James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joseph Hutton, 9 October 1815

Philadelphia Octr 9th. 1815


Emboldened by the conviction that your Excellency’s inclination is to encourage literature generally, but more particular, any attempt to perpetuate the renown of those gallant men who lately fell in the service of their country, as well as those who have survived to experience the gratitude of the public, I venture to solicit the patronage of your Excellency for a poem on the subject of the victory at Plattsburgh. This poem, called The Saranac, A song of Plattsburgh, embraces, however as episodes the principal victories obtained on Land & Lake, during the late glorious struggle for the very foundation of our existence as a nation. I am convinced that your Excellency will agree with me, that after the triumph at Plattsburgh the sun of fancy might say, that struggle being decisive:

Brittannia from her cliffs beheld,

And doubtful thought her ⟨bosom⟩ swelled;

Awhile she pondered in her seat,

Her lion raging at her feet;

Whose fangs, amid his deep’ning roar,

The trophies of her triumphs tore!

Now starting, with dishevelled locks

The genius o’er her bounding rocks,

Learned the dread tale the tempest gave,

That blackened o’er the troubled waves!

A livid horror wraps her soul,

With wild despair her eye balls roll;

Loudly she shrieks--’ My foes are free!’

Then hurls her trident in the sea!

 Canto VI

The Poem is prepared for publication, and I venture to solicit your excellency’s permission to dedicate it to the Commander in Chief of the Army & Navy of the U. S. of America, as well as the honour and interest of your name at the heart of a subscription list. Should your exellency think this Letter worthy of reply, I shall find it at the Post Office in this city, the receipt of which will add to the high consideration with which I have the honour to be Your Excellency’s Obdt. Servt.

Jos: Hutton

DLC: Papers of James Madison.

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