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POEMS OF PHILIP FRENEAU
VOLUME I



THE



POEMS OF PHILIP FRENEAU



POET OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION



EDITED FOR

THE PRINCETON HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION



BY

FRED LEWIS PATTEE

OF THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE COLLEGE, AUTHOR OF " A HISTORY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE
"THE FOUNDATIONS OF ENGLISH LITERATURE" ETC.



VOLUME I



Of THE

UNIVERSITY

OF




PRINCETON N. J.

THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

1902



C.

Copyright 1902 by
The Princeton University Library



C. S. Robinson fir 1 Co. University Press
Princeton N. J .



PS 755



v, )
H/UNi




PREFACE

The present edition of the poetical works of Philip
Freneau was begun at the advice of the late lamented
Moses Coit Tyler. In his opinion there were few fields
in American history that needed exploring more, and
few that would require on the part of the explorer more
of the Columbus spirit.

It would be almost impossible for a poet to pass
more completely into the shadow than has Freneau
during the century since his activities closed. His
poems are, almost all of them in their earliest editions,
exceedingly rare and costly and only to be read by those
who can have access to the largest libraries, his letters
and papers have almost entirely disappeared, and his
biography in almost every book of reference has been
so distorted by misstatement and omission as to be really
grotesque.

This neglect has resulted not from lack of real
worth in the man, but from prejudices born during one
of the most bitter and stormy eras of partisan politics
that America has ever known. What Sidney Smith
said of Scotland at this period was true here: "The
principles of the French Revolution were fully afloat
and it is impossible to conceive a more violent and agi
tated state of society." Freneau was a victim of this
intense era. New England rejected him with scorn and
all admirers of Washington echoed his epithet, "that J
rascal Freneau." Thus it has become the tradition to
belittle his work, to vilify his character, and to sum up
his whole career, as a prominent New Englander has



VI PREFACE

recently done, by alluding to him as a " creature of the
opposition."

Unprejudiced criticism, however, has always ex
alted Freneau s work. The great Scotch dictator
Jeffrey, with all his scorn for American literature, could
say that the time would arrive when his poetry, like
that of Hudibras, would command a commentator like
Gray ;" and Sir Walter Scott once declared that " Eutaw
Springs [was] as fine a thing as there is of the kind in
the language." E. A. Duyckinck did not hesitate to
group him as one of " four of the most original writers
whom the country has produced," and S. G. W. Benja
min could say in 1887: " In all the history of American
letters, or of the United States press, there is no figure
more interesting or remarkable, no career more versa
tile and varied than that of Philip Freneau." Such testi
mony might be multiplied. Surely had the poet been an
ordinary man, Jefferson would never have said "his
paper has saved our Constitution," Madison would not
have pronounced him a man of genius, and Adams
would hardly have admitted that he was a leading ele
ment in his defeat.

I have endeavored not only to rescue the most sig
nificant of Freneau s poems, but to arrange them as far
as possible in their order of composition, or at least in
the order in which they first appeared in print. It has
seemed to me highly important to do this since such an
arrangement, especially with a poet like Freneau, who
jdrejtV-liis themes almost wholly from the range of his
own observation, would be virtually an autobiography,
and since it would also furnish a running commentary
upon the history of a stirring period in our annals. The
task has been no slight one. It has necessitated a search
through the files of a large proportion of the early news
papers and periodicals and a minute investigation of
every other source of possible information.



PREFACE vii

Much material has been rescued that, as far as the
public was concerned, had practically become extinct.
I have introduced the unique fragment of an unpublished
drama, " The Spy," which I was the first to explore. I
have taken pains to reproduce the poet s early poetical
pamphlets dealing with the first year of the Revolu
tion, not one of which has ever been republished. The
revisions of many of these used by Freneau in his later
collections were so thoroughgoing as to be in reality
entirely new poems. "The Voyage to Boston," for
instance, published during the siege of Boston, was cut
down for the 1786 edition from six hundred and five
lines to three hundred and six lines, and of these more
than half were entirely changed. From the standpoint
of the historian, at least, the orginal version is much
more valuable than that made several years after the
war was over. This is true of all the earlier pamphlet
poems. Aside from their value as specimens of Fre-
neau s earlier muse they are valuable commentaries on
the history of the stormy times that called them forth,
and I have not hesitated to reprint them verbatim in
connection with the revised versions. The pamphlet
poems "American Liberty" and " General Gage s Con
fession," (until recently supposed to have been lost)
exist only in unique copies. Freneau never attempted
to revise them. Some of the other early poems, notably
"The House of Night," I have annotated with care,
showing the evolution of the poem from its first nucleus
to its final fragmentary form. In the case of a few of the
more important poems, especially those dealing with
the Revolution, I have given variorum readings.

Aside from this early material, which has a real his
torical value, I have introduced very few poems not in
cluded in Freneau s collected editions of 1786, 1788, 1795,
1809 and 1815. Previous to 1795 the poet reprinted



Vlll PREFACE

with miserly care almost all the verses which he had
contributed to the press. In his later years he was
more prodigal of his creations. I have, however, re
printed from newspapers very few poems not found
elsewhere, and these few only on the best evidence that
they were genuine, for it has been my experience that
when a poem is not to be found in the collected editions
of the poet it is almost certain that it is not genuine.
In justice to Freneau, who had the welfare of his
writings much at heart, and who cut and pruned and
remodeled with tireless hand, I have usually given the
latest version.

I wish to acknowledge here my great indebtedness
to the descendants of Philip Freneau, especially Miss
Adele M. Sweeney, Mr. Weymer J. Mills, Mrs. Helen
K. Vreeland, and Mrs. Eleanor F. Noel, who have
allowed me to consult freely all the papers and literary
remains of the poet and have supplied me with all possi
ble information. I would also express my great obliga
tion to many librarians, collectors, and scholars, who
have cheerfully aided me, especially to Mr. Wilberforce
Eames, of the New York Public Library, the late Paul
Leicester Ford, Mr. Robert H. Kelby, of the New York
Historical Society, Mr. John W. Jordan, of the Penn
sylvania Historical Society, Mr. A. S. Salley, Jr., of
Charleston, S. C., Mr. E. M. Barton, of the American
Antiquarian Society, and Dr. E. C. Richardson, of
Princeton University, who with their courteous help
fulness have made possible the work. I wish also to
express my thanks to Professor A. Howry Espenshade,
and Mr. John Rogers Williams, to whose careful and
patient work upon the proofs the accuracy of the text
depends.

F. L. P.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Sept. 19, 1902.



CONTENTS

VOLUME I



PAGE

PREFACE v

LIFE OF PHILIP FRENEAU xiii



PART I

Early Poems. 1768-1775

HISTORY OF THE PROPHET JONAH . 3

ADVENTURES OF SIMON SWAUGUM 14

.THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT 25

THE MONUMENT OF PHAON - 3

THE POWER OF FANCY 34

THE PRAYER OF ORPHEUS 39

THE DESERTED FARM-HOUSE 4

THE CITIZEN S RESOLVE 4 2

THE DYING ELM 45

COLUMBUS TO FERDINAND 46

THE RISING GLORY OF AMERICA 49 j

ON RETIREMENT 84

^ DISCOVERY 85

THE PICTURES OF COLUMBUS 89 \/. r

EXPEDITION OF TIMOTHY TAURUS, ASTROLOGER 123



x CONTENTS

PART II
The First Poetic Period.

PAGE

A POLITICAL LITANY 139

AMERICAN LIBERTY, A POEM H 2

GENERAL GAGE S SOLILOQUY 152
THE MIDNIGHT CONSULTATIONS, OR, A TRIP TO BOSTON - 158

THE SILENT ACADEMY 182

LINES TO A COASTING CAPTAIN 184

To THE AMERICANS - 185

THE VERNAL AGUE 188

GENERAL GAGE S CONFESSION - 189

THE DISTREST SHEPHERDESS 195

MARS AND HYMEN 197

/ MACSWIGGEN, A SATIRE 206

/ THE HOUSE OF NIGHT - - - - - - - 212

p

* THE JAMAICA FUNERAL 239

THE BEAUTIES OF SANTA CRUZ 249

ON A HESSIAN DEBARKATION, 1776 269

THE JEWISH LAMENTATION AT EUPHRATES 270

AMERICA INDEPENDENT 271

ON AMANDA S SINGING BIRD 283

ON THE NEW AMERICAN FRIGATE ALLIANCE 285

ON THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN NICHOLAS BIDDLE 288

ji CAPTAIN JONES S INVITATION 290

THE SEA VOYAGE 293



LIFE OF PHILIP FRENEAU
17521832




LIFE OF PHILIP FRENEAU
I.

In the possession of the Freneau descendants there
is an old French Bible, printed in Geneva, Switzerland,
in 1587, which preserves an unbroken roll of the heads
of the family back to the original owner of the book,
Philip Fresneau, who on his death-bed in La Chapelle,
France, in 1590, gave it into the hands of his eldest son.
For five generations the book remained in the little
suburban village, its possessors sturdy, industrious
tradesmen, who stood high in the esteem of their com
munity and yet who on account of their Protestant faith
were often imposed upon and at times even persecuted.
It was doubtless this feeling of insecurity, if not posi
tive persecution, which compelled Andre Fresneau,
like so many of his fellow Huguenots, to leave his
native village and to seek a home in a more tolerant

land.

f

He landed in New York in 1707. He was in his
thirty-sixth year, an active, handsome man, almost
brilliant in certain directions, of pleasing address, and
skilled from his youth in the handling of affairs. He
became at once a leader in the little Huguenot Colony
whose center was the quaint old church du St. Esprit "
on Pine street. He was soon in the midst of a thriving
shipping business, dealing largely in imported wines,
and in 1710, three years after his arrival, he was able



xiv PHILIP FRENEAU

to furnish a beautiful home on Pearl street, near Han
over Square, for his young bride, Mary Morin, a daugh
ter of Pierre Morin, of the French Congregation. Of
the comfort and hospitality of this home there are many
contemporary references. John Fontaine, the French
traveller, was entertained here in 1716 and he speaks
highly of his host and his entertainment. 1

In 1721 Mrs. Fresneau died at the early age of
twenty-seven, leaving behind a family of five children,
the oldest only nine years of age. Four years later the
father followed. But the young family was far from
destitute. The business house in New York had grown
to be very profitable and there was a large landed estate
in eastern New Jersey, a part of which was sold in
1740. Soon the two eldest sons, Andrew, born 1712,
and Pierre, born January 22, 1718, were able to con
tinue their father s business. For years their firm
name was familiar in New York.

Pierre Freneau (the family seem to have dropped
the "s" about 1725) was married in 1748 to Agnes
Watson, daughter of Richard Watson, of Freehold,
whose property bordered upon the Freneau estate.
They made their home in Frankfort street, New
York, and here on January 2 (O. S.), 1752, was born
their eldest child, Philip Morin Freneau, the subject of
our sketch. Four other children came from their union,
of whom only one, Peter, born April 5, 1757, who in
later years became a prominent figure in Charleston,
S. C., need be mentioned.

The home of the Freneau s was one of comfort and
even refinement. There was a large and well selected
library, the pride of its owner. " There," he would

1 Ann Maury s Memoirs of a Huguenot.



PHILIP FRENEAU XV

say to his visitors, pointing to his books, " use them
freely, for among them you will find your truest
friends." He delighted in men of refinement, and his
home became a social center for the lovers of books and
of culture. He looked carefully after the education of
his children; and all of them early became omnivorous
readers. In such an environment the young poet passed
his first ten years.

In 1762 the family decided to leave New York and
to make their home permanently on their estate,
" Mount Pleasant," near Middletown Point, N. J. The
estate at this time contained nearly a thousand acres,
and with its large buildings, its slaves and its broad
area under cultivation, was in many respects like a
southern plantation. Heretofore the elder Freneau
had made it of secondary importance. He had used
it as a summer resort, and as a pleasant relief to the
monotony of his city business, but now, perhaps on
account of failing health, he determined to devote to it
all of his energies. Philip was left behind in New York.
For the next three years he lived at a boarding school
in the city, going home only during the long vacations.
At the age of thirteen he was sent to the Latin school
at Penolopen, then presided over by the Rev. Alexander
Mitchell, to prepare for college.

The father of the family died Oct. 17, 1767. This,
however, did not disturb the plans of the eldest son, *
and on Nov. 7, 1768, he entered the sophomore class at
Princeton so well prepared that President Witherspoon
~Tsf~said to have sent a letter of congratulation to his
mother.



XVI PHILIP FRENEAU



II.

Of the college life of Philip Freneau we have only
fragmentary records. He was in his sixteenth year
when he entered, a somewhat dreamy youth who had
read very widely, especially in the English poets and
the Latin classics, and who already commanded a facile
pen, especially in the field of heroic verse. During the
year in which he entered Princeton he composed two
long poems, " The History of the Prophet Jonah," and
" The Village Merchant," surely notable work for the
pen of a college sophomore. During the following
year he wrote " The Pyramids of Egypt," and before
his graduation he had completed several other pieces,
some of them full of real poetic inspiration.

The period during which Freneau resided at Prince
ton was a most significant one. In the same class with him
were James Madison, H. H. Brackenridge, the author
of " Modern Chivalry" and a conspicuous figure in
later Pennsylvania history, and Samuel Spring, who
was to become widely influential in religious circles.
In the class below him were the refined and scholarly
William Bradford and the brilliant Aaron Burr. The
shadow of the coming struggle with Great Britain was
already lengthening over the Colonies and nowhere
was its presence more manifest than, in the colleges,
always the most sensitive areas in times of tyranny
and oppression. On August 6, 1770, the senior class
at Princeton voted unanimously to appear at commence
ment dressed in American manufactures.

Another circumstance made the period a notable
one. On June 24, 1769, a little band of students,
headed by Madison, Brackenridge, Bradford and Fre
neau, organized an undergraduate fraternity to be



PHILIP FRENEAU xvii

called the American Whig Society. One year later
The Well Meaning Club, a rival literary organization
founded in 1765, became the Cliosophic Society.
The act was the signal for a war, the echoes of which
have even yet not died away at Princeton. There
exists a manuscript book, 1 rescued from ;the papers of
William Bradford, in which are preserved the poetic
tirades, called forth in this first onset. Its title page is
as follows :

"Satires | against the Tories. | Written in the last
War between the Whigs & Cliosophians | in which |
the former obtained a compleat Victory.

Arm d for virtue now we point the pen
Brand the bold front of shameless, guilty men
Dash the proud Tory in his gilded Car
Bare the mean heart that hides beneath a star."

It opens with ten "pastorals" by Brackenridge, of
which the ninth begins thus :

" Spring s Soliloquy that morning before he hung himself.

World adieu ! the doleful time draws nigh

1 cannot live and yet I fear to die
Warford is dead ! and in his turn Freneau
Will send me headlong to the shades below.
What raging fury or what baleful Star
Did find ingulph me in the whiggish war
The deeds of darkness which my soul hath done
Are now apparent as the noon-day sun

A Thousand things as yet remain untold
My secret practice and my sins of old."

Then follow several satires by Freneau, full of fire
and invective, but like the work of all the others, not
always refined or quotable in print. His satire, " Mc-

1 In the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.



xvill PHILIP FRENEAU

Swiggen," printed in 1775, contains nearly half of the
poems, the only lines indeed which are of any real
merit. The three concluding poems of the collection,
and these by all means the worst of the lot, are from no
less a pen than Madison s. No patriotic citizen will
ever venture to resurrect them.

There is a tradition very widely current that Fre-
neau was for a time the room-mate of Madison. How
ever this may be, there is no question as to who was
his most intimate friend. With Brackenridge he had
much in common. Both had dreams of a literary life,
both had read largely in polite literature, both scribbled
constantly in prose and verse. In the same manuscript
volume with the Clio-Whig satires there is an extensive
fragment of a novel written alternately by Brackenridge
and Freneau, between September 2Oth and October 22d,
1770. Its manuscript title page is as follows:

"Father Bombo s | Pilgrimage to Mecca in Arabia. | Vol. II. |
Wherein is given a true account of the innumerable and | surprizing
adventures which befell him in the course of that long and tedious
Journey, | Till he once more returned safe to his native Land, as
related | by his own mouth. Written By B. H. and P. F. 1770.

Mutato nomine
Fabula de te narratur Hor.

Change but the name
The story s told of you.

MDVIILXX."

The adventures of the hero read like chapters from
the " Arabian Nights." He has been for seven days a
close captive on a French man-of-war, but he is rescued
by an Irish privateer, only to be taken for a wizard
and thrown overboard in a cask which is finally washed
ashore on the north coast of Ireland. It would be
useless to recount all of his adventures both afloat and



PHILIP FRENEAU xix

ashore. He finally succeeds in reaching Mecca, and in
returning safely home to America. The final chapter
recounts the details of his death and moralizes on his
life and character.

The work is crude and hasty. Whole chapters of
it were evidently written at one sitting. The part
signed H. B. is unquestionably the best; the prose is
vigorous and the movement rapid. The only merit in
Freneau s section lies in its lyric lament at the close of
one of the chapters. The hero suddenly bursts into
minor song, the opening stanzas of which are :

Sweet are the flow rs that crown the Vale
And sweet the spicy breathing Gale
That murmurs o er the hills :
See how the distant lowing throng
Thro verdant pastures move along,
Or drink the Limpid Streams and crystal rills.

Ah see in yonder gloomy Grove
The Shepherd tells his tale of Love
And clasps the wanton fair :
While winds and trees and shades conspire
To fann with Love the Gentle Fire,
And banish every black and boding care.

But what has Love to do with me
Unknown ashore, distress d by sea,
Now hast ning to the Tomb :
Whilst here I rove, and pine and weep,
Sav d from the fury of the deep
To find alas on shore a harder doom.

The nature of the undergraduate work done by
Princeton in Freneau s time was thus summed up by
President Witherspoon in his " Address to the Inhabi
tants of Jamaica," published in Philadelphia in 1772:

" In the first year they read Latin and Greek, with
the Roman and Grecian antiquities, and Rhetoric. In



XX PHILIP FRENEAU

the second, continuing the study of the languages, they
learn a compleat system of Geography, with the use of
the globes, the first principles of Philosophy, and the
elements of mathematical knowledge. The third,
though the languages are not wholly omitted, is chiefly
employed in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy.
And the senior year is employed in reading the higher
classics, proceeding in the Mathematics and Natural
Philosophy and going through a course of Moral Phil
osophy. In addition to these, the President gives lec
tures to the juniors and seniors, which consequently
every Student hears twice over in his course, first,
upon Chronology and History, and afterwards upon
Composition and Criticism. He has also taught the
French language last winter, and it will continue to
be taught to all who desire to learn it. * * *

" As we have never yet been obliged to omit or
alter it for want of scholars, there is a fixed Annual
Commencement on the last Wednesday of September,
when, after a variety of public exercises, always attended
by a vast concourse of the politest company, from the
different parts of this province and the cities of New
York and Philadelphia, * * *"

Of Freneau s proficiency as a student we have no
record. Of the details of the Commencement of Sep
tember 25, 1771, when he received his degree, we have
but a brief account. Brackenridge opened the exer
cises with a salutatory, and following came four other
exercises which completed the morning s programme.

The audience assembled again at three, and after
singing by the students there came :

" 6. An English forensic dispute on this question,
Does ancient poetry excel the modern? Mr. Freneau,
the respondent, his arguments in favor of the ancients



PHILIP FRENEAU xxi

were read. Mr. Williamson answered him and Mr.
McKnight replied."

"?. A poem on < The Rising Glory of America/ by
Mr. Brackenridge, was received with great applause by
the audience."

Madison on account of ill health did not appear.

The " Rising Glory" had been written conjointly
by Brackenridge and Freheau. Although the former
was given on the Commencement programme full credit
for the exercise, it was surely Freneau who conceived
the work and who gave it its strength and high literary
value. Brackenridge in later years confessed to his
son that " on his part it was a task of labor, while the
verse of his associate flowed spontaneously." The
poem was printed in Philadelphia the following year,
and in 1786 Freneau isolated his own portion for publi
cation in the first edition of his works.

This detaching of Freneau s portion from the com
plete work destroyed at the outset the original unity of
the piece. The changes and omissions made necessary
by the process of separating the part from the whole,
the deliberate readjustment of perspective to bring the
poem up to the historical conditions of the later date,
and the careful editing which strove to remove blem
ishes and weaknesses due to inexperience, combine to
make the 1786 version practically a new poem.

The first glimpse of Freneau after his graduation
from Princeton is furnished by a letter to Madison, dated
Somerset County, in Maryland, November 22, 1772 : l

" If I am not wrongly informed by my memory, I have not seen
you since last April, you may recollect I was then undertaking a School
at Flatbush on Long Island. I did not enter upon the business it is
certain and continued in it thirteen days but Long Island I have bid

1 Madison Papers, Vol. XIII, p. 9.



xxil PHILIP FRENEAU

adieu, With all its bruitish, brainless crew. The youth of that detested
place, Are void of reason and of grace. From Flushing hills to Flat-
bush plains, Deep ignorance unrivalld reigns. I m very poetical, but
excuse it. Si fama non venit ad aures, if you have not heard the
rumour of this story (which, by the by is told in various taverns and
eating houses) you must allow me to be a little prolix with it. Those
who employed me were some gentlemen of New York, some of them
are bullies, some merchants, and others Scoundrels : They sent me
eight children, the eldest of whom was 10 years. Some could read,
others spell and a few stammer over a chapter of the Bible these
were my pupils and over these was I to preside. My salary moreover
was ^40, there is something else relating to that I shall not at present
mention after I forsook them they proscribed me for four days and
swore that if I was caught in New York they would either Trounce or
Maim me : but I luckily escaped with my goods to Princetown where I



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