in 1774, 
92 ; its plan, 92-93 ; its seven cantos, 93-96 ; its charac 
ter as a whole, 96-97 

Gregoire, Henry, Barlow s letter to, 178-180 

Griswold, Rufus W., criticism of his statement attributing 
"America, A Poem," to Dwight, 79-80, note 

Hall, Basil, 63 

Hall, Robert, praises Dwight s " Theology Explained and 

Defended," 115 
Hamilton, Alexander, 172 
" Hasty Pudding," poem by Barlow, 173-175 
Herschel, 165 

Hillhouse, James Abraham, 55 
Holland, William Moseley, 55 
Holmes, Abiel, 55 
Honyman, the Rev. James, Episcopal minister at Newport, 7 ; 

receives notice of Berkeley s arrival, 5-6 
Hooker, Richard, 13, 53 
Hugo, Victor, quoted, 67 
Hume, David, 92, no 
Humphreys, David, 98, 142 ; his letter to General Greene 

interceding for Barlow, 135-136 

Ingersoll, Jared, 55 
Irving, 63 

Jefferson, Thomas, 170 ; urges Barlow to write a history of the 
American Revolution, 176 

Jeffrey, Francis, 63 

Johnson, Samuel, founder of Columbia College, goes over to 
the English Church, 8 ; becomes Berkeley s disciple in 
philosophy, 50 ; letter to, from Berkeley, 53 ; asks and 
receives counsel from Berkeley respecting plans for Co 
lumbia College, 58 



INDEX. 197 

Johnson, William Samuel, 55 
Jones, Joel, 55 

Jonson, Ben, his "Penshurst" gives the hint followed by 
Denham in " Cooper s Hill," 93 

Kalm, Peter, 63 

Kepler, 165 

King s College (see Columbia College) 

Kingsley, Rev. Charles, 63 

Kohl, Johann Georg, 63 

Kossuth, Louis, 63 

Lafayette, 63 
Lakieren, 63 
"Letter to the National Convention of France," by Barlow, 

177 

" Letter to the People of Piedmont," by Barlow, 177 
Louis Philippe, 63 
Lyell, Charles, 63 

Macready, 63 

Malebranche, 13 

Martineau, Harriet, 63 

Montgomery, James, 155 

Moore, Edward, imitated by Dwight in " Greenfield Hill," 97 

Moore, Thomas, 63 

More, Sir Thomas, 27 

Murdock, James, 55 

Newton, Sir Isaac, 165 
Origen, 13 

Paine, Tom, no 

Pennsylvania, University of, Berkeley s influence on its organi 
zation, 58 
Percival, Lord, receives letter from Berkeley, 26-27, 35~3 



198 INDEX. 

Peterborough, Earl of, ambassador to Sicily, appoints Berkeley 
his chaplain and secretary, 18 

Philadelphia, College of (see Pennsylvania, University of) 

Pinney, Norman, 55 

Plato, 27, 45 

Pope, Alexander, his admiration of Berkeley, 17 ; his numbers 
imitated in " The Conquest of Canaan," 89 ; his " Wind 
sor Forest " follows the hint given in Denham s " Cooper s 
Hill," 93 

Raumer, Friedrich von, 63 

Redwood Library, a result of Berkeley s American visit, 49 ; 

the parent and model of other institutions, 49-50 
Rousseau, no 

Saint Paul, The College of, projected by Berkeley, 25-26 

Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the Duke of, 63 

" Siris : A Chain of Philosophical Reflections and Enquiries 
concerning the Virtues of Tar-Water, and Divers other 
Subjects Connected together and Arising one from An 
other," 43 ; published in 1744, 44-45 ; its character, 45- 
46 ; shows the reaction upon Berkeley s mind of his 
American visit, 44-47 

Smirke, paints designs for " The. Columbiad," 146 

Smith, Goldwin, 63 

Sprague, William B., his " Life of Timothy Dwight " and 
" Annals of the American Pulpit," 72, note 

Steele, Richard, his friendship for Berkeley, 17 

Swift, Jonathan, Dean of Saint Patrick s, 28, 30 ; his friend 
ship for Berkeley, 16-17 ; writes to Lord Carteret on 
behalf of Berkeley, 28-30 ; his character, 29 

Talleyrand, 63 
Thackeray, 63 

" Theology Explained and Defended," collection of Dwight s 
theological discourses, 114-115 



INDEX. 199 

Thompson, George, 63 

Thomson, James, imitated by Dwight in " Greenfield Hill," 

97 

Tindal, no 

Tocqueville, 63 

Todd, Charles Burr, his " Life and Letters of Joel Barlow," 
134, note 

"Travels in New England and New York," Dwight s itiner 
ary, its inception, 120-121 ; its scope, 121-122 ; its 
merits and defects, 122-124 

"Triumph of Infidelity," published by Dwight in 1788, 91; 
its character, 91-92 

Trollope, Mrs., 63 

Trumbull, John, 55 

Vanhomrigh, Esther, Dean Swift s " Vanessa," leaves legacy to 
Berkeley, 28 

"Vision of Columbus," philosophical poem by Barlow, 135- 
136, 141-142 ; its earliest plan, 142, 143 ; its attempted 
publication in 1782, 143, 144 ; published in 1787, 145 ; its 
final revision and publication in 1807 as " The Colum- 
biad," 146-147 (see " Columbiad") 

Volney, 63 

Voltaire, 92, no 

Wales, the Prince of, 63 

Walpole, Sir Robert, his friendly forbearance towards Berke 
ley, 32-33 ; his promise of twenty thousand pounds to the 
projected American University, 33 ; delays and finally 
refuses to give the above, 33-36 

Washington, George, 109, 137, 142, 153, 155, 170, 172; dis 
course on, by Dwight, 116-120 

Watts, Dr. I., his psalm-book revised and enlarged, 98-99, 
note, 144 

Webster, Noah, Barlow s letters to, on the difficulties of a 
literary career in America, 133-134 



2OO INDEX. 

Wesley, Charles, 63 
Wetmore, James, 8 
Wheelock, Eleazer, 55 
Whitefield, George, 63 
Wolfe, James, 153 
Wurtemberg, the Duke of, 63 

Yale College, receives gifts of books and land from Berkeley, 
53-56 ; its progress, 57-58 ; Dvvight as student, 72, 75-77 ; 
Dwight as tutor, 72, 76, 78-79 ; Dwight as president, 
73, 107-127 





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