Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Critical Notices, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. II, no. 1, December 1835, 2:47-68


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EDINBURGH REVIEW.

The Edinburgh Review, No. CXXIV, for July 1835. American Edition, Vol. II, No. 2. New York: Theodore Foster.

Article I in this number is a critique upon “The History of the Revolution in England in 1688. Comprising a View of the Reign of James the Second, from his Accession to the Enterprise of the Prince of Orange. By the late Right Honorable Sir James Mackintosh; and completed to the Settlement of the Crown, by the Editor. To which is prefixed, a Notice of the Life, Writings, and Speeches of Sir James Mackintosh. 4to. London, 1834.” The Reviewer commences by instituting a comparison between the work of Sir James, and Fox’s History of James the Second. Both books are on the same subject — both were posthumously published, and neither had received the last corrections. The authors, likewise, belonged to the same political party, and had the same opinions concerning the merits and defects of the English Constitution, and concerning most of the prominent characters and events in English history. The palm is awarded to the work of Mackintosh. “Indeed” — says the critic — “the superiority of Mr. Fox to Sir James as an orator, is hardly more clear than the superiority of Sir James to Mr. Fox as an historian. Mr. Fox with a pen in his hand, and Sir James on his legs in the House of Commons were, we think, each out of his proper element. We could never read a page of Mr. Fox’s writings — we could never listen for a quarter of an hour to the speaking of Sir James — without feeling that there was a constant effort, a tug up-hill. Mr. Fox wrote debates. Sir James Mackintosh spoke essays.” The style of the fragment is highly complimented, and justly. Every body must agree with the Reviewer, that a History of England written throughout, in the manner of the History of the Revolution, would be the most fascinating book in the language. The printer and editor of the work are severely censured, but the censure is, in some respects, misapplied. Such errors as making the pension of 60,000 livres, which Lord Sunderland received from France, equivalent to 2,500 pounds sterling only, when, at the time Sunderland was in power, the livre was worth more than eighteen pence, are surely attributable to no one but the author — although the editor may come in for a small portion of the blame for not correcting an oversight so palpable. On the other hand the misprinting the name of Thomas Burnet repeatedly throughout the book, both in the text and Index, is a blunder for which the editor is alone responsible. The name is invariably spelt Bennet. Thomas Burnet, Master of the Charter House, and author of the Theoria Sacra, is a personage of whom, or of whose works, the gentleman who undertook to edit the Fragment of Sir James Mackintosh has evidently never heard. The Memoir prefixed to the History, and its Continuation to the settlement of the Crown, both by the Editor of the Fragment, are unsparingly, but indeed most righteously, condemned. The Memoir is childish and imbecile, and the Continuation full of gross inaccuracies, and altogether unworthy of being appended to any thing from the pen of Mackintosh.

Article II is a very clever Review of the “Archanenses of Aristophanes, with Notes Critical and Explanatory, adapted to the Use of Schools and Universities [page 48:] By T. Mitchell, A.M. 8vo. London, 1835.” Mr. Mitchell made his first appearance as a translator and commentator in 1820, and his second in 1822, upon both which occasions he was favorably noticed in the Edinburgh. High praise is bestowed in the present instance upon the Acharnenses. The Wasps will follow, and thus it appears the chronological order of the Comedies will not be preserved. The old fault is to be found with this Review, viz: It is more of a dissertation on the subject matter of the book in question than an analysis of its merits or defects. By far the greater part of the Article is occupied in a discussion of the character of the Athenians.

Article III is headed “a Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia, performed in his Majesty’s Ships Leven and Barracouta, from 1822 to 1826, under the command of Capt. F. W. W. Owen, R. N. By Capt. Thomas Boteler, R. N. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1835.” Captain Owen sailed in January 1822 in the Leven Frigate, accompanied by the Barracouta, a ten-gun brig, with instructions to survey the entire Eastern coast of Africa, the Western coast of Madagascar — the islets and shoals interjacent — together with the Western coast of the Continent from the Zaire to Benin, and from the Rio Grande to the Gambia. All this was accomplished in five years. The narrative of Boteler, who was lieutenant of the Leven, is nothing more than a revised edition of that originally prepared by Capt. Owen, and which was a failure in a literary sense. The Review, as usual, says very little concerning the manner in which Captain Boteler has performed his task.

Article IV. “Deontology; or the Science of Morality: in which the Harmony and Coincidence of Duty and Self-Interest, Virtue and Felicity, Prudence and Benevolence, are explained and exemplified. From the MSS. of Jeremy Bentham. Arranged and edited by John Bowring, 2 vols. octavo, London, 1834.” “This book,”’ says the Reviewer, “ simply contains Mr. Bentham’s thrice told tale upon Utility. It furnishes us with no fresh illustrations, no better system than we had already found in his ‘Principles of Morals and Legislation.”’ We heartily agree with the critic that there was no necessity for the publication of these posthumous volumes. They add nothing to the work just mentioned, and are, in many points, inferior. But the Notice concludes in the following words. “Is it to be wondered at, that the most learned, accurate, and philosophical nation in Europe — the Germans — treat with contempt ignorance and insolence like this? They admit the merits of Mr. Bentham as a jurisconsult, in his analysis and classification of the material interests of life; but their metaphysicians and moralists agree, we believe without an exception, in considering his speculative philosophy as undeserving even the pomp and ceremony of an argument.” We have only to add, that, in our opinion of the metaphysics of Mr. Bentham, we are, by no means, Germans to the very letter.

Article V. is an excellently well toned, and perfectly satisfactory Review of the “Journal by Frances Anne Butler, 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1835.” It defends this lady from the charge of intentionally depreciating America; cites a long list of instances in which she has spoken in terms of the greatest cordiality of our people, individually, [column 2:] and as a nation; shows in what manner she has repeatedly let slip opportunities of saying, and saying too with perfect justice, things little likely to flatter our vanity; defends her from the ridiculous actuation of vulgarity (there is positively not an iota of vulgarity in the composition of Fanny Kemble) and very justly gives us a rap over the knuckles for our overweening vanity, self-sufficiency, and testiness of temper. The whole article is excellent, and the conclusion is particularly to our mind. “There is no chance of her return to a profession that she so cordially detested. Under these circumstances the only compensation Mr. Butler can make to us he must make. He is bound to see that she goes on with her faithful and amusing journal, and that she finishes, at her leisure, some of the sundry stories, plays, and novels, on which, it seems, she had already set to work amid the interruptions of the stage.”

The sixth article is a review of “The Works of George Dalgarno, of Aberdeen. 4to. Reprinted at Edingburgh: 1834.” This work is merely a reprint of the old Treatises of Dalgarno, the publication not extending beyond the sphere of the Maitland Club — a society instituted at Glasgow in imitation of the Edinburgh Ballantyne Club. The first treatise of Dalgarno is entitled “Ars Signorum, Vulgo Character Universalis, et Lingua Philosophica. Londini 1661.” The second is “Didascalocophus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man’s Tutor: to which is added a Discourse of the Nature and Numberof Double Consonants: both which Tracts being the first (for what the author knows) that have been published upon either of the subjects. Printed at the Theater in Oxford, 1680.” The memory of Dalgarno had nearly perished when Dugald Stewart called public attention to his writings, on account of his having anticipated, on grounds purely speculative, and a priori, what has now been proved a posteriori by Horne Tooke and others, viz: that all grammatical inflections are reducible to the noun alone.

Article VII is headed “Narrative of a Second Voyage in search of a North-West Passage, and of a Residence in the Arctic Regions during the years 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832, 1833. By Sir John Ross, C. B., K. S. A., K. C. S., &c. &c., Captain in the Royal Navy. Including the Reports of Commander, now Captain, James Clark Ross, R. N., F. R. S., F. L. S., &c. and the Discovery of the Northern Magnetic Pole. 4to. London: 1835.” The Reviewer professes himself unable to regard the observations made by Commander Ross in relation to the Magnetic Pole in the light of a discovery. “It was certainly a great satisfaction to stand upon a rock where the dip was 89° 59′, and where the polarity of nicely suspended needles was insensible; but it may be questioned whether or not the place of the Magnetic Pole can be best determined by observations made at a distance or near the spot; and we are not satisfied that the position assigned by Commander Ross is more accurate than that given by the curves of Professor Barlow, the calculations of Hansteen, and the observations of Captain Parry.” The fact is that the Magnetic Pole is moveable, and, place it where we will, we shall not find it in the same place to-morrow. Notice is taken also by the critic that neither Captain nor Commander Ross has made the slightest reference to the fact that the Magnetic [page 49:] Pole is not coincident with the Pole of maximum cold. From observations made by Scoresby in East Greenland, and by Sir Charles Giesecké and the Danish Governors in West Greenland, and confirmed by all the metereological observations made by Captains Parry and Franklin, Sir David Brewster has deduced the fact that the Pole of the Equator is not the Pole of maximum cold: and as the matter is well established, it is singular, to say no more, that it has been alluded to by neither the Commander nor the Captain.

Article VIII is 1. A “History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain, with a Notice of its Early History in the East, and in all quarters of the Globe; a Description of the Great Mechanical Inventions which have caused its unexampled extension in Great Britain: and a View of the Present State of the Manufacture, and the condition of the Classes engaged in its several departments. By Edward Baines, Jr. Esq. 8vo. London: 1835.”

2. “The Philosophy of Manufactures: or an Exposition of the Scientific, Moral, and Commercial Economy of the Factory System of Great Britain. By Andrew Ure, M.D. 8vo. London: 1835.” Mr. Baines’ work is spoken of in high terms, as discovering much laborious research, and being both interesting and valuable. With the exception of Smith’s Memoirs of Wool, published in 1747, it is said to be the only work giving a clear and copious account of the rise, progress, and actual condition of any of the great branches of industry carried on in the kingdom. Dr. Ure’s work is censured for inaccuracy of detail. Its title is evidently a misnomer.

Article IX is “A Poet’s Portfolio; or Minor Poems. In Three Books. By James Montgomery, 12mo. London, 1835.” The first production of Mr. Montgomery, ‘The Wanderer of Switzerland,’ was noticed about twenty-eight years ago in the Edinburgh, and much fault found with it for inflation of style, and affectation. The present volume has induced the Journal to alter its tone entirely, and the Minor Poems are (perhaps a little too highly) lauded. “There is,” says the critic, “something in all his poetry which makes fiction the most impressive teacher of truth and wisdom; and by which, while the intellect is gratified, and the imagination roused, the heart, if it retains any sensibility to tender or elevating emotions, cannot fail to be made better.” The Reviewer, as usual, does not stick to his text, but comments, in detail, upon all the published poems of Montgomery.

The tenth and concluding paper is a Review of “The Second Report of his Majesty’s Commissioners on Ecclesiastical Revenue and Patronage: Ireland. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed: 1834” — and “First Report of the Commissioners of Public Instruction: Ireland. Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by command of his Majesty: 1835.”

This article is written with great ability; but why call that a Review which is purely a dissertation on the state of the Irish Church? It concludes with a correspondence between the Editor of the Edinburgh, and Mr. Alan Stevenson, respecting evidence given, by the latter, before the Parliamentary Committee on Light Houses. The Journal, in No. CXXII, accused Mr. S. of deceiving the Committee by erroneous testimony; and, upon Mr. S. demanding an explanation, the Review not only refuses to retract its assertions, but declares that, had it known certain facts at the time of inditing the offensive article, it would have expressed itself with double severity.

——

WESTMINSTER REVIEW.

The Westminster Review,.No. XLV, for July, 1835. American Edition, Vol. IV, So. 1. New York: Theodore Foster.

Article I is “Philanthropic Economy; or the Philosophy of Happiness, practically applied to the Social, Political, and Commercial Relations of Great Britain. By Mrs. Loudon, Author of “First Love,” “Fortune Hunting,” and “Dilemmas of Pride.” London: Churton, 1835. 8vo. pp. 312.”

Mrs. Loudon’s Economy has excited great attention in England, and her work is highly lauded in the present instance. As an able and chivalrous champion of the cause of the people, she deserves all the encomiums which she has received, and we are not in any degree disposed to pick a quarrel with her Ethics, which, to say the truth, are as little to the purpose as her political, or if she pleases, her philanthropic Economy, is most effectually to the point. We have not seen her entire publication, but merely judge of it from the copious extracts in the article before us. Her answer to the objections to the ballot is forcible, and coming as it does from a lady, its value is quadrupled in our eyes. The Notice of her book concludes as follows. “It is plain that Mrs. Loudon is a splendid woman, and has, at one effort, taken her place in line, among the political economists upon the people’s side. She is fortunate too in having fallen upon times when ‘the spread of education is, in fact, rendering the peaceable continuance of abuses impossible.’”

Article II is “Venetian History. Family Library, No. XX — London, Murray, 1833.” A compendious History of Venice, and apparently forced into the service of the Review “will I, nill I,” without any object farther than the emptying of some writer’s portfolio, or common-place book. It is nevertheless an invaluable paper.

Article III is “Memoirs of John Napier of Merchiston, his Lineage, Life, and Times, with a History of the Invention of Logarithms. By Mark Napier, Esq. Blackwood, Edinburgh; Cadell, London, 1834. 4to. pp. 534.”

This is a Review of exceeding interest, and evidently from a mind thoroughly imbued with a love of science. It enters largely into the subject matter of the book reviewed, and defends Napier from the often repeated accusation of having derived his principle from the works of Archimedes, Ditmarsus, and Byrgius. A short account of the philosopher’s treatises on Arithmetic and Algebra, as they appear at the end of the Memoirs, is given in the conclusion of the Notice. We perceive [column 2:] that Mr. Napier has here taken occasion to observe that Horsley, Hutton, Leslie, and Playfair, are mistaken in supposing Albert Girard the first who made use of the expressions majores nihilo and minores nihilo in relation to positive and negative quantities.

Article IV is “ An Essay on Musical Intervals, Harmonics, and the Temperament of the Musical Scale, &c. By W. S. B. Woolhouse, Head Assistant of the Nautical Almanac Establishment.”

This is a short article in which the book under review is condemned for inaccuracy and misrepresentation. The Essay itself is another instance of the interest now taken in the mathematics of music.

Article V is “A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Artists: comprising Painters, Sculptors, Engravers and Architects, from the earliest ages to the present time. By John Gould — Second Edition, 2 vols. 12mo. Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1835.”

The work in question is spoken of as having been composed — ” conceived, planned, and probably in part executed among lowing herds and obstinate swine.” It is preceded by an historical, biographical, and professional introduction, apparently of no very great merit. The Dictionary is called a most laborious, and on the whole a very successful compilation. “The chief matter of some hundreds of volumes is condensed into two small duodecimos. As this is all it aims to do, by this only can it be fairly judged, and not by any standard of original criticism.”

Article VI. “History of Scotland. By Patrick Fraser Tytler, Esq. F. R. S. E. and F. A. S. Edinburgh. Vols. i-v. 1828-1834.”

This critique speaks of Tytler’s Scotland as displaying much research, and considerable skill, as well as impartiality, but the greater part of the article is taken tip in reviewing some of the leading features in Scottish History.

Article VII. — 1. “ The Forms of Deeds and Documents in England and France, compared and exemplified, in a Letter to the Lord Chancellor. Paris: Galignani. London: Saunders and Benning, 1835.”

2. “The Mechanics of Law-making. Intended for the use of Legislators, and all other persons concerned in the making and understanding of English Laws. By Arthur Symonds, Esq. London: Churton, 1835.”

The authors of the works here reviewed have attempted to unfold, and to show the worthlessness of, those technical mysteries which have so long enveloped the science of Law. The “Forms of Deeds, &c.” is from the pen of Mr. Okey. He gives several examples of English and French Deeds — printing them on opposite pages. The difference in conciseness is said to be four to one in favor of the French, while in clearness they admit of no comparison. The greater brevity of the French documents is attributed to the existence of a Code. “The Mechanics of Law making” insists upon the necessity of reform in the arrangement, language, classification, and contents of the British Acts of Parliament, and in the agency by which the laws are ‘prepared, made, promulgated, superintended, enforced, and amended.’ The Review is brief — but concurs heartily in the necessity alluded to.

Article VIII. 1. “Sur les Crdances rdclamdes de la France par la Russie au nom du Royaume de Polognc. Paris, 1835.” [page 60:]

2. “On the Russo-Polish Claims on France. (From the periodical Le Polonais, published monthly in Paris, by a member of the Polish Diet. Number for February 1835.”) 3. “A few more words on the Polish question, (From Le Polonais — number for March 1835.”)

The author of the work Sur les Creances, enters into an examination of the titles of which the Russian government avails itself “either to effect a final settlement, or to claim payment of sums which might ultimately be proved to be due to the kingdom of Poland.” The editor of Le Polonais is of a family to which Po land is indebted for “several brilliant exploits, not only in the field of battle, but in the tribute of the National Assembly.” His journal is devoted to the history and literature of Poland — but more especially to its political interests. The Review enters into some discussion on the Russo-Polish Claims, and makes it apparent that the policy of Great Britain is materially involved, in the Russo-French liquidation. “She has joined” says the critic — ” in refusing to uphold Russia in the violation of the constitution and nationality of Poland Lord Palmerston gave lengthened and clear explanations on this point to Parliament on the 9th of April, 1833. Tranquilly to stand by, and witness the Russo French liquidation, an act which would be equivalent to a passive acknowledgment on the part of France, of the usurpations of Russia, would be contrary to the dignity and interest of the British nation.”

Article IX-1. “Thoughts upon the Aristocracy of England. By Isaac Tompkins, Gent. Fifth Edition. London: Henry Hooper, 1835, pp. 23.”

2. “A letter to Isaac Tompkins, Gent., author of the Thoughts upon the Aristocracy. From Mr. Peter Jenkins. Fifth Edition, with a Postscript. London: Henry Hooper, 1835, pp. 11.”

3. “A letter to Isaac Tompkins, and Peter Jenkins on Primogeniture. By Timothy Winterbottom. Fourth Edition. London: William Pickering, 1835.”

From the specimens of these Pamphlets, given in the Review before us, we are inclined to think them excessively amusing. Mr. Isaac Tompkins busies himself with the House of Lords, and Mr. Peter Jenkins gives the lash to the House of Commons. Mr. T’s account of patrician taste in literature and wit — of courts, courtiers, court-jesters, buffoonery, &c. are not a little edifying. His book has created a great sensation. In a note appended to the fourth edition, occur the following significant remarks. “The Quarterly Review, the organ of the Aristocratic Church, and of the Lay Aristocracy, has taken the opportunity of printing the greater part of the work, under pretence of giving a Review of it. Pretence it plainly is; for there is hardly one remark added, and not one syllable of censure or objection! Can any thing more plainly demonstrate that the cause of the Aristocracy is hateful, even to the very writers who affect to support it? Can any thing better prove its decline among all educated and sensible men? Mr. Canning’s abhorrence of it is well known, and so is the hatred with which he was repaid. But in our time, the advocate of establishments can think: of nothing better than giving a very wide circulation to Mr. J. Tompkins’ observations. These Quarterly Reviewers would not for the world, that these observations were not generally known.” Peter Jenkins concludes [column 2:] his pamphlet with some remarks on the new liberal government. Winterbottom’s letter treats chiefly of the evils resulting from the accumulation of wealth in a few hands. “The whole family of Tompkins &c. is good” — says the Reviewer — ” and the public, will be glad to see more of their kin and kind.”

Article X. “The History of Ireland. By Thomas Moore, Esq. In three volumes. Vol. i. London: Long man & Co. 1835.”

This is an excellent and very laudatory notice, of a work which cannot be too highly commended. The difficulties Mr. Moore has overcome, in reducing to or der a chaotic discordance of materials, with a view to this History, will, perhaps, never be fully appreciated. It cannot indeed be asserted that every portion of his subject has been hitherto uninvestigated, or, that all the questions he has discussed have been satisfactorily settled; but that, under existing circumstances, such a book should have been written at all, is a matter for admiration — and that it has been so rationally, so lucidly, and so critically written, is a fact which cannot fail to elevate its author immeasurably in the estimation of his friends. The future volumes of The History of Ireland, will be looked for with intense interest. In them we may expect to find the records of a dark and troubled period. Moore will speak fearlessly, or we are much mistaken.

Article XI. “A Bill for granting Relief in relation to the Celebration of Marriages, to certain persons dissenting from the Church of England and Ireland, 1835.”

The Reviewer, here, seems to think that Sir Robert Peel’s Bill, with some little amendment, would meet the case of the Dissenters in the manner most satisfactory, and, under all circumstances most convenient. The Dissenters themselves have little to propose, and that little impracticable.

Article XII. “Plantagenet. — 3 vols. London: John Macrone, 1835.”

Plantagenet is a novel: and the writer’s object is stated by the critic to be pretty nearly identical with that of Mr. Timothy Winterbottom, of whom we have spoken before — viz: to lay bare the social evils of primogeniture. The English system of education is de tailed, and its effect upon character analyzed. The writer’s design is said not to be very well carried into execution — nevertheless the Reviewer places him in the first line of modern political novelists, and says there is nobody, except the author of ‘The Radical,’ who, stands out as a model for him to overtake or pursue.

Article XIII. — l. “Colonization of South Australia. By R. Torrens, Esq. F. R. S. Chairman of the Colonization Commission, for South Australia. London: Longman, 1835.”

2. “Colonization; particularly in Southern Austraha; with some remarks on Small Farms and Over-population. By Colonel Charles James Napier, C. B. London: T. & W. Boone, 1835.”

Colonel Torrens’ book is bitterly and sarcastically reviewed. It is an octavo of more than 300 pages, with an Appendix of about 20. The first part of the body of the work is in the form of a letter, divided into twelve parts, and addressed “To the author of the History of the Indian Archipelago.” This portion discusses the new scheme for colonizing South Australia. Its style is called pamphleteering and polemical. The second [page 61:] part is said to be “in the usual cold, cramped, and unpopular manner of the author’s politico-economical writings.” The Appendix consists of the Act of Parliament for the formation of the Colony, of two letters signed Kangaroo, and of another from A. B., approving of Kangaroo’s opinions. Kangaroo is thought by the Reviewer a better writer of English than his master. Colonel Napier’s book is favorably noticed. His views are in direct opposition to those of Torrens.

Article XIV. “The Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy. By Thomas Keightley, Esq. 8vo. London, 1831.” This is an interesting and able paper, but has no pretensions to the name of Review. The position of the Bacchanalians in Greek and Roman History, and their progress, together with the dangers and impediments encountered in their course, forms the subject of the Essay — for it is an Essay, although an admirable one.

——

LONDON QUARTERLY REVIEW.

The London Quarterly Review, No. CVII. for July, 1835. American Edition, Vol. III, No. 1.

Article I. — 1. “ Narrative of a Second Voyage in search of a North-West Passage, and of a Residence in the Arctic Regions, during the Years 1829-30-31-32 33. By Sir John Ross, C. B., K. S. A., K. C. S., &c. &c. Captain in the Royal Navy, London: 1835, 4to. pp. 740.”

2. “The Late Voyage of Captain Sir John Ross, R. N. to the Arctic Regions, for the Discovery of a North-West Passage; performed in the Years 1829-30-31-32-33. From authentic information, and original documents, transmitted by William Light, Purser’s Steward to the Expedition. By Robert Huish, author of the ‘Memoirs of the Princess Charlotte,’ ‘Treatise on Bees,’ &c. &c. London: 1835, 8vo. pp. 760.”

3. “Report from a Select Committee of the House of Commons, on the Expedition to the Arctic Seas, commanded by Captain John Ross, R. N. 1834.”

This is, in many respects a clever and judicious Review, although abounding with much vulgar abuse of Captain Ross, whom it accuses, not only of gross ignorance and misrepresentation, but of several minor indecorums, such for example, as “the opening of a subscription shop in Regent Street — the sending of a set of fellows, usually called trampers, but who call themselves agents, to knock at every gentleman’s door, in town and country, not humbly to solicit, but with pertinacious importunity, almost to force subscriptions — the getting up of Vauxhall and panoramic exhibitions, and some other circumstances not worth detailing.” It hints something also, of the Captain’s having procured the literary aid of “a practised embroiderer of periods, one Dr. M’Culloch.” Huish’s book is treated with derision, but the Quarterly cannot resist the temptation of giving additional currency to a malignant accusation of cruelty, brought by this very man Huish, against the Captain. The charge is republished in the Review with a hint, that it is quite as likely to be true as not. The Article concludes with a hope, that if the Government should determine upon another expedition, its direction may be given to Captain James Clarke Ross, and Back, appointed his second in command — and roundly asserts that Sir John Ross, C. B., K. S. A., K. C. S., &c. &c., [column 2:] is utterly incompetent to conduct any enterprise of the kind, to a successful termination.

Article II. “Journal of Frances Anne Butler (Fanny Kemble,) 2 vols. Post 8vo. London: 1835.”

The tone of this Notice is very similar to that of the Article on the same subject in the Edinburgh for July — perhaps, upon the whole, not quite so complimentary. The Reviewer is of opinion, that ‘Master Fanny’s’ Journal was from an early period, if not from the first line, intended for publication, and that the entire thing is arranged for stage — effect. Both these suppositions are highly probable. Indeed for our own part, we never had a doubt about the matter. The personifier of Julia, of Nell, and of Lady Macbeth, wished to make it apparent that she could mingle up in the same page, simplicity, frivolity and dignity. She has succeeded to a miracle, and we think nothing the worse of her performance for its premeditation. The critic finds fault, also, with Fanny’s transparent affectation — a charge from which we have neither the wish, nor the ability to defend her. Affectation is the Promethean fire of a pretty and intelligent woman — and provided always the things, the qualities, or manners affected are not in se disagreeable or odious, it is very seldom worth any one’s while to quarrel with it. As for the transparent part of the accusation, it betrays a want of philosophical acumen. Affectation, when we cannot see through it, is no longer affectation. The political fal lal of the fair lady is, of course, made a matter of high merit by the Quarterly Review. “Her observations,” quoth the critic, “evince a depth of penetration, and a soundness of judgment, rare in any one, but wonderful in a person of her age and sex.” A chuckle also is elicited, by Fanny’s astounding conviction, that “America will be a monarchy before she (Mrs. Butler) is a skeleton.”

Article III.” The Last Essays of Elia.” London: 12mo. 1833.

This is an Essay on the Essays of Lamb by one who thoroughly understands the man. And there are not many men who do thoroughly comprehend him. Altho’ not the greatest among his contemporaries he was the most original — and his writings are, we feel assured, a true copy of his individual mind. He was one of those men of infinite genius, so rarely to be met with, who unite the most exquisite daintiness and finish of style with a vigorous and dashing abandon of manner. This manner has been called affected — but it was not so. That his thoughts “were villainously pranked in an array of antique words and phrases” was a necessary thing. The language of the times of James and Charles I. was as natural to him as his native air — it was a portion of his intellect. As a critic, Lamb had no equal, aid we are moreover half inclined to agree with the Quarterly, that there are, amongst his poetical pieces, some as near perfection in their kind as any thing in our literature — ” specimens of exceeding artifice and felicity in rhythm, metre, and diction.”

Article IV. “History of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, illustrated by original documents. By Frederick Von Raumer. Translated from the German by Lord Francis Egerton, in 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1835.”

Frederick Von Raumer, the author of the work here reviewed, is the same who wrote the ‘History of the House of Hohenstauffen,’ noticed in a former number of the Quarterly. The present History is spoken of [page 61:] in high terms. It is the result of the author’s residence in Paris in 1830, and consists of a series of extracts from MSS. in the Bibliotheque Royale — chiefly the despatches of Ambassadors. Lord Egerton’s translation is favorably mentioned.

Article V. “The Life of Edmund Kean. In 2 vols. London: 1835.”

This is a most severe and galling Philippic upon a very worthless book. Indeed Barry Cornwall was the last person in the world who should have attempted the Life of Kean. From the poet’s peculiar cast of mind, (Proc ter is merely a dealer in delicate prettinesses,) he is particularly ill-qualified for discussing the merits of an actor whose province lay altogether amid the tempestuous regions of passion and energy. “A worse man” says the critic — ” might have made Kean’s story entertaining — a wiser, if he had told it at all, would have at least tried to make it instructive.” The Essays upon ,\the chief characters of Shakspeare, which fill nearly half the second volume, are truly said to be devoid of originality, vigor, or grace. To the entire book is laughably applied a couplet from an old criticism upon Suckling’s Aglaura.

This great voluminous pamphlet may be said,

To be like one that hath more hair than head.

Article VI. 1. “Physiologie du Gout: ou Medita tions de Gastronomie Transcendante; Ouvrage Theo rique, Historique, et a l’ordre du Jour. Dddie aux Gas tronomes Parisiens. Par un Professeur (M. Brillat Sa varin) M embre de Plusiours Societds Savantes. 2 tomes, 5me edition, Paris: 1835.”

2. “The French Cook. A System of Fashionable and Economical Cookery; adapted to the use of English Families, &e. by Louis Eustace Ude, ci-devant Cook to Louis XVI, and the Earl of Sefton, &c. &c. &c., 12th edition, with Appendix &c., London: 1833.”

This article is written in the most exquisite spirit of banter, and is irresistibly amusing. It commences with a sketch of the history, present state and literature of cookery! and concludes with a particular Notice of the books at the head of the article. “Mirabeau” — says the critic — ”used to present Condorcet with voilea ma thorie, and the Abbe Maury with voila ma pratique. We beg leave to present M. Brillat Savarin as our theory, M. Ude as our practice.” A biographical account of Savarin is introduced — full of wit. Savarin was Judge of the Court of Cassation, Member of the Legion of Honor, and of most of the scientific and literary societies of France. His work consists of “a collection of aphorisms, a dialogue between the author and a friend as to the expediency of publication, a biographical notice of the friend, thirty meditations, and a concluding Miscellany of adventures, inventions, and anecdotes.” Article VII. 1. “Souvenirs, Impressions, Pensdes, et Paysages pendant un Voyage en Orient, 1832, S1833. Par M. Alphonse de Lamartine, 4 vols. Paris: 1835.” 2. “A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, &c. By Alphonse de Lamartine, 3 vols. London: 1835.” An English translation of Lamartine’s Pilgrimage, and even a pirated Bruselles edition of the original, were read in London before the publication of the original itself. This is high evidence of the writer’s popularity, at least, however prejudicial it may have proved to his literary and pecuniary interests. The Remarks in [column 2:] the Review under consideration are deduced from the English translation, which is from the pen cf Miss Landon. With the exception of the French verses scattered throughout the work, and which are not very happily rendered (we should think it impossible to translate them) L. E. L. has executed her task with much ability — at least so says the Quarterly, and we believe it. Some singular misconceptions of the meaning of the original are, however, occasionally met with, and we are at a loss whether to attribute them to carelessness or an imperfect acquaintance with the French. The Review cites the following as an instance, and we have noted several others equally glaring.

N’attends donc plus de moi ces vers ou la pensee

Comme d’un arc sonore avec grace e1ancee

Et sur deux mots pareils vibrant a l’unisson

Dansent complaisamment aux caprices du son!

Ce froid echo des vers repugne it mon oreille.

From me expect no more the verse where thought

Glances in grace as from the sounding bow,

When two words vibrating in unison

Complacent dance to the caprice of sound.

Now verse in its cold echo shocks my ear.

The Review lavishes many compliments upon La martine, and enters into a compendious sketch of his Pilgrimage.

Article VIII. “Yarrow Revisited and other Poems. By Wm. Wordsworth. 12mo. pp. 349. London, 1835.”

Here is one of those exceedingly rare cases in which a British critic confines himself strictly to his text — but this is nearly all that can be said in favor of the Article. A more partial, a more indiscriminate or fulsome panegyric we never wish to see, and surely “Yarrow Re visited” is worthy of a better fate. “There is,” quoth the Reviewer, “a spirit of elegance in these poems more prominently and uniformly prevailing than in any equal portion of Mr. Wordsworth’s former works. We mean an elegance such as Quinctillian ascribes to several of the Greek and Roman writers — a nobleness of thought and feeling made vocal in perfectly pure and appropriate language. It struck us, at first, as an odd remark of Coleridge’s, that Goethe and Wordsworth were something alike, but &c. &c.” Heaven save us from our friends!

Article IX. — 1. “Rough Leaves from a Journal kept in Spain and Portugal. By Lieut. Col. Badcock, 8 vo. London: 1835.”

2. Recollections of a few days spent with the Queen’s Army in Spain, in September 1833, 12mo. (privately printed,) London: 1835.”

3. “Recollections of a visit to the Monasteries of Alcobava, and Batalha. By the author of Vathek, S vo. London: 1835, pp. 228.” Colonel Badcock’s book is favorably noticed. This Officer was sent to the Peninsula, by Earl Grey’s Ministry, for the purpose of transmitting exact intelligence to the government at home. In the discharge of this mission, he traversed the greater part of Spain, was present at the siege of Oporto, and attended Don Pedro to the camp before Santarem. His “Rough Leaves” are the result. From the work whose title appears in the second place large extracts are made, all of a highly amusing nature. The critique concludes with a brief complimentary notice of Mr. Beckford’s’ Recollections,’ which are excessively overpraised.

Article X.-1. “First Report of the Commissioners [page 63:] appointed to inquire into the Municipal Corporations of England and Wales, 1835.”

2. “Protest of Sir Francis Palgrave, against the First Report, &c. 1835.”

3. “Observations on the Principles to be adopted in the Establishment of new Municipalities, the Reform of Ancient Corporations, and the Cheap Administration of Justice. By Sir Francis Palgrave, K. H. London: 1833.” This is a violent party-paper, and abounds in misrepresentation. One of its passages is forcible enough. “The first step in this extraordinary affair, (the plan of Municipal Reform) was in itself most extraordinary. A commission was issued under the Great Seal of England, with powers and for purposes now confessed to have been illegal! * * * The town-clerk of a petty borough, discomfited the Lord High Chancellor of England, on a point of law, of his Lordship’s own raising, within his own special jurisdiction; and for the very first time, we believe, since the days of James and Jeffries, a commission under the Great Seal of England was convicted of illegality.”

Article XI “Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honorable Sir James Mackintosh. Edited by his son, Robert James Mackintosh, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1835.”

This Article we think upon the whole, better toned than the one upon the same subject, in the Edinburgh. It characterizes the work as a most interesting collection of Mackintoshiana, although not a good Life. Sir James is very justly styled an “idealogical writer, who, treating of human affairs, prefers to deal with thoughts, rather than things.”

——

NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

The North American Review. No. LXXXIX — Vol. XLI. For October 1835. Boston: Charles Bowen.

It is now very generally known that Mr. Palfrey has become the editor of this Review, and the present number is the first issued since the announcement of the new arrangement. It is difficult to speak of a work like this as a whole. Particular articles strike us as being very good — some are worthless. We will briefly notice them one by one.

Article I. “Life of Jehudi Ashmun, late Colonial Agent in Liberia. With an Appendix, containing Extracts from his Journal and other Writings; and a brief Sketch of the Life of the Rev. Lott Carey. By Ralph Randolph Gurley. Washington.”

“The capacities of Ashmun’s character were such,” says the Reviewer, “that had he lived in any age or country, (pray, did he not live in any age or country?) their energy must have hurried them into development as inevitably as the waters flow to the sea.” All this we are willing to believe, and also that the man in question was a noble martyr in the cause of African colonization. We doubt, however, if there are not a crowd of books daily issuing unnoticed from the press, of far more general interest, and consequently more worthy the attention of our leading Review than even The Life of Ashmun. We shall soon, perhaps, have a Life of some Cuffy the Great, by Solomon Sapient; and then the North American will feel itself bound to devote one half of its pages to that important publication. In expressing ourselves thus, we mean not the slightest disrespect to either Ashmun or his Biographer. [column 2:] But the critique is badly written, and its enthusiasm outre and disproportionate.

Article II.-1. “Ward’s Law of Nations. 8vo. 2 vols. 1795.”

2. “Vattel’s Law of Nations, by Chitty, 8vo. 1829.” This is an excellent essay — a practical exposition of the source and character of the Law International, and for which the works above-mentioned afford the mate riel. A few articles similar to this would at once re deem the reputation of American critical literature Our position in regard to France, gives to this review, at this moment, additional interest.

Article III.” Matthias and his Impostures, or the Progress of Fanaticism. Illustrated in the Extraordinary Case of Robert Matthews, and some of his Fore runners and Disciples. By W. L. Stone. 12 mo. New York, 1835.”

The critic here adopts the very just opinion that Matthias had formed himself and his creed designedly upon the model of John of Leyden. We think it probable that the impostor, who was grossly ignorant, may have seen an account of the proceedings at Munster in some popular historical work, and formed his own conduct accordingly. The leader of the fanatics at Munster was Matthias, a baker. Matthews called himself Matthias. The former had his Rothman and Knipper doling, men of respectable family and some considera tion — the latter had his Pierson and Folger, men similarly circumstanced. Rothman and Knipperdoling were invested with an authority which was merely nominal. It was the same with Pierson and Folger. John had his Mount Zion at Munster, and Matthews his Mount Zion at Sing-Sing. The Review gives a digest of Stone’s book, and is very entertaining.

Article IV. “Scriptores Rerum Mythicarum Latini tres, Romae nuper Reperti. Ad fidem codicum M.S.S. Guelferbytanorum, Gottingensis, Gothani, et Parisien sis, Integriores edidit ac Scholiis illustravit Dr. Geor gius Henricus Bode, Ordinis Philos. Gotting. Assessor, Societatis literar. quae Cantabrigiie Americanorum floret Socius. Celles, 1834.”

Angelo Maio discovered and published, about three years ago, the works of three Roman writers, supposed by him to be Leontius, Placidus, and Hyginus, who flourished about the close of the fourth century, or as the Review incorrectly states, after the commencement of the fifth. The work criticised in the present article is a new edition of Maio’s publication, improved by the collation of MSS. at Wolfenbuttel, Gottingen, Gotha, and Paris. Dr. Bode, a scholar of high reputation, and who resided for some time in a New England literary institution, is the editor. The reviewer speaks of the Latinity as simple and easy, and, for the most part, classical in construction.

Article V. — 1. “A Lecture on the Working Men’s Party, first delivered October 6th, before the Charlestown Lyceum, and published at their request. By Edward Everett. Boston, 1830.”

2. “An Oration delivered before the Trades’ Union of Boston and Vicinity, on Fort Hill, on the Fifty-eighth Anniversary of American Independence. By Frederick Robinson. Boston, 1834.”

3. “The Rights of Industry, addressed to the Working Men of the United Kingdom. By the Author of ‘The Results of Machinery.’ Philadelphia, 1832.” [page 64:]

The Reviewer here commences with what we consider a naive acknowledgment, viz: that he has not selected the works whose titles are placed at the head of this article because they are recent, or unknown, but merely with the view of directing public attention to the subject of which they treat. The Essay, however, is an excellent one, and shows in a forcible manner, by a rapid comparative view of the condition of the laboring classes in our own and other countries, how few just causes of complaint exist among our’ working people.’

Article VI. “The Ministry for the Poor. A Discourse delivered before the Benevolent Fraternity of Churches in Boston, on their first anniversary, April 9th, 1835. By William E. Channing. Boston, 1835.”

The North American, in its last number, considered Southey a fine writer, but Washington Irving a much finer, and indeed ‘the best living writer of English prose:’ having, however, to review Mr. Channing in the present number, its opinions are conveniently modified to suit the occasion, and now the English of William E. Channing is declared coram populo to be’equally elegant, and a little more pure, correct, and pointed than that of Mr. Irving.’ There is surely something very absurd in all this. Mr. Irving is a fine writer, and so, beyond doubt, is Mr. Channing — but the Review seems perseveringly bent upon making the public think otherwise. What does the critic mean too by the assertion that Coleridge’s reputation is greater in America than in England, and that he possesses very slender claims to the distinction of the first philosopher of his age? We should like to see some direct evidence of what the Reviewer has so roundly asserted, viz: that “Coleridge shews an almost total want of precision and clearness of thought.” The works of the man are before the public, and we greatly prefer proof to assertion. We think this whole paper exceedingly silly.

Article VII. “A Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural History. By William Swainson. London, 1834.”

We have not seen Swainson’s work, and of course can say nothing about it — the present article however, which professes to be, but is not, a Review of it, we pronounce excellent indeed. It must be read to be thoroughly appreciated.

Article VIII. — l. “Poems. By Mrs. L. H. Sigourney. Philadelphia, 1834.”

2. “Poems. By Miss H. F. Gould. Boston, 1835.”

The only fault we have with this critique is, that it hardly does justice to the noble talents of Mrs. Sigourney. Something more, we think, might have been said, and said with perfect truth. Miss Gould is more fairly dealt with, but nevertheless the criticism does not appear to come from the heart of a poet. Some incidental remarks upon Miss Sedgwick are highly complimentary and exceedingly just. Mrs. Sigourney’s first publication was reviewed in the North American about twenty years ago. She was then Miss Huntley.

Article IX. “Sartor Resartus: in three Books. Reprinted for friends, from Fraser’s Magazine. London, 1834.”

The North American might have been better employed than in reviewing this book — even although it be “no secret in England or here that it is the work of a person to whom the public is indebted for a number of articles in the late British Reviews.” The book purports [column 2:] to be a commentary (the author incog.) on a late work on the Philosophy of Dress, by Dr. Diogenes Teufelsdroeckh, Professor of the Science of Things in General, at the University of Weissnichtwo in Germany; and the Reviewer thinks it necessary to enter into some pages of discussion, in order to convince his readers that Professor Teufelsdroeckh and his book are both a hum. We think the whole critique a hum of the worst order, viz: a hum unintentional. We will venture to bet that the meaning (if there be any) of the Sartor Resartus has only the two faults of the steed in Joe Miller. In the first place, it is hard to catch. In the second place it is worth nothing when caught.

Article X. “A Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language; with Pronouncing Vocabularies of Classical, Scripture, and Modern Geographical Names. By J. E. Worcester. Carefully revised and enlarged. Boston, 1835.”

This is a valuable work, and the writer of the critique upon it seems fully aware of its many excellences. Mr. Worcester has based his Dictionary upon those of Johnson and Walker, but has given six thousand more words than are found in the Critical Pronouncing Dictionary of the latter. A large number of terms purely technical are given with their meanings — many foreign words, also, in familiar use.

Article XI. — 1. “A Narrative of the Visit to the American Churches, by the Deputation from the Congregational Union of England and Wales. By Andrew Reed, D. D. and James Matheson, D. D. 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1835.”

2. “Four Years in Great Britain. By Calvin Colton. 2 vols. 12mo. New York, 1835.”

Dr. Reed’s book is reviewed calmly and with strict impartiality — the reviewer allowing that the Dr. writes with energy when his attention is fully aroused. This, perhaps, is his chief merit. Of Colton’s work little is said. “His adventures,” observes the critic, “are very well described, and though in some of them he gives too much prominence to his own doubts and fears, still, if the whole had been written in the same manner, it would have insured the work a greater popularity than it is likely to gain.” His account of O’Connell is highly praised.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - SLM, 1835] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Criticial Notices (December 1835)