EDITOR'S PREFACE.IT is a duty we owe to society, to preserve every memorial of intellectual superiority, that chance may throw in our way, and, more particularly so, those productions which reflect honor on our native genius. The literature of a nation is not to be built up like a modern edifice, with suitable honors, "a true and trusty" corner-stone, conveying the memorabilia of the age; but must have accident and design, small things, as well as great, in its foundation. The following classical production came into my possession in so singular a way, that I feel bound to give the reader the whole history of it. In the summer of 1823, I was a member of the Ohio University, and left that Institution, expecting to return to college to pursue my studies, in the winter; but circumstances, unnecessary for me to state, prevented me from joining my class at that time, and I was induced to seek, in the western part of the state, a person with whom I could prosecute my studies during the winter season. I heard of a competent teacher in Warren county, of which Lebanon is the shire, situate about thirty miles from Cincinnati. He had excited no small degree of interest among the few who were capable of appreciating his extraordinary attainments in classical literature. — This man was Francis Glass, the author of the following work, "The Life of Washington." I found him in a remote part of the county, in a good neighborhood of thrifty farmers, who had employed him to instruct their children, who, in general, were then acquiring the simplest rudiments of an English education. The schoolhouse now rises fresh on my memory. It stood on the banks of a small stream, in a thick grove of native oaks, resembling more a den for Druidical rites, than a temple of learning. The building was a low log-cabin, with a clapboard roof, but indifferently tight — all the light of heaven, found in this cabin, came through apertures made on each side in the logs, and these were covered with oiled paper to keep out the cold air, while they admitted the dim rays. The seats, or benches, were of hewn timbers, resting on upright posts, placed in the ground to keep them from being overturned by the mischievous urchins who sat on them. In the centre was a large stove, between which and the back part of the building, stood a small desk, without lock or key, made of rough plank, over which a plane had never passed; and, behind this desk, sat Professor Glass when I entered his school. There might have been forty scholars present; twenty-five of these were engaged in spelling, reading, and writing, a few in arithmetic, a small class in English grammar; and a half a dozen, like myself, had joined his school, for the benefit of his instruction in the Greek and Latin languages, preparatory to a more extended course in one of the Ohio seminaries. The moment he learned that my intention was to pursue the study of the languages with him, his whole soul appeared to beam from his countenance. He commenced in a strain, which in another would have seemed pedantic, but which, in fact, was far from being so in him. The following imperfect sketch, drawn entirely from memory, may serve to give some idea of his peculiar manner: — "Welcome to the shrine of the Muses, my young friend, Salve! χαῖρε! The temple of the Delphian God was originally a laurel hut, and the Muses deign to dwell, accordingly, even in my rustic abode. 'Non humilem domum fastidiunt, umbrosamve ripam.' Here, too, the winds hold converse, 'Eurus, and Caurus, and Argestes loud,' and the goddesses of the Castalian fountain, the daughters of the golden-haired Mnemosyne, are sometimes silent with the lyre, 'citharâ tacentes,' that they may catch the sweet murmurs of the harp of Aeolus. Here, too, I, the priest of the muses, Musarum sacerdos, sing, to the young of either sex, strains before unheard, Virginibus puerisque canto. Plutus, indeed, that blind old deity, is far away; and far away let him be, for well has the prince of comic poets styled him a 'filthy, crooked, miserable, wrinkled, bald, and toothless creature?' ῥυπῶντα, χυφὸν, ἄθλιον, ῥυσὸν, μαδῶντα, νωδόν." Such was my first interview. It was a display perfectly natural, and without the least apparent consciousness of effort on his part. From this moment he took the greatest interest in my studies, and I enjoyed not only his instruction during school hours, but — as I had taken up my lodgings at a farm-house about half a mile from his school, on the road to his own humble residence, situate a mile beyond — almost every evening, from his deep interest in my progress, was spent with me at my dwelling. While at the Ohio University, I had enjoyed the privilege of able instruction from the Professor of Languages in that institution; but so far as I was capable of judging, or making comparison, the attainments and readiness of Glass seemed altogether superior to any thing I had witnessed. While reading Horace, for instance, the happy illustrations applied to each line, or word, gave an interest to my studies absolutely fascinating. Sometimes, when in a happy mood — and I soon learned that he was not always happy — he would hold me a delighted auditor, for a whole evening, while analyzing and pointing out the beauties of a single ode. The whole range of classic authors was at his tongue's end, and he would recite from them with a facility and an accuracy truly astonish ing. Every thing, by way of illustration or comparison, was introduced, with such an inimitable and sweet simplicity, that, to me, it seemed as if I had never before understood the beauties of the authors I had been reading, or properly appreciated the flow, strength, and grandeur of the Latin tongue. His method of teaching the languages was thorough and philosophical; the judgment, as well as the memory, was brought into requisition, and he illumined the page of the author with such brilliant remarks, that his pupil seldom felt the longest lesson as a task. Enamoured with standard works, he discovered a strong affection for those who had earnestly engaged in mastering their beauties: and if, at any moment, he showed a partiality for any one of his students, the love he bore to learning was the only cause of it. He was proud of being a professor of languages, and never lost the self-satisfaction that arose from the consciousness of his abilities. With him, as with Dr. Busby, the teacher could be second to no one in the nation; and he often dwelt upon that enlightened age of Greece, when the lecturer at the Academy or Lyceum was a greater man, in public estimation, than the commander of armies. He took it upon himself to judge of the improvement of his scholars, and gave them diplomas according to their merits, from his own authority, without reciting a chartered right, or asking the privilege of a board of trustees. The form of one of these diplomas I have preserved, and deem it of sufficient interest to be here introduced.
Glass knew nothing of the world more than a child. He was delicately formed in mind and body, and shrunk from all coarseness, as a sensitive plant from the rude touch. A cold or unfeeling word seemed to palsy every current of his soul, and every power of his mind; but when addressed in gentle confiding tones, he was easy, communicative, and full of light and life. At such hours, he poured out a stream of classical knowledge, as clear, sparkling, and copious, as ever flowed from the fountains of inspiration in the early days of the Muses. During these excursive flights, I have sat a delighted listener for hours, hardly daring to hear my own voice, for fear I should break the spell by some unclassical word, and that then the Oracle would be dumb. He had all the enthusiasm of Erasmus, and of those revivers of learning in the fifteenth century, who considered the languages the ornament and the charm of life, and more worthy of pursuit than all other attainments, and, who, from this love of letters, called them "the Humanities." The mind was, with him, measured by the amount of classical acquirements. He was not deficient in mathematics and other branches of useful science, but they were only mere matters of utility, and not of affection. Such a man is seldom properly appreciated any where, even in the bosom of letters, where many are capable of understanding such gifts; but a new country furnishes few competent judges of high literary acquirements. I had been with him about three months, when he communicated to me his long-cherished intention of writing the life of Washington in Latin, for the use of schools. He, after this time, often adverted to the subject, with an earnestness I shall never forget. By parcels, I got something of his history. He was educated in Philadelphia, and spent the earlier part of his life in that city and vicinity, in literary pursuits. He often mentioned the name of Professor Ross, and said something of having assisted him in the compilation of his Latin Grammar. While acting as an instructor in the interior of Pennsylvania, he contracted an unfortunate marriage, in a state, as he said, of partial insanity; no wonder he thought so, when he found himself surrounded by evils which his imprudence had brought upon him. Glass tried to make the best of his situation, but he could not soften the temper, or elevate the mind, of the being to whom he was united for life. The influence of his situation, on such a sensitive scholar, was perceptible in every act. He did all he could for his wife and rapidly-increasing family, but his efforts procured for them but a scanty subsistence. With all ambition prostrated, and with a deadly sickness at his heart, he, somewhere in the year 1817 or '18, left Pennsylvania for the West, and settled in the Miami country. From that time to the period I became acquainted with him, he had pursued the business of school-keeping, in various places, where a teacher was wanted, subject to the whims of children and the caprices of their parents, enough alone to disturb the greatest philosopher. Of all the honest callings in this world, the most difficult is that of an instructor, who has to chastise idle boys, and to satisfy ignorant parents. Every new change of school district gave Glass some new cause of suffering, which had an effect on his health and temper. During all the time he had been in the western country, he had made but little or no progress in his contemplated work. In the drudgery of a daily school, he could not think of sitting down to such a labor; he wanted retirement and tranquillity, while engaged in writing, to do justice to himself and the subject. He would often discover the deepest sensibility, when any allusion was made to the deeds or fame of Washington; and his own contemplations on the wishes of his heart, seemed to break down all the energies of his mind, and unfit him for the common duties of life. He was conscious of his weakness, but he had not sufficient energy of mind to rise superior to it. Every day his misfortunes were making inroads upon his slender form, and hurrying him to the grave. He viewed his situation without dismay, only fearing that he should die before he had written the life of Washington. There were moments when hope broke in upon his despondency, and visions of glory filled his mind. He saw himself united in all coming ages with the father of his country, and with the patriotism and prowess of the greatest and the best of men, which had only been recorded in modern languages, never burning in the vernacular of Imperial Rome, nor traced with a pen plucked from the wing of the "Mantuan Swan." In this ardent glow of classical inspiration, he saw going onward to perpetuity, the fame of Washington with the honors of a Trajan, and himself not far behind the younger Pliny, who has left a model of imperishable eloquence, delivered before the Roman Senate, on the virtues of his Emperor. These feelings and sentiments, which would have been pedantry in another, were as natural as the delights of an unsophisticated child in him. The winter had now drawn nearly to a close, and the opening spring, with its busy scenes of rural life, had called nearly all the larger scholars from his school; still nothing had been definitely arranged in reference to the life of Washington. He renewed the subject again and again. I had no one with whom to consult. I did not know how to decide in my own mind, for I felt incapable of properly estimating his attainments, and what he really was capable of producing, — besides, the expenses to which I should be subjected, were matters of responsibility, gravely to be considered. My feelings, however, were interested. I pitied the man, and felt grateful for his attentions, and for the advantages I had derived from his instructions. The attempt, I knew, was a bold one; but, then, the subject addressed itself to the feelings of every American heart. The example, too, of such devotion to classic literature, on the part of an individual so humble, so obscure, could not, I thought, but awaken to higher efforts, on the part of individuals more favorably situated, — nor his labors be otherwise, than received with favoring kindness, by every one interested in the advancement of literature in the United States. From the moment he learned my determination, to meet his requirements in the prosecution of his work, his gloom and low spirits forsook him, and he appeared like a new being — though it was but too apparent, that the spirits thus newly lighted up, were still encased in a weak, fragile, and gradually sinking form. I now visited his house for the first time. I shall not attempt a description, nor do I exaggerate, when I say, that his worldly goods and chattels, of all descriptions, could not have been sold for the sum of thirty dollars. Clothing for himself and family was now ordered, and, at the end of his term, arrangements were made for the removal of himself and family to Dayton, on the Miami, sixty miles from Cincinnati, where he immediately set about his work; and ere the close of the following winter, the whole was completed. At this period I paid him a visit, and received from him the manuscript. His request was most earnest, that the result of his labors might be published. I promised him it should, and have never seen him since; — and, though years have rolled around, I have never, until the present moment, had leisure to attend to its publication, or to redeem the promise I had made to its author. Poor Glass! — had he only been spared, to learn that his work had been examined and approved of by some of the ripest scholars of our country1 — men whose names are but other terms for all that is pure, and chaste, and elegant in classical literature — how it would have consoled and softened the last gloomy hours of his existence! — For so obscurely did he live, so humble and retired must have been his residence at the time of his death, that, since my return to the United States, I have not been able to learn a word in reference to him, except that he died while I was gone, and that his family had removed from Dayton to Germantownship, Montgomery county. From what has now been stated, something may be learned of the life of the author of the following work, and of the circumstances under which it was written. It were in vain for us, for the ten thousandth time, to mourn over the untoward fate of genius, or refer to the strong passages of the writers of every age, on the difficulties of overcoming the "res angusta domi," or of struggling against the heartlessness of the world; — and although it will forever be, that favor is not always to men of skill, nor bread to men of understanding, yet it should be stated, that talents now come to a better market in this country, than formerly, and that the fate of genius is less deplorable than it was. A word or two respecting the Latinity of the work which is here presented to the public. — To say that it is offered as a specimen of finished composition, would be to assert what is not the fact, and what the author himself, had his life been spared, would never have ventured to maintain. It boasts of no peculiar elegance of diction, no rich display of those beauties and graces, that adorn the pages of some modern Latinists; yet, in a faithful adherence to the idiom of the language, in an accurate use of approved phraseology, in that most difficult of all tasks, the clothing of modern ideas, and modern improvements, in a language that has ceased to be a spoken tongue for many centuries; in all this, and more than this, the present work may safely challenge no ordinary degree of scrutiny, and will be found to contain no small portion of what cannot but tend to propitiate and disarm the severity of criticism. In Latinising the various terms to which the changes that have taken place in the art of war, since the time of the Romans, have so abundantly given rise, we cannot but be struck with the skill which our author has displayed. Occasionally, it is true, some phrase or expression of rather doubtful origin may intrude, but the intrusion will always be found to carry its own apology along with it, and to be evidently required by the circumstances of the case. And, after all, our author's "Gubernator Dinwiddie," "Dux Knox," "Congressus Americanus," "tormenta ignivoma," "glandes plumbeæ," &c., are certainly no worse than Wyttenbach's2 "tormentorium unâ explosorum," "patinæ discique dissiliunt," "pulveris pyrii odor," or Addison's3 "ferrea grando," and "plumbi densissimus imber." Even the term Tremebundi, applied to the society of Friends, loses nothing, on being compared with the "gens Quackerorum sive Trementium," of Schroeckh.4 Some parts of the work, on the other hand, will, I trust, be found possessed of positive merit; and I am certain that, in the description of Mount Vernon, and the delineation of the character of Washington, the most rigid critic will find much to commend. The notes speak for themselves. The author evidently had in view the possibility of his work being introduced into schools, and they were therefore written for the benefit, principally, of the younger class of readers, though, occasionally, they assume a higher and graver character. In conclusion, the editor entertains the hope, that the little work which is here offered to the literati of his country, will be kindly received by them, and be found not undeserving of their notice. It is the production of a poor and almost friendless individual, whom a sound and liberal education had fitted for higher pursuits, but whom misfortune and disappointment had driven from the scenes of his earlier years, to the more congenial solitudes of the West. And it will show the powerful influence that classical studies, when properly pursued, are calculated to exercise over the mind; how they cling to it, even amid misfortune, and impart a sure solace under all the ills of life. J. N. R.
“OMNIBUS, ad quos præsentes hæ LITERÆ pervenerint, SALUTEM in domino sempiternam. OMNIBUS hominibus per literas has præsentes notum sit, harumce latorem — —, maximae spei adolescentem in studio Graec. et Lat. linguarum, aliquandiù opera strenuam (me ipso vice Præceptoris fungente,) navâsse: easdemque linguas qui doceat in quovis gymnasio, omnino idoneum esse. In cujus rei fidem, præsentes literas manu nostrâ exarandas curavimus.”FRANCISCUS GLASS, A. M. Graec. et Lat. Ling. Professor, Scripsi in Republica Ohioensi.