Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. 1829.
Critical and Biographical Notice
Lemuel Hopkins (17501801)
DR LEMUEL HOPKINS was born at Waterbury, in Connecticut, June 19th, 1750. His father was a farmer in easy circumstances, and while he reared all his children to the labor of the field, took care to bestow upon them a good education. Dr Hopkins is said to have been determined to the study of physic when young, by observing the gradual decline of some of his connexions, who were sinking under a consumption. This inclination to medical pursuits was strengthened by the circumstance of a hereditary predisposition to the same disorder which existed in the family. His education, it seems, had not been classical, and having resolved upon the medical profession, he applied himself to Latin and other preliminary studies, and after proper qualification, placed himself under the care of a physician in Wallingford. He began regular practice in Litchfield, about the year 1776, and was for a short time in the American army as a volunteer. About 1784, he removed to Hartford. Here he passed the rest of his life, devoted to the labors of a physician, and man of letters. He fell a victim, we are told, to the exercise of an improper remedy in his own case, occasioned by his dread of a pulmonary complaint. He died on the 14th of April, 1801.
Dr Hopkins was a physician of great skill and reputation. His memory was so retentive, that he would quote every writer he had read, whether medical or literary, with the same readiness that a clergyman quotes the Bible. In his labors for scientific purposes, he was indefatigable. The Medical Society of Connecticut is indebted to him as one of its founders. In his person he was tall, lean, stooping and long-limbed, with large features and light eyes, and this uncouth appearance, added to a great eccentricity of manner, rendered him at first sight a very striking spectacle.
In his literary character he was eminent among the distinguished writers of the place where the most of his life was spent. Trumbull, Barlow, Humphreys, Dwight and others, were his associates, and the two first with Hopkins wrote the Anarchiad. He also had a hand in The Echo, The Political Greenhouse, and many satirical poems of that description, in which he had for his associates, Richard Alsop, Theodore Dwight, and a number of others. Besides these, there are a few short pieces which were written by him exclusively.
The Anarchiad was published in portions in the Connecticut Magazine, during the year 1786, and 1787. It is a political satire, referring to the state of the country at the period immediately preceding the adoption of the federal constitution. The American states were at that time loosely connected, each pursuing its own separate policy, without any regard for the plans of the other members of the confederacy, or the general welfare of the country. This led to embarrassments in the public affairs, which by the instrumentality of factious and violent persons, occasioned great disorders. Against the promoters of these political troubles, the Anarchiad is pointed. The poem is represented in the introduction as having been discovered in digging among the ancient aboriginal fortifications in the western country, and by the aid of vision and prophecy, it is made to bear on modern events. A strain of grave moral expostulation is mixed up with satirical touches in a very able manner. Dr Hopkins suggested the plan of the work, and has always borne the credit of having written the most striking passages. Its authorship being more closely connected with his name than any other, the extracts from the poem are given under the present head.