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Round the calm solitude, with ceaseless song,
“ For soon, ah soon shall fleet thy pleasing dreams;
And must the hours in ceaseless anguish roll?
Again all bright shall glow the morning beam;
No mild etherial gale, with tepid wing,
A cold, dumb, dead repose invests thee round;
David HUMPHREYs was the son of a clergyman, of Derby in Connecticut, and was born at that place in 1753. He entered Yale College in 1767, where he formed an acquaintance with Dwight and Trumbull. He went into the army on the breaking out of the war, and in 1778 was attached to General Putnam's staff, with the rank of Major. In 1780 he was made a Colonel, and aide-de-camp to Washington, in whose family he continued till the end of the war, enjoying the full confidence and friendship of the Commander in Chief. When the army was disbanded, and Washington had resigned his commission, Colonel Humphreys accompanied him in his retirement to Virginia.
In 1784 he was appointed Secretary to the legation for concluding treaties with foreign powers, and sailed for Europe where he passed two years, principally at Paris and London. On his return in 1786, he was chosen to represent his native town in the Connecticut legislature, and shortly after appointed by Congress to the command of a body of troops raised in New England, for the western service. While occupied in this business he resided for the most part at Hartford, and associated with Trumbull, Barlow and Hopkins in the literary and political writings which engaged their attention at that period. In 1788 his corps being broken up, his commission expired, and he made a journey to General Washington at Mount Vernon, and remained there till the organization of the federal government, when he attended the President to New York. He remained in his family till 1790. At this time he was nominated ambassador to Portugal, and in 1791 sailed for Lisbon, being the first American minister to that country. Ile subsequently received the additional appointment of minister plenipotentiary to the court of Madrid, and during the discharge of these duties, concluded treaties of peace with the government of Tripoli and Algiers. He remained abroad till 1802, and after his return lived principally in his native state, without taking any share in public measures except receiving the command of the veteran volunteers of Connecticut in 1812, with the rank of General. He died at New Ilaven, February 21st, 1818, at the age of 65.
Colonel Humphreys attracted much notice by his first poem,
“ An Address to the Armies of the United States of America,” written in 1782, in the bustle of the camp, for the patriotic purpose of inspiring his brethren in arms with courage and perseverance in the struggle. This piece had a great popularity. It was published in England, and translated into French by the Marquis de Chastellux, the friend and fellow soldier of Humphreys. His other works are, A Poem on the Happiness of America, A Poem on the future Glory of the United States, A Poem on the Industry of the United States, A Poem on the Love of Country, A Poem on the death of Washington, and a few small pieces. Besides these, he was the Author of a life of General Putnam, and a translation of the French tragedy, The Widow of Malabar.
The poetry of Humphreys displays considerable talent, but the sameness in the character of the subjects which he has adopted throughout his different pieces, gives it an air of monotony which materially detracts from the interest we feel in going over his volume. Either of his larger performances, will give a fair specimen of his general manner and merits.
His conceptions are elevated, his sentiments noble and warm with patriotic zeal, and his versification correct and harmonious.
ADDRESS TO THE ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES.
Ye martial bands ! Columbia's fairest pride!
What time proud Albion, thundering o'er the waves,
Now join'd the crowd, from their far distant farms, In rustic guise, and unadorn’d in arms : Not like their foes, in tinsel trappings gay, And burnish'd arms that glitter'd on the day; Who now advanced, where Charlestown reared its height, In martial pomp, and claim'd the awful sight; And proudly deem'd, with one decisive blow, To hurl destruction on the routed foe. Not so—just heaven had fix'd the great decree, And bade the sons of freemen still be free; Bade all their souls with patriot ardor burn, And taught the coward, fear of death to spurn; The threats of danger and of war to brave, To purchase freedom, or a glorious grave. Long raged the contest on the embattled field; Nor those would fly, nor these would tamely yieldTill Warren fell, in all the boast of arms, The pride of genius and unrivall'd charms, His country's hope !-full soon the gloom was spread: Oppress’d with numbers, and their leader dead, Slow from the field the sullen troops retired; Behind, the hostile flame to heaven aspired.
The imperious Britons, on the well-fought ground,
Nor less our woes. Now darkness gather'd round;
The foe then trembled at the well-known name ;