Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Critical Notices, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. II, no. 2, February 1836, 2:173-180


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[page 180, column 1:]

MARTIN’S GAZETTEER.

A New and Comprehensive Gazetteer of Virginia, and the District of Columbia: containing a copious collection of Geographical, Statistical, Political, Commercial, Religious, Moral and Miscellaneous Information, collected and compiled from the most respectable, and chiefly from original sources; by Joseph Martin. To which is added a History of Virginia from its first settlement to the year 1754: with an abstract of the principal events from that period to the independence of Virginia, written expressly for the work, by a citizen of Virginia. Charlottesville: Published by Joseph Martin. 1835.

We ought to have noticed this book sooner. Mr. Martin deserves well of the country for having laid the foundation, amidst numerous obstacles, of a work of great utility and importance. In his preface, he disavows all pretension to literary attainment, and claims only the merit of enterprise and perseverance in the execution of his design. He is entitled to all the rewards of a bold pioneer, struggling with pecuniary difficulties, and, we might add, with public indifference, in amassing a large amount of valuable information-interesting to almost every man in the Commonwealth. It is one of the evils attendant upon a high state of political excitement in any country, that what is really and substantially good, is forgotten or neglected. The resources of our great Commonwealth are immense, and if we could once get the public mind into a condition favorable to their full development, the most important consequences might be expected to follow. Societies and associations for collecting information in the various departments of moral and physical science, have abounded in most countries having the least pretension to civilization; and even in some of the States of our confederacy, it is known that an enlightened spirit of inquiry exists on the same subject. Our own state indeed, boastful as it is of its early history, the renown of some of its sons, and its abundant natural advantages, has nevertheless, we are pained to admit, manifested too little of that public spirit which has animated other communities. Of late, indeed, some [column 2:] signs have been exhibited of a more liberal and resolute course of action, and we are not without hope that these efforts will be crowned by highly useful and practical results.

It is because Mr. Martin has been obliged to rely principally upon individual contributions, in order to obtain which he must necessarily have used great diligence, and submitted to much pecuniary sacrifice, that we think him entitled to a double portion of praise. Few individuals would, under such circumstances, have incurred the risk of failure; and our wonder is, not that the work is not perfect, but that, contending with so many disadvantages, it should have so nearly accomplished what has been long a desideratum in Virginia literature. Our limits will not permit any thing like a minute analysis of its contents. The arrangement of the volume strikes us as superior to the ordinary alphabetical plan; and although there is much repetition even in its present form, much more we think has been avoided. That part of the General Description of the State, which especially treats of the climate, is admirably well written; and, considering the scantiness of the author’s materials, owing to the general neglect of meteorological observations in Virginia, his reasoning is clear, forcible, and philosophical. In the Sketch which is given of the county of Louisa, we think we can recognize a pen which has not unfrequently adorned the pages of the “Messenger” — and the History of the State from its earliest settlement, appended to the work, is written with vigor and ability, and, as far as we can judge, with accuracy. If Mr. Martin is sustained by public liberality, which we earnestly hope will be the case, he will not only be enabled, in the next edition, to correct such imperfections as may be found to exist in the present, but to engraft a large amount of additional information, derived from authentic sources. The report of Professor Rogers, for example, on the Geology of Virginia, made to the present Legislature, will shed much light on the mineral resources of the State; and the report of the President and Directors of the Literary Fund, embracing as it does, detailed information with respect to all our literary institutions, will greatly illustrate the means in operation for diffusing the blessings and benefits of education. The statistical tables, too, can be revised and corrected in another edition; and we doubt not that many individuals into whose hands the work may fall, will voluntarily contribute such suggestions and improvements as their means of information will authorize. Such a work to the man of business, and to the traveller, and indeed to the general reader, s invaluable, and we heartily recommend it to public patronage.

 

ROSE-HILL.

Rose-Hill: A Tale of the Old Dominion. By a Virginian. Philadelphia: Key & Biddle.

This is an unpretending little duodecimo of about two hundred pages. It embraces some events connected with two (fictitious) families in the Western section of Virginia during the Revolution. The chief merit of the work consists in a vein of piety and strict morality pervading its pages. The story itself is interesting, but not very well put together, while the style might be amended in many respects. We wish the book, however, every success.

 

 

 

 

[[Eulogy of Chief Justice Marshall (By Lucian Minor)]]

 

[page 191, column 2:]

[[Poe’s Review of Emilia Harrington]]

 

[[Poe’s Reviw of The American In England]]

 

 

CONTI.

Conti the Discarded: with Other Tales and Fancies. By Henry F. Chorley. 2 vols. New York: Published by Harper and Brothers.

Mr. Chorley has hitherto written nothing of any great length. His name, however, is familiar to all readers of English Annuals, and in whatever we have seen from his pen, evidences of a rare genius have been perceptible. In Conti, and in the “Other Tales and Fancies” which accompany it, these evidences are more distinct, more brilliant, and more openly developed. Neither are these pieces wanting in a noble, and, to us, a most thrillingly interesting purpose. In saying that our whole heart is with the author — that the deepest, and we trust, the purest emotions are enkindled within us by his chivalric and magnanimous design — we present but a [column 2:] feeble picture of our individual feelings as influenced by the perusal of Conti. We repeat it-our whole heart is with the author. When shall the artist assume his proper situation in society — in a society of thinking beings? How long shall he be enslaved? How long shall mind succumb to the grossest materiality? How long shall the veriest vermin of the Earth, who crawl around the altar of Mammon, be more esteemed of men than they, the gifted ministers to those exalted emotions which link us with the mysteries of Heaven? To our own query we may venture a reply. Not long. Not long will such rank injustice be committed or permitted. A spirit is already abroad at war with it. And in every billow of the unceasing sea of Change — and in every breath, however gentle, of the wide atmosphere of Revolution encircling us, is that spirit steadily yet irresistibly at work.

“Who has not looked,” says Mr. Chorley in his Preface, “with painful interest on the unreckoned-up account of misunderstanding and suspicion which exists between the World and the Artist? Who has not grieved to see the former willing to degrade Art into a mere plaything — to be enjoyed without respect, and then cast aside — instead of receiving her high works as among the most humanizing blessings ever vouchsafed to man by a beneficent Creator? Who has not suffered shame in observing the Artist bring his own calling into contempt by coarsely regarding it as a mere engine of money getting, or holding it up to reproach by making it the excuse for such eccentricities or grave errors as separate him from the rest of society?”

That genius should not and indeed cannot be bound down to the vulgar common-places of existence, is a maxim which, however true, has been too often repeated; and there have appeared on earth enough spirits of the loftiest and most brilliant order who have worthily taken their part in life as useful citizens, affectionate husbands, faithful friends, to deprive of their excuse all such as hold, that to despise and alienate the world is the inevitable and painfully glorious destiny of the highly gifted.

Very few of our readers, it may be, are acquainted with a particular class of works which has long exercised a very powerful influence on the private habits and character, as well as on the literature of the Germans. We speak of the Art Novels — the Kunstromanen — books written not so much in immediate defence, or in illustration, as in personification of individual portions of the Fine Arts-books which, in the guise of Romance, labor to the sole end of reasoning men into admiration and study of the beautiful, by a tissue of bizarre fiction, partly allegorical, and partly metaphysical. In Germany alone could so mad — or perhaps so profound — an idea have originated. From the statement of Mr. Chorley, we find that his original intention was to attempt something in the style of the Kunstromanen, with such modifications as might seem called for by the peculiar spirit of the British national tastes and literature. “It occurred to me, however,” says he, “that the very speculations and reveries which appeared to myself so delicious and significant, might be rejected by the rest of the world as fantastic and over-strained.” Mr. C. could never have persevered in a scheme so radically erroneous for more than a dozen pages, and neither the world nor himself will have [page 196:] cause to regret that he thought proper to abandon the Art Novels, and embody his fine powers and lofty design in so stirring and so efficient a series of paintings as may be found in the present volumes.

A single passage near the commencement of Conti, will afford to all those who feel and think, direct evidence of the extraordinary abilities of Mr. Chorley. Madame Zerlini is an Italian prima donna, who becoming enamored of Colonel Hardwycke, an Englishman, accompanies him to England as his mistress, and after living with him for twelve years, and bearing him a son, Julius, dies suddenly upon hearing of his intention to marry.

“A strange scene greeted his eyes (those of Julius) as he entered the spacious hall, which, as its windows fronted the east, was already beginning to be dusky with the shadows of twilight. On the lowest step of the stairs lay, in violent hysterics, one of the women servants — she was raving and weeping, half supported by two others, themselves trembling so as to be almost powerless.

“ ‘And here’s Master Julius, too!’ exclaimed one of the group which obstructed his passage,’and my master gone away-no one knows for flow long. Lord have mercy upon us! — what are we to do, I wonder?’

“ ‘ Don’t go up stairs!’ shrieked the other, leaving her charge, and endeavoring to stop him. ‘Don’t go up stairs — it is all over!’

“But the boy, whose mind was full of other matters and who, having wandered away in the morning, before the delirium became so violent, had no idea of his mother’s imminent danger, broke from them without catching the meaning of their words, and forced his way up stairs, towards the great drawing room, the folding doors of which were swinging open.

“He went in. Madame Zerlini was there — flung down upon a sofa, in an attitude which, in life, it would have been impossible for her to maintain for many moments. Her head was cast back over one of the pillows, so far, that her long hair, which had been imperfectly fastened, had disengaged itself by its own weight, and was now sweeping heavily downward, with a crushed wreath of passion flowers and myrtles half buried among it. Every thing about her told how fiercely the spirit had passed. Her robe of scarlet muslin was entirely torn off on one shoulder, and disclosed its exquisitely rounded proportions. Her glittering negligé was unclasped, and one end of it clenched firmly in the small left hand, which there was now hardly any possibility of unclosing. Her glazed eyes were wide open — her mouth set in an unnatural, yet fascinating smile; her cheek still flushed with a more delicate, yet intense red than belongs to health; and the excited boy, who was rushing hastily into the room, with the rapid inquiry, ‘Where is Father Vanezzi?’ stood as fixed on the threshhold, with sudden and conscious horror, as if he had been a thing of marble.”

It is not our intention to analyze, or even to give a compend of the Tale of Conti. Such are not the means by which any idea of its singular power can be afforded. We will content ourselves with saying that, in its prevailing tone, it bears no little resemblance to that purest, and most enthralling of fictions, the Bride of Lammermuir; and we have once before expressed our opinion of this, the master novel of Scott. It is not too much to say that no modern composition, and perhaps no composition whatever, with the single exception of Cervantes’ Destruction of Numantia, approaches so nearly to the proper character of the dramas of Æschylus, as the magic tale of which Ravenswood is the hero. We are not aware of being sustained by [column 2:] any authority in this opinion — yet we do not believe it the less intrinsically correct.

The other pieces in the volumes of Mr. Chorley are, Margaret Sterne, or The Organist’s Journey — an Essay on the Popular Love of Music — Rossini’s Otello — The Imaginative Instrumental Writers, Haydn, Beethoven, &c. — The Village Beauty’s Wedding — Handel’s Messiah and A few words upon National Music — all of which papers evince literary powers of a high order, an intimate acquaintance with the science of music, and a lofty and passionate devotion to its interests.

NOBLE DEEDS OF WOMAN.

Noble Deeds of Woman. 2 vols. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

These are two neat little volumes devoted to a theme of rich interest. From the Preface, or rather from the date and place of date of the Preface, we may form a guess that the work was originally published in London, and that the present edition is merely a reprint. There is nothing in the title-page or in the body of the book indicative of its derivation. But be the “Noble Deeds of Woman” English or American, we recommend them heartily to public attention.

The content-table is thus subdivided: Maternal Affection — Filial Affection — Sisterly Affection — Conjugal Affection — Humanity — Integrity — Benevolence — Fortitude. Under each of these separate heads are collected numerous anecdotes in the manner of the Brothers Percy. Of course it will be impossible to speak of them as a whole. Some are a little passés — for the most part they are piquant and well selected — a few are exceedingly entertaining and recherchés. From page 139, vol. i, we select one or two paragraphs which will be sure to find favor with all our readers. We rejoice in so excellent an opportunity of transferring to our columns a document well deserving preservation.

During the late war between the Turks and the Greeks, some American ladies, touched by the hardships and sufferings of the latter people, presented them with a ship containing money, and various articles of wearing apparel, wrought by their own hands; an offering which, under their forlorn situation, must have been highly acceptable to the unfortunate Greeks. The letter of Mrs. Sigourney, of Hartford, Connecticut, to the Ladies’ Greek Committee of that place, to accompany the contributions prepared for the Archipelago, was as follows: “United States of America, March 12, 1828. The ladies of Hartford, in Connecticut, to the ladies of Greece.

“Sisters and Friends, — From the years of childhood your native clime has been the theme of our admiration: together with our brothers and our husbands we early learned to love the country of Homer, Aristides, of Solon, and of Socrates. That enthusiasm which the glory of ancient Greece enkindled in our bosoms, has preserved a fervent friendship for her descendants. We have beheld with deep sympathy the horrors of Turkish domination, and the struggle so long and nobly sustained by them for existence and for liberty.

“The communications of Dr. Howe, since his return from your land, have made us more intimately acquainted with your personal sufferings. He has presented many of you to us in his vivid descriptions, as seeking refuge in caves, and, under the branches of olive trees, listening for the footsteps of the destroyer, and mourning over your dearest ones slain in battle.

“Sisters and friends, our hearts bleed for you. Deprived of your protectors by the fortune of war, and continually in fear of evils worse than death, our prayers are with you, in all your wanderings, your wants and your griefs. In this vessel (which may God send in safety to your shores) you will receive a portion of that bounty wherewith He hath blessed us. The poor among us have given according to their ability, and our little children [page 197:] have cheerfully aided, that some of you and your children might have bread to eat, and raiment to put on. Could you but behold the faces of our little ones brighten, and their eyes sparkle with joy, while they give up their holidays, that they might work with their needles for Greece; could you see those females who earn a subsistence by labor, gladly casting their mite into our treasury, and taking hours from their repose that an additional garment might be furnished for you; could you witness the active spirit that pervades all classes of our community, it would cheer for a moment the darkness and misery of your lot.

“We are inhabitants of a part of one of the smallest of the United States, and our donations must therefore, of necessity, be more limited than those from the larger and more wealthy cities; yet such as we have, we give in the name of our dear Saviour, with our blessings and our prayers.

“We know the value of sympathy — how it arms the heart to endure — how it plucks the sting from sorrow — therefore we have written these few lines to assure you, that in the remoter parts of our country, as well as in her high places, you are remembered with pity and with affection.

“Sisters and friends, we extend across the ocean our hands to you in the fellowship of Christ. We pray that His Cross and the banner of your land may rise together over the Crescent and the Minaret — that your sons may hail the freedom of ancient Greece restored, and build again the waste places which the oppressor hath trodden down; and that you, admitted once more to the felicities of home, may gather from past perils and adversities a brighter wreath for the kingdom of Heaven.

“LYDIA H. SIGOURNEY,

“Secretary of the Greek Committee of Hartford, Connecticut.”

 

 

 

ROGET’S PHYSIOLOGY.

Animal and Vegetable Physiology, considered with reference to Natural Theology. By Peter Mark Roget, M.D. Secretary to the Royal Society, &c. &c. 2 vols. large octavo. Philadelphia: Republished by Carey, Lea, and Blanchard.

As we have no doubt that the great majority of our readers are acquainted with the circumstances attending [page 202:] the publication of the Bridgewater Treatises, we shall content ourselves with a very brief statement of those circumstances, by way of introduction to some few observations respecting this, the fifth of the Series.

Francis Henry, Earl of Bridgewater, who died some time in the beginning of the year 1829, directed certain Trustees mentioned in his Will, to invest eight thou sand pounds sterling in the public funds, which eight thousand pounds, with the interest accruing, was to be under the control of the President, for the time being, of the Royal Society of London. The money thus invested, was to be paid by the President to such person or persons as he, the President, should appoint to “write, print and publish, one thousand copies of a work, On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation; illustrating such work by all reasonable arguments, as, for instance, the variety and formation of God’s creatures, in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms; the effect of digestion, and thereby of conversion; the construction of the hand of man, and an infinite variety of other arguments; as also by discoveries ancient and modern, in arts, sciences, and the whole extent of literature.” The profits of the works were to be paid to the authors.

Davies Gilbert, Esq. being President of the Royal Society, advised with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and “a nobleman immediately connected with the deceased,” in regard to the best mode of carrying into effect the design of the testator. It was finally resolved to divide the eight thousand pounds among eight gentlemen, who were to compose eight Treatises as follows. Thomas Chalmers, D. D. Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, was to write on “The Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man,” — John Kidd, M.D. F. R. S. Regius Professor of Medicine in the University of Oxford, on “The Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man,” — William Whewell, M. A. F. R. S. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, on “Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology,” — Sir Charles Bell, K. G. H. F. R. S. L. and E. on “The Hand: its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design,”-Peter Mark Roget, M.D. Fellow of and Secretary to the Royal Society, on “Animal and Vegetable Physiology,” — William Buckland, D. D. F. R. S. Professor of Geology in the University of Oxford, on “Geology and Mineralogy,” — William Kirby, M. A. F. R. S., on “ The History, Habits, and Instincts of Animals” — and William Prout, M.D. F. R. S., on “Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion, considered with Reference to Natural Theology.”

However excellent and praiseworthy the intention of the Earl of Bridgewater, and however liberal the sum bequeathed, there can be little doubt that in the wording of his bequest, in the encumbering of the work so nobly proposed with a specification of the arguments to be employed in its execution, he has offered a very serious impediment to the fulfilment of the spirit of his design. It is perhaps, too, a matter of regret, that the introduction of the words “person or persons” in the paragraph touching the contemplated publication, should have left it optional with the President of the Royal Society to divide the eight thousand pounds among so many. We

are sorry that the eight treatises were determined upon [column 2:] for several reasons. First, we do not believe any such arrangement to have been contemplated by the testator — his words “write, print, and publish one thousand copies of a work,” &c., inducing the opinion that one single book or treatise was intended: and we the rather hold to this belief, as it might easily be proved (we will speak farther of this hereafter,) that the whole argument set forth in the words of the Testament, and indeed the whole arguments of the whole eight Treatises now published, might have been readily discussed in one connected work of no greater bulk than the Physiology whose title forms the heading of this article. In the second place — the bequest of the eight thousand pounds, which en masse, is magnificent, and which might thus have operated as a sufficient inducement for some one competent person to devote a sufficiency of time to the steady and gradual completion of a noble and extraordinary work-this bequest, we say, is somewhat of a common-place affair when we regard it in its subdivision. Thirdly, one thousand pounds is but little for the labor necessary in a work like any one of the Treatises, and we are mistaken if the “profits of the sales” meet in any degree either the merits or the expectations of the respective authors. If they do, however, it is a matter altogether foreign to and apart from the liberality of the testator — a liberality whose proper development should have been scrupulously borne in view by the Trustee. Fourthly-the result of the combination of a number of intellects is seldom in any case — never in a case like the present — equal to the sum of the results of the same intellects laboring individually — the difference, generally, being in precise ratio with the number of the intellects engaged. It follows that each writer of a Bridgewater Treatise has been employed at a disadvantage. Lastly — an accurate examination of the nature and argument of each Treatise as allotted, will convince one a priori that the whole must, in any attempt at a full discussion, unavoidably run one into the other — this indeed in so very great a degree that each Treatise respectively would embody a vast quantity of matter, (handled in a style necessarily similar) to be found in each and all of the remaining seven Treatises. Here again is not only labor wasted by the writers-but, by the readers of the works, much time and trouble unprofitably thrown away. We say that this might have been proved a priori by an inspection of the arguments of the Treatises. It has been fully proved, a posteriori, by the fact: and this fact will go far in establishing what we asserted in our first reason for disapproving of the subdivision — to wit: that the whole argument of the whole eight Treatises might have been readily discussed in one connected work of no greater bulk than the Physiology now before us.

We cannot bring ourselves to think Dr. Roget’s book the best of the Bridgewater series, although we have heard it so called. Indeed in the very singular and too partial arrangement of the subjects, it would have been really a matter for wonder if Dr. Whewell had not written the best, and Sir Charles Bell the worst of the Treatises. The talents of Dr. Roget, however, are a sufficient guarantee that he has furnished no ordinary work. We are grieved to learn from the Preface that his progress has been greatly impeded by “long protracted anxieties and afflictions, and by the almost overwhelming pressure of domestic calamity.” [page 202:]

The chief difficulty of the Physiologist in handling a subject of so vast and almost interminable extent as the science to which his labors have been devoted-a science comprehending all the animal and vegetable beings in existence — has evidently been the difficulty of selection from an exuberance of materials. He has excluded from the Treatise — (it was necessary to exclude a great deal) — “all those particulars of the natural history both of animals and plants, and all description of those structures, of which the relation to final causes cannot be distinctly traced.” In a word, he has admitted such facts alone as afford palpable evidence of Almighty design. He has also abstained from entering into historical accounts of the progress of discovery — the present state of Physiological science being his only aim. The work is illustrated by nearly 500 wood cuts by Mr. Byfield, and references in the Index to passages in the volumes where terms of mere technical science have been explained. Appended are also a catalogue of the engravings, and a tabular view of the classification of animals adopted by Cuvier in his “Regne Animal “ with examples included. This Table is reprinted from that in the author’s “Introductory Lecture on Human and Comparative Physiology,” published in 1826. Such alterations, however, have been introduced as were requisite to make the Table correspond with Cuvier’s second edition.

 

 

CAREY’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

We have been delighted with the perusal of this book, and consider it one of the most instructive as well as one of the most amusing of autobiographies. The ruling feature of the work is candor-a candor of the rarest and noblest description. The author has not scrupled, or even hesitated, in a single instance to declare, without prevarication, the truth and the whole truth, however little redounding to his own credit. Nor in the details so frankly laid before the eye of the public, are the many — very many other excellent qualities less manifest, which have exalted the autobiographer to so enviable a station in the opinions of his fellow-citizens. In the whole private and public course of Mr. Mathew Carey, from that chivalrous Essay against Duelling, of which he has rendered so amusing an account in the commencement of his “Life,” to the more important yet equally Quixottic publication of the Olive Branch, the strictest scrutiny can detect nothing derogatory to the character of “the noblest work of God, an honest man.” His energy, his high-mindedness, and his indomitable perseverance, will force themselves upon the most casual observer. It is not surprising that, with qualifications so well adapted for success in life, Mr. C. should have been enabled finally to set at defiance the innumerable obstacles which obstructed his path. Indeed, although few men have labored under greater incidental disadvantages, very few have been better prepared to overcome them by both moral and physical constitution.

There is much in these Memoirs of Mr. Carey, which will bring to the mind of the reader Benjamin Franklin, his shrewdness, his difficulties, and his indefatigability. It is therefore almost unnecessary to add, that apart from its other merits, the Autobiography now before us has all the value so unequivocally due to good example. [column 2:] Its perusal cannot well fail of having a salutary effect upon those who struggle with adversity — of imparting a salutary strength to all who grow feeble under the pressure of the innumerable harassing cares which encumber and weigh so ponderously upon the “man of the world.” It may, indeed, if rightly considered, have a still more beneficial influence. It may incite to good deeds. It may induce a love of our fellow-men, in many bosoms hitherto self-hardened against the urgent demands of philanthropy. What so likely to bring about a kindly spirit in any human heart as the contemplation of a kindly spirit in others?

It is perhaps already known to many that Mr. Carey was born in Dublin in 1760. His hatred of oppression, which broke out, as early as his seventeenth year, in the “Essay against Duelling,” to which we have already alluded, and which, in 1779, rendered him obnoxious to the British Government, and forced him into a temporary exile, at length, in 1784, made it necessary for him to abandon his country altogether, and seek an asylum in America. He arrived in Philadelphia, greatly embarrassed in his pecuniary circumstances; and an incident by means of which he obtained relief, has proved of so deep interest to ourselves, that we cannot but think it may prove equally so to our readers. We copy the following from page 10 of the Autobiography.

Behold me now landed in Philadelphia, with about a dozen guineas in my pocket, without relation, or friend, and even without an acquaintance, except my compagnons de voyage, of whom very few were eligible associates.

While I was contemplating a removal into the country, where I could have boarded at about a dollar or a dollar and a quarter a week, intending to wait the arrival of my funds, a most extraordinary and unlooked — for circumstance occurred, which changed my purpose, gave a new direction to my views, and, in some degree, colored the course of my future life. It reflects great credit on the Marquess de La Fayette, who was then at Mount Vernon, to take leave of Gen. Washington. A young gentleman of the name of Wallace, a fellow passenger of mine, had brought letters of recommendation to the General; and having gone to his seat to deliver them, fell into the Marquess’s company, and in the course of conversation, the affairs of Ireland came on the tapis. The Marquess, who had, in the Philadelphia papers, seen an account of my adventures with the Parliament, and the persecution I had undergone, inquired of Wallace, what had become of the poor persecuted Dublin printer? He replied, “he came passenger with me, and is now in Philadelphia,” stating the boarding house where I had pitched my tent. On the arrival of the Marquess in this city, he sent me a billet, requesting to see me at his lodgings, whither I went. He received me with great kindness; condoled with me on the persecution I had undergone; inquired into my prospects; — and having told him that I proposed, on receipt of my funds, to set up a newspaper, he approved the idea, and promised to recommend me to his friends, Robert Morris, Thomas Fitzsimons, &c. &c. After half an hour’s conversation, we parted. Next morning, while I was at breakfast, a letter from him was handed me, which, to my very great surprise, contained four one hundred dollar notes of the Bank of North America. This was the more extraordinary and liberal, as not a word had passed between us on the subject of giving or receiving, borrowing or lending money. And a remarkable feature in the affair was, that the letter did not contain a word of reference to the enclosure.

In the course of the day I went to his lodgings, and found that he had, an hour or two previously, departed for Princeton, where Congress then sat, having been in some measure driven from Philadelphia, by a mutiny [page 203:] among the soldiers, who were clamorous for their pay, and had kept them in a state of siege for three hours in the State House. I wrote to him to New York, whither, 1 understood, he had gone from Princeton, expressive of my gratitude in the strongest terms, and received a very kind and friendly answer.

I cannot pass over this noble trait in the character of the illustrious Marquess, without urging it strongly on the overgrown wealthy of our country, as an example worthy of imitation. Here was a foreign nobleman, who had devoted years of the prime of his life, and greatly impaired his fortune, in the service of a country, separated by thousands of miles distance from his native land. After these mighty sacrifices, he meets, by an extraordinary accident, with a poor persecuted young man, destitute of friends and protectors — his heart expands towards him-lie freely gives him means of making a living without the most remote expectation of return, or of ever again seeing the object of his bounty. He withdraws from the city to avoid the expression of the gratitude of the beneficiary. I have more than once assumed, and I now repeat, that I doubt whether in the whole life of this (I had almost said) unparalleled man, there is to be found any thing, which, all the circumstances of the case considered, more highly elevates his character.*

* It is due to myself to state, that though this was in every sense of the word a gift, I regarded it as a loan, payable to the Marquess’s countrymen, according to the exalted sentiment of Dr. Franklin, who, when he presented a bill for ten pounds to the Rev. Mr. Nixon, an Irish Clergyman, (who was in distress in Paris, and wanted to migrate to America,) told him to pay the sum to any Americans whom he might find in distress, and thus “Let good offices go round.” I fully paid the debt to Frenchmen in distress-consigned one or two hogsheads of tobacco to the Marquess, (I believe it was two, but am uncertain,) and, moreover, when in, 1824, ho reached this country, with shattered fortunes, sent him to New York, a check for the full sum of four hundred dollars, which he retained till he reached Philadelphia, and was very reluctant to use, and finally consented only at my earnest instance.

The annexed little anecdote, which Mr. Carey justly considers an instance of the truest pathos, we must be pardoned for inserting as an appropriate pendant to the above.

To an importunate mendicant, whom I had sometimes relieved, I said one day, on giving him a trifle — “Do not let me see you again for a long time.” He conformed to the direction, and refrained from applying for about seven months. At length he ventured to bring and hand me a billet, of which 1 annex a copy verbatim et literatim.

“Sir — You desired me, last time you relieved me, not to call for a long time. It was a few days after Easter. To a wretch in distress ‘it is a very long time.’

Yours gratefully,

Nov. 14. R. W.”

At page 21, is an account of a publication, some of whose predictions were certainly imbued with a rare spirit of prophecy.

In October 1786, I commenced, in partnership with T. Siddons, Charles Cist, C. Talbot, W. Spotswood, and J. Trenchard, the Columbian Magazine. In the first number, I wrote four pieces, “The Life of General Greene,” “The Shipwreck, a Lamentable Story, Founded on Fact,” “A Philosophical Dream,” and “Hard Times, a Fragment.”

The Philosophical Dream was an anticipation of the state of the country in the year 1850, on the plan of Mercier’s celebrated work, “The Year 2500.” Some of the predictions, which at that period must have been regarded as farcical, have been wonderfully fulfilled, and others are likely to be realized previous to the arrival of the year 1850. I annex a few of them, which may serve to amuse the reader.

“Pittsburg, Jan. 15, 1850. The canal which is making from the river Ohio, to the Susquehanna, and thence to the Delaware, will be of immense advantage to the United States. If the same progress continues to be made hereafter as has been for some time past, it will be completed in less than two years.”

This was probably the first suggestion of the grand project of uniting the waters of the Delaware with those of the Ohio. It preceded by four years the project of the financier, Robert Morris, and his friends, to unite the Delaware with the Schuylkill and the Susquehanna, which was broached in 1790.

Pittsburg, Jan. 15. Delegates from the thirtieth new state, laid off a few months since by order of Congress, lately arrived at Columbia; and on producing their credentials, were received into the Federal Council.

Charleston, April 15. No less than 10,000 blacks have been transported from this state and Virginia, during the last two years, to Africa, where they have formed a settlement near the mouth of the river Goree. Very few blacks remain in this country now: and we sincerely hope that in a few years every vestige of the infamous traffic carried on by our ancestors in the human species, will be done away.

Richmond, April 30. By authentic advices from Kentucky, we are informed, — that ‘no less than 150 vessels have been built on the river Ohio, during the last year, and sent down that river and the Mississippi, laden with valuable produce, which has been carried to the West Indies, where the vessels and their cargoes have been disposed of to great advantage.’

“Boston, April 30. At length the canal across the Isthmus of Darien is completed. It is about sixty miles long. First-rate vessels of war can with ease sail through. Two vessels belonging to this port, two to Philadelphia, and one to New York, sailed through on the 20th of January last, bound for Canton, in China.

Columbia, May 1. Extract from the Journals of Congress. — ” Ordered that there be twenty professors in the University of Columbia, in this city; viz. of Divinity, of Church History, of Hebrew, of Greek, of Humanity, of Logic, of Moral Philosophy, of Natural Philosophy, of Mathematics, of Civil History, of Natural History, of Common and Civil Law, of the Law of Nature and Nations, of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, of Botany, of Materia Medica, of Physic, of Chemistry, of Anatomy, and of Midwifery.”

Philadelphia, Oct. 1, 1786.

There is much characteristic simplicity in Mr. Carey’s manner of telling the anecdote annexed.

In travelling from New York to Philadelphia, some years since, the slenderness of my knowledge of the French led me into a most egregious error, and excited the displeasure of a splendid French lady who was in the stage. She had lived a long time in New York, and yet spoke the English language very imperfectly. I told her she ought to speak English constantly, when she was in company with English or Americans: that this was the only way in which she could acquire it. “Monsieur,” says she, “ ‘j’ai honte,” I am ashamed; literally, “I have shame.” Reiterating her own word, I replied, “Madame, je croyais que les dames Francoises n’ avaient pas de honte “ — whereas I ought to have said, as I really meant, “mauvaise honte.” She was exasperated, and told me indignantly that the French ladies had as much “shame” (meaning modesty) as the Americans; and that there was more immorality practised in New York than in Marseilles, of which she was a native, or in Martinique, where she had long resided. It was in vain that I repeatedly pledged my honor that I had not meant to affront her; that I was led into error solely by repeating her own word. It was equally in vain that I appealed to some of the passengers who understood French, who testified that the mistake was perfectly natural, and was justified by the imperfection of my knowledge of her language. Nothing could pacify her, and after several vain attempts, I relinquished the hope of soothing her feelings, and she scarcely spoke another word during the rest of the journey.

 


Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - SLM, 1836] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Criticial Notices (February 1836)