Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

no expectation of its circulation ever extending beyond the vicinity of that place. The poem, although thus first presented to public attention in a remote inland town, where general literature and poetical taste were but little cultivated, soon became known, and in proportion as a knowledge of it extended, its popularity increased. Since its first appearance in 1822, nine editions of it, including those issued on both sides of the Atlantic, have been published.

During his residence in Butler county, Dr. M.Henry, besides “ The Pleasures of Friendship,” wrote the novels of “ O'Halloran” and “ The Hearts of Steel.” Several occasional poetical pieces, which he wrote at the same place, have been published in the volume that contains his principal poem. He remained at Harmony about four years, and then removed to Pittsburg, whieh he left in 1823, for Philadelphia, where he now resides. His poem of “ Waltham," and his novels of “ The Wilderness” and “ The Spectre of the Forest,” were written in Pittsburg.

66 The Wilderness" was published in New York, in the spring of 1823, and “ The Spectre of the Forest,” in the writing of which only seven weeks were occupied, first appeared in that city, in the autumn of the same year.

Not long after Dr. M•Henry's removal to Philadelphia, the proprietor of the American Monthly Magazine, a periodical work published there, engaged his services as its editor. He soon terminated his connexion with it, in consequence of a visit to Ireland, which was rendered necessary by business that required his attention, and the publication of the Magazine was discontinued. Subsequently to his return from that country to Philadelphia, which occurred in the spring of 1826, he wrote in that city the tragedies of “ The Usurper” and “ Wyoming," and the novels of - The Betrothed of Wyoming” and “ Meredith.”

Both of the tragedies were performed in Philadelphia. “The Usurper,” and the two novels last mentioned, were published in the same cîty.

The first poetical effusion of Dr. M.Henry, which appeared in public, was that entitled “The Maid of Tobergell.” This piece was published in 1804, in a Belfast newspaper, and attracted the attention of the celebrated Dr. Percy, Bishop of Dromore, who was so much pleased with it, that he invited the author to his house, encouraged him to persevere in his poetical pursuits, and induced him to publish in Belfast, a small collection of poetry, under the title of " The Bard of Erin, and other Poems.” This publication procured for the author much attention, and many warm friends among the admirers of poetical literature in the north of Ireland. He was then, however, too deeply engaged in professional studies, to pursue a poetical

At least, he appears, for a number of years following, to have sought no poetical notoriety. It was about this period, that he became acquainted with the lady to whom he alludes in many of his poetical pieces, under the name of Ellen, and of whose character and destiny he has given an account in the tale entitled “ Ellen Stanley, or the Victim of Vanity," which was inserted, some years ago, in a periodical work published in Philadelphia.

career..

Literature, as a profession, although it affords powerful incentives and enviable rewards to those who engage in it, subjects them to the influence of peculiar and inevitable circumstances, which it requires all their enthusiasm to induce them to encounter. The mental labour which they undergo, arduous and unremitted as it is, constitutes but a small part of the difficulties which they must surmount, before they can secure the honourable reputation, which is the object, and one of the best recompenses of their exertions.

It is not always the good fortune of literary men to receive the approbation of those by whom their efforts are examined and judged. They are still more rarely so fortunate as to be living auditors of their own praise, and to be pronounced by their contemporaries deserving of the approbation, to obtain which their long and arduous exertions have been made. Few of them escape the censure which prejudice or ignorance, malice or envy, casts upon their reputation; and still fewer overcome all obstacles to their permanent renown.

It will not be considered unjust to others, to assert that Dr. M.Henry has both deserved and obtained a degree of applause as a poet, which has not been exceeded by that which has been given to many of the best poetical writers of the present age.

• The Pleasures of Friendship” may, with strict regard to trath, be said to have successfully endured the test of protracted time and of rigid criticism. The numerous editions in which it has appeared, would afford ample evidence of its merit, even if its own intrinsic qualities did not render it worthy of high and long-continued favour. That many of his productions, first issued in the United States, have been reprinted in London, and that “O'Halloran," one of his novels, has been included in Whittingham's edition of standard English novels, published in that great metropolis of literature, are circumstances which certainly indicate, if they do not prove, that he has acquired a literary character, which may, with justice, be considered well earned and honourable.

Although Dr. M.Henry has not recently published any avowed production, he has been a frequent contributor to many of the public journals. Many articles, written by him, which excited much attention, were inserted in the American Quarterly Review, while that work was edited by Mr. Walsh. He is at present engaged in the preparation of several works for the press, on subjects of interest, the appearance of which may soon be expected.

March, 1838.

DISSERTATION

ON THE

POEM OF THE PLEASURES OF FRIENDSHIP.

The moral sensations and affections afford the most attractive and exhaustless subjects upon which the poet can exercise his genius. The influence which they exert over mankind, in every sphere of life and in all conditions of society, enables him to derive from them the most efficacious means of obtaining general attention to his labours. To this cause may be ascribed the success of those who, in their poetical writings, have appealed directly to the heart, and by arousing its strong but generous passions, touching its sympathies, or soothing its sorrows, have taught men to look into themselves, and made them familiar with their moral nature.

The principal object of the poet is to please. To effect this object, he must choose subjects which are, in themselves, agreeable. If he involve his readers in metaphysical subtleties, he either wearies them by subjecting the mind to difficulties in discovering his meaning, or disgusts them by the pertinacity with

« ZurückWeiter »