Samuel Kettell, ed. Specimens of American Poetry. 1829.
Critical and Biographical Notice
Selleck Osborn (17831826)
SELLECK OSBORN was born, we believe, in Litchfield, Connecticut, and brought up to the trade of a printer. He conducted a newspaper in Litchfield, about 1806 or 1808, and was imprisoned in that place for a publication which, under the influence of party excitement, was declared libellous. The sympathy of his political friends was powerfully excited by this event, and a public procession was made to the place of his confinement.
This circumstance, leads to the mention of another anecdote respecting him, which illustrates the influence of political attachments and prejudices, while it offers a conjuncture of incidents, which might afford the ground work of a good comedy. Osborn had been engaged to deliver an oration at Ridgefield, in Fairfield county, on the 4th of July. The day came, the audience had assembled, and the orator mounted the desk, when he discovered that he had lost his manuscript in his way to the meeting-house. He had ridden a long distance, to search for it was hopeless, and the confusion and perplexity into which the loss had thrown him, rendered it impossible to prepare any off-hand succedaneum for his written performance. A situation more awkward can hardly be imagined. A thronging auditory collected on the great national holiday, animated with the excitement of politics, at the most busy and over-heated time of party turbulence, and the orator with nothing to say! Meanwhile a post rider on his course from Ridgefield, had spied the manuscript upon the road and picked it up; on examining it, the first glance discovered to him that it was a production designed for public recital on that day, and perhaps at that moment. Here the catastrophe of the affair stood upon a sharp edge. The post rider was a warm partizan, (every man was a politician then) and it depended upon the political character of the oration whether it should be returned seasonably to the owner. Fortunately for Osborn, the finder of his manuscript was one of his own party, and he was placed in the dilemma of either hastening back with the writing to the owner, and thereby incurring a forfeiture for delay in transporting the mail, or subjecting his friends to the mortification and disappointment of losing their oration. He hesitated but for a moment, and turned his horse back. He arrived at Ridgefield in time to hand the manuscript to the orator just as he had abandoned himself to despair and was descending from the rostrum.
Osborne once edited a paper at Windsor, Vermont, and in the latter part of his life he was the editor of a paper in the state of Delaware. He published a collection of his poems at Boston, in 1823, and died in Philadelphia in 1826.