He lives on in poverty and seclusion, and in his eightieth year loses his way in a snowstorm and perishes miserably — this in 1832, the year of the death of the great Sir Walter Scott
, who once had complimented Freneau
by borrowing one of his best lines of poetry.
It is in the orations and pamphlets and statepapers inspired by the Revolutionary agitation that we find the most satisfactory expression of the thought and feeling of that generation.
Its typical literature is civic rather than aesthetic, a sort of writing which has been incidental to the accomplishing of some political, social, or moral purpose, and which scarcely regards itself as literature at all. James Otis
's argument against the Writs of Assistance in Massachusetts
in 1761, and Patrick Henry
's speech in the Virginia House
of Burgesses in 1765, mark epochs in the emotional life of these communities.
They were reported imperfectly or not at all, but they can no more be ignored in an assessment of our national experience than editorials, sermons, or conversations which have expressed the deepest feelings of a day and then have perished beyond resurrection.
Yet if natural orators like Otis
and Henry be denied a strictly “literary” rating because their