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Adams was the most valuable public character At the close of his father's administration we had abroad," and that there was no doubt Mr. Adams returned to the United States, and in his mind that he would “prove himself to soon after became a member of the Massachube the ablest of all our diplomatic corps." setts legislature, by which he was elected to
During the four years which Mr. Adams the national senate, and he took his seat in passed in Berlin he devoted much attention that body on the fourth of March, 1803. to the study of the German literature, of which In June, 1805, he was chosen professor of he became an enthusiastic admirer. “ At this rhetoric and oratory in Harvard University, time,” he says,* “ Wieland was there the and he accepted the office on condition that most popular of the German poets, and al- he should be allowed to attend to his duties though there was in his genius neither the in Congress. He delivered his inaugural disoriginality nor the deep pathos of Goethe, or course on the twelfth of June, 1806, and proKlopstock, or Schiller, there was something ceeded with his public lectures weekly in term in the playfulness of his imagination, in the time, except when his presence was required tenderness of his sensibility, in the sunny in the senate, for two years, at the end of cheerfulness of his philosophy, and in the which period he resigned to accept the misharmony of his versification," which delighted sion to Russia, offered him by President Mahim; and he made a complete translation of dison. His lectures had been attended by his Oberon, which he would have published, crowds, from the adjacent country and the but that Mr. Sotheby got the start of him. neighbouring city of Boston, in addition to Wieland read the first canto of Mr. Adams's his academical hearers, and soon after his version, in manuscript, and compared it with resignation were published, in two octavo Sotheby's, which he thought more poetical, volumes. They appear to have been treated though less accurate.
with undeserved neglect. Certain sins, real In the same period he made an excursion or supposed, of the politician, have been into Silesia, and spent several weeks in col- visited upon the professor. They are copilecting information respecting the industrial ous in diction and illustration, full of learned and social state of the country, which he com- allusion and reflection, and point out “ the municated in a series of letters to a younger right path of a virtuous and noble educabrother in Philadelphia. These letters were tion." printed in the Port Folio, a weekly miscellany From Russia, where his services were in edited by Mr. Dennie, and subsequently many ways important, Mr. Adams was transwere published in an octavo volume in Lon- ferred to Ghent, with Mr. Gallatin, Mr. Clay, don. They contain a pleasing view of a peo- and Mr. Bayard, to negotiate a peace between ple who in condition and character, more than the United States and Great Britain, and upon any others in Europe, resemble the inhabitants the conclusion of the labours of the commisof New England; and at that time were par- sion, was appointed minister to the court of ticularly interesting on account of the facts St. James, where he remained until Mr. Monthey embraced in regard to manufacturing roe's accession to the presidency, when he establishments with small capitals.
was recalled to be secretary of state. In his long, varied and brilliant career as a diploma
tist he had perfectly justified the favourable * Leiter 10 Dr. Follen. † Joseph Dennie was born in Boston in 1768, and gra
auguries of Washington. duated at Harvard University in 1790, After being ad- After being eight years at the head of the mitted to the bar in Charleston, New Hampshire, he re- cabinet, under Mr. Monroe, Mr. Adams was moved to Walpole in that state, where he afterward pub
elected President of the United States. His lished The Farmer's Museum. a weekly paper, which his writings, particularly a series of essays entitled the
administration ended on the third of March, The Lay Preacher, made very popular. He subsequent- 1829, and he retired to his native town of ly came to Philadelphia to accept a clerkship offered
Quincy, where for a brief period he was withhim by Mr. Pickering, then Secretary of State, and on the dism'ssal of his patron from the cabinet, in 1801, he
out the cares of office. In 1831 however, by established The Port Folio, which he conducted until his the nearly unanimous suffrages of his condeath, in 1812. Dennie was a great favourite in society, gressional district, he was elected to the House and his brilliant social qualities gave him a factitious reputation as a man of letters. There is nothing in his
of Representatives, of which body he conwritings deserving of preservation.
tinued to be a member until his death.
He had been more than half a century in | down had darkened on his lip, and continpublic offices of the greatest dignity and im- ued through five of the seven ages of the portance, which he filled with honour to him- drama of life, gaining upon the judgment as self and advantage to the country. For six it lost to the imagination;" and among his teen years the “old man eloquent” had not writings is a series of criticisms upon some been absent a single day from his seat in the of his principal characters, in which original national legislature, where his extraordinary and striking views are maintained with great experience, various and profound knowledge, ingenuity. and courageous independence, secured for
I have already alluded to his translation of him the highest consideration and influence. the Oberon of Wieland. In 1832 he pub
Never modifying principles or language to lished Dermot Mac Morrogh, a Tale of the · please a man or a party, he invariably main- Twelfth Century, in four cantos, and he has
tained what he has deemed the truth, and con- given to the public many shorter poems, tended for the perfect freedom of others to do chiefly lyrical, which are generally marked so. Though denounced as a madman and a by fancy, feeling, and harmonious versificafactionist by every section in its turn, it is tion. His hymns have the simplicity, unity hardly doubtful that he was for many years and completeness which belong to that sort second to no man of the Union in the confi- of compositions, and his satires are neat and dence and veneration of the great body of the pointed. His poetical writings are the unprepeople.
tending pastimes of a statesman. They would The state papers of Mr. Adams are of course have been much more read and praised if very numerous. They are generally distin- written by a less eminent person. guished for minuteness, accuracy and extent For more than sixty years Mr. Adams is of information, and comprehensive and states- understood to have kept a diary in which every manlike views; and some of them, as the re- thing connected with his eventful life is preport on the history and philosophy of weights sented with careful minuteness. Such a work and measures, prepared in obedience to a reso- will have something of the interest and value lution of the senate, in 1817, are exhibitions of the finest old chronicles. It must be a sort of great research and learning. His speeches, of “ autobiography of the country.” It has on nearly all the important questions that been stated also that he had written a memoir have engaged the attention of the government of his father; but I believe he found time to since its formation, would fill many volumes, complete only a single volume, of four or five and are repositories of the richest materials of which the plan embraced. John Adams left history and political philosophy.
abundant materials for his later history, but it is The largest class of his published writings doubtful whether any other person will finish consists of orations and miscellaneous dis- as well as the son, the work thus commenced. courses pronounced before various societies The distinguishing characteristics of the and on anniversary and other occasions, many writings and speeches of Mr. Adams are an of which are of great value as historical universality of knowledge which they disessays. His eulogy on the life and services of play, and a certain undauntedness, greater as Lafayette is the best memoir of that celebrated they are more unpopular, with which he mainperson that has been published in this coun- tains his opinions. His taste is not always try, and his sketches of Madison and Monroe, correct or chaste, and his style and argument in the same form, are the only ones worthy of are frequently diffuse; but there are in some the subjects. His discourse before the New of his speeches passages of close reasoning York Historical Society, on the fiftieth anni- and great eloquence, and of fiery denunciation versary of the inauguration of Washington, is which has carried terror to the hearts of his full of important information and reflection, adversaries. but is perhaps in some degree unjust in regard - These paragraphs were written while Mr. to one illustrious person against whom Mr. Adams was alive. He died in the capitol, Adams may be supposed to have inherited at Washington—in the scene of his chief prejudices.
triumphs—suddenly, on the twenty-third of He had been all his life a student of Shaks- February, 1848. His writings are soon to be peare. His admiration commenced "ere the published by his son, Charles Francis Adams.
FROM ESSAYS ON THE CHARACTERS OF SHAKSPEARE.
THE CHARACTER OF DESDEMONA. den by her father access to his house. Roused
from his repose at the dead of night by the loud
cries of these two men, Brabantio spurns, with inTHERE are critics who cannot bear to see the dignation and scorn, the insulting and beastly virtue and delicacy of Shakspeare's Desdemona language of Iago; and sharply chides Roderigo, called in question; who defend her on the ground whom he supposes to be hovering about his house that Othello is not an Ethiopian, but a Moor; that in defiance of his prohibitions and in a state of inhe is not black, but only tawny; and they protest toxication. He threatens him with punishment. against the sable mask of Othello upon the stage, Roderigo replies and against the pictures of him in which he is al
* Rod. Sir. I will answer any thing. But I beseech you, ways painted black. They say that prejudices If't be your pleasure, and most wise consent, have been taken against Desdemona from the (As parily, I find, it is.) that your fair daughter
At this odd-even and dull watch o' the night, slanders of Iago, from the railings of Roderigo,
Transported—with no worse nor better guard, from the disappointed paternal rancour of Braban- But with a knave of common hire, a gondolier,tio, and from the desponding concessions of Othel
To the gross clasps of a lascivious Moor,
If this be known to you, and your allowance, lo himself.
We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs; I have said, that since I entered upon the third
But if you know not this, my manners tell me,
We have your wrong rebuke. Do not believe, of Shakspeare's seven ages, the first and chief ca
That, from the sense of all civility, pacity in which I have read and studied him is as a I thus would play and trifle with your reverence: teacher of morals; and that I had scarcely ever
Your daughter-if you have not given her leave,
I say again, hath made a gross revolt; seen a player of his parts who regarded him as a Tying her duty, beauty, wit, and fortunes, moralist at all. I further said, that in my judg
In an extravagant and wheeling stranger, ment no man could understand him who did study
Of here and everywhere; Stra.ght satisfy yourself:
If she be in your chamber, or your house, him pre-eminently as a teacher of morals. These Let loose on me the justice of the state critics say they do not incline to put Shakspeare
For thus deluding you." on a level with Æsop! Sure enough they do not Struck by this speech as by a clap of thunder, Brastudy Shakspeare as a teacher of morals. To bantio calls up his people, remembers a portentous them, therefore, Desdemona is a perfect character; dream, calls for light, goes and searches with his and her love for Othello is not unnatural, because servants, and comes back sayinghe is not a Congo negro but only a sooty Moor,
" It is too true an evil: gone she is: and has royal blood in his veins.
And what's to come of my despised time, My objections to the character of Desdemona Is nought but bitterness." arise not from what Iago, or Roderigo, or Braban- The father's heart is broken; life is no longer tio, or Othello says of her ; but from what she of any value to him; he repeats this sentiment herself does. She absconds from her father's time after time whenever he appears in the scene : house, in the dead of night, to marry a blacka- and in the last scene of the play, where DesdemoShe breaks a father's heart, and covers
na lies dead, her uncle Gratiano sayshis noble house with shame, to gratify-what ? "Poor Desdemona! I am glad thy father's dead, Pure love, like that of Juliet or Miranda ? No! un- Thy match was mortal to him, and pure grief
Shore his old thread in twain." natural passion; it cannot be named with delicacy. Her admirers now say this is criticism of 1835; Indeed! indeed! I must look at Shakspeare in that the colour of Othello has nothing to do with this as in all his pictures of human life, in the cathe passion of Desdemona. No? Why, if Othello pacity of a teacher of morals. I must believe had been white, what need would there have been that in exhibiting a daughter of a Venetian noblefor her running away with bim? She could have man of the highest rank eloping in the dead of the made no better match. Her father could have night to marry a thick-lipped, wool-headed Moor, made no reasonable objection to it; and there opening a train of consequences which lead to could have been no tragedy. If the colour of her own destruction by her husband's hands, and Othello is not as vital to the whole tragedy as the to that of her father by a broken heart, he did not age of Juliet is to her character and destiny, then intend to present her as an example of the perfection have I read Shakspeare in vain. The father of of female virtue. I must look first at the action, Desdemona charges Othello with magic arts in then at the motive, then at the consequences, beobtaining the affections of his daughter. Why, fore I inquire in what light it is received and rebut because her passion for him is unnatural ; and presented by the other persons of the drama. The why is it unnatural, but because of his colour ? first action of Desdemona discards all female deliIn the very first srene, in the dialogue between cacy, all filial duty, all sense of ingenuous shame. Roderigo and lago, before they rouse Brabantio to So I consider it—and so, it is considered by her inform him of his daughter's elopement, Roderigo own father. Her offence is not a mere elopement contemptuously calls Othello “ the thick lips." I from her father's house for a clandestine marriage. cannot in decency quote here-but turn to the I hope it requires no unreasonable rigou of nobook, and see in what language Iago announces rality to consider even that as suited to raise a to her father his daughter's shameful misconduct. prepossession rather unfavourable to the character The language of Roderigo is more supportable. of a young woman of refined sensibility and eleHe is a Venetian gentleman, himself a rejected vated education. But an elopement for a clansuitor of Desdemona; and who has been forbid- destine marriage with a blackamoor !—That is the
measure of my estimation of the character of Des- "That I did love the Moor, to live with him,
My downrighi violence and storm of fortune demona from the beginning; and when I have
May trumpet to the world; my heart's subdued, passed my judgment upon it, and find in the play Even to the very quality of my lord; that from the first moment of her father's know
I saw Oihello's visage in his mind;
And to his honours and his valiant parts ledge of the act it made him loathe his life, and Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate." that it finally broke his heart, I am then in time In commenting upon this passage, William Hento inquire, what was the deadly venom which in- ley says, “ That quality here signifies the Moorish flicted the immedicable wound and what is it, complexion of Othello, and not his military profesbut the colour of Othello?
sion, (as Malone had supposed,) is obvious from “Now, Roderigo, what immediately follows: I saw Othello's visWhere did'st thou see her ?-Oh, unhappy girl! age in his mind;' and also from what the Duke With the Moor, say'st thou ?-Who would be a father ?"
says to BrabantioThese are the disjointed lamentations of the "If virtue no delighted beauty lack wretched parent when the first disclosure of his Your son-in-law is far more fair han black.'» daughter's shame is made known to him. This The characters of Othello and Iago in this play scene is one of the inimitable pictures of human are evidently intended as contrasted pictures of passion in the hands of Shakspeare, and that half human nature, each setting off the other. They line,
are national portraits of man—the ITALIAN and "With the Moor say'st thou ?"
the Moor. The Italian is white, crafty and cruel ; comes from the deepest recesses of the soul.
consummate villain; yet, as often happens in Again, when Brabantio first meets Othello, he
the realities of that description whom we occabreaks out:
sionally meet in the intercourse of life, so vain of "O, thou foul thief, where hast thou stow'd my daughter? ing of them and their success. Accordingly, in
his own artifices that he betrays himself by boastDamn'd as thou art, thou hast enchanted her: For I'll refer me to all things of sense,
the very first scene he reveals to Roderigo the If she, in chains of magic were not bound, Whether a maid so tender, fair, and happy,
treachery of his own character :So opposite to marriage that she shunn d'
“ For when my outward action doth demonstrate The wealthy curled darlings of our nation,
The native act and figure of my heart Would ever have to incur our general mock,
In compliment extern, 'tis not long after Run from her guardage to the sooty bosom
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve Of such a thing as thou; lo fear, not to delight."
For daws to peck at; I am not what I am." Several of the English commentators have puz- There is a seeming inconsistency in the fact that zled themselves with the inquiry why the epithet
double dealer should disclose his own secret, “ curled” is here applied to the wealthy darlings which must necessarily put others upon their guard of the nation; and Dr. Johnson thinks it has no against him; but the inconsistency is in human reference to the hair; but it evidently has. The nature, and not in the poet. curled hair is in antithetic contrast to the sooty
The double dealing Italian is a very intelligent bosom, the thick lips, and the woolly head. The man, a keen and penetrating observer, and full of contrast of colo is the very hinge upon which ingenuity to devise and contrive base expedients. Brabantio founds his charge of magic, counteract
His language is coarse, rude, and obscene : his huing the impulse of nature.
mour is caustic and bitter. Conscious of no honAt the close of the same scene (the second of
est principle in himself, he believes not in the exthe first act) Brabantio, hearing that the duke is istence of honesty in others. He is jealous and in council upon public business of the State, deter- suspicious; quick to note every trifle light as air, mines to carry Othello before him for trial upon
and to draw from it inferences of evil as confirmed the charge of magic. Mine," says he,
circumstances. In his dealings with the Moor,
while he is even harping upon his honesty, he of“Mine's not a middle course ; the duke himself Or any of my brothers of the state
fers to commit any murder from extreme attachCannot but feel the wrong, as 'lwere their own: ment to his person and interests. In all that lago For if such actions may have passage free,
says of others, and especially of Desdemona, there Bond slaves and Pagans shall our statesmen be."
is a mixture of truth and falsehood, blended toAnd Stevens, in his note on this passage, says, gether, in which the truth itself serves to accredit “ He alludes to the common condition of all blacks the lie; and such is the ordinary character of mawho come from their own country, both slaves licious slanders. Doctor Johnson speaks of " the and pagans; and uses the word in contempt of soft simplicity," the “innocence," the “artlessness" Othello and his complexion. If this Moor is now of Desdemona. Iago speaks of her as a supersuffered to escape with impunity, it will be such subtle Venetian; and when kindling the sparks of an encouragement to his black countrymen, that jealousy in the soul of Othello, he says, we may expect to see all the first offices of our
“She did deceive her father, marrying you: state filled up by the Pagans and hond-slaves of And when she seemed to shake and fear your looks, Africa.” Othello himself in his narrative says
She loved them most." that he had been taken by the insolent foe and « And so she did," answers Othello. This sold to slavery. He had been a slave.
charge, then, was true; and Iago replies : Once more-When Desdemona pleads to the
“Why, go to, then; Duke and the council for permission to go with
She that so young could give out such a seeming
To seal her father's eyes up, close as oak.Othello to Cyprus, she says,
He thought 'twas witchcraft.”
It was not witchcraft; but surely as little was little disguise, even for passions which they have it simplicity, innocence, artlessness. The effect no need to be ashamed. It is the rosy pudencyof this suggestion upon Othello is terrible only the irresistible charm of the sex; but the exercise because he knows it is true. Brabantio, on part of it in satirical censure upon the very object of ing from him, had just given him the same warn- their most ardent affections is certainly no indicaing, to which he had not then paid the slightest tion of innocence, simplicity, or artlessness. heed. But soon his suspicions are roused—he I still retain, then, the opiniontries to repel them; they are fermenting in his First. That the passion of Desdemona for brain: he appears vehemently moved and yet un- Othello is unnatural, solely and exclusively because willing to acknowledge it. Iago, with fiend-like of his colour. sagacity, seizes upon the paroxysm of emotion, and Second. That her elopement to him, and sethen comes the following dialogue
cret marriage with him, indicate a personal cha** lago. "My lord, I see you are moved.
racter not only very deficient in delicacy, but toNo, not much moved :
tally regardless of filial duty, of female modesty, I do not think but Desdemona's honest.
and of ingenuous shame. logo. Long live she so! and long live you to think so! Orh. And yet, how nature erring from itself
Third. That her deficiency in delicacy is disJago. Ay, there's the point: As-o be bold with you,- cernible in her conduct and discourse throughout Not to affect many proposed matches,
the play. Of her own clime, complexion, and degree; Whereto, we see, in all things nature iends:
I perceive and acknowledge, indeed, the admiFoh! one may smell, in such, a will most rank,
rable address with which the part has been conFoul disproportion, thoughts unnatural."
trived to inspire and to warm the breast of the The deadly venom of these imputations, work spectator with a deep interest in her fate; and I ing up to phrensy the suspicions of the Moor, con- am well aware that my own comparative insensisist not in their falsehood but in their truth. bility to it is not in unison with the general im
I have said the character of Desdemona was pression which it produces upon the stage. I deficient in delicacy. Besides the instances to shrink from the thought of slandering even a creawhich I referred in proof of this charge, observe ture of the imagination. When the spectator or what she says in pleading for the restoration of reader follows, on the stage or in the closet, the Cassio to his office, from which he had been infernal thread of duplicity and of execrable decashiered by Othello for beastly drunkenness and vices with which Iago enta gles his victims, it is a consequent night-brawl, in which he had stabbed the purpose of the dramatist to merge all the faults Montano—the predecessor of Othello as Governor and vices of the sufferers in the overwhelming of Cypress and nearly killed him: yet in urging flood of their calamities, and in the unmingled deOthello to restore Cassio to his office and to favour, testation of the inhuman devil, their betrayer and Desdemona says
destroyer. And in all this, I see not only the skill "in faith, he's penitent;
of the artist, but the power of the moral operator, And yet his trespass, in our common reason,
the purifier of the spectator's heart by the agency (Save that they say, the wars must make examples
of terror and pity. Out of their best.) is not almost a fault To incur a private check.”
The characters of Othello and Desdemona, like
all the characters of men and women in real life, Now, to palliate the two crimes of Cassio-his
are of " mingled yarn," with qualities of good and drunken fit and his stabbing of Montano—the
bad—of virtue and vices in proportion differently reader knows that he has been inveigled to the commission of them by the accursed artifices of is, in moral principle, the very spirit of evil. I
composed. Iago, with a high order of intellect, Iago; but Desdemona knows nothing of this; she
have said the moral of the tragedy is, that the inhas no excuse for Cassio—nothing to plead for
termarriage of black and white blood is a violation him but his penitence. And is this the character for
of the law of nature. That is the lesson to be a woman of delicate sentiment to give of such a
learned from the play. To exhibit all the natural complicated and heinous offence as that of which Cassio had been guilty, even when pleading for
consequences of their act, the poet is compelled to
make the marriage secret. It must commence by his pardon? No! it is not for female delicacy to
an elopement, and by an outrage upon the decoextenuate the crimes of drunkenness and blood
rum of social intercourse. He must therefore asshed, even when performing the appropriate office
sume, for the performance of this act, persons of jf raising the soul-subduing voice of mercy.
moral character sufficiently frail and imperfect to Afterwards in the same speech, she says
be capable of performing it, but in other respects “What! Michael Cassio, endowed with pleasing and estimable qualities. That came a-wooing with you; and many a time, When I have spoke of you dispraisingly,
Thus, the Moor is represented as of free, and open Hath ta'en your part; to have so much to do
and generous nature; as a Christian; as a distinTo bring him in!"
guished military commander in the service of the I will not inquire how far this avowal that she Republic of Venice; as having rendered imporhad been in the frequent habit of speaking dis- tant service to the state, and as being in the enpraisingly of Othello at the very time when she joyment of a splendid reputation as a warrior. was so deeply enamoured with his honours and his The other party to the marriage is a maiden, fair, valiant parts, was consistent with sincerity. Young gentle, and accomplished; born and educated in ladies must be allowed a little concealment and a the proudest rank of Venetian nobility.