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THE OLD OAKEN BUCKET. 19
him the means of support and left him leisure for literary pursuits. He then established a newspaper, procuring an outfit upon credit. It was called The BelJes-Lettres Repository, and was enthusiastically dedicated to the ladies. Perhaps the fair were highly flattered, but the brothers, lovers, and husbands failed to buy. A crash, of course, ensued, after which the creditors had the pleasure of reading a poem of six hundred lines, which the publisher and editor wrote to relieve his feelings.
He worked in Hartford a few weeks, and then went back to his early home. Once more he set out, on foot, in search of fame and fortune. He wandered to Baltimore, paying his way by writing for the newspapers, and he never lacked a market for his rhymes. But, poor as ever, he returned to New York, and involved other lives in the needless bitterness of his own. He married, and four little ones were born to, and amid the miseries of, his poverty.
During the war of 1812-15, Mr. Woodworth conducted a weekly newspaper called The War, and a monthly magazine called The Halcyon Luminary and Theological ReposU tory. The latter was devoted to the doctrine of Swedenborg, of whom Woodworth was a follower. More debt was all that resulted to him through his enterprise. He had no difficulty in obtaining employment in a printing-office, and, while working there, he was asked to write a history of the war with England, in the style of a romance, to be entitled "The Champions of Freedom." So eager was the public for this story, which nobody now reads, that the author was often compelled to send twelve unrevised lines at a time to the press. The printing was begun when but two sheets were written.
Two publishing-houses simultaneously offered to collect, illustrate, and publish Wood-worth's poems, and accompany them with a sketch of his life. They hunted stray corners for his rhymed scraps, and solemnly asserted that " they wished no advantage to themselves, but were moved only by the desire to rescue from oblivion the fugitive productions of a native poet, who upon the other side of the water would have attained opulence, and to relieve an unfortunate author from pecuniary embarrassment;" adding that, if that effort met with success, a second volume would be forthcoming! Samuel Woodworth died December 9th, 1842.
"The Old Oaken Bucket" was written in the summer of 1817, when Mr. Woodworth, with his family, was living in Duane street, New York City. One hot day, he came into the house, and pouring out a glass of water, drained it eagerly. As he set it down, he exclaimed, " That is very refreshing, but how much more refreshing would it be to take a good, long draught from the old oaken'bucket I left hanging in my father's well, at home."
" Selim," said his wife, " wouldn't that be a pretty subject for a poem ?" At this suggestion, Woodworth seized his pen, and as the home of his childhood rose vividly to his fancy, he wrote the now familiar words. The name of Frederick Smith appears as composer of the air, but he was merely the arranger, as the melody is adapted from Kiullmark's music written for Moore's "Araby's Daughter."