Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Marginalia [items 151-200]” (Text-D), The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe­ (1850), 3:549-579


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­ [page 549, continued:]

­ CLI.

Had John Bernouilli lived to have experience of Fuller’s occiput and sinciput, he would have abandoned, in dismay, his theory of the non-existence of hard bodies.

­ CLII.

They have ascertained, in China, that the abdomen is the seat of the soul; and the acute Greeks considered it a waste of words to employ more than a single term, [[Greek text:]] xxxxx [[:Greek text]] [[Apexes]], for the expression both of the mind and of the diaphragm. ­[page 550:]

­ CLIII.

Mr. Grattan, who, in general, writes well, has a bad habit of loitering — of toying with his subject, as a cat with a mouse, instead of grasping it firmly at once, and devouring it without ado. He takes up too much time in the ante-room. He has never done with his introductions. Sometimes one introduction is merely the vestibule to another; so that by the time he arrives at his main theme, there is none of it left. He is afflicted with a perversity common enough even among otherwise good talkers — an irrepressible desire of tantalizing by circumlocution.

If the greasy print here exhibited is, indeed, like Mr. Grattan,* then is Mr. Grattan like nobody else — for who else ever thrust forth, from beneath a wig of wire, the countenance of an over-done apple-dumpling?

­ CLIV.

“What does a man learn by travelling?” demanded Doctor Johnson, one day, in a great rage — “What did Lord Charlemont learn in his travels, except that there was a snake in one of the pyramids of Egypt?” — but had Doctor Johnson lived in the days of the Silk Buckinghams, he would have seen that, so far from thinking anything of finding a snake in a pyramid, your traveller would take his oath, at a moment’s notice, of having found a pyramid in a snake.

­ CLV.

“The author of “Miserrimusmight have been W. G. Simms (whose “Martin Faber” is just such a work) — but is G. M. W. Reynolds, an Englishman, who wrote, also, “Albert de Rosann,” and “Pickwick Abroad” — both excellent things in their way.

­ CLVI.

L—— is busy in attempting to prove that his play was not fairly d——d — that it is only “skotched, not killed;” but if the poor play could speak from the tomb, I fancy it would sing with the opera heroine:

The flattering error cease to prove!

Oh, let me be deceased! ­[page 551:]

­ CLVII.

We may safely grant that the effects of the oratory of Demosthenes were vaster than those wrought by the eloquence of any modern, and yet not controvert the idea that the modern eloquence, itself, is superior to that of the Greek. The Greeks were an excitable, unread race, for they had no printed books. Vivâ voce exhortations carried with them, to their quick apprehensions, all the gigantic force of the new. They had much of that vivid interest which the first fable has upon the dawning intellect of the child — an interest which is worn away by the frequent perusal of similar things — by the frequent inception of similar fancies. The suggestions, the arguments, the incitements of the ancient rhetorician were, when compared with those of the modern, absolutely novel; possessing thus an immense adventitious force — a force which has been, oddly enough, left out of sight in all estimates of the eloquence of the two eras.

The finest philippic of the Greek would have been hooted at in the British House of Peers, while an impromptu of Sheridan, or of Brougham, would have carried by storm all the hearts and all the intellects of Athens.

­ CLVIII.

Much has been said, of late, about the necessity of maintaining a proper nationality in American Letters; but what this nationality is, or what is to be gained by it, has never been distinctly understood. That an American should confine himself to American themes, or even prefer them, is rather a political than a literary idea — and at best is a questionable point. We would do well to bear in mind that “distance lends enchantment to the view.” Ceteris paribus, a foreign theme is, in a strictly literary sense, to be preferred. After all, the world at large is the only legitimate stage for the autorial histrio.

But of the need of that nationality which defends our own literature, sustains our own men of letters, upholds our own dignity, and depends upon our own resources, there cannot be the shadow of a doubt. Yet here is the very point at which we are most supine. We complain of our want of an International Copyright, on the ground that this want justifies our publishers in inundating us with British opinion in British books; and yet ­[page 552:] when these very publishers, at their own obvious risk, and even obvious loss, do publish an American book, we turn up our noses at it with supreme contempt (this as a general thing) until it (the American book) has been dubbed “readable” by some illiterate Cockney critic. Is it too much to say that, with us, the opinion of Washington Irving — of Prescott — of Bryant — is a mere nullity in comparison with that of any anonymous sub-sub-editor of the Spectator, the Athenæum, or the “London Punch”? It is not saying too much, to say this. It is a solemn — an absolutely awful act. Every publisher in the country will admit it to be a fact. There is not a more disgusting spectacle under the sun than our subserviency to British criticism. It is disgusting, first, because it is truckling, servile, pusillanimous — secondly, because of its gross irrationality. We know the British to bear us little but ill will — we know that, in no case, do they utter unbiassed opinions of American books — we know that in the few instances in which our writers have been treated with common decency in England, these writers have either openly paid homage to English institutions, or have had lurking at the bottom of their hearts a secret principle at war with Democracy: — we know all this, and yet, day after day, submit our necks to the degrading yoke of the crudest opinion that emanates from the fatherland. Now if we must have nationality, let it be a nationality that will throw off this yoke.

The chief of the rhapsodists who have ridden us to death like the Old Man of the Mountain, is the ignorant and egotistical Wilson. We use the term rhapsodists with perfect deliberation; for, Macaulay, and Dilke, and one or two others, excepted, there is not in Great Britain a critic who can be fairly considered worthy the name. The Germans, and even the French, are infinitely superior. As regards Wilson, no man ever penned worse criticism or better rhodomontade. That he is “egotistical” his works show to all men, running as they read. That he is “ignorant” let his absurd and continuous schoolboy blunders about Homer bear witness. Not long ago we ourselves pointed out a series of similar inanities in his review of Miss Barrett’s poems — a series, we say, of gross blunders, arising from sheer ignorance — and we defy him or any one to answer a single syllable of what we then advanced)

And yet this is the man whose simple dictum (to our shame be it spoken) has the power to make or to mar any American reputation! In the last number of Blackwood, he has a continuation of the dull “Specimens of the British Critics,” and makes occasion wantonly to insult one of the noblest of our poets, Mr. Lowell. The point of the whole attack consists in the use of slang epithets and phrases of the most ineffably vulgar description. “Squabashes” is a pet term. “Faugh!” is another. We are Scotsmen to the spine! “ says Sawney — as if the thing were not more than self- evident. Mr. Lowell is called “a magpie,” an “ape,” a “Yankee cockney,” and his name is intentionally miswritten John Russell Lowell. Now were these indecencies perpetrated by an American critic, that critic would be sent to Coventry by the whole press of the country, but since it is Wilson who insults, we, as in duty bound, not only submit to the insult, but echo it, as an excellent jest, throughout the length and breadth of the land. Quamdiu Catilina? We do indeed demand the nationality of self-respect. In Letters as in Government we require a Declaration of Independence. A better thing still would be a Declaration of War — and that war should be carried forthwith “into Africa.”

­ CLIX.

The Doctor [[Doctor]] has excited great attention in America as well as in England, and has given rise to every variety of conjecture and opinion, not only concerning the author’s individuality, but in relation to the meaning, purpose, and character of the book itself. It is now said to be the work of one author — now of two, three, four, five — as far even as nine or ten. These writers are sometimes thought to have composed the Doctor conjointly — sometimes to have written each a portion. These individual portions have even been pointed out by the supremely acute, and the names of their respective fathers assigned. Supposed discrepancies of taste and manner, together with the prodigal introduction of mottoes, and other scraps of erudition (apparently beyond the compass of a single individual’s reading) have given rise to this idea of a ­[page 554:] multiplicity of writers — among whom are mentioned in turn all the most witty, all the most eccentric, and especially all the most learned of Great Britain. Again — in regard to the nature of the book. It has been called an imitation of Sterne — an august and most profound exemplification, under the garb of eccentricity, of some all-important moral law — a true, under guise of a fictitious, biography — a simple jeu d’esprit — a mad farrago by a Bedlamite, and a great multiplicity of other equally fine names and hard. Undoubtedly, the best method of arriving at a decision in relation to a work of this nature, is to read it through with attention, and thus see what can be made of it. We have done so, and can make nothing of it, and are therefore clearly of opinion that the Doctor is precisely — nothing. We mean to say that it is nothing better than a hoax.

That any serious truth is meant to be inculcated by a tissue of bizarre and disjointed rhapsodies, whose general meaning no person can fathom, is a notion altogether untenable, unless we suppose the author a madman. But there are none of the proper evidences of madness in the book — while of mere banter there are instances innumerable. One half, at least, of the entire publication is taken up with palpable quizzes, reasonings in a circle, sentences, like the nonsense verses of Du Bartas, evidently framed to mean nothing, while wearing an air of profound thought, and grotesque speculations in regard to the probable excitement to be created by the book.

It appears to have been written with a sole view (or nearly with the sole view) of exciting inquiry and comment. That this object should be fully accomplished cannot be thought very wonderful, when we consider the excessive trouble taken to accomplish it, by vivid and powerful intellect. That the Doctor is the offspring of such intellect, is proved sufficiently by many passages of the book, where the writer appears to have been led off from his main design. That it is written by more than one man should not be deduced either from the apparent immensity of its erudition, or from discrepancies of style. That man is a desperate mannerist who cannot vary his style ad infinitum; and although the book may have been written by a number of learned bibliophagi, still there is, we think, nothing to be found in the book ­[page 555:] itself at variance with the possibility of its being written by any one individual of even mediocre reading. Erudition is only certainly known in its total results. The mere grouping together of mottoes from the greatest multiplicity of the rarest works, or even the apparently natural inweaving into any composition, of the sentiments and manner of these works, are attainments within the reach of any well-informed, ingenious and industrious man having access to the great libraries of London. Moreover, while a single individual possessing these requisites and opportunities, might, through a rabid desire of creating a sensation, have written, with some trouble, the Doctor, it is by no means easy to imagine that a plurality of sensible persons could be found willing to embark in such absurdity from a similar, or indeed from any imaginable inducement.

The present edition of the Harpers consists of two volumes in one. Volume one commences with a Prelude of Mottoes occupying two pages. Then follows a Postscript — then a Table of Contents to the first volume, occupying eighteen pages. Volume two has a similar Prelude of Mottoes and Table of Contents. The whole is subdivided into Chapters Ante-Initial, Initial, and Post-Initial, with Inter-Chapters. The pages have now and then a typographical queerity —   monogram, a scrap of grotesque music, old English, &c. Some characters of this latter kind are printed with colored ink in the British edition, which is gotten up with great care. All these oddities are in the manner of Sterne, and some of them are exceedingly well conceived. The work professes to be a Life of one Doctor Daniel Dove and his horse Nobs — but we should put no very great faith in this biography. On the back of the book is a monogram — which appears again once or twice in the text, and whose solution is a fertile source of trouble with all readers. This monogram is a triangular pyramid; and as, in geometry, the solidity of every polyedral body may be computed by dividing the body into pyramids, the pyramid is thus considered as the base or essence of every polyedron. The author then, after his own fashion, may mean to imply that his book is the basis of all solidity or wisdom — or perhaps, since the polyedron is not only a solid, but a solid terminated by plane faces, that the Doctor is the very essence of all that spurious ­[page 556:] wisdom which will terminate in just nothing at all — in a hoax, and a consequent multiplicity of blank visages. The wit and humor of the Doctor have seldom been equalled. We cannot think Southey wrote it, but have no idea who did.

­ CLX.

These twelve Letters* are occupied, in part, with minute details of such atrocities on the part of the British, during their sojourn in Charleston, as the quizzing of Mrs. Wilkinson and the pilfering of her shoe-buckles — the remainder being made up of the indignant comments of Mrs. Wilkinson herself.

It is very true, as the Preface assures us, that “few records exist of American women either before or during the war of the Revolution, and that those perpetuated by History want the charm of personal narration,” — but then we are well delivered from such charms of personal narration as we find here. The only supposable merit in the compilation is that dogged air of truth with which the fair authoress relates the lamentable story of her misadventures. I look in vain for that “useful information” about which I have heard — unless, indeed, it is in the passage where we are told that the letter-writer “was a young and beautiful widow; that her hand-writing is clear and feminine; and that the letters were copied by herself into a blank quarto book, on which the extravagant sale-price marks one of the features of the times:” — there are other extravagant sale-prices, however, besides that; — it was seventy-five cents that I paid for these “Letters.” Besides, they are silly, and I cannot conceive why Mrs. Gilman thought the public wished to read them. It is really too bad for her to talk at a body, in this style, about “gathering relics of past history,” and “floating down streams of time.”

As for Mrs. Wilkinson, I am really rejoiced that she lost her shoe-buckles.

­ CLX. [[CLXI]]

Advancing briskly with a rapier, he did the business for him at a blow. — Smollett.

This vulgar colloquialism had its type among the Romans. Et ferro subitus grassatus, agit rem. — Juvenal. ­[page 557:]

­ CLXI. [[CLXII]

It cannot, we think, be a matter of doubt with any reflecting mind, that at least one-third of the reverence, or of the affection, with which we regard the elder poets of Great Britain, should be credited to what is, in itself, a thing apart from poetry — we mean to the simple love of the antique — and that again a third of even the proper poetic sentiment inspired by these writings should be ascribed to a fact which, while it has a strict connexion with poetry in the abstract, and also with the particular poems in question, must not be looked upon as a merit appertaining to the writers of the poems. Almost every devout reader of the old English bards, if demanded his opinion of their productions, would mention vaguely, yet with perfect sincerity, a sense of dreamy, wild, indefinite, and, he would perhaps say, undefinable delight. Upon being required to point out the source of this so shadowy pleasure, he would be apt to speak of the quaint in phraseology and of the grotesque in rhythm. And this quaintness and grotesqueness are, as we have elsewhere endeavored to show, very powerful, and, if well managed, very admissible adjuncts to ideality. But in the present instance they arise independently of the author’s will, and are matters altogether apart from his intention.

­ CLXII. [[CLXIII]]

As to this last term (”high-binder”) which is so confidently quoted as modern (”not in use, certainly, before 1819,”) I can refute all that is said by referring to a journal in my own possession — “The Weekly Inspector,” for Dec. 17, 1806 — published in New York:

On Christmas Eve, a party of banditti, amounting, it is stated, to forty or fifty members of an association, calling themselves “High-Binders,” assembled in front of St. Peter’s Church, in Barclay-street, expecting that the Catholic ritual would be performed with a degree of pomp and splendor which has usually been omitted in this city. These ceremonies, however, not taking place, the High-Binders manifested great displeasure.    In a subsequent number, the association are called “High-Binders.” They were Irish.

­ CLXIII. [[CLXIV]]

Perhaps Mr. Barrow* is right after all, and the dearth of genius in America is owing to the continual teasing of the musquitoes. ­[page 558:]

­ CLXIV. [[CLXV]]

The title of this book* deceives us. It is by no means “talk” as men understand it — not that true talk of which Boswell has been the best historiographer. In a word it is not gossip, which has been never better defined than by Basil, who calls it “talk for talk’s sake,” nor more thoroughly comprehended than by Horace Walpole and Mary Wortley Montague, who made it a profession and a purpose. Embracing all things, it has neither beginning, middle, nor end. Thus of the gossipper it was not properly said that “he commences his discourse by jumping in medias res. “ For, clearly, your gossipper commences not at all. He is begun. He is already begun. He is always begun. In the matter of end he is indeterminate. And by these extremes shall ye know him to be of the Cæsars — porphyrogenitus — of the right vein — of the true blood — of the blue blood — of the sangre azula. As for laws, he is cognizant of but one, the invariable absence of all. And for his road, were it as straight as the Appia and as broad as that “which leadeth to destruction,” nevertheless would he be malcontent without a frequent hop-skip-and-jump, over the hedges, into the tempting pastures of digression beyond. Such is the gossipper, and of such alone is the true talk. But when Coleridge asked Lamb if he had ever heard him preach, the answer was quite happy — “I have never heard you do anything else.” The truth is that “Table Discourse” might have answered as a title to this book; but its character can be fully conveyed only in “Post-Prandian Sub-Sermons,” or “Three-Bottle Sermonoids.”

­ CLXV. [[CLXVI]]  

A rather bold and quite unnecessary plagiarism — from a book too well known to promise impunity.

It is now full time to begin to brush away the insects of literature, whether creeping or fluttering, which have too long crawled over and soiled the intellectual ground of this country. It is high time to shake the little sickly stems of many a puny plant, and make its fading flowerets fall. — Monthly Register — p. 243 — Vol. 2, New York, 1807.

On the other hand —

I have brushed away the insects of Literature, whether fluttering or creeping; I have shaken the little stems of many a puny plant, and the flowerets have fallen. — Preface to the Pursuits of Literature. ­[page 559:]

­ CLXVI. [[CLXVII.]]

Men of genius are far more abundant than is supposed. In fact, to appreciate thoroughly the work of what we call genius, is to possess all the genius by which the work was produced. But the person appreciating may be utterly incompetent to reproduce the work, or anything similar, and this solely through lack of what may be termed the constructive ability — a matter quite independent of what we agree to understand in the term “genius” itself. This ability is based, to be sure, in great part, upon the faculty of analysis, enabling the artist to get full view of the machinery of his proposed effect, and thus work it and regulate it at will; but a great deal depends also upon properties strictly moral — for example, upon patience, upon concentrativeness, or the power of holding the attention steadily to the one purpose, upon self-dependence and contempt for all opinion which is opinion and no more — in especial, upon energy or industry. So vitally important is this last, that it may well be doubted if anything to which we have been accustomed to give the title of a “work of genius” was ever accomplished without it; and it is chiefly because this quality and genius are nearly incompatible, that “works of genius” are few, while mere men of genius are, as I say, abundant. The Romans, who excelled us in acuteness of observation, while falling below us in induction from facts observed, seem to have been so fully aware of the inseparable connexion between industry and a “work of genius,” as to have adopted the error that industry, in great measure, was genius itself. The highest compliment is intended by a Roman, when, of an epic, or anything similar, he says that it is written industriâ mirabili or incredibili industriâ.

­ CLXVII. [[CXLVIII.]]

The merely mechanical style of “Athens” is far better than that of any of Bulwer’s previous books. In general he is atrociously involute — this is his main defect. He wraps one sentence in another ad infinitum — very much in the fashion of those “nests of boxes” sold in our wooden-ware shops, or like the islands within lakes, within islands within lakes, within islands within lakes, of which we read so much in the “Periplus” of Hanno. ­[page 560:]

­ CLXVIII. [[CLXIX.]]

All true men must rejoice to perceive the decline of the miserable rant and cant against originality, which was so much in vogue a few years ago among a class of microscopical critics, and which at one period threatened to degrade all American literature to the level of Flemish art.

Of puns it has been said that those most dislike who are least able to utter them; but with far more of truth may it be asserted that invectives against originality proceed only from persons at once hypocritical and commonplace. I say hypocritical for the love of novelty is an indisputable element of the moral nature of man; and since to be original is merely to be novel, the dolt who professes a distaste for originality, in letters or elsewhere, proves in no degree his aversion for the thing in itself, but merely that uncomfortable hatred which ever arises in the heart of an envious man for an excellence he cannot hope to attain.

­ CLXIX. [[CLXX.]]

When I call to mind the preposterous “asides” and soliloquies of the drama among civilized nations, the shifts employed by the Chinese playwrights appear altogether respectable. If a general, on a Pekin or Canton stage, is ordered on an expedition, “he brandishes a whip,” says Davis, “or takes in his hand the reins of a bridle, and striding three or four times around a platform, in the midst of a tremendous crash of gongs, drums, and trumpets, finally stops short and tells the audience where he has arrived.” It would sometimes puzzle an European stage hero in no little degree to “tell an audience where he has arrived.” Most of them seem to have a very imperfect conception of their whereabouts. In the “Mort de Cæsar,” for example, Voltaire makes his populace rush to and fro, exclaiming, “Courons au Capitole!” Poor fellows — they are in the capitol all the time; — in his scruples about unity of place, the author has never once let them out of it.

­ CLXX. [[CLXXI.]]

Sallust, too. He had much the same free-and-easy idea, and Metternich himself could not have quarrelled with his “Impune quœ libet facele, id est esse regem.” ­[page 561:]

­ CLXXI. [[CLXXII.]]

A ballad entitled “Indian Serenade,” and put into the mouth of the hero, Vasco Nunez, is, perhaps, the most really meritorious portion of Mr. Simms’ “Damsel of Darien.” This stanza is full of music:

And their wild and mellow voices

Still to hear along the deep,

Every brooding star rejoices,

While the billow, on its pillow,

Lulled to silence seems to sleep.

And also this:

‘Tis the wail for life they waken

By Samana’s yielding shore —

With the tempest it is shaken;

The wild ocean is in motion,

And the song is heard no more.

­ CLXXII. [[CLXXIII.]]

Here is a man who is a scholar and an artist, who knows precisely how every effect has been produced by every great writer, and who is resolved to reproduce them. But the heart passes by his pitfalls and traps, and carefully-planned springes, to be taken captive by some simple fellow who expected the event as little as did his prisoner.*

Perhaps I err in quoting these words as the author’s own — they are in the mouth of one of his interlocutors — but whoever claims them, they are poetical and no more. The error is exactly that common one of separating practice from the theory which includes it. In all cases, if the practice fail, it is because the theory is imperfect. If Mr. Lowell’s heart be not caught in the pitfall or trap, then the pitfall is ill-concealed and the trap is not properly baited or set. One who has some artistical ability may know how to do a thing, and even show how to do it, and yet fail in doing it after all; but the artist and the man of some artistic ability must not be confounded. He only is the former who can carry his most shadowy precepts into successful application. To say that a critic could not have written the work which he criticises, is to put forth a contradiction in terms.

­ CLXXIII. [[CLXXIV.]]

Talking of conundrums: — Why will a geologist put no faith in the fable of the fox that lost his tail? Because he knows that no animal remains have ever been found in trap. ­[page 562:]

­ CLXXIV. [[CLXXV.]]

We have long learned to reverence the fine intellect of Bulwer. We take up any production of his pen with a positive certainty that, in reading it, the wildest passions of our nature, the most profound of our thoughts, the brightest visions of our fancy, and the most ennobling and lofty of our aspirations will, in due turn, be enkindled within us. We feel sure of rising from the perusal a wiser if not a better man. In no instance are we deceived. From the brief tale — from the “Monos and Daimonos” of the author — to his most ponderous and labored novels all is richly, and glowingly intellectual — all is energetic, or astute, or brilliant, or profound. There may be men now living who possess the power of Bulwer — but it is quite evident that very few have made that power so palpably manifest. Indeed we know of none. Viewing him as a novelist — a point of view exceedingly unfavorable (if we hold to the common acceptation of “the novel”) for a proper contemplation of his genius — he is unsurpassed by any writer living or dead. Why should we hesitate to say this, feeling, as we do, thoroughly persuaded of its truth. Scott has excelled him in many points, and “The Bride of Lammormuir” is a better book than any individual work by the author of Pelham — “Ivanhoe” is, perhaps, equal to any. Descending to particulars, D’Israeli has a more brilliant, a more lofty, and a more delicate (we do not say a wilder) imagination. Lady Dacre has written Ellen Wareham, a more forcible tale of passion. In some species of wit Theodore Hook rivals, and in broad humor our own Paulding surpasses him. The writer of “Godolphin” equals him in energy. Banim is a better sketcher of character. Hope is a richer colorist. Captain Trelawney is as original — Moore is as fanciful, and Horace Smith is as learned. But who is there uniting in one person the imagination, the passion, the humor, the energy, the knowledge of the heart, the artist-like eye, the originality, the fancy, and the learning of Edward Lytton Bulwer? In a vivid wit — in profundity and a Gothic massiveness of thought — in style — in a calm certainty and definitiveness of purpose — in industry — and above all, in the power of controlling and regulating by volition his illimitable faculties of mind, he is unequalled — he is unapproached. ­[page 563:]

­ CLXXV. [[CLXXVI.]]  

The author of “Richelieu” and “Darnley” is lauded, by a great majority of those who laud him, from mere motives of duty, not of inclination — duty erroneously conceived. He is looked upon as the head and representative of those novelists who, in historical romance, attempt to blend interest with instruction. His sentiments are found to be pure — his morals unquestionable, and pointedly shown forth — his language indisputably correct. And for all this, praise, assuredly, but then only a certain degree of praise, should be awarded him. To be pure in his expressed opinions is a duty; and were his language as correct as any spoken, he would speak only as every gentleman should speak. In regard to his historical information, were it much more accurate, and twice as extensive as, from any visible indications, we have reason to believe it, it should still be remembered that similar attainments are possessed by many thousands of well-educated men of all countries, who look upon their knowledge with no more than ordinary complacency; and that a far, very far higher reach of erudition is within the grasp of any general reader having access to the great libraries of Paris or the Vatican. Something more than we have mentioned is necessary to place our author upon a level with the best of the English novelists — for here his admirers would desire us to place him. Had Sir Walter Scott never existed, and Waverley never been written, we would not, of course, award Mr. J. the merit of being the first to blend history, even successfully, with fiction. But as an indifferent imitator of the Scotch novelist in this respect, it is unnecessary to speak of the author of “Richelieu” any farther. To genius of any kind, it seems to us, that he has little pretension. In the solemn tranquility of his pages we seldom stumble across a novel emotion, and if any matter of deep interest arises in the path, we are pretty sure to find it an interest appertaining to some historical fact equally vivid or more so in the original chronicles.

­ CLXXVI. [[CLXXVII.]]

Jack Birkenhead, apud Bishop Sprat, says that “a great wit’s great work is to refuse.” The apophtegm [[apothegm]] must be swallowed cum grano salis. His greatest work is to originate no matter that shall require refusal. ­[page 564:]

­ CLXXVII. [[CLXXVIII.]]

“Frequently since his recent death,” says the American editor of Hood, “he has been called a great author — a phrase used not inconsiderately or in vain.” Yet, if we adopt the conventional idea of “a great author,” there has lived, perhaps, no writer of the last half century who, with equal notoriety, was less entitled than Hood to be so called. In fact, he was a literary merchant, whose main stock in trade was littleness; for, during the larger portion of his life, he seemed to breathe only for the purpose of perpetrating puns — things of so despicable a platitude that the man who is capable of habitually committing them, is seldom found capable of anything else. Whatever merit may be discovered in a pun, arises altogether from unexpectedness. This is the pun’s element and is two-fold. First, we demand that the combination of the pun be unexpected; and, secondly, we require the most entire unexpectedness in the pun per se. A rare pun, rarely appearing, is, to a certain extent, a pleasurable effect; but to no mind, however debased in taste, is a continuous effort at punning otherwise than unendurable. The man who maintains that he derives gratification from any such chapters of punnage as Hood was in the daily practice of committing to paper, should not be credited upon oath.

The puns of the author of “Fair Inez,” however, are to be regarded as the weak points of the man. Independently of their ill effect, in a literary view, as mere puns, they leave upon us a painful impression; for too evidently they are the hypochondriac’s struggles at mirth — the grinnings of the death’s head. No one can read his “Literary Reminiscences” without being convinced of his habitual despondency: — and the species of false wit in question is precise of that character which would be adopted by an author of Hood’s temperament and cast of intellect, when compelled to write at an emergency. That his heart had no interest in these niäiseries, is clear. I allude, of course, to his mere puns for the pun’s sake — a class of letters by which he attained his widest renown. That he did more in this way than in any other, is but a corollary from what I have already said, for, generally, he was unhappy, and almost continually he wrote invitâ Minerva. But his true province was a very rare and ethereal humor, ­[page 565:] in which the mere pun was left out of sight, or took the character of the richest grotesquerie; impressing the imaginative reader with remarkable force, as if by a new phase of the ideal. It is in this species of brilliant, or, rather, glowing grotesquerie, uttered with a rushing abandon vastly heightening its effect, that Hood’s marked originality mainly consisted: — and it is this which entitles him, at times, to the epithet “great:” — for that undeniably may be considered great (of whatever seeming littleness in itself) which is capable of inducing intense emotion in the minds or hearts of those who are themselves undeniably great.

The field in which Hood is distinctive is a border-land between Fancy and Fantasy. In this region he reigns supreme. Nevertheless, he has made successful and frequent incursions, although vacillatingly, into the domain of the true Imagination. I mean to say that he is never truly or purely imaginative for more than a paragraph at a time. In a word, his peculiar genius was the result of vivid Fancy impelled by Hypochondriasis.

­ CLXXVIII. [[CLXXIX.]]

There is an old German chronicle about Reynard the Fox, when crossed in love — about how he desired to turn hermit, but could find no spot in which he could be’’thoroughly alone,” until he came upon the desolate fortress of Malspart. He should have taken to reading the “American Drama” of “Witchcraft.” I fancy he would have found himself “thoroughly alone” in that.

­ CLXXIX. [[CLXXX.]]

Since it has become fashionable to trundle houses about the streets, should there not be some remodelling of the legal definition of reality, as “that which is permanent, fixed, and immoveable, that cannot be carried out of its place?” According to this, a house is by no means real estate.

­ CLXXX. [[CLXXXI.]]

The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge, is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information, by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber, in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful matter, peradventure interspersed. ­[page 566:]

­ CLXXXI. [[CLXXXII.]]

That Professor Wilson is one of the most gifted and altogether one of the most remarkable men of his day, few persons will be weak enough to deny. His ideality — his enthusiastic appreciation of the beautiful, conjoined with a temperament compelling him into action and expression, has been the root of his prëeminent success. Much of it, undoubtedly, must be referred to that so-called moral courage which is but the consequence of the temperament in its physical elements. In a word, Professor Wilson is what he is, because he possesses ideality, energy and audacity, each in a very unusual degree. The first, almost unaided by the two latter, has enabled him to produce much impression, as a poet, upon the secondary or tertiary grades of the poetic comprehension. His “Isle of Palms” appeals effectively to all those poetic intellects in which the poetic predominates greatly over the intellectual element. It is a composition which delights through the glow of its imagination, but which repels (comparatively, of course) through the niaiseries of its general conduct and construction. As a critic, Professor Wilson has derived, as might easily be supposed, the greatest aid from the qualities for which we have given him credit — and it is in criticism especially, that it becomes very difficult to say which of these qualities has assisted him the most. It is sheer audacity, however, to which, perhaps, after all, he is the most particularly indebted. How little he owes to intellectual prëeminence, and how much to the mere overbearing impetuosity of his opinions, would be a singular subject for speculation. Nevertheless it is true, that this rash spirit of domination would have served, without his rich ideality, but to hurry him into contempt. Be this as it may, in the first requisite of a critic the Scotch Aristarchus is grossly deficient. Of one who instructs we demand, in the first instance, a certain knowledge of the principles which regulate the instruction. Professor Wilson’s capability is limited to a keen appreciation of the beautiful, and fastidious sense of the deformed. Why or how either is either, he never dreams of pretending to inquire, because he sees clearly his own inability to comprehend. He is no analyst. He is ignorant of the machinery of his own thoughts and the thoughts of other men. His criticism is emphatically on the ­[page 567:] surface — superficial. His opinions are mere dicta — unsupported verba magistri — and are just or unjust at the variable taste of the individual who reads them. He persuades — he bewilders — he overwhelms — at times he even argues — but there has been no period at which he ever demonstrated anything beyond his own utter incapacity for demonstration.

­ CLXXXII. [[CLXXXIII.]]

One of the most singular styles in the world — certainly one of the most loose — is that of the elder D’Israeli. For example he thus begins his Chapter on Bibliomania: “The preceding article [that on Libraries] is honorable to literature.” Here no self-praise is intended. The writer means to say merely that the facts narrated in the preceding article are honorable, etc. Three-fourths of his sentences are constructed in a similar manner. The blunders evidently arise, however, from the author’s pre-occupation with his subject. His thought, or rather matter, outruns his pen, and drives him upon condensation at the expense of luminousness. The manner of D’Israeli has many of the traits of Gibbon — although little of the latter’s precision.

­ CLXXXIII. [[CLXXXIV.]]

Words — printed ones especially — are murderous things. Keats did (or did not) die of a criticism, Cromwell of Titus’s pamphlet “Killing no Murder,” and Montfleury perished of the “Andromache.” The author of the’’Parnasse Réformé” makes him thus speak in Hades — “L’homme donc qui voudrait savoir ce dont je suis mort qu’il ne demande pas s’il fût de fieve ou de podagre ou d’autre chose, mais qu’il entende que ce fut ce L’Andromache.” As for myself, I am fast dying of the “Sartor Resartus.”

­ CLXXXIV. [[CLXXXV.]]

Captain Hall is one of the most agreeable of writers. We like him for the same reason that we like a good drawing-room conversationist — there is such a pleasure in listening to his elegant nothings. Not that the captain is unable to be profound. He has, on the contrary, some reputation for science. But in his hands even the most trifling personal adventures become interesting from the very piquancy with which they are told. ­[page 568:]

­ CLXXXV. [[CLXXXVI.]]

How truthful an air of deep lamentation hangs here* upon every gentle syllable! It pervades all. It comes over the sweet melody of the words, over the gentleness and grace which we fancy in the little maiden herself, even over the half-playful, half-petulant air with which she lingers on the beauties and good qualities of her favorite — like the cool shadow of a summer cloud over a bed of lilies and violets, and “all sweet flowers.” The whole thing is redolent with poetry of the very loftiest order. It is positively crowded with nature and with pathos. Every line is an idea — conveying either the beauty and playfulness of the fawn, or the artlessness of the maiden, or the love of the maiden, or her admiration, or her grief, or the fragrance, and sweet warmth, and perfect appropriateness of the little nest-like bed of lilies and roses, which the fawn devoured as it lay upon them, and could scarcely be distinguished from them by the once happy little damsel who went to seek her pet with an arch and rosy smile upon her face. Consider the great variety of truth and delicate thought in the few lines we have quoted — the wonder of the maiden at the fleetness of her favorite — the “little silver feet “ — the fawn challenging his mistress to the race, “with a pretty skipping grace,” running on before, and then, with head turned back, awaiting her approach only to fly from it again — can we not distinctly perceive all these things? The exceeding vigor, too, and beauty of the line,

And trod as if on the four winds.

which are vividly apparent when we regard the artless nature of the speaker, and the four feet of the favorite — one for each wind. Then the garden of “my own,” so overgrown — entangled — with lilies and roses as to be “a little wilderness” — the fawn loving to be there and there “only “ — the maiden seeking it “where it should lie,” and not being able to distinguish it from the flowers until “itself would rise” — the lying among the lilies “like a bank of lilies” — the loving to “fill “ itself with roses,

And its pure virgin limbs to fold

In whitest sheets of lilies cold,

and these things being its “chief “ delights — and then the pre-eminent ­[page 569:] beauty and naturalness of the concluding lines — whose very outrageous hyperbole and absurdity only render them the more true to nature and to propriety, when we consider the innocence, the artlessness, the enthusiasm, the passionate grief, and more passionate admiration of the bereaved child.

Had it lived long it would have been

Lilies without — roses within.

­ CLXXXVI. [[CLXXXVII.]]

We are not among those who regard the genius of Petrarch as a subject for enthusiastic admiration. The characteristics of his poetry are not traits of the highest, or even of a high order; and in accounting for his fame, the discriminating critic will look rather to the circumstances which surrounded the man, than to the literary merits of the pertinacious sonnetteer. Grace and tenderness we grant him — but these qualities are surely insufficient to establish his poetical apotheosis.

In other respects he is entitled to high consideration. As a patriot, notwithstanding some accusations which have been rather urged than established, we can only regard him with approval. In his republican principles; in his support of Rienzi at the risk of the displeasure of the Colonna family; in his whole political conduct, in short, he seems to have been nobly and disinterestedly zealous for the welfare of his country. But Petrarch is most important when we look upon him as the bridge by which, over the dark gulf of the middle ages, the knowledge of the old world made its passage into the new. His influence on what is termed the revival of letters was, perhaps, greater than that of any man who ever lived; certainly far greater than that of any of his immediate contemporaries. His ardent zeal in recovering and transcribing the lost treasures of antique lore cannot be too highly appreciated. But for him, many of our most valued classics might have been numbered with Pindar’s hymns and dithyrambics. He devoted days and nights to this labor of love; snatching numerous precious books from the very brink of oblivion. His judgment in these things was strikingly correct, while his erudition, for the age in which he lived, and for the opportunities he enjoyed, has always been a subject of surprise. ­[page 569:]

­ CLXXXVII. [[CLXXXVIII.]]

One of the most singular pieces of literary Mosaic is Mr. Longfellow’s “Midnight Mass for the Dying Year.” The general idea and manner are from Tennyson’s “Death of the Old Year,” several of the most prominent points are from the death scene of Cordelia in “Lear,” and the line about the “hooded friars” is from the “Comus” of Milton. Some approach to this patchwork may be found in these lines from Tasso —

Giace l’alta Cartago: à pena i segni

De l’alte sui ruine il lido serba:

Muoino le città, muoino i regni;

Copre i fasti e le pompe arena et herba:

E l’huom d’esser mortal per che si sdegni.

This is entirely made up from Lucan and Sulspicius. The former says of Troy —

Iam tota teguntur

Pergama dumetis: etiam perire ruinæ.

Sulspicius, in a letter to Cicero, says of Megara, Egina and Corinth — “Hem! nos homunculi indignamur si quis nostrûm interiit, quorum vita brevior esse debet, cum uno loco tot oppidorum cadavers projecta jaceant.”

­ CLXXXVIII. [[CLXXXIX.]]

The ordinary pickpocket filches a purse, and the matter is at an end. He neither takes honor to himself, openly, on the score of the purloined purse, nor does he subject the individual robbed to the charge of pick-pocketism in his own person; by so much the less odious is he, then, than the filcher of literary property. It is impossible, we should think, to imagine a more sickening spectacle than that of the plagiarist, who walks among mankind with an erecter step, and who feels his heart beat with a prouder impulse, on account of plaudits which he is conscious are the due of another. It is the purity, the nobility, the ethereality of just fame — it is the contrast between this ethereality and the grossness of the crime of theft, which places the sin of plagiarism in so detestable a light. We are horror-stricken to find existing in the same bosom the soul-uplifting thirst for fame, and the debasing propensity to pilfer. It is the anomaly — the discord — which so grossly offends.

­ CLXXXIX. [[CXC.]]

Voltaire, in his preface to “Brutus,” actually boasts of having introduced the Roman Senate on the stage in red mantles. ­[page 571:]

­ CXC. [[CXCI.]]

Les anges,” says Madame Dudevant, a woman who intersperses many an admirable sentiment amid a chaos of the most shameless and altogether objectionable fiction — “Les anges ne sant plus pures [[sic ]] que le cœur d’un jeune homme qui aime en verite.” The angels are not more pure than the heart of a young man who loves with fervor. The hyperbole is scarcely less than true. It would be truth itself, were it averred of the love of him who is at the same time young and a poet. The boyish poet-love is indisputably that one of the human sentiments which most nearly realizes our dreams of the chastened voluptuousness of heaven.

In every allusion made by the author of “Childe Harold” to his passion for Mary Chaworth, there runs a vein of almost spiritual tenderness and purity, strongly in contrast with the gross earthliness pervading and disfiguring his ordinary love-poems. The Dream, in which the incidents of his parting with her when about to travel, are said to be delineated, or at least paralleled, has never been excelled (certainly never excelled by him) in the blended fervor, delicacy, truthfulness and ethereality which sublimate and adorn it. For this reason, it may well be doubted if he has written anything so universally popular. That his attachment for this “Mary” (in whose very name there indeed seemed to exist for him an “enchantment”) was earnest, and long-abiding, we have every reason to believe. There are a hundred evidences of this fact, scattered not only through his own poems and letters, but in the memoirs of his relatives, and cotemporaries in general. But that it was thus earnest and enduring, does not controvert, in any degree, the opinion that it was a passion (if passion it can properly be termed) of the most thoroughly romantic, shadowy and imaginative character. It was born of the hour, and of the youthful necessity to love, while it was nurtured by the waters and the hills, and the flowers, and the stars. It had no peculiar regard to the person, or to the character, or to the reciprocating affection of Mary Chaworth. Any maiden, not immediately and positively repulsive, he would have loved, under the same circumstances of hourly and unrestricted communion, such as the engravings of the subject shadow forth. They met without restraint and without reserve. As mere children they sported together; ­[page 572:] in boyhood and girlhood they read from the same books, sang the same songs, or roamed hand in hand, through the grounds of the conjoining estates. The result was not merely natural or merely probable, it was as inevitable as destiny itself.

In view of a passion thus engendered, Miss Chaworth, (who is represented as possessed of no little personal beauty and some accomplishments,) could not have failed to serve sufficiently well as the incarnation of the ideal that haunted the fancy of the poet. It is perhaps better, nevertheless, for the mere romance of the love-passages between the two, that their intercourse was broken up in early life and never uninterruptedly resumed in after years. Whatever of warmth, whatever of soul-passion, whatever of the truer nare and essentiality of romance was elicited during the youthful association is to be attributed altogether to the poet. If she felt at all, it was only while the magnetism of his actual presence compelled her to feel. If she responded at all, it was merely because the necromancy of his words of fire could not do otherwise than exhort a response. In absence, the bard bore easily with him all the fancies which were the basis of his flame — a flame which absence itself but served to keep in vigor — while the less ideal but at the same time the less really substantial affection of his lady-love, perished utterly and forthwith, through simple lack of the element which had fanned it into being. He to her, in brief, was a not unhandsome, and not ignoble, but somewhat portionless, somewhat eccentric and rather lame young man. She to him was the Egeria of his dreams — the Venus Aphrodite that sprang, in full and supernal loveliness, from the bright foam upon the storm-tormented ocean of his thoughts.

­ CXCI. [[CXCII.]]

Mill says that he has “demonstrated” his propositions. Just in the same way Anaxagoras demonstrated snow to be black, (which, perhaps, it is, if we could see the thing in the proper light,) and just in the same way the French advocate, Linguet, with Hippocrates in his hand, demonstrated bread to be a slow poison. The worst of the matter is, that propositions such as these seldom stay demonstrated long enough to be thoroughly understood. ­[page 573:]

­ CXCII. [[CXCIII.]]

We have read Mr. Paulding’s Life of Washington with a degree of interest seldom excited in us by the perusal of any book whatever. We are convinced by a deliberate examination of the design, manner, and rich material of the work, that, as it grows in age, it will grow in the estimation of our countrymen, and, finally, will not fail to take a deeper hold upon the public mind, and upon the public affections, than any work upon the same subject, or of a similar nature, which has been yet written — or, possibly, which may be written hereafter. Indeed, we cannot perceive the necessity of anything farther upon the great theme of Washington. Mr. Paulding has completely and most beautifully filled the vacuum which the works of Marshall and Sparks have left open. He has painted the boy, the man, the husband, and the christian. He has introduced us to the private affections, aspirations, and charities of that hero whose affections of all affections were the most serene, whose aspirations the most God-like, and whose charities the most gentle and pure. He has taken us abroad with the patriot-farmer in his rambles about his homestead. He has seated us in his study and shown us the warrior-christian in unobtrusive communion with his God. He has done all this too, and more, in a simple and quiet manner, in a manner peculiarly his own, and which mainly because it is his own, cannot fail to be exceedingly effective. Yet it is very possible that the public may, for many years to come, overlook the rare merits of a work whose want of arrogant assumption is so little in keeping with the usages of the day, and whose striking simplicity and naiveté of manner give, to a cursory examination, so little evidence of the labor of composition. We have no fears, however, for the future. Such books as these before us, go down to posterity like rich wines, with a certainty of being more valued as they go. They force themselves with the gradual but rapidly accumulating power of strong wedges into the hearts and understandings of a community.

In regard to the style of Mr. Paulding’s Washington, it would scarcely be doing it justice to speak of it merely as well adapted to its subject, and to its immediate design. Perhaps a rigorous examination would detect an occasional want of euphony, and ­[page 574:] some inaccuracies of syntatical [[syntactical]] arrangement. But nothing could be more out of place than any such examination in respect to a book whose forcible, rich, vivid, and comprehensive English might advantageously be held up, as a model for the young writers of the land. There is no better literary manner than the manner of Mr. Paulding. Certainly no American, and possibly no living writer of England, has more of those numerous peculiarities which go to the formation of a happy style. It is questionable, we think, whether any writer of any country combines as many of these peculiarities with as much of that essential negative virtue, the absence of affectation. We repeat, as our confident opinion, that it would be difficult, even with great care and labor, to improve upon the general manner of the volumes now before us, and that they contain many long individual passages of a force and beauty not to be surpassed by the finest passages of the finest writers in any time or country. It is this striking character in the Washington of Mr. Paulding — striking and peculiar indeed at a season when we are so culpably inattentive to all matters of this nature, as to mistake for style the fine airs at second hand of the silliest romancers — it is this character we say, which should insure the fulfilment of the writer’s principal design, in the immediate introduction of his book into every respectable academy in the land.

­ CXCIII. [[CXCIV.]]

Scott, in his “Presbyterian Eloquence,” speaks of “that ancient fable, not much known,” in which a trial of skill in singing being agreed upon between the cuckoo and the nightingale, the ass was chosen umpire. When each bird had done his best, the umpire declared that the nightingale sang extremely well, but that “for a good plain song give him the cuckoo.” The judge with the long ears, in this case, is a fine type of the tribe of critics who insist upon what they call “quietude” as the supreme literary excellence — gentlemen who rail at Tennyson and elevate Addison into apotheosis. By the way, the following passage from Sterne’s “Letter from France,” should be adopted at once as a motto by the “Down-East Review:” “As we rode along the valley, we saw a herd of asses on the top of one of the mountains. How they viewed and reviewed us!” ­[page 575:]

­ CXCIV. [[CXCV.]]

A hundred criticisms to the contrary notwithstanding, I must regard “The Lady of Lyons” as one of the most successful dramatic efforts of modern times. It is popular, and justly so. It could not fail to be popular so long as the people have a heart. It abounds in sentiments which stir the soul as the sound of a trumpet. It proceeds rapidly and consequentially; the interest not for one moment being permitted to flag. Its incidents are admirably conceived and skilfully wrought into execution. Its dramatis personæ, throughout, have the high merit of being natural, although, except in the case of Pauline, there is no marked individuality. She is a creation which would have done no dishonor to Shakspeare. She excites profound emotion. It has been sillily objected to her, that she is weak, mercenary, and at points ignoble. She is; and what then? We are not dealing with Clarissa Harlowe. Bulwer has painted a woman. The chief defect of the play lies in the heroine’s consenting to wed Beauseant, while aware of the existence and even the continued love of Claude. As the plot runs, there is a question in Pauline’s soul between a comparatively trivial (because merely worldly) injury to her father, and utter ruin and despair inflicted upon her husband. Here there should not have been an instant’s hesitation. The audience have no sympathy with any. Nothing on earth should have induced the wife to give up the living Melnotte. Only the assurance of his death could have justified her in sacrificing herself to Beauseant. As it is, we hate her for the sacrifice. The effect is repulsive — but I must be understood as calling this effect objectionable solely on the ground of its being at war with the whole genius of the play.

­ CXCV. [[CXCVI.]]

“Contempt,” says an eastern proverb, “pierces even through the shell of the tortoise;” but the skull of a Fuller would feel themselves insulted by a comparison, in point of impermeability, with the shell of a Gallipago turtle.

­ CXCVI. [[CXCVII.]]

How thoroughly comprehensive is the account of Adam, as given at the bottom of the old picture in the Vatican! — “Adam, divinitus edoctus, primus scientiarum et literarum inventor.” ­[page 576:]

­ CXCVII. [[CXCVIII.]]

If need were, I should have little difficulty, perhaps, in defending a certain apparent dogmatism to which I am prone, on the topic of versification.

“What is Poetry?” notwithstanding Leigh Hunt’s rigmarolic attempt at answering it, is a query that, with great care and deliberate agreement beforehand on the exact value of certain leading words, may, possibly, be settled to the partial satisfaction of a few analytical intellects, but which, in the existing condition of metaphysics, never can be settled to the satisfaction of the majority; for the question is purely metaphysical, and the whole science of metaphysics is at present a chaos, through the impossibility of fixing the meanings of the words which its very nature compels it to employ. But as regards versification, this difficulty is only partial; for although one-third of the topic may be considered metaphysical, and thus may be mooted at the fancy of this individual or of that, still the remaining two-thirds belong, undeniably, to the mathematics. The questions ordinarily discussed with so much gravity in regard to rhythm, metre, etc., are susceptible of positive adjustment by demonstration. Their laws are merely a portion of the Median laws of form and quantity —   of relation. In respect, then, to any of these ordinary questions — these sillily moot points which so often arise in common criticism — the prosodist would speak as weakly in saying “this or that proposition is probably so and so, or possibly so and so,” as would the mathematician in admitting that, in his humble opinion, or if he were not greatly mistaken, any two sides of a triangle were, together, greater than the third side. I must add, however, as some palliation of the discussions referred to, and of the objections so often urged with a sneer to “particular theories of versification binding no one but their inventor” — that there is really extant no such work as a Prosody Raisonnée. The Prosodies of the schools are merely collections of vague laws, with their more vague exceptions, based upon no principles whatever, but extorted in the most speculative manner from the usages of the ancients, who had no laws beyond those of their ears and fingers. “And these were sufficient,” it will be said, “since ‘The Iliad’ is melodious and harmonious beyond anything of modern ­[page 577:] times.” Admit this: — but neither do we write in Greek, nor has the invention of modern times been as yet exhausted. An analysis based on the natural laws of which the bard of Scios was ignorant, would suggest multitudinous improvements to the best passages of even “The Iliad” — nor does it in any manner follow from the supposititious fact that Homer found in his ears and fingers a satisfactory system of rules (the point which I have just denied) — nor does it follow, I say, from this, that the rules which we deduce from the Homeric effects are to supersede those immutable principles of time, quantity, etc. — the mathematics, in short, of music — which must have stood to these Homeric effects in the relation of causes — the mediate causes of which these “ears and fingers” are simply the intermedia.

­ CXCVIII. [[CXCIX.]]

Of Berryer, somebody says “he is the man in whose description is the greatest possible consumption of antithesis.” For “description” read “lectures,” and the sentence would apply well to Hudson, the lecturer on Shakspeare. Antithesis is his end — he has no other. He does not employ it to enforce thought, but he gathers thought from all quarters with the sole view to its capacity for antithetical expression. His essays have thus only paragraphical effect; as wholes, they produce not the slightest impression. No man living could say what it is Mr. Hudson proposes to demonstrate; and if the question were propounded to Mr. H. himself, we can fancy how particularly embarrassed he would be for a reply. In the end, were he to answer honestly, he would say — “antithesis.”

As for his reading, Julius Cæsar would have said of him that he sang ill, and undoubtedly he must have “gone to the dogs” for his experience in pronouncing the r as if his throat were bored like a rifle-barrel.*

­ CXCIX. [[CC.]]

It is James Montgomery who thinks proper to style McPherson’s “Ossian” a [[“]]collection of halting, dancing, lumbering, grating, nondescript paragraphs.”


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 550:]

­ *  “High-Ways and By-ways.”

­†  [Mr. Poe was wrong. “Miserrimus” was written by W. M. Reynolds, who died at Fountainbleau in 1850. Ed.]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 556:]

­ *  “Letters of Eliza Wilkinson, during the invasion and possession of Charleston, S. C., by the British, in the Revolutionary War.” Arranged by Caroline Gilman.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 557:]

­ *  “Voyage to Cochin-China.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 558:]

­ *  “Coleridge’s Table-Talk.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 561:]

­ *   Lowell’s “Conversations.”

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 568:]

­ *   The Maiden Hunting [[Lamenting]] for her Fawn, by Andrew Marvell.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 577:]

­ *  “Nec illi (Demostheni) turpe videbatur vel, optimis relictis magistris, ad canes se conferre, et ab illis e liters vim et naturam petere, illorumque in sonando, quod satis est, morem imitatri.” — Ad Meker. de vet. Pron. Ling. Græcae.


∞∞∞∞∞∞∞


Notes:

The original printings of these items are as follows:

  • Item CLI (151) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLII (152) — from “Marginalia,” Southern Literary Messenger, July 1849
  • Item CLIII (153) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLIV (154) — from “Marginalia,” Southern Literary Messenger, July 1849
  • Item CLV (155) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLVI (156) — from “Marginalia,” Southern Literary Messenger, July 1849
  • Item CLVII (157) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLVIII (158) - Adapted from Poe’s editorial miscellany, in the Broadway Journal, October 4, 1845
  • Item CLIX (159) — adapted from Poe’s review of Southey’s The Doctor, in the Southern Literary Messenger, July 1836
  • Item CLX (160) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXI (161) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXII (162) — adapted from Poe’s review of Hall’s Book of Gems, from the Southern Literary Messenger, August 1836
  • Item CLXII (162) - Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXIV (164) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXV (165) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXVII (167) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845
  • Item CLXVIII (168) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845
  • Item CLXIX (169) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845
  • Item CLXX (170) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845
  • Item CLXXI (171) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXXII (172) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXXIII (173) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845
  • Item CLXXIV (174) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CLXXV (175) — adapted from Poe’s review of Bulwer, in the Southern Literary Messenger, February 1836
  • Item CLXXVI (176) — adapted from Poe’s review of James’ Lives, in the Southern Literary Messenger, October 1836
  • Item CLXXVII (177) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, September 1845
  • Item CLXXVIII (178) — from “Marginalia,” Southern Literary Messenger, September 1849
  • Item CLXXIX (179) — from “Marginalia,” Southern Literary Messenger, July 1849
  • Item CLXXX (180) — from “Marginalia,” Southern Literary Messenger, September 1849
  • Item CLXXXI (181) — adapted from Poe’s review of Bland’s Reports, in the Southern Literary Messenger, October 1836
  • Item CLXXXII (182) — adapted from Poe’s review of Wilson’s Genius and Character of Burns, in the Broadway Journal, September 6, 1845
  • Item CLXXXIII (183) — from “Marginalia,” Graham’s Magazine, November 1846
  • Item CLXXXIV (184) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, September 1845
  • Item CLXXXV (185) — adapted from Poe’s review of Hall’s Patchwork, in the Graham’s Magazine, April 1841
  • Item CLXXXVI (186) — adapted from Poe’s review of Hall’s Book of Gems, in the Southern Literary Messenger, August 1836
  • Item CLXXXVII (187) — adapted from Poe’s review of Campbell’s Life of Petrarch, in the Graham’s Magazine, September 1841
  • Item CLXXXVIII (188) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, September 1845
  • Item CLXXXVIII (189) — adapted from Poe’s “Editorial Miscellany,” in the Broadway Journal, September 20, 1845
  • Item CXC (190) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, September 1845
  • Item CXCI (191) — adapted from Poe’s “Byron and Mrs. Chaworth,” in the Columbian Magazine, December 1844
  • Item CXCII (192) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845
  • Item CXCIII (193) — adapted from Poe’s review of Paulding’s Life of Washington, in the Southern Literary Messenger, May 1836
  • Item CXCIV (194) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, September 1845
  • Item CXCV (195) — from “Marginalia,” Graham’s Magazine, November 1846
  • Item CXCVI (196) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845
  • Item CXCVII (197) — from “Marginalia,” Democratic Review, December 1844
  • Item CXCVIII (198) — from “Marginalia,” Graham’s Magazine, November 1846
  • Item CXCIX (199) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, September 1845
  • Item CC (200) — from “Marginalia,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1845

For item 196, “Fuller” was Magaret Fuller. In the older version of the entry, the text reads “but there are some human skulls which would feel . . . .”

In the original, at the end of item 197 appears an extraneous “VII.” This obvious typesetting error has not been reproduced here.


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[S:1 - Works, 1850] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Marginalia [items 151-200] (Text-D)