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"Evening at Occoquan" exhibits a picturesque scene in Virginia. This, with its companion piece, has appeared before in most of our Journals, but as the author has had leisure to revise his verses, he has sent us a corrected copy, in which we discover many judicious alterations. The polite reader will instantly perceive that it is a pretty close imitation, but without servility, of one of the most beautiful poems in the works of Cunningham. The model is certainly a fine one, and our imitator has not disgraced it by his copy; but, although he professes in this new edition of his ballad to be scrupulously correct, it is upon this very ground we are prepared to meet and fight him. In his closing stanza, he says,
Here no negro tills the ground,
Trembling, weeping woful, wan;
On the banks of Occoquan.
Here is what some one calls a risible blunder. Although natural history has informed us that among her prodigies there is a sort of anomalous African, called Albinos, yet this is not the species of slave, which our poet is describing. When he applies, therefore, the epithet wan, or pale, to the sable subject of his song, we are irresistibly led to think of that curious creature a white negro, or a white blackbird, and class this non-descript Cxsar or Pompey with the fabuloui fowl in Juvenal:
Rara avis in terris, Nigroque Simillima Ctgno.
With respect to another point, we must wrangle with the poet. His rhymes are not always umform and exact. From the era of Pope and Swift, great care has been employed in the mechanical construction of verse, by all who aspire to the name of poets. At the present period in particular, when the national ear is attuned to the nicest sense of harmony by all the great masters of song, the English reviewers, those severe and vigilant guardians of the Public Taste, will not suffer a careless couplet to escape castigation. For, agreeably to their logical and invincible argument, he, who egregiously fails in the grosser and mere mechanical portion of his work, will scarcely rise above mediocrity in the more refined and the spiritual. He who blunders in making his bow, shall not be admitted into the drawmgroom. He, who carelessly stumbles in the porch, must be interdicted from the area of the temple.
On these correct and irrefragable prmciples, we are sorry to perceive a poet of our author's powers, a man conversant with the politest authors, and whose ear is by no means duii of hearing, assuming the liberty, shall we say the licence > to change the orthography of a leading word in order to suit his rhyming convenience. He talks sometimes of Occoquan and then of Occoquon, and thus very ingeniously, by the help either of A, or O, according as the exigency demanded, he props up a brace of his stanzas. Of Indian orthography we are not remarkably curious, and for aboriginal names it is notorious that we cherish no very ardent passion. The uncouth sound of Occoquan excites no image in our mind but that of contempt, and disgust. But when a public writer chooses to celebrate an Indian hamlet, he ought to conform exactly to all the forms and ordinances of the critical high church. He may not regulate his verse as Indolence or Caprice inspires, but he must punctually obey the laws of Composition; above all, he must not halt in his election of rhymes. He must be decidedly right and correct. He must either shut the door, or leave it open.
EPIGRAM.—THE AUTHOR AND CRITIC.
"Vile critic!" exclaim'd a poor author in pique,
You've injur'd my fame by your cursed critique,
Quoth the critic, "I'm glad to hear that, for my aim
And I could not more certainly ruin your fame
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Vol. I. MAY, 1809. No. 5.
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The encouragement given in this country to ingenious adventurers, and the facility with which a patent may be obtained, has produced many useful discoveries in the arts, particularly in mechanics.*
Many of these improvements are the inventions of illiterate characters, to whom the science of mechanics, and the theory of the mechanical powers are almost wholly unknown; they are generally the result of an ardent mind, bent to the accomplishment of a particular object, goaded by necessity, or allured by the prospect of immediate wealth, a prospect often illusive, but not unfrequently realized: it is to such a character, to the halfpenny barber, Arkwright.f that Great Britain owes much of her wealth and power; and to this same barber are the United States indebted for the culture of one of its most considerable sources of wealth, and many a southern planter for his gilded carriage and splendid equipage.
* A judicious selection and description of the improvements in the labour-saving machinery deposited at the seat of government might be attended with the happiest results to the community. At present they are buried in a mass of crudities and trash, of little advantage to the inventors or the public.
t Sir Richard Arkwright, who, by his mechanical inventions for cardmg and spinning cotton, raised himself from the humble station of a country barber to an immense fortune, and an honorary title. Vou i. Y y