Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. 1829.
Critical and Biographical Notice
Thomas Green Fessenden (17711837)
MR FESSENDEN is the son of a clergyman of Walpole, in New Hampshire. His father having a numerous family, he was indebted to his own exertions for the means of his education, and by teaching schools during the terms of vacation, was enabled to accomplish a collegiate course at Dartmouth, where he was graduated in 1796, after which he applied himself to the study and practice of law. In 1801, he left this country on an errand to Europe, as agent for a company formed in Vermont, for the purpose of securing a patent in London of a newly invented hydraulic machine. On his arrival at London, he had the mortification of finding that the machine was a deception. Mr Fessenden, who was a member of the company as well as agent, and therefore a sufferer in the failure of the undertaking, made attempts to retrieve the loss by an invention of his own; he succeeded in constructing a hydraulic apparatus, which was pronounced by several gentleman of high mechanical skill and reputation, to be new, ingenious and useful; but the great expense of obtaining a patent, and the difficulty which always accompanies the attempt to procure efficient patronage to a new scheme, were such as to deter him from prosecuting his enterprise.
Under these discouragements, and further loss in consequence of having been induced to become a partner in another patent concern, which turned out to be the scheme of a swindler, Mr Fessenden was forced to resort to his pen for the means of support. He had before made trial of his powers in sundry poetical essays, which had been published with approbation in some of the American newspapers. In the great metropolis of England he was at no loss in the search of objects for the exercise of his satirical talent, the faculty in which he was best adapted to shine. At this period, the metallic tractors of Perkins were a great object of attention in England, and Fessenden fully believing in their efficacy, undertook to promote the cause of his countrymans invention, by attacking with the weapons of ridicule such of the medical profession and other distinguished persons, as had opposed the new discovery. With this view he wrote his burlesque poem of the Modern Philosopher, or Terrible Tractoration, a work which was highly popular while the matter which afforded the theme of it continued to occupy the public mind. About the same time he also published a volume of miscellaneous poems, which were very favorably noticed in England and in this country. After his return to America, he gave to the world his Democracy Unveiled, another satire in Hudibrastic verse, which enjoyed high favor so long as the public appetite was in a state to relish whatever came hotly seasoned with the red pepper of party vituperation.
Mr Fessenden has succeeded best in his light and burlesque compositions. For many years past he has nearly abandoned his rhymes. He has conducted a paper at Bellows Falls in Vermont, and is now the editor of the New England Farmer in Boston.