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American Review.


Poems, by Samuel Low. In two
. 12mo. Vol. ii. pp. 168.
New-York. T. and J. Swords.

OUR Number for July last
contains a review of the first
volume of these poems; and, as se-
veral of our former observations
are found to be applicable to the
second volume, now under inspec-
tion, we take the liberty to refer
thereto such of our readers as have
not yet entertained themselves with
a critique on the poetical effusions
of the author.

As Americans, who feel a solici-
tude for the literary fame of our
countrymen, we wish ever to be
among the first to announce and
applaud the elegant productions of
domestic genius. We disclaim ac-
quiescence in the opinion which
some have had the freedom to de-
clare, that the atmosphere of Ame-
rica is ungenial to the spirit of
poetry; and that, like Lord Ches-
terfield's fine gentleman, we must
be content to listen to the music of
strangers, without ever venturing
to fiddle for ourselves.

We must, however, acknow-
ledge, that although our country
can boast of several writers who
have become entitled to the honours
appropriated to the excelling bard,
poetry is by no means as yet our
staple commodity. A Trumbull,
a Dwight, and a Barlow, will ever
be excepted in the general observa-

Our fellow-citizen, Mr. Low,
has very laudably exerted himself
in making a pilgrimage to the Holy
Land of the Muses; and if, on his
appearance before the public, he

does not receive the plaudits which
he fancies are due to his labours,
he may very reasonably exclaim,
“'Tis not in mortals to command success.”
We shall regret, however, that Mr.
L. had not done something more.

The present volume consists of a
poem called “Winter,” of “Son-
nets,” “Juvenile Levities,” and
“Effusions of Fancy,” and begins
with a poetical dedication to the
author of Junius. We have no
right to find fault with our author
for offering this address to his un-
known friend; at the same time,
however, we cannot refrain from re-
collecting the consequential school-
master, who once wrote a spelling-
book and dedicated it “To the

The poem first mentioned, “at-
tempted after the manner of Thom-
son, a part of which was written at
the age of sixteen,” is of consider-
able length, and is pretty minutely
descriptive of the various scenes
and circumstances peculiar to that
season. Considered as the produc-
tion of a boy, it is deserving of
commendation, although it disco-
vers but faint tokens of that genius
which will sometimes lisp in numbers.
As the author, however, mentions
that he has since “altered it in such
a manner as to render it more fit
for the public eye,” the immaturity
of years can no longer be allowed
as an excuse for its defects. They
who regard rhyme and poetry as
convertible terms, will perhaps be
at a loss to find fault with many
parts of the present poem. Readers,
however, of another description,
who do not think “that not to write
prose is certainly to write poetry,”
will be equally at a loss on what
parts to fix their admiration. There

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are, no doubt, many single lines,
and some couplets that may be cal-
led poetical; but they are constant-
ly degraded by an association with
others that wear the features of
prose; and, by their awkward gait,
plainly show that they have no busi-
ness in the hallowed grounds of

One will hardly imagine that he
is reading what the Nine inspired,
when he encounters the following

“Thus blest is he, who safe on shore,
    can view
The shiv'ring vessel and the drowning
The mighty deep enrag'd and toss'd he
And hears, perhaps, the seaman's dismal
Whom near to land impetuous billows
He sees them, struggling with the foam-
    ing surge,
Now disappear, and now again emerge;
Till soon their mangled limbs deform the
Then blest indeed is he on shore to stand;
And tho’ this shocking sight, this dreadful scene,
Affect his feeling breast with sorrow keen,
Yet, when he views those ills be need not

His life and safety then become more dear;
When he compares his lot with woe like this,
The contrast makes him doubly feel his bliss.
“Tho’ such events afflict this northern

A temp'rate clime our continent can boast;
For what is Winter's worst inclemence here,
To that which polar skies in flict severe,
With unrelenting sway, the long, long year.”


“Tho’ sports like these are hazardous
    and rough,
The conquest's great and noble—that's

To prompt impetuous youth to risque all
“Of keener cold and piercing frost I
Engend'ring in the air, which soon will
Fast hold on all beneath, which soon will
A robe of whiteness over all below:

Stern winter, now confirm'd, in wrath
With all his gloomy ensigns he descends;
For, lo! he gives the ripen'd mischief
And shakes his vapoury produce on the
'Tis come, dread Winter's hoary badge is
And bids the earth prepare to meet its
—“Next comes the thrifty milk-maid,
    early taught
To shun destructive sloth, which oft hath
Its slaves to want, to vice, disease and
And all the num'rous evils mortals know;
She comes to drain the kine; industrious

Domestic work to ply; with heartfelt
She treads her native snow, she cheerly
Her simple rural strains, and with her
Her ample pails, pure as contiguous snow,
Which soon with copious streams of milk
Now, laden with the luscious spoil, she

And, as she treads incautious, often slips.”

With quotations of this sort we
might crowd our pages; but, as we
are sincerely disposed to do justice
to Mr. L. we shall not dwell so long
on his defects, as to be forgetful of
his better parts. We cite the fol-
lowing passage as a more favourable

“Disast'rous moment when that lapse
took place

Which gave dire Winter to the human
And banish'd happiness the vernal plain.
But hold, my muse! remit thy murm'ring
For Winter's rage is spent, his power hath
The solar beam will soon revive the dead,
With life inspire the vegetable race,
That long lay torpid in his cold embrace:
Tho’ Nature now of ev'ry charm is void,
She soon shall flourish in Arcadian pride,
Ope all her treasures at the breath of
That on the southern breeze its sweets

shall bring.

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Benignant season! haste, resume thy
Let joy and melody renew their strain;
Already, lo! thy harbingers appear,
I feel, I feel the renovation near!
And hark! the northern blast hath ceas'd
    to roar,
And light, and life, and joy return once

Of his “Sonnets,” twenty in
number, the first eight are correct
in one particular; they contain ex-
actly fourteen lines each; and we
may with propriety say with the
old pedagogue, in “Love's Labour
Lost,” “Here are only numbers
ratified; but for the elegancy, the
facility, and golden cadence of
poetry, caret.” The rest, however,
are pretty well written, and several
of them display some liveliness of
fancy, with luxuriance of ex-
pression. In the last sonnet, the
author manifests the high opinion
he entertains of his own labours.
He gives thanks to the Spirit of
Song for having taught him so
much, and for adorning his brow
with a laurel leaf in spite of envy's
futile venom.

We suspect that this sonnet has
been written since our review of
the first volume of the work, to so-
lace the author for any chagrin
he may experience at finding that
his poetry is not admired by all
who undertake to read it. We
presume, too, that the “venom” of
which he speaks, is the venom of
us envious critics; and that the laurel
which graces his brow, has been
placed there by his enraptured
friend.* Since, therefore, the poet's
temples are now bedecked with the
honoured wreath, let him exclaim
with Horace, “Me doctarum ederæ
premia frontium dis miscent superis;”

and, since his friend has had the
goodness to rank him with Gray,
Shenstone, and Goldsmith, let him
go on, and cry out again, “Su-

blimi feriam sidere vertice!
—I shall
knock my head against the stars!”

Of his “Effusions of Fancy,”
we are pleased with the verses on a
“Fish,” and on a “Spring of Wa-
ter.” The first piece is pretty in
its style; and, in its moral, striking
and ingenious: the other is neat
and smooth, and somewhat poetical.

His “Juvenile Levities” have
neither wit nor sprightliness.

His meditations on “Passaic
Falls,” discover some exertion of
fancy, and a considerable degree of
skill in picturesque description.
There is nothing, however, very
original in the ideas, or beautiful in
the phraseology.

In several instances throughout
the work, we are of opinion that
Mr. L. has been unhappy in his
choice of circumstances intended to
heighten description; thus, in re-
presenting the power of the storm,
he says it is able to break the surges
of the ocean:

“Its force heaven's everlasting pillars
And ocean's formidable surges breaks.”
Now, every one knows that no
great force is requisite to break a
surge, which is very apt to break
and tumble to pieces by its own

So, again, when describing the
tranquil case which the rustics en-
joy by their fire-sides in a winter's
evening, while the storm is raging
without, he remarks, among other
circumstances, the cracking of the
roof, overloaded with snow:

“The cricket chirrups blythsome in
    the hearth,
And all conspire to heighten harmless
The roof, that ponderous heaps of snow
Now loudly cracking, of the storm com-
Of all things in the world tending
to banish tranquillity and to excite

  * See Candidus in our last Number.

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terror, nothing can exceed the cir-
cumstance of a ponderous roof
loudly threatening to crush us with
its fall.

As authors are partial to their
works, we presume that the present
writer will be somewhat displeased
with the freedom we have used in
examining his productions. Let
him not, however, accuse us of
prejudice or envy; we are not his
antagonists in the field of politics,
and most certainly not his compe-
titors in the career of poetical re-
nown. In common with all other
readers, we exercise a right to pro-
nounce our opinions on the merits
or demerits of every author who
challenges criticism by publishing
his labours. We aspire to no pre-
tensions superior to the rest of man-
kind; nor have we the vanity to
imagine that any dictum of our tri-
bunal will be sufficient to shut out
a votary of the muses from the tem-
ple of fame. Our critical remarks
are not calculated to establish any
unfavourable prepossessions against
the author, or to intercept the
emolument he expects to levy on
the curiosity and taste of the public.
Our strictures are liable to every
scrutiny and contradiction which
the writer or his friends may be
pleased to attempt; and the same
vehicle which conveys the charge,
shall give equal currency to the re-

The publisher of the present
poems has already the satisfaction
to find that he owns one admirer,
who possesses ability to vindicate
his inheritance of “a spark of that
celestial fire”
which glowed in the
bosom of Goldsmith; and has dex-
terity enough to display the beauties
of his muse in the most captivating
attitudes. This ingenious and sa-
tyrical vindicator of the inspired
bard, can now make another appeal
to the discrimination of the literary
republic, and exert once more the
magic wand of his wit and elo-

quence “in working up into froth,
at least, what he may not be able
to exalt into spirit.”

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