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Ripened by years of toil and studious search
Now thou art not—and yet the men whose guilt
THE MISERIES OF HUMAN LIFE."
The present must certainly be regarded as being, in one important respect, at least, the golden age of our literature, as from the paucity of our authors, and our having yet to earn a name in letters, we are under the stern necessity of patronizing writers of real merit, wherever they appear among us ; and are not permitted at this early stage of our career, to neglect genius, or exercise a capricious favour towards dulness-a privilege that belongs only to nations whose pre-eminence in literature is acknowledged by the world. We shall doubtless, however, in due time, enjoy the enviable prerogative of being able to deal with the tribe of authors as we list; to invest mediocrity with all the honours due to originality, to treat ge
Author of " The Miseries of Human Life."
nius with a “brave neglect,” and “ do all other acts and things, that may become a free, sovereign, and independent nation." Who knows but we may yet have it in our own power to overlook merit altogether; or at least, until it is no longer with us; when we may venture upon the cheap plan found to succeed so well in other countries, and erect a monument to its memory, with a few flourishes of panegyric
" and so quit at once The debt immense, of endless gratitude." A still better way, however, of settling these accounts, would be to eat an anniversary dinner to the honour of those unhappy. sons of genius, who are left to struggle with degradation and poverty through life, and to die in want. In this manner we might make a pleasure of our duty, and unite the solid comfort of a good dinner with the sentimental luxury of having paid our tribute of respect to departed merit. This plan appears to have been adopted with great success and eclat in Scotland, in the case of the poet Burns, and it is hardly to be supposed that so economical an example will be lost upon the inhabitants of our country. It may be urged, it is true, that the buried author receives little advantage from these pompous proceedings; but to notice an objection of this trivial nature would imply a deficiency in the ordinary measure of that praiseworthy indulgence with which people view their own faults, and of that truly christian forbearance which they exercise towards their own delinquencies. There is also another objection to this way of requiting those who are entitled to the public gratitude, which it is hoped that the ingenuity of some future casuist will be able to remove. Genius needs no mausoleum, and no anniversary solemnities to preserve its fame. It erects its own monument, and the magic of its writings keeps alive the reverence for its memory in the hearts of men. If we do not render justice to living merit, we only pay honours to ourselves in the posthumous respect that we offer to it. Neglected talent must turn to other countries, to those who are not chargeable with having overlooked its claims, and depend, for such rewards as it can receive in its lifetime, upon the justice of strangers. To return to the object of this communication. As our literary ranks are somewhat thin, and cannot be too soon filled with recruits, it is certainly our policy to lay claim to every author of any note or merit, to whom we can make out a fair title. There are several who by mistake have been considered as foreigners, and whose reputation, hitherto counted a part of the literary property of other nations, we may with justice vindicate as our own. I will notice one distinguished name among these, of which Americans may well be proud. The Rev. James Beresford, author of the “ Miseries of Human Life," a work, in the opinion of the writer of this article, one of the most original in its conception of any that has appeared for the last half century, is a native of South Carolina, where his family were long settled, and possessed immense estates. Mr. Beresford went, while yet a boy, to England, where he has ever since resided; but his elder brother, Mr. Richard Beresford, who was a member from Carolina of the convention that framed the constitution of the United States, and was also distinguished in his native state as an accomplished scholar, remained in this country, and died but a few years back in Charleston. The Rev. James Beresford, in addition to the “ Miseries of Human Life," published a translation of Virgil in blank verse, which has been greatly admired for its fidelity, and beauty of language. The translation of the celebrated episode of Nysus and Euryalus, was particularly applauded by the reviews of the day, and was pronounced the best version that had ever appeared of that beautiful portion of the Eneid. The “ Miseries of Human Life” has, as every body knows, given rise to innumerable imitations ; but none of them have succeeded in rivalling the playful wit and admirable humour of their model. This multitude of copyists is, at least, a strong attestation to the originality of the work; for there must ever be something strikingly peculiar, either in the thoughts or the manner of that author who has the good or bad fortune to attract them in any considerable number. I would suggest, that complete justice has never been done to that production, so unique in its conception, and so felicitous in its execution; and that, like many other works of American genius, it is yet to receive the full measure of its fame. Mr. Richard Beresford, brother of the preceding, put forth several publications in Charleston, some of which the writer of this has seen.
One was a small collection of poems, entitled Nug Canoræ, which contains several pieces of merit. He also commenced a periodical work called “ The Vigil,” on the plan of the Spectator, but did not proceed beyond six or seven numbers. There is also in the Charleston Library, another work from his pen, entitled “A Plea for Literature ;" but I am not acquainted with its merits. This gentleman was not a little distinguished for his eccentricities; and united to considerable talents, a high sense of honour, bordering on the romantic, which along with a somewhat irritable temper, occasioned his being involved in several duels, and acquired him the character of a dangerous companion, though he was greatly respected, both in public and private, for his worth and acquirements. I have understood that the Rev. James Beresford bas lately published a work that had long lain in MS. written by his father, but with its nature or merits I have not the fortune to be acquainted. It has been said that the father of these gentlemen was the
person who introduced the rice culture into South Carolina. He planted it on the high lands, in which situations it was long cultivated, until a Col. Wilkinson of that state transferred it to the swamps, where it is now produced with such success. Such are the particulars which I have been enabled to collect of two writers, who, though of unequal merit, yet both deserve a place in our literary annals, and whose ancestor appears to have conferred an equal benefit upon our country, by having introduced into it one of the most valuable of our agricultural staples.
THE RETURN OF AUTUMN.
The smile of heaven again is shed
On those who till the teeming soil ;
And plenty cheers the home of toil.
And every grateful heart reveres
Recalls the pure primæval years.
Rich plains and blooming valleys shows,
Shall dress a fairer spot than those :
That man, enslaved, and taught to bow
Can never venerate the plough.
And science wear the wheaten crown,
Of him who drew the lightning down :
The earth, as erst in nature's morn,
And grassy meads, and golden corn.
LETTER FROM AN ARTIST IN ITALY.
(We insert with great pleasure, and with many thanks to the contributor, the following very interesting Letter from a Gentleman who has resided in Italy during the greater part of the last half-century.]
Florence, 8th April, 1825. My Dear Sir,
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your kind favours of the 10th of July, and 10th of December of last year; the latter, along with the several accompanying papers, brought by Mr. Weir, a very amiable young man, who, from what little I have seen, promises, I think, to make a figure some day in the art. I thank you, particularly, for Mr. Verplanck's Discourse, which I read with much pleasure, and know of no amateur who could compose so sensible and elegant a one on the subject. Were there a number of such in every country, it would go a great way to promote and elevate the arts. I should have been glad to have had a catalogue of your exhibition, and hope you will favour me with one of some other, marking the works that possessed most merit. I oughtto have answered your letter of the 10th of July by the same vessel, but as she went to another port to load, there were but a few days for that purpose, and they were lost in waiting for a letter from Benvenuti, who wished to write to the Academy; but being so much taken up with his work for the Pitti palace, he put it off from day to day, until it was too late. Artists in general, you know, are but negligent correspondents. The diploma for Trentanove (not Thorwaldsen, as you say in your last,) was forwarded to him by a Genoese artist, a friend of his, who was then on his return to Rome. I am glad to hear that things have taken so favourable a turn for the academy, and that your collection of casts has been so much increased, and hope the young students will profit by it, for it appears to me, that like the English, they get to painting too soon, before they are founded in drawing; and it is difficult to go back to it afterwards. The opposite extreme is run into in Italy, where they draw too much, and paint too little. But the greatest misfortune of all, in my opinion, is, that the practice of every young man putting himself under some master is entirely abolished, in consequence of which, the young student is in the same state with those in the infancy of the art, where every thing was to be discovered by the sagacity of the individual; and the best part of life is spent in discovering and acquiring the practical part of execution which a few lessons from a master of eminence, and seeing him paint, would soon overcome. Add to this, that the stu