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The Southern post and literary aspirant. (Macon, Ga.) 1837-1837, September 23, 1837, Image 1

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THE SOUTHERN POST, AND LITERARY ASPIRANT. TWO DOLLARS IN ADVANCE—THREE DOLLARS AT THE END OF THE YEAR—SI 25 SIX MONTHS. c. R. HANX.EXTXZR & CO. Miscellaneous ikpartiuent. From the London Athenaeum. AMERICA. [concluded.] The first poet of America, by the rule of Horace, poeta,nascitur, nonfit , is James G. Percival. He was boru one. He would have been a poet under any circumstan ces—born any w here, bred in any manner. He has net written any thing equal to the ‘Evening Wind’ of Bryant, but his birthright lies a thousand leagues higher up Par nassus. Percival was born in a small town in the interior of Connecti cut., and, unlike most Americans, “ had a grand-father.” His fam ily was among the first settlers of that State, and his father was a physician. James was the only one of three sons who was des tined to a liberal education. He was a strange boy, and his youth, like his manhood, was all poeti cal. Wonderful quickness at his books, timidity and dislike of his rougher companions, sensitive ness, and a most affectionate dis position, are the traits recorded of his childhood. He soon out iearned the village schoolmaster, and passed his time in reading history, and in the depths of the most secluded woods, passing the long days in imagining the scenes of the books upon which he fed. He has described these hours in a poem on the Pleasures of Child hood. How I loved To ascend the pyramids, and in their womb Givze on the royal cenotaph, to sit Benaath thy ruin’d palaces and sanes, Balbec or princely Tadmor, though the one Lurk like a hermit in the lonely vales Os Lebanon, and the waste wilderness Embrace the other. * * * * * * Along the stream ’I hat flow’d in summer’s mildness o’er its bed Os rounded pebbles, with its scanty wave Encircling many an islet, and its banks In bays and havens scooping, I would stray, And dreaming, rear an empire on its shores. Where cities rose, and palaces and towers Caught the first light of morning—there the fleet Lent all its snowy canvass to the wind, And bore with awful front against the foe. ***** There many a childish hour was spent; the world That moved and fretted round me, had nopow'r To draw me from my musings, hut the dream Enthrall’d me till it seem’d reality ; And when I woke, I wonder’d that a brook Was babbling by, and a few roods of soil, Cover’d with scanty herbs, the arena where Cities and empires, fieets and armies rose. During his collegiate life, Per cival impressed everv one around him with his genius. Besides ex celling in the college studies, he acquired most of the modern lan guages, became a skillful chemist and botanist, and devoured every tiling of general knowledge that fell in his way. His powers of acquisition were truly extraordi nary. After obtaining his de gree. lie became n student of mod icine, but the science of the pro fession was the only thing to w hich he could cpply himself, and a few r months as an army surgeon completed ins disgust, and lie a bandoned it. With a year or two of interval, during which he accomplished himself in various sciences, he w r as appointed pro fessor of chemistry at the milita ry college of West Point. His poetry had by this time become universally knowgi, and he was the object of much admiration.— His friends, of w hom he had ma ny, congratulated themselves on his having obtained a permanent independence, and the students under bis care w ere beginning to feel the effects of bis superior knowledge, when he suddenly left the place, and threw 7 up the professorship. It is supposed that a projected change in his quarters, and the peremptory terms in which the military order was conveyed, had given offence to his sensitive spirit. Up to this time he had published several vol umes of miscellaneous poetry, under the title of Clio, which w r ere afterwards reprinted in London. His poems, however, w ere not a sufficient support to him, and for some years he shrunk into himself abandoned to a morbid melancho ly, he probably suffering the bit ter evils of poverty. His studies and acquisitions, however, went on, and he w as soon know n as an authority upon almost every sci ence and every branch of litera ture. He translated and improved Malte-Brun’s Geography, among other difficult tasks, and on the completion of Mr. Webster’s vast Etymological Dictionary, Perci val was employed to read the proofs and superintend the publi cation—the oulv individual in America who had the requisite knowledge of languages. Upon this long, wearisome, difficult un dertaking, the desponding poet worked for two or three years, giving it often fifteen hours a day, and i’or a compensation that sufficed only for the barest subsis tence. Asa philologist, Percival is said only to be surpassed by the celebrated Mezzofante of the Vaticuan, and yet this is but one of the many things in which he is eminent. Poetry is Pcrcival’s natural breath, and he writes it as he talks without labor or forethought: and there lies its defect : we are told lie never makes a correction.— Os liis may productions we hard ly know which to select for a spe cimen. We w ill give a part of a sketcii, describing a scene in time of the yellow fever, which Percival is said to have written while suffering with hunger in 3KIACON, SEFTESSBER 23, 1337. New-York. He scraw led it in a miserable lodging, when utterly destitute of the means of purcha sing bread, and took it to the ed itor of a newspaper, who bought it of him for five dollars. It o pens with the description of a girl watching by the death-bed of her lover, and proceeds— Night Was far upon its watches, and the voice Os nature had no sound The pure blue sky Was fair and lovely, and the many stars Look’d down in tranquil beauty on an earth That smiled in sweetest summer. She look’d out Through the rais’d window, and the sheeted bay Lay in a quiet sleep below, and shone With the pale beam of midnight—air was still, And the white sail that o'er the distant stream Moved with so slow a pace, it seemed at rest, Fix’d in the glassy water, and with care Shunn’d the dark den of pestilence, and stole Fearfully from the tainted gale that breathed Softly along the crisping wave —that sail Hung loosely on its yard, and as it liupp’d Caught moving undulations from the hght, That silently came down, and gave the hills, And spires, and walls, and roofs, a tint so pale, Death seem’d on ail the landscape—but so still, Who would have thought that any thing but pcaee And beauty had a dwelling there ! * * * + * Percival looks the poet, more absolutely than any man we ever saw : it is written on his forehead, and steeped in his eye, and wound about ins bps. Sensitiveness, pride, enthusiasm, feeling, melan choly, are traced with a sunbeam on his features. He is oi a slight, stooping figure, walks an uncer tain step, is negligent in ids dress, and lias a wild and startled timid ity of manner that lias the air al most of insanity. His eye is bright and pregnant with a kind oi unnatural tire, that makes the child in the street turn and look alter him. Leading the purest life, suffering without complaint the severest privations,doing what no one else could do for his daily and mere exi tenco, modest, with the most remarkable eitainments, less distinguished for Ids poetry than for any thing else, yet the best poet of his country. Perci val is the most interesting man in America. Had he been born in any country of Europe, he would have had the fame and forfcine thrust upon him, which he wants the confidence to pluck down up on himself. Mrs. Rosa Duffy held Mrs. M’- Devitt’s trunk of clothes, for se curity of a debt, and would’nt give it up, without the rhino. This raised the wrath of Mrs. M’Devitt who armed herself with an um brella and laid it over the head of her creditor, at the same time ex claiming, “ By the blessed Jasus, I’ll have my chest or your liver!” The court wouldn’t tolerate such a threat, and fined Mrs. M’Devitt $5, and costs, and, for want of the cash, she trudged off to jail. , /to f ton paper . volume i.—NO. 4. ossfisaqsrEOjLff u ayg» For the Southern Post. RECOLLECTIONS OF A MEDICAL STUDENT. The entering upon anew arena in life always brings with it a pe culiar interest in the mind of man, to discover all that may be seen around him, calculated to confer knowledge or happiness upon him. Thus the ambitious student, in commencing a profes sion, is desirous of becoming in timate immediately with all the intricacies connected with that profession, as well as the mem bers composing it; and he is very likely to imbibe such sen timents and such eccentricities of character as they may have about them. In fine, he is anxious to play off the lawyer or doctor, at once, and goes a out the perfor mance of his duties, as though it it was a life-time business. A mong the peculiarities of that pro fession which it has been my lot to pursue in life, nothing ever struck me with so much force, from the very first day my olfac tories were sickened by the smell of an apothocaries’ shop, until this hour, as that awful crime of rai sing the dead ; —To steal amid the shades of night, Like some vile thief, or more inhuman goul, Arul pluck from thence the poor unconscious dead.” Ah! here was the rub which I thought would prove too hard for me. For you must know, gentle reader, that the threadword of my new metal and corporeal frame were of so refined and attenuated a cast, as to warrant the predic tion from many that I would find an early grave. Who then, pos sessing my peculiar sensitiveness —that natural timidity which shrinks back affrighted from the scowling gaze of the ruthless crowd, would have ever thought of entering the holy precincts of the dead, and tearing away from their long homes the innocent ones who slumbered there ; yet it became necessary for me, in or der to obtain a perfect know ledge of my profession, to enter upon the dissection of the human frame —and my preceptor had promis ed that the first case which pre sented itself should be obtained for my especial benefit. I had a fellow student, R , who was a little farther advanced in the mys teries of our science than myself, and he had oftimes delighted me with the rehearsal of scenes thro’ which he had passed, while in quest of subjects for dissection, insomuch that my feelings had been harrowed up to an unusual pitch of anxiety, between hope and fear ; for I was not certain that my nervous energy would