Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Hugh Peters


William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West: With Biographical and Critical Notices 167-169 (Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860):

HUGH PETERS was born at Hebron, Tolland county, Connecticut, in January, 1807. Having received a liberal education, he studied law, and as soon as he had been admitted to the bar, cast his fortune in Cincinnati. He was received with marked tokens of good-will, into the literary circles which existed in that city in 1829, and became an admired writer for the Cincinnati Chronicle and the Illinois Magazine.

On the afternoon of Saturday, June eleventh, 1831, his body was found in the Ohio River, near Lawrenceburg, Indiana. He was known to have retired to his room, as usual, on Thursday night. On Friday morning he was missed, but as he had signified an intention to go to Lawrenceburg, no uneasiness was felt until Sunday morning. His room was then visited, and it was apparent to his friends that no ordinary circumstances had called him away. A messenger was immediately sent to Lawrenceburg. He returned with the melancholy information that Mr. Peters was dead and buried. The remains were disinterred and removed to Cincinnati.

At a meeting of the Cincinnati bar, held June third, 1831, at which Charles Hammond presided, resolutions, presented by Benjamin Drake, expressing high admiration for Mr. Peters's character and talents, and deep regret for his early death, were unanimously adopted.

In the Illinois Magazine for June, 1831, James Hall published an obituary notice, in which he said:

By his talents, sterling integrity, and amiable deportment, he had won the esteem of all who had the pleasure of knowing him. It is seldom the lot of any young man to begin the world with brighter prospects than those which opened before Mr. Peters: his solid worth, his unblemished character, and inoffensive manners, conciliated for him the confidence of the public, and the affection of a large circle of friends; and it is believed that he had no enemy.

The successful career of such a man, rising fast into competence and honor, by his own moral worth and honest exertions, should stimulate the ambition, and strengthen the virtue, of the young; as it affords an honorable proof that there is a broad and a bright path to professional success, which genius and integrity may tread, without the aid of artifice, or the influence of patronage; while its brevity speaks a lesson which none should disregard.

Mr. Peters's writings were marked with good sense, and correct taste. He gave promise of more than ordinary success in both prose and poetry. In criticism he was skilled, and some of his literary reviews evinced the same quality which Mr. Hall notices in his eulogy. He was conscientious, in a high degree; and if the precise merits of a work submitted to his examination, were not clearly and honestly set forth in his remarks, the fault was with his judgment, and with nothing else.

His "Native Land," which was contributed to the Illinois Magazine in 1831, will compare favorably with the best poems of its character in the language. It reminds one of Byron's "Good Night," but simply through its excellencies; it irresistibly calls Shelley to mind, but only by reason of tile similarity in the truthfulness of the prophetic strains which foretold or fore-indicated the particular kind of death which either should die.

Hugh Peters was educated at Yale College. He was associated with Geroge D. Prentice, the noted editor of the New England Weekly Review, at Hartford, Connecticut. Peters went to Cincinnati, reportedly, to practice law.

On his way across Long Island Sound, he write a Farewell to New England in poetry, which was published with great commendation, in most of the newspapers in the country. Soon after his arrival in Cincinnati, his dead body was found floating in the Ohio, several miles below the city, and circumstances were such as to create the belief in some minds that it was a case of suicide. The intelligence of this sad event was brought to Litchfield while the Court of Errors was in session in June1831. It was first communicated to Judge Williams, who sat next to Judge Peters [Hugh Peters's father]; and he with all possible tenderness, informed the latter. The Reporter, Mr. Day, in giving the report of the case on trial, closing it by saying: Peters. Judge, having received, during the argument of this case, intelligence of the death of his son, Hugh Peters, Esq., of Cincinnati, left the Court House, 'multa gemens casuque animum concessus' and gave no opinion.' I witnessed the mournful scene, and I well remember the loud and plaintive groans of the afflicted old man as he passed out of the Court room and down the stairway to his lodgings.

"Sedgwick's Address (Judge Peters)" in Dwight C. Kilbourn, The Bench and Bar of Litchfield County, Connecticut 1709-1900: Biographical Sketches of Members [,] History and Catalogue of the Litchfield Law School [,] Historical Notes 75-76, at 76 (Litchfield, Connecticut: Published by the Author, 1909)][See also: The Poets of Connecticut]

Peters & his Father