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234 OUR FAMILIAL' sn\t,s.
•<I was not apprised, when I addressed you on the 9th inst., nor for sonic days after, that my prose translation into Greek, of your beautiful ode, beginning—
•My lift* is like the summer rose'
had been published. It was written for individual amusement with exclusively half a dozen acquaintance in Savannah, and without the slightest intention of its going farther. This assertion will account for the abundant defects, and they will vouch for its truth."
In a letter dated from New Orleans, February 14,1846, and addressed to a lady in New York, Mr. Wilde explains the origin of the song. I am indebted to the lady's daughter, Mrs. Loyall Farragut, for the kind permission to copy it.
"Since you have requested it, to whom I should be ashamed to deny anything of much more consequence, I send you the lines inclosed; premising, to forestall the suspicion of vanity—that vice which so easily besets all men, especially the irritable genus—that my estimate of their value is very different from yours. They were written very long ago, before I had forsworn rhyming, though not before I was aware how little it contributes to one's success in life, or rather, how often it impairs one's usefulness and reputation.
" These stanzas were originally designed as part of a longer poem, which, like the life of him for whose sake I projected it, was broken off unfinished, and are far from containing, however the contrary may have been supposed, any allusion to myself. They were suggested by the story of Juan Ortez's captivity among the Indians—the last survivor of Panfilo de Narvaez's ill-fated expedition, as the locality of Tampa will evince; but finding their way to the press without my consent, and much to my annoyance, even the place was changed to Tempe, and the scene thus transferred, not without a blunder, from the sea-coast of Florida to the interior of Greece.
"I never could account for the interest the public has taken in this fragment, except from the circumstance that, after having long circulated unclaimed and unacknowledged, it all at once found almost as many to confess to its paternity as the ' Child of Thirty-six Fathers!' Besides its putative parents, Alcaeus and O'Kelly, Captain Basil Hall has been kind enough to find a mother for it in the person of the Countess Purgstall—see his 'Schloss Hainfelt,'—which remains to this moment uncontradicted; for who would forfeit their reputation for gallantry, by robbing a dead lady's grave of one sprig of bay ?"
To the autograph copy of the verses which accompanies the letter, Mr. Wilde affixes the date, 1815.
In a letter from Mr. Wilde to the New York Mirror, of February 28, 1835, are the following additional particulars: " My brother, the late James Wilde, was an officer of the United States, and held a subaltern rank in the expedition of Colonel John Williams against the Seminole Indians, of Florida, which first broke up their towns and stopped their atrocities. When James returned, he amused my brother, my sisters, and myself, with descriptions of the orange groves and transparent lakes, the beauty of the St. John's river, and of the woods and swamps of Florida,—a kind of fairyland, of which we then knew little, except from Bartram's ecstasies—interspersed with anecdotes of his campaign and companions. I used to laugh, and tell him I'd immortalize his exploits in an epic. Some stanzas were accordingly written, for the amusement of the family at our meeting. That, alas! was destined never to take place. He was killed in a duel.* His violent and melancholy death put an end to my poem; the third stanza of the first fragment, which alludes to his fate, being all that was written afterward: