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Joseph C. (Joseph Cammet) Lovejoy.

Memoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 online

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his mates lately remarked, that it was impossible to do
more than gain a place next the head, for he that was
there could not only spell the words, but also pronounce
them in their order without the book. When the school
w^as divided by what is called " choosing sides," his
name was always first heard.

Nor was he first in the school-room only. He en-
gaged with great zest in all the sports of his early com-
panions. Swimming was our weekly, and almost daily
amusement. A very considerable portion of the bottom
of the lake, we have before mentioned was visited, in a
competition to see who should dive the greatest number
of feet. Mud or clams was the only evidence admitted
as proof that the effort had been successful. A depth of
twelve or fifteen feet was often reached in this danger-
ous, exhilarating sport. Elijah being once bantered
fey his companions, swam the v/hole width of the lake,
three fourths of a mile, and back again without stopping.

Under the forming hand of his assiduous mother, with
a few months in each year at the district school, the first
eighteen years of his life were passed. At this time he
set his heart strongly upon obtaining a public education.
He spent a single quarter in the Academy at Monmouth;
during which he read thoroughly Virgil entire, Cicero,
^rid Sallust. He had studied Latin but two or three



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 19"

weeks previous to this. His preparatory studies were
continued at intervals in Cliina Academy ; and he entered
a sophomore, in Waterville College, September, 1 823. He
was assisted in defraying the expenses of his education by
one whose gifts are in every department of benevolence,
the Rev. Dr. Tappan of Augusta. The writer pursued his-
studies preparatory to entering college with his elder
brother ; and he can truly say, he has not since met
with a scholar, to whom the ancient authors appeared so
nearly vernacular.

Occasionally he employed a leisure hour in the writing
of poetry. One specimen is given, written previous to
his entering college. With the allowance for youth, and
limited advantages, which the indulgent will make, it
may be read with some interest. The Poem is entitled
" Europe." Having painted some of the revolutions of
that continent, he now speaks of one to come still more
overwhelming :



" But Europe's fields were drunk with blood,

Drawn from the martyrs of their God ;

The sword of vengeance long had slept, —

But justice still its vigils kept :

Heaven guarded with a jealous eye,

The day of retribution nigh.

*Twas come ! then fell the awful blow,

And Europe drank the cup of wo,

Till Heaven, appeased, withdrew its hand,

And mercy saved the sinking land.

Back to a state of bondage turned.

Yet Freedom in their bosoms burned ;

And still they wish, in slavery bound,

The prize oft sought but never found.

An awful calm has filled their sky ;

Presage of some convulsion nigh :l



20 MEMOIR OF THE

Like the low vapours deep, and still,

That hang around the sunny hill, —

Ere some dread tumult shake the skies,

And all the heavens in anger rise.

The wild, dark murmurings of despair

Are kmdling into madness there ;

Tyrants combined must try in vain,

Its bursting fury to restrain ;

The spark of Freedom, Nature gives,

Oppressive bondage but revives.

Taught by the errors of the past.

Their arms shall meet success at last.

Ah, who can view the fearful sight,

When Europe rises in its might !

In frenzied madness flies to arms,

And sounds alo.ud death's deep alarms 1

O the dread scene that meets the eye,

As Vv^istful fancy passes by.

Where the vast plain its surface wends,

Far as the level sight extends !

Whole nations in collected might,

Fierce for the onset join the fight.

With beaming helmets nodding high,

And broad swords flashing to the sky,

With vengeful liearts, that scorn to yield,

They stain with blood the verdant field.

In battle's fiercest, wild array.

Rise the dread tumults of that day,

Fresh slaugliter bathes th' ensanguined ground,

Heaps fall on heaps and groans resound ;

Fell Fury wantons o'er the plain !

Death riots on its thousands slain !

Nature alarmed, her voice awakes,

Earth to her inmost centre shakes.

Terror aloft its banners spreads, .

Death's angel hovers o'er their heads !

From Etna livid flashes fly.

And gleam along the blackened sky,.



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 21

Heaven from on high its fury pours,

And ocean beats its sounding shores ; —

Hell's blackest furies urge the %ht^

Despair, wOd rage^ and dread affright ;

Discord, the worst of all the train,

Swells the red horrors of the plain !

Fierce and more fierce the combat grows.

And loud resound the hostile blows ;

Like hons rushing for the prey.

Thro' heaps of slain thej'^ urge their way,

Promiscuous mighty chiefs are killed,

Rage, death, and carnage load the field !'

Oh ! tell not half the horrid tale,

'Twould make the firmest spirit quail.

Nations inhumed, unhonoured lie,

And dim the warrior's flashing eye I

Lo ! hovering clouds obscure the sight,

And hide the scene in sable night.

Turn where the pleasing theme wouM lead,

Where Freedom claims her dear bought meed;

Fell tyrants from their thrones are hurled.

Justice shall renov^ate the world !

Its even balance hold secure.

And anarchy shall rule no more :

No more Oppression's cruel hand

Spread devastation o'er the land ;

No more beneath a tyrant's frown

Virtue shall cast her honours down.

But white rob'd peace her arms extend.

And millions in her temple bend ;

From orient beams to western skies,

Sweet incense from her shrine arise.

O'er Nature's face new beauties spread,

And skies their softest influence shed ;

No blasting star's malignant breath,

Shall scatter wide contagious death ;

The scorching sun its beams restrain,

Nor billows toss the unruffled main.



22 MEMOIR OF THE

Light playful zephyrs fan the trees,
Sweet odours rise on every breeze,
Heaven with its gifts descend to men.
And Eden bloom on earth again."

The following, written while in college, unless we are
very partial judges, contains poetic merit.

THE LITTLE STAR.

" I would I were on yonder little star,
That looks so modest in the silver sky,
Removed in boundless space so very far,
That scarce its rays can meet the gazer's eye.
Yet there it hangs all lonely bright and high.

O could I mount where fancy leads the way.
How soon would I look down upon the sun.
Rest my tired wing upon his upward ray.
And go where never yet his beams have shone,
Light on that little star and make it all my own.

I'm tired of earth, 'tis nought but care and pain.

Where misery riots on its helpless prey ;

Small joy, at least that I can find, therein.

But constant grief and gloom — without a single ray,

That points the wearied soul to a more genial day.

There is no faith on earth, and truth has fled,
Man's heart is steel, unmoved at pity's tear.
And justice has on her own altar bled —
Love dwells not with us, in some happier sphere.
It makes its angel heaven to innocence so dear.

Oh ! there are moments when the trembling soul
Feels its own ruins, scathed, and scarred, and torn,
And gazes wildly as the tempests howl —
Thus have I felt — Oh God ! why was I born,
A wretch all friendless, hopeless, and forlorn.



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 23

And yet I am, there is a spark within,

Time cannot quench, nor yet eternity ;

A boundless, countless space to kindle in, —

An emanation from the Deity, —

And while He shines it cannot cease to be.

But how or where — 'tis doubt and darkness all,

Or oft times seems so, yet fuU well I know.

There is beyond this sublunary ball,

A land of souls, a heaven of peace and joy,

Whose skies are always bright, whose pleasures never cloy

And if to souls released from earth 'tis given,
To choose their home thro' bright infinity.
Then yonder star shall be my happy heaven,
And I will live unknown, for I would be
The lonely hermit of Eternity."

He graduated, receiving the first honours of his class,
in September, 1826. On that occasion he pronounced a
poem, entitled the " Inspirations of the Muse."

" Who has not felt, when life's dull stream was low,

When hope had fled, and pleasure waned to wo ;

When all within was dreary, dark, and wiid —

On feeling's ruins sat despair, and smiled —

And like the shadows by the moonbeams thrown

On chilly waters, faint and cold it shone ;

Who has not felt the melting charm that stole

Tiike healing virtue o'er the stricken soul,

When some fair hand the trembling lyre had swept,^

And waked the Muse, that lingered there and slept ;

Her magic charms, her tones so sweetly given,

They teU like dreams which Gabriel brings from heaven,

And, on the cold, cold regions of the breast.

Come warm with life in visions of the blest.

The frozen heart which never felt before,

Dissolves in grief and smiles its mis'ry o'erj



24 MEMOIR OF THE

And as it weeps the obscuring clouds away,
Hope gilds the tears with sunshine's softest ray ;
Peace o'er the tempest throws its rainbow charms,
Sure pledge of joy, yet timid from alarms :
The enchanting prospect opens wide and clear.
When Beauty blushes where the loves appear !

O who that has not proudly counted o'er
Such hours enshrined in Mem'ry's choicest store,
When, as the dream of life was flitting by,
They flashed in brightness on the suff''rer's eye ;
And left their marks transcribed upon his soul,
Unsullied pages in hfe's gloomy scroll :
Gently they spoke in silver notes of bliss,
As if heav'n stooped to whisper words of peace*

So can the Muse enchant the yielding heart.
New hopes, new pleasures, and new joys impart ;
When meek and mild, she comes in tenderness,
To sooth our sorrows, and our comforts bless.
And smiles as love smiles o'er the bed of death,
Or bends like hope to catch the parting breath ;
But if, with all her gorgeous drap'ry on.
She strikes the note that glory rides upon —
With hues of grandeur deep around her thrown^
And stately mien that Virtue's self might own —
'Tis then she kindles in th' expanding soul
Desires immortal, thoughts above control.
She chants her deathsong o'er the hero's grave,
Each arm is mighty and each coward brave ;
And when the untamed victor of the fight.
Prepared to use the vengeance of his might,
Witness, Euripides, and Homer, thou,
How oft her strains have smoothed the angry brow ;
Loosed from his hands the pris'ner's slavish chain.
And bade the captive be a man again.
She strikes the chords that round her heart entwine)
And warm responses breath on ev'ry hue.



REV. E. P. LOVEJOy. 25

The mind, awakened by the burning strain,

Starts in a flight which seraph scarce can gain :

Bursts from its mortal shroud and soars away.

And basks and revels in unclouded day ;

Leaves earth's dull scenes with all its cares and woes,

Mounts into hght, and kindles as it goes !

Oh ! there are moments when the winged mind,
Free and unshackled as the viewless wind,
In full poetic pride goes gloriously
With cherubim in concert up the sky ;
Counts ev'ry planet as it rolls away
In bold relief into eternity !

Joins the full choir which sings along the spheres,
Among the star-crowned circles of the years !
In strains that e'en the Eternal stoops and hears !
Or vent'rous soars above the thrice-arched sky.
And bends exulting through infinity.
In that vast space where unknown sunbeams sleep,
Or hidden stars their glorious night-watch keep ;
Whose light still trav'lling since time first began.
Through the immense, has n-ever shone on man —
In thc«e far regions, where no baleful beam
Shoots on the soul its dark and vap'ry gleam ;
Where sinless angels play along the air.
And hymn their loves, or bend in holy pray'r ;
Here can the mind expatiate unrestrained
O'er beauties such as fancy never feigned ;
Or higher still, bow at th' Eternal shrine,
Where seraphim with veiled faces shine !
Nay lift the curtain from before the throne,
And gaze with wondering awe upon the Great Unknown !
So once in Eden's ground, that blissful scene.
Where fear was not, for guilt had not yet been,
Man sought the temple where his Maker trod,
And fearless held communion with his God.
Surely, if heav'nly wisdom e'er designed
One peerless gifl in mercy to mankind,
3



26 MEMOIR OF THE REV. E. P. LOVEJOT,

One noble proof in the creative plan,

Which stamps his high original on man ;

'Tis that poetic fire which bids him rise,

And claim his home, his kindred in the skies ;

Which rides in safety o'er hfe's troublous storms,

And smiles on death in all its untried forms.

'Tis a mysterious ardour none can tell,

And which but few of favoured mortals feel ;

An enamation from the Deity,

That claims and proves its immortality ;

A part of being subtle and refined.

The pure and hallowed element of mind ;

A flame which burns amidst the darkest gloom,

Shines round the grave, and kindles in the tomb.

When fainting nature trembles on her throne.

And the last spirit to the heav'ns has flown ;

In that dread hour, when hushed in deep repose,

The prelude of creation's dying throes —

The dead lie slumb'ring shrouded in their pal].

And wait unconscious for the angel's call ;

'Tis this shall sound the vivifying strain,

And wake mortality to life again ;

Shall snatch her harp, when circling flames arise,

And soar and sing eternal in the skies !"



CHAPTER III.



For several monilis after leaving college, he was en-
gaged in teaching an academy. In May, 1827, he left
his friends and native state, with his eye fixed upon the
inviting and youthful West. Its valleys and rivers are
not graduated upon a broader scale, than were his ambi-
tion and his hopes at this period. Yet it was with great
reluctance that he left the social circle, of which he was
often the enchanting spirit, to make his home among
strangers. On his departure, he addressed his native
land in the following lines.

THE FAREWELL.

" Land of my birth ! my natal soil farewell :

The winds and waves are bearing me away

Fast from thy shores ; and I would offer thee

This smcere tribute of a swelling heart.

I love thee : witness that I do, my tears,

Which gushingly do flow, and will not be restrained

At thought of seeing thee, perchance no more.

Yes, I do love thee ; though thy hills are- bleak.

And piercing cold thy winds ; though winter blasts

Howl long and dreary o'er thoe ; and thy skies

Frown oftener than they smile ; though thine is not

The rich profusion that adorns the year in sunnier climes ;

Though spicy gales blow not in incense from thy groves :

For thou hast that, far more than worth them all.

Health sits upon thy rugged hills, and blooms in all thy vales ;

Thy laws are just, or if they ever lean,

'Tis to sweet mercy's side at pity's call.

Thy sons are noble^ in whose veins there runs



28 MEMOIR OF THE

A riclier tide than Europe's kings can boast,

The blood of freemen : blood which oft has flowed

In freedom's holiest cause ; and ready yet to flow,

If need should be ; ere it would curdle down

To the slow sluggish stream of slavery.

Thy daughters too are fair, and beauty's mien

Looks still the lovelier, graced with purity.

For these I love thee ; and if these were all,

Good reason were there, that thou shouldst, be loved.

But other ties, and dearer far than all,

Bind fast my heart to thee.

Who can forget the scenes, in wliich the doubtful ray

Of reason, first dawned o'er him 1 Can memory e'er

Forsake the home where friends, where parents dwell 1

Close by the mansion where I first drew breath,

There stands a tree, beneath whose branching shade

I've sported oft in childhood's sunny hours ; —

A lofty elm ; — I've carved my name thereon ;

There let it grow, a still increasing proof,

That time cannot efface, nor distance dim

The recollection of those halcyon days.

My father too ; I've grieved his manly heart,

Full many a time, by heedless wayw^ardness ;

WhOe he was labouring with a parent's care.

To feed and clothe his thoughtless, thankless boy.

And I have trembled as with frown severe

He oft has checked me, when perhaps I meant

To do him pleasure, with my childish mirth ;

And thought how strange it was, he would not smile.

But Oh ! my mother 1 she whose every look

Was love and tenderness, that knew no check ;

Who joyed with me ; whose fond maternal eye

Grew dim, when pain or sorrow faded mine.

My mother ! thou art thinking now of me.

And tears are thine that I have left thee so :

Oh do not grieve, for God will hear those prayers,

Which, constantly, are going up to heaven,

For blessings on thy lone, and wandering son.



REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 29

But time is speeding- ; and the billowy waves
Are hurrying me away. Thy misty shores
Grow dim in distance ; while yon setting sun
Seems lingering fondly on them, as 'twould take
Like me, a last adieu. I go to tread
The western vales, whose gloomy cypress tree
Shall haply soon be wreathed upon my bier :
Land of my birth ! my natal soil, Farewell."

The " Wanderer" was written while on his way to
the West, after a season of sickness, followed as it will
show by mental depression.



(Written on the shore of lake Erie.)

" Cam volet ilia dies, quse nil nisi corporis hujiis
Jus habit, incerti spatium mihi finiat aevi :
Parte tamen meliore mei super altaperennis
Astra ferar." Ovid.

« The sun was set, and that dim twilight hour.
Which shrouds in gloom whatever it looks upon.

Was o'er the world : stern desolation lay
In her own ruins ; every mark was gone,

Save one tall, beetling monumental stone.

Amid a sandy waste it reared its head,

All scathed and blackened by the lightning shock.
That many a scar and many a seam had made,

E'en to its base ; and there with thundering stroke,
Erie's wild v/aves in ceaseless clamours broke.

And on its rifted top the wanderer stood,

And bared his head beneath the cold night air,

And wistfully he gazed upon the flood :

It were a boon to him (so thought he there)

Beneath that tide to rest from every care.
3*



30 MEMOIR OF THE

And might it be, and not his own rash hand

Have done the deed, (for yet he dared not brave.

All reckless as he was, the high command,
Do thou thyself no harm,) adown the wave

And in the tall lake-grass that night had been his grave.

Oh ! you may tell of that philosophy.

Which steels the heart 'gainst every bitter wo :

'Tis not in nature, and it cannot be ;

You cannot rend young hearts, and not a throe

Of agony teE how they feel the blow.

He was a lone and solitary one,

With none to love, and pity he disdained :

His hopes were wrecked, and all his joys were gone ;
But his dark eye blanched not ; his pride remained :

And if he deeply felt, to none had he complained.

Of all that knew him few but judged him wrong :

He was of silent and unsocial mood :
Unloving and unloved he passed along :

His chosen path with steadfast aim he trod.
Nor asked nor wished applause, save only of his God.

Oh ! how preposterous 'tis for man to claim
In his own strength to chain the human soul !

Go, first, and learn the elements to tame,
Ere you would exercise your vain control

O'er that which pants and strives for an immortal goal.

Yet oft a young and generous heart has been
By cruel keepers trampled on and torn ;

And all the worst and wildest passions in

The human breast have roused themselves in scorn,

That else had dormant slept, or never had been born.

Take heed ye guardians of the youthful mind,
That facile grows beneath your kindly care :



REV. E. P, LOVEJOY. 31

'Tis of elastic mould, and, if confined

With too much stress, ' shoots madly from its sphere,'
Unswayed by love, and unrestrained by fear.

Oh ! 'tis a fearful blasting sight to see

The soul in rums, withered, rived, and wrung,

And doomed to spend its immortality

Darkling and hopeless, where despair has flung

Her curtains o'er the loves to which it fondly clung.

So thought the wanderer : so, perhaps, he felt :
(But this is unrevealed) : now had he come

To the far woods, and there in silence knelt
On the sharp flint-stone in the rayless gloom,

And fervently he prayed to find an early tomb.

Weep not for him : he asks no sympathy

From human hearts or eyes ; aloof, alone,
On his own spirit let him rest, and be

By all his kind forgotten and unknown,
And wild winds mingle with his dying groan.

And in the desert let him he and sleep,
In that sweet rest exhausted nature gave :

Oh ! make his clay-cold mansion dark and deep,
While the tall trees their sombre foliage wave,

And drop it blighted on the wanderer's grave."



CHAPTER IV.

In the latter part of the year 1827, our brother arrived
at St. Louis, Missouri. He immediately engaged in teach-
ing a school. His prospects and feelings at this period
are given in a letter to his parents.

Saint Louis, February I8th, 1827.
Dear Parents :

Your letter of the 27th December, has just
been received, and with it the most welcome intelligence
that the family are all well. I cannot say that I am
home-sick, but certainly there is no idea on which I so
love to dwell as home, and the honoured parents and the
beloved brothers and sisters, whom I have left there.
Fortune has, in the main, hitherto looked unfavourably
upon me, since I left home ; but, I begin to hope for better
things. Still, in all my past distresses one thought has
consoled me, — / have learned to appreciate a parentis love.

I am now in St. Louis, engaged in teaching a school ;
and the prospect is, that I shall have a very profitable
one. I may be disappointed, and I do not suffer myself
to be too sanguine of the future ; for the lessons of the
year past have taught me to distrust dame fortune, even
when she smiles the sweetest. I wish I could say, I
had learned to contemn alike her favours and her frowns.

I have entirely recovered my health, it was never bet-
ter than at present ; but I look upon its continuance in
this climate as doubtful. My appetite, after recovering
from the ague, was such as I never had before, and in a



MEMOIR OF THE REV. E. P. LOVEJOY. 33

few weeks my weight rose to 180 lbs. ; being at least as
much as I could ever claim. I find here many persons
from the northern states, and the number is continually
increasing. It is natural that I should regard these with
an eye of partiality ; but after making due allowances for
sectional feelings, I am sure they constitute the most
orderly, most intelligent, and most valuable part of the
community. At the same time, I must confess that there
are some most lamentable exceptions, and doubtless
many a Yankee has fled here, whose vices forbade him
an asylum among the descendants of the Puritans.

My dear, dearest Mother, I am sorry I cannot say to
you, for the honour of your oracular impressions, any thing
which will tend to strengthen their infallibility. I have
taxed my memory to the utmost ; but, cannot find that on
either of the days you mentioned, any thing happened to
me, which would warrant my disturbing your slumbers ;
and which I am sure I respect too much, to interrupt for
any, except the most urgent reasons. At the same time
you will allow me to say, that were I as thoroughly con-
vinced that your " dreams descend from heaven," as I
am that your motherly kindness will never fail, there is
nothing for whose fulfilment I would more willingly vouch.

My honoured Father will permit the observation, that
though I have not heretofore always appreciated, as I
ought, the motives and the feelings of a father, I hope I
have learned wisdom in that respect ; and my highest
earthly gratification would be, to make easy the downhill
of life of those parents, to whom I owe all that I am, and
most that I have.

My dear Brothers and Sisters, I often think you assem-
bled around the family board, and in my dreams am often
seated there with you ; but I awake and find myself sepa-
rated from you, by a distance of at least two thousand



34 MEMOIR OF THE

miles. But though the chain which binds us together is
lengthened to such a degree, I do not believe it is weak-
ened, and oh, may nothing but death divide it. Again,
as one who knows better than you can, I most earnestly
advise you. again and again, love, honour, and obey your
parents. Friends like them, you need not expect to find
in this world. I must conclude by giving love and affec-
tion to all.

Your most affectionate and dutiful son,

ELIJAH P. LOVEJOY.

At or about this date the following stanzas appeared
in the " Republican," of St. Louis.



Online LibraryJoseph C. (Joseph Cammet) LovejoyMemoir of the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy; who was murdered in defence of the liberty of the press, at Alton, Illinois, Nov. 7, 1837 → online text (page 2 of 28)