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[Text: Edgar Allan Poe, "Literary Notices," from Southern Literary Messenger, June 1835, pp. 582-596.]

[page 582:]

LITERARY NOTICES,

[The first review, of The Infidel, has a problematic attribution.]

[page 585:]

[The second review, of "An Address, delivered at this inauguration as President of Washington College, is probably by Sparhawk.]

[page 587:]

[The third review, of Bancroft's History of the United States, is not by Poe.]

[page 591:]

[The fourth review, of Jared Spark's The Writings of George Washington, is not by Poe.]

[page 594:]

    The Italian Sketch-Book. Philadelphia: Key & Biddle. This is a very handsome duodecimo, and presents more than ordinary claims to attention. It is the work of an American, and purports to be written during a sojourn at Venice, Florence, Naples, and Rome. The book is chiefly made up of sketches and descriptions of these world-renowned cities. It will be seen that there is nothing very novel in the subject, and the question naturally arises "Who has not already heard all that is worth knowing about Venice, Florence, Naples, and Rome?" But, notwithstanding the triteness of his theme, our American traveller has contrived to throw an uncommon interest over his pages. They are finely diversified with stories well-told, essays tending to illustrate points of local or social interest in Italy, and much descriptive writing which has all the force and fidelity of painting.

----

    Outre-Mer, or a Pilgrimage Beyond the Sea, by Professor Longfellow, is a work somewhat in the same style, and equally well written throughout. "I have travelled" -- says the Professor --" through France from Normandy to Navarre -- smoked my pipe in a Flemish inn -- floated through Hollandin a Treckschuit -- trimmed my midnight lamp in a German university -- wandered and mused amid the classic scenes of Italy -- and listened to the gay guitar on the banks of the Guadalquiver." The book before us is a kind of running comment on the text of his travels, and, as we have said before, has many of the peculiar traits which distinguish the Italian Sketch-Book. It is, however, more abundant in humor than that work, and is far richer in legend and anecdote. The Professor tells a comic story with much grace, and his literary disquisitions have always a great deal to recommend them.

----

    Voyage of the U. S. Frigate Potomac, under the command of Commodore John Downes, during the circumnavigation of the globe in the years 1831-32-33 and 34: including a particular account of the engagement at QuallahBattoo, on the Coast of Sumatra. By J. N. Reynolds. This is a thick volume of nearly 600 pages, well printed, upon good paper, with some excellent engravings, and published by the Harpers. Mr. Reynolds, the author, or to speak more correctly, the compiler, will be remembered as the associate of Symmes in his remarkable theory of the earth, and a public defender of that very indefensible subject, upon which hlie delivered a series of lectures in many of our principal cities. With the exception, however, of seven chapters, the matter forming the work now published is gleaned from the ship's journal, from the private journals of the officers, and from papers furnished by Commodore Downes himself. This fact will speak much for the authenticity of the details, and very valuable information scattered through the book. Mr. R. himself was not with the Potomac during the circumnavigation, having joined her in 1832 at Valparaiso. Our readers are, of course, acquainted [page 595:] with the object of the Potomac's voyage, and with the outrage perpetrated by the Malays on the ship Friendship in 1831, which rendered it an indispensable duty on the part of our government to demand an indemnity. The result of this demand, and the action at Cuallah-Battoo are graphically sketched by Mr. Reynolds. Every body will be pleased, too, with his description of Canton and of Lima. He writes well, although somewhat too enthusiastically, and his book will gain him reputation as a man of science and accurate observation. It will form a valuable addition to our geographical libraries.

----

    The History of Ireland, by Thomas Moore, vol. 1, in which the records of that country are brought down from the year B. C. 1000, to A. D. 684, has been republished by Carey, Lea & Blanchard. We intend a very high compliment to the bard of Paradise and the Peri, in saying that we think his prose very little inferior to his poetry. We have not forgotten Captain Rock and Fitzgerald. The Epicurean (a very anomalous Epicurean by the bye) is a model of fine writing. The Life of Byron, in spite of a thousand errors, both of the head and of the heart, and in spite too of its perpetually exciting our risibility at the expense of the little cockney biographer himself, is a book to be proud of after all, and should not be mentioned in comparison with a certain absurd tissue of maudlin metaphysics, attributed (we hope falsely) to Mr. Galt. And now, lastly, we have before us a specimen of Moore's versatile abilities, in as temperate, as profound, as well arranged, and in every respect as well written a history as Green Erin can either desire or deserve. Very truly, Anacreon Moore is, in our opinion, no ordinary man.

----

Blackbeard, or a Page from the Colonial History of Philadelphia. Harper ~ Brothers, New York. This book differs in many striking points from the ordinary novels of the day. The scene is laid in Philadelphia, and the author is largely indebted for many pictures of manners, things, and opinions in the olden days of the city of Brotherly Love to the "Annals of Philadelphia." We think these volumes will be read with interest in England, but as a mere novel they have very few claims to attention. The style is clumsy and embarrassed. The character of Oxenstiern is a piece of pure folly and exaggeration; while the atrocities of Blackbeard, which are intended to produce a great effect upon the mind of the reader, utterly fail of this end from a want of the ars celare artem in the writer. The book may be characterized in a few words as odd, vulgar, ill-written, and interesting.

----

Pencil Sketches or Outlines of Character and Manners. Second Series. By Miss Leslie. Philadelphia, Carey, Lea, 4 Blanchard. This volume contains the Wilson-House -- the Album -- the Reading Parties -- the Set of China -- Laura Lovel -- John W. Robinson, and the Ladies Ball. All these stories have been published before in different periodicals, and have been extensively copied and admired. Miss Leslie's writings have obtained her much reputation, both at home and abroad, and we think very deservedly. She is a lively and piquante sayer of droll and satirical things; and has a [column 2:] way of showing off a peindre the little weak points in our national manners. The Gift, an Annual, edited by Miss L. and published by Carey and Lea, will make its appearance in October. It will be splendidly embellished, and in literary matter, cannot fail of equalling any similar publication. Among the contributors will be found Washington Irving, Paulding, Miss Sedgewick, and a host of stellae minores. It will also have the aid of Fanny Kemble's fine countenance, and very spirited pen.

----

The American Quarterly Review for June has articles on National Music-Poetry of the Troubadours-Judge Story's Conflict of Laws -- Immunity of Religion -- Sigourney's Sketches-Memoir of Tristram Burges Shirreff's Tour through North America -- Fenimore Cooper-French Question -- and Pitkin's Statistics. It includes also some Miscellaneous Notices. This is, upon the whole, one of the best numbers of the Quarterly which has been issued for some time. Most of the papers, however, are still liable to the old charge of superficiality. The Poetry of the Troubadours is prettily written, and evinces a noble feeling for the loveliness of song. But it is feeble, inasmuch as it exhibits nothing of novelty, none of those lucid and original views, in default of the power to produce which, a writer should forbear to enter upon a subject so hackneyed. We depend upon our reviews for much of our literary reputation abroad, and we have a right therefore, as in a matter touching our national pride, to expect something of energy at their hands. They should build up a reputation of their own, and admit papers on no themes which can be found better treated elsewhere. In the article on National Music, among much sensible, and some very profound writing, there are occasional sallies which, ill not fail to startle many an European literateur, and some broad assertions which are very plausible and very unsusceptible of proof. For example. "It may be observed" -- says the reviewer -- "that, accustomed as we are to separate poetry and music, we must never forget that they were inseparable among the Greeks." This we know is a very general opinion but, like some other passages in the review, should be swallowed cum grano salis. The Immunity of Religion contains some animadversions on a sermon preached at Charleston in 1833, by the Rev. J. Adams, D. D. President of Charleston College. This whole paper is, in our opinion, a series of truisms from beginning to end, and the writer, in gravely deprecating the union of church and state, and the employment of force in matters of religion, forgets that he is insisting upon arguments which not one enlightened person in a million, at the present day, will take the trouble of gainsaying. The review of Mrs. Sigourney's Sketches we really do not like. The harmony-the energy-the fire-the elevated tone of moral feeling-the keen sense of the delicate, the beautiful, and the magnificent, which have obtained for this lady the name of the American Hemans, have not found an echo-so it seems to us-in the unpoetical heart of her reviewer. But, because this is most evidently the case, are we to think of blaming Mrs. Sigourney?

The other papers are generally respectable. The most interesting, in our opinion, is that on Shirreff's Tour in North America.

[page 596:]

[The review of Life of Kosciuszko is generally attributed to Sparhawk.]

[column 2:]

[The review of Tocqueville's American Democracy is generally attributed to Sparhawk.]

[The review of German work on America is generally attributed to Sparhawk.]

 
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[S:0 - SLM, 1835]