Life and Letters of Joel Barlow, LL.D., Poet, Statesman, Philosopher: With Extracts from His Works and Hitherto Unpublished Poems

Life and Letters of Joel Barlow, LL.D., Poet, Statesman, Philosopher: With Extracts from His Works and Hitherto Unpublished Poems

Life and Letters of Joel Barlow, LL.D., Poet, Statesman, Philosopher: With Extracts from His Works and Hitherto Unpublished Poems

Life and Letters of Joel Barlow, LL.D., Poet, Statesman, Philosopher: With Extracts from His Works and Hitherto Unpublished Poems

Excerpt

The great men of the post-Revolutionary age were not, as a rule, versatile. Their development was largely in one direction -- statesmanship. Jefferson, it is true, shone both as a statesman and philosopher; so did Franklin: but it would be difficult to carry the parallel farther. There was one, however, among this group of worthies who excelled in at least three great departments of human effort -- in statesmanship, letters, and philosophy-and whose practical talents were perhaps greater than those of any of his cotemporaries. That man was Joel Barlow, the subject of these pages. His verse first gave American poetry a standing abroad. His prose writing contributed largely to the triumph of Republicanism in 1800. He was the first American cosmopolite, and twice made use of his position to avert from his country a threatened foreign war. He was the godfather of the steamboat and canal, and sponsor with Jefferson of our present magnificent system of internal improvements, while had he been permitted to carry out his grand idea of a national university it is safe to say that American art, letters, science, and mechanics would now be on a much more advanced and satisfactory footing.

His biography has never been written. This is not strange, for it is only recently that the story of any of the great Republican leaders has been fairly and honestly told. In Barlow's case there were special difficulties in the way. He was cut off suddenly, in a foreign land, before what he regarded as his crowning work was com-

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