1839. He subsequently read law at Lockport in New-York and at St. Albans, and was admitted to the bar at the latter place in September, 1843, since which time he has been practising in the courts with more than the average success of young attorneys, and he is now a leading politician of the democratic party, the conductor of its local organ, the Burlington Sentinel, and District Attorney, by the grace of personal popularity—all other candidates on the same ticket having been defeated.
Mr. Saxe became known as an occasional contributor to the Knickerbocker Magazine, some eight or ten years ago. Among his pieces in that miscellany is one characteristically remarkable for a sympathetic fitness of phrase, entitled the Rhyme of the Rail, and beginning:
Singing through the forests,
Rattling over ridges,
Shooting under arches,
Rumbling over bridges,
Whizzing through the mountains,
Buzzing o'er the vale,—
Bless me! this is pleasant,
Riding on the Rail!
In this period he has thrown off scores of epigrams, &c., anonymously, besides the more ambitious performances acknowledged in the collection of his Poems, of which we have before us a third edition—showing that their quality is well appreciated—from the press of Ticknor & Co. The longest of these is Progress, first published in 1846. In skilful felicities of language and rhythm, general clear and sharp expression, and alternating touches of playful wit and vigorous sense, there is nothing so long that is so well sustained in the hundred and one books of American satire. In the beginning of it he says finely of our "glorious tongue:"
Let thoughts, too idle to be fitly dressed
In sturdy Saxon, be in French expressed;
Let lovers breathe Italian,—like, in sooth,
Its singers soft, emasculate, and smooth;
But for a tongue, whose ample powers embrace
Beauty and force, sublimity and grace,
Ornate or plain, harmonious, yet strong,
And formed alike for eloquence and song,
Give me the English,—aptest tongue to paint
A sage or dunce, a villain or a saint,
To spur the slothful, counsel the distressed,
To lash the oppressor, and to soothe the oppressed,
To lend fantastic Humor freest scope,
To marshal all his laughter-moving troop,
Give Pathos power, and Fancy lightest wings,
And Wit his merriest whims and keenest stings!
And then proceeds with a display of popular follies, and especially of those most grotesque and offensive, the sham philosophies by which it is attempted to regenerate society:
Hail, Social Progress! each new moon is rife
With some new theory of social life,
Some matchless scheme ingeniously designed
From half their miseries to free mankind;
On human wrongs triumphant war to wage,
And bring anew the glorious golden age.
"Association" is the magic word
From many a social "priest and prophet" heard;
"Attractive Labor" is the angel given,
To render earth a sublunary Heaven!
"Attractive Labor!" ring the changes round,
And labor grows attractive in the sound;
And many a youthful mind, where haply lurk
Unwelcome fancies at the name of "work,"
See pleasant pastime in its longing view
Of "toil made easy" and "attractive" too,
And, fancy-rapt, with joyful ardor, turns
Delightful grindstones, and seductive churns!
In the same vein we are treated with "novelties which disturb our peace," in literature, fashion, politics, religion, and morals; and every line is faultless in finish and in wit. The Proud Miss McBride, and The New Rape of the Lock, are in different veins, but abound in the same exquisite turns, agreeable images, and comic displays of wisdom. In the New Rape of the Lock:
The gossips whispered it through the town,
That "Captain Jones loved Susan Brown;"
But, speaking with due precision,
The gossips' tattle was out of joint,
For the lady's "blunt" was the only point
That dazzled the lover's vision!
And the Captain begged, in his smoothest tones,
Miss Susan Brown to be Mistress Jones,—
Flesh of his flesh and bone of his bones,
Till death the union should sever;
For these are the words employed, of course,
Though Death is cheated, sometimes by Divorce;
A fact which gives an equivocal force
To that beautiful phrase, "for ever!"
And Susan sighed the conventional "Nay"
In such a bewitching, affirmative way,
The Captain perceived 'twas the feminine "Ay,"
And sealed it in such commotion,
That no "lip-service" that ever was paid
To the ear of a god, or the cheek of a maid,
Looked more like real devotion!
At the wedding party all the aristocracy of the circle in which the Browns and Joneses were acquainted came together, and Miss Susan—
To pique a group of laughing girls
Who stood admiring the Captain's curls,
She formed the resolution
To get a lock of her lover's hair,
In the gaze of the guests assembled there,
By some expedient, foul or fair,
Before the party's conclusion.
"Only a lock, dear Captain!—no more,
'A lock for Memory,' I implore!"
But Jones, the gayest of quizzers,
Replied, as he gave his eye a cock,
"'Tis a treacherous memory needs a lock,"
And dodg'd the envious scissors.
Alas! that Susan couldn't refrain,
In her zeal the precious lock to gain,
From laying her hand on the lion's mane!
To see the cruel mocking,
And hear the short, affected cough,
The general titter, and chuckle, and scoff,
When the Captain's Patent Wig came off,