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[71] “Poetry wit and Criticism Romances Plays &c captivated me much: but I begin to discover that they deserve but a moderate portion of a mortal's Time and that something more substantial more durable more profitable befits our riper age.” Madison was then at the ripe age of twenty-three! Professor Pattee, Freneau's editor, quotes these words to illustrate the “common sense” atmosphere of the age which proved fatal to Freneau's development. Yet the sturdy young New Yorker, of Huguenot descent, is a charming figure, and his later malevolence was shown only to his political foes. After leaving Princeton he tries teaching, the law, the newspaper, the sea; he is aflame with patriotic zeal; he writes, like most American poets, far too much for his own reputation. As the editor of the National Gazette in Philadelphia, he becomes involved in the bitter quarrel between his chief, Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. His attachment to the cause of the French Revolution makes him publish baseless attacks upon Washington. By and by he retires to a New Jersey farm, still toying with journalism, still composing verses. He turns patriotic poet once more in the War of 1812; but the public has now forgotten him.

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