[Home] [Book] [Expand] [Collapse] [Help]

Clear Search Expand Search


    CONTENTS.   Table of Contents     MISCELLANEOUS PIECES
  --  IN PROSE.

Plato, Ann
Essays

- TO THE READER.

TO THE READER.

I Have now taken up my pen to introduce to the notice of the public, a book containing productions of an interesting young authoress. The occasion is one relatively of importance, and certainly of great interest to myself.

I am not in the habit of introducing myself or others to notice by the adjective "colored," &c., but it seems proper that I should just say here, that my authoress is a colored lady, a member of my church, of pleasing piety and modest worth.

The book contains her own thoughts, expressed in her own way. The best way to do justice to young writers, is to weigh their thoughts without so strict a regard to their style as we should pay in the case of elder writers.

The matter of this book is miscellaneous, in prose and poetry. The topics are judiciously selected, and it must be pleasing to the friends of youthful piety to see that religion is placed first; and the more so when it is known, that in this, the writer has followed her renewed turn of mind. The article on religion is full of piety and good sense.

raster
xviii

This is itself a high commendation to the book. It contains the pious sentiments of a youth devoted to the glory of God, and the best good of her readers. This is an example worthy to be imitated. I know of knothing more praise-worthy than to see one of such promise come before the public, with the religion of Christ uppermost in her mind. It will be well for our cause when many such can be found among us. In her biographical sketches, she shows in a very interesting way, her social piety. She has paid a just tribute to the memory of a number of her departed companions. This has been well conceived. Departed worth deserves permanent tributes. If they were youth, what is more fit than that their surviving youthful companions should pay those tributes?

My authoress has a taste for poetry. And this is much to the advantage of any one who makes an effort in this difficult part of literature. The opinion has too far prevailed, that the talent for poetry is exclusively the legacy of nature. Nature should not be charged of withholding her blessings, when the only cause of our barrenness is our own indolence. There is no doubt that the talent for poetry is in a high degree attainable. My authoress has evinced her belief in this position. She is willing to be judged by the candid, and even to run the hazard of being severely dealt with by the critic, in order to accomplish something for the credit of her people. She has done well by what nature has done for her, in trying what art will add. The fact is, this is the only way to show the fallacy of that stupid theory, that nature has done nothing but fit us for slaves, and that art cannot unfit us for slavery!

My authoress has followed the example of Philis Wheatly, and of Terence, and Capitain, and Francis Williams, her compatriots.

These all served in adversity, and afterwards found that

raster
xix
nature had no objection, at least, to their serving the world in high repute as poets. She, like as Philis Wheatly was, is passionately fond of reading, and delights in searching the Holy Scriptures; and is now rapidly improving in knowledge.

Should her book which is here offered, meet with due encouragement, her talents will receive an impetus which will amply repay her patrons, and the generation in which she lives.

To those with whom my authoress is more particularly identified, I must remark, that so far from having a pretence to disparage her book, we have many considerations which enforce the obligation to give it a prompt and ready patronage. To some of these I beg leave to advert, in conclusion.

1. Young writers are always in peculiar need of patronage to enable them to set out in a successful and useful career. It is often the case, that their fortune turns upon their first attempt, and that they fail, not so much for want of merit, as for want of that patronage which their merit deserves.

Elder writers, in general, have gained a reputation, and therefore have this acquisition to augment their chance for patronage in any particular effort. But the young writer has no such capital to begin with. In their first effort for patronage the odds is against them, since they have, at the same time, to try for reputation. Under these circumstances they more naturally look to those whose sympathies ought to be in favor of their success.

2. From the above general principle, our young authoress justly appeals to us, her own people, (though not exclusively,) to give her success. I say the appeal is just. And it is just because her success will, relatively, be our own. A mutual effort is the legitimate way to secure
raster
xx
mutual success. Egypt, Greece and Rome, successively, gave their own authors success, and by a very natural consequence, the reputation which they secured to their authors became their own. The history of the arts and sciences is the history of individuals, of individual nations. When Egypt was a school for the world, all the Egyptians were not teachers of the arts and sciences. The Romans were not all Ciceros, nor were the Greeks all Homers, or Platos. But as Greece had a Plato why may we not have a Platoess?

3. This book has a claim upon our youth, and especially those of the writers own sex. She has a large heart full of chaste and pious affection for those of her own age and sex; and this affection is largly interspersed over the pages of her book. If you will reciprocate this affection you will, I doubt not, read this book with pleasure and profit. With these remarks, and my best wishes to you and our authoress, I close, that you may pass on to her own pages, and read for your improvement.

JAMES W. C. PENNINGTON,
Pastor of the Colored Congregational Church.
Hartford , June 1st, 1841.


    CONTENTS.   Table of Contents     MISCELLANEOUS PIECES
  --  IN PROSE.