Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of The Old World and the New,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. IX: Literary Criticism - part 02 (1902), pp. 80-82


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[page 80, continued:]

THE OLD WORLD AND THE NEW; OR, A JOURNAL OF REFLECTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS MADE ON A TOUR IN EUROPE. BY THE REVEREND ORVILLE DEWEY. NEW YORK: HARPER & BROTHERS.

[Southern Literary Messenger, August, 1836.]

MR. DEWEY assures us, in the beginning of his Preface, that his volumes are not offered to the public as an itinerary — but it is difficult to say in what other light they should be regarded. To us they appear as strictly entitled to the appellation as any book of travels we have perused. They are indeed an itinerary of the [page 81:] most inartificial character — a journal in which unconnected remarks follow one upon another — object upon object — day upon day — and all with a scrupulous accuracy in regard to dates. Not that we have much objection to this methodical procedure, but that we cannot understand Mr. Dewey in declaring his book not to be what it most certainly is, if it is any thing at all. His subsequent remark, that every American traveller to the old world enjoys a vantage ground for surveying the institutions, customs, and character of his own country is what we can readily appreciate. We think, also, that in many respects our author has made excellent use of this advantage. But we would be doing our conscience a great wrong in recommending the work before us as a whole. Here is some amusement — great liberality — much excellent sense — a high spirit of sound morality and genuine philanthropy; but indeed very little, so we think, of either novelty or profundity. These two latter qualities are, however, of a nature so strictly relative, and liable to so many modifications from the acquirements or character of the reader, that we feel some hesitation in what we say — and would prefer leaving a decision where it must finally be left — to the voice of the public opinion.

One remarkable feature in the Old World and the New, is its amusing naiveté of manner — a feature which will immediately arrest the attention of every reader. We cannot do better than give a few specimens.

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And again, speaking of the Menai bridge —

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All this may be very true, but then only think of the eloquent and poetical comparison of Snowdon being a back ground for the Menai Bridge! [page 82:]

Mrs. Hemans and our author go to church together.

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Mr. Dewey does not like oatmeal cake.

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We quote these passages merely as specimens of the singular simplicity — more properly naiveté — which is the prevailing feature of the book. Mr. Dewey left New York for England on the 8th June 1833, and arrived in St. George’s channel on the 24th of the same month, having a fair wind and smooth sea during the entire passage. Leaving England, he visited Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, Prussia, Switzerland, and Italy. Returning by way of Liverpool, he reached home on the 22d of May, 1834.

 


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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 The Old World and the New)