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[179] patriotic song Adams and liberty made him a celebrity. Though he practised law, he gave most of his time to the theatre and to poetry. Soon his reputation was such that he could command five dollars a line for his verse, a price never before approached in America and perhaps never since equalled. His marriage with an actress estranged him from his family, and after this event his life was that of a wastrel. His services, however, were in request upon all public occasions, from the opening of theatres to meetings of the Phi Beta Kappa. For such occasions he wrote the didactic poems, prologues, and odes in conventional but vigorous heroic couplets that form the greater part of his work. The ruling passion, for Phi Beta Kappa, and The invention of letters, for a Harvard commencement, were hailed as the spontaneous and original outbursts of genius, though both are merely laboured and conventional didactic poems of a type that was even then in its decline. In these and a few other of Paine's poems one finds rhetorical passages of some merit amid a waste of bombast and affectation but looks in vain for any imagination or real feeling. The diction embodies all the vices against which the new poetry rebelled. Della Crusca plus Pope would have crushed a more genuine talent than Paine's. His reputation is a curious evidence of the pathetic craving for a national poet and of the determination to force the birth of a genius. His Works in prose and verse, an octavo volume of over five hundred pages, was published one year after his death, with all the reverence due to a classic.

“The American Sappho” was not the only woman singer of Boston. Mrs. Susanna Rowson,1 besides her plays and novels, wrote poems which unite “sensibility” and didacticism. Her odes, hymns, elegies, nature lyrics, and songs show little observation of life or nature, and scarcely any distinctive American quality. Of all these, the patriotic lyric America, Commerce, and Freedom, which is commonplace but not without spirit, alone has survived. The Poems, Dramatic and Miscellaneous, of Mrs. Mercy Warren (1728-1814)2 include ponderous and solemn epistles and elegies that are merely belated echoes of Pope. New York also had its woman poet in Mrs. Ann Eliza Bleecker (1752-1783), whose melancholy

1 See also Book II, Chaps. II and VI.

2 See also Book II, Chap. II.

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