Last Update: Feb. 17, 2001 .Navigation:. Main Menu .. Poe's Criticisms
[Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), Review of New Books, from Graham's Magazine, March 1842, pp. 186-192.]


[page 186, unnumbered, full page:]

REVIEW OF NEW BOOKS.

[column 1:]

[Review of Lever - Charles O'Malley]
 

[Review of Longfellow - Ballads]
 

[Review of Brougham - Critical and Miscellaneous Writings]
 

[page 191, column 1:]

Pantalogy; or a systematic survey of Human Knowledge; Proposing a Classification of all its branches, and illustrating their History, Relations, Uses, and Objects; with a Synopsis of their leading Facts and Principles; and a Select Catalogue of Books on all Subjects, suitable for a Cabinet Library. The whole designed as a Guide to Study for advanced Students in Colleges, Academies, and Schools; and as a popular Directory in Literature, Science and the Arts. Second Edition. By Roswell Park, A. M., Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania, &c. Hogan and Thompson: Philadelphia.

    The title of this work explains its nature with accuracy. To human knowledge in general, it is what a map of the world is to geography. The design is chiefly, to classify, and thus present a dependent and clearly discernible whole. To those who have paid much attention to Natural History and the endless, unstable, and consequently vexatious classifications which there occur -- to those, in especial, who have labored over the "Conchologies" of De Blainville and Lamarck, some faint -- some very faint idea of the difficulties attending such a labor as this, will occur. There have been numerous prior attempts of the same kind, and although this is unquestionably one of the best, we cannot regard it as the best. Mr. Park has chosen a highly artificial scheme of arrangement; and both reason and experience show us that natural classifications, or those which proceed upon broad and immediately recognisable distinctions, are alone practically or permanently successful. We say this, however, with much deference to the opinions of a gentleman, whose means of acquiring knowledge, have been equalled only by his zeal in its pursuit, and whose general talents we have had some personal opportunity of estimating.

    We mean nothing like criticism in so brief a paragraph as we can here afford, upon a work so voluminous and so important as the one before us. Our design is merely to call the attention of our friends to the publication -- whose merits are obvious and great. Its defects are, of course, numerous. We mean rather to say, that in every work of this nature, it is in the power of almost every reader to suggest a thousand emendations. We might object to many of the details. We must object to nearly all of the belles-lettres portion of the book. We cannot stand being told, for example, that "Barlow's 'Columbiad' is a poem of considerable merit;" nor are we rendered more patient under the infliction of this and similar opinions, by the information that Vander Vondel and Vander Doos (the deuce!) Wrote capital Dutch epics, while "the poems of Cats are said to be spirited and pious!" We know nothing about cats, nor cats about piety.

    The volume is sadly disfigured by typographical errors. On the title-page of the very first "province" is a blunder in Greek.
 

The Student-Life of Germany: By William Howitt, Author of the "Rural Life of England," "Book of the Season," etc. From the unpublished MS. Of Dr. Cornelius. Containing nearly Forty of the most Famous Student Songs. Carey & Hart: Philadelphia.

    Mr. Howitt has here given us the only complete and faithful account of the Student-Life of Germany which has appeared in any quarter of the world. The institutions and customs which his book describes, form, to use his own language, "the most singular state of social existence to [column 2:] be found in the bosom of civilized Europe," and are doubly curious and worthy of investigation -- first, on account of the jealousy with which the students have hitherto withheld all information on the subject, and secondly, on account of the deep root which the customs themselves have taken in the heart of the German life. The Burschendom, of which we have all heard so much, yet so vaguely, is no modern or evanescent eccentricity; but a matter of firm and reverent faith coeval with the universities; and this faith is now depicted, con amore, and with knowledge, by a German who has himself felt and confessed it. To the philosopher, to the man of the world, and especially, to the man of imagination, this beautiful volume will prove a rare treat. Its novelty will startle many.
 

Lectures on Modern History, from the Irruption of the Northern Nations to the Close of the American Revolution. By William Smyth, Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge. Two volumes. From the Second London Edition, with a Preface, List of Books on American History, etc. By Jared Sparks, L. L. D., Professor of Ancient and Modern History in Harvard University. John Owen: Cambridge.

    Professor Smyth's system of history is remarkable, if not peculiar. He selects certain periods, and groups around them individually those events to which they have closest affinity not only in time, but character. The effect is surprising through its force and perspicuity. The name of Professor Sparks would be alone sufficient to recommend these volumes -- but in themselves they are a treasure.
 

First Book of Natural History, Prepared for the Use of Schools and Colleges. By W. S. W. Ruschenberger, M. D., Surgeon in the U. S. Navy, &c. &c. From the text of Milne Edwards & Achille Comte, Professors of Natural History in the Colleges of Henri IV. and Charlemagne. With Plates. Turner & Fisher: Philadelphia.

    This little book forms, in the original, the first of a series of First or Elementary works on Natural History, arranged by Messieurs Edwards and Comte, two gentlemen distinguished for labors of the kind, and who enjoy the patronage of the "Royal Council of Public Instruction of France." The translator is well know to the reading world, and there can be no doubt of the value of the publication in its present form.
 

A System of Elocution, with Special Reference to Gesture, to the Treatment of Stammering, and Defective Articulation, Comprising Numerous Diagrams and Engraved Figures, Illustrative of the Subject. By Andrew Comstock, M. D. Published by the Author: Philadelphia.

    This is, in many respects, an excellent book, although the principle claim of Dr. Comstock is that of having cleverly compiled. His method of representing, or notating, the modulations of the speaking voice, is original, as he himself states, but there is little else which can be called so. Originality, however, is not what we seek in a school-book, and this has the merit of tasteful selection and precision of style. [page 192:]
 

Sturmer; A Tale of Mesmerism. To which are added other Sketches from Life. By Isabella F. Romer. Two Volumes. Lea & Blanchard: Philadelphia.

    This work is republished, we presume, not so much on account of its intrinsic merit, as on account of the present emeute in our immediate vicinity and elsewhere on the subject of Animal Magnetism. "Sturmer," the principal story, is, nevertheless, well narrated and will do much in the way of helping unbelief. The minor tales are even beautiful. "The Mother and Daughter" is exceedingly pathetic.
 

Famous Old People. Being the Second Epoch of Grandfather's Chair. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. Author of "Twice-Told Tales." Boston: Tappan & Dennet.

    Mr. Hawthorne has received high praise from me whose opinions we have been accustomed to respect. Hereafter we shall endeavor to speak of his tales with that deliberation which is their due. The one now before us is a simple and pretty story.
 

History of the Life of Richard Coeur de Lion, King of England. By G. P. R. James, Esq., author of "Richelieu," &c. Two volumes. New York: I. & H. G. Langley.

    We like Mr. James far better as the historian or biographer than as the novelist. The truth is, it is sheer waste of time to read second-rate fictions by men of merely imitative talent, when at the same expense of money and labor we can indulge in the never-failing stream of invention now poured forth by true genius.
 

The Effinghams; or, Home as I Found it. Two volumes. By the author of the "Victim of Chancery," &c. New York: Samuel Colman.

    These volumes are satirical and have some fair hits at Mr. Cooper, against whom they are especially levelled; but we like neither this design of personal ridicule nor the manner in which it is effected.
 

Organic Chemistry in its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology. By Justus Leiby, M. D., &c. Edited from the MS. of the Author, by Lyon Playfair, Ph. D. Second American Edition, with an Introduction, Notes and Appendix, by John W. Webster, M. D., Professor of Chemistry in Harvard University. John Owen: Cambridge.

    This book excited and still excites great attention in England. It is needless to speak of its merits, which are well understood by all students of Physics.
 

Arbitrary Power, Popery, Protestantism; as contained in Nos. XV. XVIII. XIX. of the Dublin Review. Philadelphia: M. Fithian

    A republication from the Dublin Review of three able articles in defence of Catholicism. [column 2:]
 

Second Book of Natural History, Prepared for the Use of Schools and Colleges. By W. S. W. Ruschenberger, M. D., &c. From the text of Milne Edwards and Achille Comte. With Plates. Philadelphia: Turner & Fisher.

    We need only say of this volume that it is a confirmation of the "First Book" just noticed, although sufficiently distinct in itself.
 

The Amazonian Republic Recently Discovered in the Interior of Peru. By Ex-Midshipman Timothy Savage, B. C. New York: Samuel Colman.

    This is a very passable satirical fiction, in the manner of Gulliver. We should not be surprised if it were the composition of Dr. Beasley of this city.
 

St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: His Life, Eloquence and Piety. By W. Joseph Walter, late of St. Edmund's College. Philadelphia: Godey & M'Michael.

    An eloquent tribute to the memory of an eloquent and in every respect a remarkable man.
 

Life in China. The Porcelain Tower; or Nine Stories of China. Compiled from Original Sources. By T. T. T. Embellished by J. Leech. Lea & Blanchard: Philadelphia.

    This is a very clever and amusing jeu-d'esprit, in which the oddities, or what we regard as the oddities of "Life in China," are divertingly caricatured. The work is handsomely printed, and the designs by Leech are well conceived and executed.
 

Select Poems. By Mrs. L. H. Sigourney. Fourth Edition, with Illustrations. Edward C. Biddle: Philadelphia.

    The publisher, in his preface, states that three editions of this work, comprising eight thousand copies, have been sold; and of this we are pleased to hear; but we are not equally pleased with the information (conveyed also in the preface) that a new set of illustrations is given. If those "illustrations" are new, then, "new" has come to be employed in the sense of "old." the plates are not only antique but trashy in other respects. Of the poems themselves we have no space to speak fully this month. Some of them are excellent; and there are many which merit no commendation. Mrs. Sigourney deserves much, but by no means all of the applause which her compositions have elicited.

    It would be easy to cite, from the volume now before us, numerous brief passages of the truest beauty; but we fear that it would be more difficult to point out an entire poem which would bear examination, as a whole. In the piece entitled "Indian Names," there are thoughts and expression which would do honor to any one. We note, also, an unusually noble idea in the "Death of an Infant."

---- forth from those blue eyes
There spake a wishful tenderness -- a doubt
Whether to grieve or sleep, which innocence
Alone may wear.

[The sixteen notices given here may all be plausibly attributed to Poe, but not with certainty. None are specifically mentioned by Heartman and Canny (1943), although they are referred to by the comment, "A number of short reviews and critical notes are still doubtful, although some of them seem to be by Poe." All are specifically attributed to Poe by Mabbott and Hull. Mabbott's notes at the University of Iowa give the reviews of Part and Sigourney, and the notices of Hawthorne and Romer, as "sure." All the others, he gives as "accept," with a question mark beside the notice of Smyth, two notices of Ruschenberger. Hull attributes to Poe the review of Park, noting the attention paid by the reviewer to the function of such books as "to classify" and repeating similar thoughts in reviewing Wyatt's Synopsis of Natural History (in Burton's) and A Monograph of the Limniades (also in Burton's). Hull also finds a strong correlation to the reviews ending lines about Dutch epics and cats with nearly identical statements in Poe's Doing of Gotham letter of June 4, 1844. Of the remaining reviews, Hull says, "In accordance with our method they may be given to Poe in a group, the certainty of their attribution varying according to internal evidence." For the notices of Ruschenberger, Hull says, "There is nothing here of much distinction; it is probably Poe's, " and "The earlier notice was given to Poe, with a 'probably'." For the notices of Comstock and Romer, Hull says, "This, I think, is Poe's as well as the next," with "the next" being Romer. Hull attributes the notice of Hawthorne to Poe as certain, noting the reference forward to the Poe's reviews of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales in April and May 1842. For the notices of James, The Effinghams and Leibig, Hull says, "This, and the two following . . . are, I believe, Poe's." For the notice of Arbitrary Power, Hull says, "This is all of this notice; it is probably Poe's." For the notice of Amazonian Republic, Hull plays slightly on a comment within the notice by saying, "Nor should we be surprised if this were Poe's." For the notice of Walter, Hull says, "This one sentence notice is not distinctive; it is probably Poe's" For the review of TTT and Sigourney, Hull says, "This is, I believe, Poe's, as is the last of these notices," with "the last" being the notice of Signourey.]

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[S:0 - GM, 1842]