Text: James A. Harrison, “Review of Visits to Remarkable Places,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. X: Literary Criticism - part 03 (1902), pp. 112-113


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[page 112:]

VISITS TO REMARKABLE PLACES, BATTLE-FIELDS, CATHEDRALS, CASTLES, ETC. BY W. HOWITT. TWO VOLUMES. CAREY AND HART, PHILADELPHIA. “THE RURAL LIFE OF ENGLAND.” BY W. HOWITT. ONE VOLUME. CAREY AND HART. PHILADELPHIA.

[Text: Graham’s Magazine, March, 1841.]

NEXT after Professor Wilson comes Howitt. The same genial spirit, the same soul-breathing poetry, the same intense love for what is beautiful in nature, and often the same involution of style and the same excursive ideas, characterize the editor of Blackwood, and the brother of the Quaker poet,

The latter of the productions above is, as its name imports, a description of the rural life of England, whether found under the gypsy’s hedge, in the peasant’s cottage, or amid the wide parks and lordly castles of the aristocracy. It is a picture of which England may be proud. The author has omitted nothing which could make its subject interesting, and in presenting it suitably to his reader he has surpassed himself, and almost equalled North. The old, but now decaying customs of “merrie England;” the winter and summer life of peasant and noble in the country; the sports of every kind and every class, from milling to horse-racing; and the forest and landscape scenery of every portion of Great Britain are described with a graphic pen and a fervor of language, which cannot fail to make “The Rural Life of England” popular everywhere.

Among the most interesting chapters of this work are those on the Gypsies, and that respecting May-day, [page 113:] and Christmas. The description of Grouse-shooting, both in the north of England and the Highlands, is highly graphic; while the visits to Newstead and Annesley Hall are narrated with much vivacity.

It was the popularity of these two last chapters which suggested the preceding volumes above, entitled “Visits to Remarkable Places.” Nothing can be simpler than the design of this latter work. With a taste for antiquarian research, and a soul all-glowing with poetry, the author has gone forth into the quiet dells, and amid the time-worn cities of England, and visiting every old castle or battle-field known in history, and peopling them with the heroic actors of the past, he has produced a work of unrivalled interest. We wish we had room for a chapter from the second of these two volumes, entitled “A Day-dream at Tintagel.” It is one of the most poetical pieces of prose we have ever met with. The old castle of King Arthur seems once more to lift its massy battlements above the thundering surf below, and from its portals go forth the heroes of the Round Table, with hound and hawk, and many a fair demoiselle.

Next, certainly, to a visit to any remarkable place, is a graphic description of its appearance. This, in every instance where the author has attempted it, is presented in the “ Visits to Remarkable Places.” Stratford on the Avon, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, the ancestral home of the Sidneys, Culloden battle-field, the old regal town of Winchester, formerly the abode of the Saxon kings, and where their monuments still remain, Flodden-field, Hampton Court, and, in short, most of the remarkable places in England, are brought vividly before the reader’s mind. Indeed, many a traveller who has seen these celebrated places might [page 114:] be put to the blush b y one who had attentively perused this work, and who yet had never crossed the Atlantic.

 


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Notes:

Although Harrision collected the present review as being by Poe, that attribution is generally dismsed today. T. O. Mabbott considered it too early to be by Poe.

 

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[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Visits to Remarkable Places)