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verse with well known and interesting localities, – to wed his song to scenes already invested with fame, and thus lend it a chance of sharing the charm which encircles them, — I have myself, in more than one instance, very agreeably experienced. Among the memorials of this description, which, as I learn with pleasure and pride, still keep me remembered in some of those beautiful regions of the West which I visited, I shall mention but one slight instance, as showing how potently the Genius of the Place may lend to song a life and imperishableness to which, in itself, it boasts no claim or pretension. The following lines, in one of my Bermudian Poems,
'Twas there, in the shade of the Calabash Tree,
still live in memory, I am told, on those fairy shores, connecting my name with the picturesque spot they describe, and the noble old tree which I believe still adorns it.* One of the few treasures (of any kind) I possess, is a goblet formed of one of the fruit-shells of this remarkable tree, which was brought from Bermuda, a few years since, by Mr. Dudley Costello, and which that gentleman, having had it tastefully mounted as a goblet, very kindly presented to me; the following words being part of the inscription which it bears:—“To
* A representation of this calabash, taken from a drawing of it made, on the spot, by Dr. Savage of the Royal Artillery, has been introduced in the vignette prefixed to this volume.
Thomas Moore, Esq., this cup, formed of a calabash which grew on the tree that bears his name, near Walsingham, Bermuda, is inscribed by one who,” etc. etc.
From Bermuda I proceeded in the Boston, with my friend Captain (now Admiral) J. E. Douglas, to New York, from whence, after a short stay, we sailed for Norfolk, in Virginia; and about the beginning of June, 1804, I set out from that city on a tour through part of the States. At Washington, I passed some days with the English minister, Mr. Merry; and was, by him, presented at the levee of the President, Jefferson, whom I found sitting with General Dearborn and one or two other officers, and in the same homely costume, comprising slippers and Connemara stockings, in which Mr. Merry had been received by him much to that formal minister's horror when waiting upon him, in full dress, to deliver his credentials. My single interview with this remarkable person was of very short duration; but to have seen and spoken with the man who drew
the Declaration of American Independence was an event not to be forgotten.
At Philadelphia, the society I was chiefly made acquainted with, and to which (as the verses addressed to “ Delaware's green banks”* sufficiently testify) I was indebted for some of
most agreeable recollections of the United States, consisted entirely of persons of the Federalist or Anti-Demo
* See Epistle to Mr. W. R. Spencer, p. 94. of this volume.
cratic party. Few and transient, too, as had been my opportunities, of judging for myself of the political or social state of the country, my mind was left open too much to the influence of the feelings and prejudices of those I chiefly consorted with; and, certainly, in no quarter was I so sure to find decided hostility, both to the men and the principles then dominant throughout the Union, as among officers of the British navy, and in the ranks of an angry Federalist opposition. For any bias, therefore, that, under such circumstances, my opinions and feelings may be thought to have received, full allowance, of course, is to be made in appraising the weight due to my authority on the subject. All I can answer for, is the perfect sincerity and earnestness of the actual impressions, whether true or erroneous, under which my Epistles from the United States were written; and so strong, at the time, I confess, were those impressions, that it was the only period of my past life during which I have found myself at all sceptical as to the soundness of that Liberal creed of politics, in the profession and advocacy of which I may be almost literally said to have begun life, and shall most probably end it.
Reaching, for the second time, New York, I set out from thence on the now familiar and easy enterprise of visiting the Falls of Niagara. It is but too true, of all grand objects, whether in nature or art, that facility of access to them much diminishes the feeling of reverence they ought to inspire. Of this fault, however, the route to Niagara, at that period – at least the portion of it which led through the Genesee country — could not justly be accused. The latter part of the journey, which lay chiefly through yet but half-cleared wood, we were obliged to perform on foot; and a slight accident I met with, in the course of our rugged walk, laid me up for some days at Buffalo. To the rapid growth, in that wonderful region, of, at least, the materials of civilization, - however ultimately they may be turned to account, — this flourishing town, which stands on Lake Erie, bears most ample testimony. Though little better, at the time when I visited it, than a mere village, consisting chiefly of huts and wigwams, it is now, by all accounts, a populous and splendid city, with five or six churches, town-hall, theatre, and other such appurtenances of a capital.
In adverting to the comparatively rude state of Buffalo at that period, I should be ungrateful were I to omit mentioning, that, even then, on the shores of those far lakes, the title of “Poet,” — however unworthily in that instance bestowed, -- bespoke a kind and distinguishing welcome for its wearer; and that the Captain who commanded the packet in which I crossed Lake Ontario,* in addition to other marks of courtesy, begged, on parting with me, to be allowed to decline payment for my passage.
* The Commodore of the Lakes, as he is styled.
When we arrived, at length, at the inn, in the neighbourhood of the Falls, it was too late to think of visiting them that evening; and I lay awake almost the whole night with the sound of the cataract in my
The day following I consider as a sort of era in
my life ; and the first glimpse I caught of that wonderful cataract gave me a feeling which nothing in this world can ever awaken again.*
It was through an opening among the trees, as we approached the spot where the full view of the Falls was to burst upon us, that I caught this glimpse of the mighty mass of waters folding smoothly over the edge of the precipice; and so overwhelming was the notion it gave me of the awful spectacle I was approaching, that, during the short interval that followed, imagination had far outrun the reality; and, vast and wonderful as was the scene that then opened upon me, my first feeling was that of disappointment. It would have been impossible, indeed, for any thing real to come up to the vision I had, in these few seconds, formed of it; and those awful scriptural words, " The fountains of the great deep were broken up,” can alone give any notion of the vague wonders for which I was prepared.
But in spite of the start thus got by imagination, the triumph of reality was, in the end, but the greater ; for the gradual glory of the scene that
* The first two sentences of the above paragraph, as well as a passage that occurs on the following page, stood originally as part of the Notes on one of the American Poems.