Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. 1829.
Critical and Biographical Notice
James K. Paulding (17781860)
JAMES K. PAULDING is a native of the state of New York, and resides at present in the city of New York in the capacity of Navy Agent of the United States. Mr Paulding is well known to the public as one of the writers of Salmagundi, and the author of many other popular prose compositions. He wrote during the late war with Great Britain, The Lay of the Scottish Fiddle, a sprightly and entertaining parody of one of Scotts poems. His poem of The Backwoodsman, published in 1818, was written with the view of pointing out to our native writers the rich materials for poetry with which our country abounds. The most striking characteristic of this work is its distinct and decided nationality. The author has aimed at giving a patriotic and vernacular cast to the train of sentiment which prevails throughout the poem, as well as at preserving the truth and identity of his local descriptions. The design of the work is carried into effect with a proper attention to all the circumstances necessary to give it success so far as the plan can be pronounced suitable; but the writer has not succeeded in giving sufficient interest to his performance to obtain for it any considerable popularity. There is in the story too little attempt to chain our attention by variety and novelty of incident, or striking delineation of individual character. Had more care been bestowed upon the narrative, The Backwoodsman might have been a favorite work. The descriptive parts are the best, and are entitled to much commendation for spirit and fidelity.