Verses to Daniel McKinnen
To Daniel McKinnen Esqr
The man whom the muses have markd as their own
On whose birth they benignant have smild
His name on the turf or on ’change is unknown
He looks with contempt on that bauble a crown
Nor searches for glory in fields of renown
Where pity still weeps & horror stalks wild.
At the bar amid cunning contention & noise
No brawling attorney is he
In Assembly or Senate he never enjoys
The rewards which a profligate party employs
As shackles to fetter the free.
But where Hudson his high lands has torn from their base
There the muses have found for McKinnen a place
Where embodied by fancy those forms he may trace
Which by none but the poet are Seen
Yes happy are those Whom the Muses inspire
with their fancy their numbers divine
For me while thus rudely I snatch at the Lyre
If one Spark should elicit of poetrys fire
Tho transient that Spark Shall be thine
MS (same); in Livingston’s hand; above title: “Quem tu Melpomene &c.,” the opening of ode 3, book 4, of Horace’s Odes; an endorsement by TJ, also at head of text, identifies the ode.
Daniel Mckinnen was a lawyer in New York State (Syrett, Hamilton, description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends 22:266n; Kline, Burr, description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends 1:295n).
Torn from their base … majestic between: the words underlined in the MS, apparently by Livingston to call attention to his “stolen” imagery, echo a passage in the Notes on the State of Virginia in which TJ described the passage of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers through the Blue Ridge: “In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder, and pass off to the sea.” The rivers “have torn the mountain down from its summit to its base,” leaving it “cloven asunder” (Notes, ed. Peden, 19).