Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VIII: Literary Criticism - part 01 (1902), pp. 319-320


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[page 319:]

BUBBLES FROM THE BRUNNENS OF NASSAU. BY AN OLD MAN. NEW YORK: HARPER AND BROTHERS.

[Southern Literary Messenger, April, 1836.]

THIS “old man” is the present Governor of Canada, and a very amusing “old man” is he. A review of his work, which appeared a year ago in the North American, first incited us to read it, a pleasure which necessity has compelled us to forego until the present time — there not having been an American edition put to press until now, and the splendid hot-pressed, calf-bound, gilt edged edition from Albemarle-street being too costly for very general circulation here.

The “bubbles” are blown into being by a gentleman who represents himself as having been sentenced, in the cold evening of his life, to drink the mineral waters of Nassau; and who, upon arriving at the springs, found that, in order to effect the cure designed by his physicians, the mind was to be relaxed as the body was being strengthened. The result of this regimen was the production of “The Bubbles,” or hasty sketches of whatever chanced for the moment to please either the eyes or the mind of the patient. He anticipates the critic’s verdict as to his book — that it is empty, light, vain, hollow and superficial: “but then,” says he, “it is the nature of “bubbles’ to be so.”

He describes his voyage from the Custom House Stairs in the Thames, by steamboat to Rotterdam, and thence his journey to the Nassau springs of Langen-Schwalbach, Schlangen-bad, Nieder-selters, and Wiesbaden. Here he spends a season, bathing and drinking the waters of those celebrated springs, and describing [page 320:] such incidents as occurred to relieve the monotony of his somewhat idle life, in a most agreeable and taking way. To call this work facetious, as that term is commonly used, were not perhaps to give so accurate an idea of its style as might be conveyed by the adjective whimsical. Without subjecting the “old man” to the imputation of copyism, one may describe the manner as being an agreeable mixture of Charles Lamb’s and Washington Irving’s. The same covert conceit, the same hidden humor, the same piquant allusion, which, while you read, place the author bodily before you, a quiet old gentleman fond of his ease, but fonder of his joke — not a broad, forced, loud, vacant-minded joke, but a quiet, pungent, sly, laughter-moving conceit, which, at first stirring the finest membranes of your pericardium, at length sets you out into a broad roar of laughter, honest fellow as you are, and which you must be, indeed, a very savage, if you can avoid.

Our bubble-blower observes everything within the sphere of his vision, and even makes a most amusing chapter out of “The schwein-general,” or pig-drover of Schlangen-bad, which we wish we had space for entire. As it is, we give some reflections upon” the pig,” as being perfectly characteristic of the author’s peculiar style.

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The author thus speaks in relation to the mineral water of Wiesbaden.

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Here is a characteristic crayoning:

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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau)