Text: Burton R. Pollin, “The Broadway Journal: Text (June 1845),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. III: Broadway Journal (Text) (1986), pp. 136-157 (This material is protected by copyright)


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(c) MAGAZINE-WRITING — PETER SNOOK.

In a late number of the Democratic Review, there appeared a very excellent paper (by Mr. Duyckinck) on the subject of Magazine Literature — a subject much less thoroughly comprehended here than either in France or in England. In America we compose, now and then, agreeable essays and other matters of that character — but we have not yet caught the true magazine spirit — a thing neither to be defined nor described. Mr. Duyckinck’s article, although piquant, is not altogether to our mind. We think he places too low an estimate on the capability of the Magazine paper. He is inclined to undervalue its power — to limit unnecessarily its province — which is illimitable. In fact it is in the extent of subject, and not less in the extent or variety of tone, that the French and English surpass us, to so good a purpose. How very rarely are we struck with an American Magazine article, as with an absolute novelty — how frequently the foreign articles so affect us! We are so [page 137:] circumstanced as to be unable to pay for elaborate compositions — and, after all, the true invention is elaborate. There is no greater mistake than the supposition that a true originality is a mere matter of impulse or inspiration. To originate is carefully, patiently, and understandingly to combine. The few American Magazinists who ever think of this elaboration at all, cannot afford to carry it into practice for the paltry prices offered them by our periodical publishers. For this and other glaring reasons, we are behind the age in a very important branch of literature — a branch which, moreover, is daily growing in importance — and which, in the end (not far distant) will be the most influential of all the departments of Letters.

We are lamentably deficient not only in invention proper, but in that which is, more strictly, Art. What American, for in stance, in penning a criticism, ever supposes himself called upon to present his readers with more than the exact stipulation of his title — to present them with a criticism and something beyond? Who thinks of making his critique a work of art in itself — independently of its critical opinions? — a work of art, such as are all the more elaborate, and most effective reviews of Macaulay. Yet these reviews we have evinced no incapacity to appreciate, when presented. The best American review ever penned is miserably ineffective when compared with the notice of Montagu’s Bacon — and yet this latter is in general a piece of tawdry sophistry, owing every thing to a consummate, to an exquisite arrangement — to a thorough and just sufficiently comprehensive diffuseness — to a masterly climacing of points — to a style which dazzles the understanding with its brilliancy — but not more than it misleads it by its perspicuity — causing us so distinctly to comprehend that we fancy we coincide — in a word to the perfection of Art — of all the Art which a Macaulay can wield, or which is applicable to any criticism that a Macaulay could write.

It is, however, in the composition of that class of Magazine papers which come, properly, under the head of Tales, that we evince the most remarkable deficiency in skill. If we except first Mr. Hawthorne — secondly, Mr. Simms — thirdly Mr. Willis — and fourthly, one or two others whom we may as well put mentally together without naming them — there is not even a respectably skilful tale-writer on this side the Atlantic. We have seen, to be sure, many very well-constructed stories — individual specimens — the work of American Magazinists; but these specimens have invariably appeared to be happy accidents of construction; their authors, in subsequent tales, having always evinced an incapacity to construct.

We have been led to a comparison of the American with the British ability in tale-writing, by a perusal of some Magazine papers, the composition of the author of “Chartley” and “The Invisible Gentleman.” He is one of the best of the English journalists, and has some of the happiest peculiarities of Dickens, whom he preceded in the popular favor. The longest and best of his tales, properly so called, is “Peter Snook,” and this presents so many striking points for the consideration of the Magazinist, that we feel disposed to give an account of it in full.

Peter Snook, the hero, and the beau idéal of a Cockney, is a retail linen-draper in Bishopgate street. He is of course a stupid and conceited, although at bottom a very good little fel low, and “always looks as if he was frightened.” Matters go on very thrivingly with him, until he becomes acquainted with Miss Clarinda Bodkin, “a young lady owning to almost thirty, and withal a great proficient in the mysteries of millinery and mantua-making.” Love and ambition, however, set the little gentleman somewhat beside himself. “If Miss Clarinda would but have me,” says he, “we might divide the shop, and have a linen-drapery side, and a haberdashery and millinery side, [page 138:] and one would help the other — There‘d be only one rent to pay, and a double business — and it would be so comfortable too!” Thinking thus, Peter commences a flirtation, to which Miss Clarinda but doubtfully responds. He escorts the lady to White Conduit House, Bagnigge Wells, and other genteel places of public resort — and finally is so rash as to accede to the proposition on her part, of a trip to Margate. At this epoch of the narrative, the writer observes that the subsequent proceedings of the hero are gathered from accounts rendered by himself, when called upon, after the trip, for explanation.

It is agreed that Miss Clarinda shall set out alone for Margate-Mr. Snoolc following her, after some indispeasable arrangements. These occupy bim until the middle of July, at which period, taking passage in the “Rose in June,” he safely reaches his destination. But various misfortunes here await him, — misfortunes admirably adapted to the meridian of Cockney feeling, and the capacity of Cockney endurance- His umbrella, for example, and a large brown paper parcel, containing a new pea-green coat and flower-patterned embroidered silk waistcoat, are tumbled into the water at the landingplace, and Miss Bodkin forbids him her presence in his old clothes. By a tumble of his own, too, the skin is rubbed from both his shins fur several inches, and the surgeon, having no regard to the lover’s cotillon engagements, enjoins on him a total abstinence from dancing. A cock-chafer, moreover, is at the trouble of flying into one of his eyes, and (worse than all) a tall military-looking shoemaker, Mr. Last, has taken advantage of the linen-draper’s delay in reaching Margate, to ingratiate himself with his mistress. Finally, he is cut by Last and rejected by the lady, and has nothing left for it but to secure a homeward passage in the “Rose in June.”

In the evening of the second day after his departure, the vessel drops anchor off Greenwich. Most of the passengers go ashore, with the view of taking the stage to the city. Peter, however, who considers that he has already spent money enough to no purpose, prefers remaining on board. “We shall get to Billingsgate,” says he, “while I am sleeping, and I shall have plenty of time to go home and dress, and go into the city and borrow the trifle I may want for Pester and Company’s bill, that comes due the day after to-morrow.” This determination is a source of much troupe to our hero, as will be seen in the sequel. Some shopmen who remain with him in the packet, tempt him to unusual indulgences in the way first, of brown stout, and secondly, of positive French brandy. The consequence is, that Mr. Snook falls, thirdly, asleep, and fourthly, overboard.

About dawn on the morning after this event, Ephraim Hobson, the confidential clerk and factotum of Mr. Peter Snook, is disturbed from a sound sleep by the sudden appearance of his master. That gentleman seems to be quite in a bustle, and delights Ephraim with an account of a whacking wholesale order for exportation just received. “Not a word to anybody about the matter, exclaims Peter, with unusual emphasis.” R’s such an opportunity as don‘t come often in a man’s life-time. There’s a captain of a ship — he’s the owner of her too; but never mind! there an‘t time to enter into particulars now, but you‘ll know all by and bye — all you have to do, is to do as I tell you — so come along!”

Setting Ephraim to work, with directions to pack up immediately all the goods in the shop, with the exception of a few trifling articles, the master avows his intention of going into the city, “to borrow enough money to make up Pester’s bill for to-morrow.” “I don‘t think you‘ll want much, Sir,” returns Hobson with a self-complacent air. “I‘ve been looking up the long-winded ‘uns you see, since you‘ve been gone, and have got Shy’s money and Slack’s account, which we‘d pretty [page 139:] well given up for a bad job, and one or two more. There — there’s the list — and there’s the key to the strong box, where you‘ll find the money, besides what I‘ve took at the counter.” Peter at this seems well pleased, and shortly afterwards goes out, saving, he cannot tell when he‘ll be back, and giving directions that whatever goods may be sent in during his absence, shall be left untouched till his return.

It appears that, after leaving his shop, Mr. Snook proceeded to that of Jobb, Flaslibill & Co. (one of whose clerks, on board the “Rose in June,” had been very liberal in supplying our hero with brandy on the night of his ducking) looked over a large quantity of ducks and other goods, and finally made purchase of “a choice assortment,” to be delivered the same day. His next visit was to Mr. Bluff, the managing partner in the banking-house where he usually kept his cash. His business now was to request permission to overdraw a hundred pounds for a few days.

“Humph,” said Mr. Bluff, “money is very scarce but — Bless me? — yes — it’s he? Excuse me a minute, Mr. Snook, there’s a gentleman at the front counter whom I want particularly, to speak to — I‘ll be back with yon directly.” As he uttered these words, he rushed out, and, in passing one of the clerks on his way forward, he whispered — “Tell Scribe to look at Snook’s account, and let me know directly,” He then went to the front counter, where several people were waiting to pay and receive money. “Fine weather this, Mr. Butt. what! you‘re not out of town like the rest of them?”

“No,” replied Mr. Butt, who kept a thriving gin-shop, “no, I sticks to my business — make hay while the sun shines — that’s my maxim. Wife up at night — I up early in the morning.”

The banker chatted and listened with great apparent interest till the closing of a huge book on which he kept his eye, told trim that his whispered order had been attended to. He then took a gracious leave of Mr. Butt, and returned back to the counting-house with a slip of paper, adroitly put in his hand while passing, on which was written, “Peter Snook, Linen Draper, Bishopgate Street — old account — increasing gradually — balance £153 15s. 6d. — very regular.” “Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Snook,” said he, “but we must catch people when we can. Well, what is it you were saying you wanted us to do?”

“I should like to be able to overdraw just for a few days,” replied Peter.

“How much?”

“A hundred.”

“Won‘t fifty do?”

“No, not quite, sir.”

“Well, you‘re an honest fellow, and don‘t come bothering as often, so I suppose we must not be too particular with you for this once.”

Leaving Bluff, Mr. Snook hurries to overtake Mr. Butt, the dealer in spirits, who had just left the banking-house before himself, and to give that gentleman an order for a hogshead of the best gin. As he is personally unknown to Mr. Butt, he hands him a card on which is written “Peter Snook, linen and muslin ware house, No. — , Bishopgate street within,” etc. etc., and takes occasion to mention that he purchases at the recommendation of Mr. Bluff. The gin is to be at Queenhithe the same evening. The spirit-dealer, as soon as his new customer has taken leave, revolves in his mind the oddity of a linen draper’s buying a hogshead of gin, and determines to satisfy himself of Mr. Snook’s responsibility by a personal application to Mr. Bluff. On reaching the bank, however, he is told by the clerks that Mr. Bluff, being in attendance upon a committee of the House of Commons, will not be home in any reasonable time — but also that Peter Snook is a perfectly safe man. The gin is accordingly sent; and several other large orders for different goods, upon other houses, are promptly fulfilled in the same manner. Meantime Ephraim is busily engaged at home in receiving and inspecting the invoices of the various purchases as they arrive, at which employment he is occupied until dusk, when his master makes his appearance in unusually high spirits. We must here be pardoned for copying some passages

“Well, Ephraim,” he exclaimed, “this looks something like [page 140:] business! You havn‘t had such a job this many a day! Shop looks well now, eh?”

“You know best, sir,” replied Hobson. “But hang me if I a‘nt frightened. When we shall sell nil these goods I‘m sure I can‘t think. You talked of having a haberdashery side to the shop; but if we go on at this rate, we shall want another side for ourselves; I‘m sure I don‘t know where Miss Bodkin is to be put.”

“She go to Jericho!” said Peter contemptuously. “As for the goods, my boy, they‘ll be gone before to-morrow morning. All you and I have got to do is to pack ‘em up: so let us turn to and strap at it.”

Packing was Ephraim’s favorite employment, but on the present occasion he set to work with a heavy heart. His master, on the contrary, appeared full of life and spirits, and corded boxes, sewed up trusses, and packed huge paper parcels with a celerity and an adroitness truly wonderful.

“Why, you don‘t get on, Hobson,” he exclaimed; “see what I‘ve done! Where’s the ink-pot? — oh, here it is!” and he proceeded to mark his packages with his initials and the letter G below. “There,” he resumed, “P. S. G.; that’s for me at Graves end. I‘m to meet the Captain and owner there; show the goods — if there’s any he don‘t like shall bring ‘em back with me; get bills — bankers’ acceptances for the rest; see ‘em safe on board then — but not before, mind that Master Ephraim! No, no, keep my weather eye open as the men say on board the Rose in June. By the bye, I havn‘t told you yet about my falling overboard whip into the river.”

“Falling overboard!” exclaimed the astonished shopman, quitting his occupation to stand erect and listen.

“Ay, ay,” continued Peter — “see it won‘t do to tell you long stories now. There — mark that truss, will you? Know all about it some day. Lucky job though — tell you that: got this thundering order by it. Had one tumble, first going off, at Margate. Spoilt my peagreen — never mind — that was a lucky tumble too. Hadn‘t been for that, shouldn‘t so soon have found out the game a certain person was playing with me. She go to Jericho!”

But for the frequent repetition of this favorite expression, Ephraim Hobson has since declared he should have doubted his master’s identity during the whole of that evening, as there was something very singular about him; and his strength and activity in moving the bates, boxes, and trusses, were such as he had never previously exhibited. The phrase condemning this, that, or the other thing or person to “go to Jericho,” was the only expression that he uttered, as the shopman said, “naturally,” and Peter repeated that whimsical anathema as often as usual.

The goods being all packed up, carts arrive to carry them away; and, by half-past ten o‘clock, the shop is entirely cleared, with the exception of some trifling articles to make show on the shelves and counters. Two hackney coaches are called. Mr. Peter Snook gets into one with a variety of loose articles which would require too much time to pack, and his shopman into another, with some more. Arriving at Queenhithe, they find all the goods previously sent, already embarked in the hold of a long-decked barge which lies near the shore. Mr. Snook now insists upon Ephraim’s going on board and taking supper and some hot rum and water. This advice he follows to so good purpose that he is at length completely bewildered, when his master, taking him up in his arms, carries him on shore, and there setting him down, leaves him to make the best of his way home as he can.

About eight the next morning, Ephraim awaking, of course in a sad condition both of body and mind, sets himself immediately about arranging the appearance of the shop “so as to secure the credit of the concern.” In spite of all his ingenuity, however, it maintains a poverty-stricken appearance; — which circumstance excites some most unreasonable suspicions in the mind of Mr. Bluff’s clerk, upon his calling at ten with Pester & Co‘.s bill, (three hundred and sixteen pounds, seventeen shillings) and receiving, by way of payment, a check upon his own banking house for the amount — Mr. Snook having written this check before his departure with the goods, and left it with Ephraim. On reaching the bank, therefore, the clerk inquires if Peter Snook’s check is good for three hundred and sixteen pounds odd, and is told that it is not worth a farthing, Mr. S. having overdrawn for a hundred. While Mr. Bluff and his assistants are conversing on this subject, Butt, the gin-dealer, calls to thank the banker for having recommended him a customer — which the banker denies having done. An explanation [page 141:] ensues and “stop thief!” is the cry. Ephraim is sent for and reluctantly made to tell all he knows of his master’s proceedings on the day before — by which means a knowledge is obtained of the other houses who (it is supposed) have been swindled. Getting a description of the barge which conveyed the goods from Queenhithe, the whole party of creditors now set off in pursuit.

About dawn the next morning they overtake the barge a little below Gravesend — when four men are observed leaving her, and rowing to the shore in a skiff. Peter Snook is found sitting quietly in the cabin, and, although apparently a little surprised at seeing Mr. Pester, betrays nothing like embarrassment or fear.

“Ah, Mr. Pester, is it you? Glad to see you, sir! So you‘ve been taking a trip out o’ town, and are going back with us? We shall get to Billingsgate between eight and nine, they say; and I hope it won‘t be later, as I‘ve a bill of yours comes due to-day, and I want to be at home in time to write a check for it.”

The goods are also found on board, together with three men in the hold, gagged and tied hand and foot. They give a strange account of themselves. Being in the employ of Air. Heaviside, a lighterman, they were put in charge of “The Flitter” when she was hired by Peter Snook for a trip to Gravesend. According to their orders they took the barge in the first instance to a wharf near Queenhithe and helped to load her with some goods brought down in carts. ‘Mr. Snook afterwards came on board, bringing with him two fierce looking men, and “a little man with a hooked nose” (Ephraim.) Mr. S. and the little man then “had a sort of jollification” in the cabin, till the latter got drunk and was carried ashore. They then proceeded down the river, nothing particular occurring till they had passed Greenwich Hospital, when Mr. S. ordered them to lay the barge alongside a large black sided ship. No sooner was the order obeyed than they were boarded by a number of men from said ship, who seized them, bound them, gagged them and put them in the hold.

The immediate consequence of this information is, that Peter is bound, gagged, and put down into the hold in the same manner, by way of retaliation, and for safe keeping on his way back to the city. On the arrival of the party a meeting of the creditors is called. Peter appears before them in a great rage and with the air of an injured man. Indeed his behavior is so mal àpropos to his situation as entirely to puzzle his interrogators. He accuses the whole party of a conspiracy.

“Peter Snook,” said Mr. Pester solemnly. from the chair, “that look does not become you after what has passed. Let me advise you to conduct yourself with propriety. You will find that the best policy, depend on‘t.”

“A pretty thing for you, for to come to talk of propriety!” exclaimed Peter; “you that seed me laid bold on by a set of ruffians, and never said a word, nor given information a‘terwards! And here have I been kept away from business I don‘t know how long, and shut up like a dog in a kennel; but I look upon‘t you were at the bottom of it all — you and that fellow with the plum pudding face, as blowed me up about a cask of gin! What you both mean by it I can‘t think; but if there’s any law in the land, I‘ll snake you remember it, both of you — that’s what I will!”

Mr. Snook swears that he never saw Jobb in his life except on the occasion of his capture in “The Flitter,” and positively denies having looked out any parcel of goods at the house of Jobb, Flashbill & Co. With the banker, Mr. Bluff, he acknowledges an acquaintance — but not having drawn for the two hundred and seventy pounds odd, or having ever overdrawn for a shilling in his life. Moreover he is clearly of opinion that the banker has still in his hands more than a hundred and fifty pounds of his (Mr. Snook’s) money. He also designates several gentlemen as being no creditors of his, although they were of the number of those from whom large purchases had been made for the “whacking” shipping order, [page 142:] and although their goods were found in the “Flitter.” Ephraim is surnmoned, and testifies to all the particulars of his master’s return, and the subsequent packing, cart-loading and embarkation as already told — accounting for the extravagances of Mr. Snook as being “all along of that Miss Bodkin.”

“Lor‘, master, hi’s glad to see you agin,” exclaimed Ephraim. “Who‘d ha’ thought as ‘twould come to this?”

“Come to what?” cried Peter. “I‘ll make ‘em repent of it, every man Jack of ‘em, before I‘ve done, if there’s law to be had for love or money!”

“Ah, sir,” said Ephraim, “we‘d better have stuck to the retail. I was afraid that shipping eonsarn wouldn‘t answer, and tell‘d you so, if you recollect, but you would‘nt harken to me.”

“What shipping concern?” inquired Peter, with alook of amazement.

“La! master,” exclaimed Ephraim, “it aint of any use to pretend to keep it a secret now, when every body knows it. I didn‘t tell Mr. Pester, though, till the last, when all the goods was gone out of the shop, and the sheriff’s officers had come to take possession of the house.“

“Sheriff’s officers in possession of my house!” roared Peter.“All the goods gone out of the shop! What do you mean by that you rascal? What have you been doing in my absence?” And he sprang forward furiously, and seized the trembling shopman by the collar with a degree of violence which rendered it difficult for the two officers in attendance to disengage him from his hold.

Hereupon, Mr. Snap, the attorney retained by the creditors, harangues the company at some length, and intimates that Mr. Snook is either mad or acting the madman for the purpose of evading punishment. A practitioner from Bedlam is sent for, and some artifices resorted to — but to no purpose. It is found impossible to decide upon the question of sanity. The medical gentleman, in his report to the creditors, confesses himself utterly perplexed, and, without giving a decision, details the particulars of a singular story told him by Mr. Snook himself, concerning the mode of his escape from drowning alter he fell overboard from the “Rose in June.” “It is a strange unlikely tale to be sure,” says the physician, “and it’ his general conversation was of that wild, imaginative, flighty kind which I have so often witnessed, I should say it was purely ideal; but he appears such a plain-spoken, simple sort of a person, that it is difficult to conceive how he could invent such a fiction.” Mr. Snook’s narration is then told, not in his very words, but in the author’s own way, with all the particulars obtained from Peter’s various recitations. We give it only in brief.

Upon tumbling overboard, Mr. Snook (at least according to his own story) swam courageously as long as he could. He was upon the point of sinking, however, when an oar was thrust under his arm, and he found himself lifted in a boat by a “dozen dark-looking men.” He is taken on board a large ship, and the captain, who is a droll genius, and talks in rhyme somewhat after the fashion of the wondrous Tale of Alroy, entertains him with great cordiality, dresses him in a suit of his own clothes, makes him drink in the first place, a brimmer of “something hot,” and afterwards plies him with wines and cordials of ail kinds, at a supper of the most magnificent description. Warmed in body and mind by this excellent cheer, Peter reveals his inmost secrets to his host, and talks freely and minutely of a thousand things; of his man Ephraim and his oddities; of his bank account; of his great credit; of his adventures with Miss Bodkin; of his prospects in trade; and especially of the names, residences, etc. etc., of the wholesale houses with whom he is in the habit of dealing. Presently, being somewhat overcome with wine, he goes to bed at the suggestion of the captain, who promises to call him in season for a boat in the morning, which will convey him to Billingsgate in full time for Pester and Co.’s Dote. How long he slept is uncertain — but when he awoke a great change was observable in the captain’s manner, who was somewhat brusque, and handed him over the ship’s side into the barge where he was [page 143:] discovered by the creditors in pursuit, and which he was assured would convey him to Billingsgate.

This relation, thus succinctly given by us, implies little or nothing. The result, however, to which the reader is ingeniously led by the author, is, that the real Peter Snook has been duped, and that the Peter Snook who made the various purchases about town, and who appeared to Ephraim only during the morning and evening twilight of the eventful day, was, in fact, no other person than the captain of “the strange black-sided ship.” ‘We are to believe that, taking advantage of Peter’s communicativenesss, and a certain degree of personal resemblance to himself, he assumed our hero’s clothes while he slept, and made a bold and nearly successful attempt at wholesale peculation.

The incidents of this story are forcibly conceived, and even in the hands of an ordinary writer would scarcely fail of effect. But, in the present instance, so unusual a tact is developed in the narration, that we are inclined to rank “Peter Snook” among the few tales which (each in its own way) are absolutely faultless. It is a Flemish home-piece of the highest order — its merits lying in its chiaro ’scuro — in that blending of light and shade and shadow, where nothing is too distinct, yet where the idea is fully conveyed — in the absence of all rigid outlines and all miniature painting — in the not undue warmth of the coloring — and in a well subdued exaggeration at all points, an exaggeration never amounting to caricature. [page 144:]

[[BJ June 7, 1845 - 1:362]]

NEW WORKS LATELY RECEIVED.

(a) [Under this heading we propose to give merely the title, or a succinct account, of all new works which may come to hand, and which are not reviewed at length in another portion of the Journal. Many of the publications here announced, however, will be made the subject of review hereafter. Those marked with an asterisk will certainly be noticed in full.]

An Explanatory and Phonographic Pronouncing Dictionary of the English Language: To which is added a Vocabulary of Greek, Latin, Scripture, Christian, and Geographical Names, with their Pronunciation; together with a Collection of Words and Phrases from Foreign Languages, often met with in the Works of English Writers, with their Signification. Edited by William Bolles. New London. Published by Bolles & Williams.*

An admirable work. We give, for the present, merely its table of Contents:

Preface — Introduction — Directions to Foreigners — Directions to the natives of Ireland — An Explanatory and Phonographic Pronouncing Dictionary of the English Language — A Vocabulary of Greek and Latin Proper Names, with their Pronunciation — A Vocabulary of Scripture Proper Names, with their Pronunciation — A Vocabulary of Christian or given Names, with their Pronunciation — A Vocabulary of Geographical Names, with their pronunciation — Words and Phrases from Foreign Languages, with their Signification — A List of Abbreviations, with their Explanations — Maxims and Proverbs, alphabetically arranged — Distinguished Characters of Ancient Greece, arranged by Centuries — Distinguished Characters of Ancient Rome, arranged by Centuries — Distinguished Characters of Several European Nations — Distinguished Characters of Great Britain — Value of Money of Different Countries.

———

(b) Smith’s Weekly Volume. Conducted by the original Editor of “Waldie’s Library.” No. 1 to 23. Vol. 1.

This is altogether the handsomest publication of the kind that has been undertaken. The selections are made with good taste, and the amount of matter given very liberal. The external appearance of the “Volume” is very beautiful; we only object to the Vignette, which is copied from Knight’s “weekly volume.” The number before us contains in full the eventful life of a Soldier.

(c) Manual of Orthopedic Surgery. Being a Dissertation which obtained the Boylston Prize for 1844, on the following question: — “In what cases and to what extent is the division of muscles, tendons, or other parts proper for the relief of deformity or lameness?” By Henry Jacob Bigelow, M. D. Boston. William D. Ticknor & Co.

This is, beyond doubt, a work of high value. Its treatises on Strabismus and Stammering, are the only complete examinations of these subjects that have ever appeared in America. A very handsome octavo.

(d) Richardiana; or, Hits at the Style of Popular American Authors. New York. Henderson Greene.

A remarkably clever jeu d‘esprit after the fashion of “Rejected Addresses.” The authors introduced are Croaker & Co.; Daniel Webster; Longfellow; Willis; Irving; Morris; Woodworth; Halleck; Bryant; McDonald Clarke; and two others whom we do not recognize.

(e) The Bustle: a Philosophical and Moral Poem. Boston. Bela Marsh.

A poem of 155 of the Don Juan stanzas. It is wretchedly [page 145:] versified, and lacks point. Its philosophy, and even its truth, we regard as undeniable; but its decency may be well questioned — or, rather, its gross indecency cannot.

———

(a) The Complete Evangelist. Comprising the History of the Life. Actions, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and Doctrine of Jesus Christ. Intended to embrace every important Expression and Idea recorded in the Writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, in the words of the Authorized Translation. The whole arranged according to the order of time in which the several transactions occurred, as nearly as that order can be ascertained. Edited by William Bolles. New London. Bolles & Williams.

The Quaker City; or, The Monks of Monk-Hall. A Romance of Philadelphia Life, Mystery, and Crime. By George Lippard, Esq., Author of the “Ladye Annabel,” “Herbert Tracy,” “The Battle-Day of Germantown,” “Adrian the Neophyte,” etc. etc. Philadelphia. Published by the Author.*

A large octavo of 500 pages. Its composition is hurried and uneven — but the author gives unequivocal indication of genius. The frontispiece is an admirable design by Darley.

———

(b) The Mysteries of Berlin. To be completed in Ten Parts. New York. William H. Colyer.

The Second Part is just received.

———

(c) Eveline Neville; or, “A Spirit, yet a Woman too.” By a Lady of the South. New York. Burgess & Stringer.

This is a handsomely printed novel in pamphlet form. Its tone is good, and its style remarkably pure. We feel much interest in it for various reasons, and will probably recur to it hereafter. Can anyone tell us who wrote it?

(d) The Progress of Passion. A Poem in Four Books. By the Rev. Henry W. Sweetser, AL A. New York. C. Shepherd.

A long didactic poem (if there is such a thing as a didactic poem) in the blank Iambic Pentameter, awkwardly managed. There are many forcible thoughts tersely expressed; but, upon the whole, we dislike the work. We quote a few of the .concluding lines, as well by way of a specimen, as serving to illustrate the author’s design.

“Countless the hosts, that, could they now but rise,

Would bend them cheerful from th’ indulgent skies,

And bless, as we do now, this hallowed day,

Which saw them given to God, by faith, away.

Nor few the living men bound by this bond,

Who, ask‘d, would not with grateful heart respond —

They brought me here before my heart could ken

Or good, or evil, or what did they then;

The crystal waters laved my infant brow,

And thus began my Christian life below

My mother gave ate, when my heart was young,

The picture which concludes this moral song:

I‘ve lived to comprehend and bless the Power

That sealed me His, in life’s first budding hour.

Thus, as the world grows old, may men grow wise,

And mount, in goodness, nearer to the skies.”

———

(e) The Crescent and the Cross. By Eliot Warburton, Esq. Part 1 and 2. Formin, Nos. 11 and 14 of Wiley and Putuam’s Library of Choice Reading. Wiley & Putnam 161 Broadway.

These are two of the handsomest volumes yet issued in this admirable Series, and if there is any truth or honesty in the English literary journals, the “Crescent and the Cross” will be found the most interesting work recently issued upon the East. We have only room for a bare announcement this week.

———

[Probably Not by Poe]

(f) Lives of Men of Letters and Science who flourished in the time of George III. By Henry Lord Brougham, F.R.S., etc. etc. Philadelphia. Carey & Hart.*

A work which, of necessity, every thinking person must read. When Brougham writes of Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, Robertson, Black, Watt, Priestley, Cavendish, Davy, and [page 146:] Simpson, no one pretending to acquirement can remain quietly in ignorance of what is written. Most sincerely do we rejoice in the great statesman’s hearty appreciation of Voltaire — a man who, with all his blemishes, was unquestionably the most powerful who ever existed.

———

(a) Vital Christianity. Essays and Discourses on the Religions of Man and the Religion of God. By Alexander Vinet, D. D., Professor of Theology in Lausanne, Switzerland. Translated, with an Introduction. By Robert Turnbull, Pastor of the Harvard. street church, Boston. Gould, Kendall & Lincoln. 1845.

Religious books are too often “got up” as though the goodness of their contents would overbalance any amount of vileness in their externals; but if the work before us possesses as much internal merit as it does exterior beauty, it is well worth the regard of the Christian reader. It is a sufficient indication of the character of Dr. Vinet, that he is called the Chalmers of Switzerland.

(b) Kohlrausch’s History of Germany. No. 5. Appleton & Co.

The present number brings this valuable history to a close.

———

(c) The Sibyl’s Book of Fate,

The Young Bride’s Book, and

The Comic English Grammar.

New York. Wilson & Co.

The last of these neat little books has gained a popularity equal to that of Lindley Murray’s. It is much the best work of the two for teaching grammar; where it does not mislead the learner it at least makes him laugh. The author is second to Cruikshank only, among English humorists.

————————————

MAGAZINES AND REVIEWS.

(d) THE DEMOCRATIC REVIEW for June, is illustrated by a portrait of M. B. Lamar, of Texas. It contains a, long poem by Whittier; a spirited paper on Oregon, by D. D. Field; a peculiarly unintelligible essay on Emerson, by a “Disciple;” an article by J. T. Headley, and a very pleasant collection of miscellanies, besides reviews and critical notices.

(e) HUNT’S MAGAZINE, has its usual variety of excellent papers on commerce and political economy, and an able article on the commercial associations of France and England, by Henry C. Cary, of Philadelphia.

(f) THE AMERICAN REVIEW contains two articles of unusual force for a magazine; the “Mystery of Iniquity,” continued from the last number, by Dr. Bacon, and an essay on American Letters, by Mr. Johnson, the author, we believe, of the literary notices in the National Intelligencer. The essay is written with vigor ana, to a very great extent, with discrimination; but the writer betrays an inexcusable ignorance of his subject, or a very reprehensible prejudice against American authors. As a specimen of his feeling for poetry, we quote his concluding paragraph.

“Still there is some comfort. Verse is daily getting into disrepute, which delights me. There is nothing of which a London or New York bookseller is so shy. Shortly we trust to see it abandoned to tailors and man-milliners, as — congenial to their pursuits alone, and employed to popularize, as it is already adequately doing, patent blacking, hoarhound candy and quack medicines. They who rhyme upon these subjects give us hopes, for they are the only ones we see who are equal to their subjects.”

This is decidedly cool, considering that the editor of the Review is himself the author of the longest American poem which has been published. The new Johnson has something of the imperative manner of his great namesake. He is evidently not a person to spoil a joke for relation sake. Ne sutor ultra crepidam, however. We regret, for the Review’s sake, that so absurd an article has been admitted into its columns. [page 147:]

[[BJ June 7, 1845 - 1:365]]

THE GRAVE OF L. E. L.

(a) The following graphic description of the burial place of Miss Landon, for the world will never call her Mrs. McLean, is extracted from the journal of an African cruiser, kept by an officer of our navy, and rewritten by Nathaniel Hawthorns. The “Journal” will be published by Wiley & Putnam, and will form the leading volume of their new series of “books which are books,” by American authors. The “African Cruiser,” it appears is satisfied that the death of Mrs. McLean was purely accidental; but it is strange that no pains have ever been taken by her husband to put the world in possession of the facts relating to her sudden decease, and thus to silence the many vague rumors that have been circulated in England and America, since the occurrence of that unhappy event. Mrs. McLean is said to have been strongly attached to her husband, but it is hard to believe that the author of the Golden Violet could have felt any sympathy for a person of his mental and personal qualities. A person less likely than Captain McLean, to excite the admiration of an imaginative woman could hardly be conceived.

May 2. — Sailed for Cape Coast Castle with the evening breeze.

3. — At Cape Coast Castle.

The landing is effected in large canoes, which convey passengers close to the rocks, safely, and without being drenched, although the surf dashes fifty feet in height. There is a peculiar enjoyment in being raised, by au irresistible power beneath you, upon the tops of the high rollers, and then dropped into the profound hollow of the waves, as if to visit the bottom of the ocean, at whatever depth it might be. We landed at the castle-gate, and were ushered into the castle itself, where the commander of the troops received us in his apartment.

I took the first opportunity to steal away, to look at the burial place of L. E. L., who died here, after a residence of only two months, and within a year after becoming the wife of Governor McLean. A small, white marble tablet (inserted among the massive grey stones of the castle-wall, where it faces the area of the fort) bears the following inscription:

Hic jacet sepultum

Ornne quod mortale fuit

LETITIAE ELISABETHAE MCLEAN,

Quam, egregia ornatam idole,

Musis unite amatam,

Omniumque amores secum trahentem,

in ipso aetatis flore,

Mors immatura rapuit,

Die Octobris xv., A. D. MDCCCXXXVIII,

Ætat. 36.

Quod spectas, viator, marmor,

Vanum heu! doloris monumentum,

Conjux moerens erexit.

The first thought that struck me was the inappropriateness of the spot for a grave, and especially for the grave of a woman, and, most of all, a woman of poetic temperament. In the open area of the fort, at some distance from the castle-wall, the stone pavement had been removed in several spots, and re-placed with plain tiles. Here lie buried some of the many British officers who have fallen victims to the deadly atmosphere of this region; and among them rests L. E. L. Her grave is distinguishable by the ten red tiles which cover it. Daily, the tropic sunshine blazes down upon the spot. Daily, at the hour of parade, the peal of military music resounds above her head, and the garrison marches and counter-marches through the area of the fortress, nor shuns to tread upon the ten red tiles, any more than upon the insensible stones of the pavement. It may be well for the fallen commander to be buried at his post, and sleep where the reveille and roll-call may be heard, and the tramp of his fellow-soldiers echo and reecho over him. All this is in unison with his profession; and the drum and trumpet are his perpetual requiem; the soldier’s honorable tread leaves no indignity upon the dead warrior’s dust. But who has a right to trample on a woman’s breast? And what had L. E. L. to do with warlike parade? And wherefore was she buried beneath this scorching pavement, and not in the retired shadow of a garden, where seldom any footstep would come stealing through the grass, and pause before her tablet? There, her heart, while in one sense it decayed, would burst forth afresh from the sod in a profusion of spontaneous flowers, such as her living fancy lavished throughout the world. But now, no verdure nor blossom will ever grow upon her grave.

If a man may ever indulge in sentiment, it is over the ashes of a woman whose poetry touched him in his early youth, while he [page 148:] yet cared anything about either sentiment or poetry.” Thus much, the reader will pardon. In reference to Mrs. McLean, it may be added, that, subsequently to her unhappy death. different rumors were afloat as to its cause, some of them cruel to her own memory-, others to the conduct of her husband. All these reports appear to have been equally and entirely unfounded. It is well established here, that her death was accidental.

[[BJ June 14, 1845 - 1:377]]

AN EXPLANATORY AND PHONOGRAPHIC PRONOUNCING DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: To which is added a Vocabulary of Greek, Latin, Scripture, Christian, and Geographical Names, with their Pronunciation; together with a Collection of Words and phrases from Foreign Languages, often met with in the Works of English Writers, with their Signification. Edited by William Bolles. New London. Published by Bolles S. Williams.

A work such as Mr. Bolles has here given us, was certainly much needed — that is to say, a complete English Vocabulary with each word properly defined and its pronunciation distinct ly exhibited. Walker’s Sheridan has been long objectionable, of course; for during the last fifty years the advance of literature, and more especially of science, has introduced into the language a vast number of words which had no existence at the period of the compilation of that work. It contains only about 33,000 words, and the Dictionary now before us includes no less than 85,000 — “20,000 more than were ever offered to the American public in any one work” — this, too, exclusive of more than 20,000, Greek, Latin, Scripture, Christian, and Geographical proper names. Walker’s volume, moreover, was essentially defective in its pronunciation, from a similar reason — that is to say, from the lapse of time since its composition, and the important changes sanctioned by usage during the interval. The 100,000 words furnished by Mr. Bolles, are divided into syllables, with the pronunciation of each given phonographically according to Sheridan’s rules, but with an absolutely rigorous application of them. Where the usage is settled, it has been scrupulously followed: where not, resort has been had to analogy and classical authority.

Sheridan’s rules were as follows:

No character should be set down in any word which is not pronounced. Every distinct simple sound should have a distinct character to mark it, for which it should uniformly stand. The same character should never be set down as the representative of two different sounds. All compound sounds should be marked only by such characters as will naturally and necessarily produce those sounds, upon their being pronounced according to their names in the alphabet.

These rules are theoretically perfect, but the pronouncing dictionaries in use have invariably failed in carrying them into practice. Sheridan and Walker make no scruple, for example, of presenting to the eye letters for which no sound is heard.

Mr. Bolles, in his Preface, furnishes us with sortie specimens of this error. The pronunciation of the word courteous, is, in Sheridan, kur‘-tshus — in Walker, kur‘-tshe-us — and in Bolles, [page 149:] kórt-yus. The last is indisputably the truest both as regards the phonographical distinctness with which the intended sounds are conveyed, and the more modern and polished pronunciation of the word itself.

The orthography of Dr. Johnson has been followed, in our opinion very properly, throughout; except “in cases where custom has decidedly sanctioned a change for the better, as in the omission of a in the termination our and of final k, preceded by c, in words derived from the learned languages, etc. etc.” We quote this last passage from Mr. Bolles, because we fully agree with him that custom has sufficiently established the orthographies in question, however much we may be inclined to dispute, in many cases, the justice or propriety of the custom.

Mr. Bolles has admitted obsolete words when they are to be found in authors not obsolete, “or when they have any form or beauty that may deserve revival.” His reason for admitting them when found in authors not obsolete is, with some modification, unanswerable. “Indeed,” he says, “the vocabulary of an explanatory English Dictionary would be exceedingly defective, in which one should look in vain for words occurring in such authors as Bacon, Boyle, Shakspeare, Milton, &c., while their works constitute a portion of the standard literature of the language.” It should be observed, however, that it is only in the case of such as Bacon, Boyle, Shakspeare and Milton, that the lexicographist is justifiable in applying this rule. Innumerable obsolete words may be found “in authors not obsolete,” which words, nevertheless, it would be folly to attempt resuscitating. We mean to say that Mr. Bolles’ proposition is, in his Preface, too loosely or too generally stated. In fact, that is to say in the body of his work, we perceive that he has confined his revivals within the proper limits — confined them to such authors as are emphatically standard. He has included, however, a vast number of words now regarded as obsolete — although we by no means think he has improperly included them. He promises an abridgment in which they will be omitted.

In regard to rules of pronunciation, we cannot do better than quote the author’s own words, with which in the main, we heartily agree.

“These rules are so multitudinous, and the exceptions to almost all of them so numerous, that it is believed that in a work of this nature they tend more to embarrass than to aid the inquirer, and that however useful these troublesome appendages may be in works where the pronunciation is omitted or loosely given, they are rendered useless by the plan of this dictionary, in which the pronunciation of any word can be much more readily and certainly ascertained by a bare inspection than by a reference to rules almost smothered amid their own anomalies.”

With these judicious views Mr. Bolles has contented himself with an introductory exposition of the principles on which Human Speech is founded — (a well written and altogether valuable paper) — some Directions to Foreigners (particularly the French) — and a few rules to be observed by the natives of Ireland and Wales, in order to attain a just pronunciation of English.

If, upon the whole, we cannot regard this work as the most profound (a vague word often vaguely applied) we are at least disposed to consider it the most comprehensive, the most accurate, and by far the most practical — that is to say the most useful of its class.

Its typographical execution is excellent. It is for sale, we understand, at the exceedingly moderate price of three dollars.

———

(a) We are informed that Mr. Cornelius Matthews is not the author of the article in the North American Review which recently appeared in Simms’ Magazine. It was signed with the initials of Mr. M., but Simms was himself the author. [page 150:]

[[BJ June 14, 1845 - 1:379]]

(a) Self. By the Author of “Cecil.” New York: Harper & Brothers.

“Cecil” was one of the most popular novels ever published in England, and produced, on its first appearance, scarcely less sensation than “Vivian Grey,” or “Pelham,” to both which, however, it has a strong family resemblance. It has more spirit — more dash — more abandon — and infinitely more impudence than either: taking qualities, all of these, with the public. Its learning, too, was seemingly prodigious, and it was difficult (for this and other reasons) to believe it the work of a woman. Mrs. Gore was, nevertheless, well understood to be the author — although it has been asserted that site received aid, in the bespicing of the book with scraps of pedantry, from a well-known scholar and littérateur of London. This we do not believe — nor is there any sufficient reason for believing it. In the first place, had any such aid been given, it must have been given after the composition by Mrs. Gore, and traces of interpolation would have inevitably remained: — none such are apparent. In the second place, all the former productions of the authoress evince the same species of apparent erudition — an erudition which is only apparent, and carefully introduced to serve a purpose. True erudition is only certainly discoverable in its entire results. There is nothing in anything written by Mrs. Gore, which is not within the reach of any decently educated person of ingenuity, having access to the large libraries of London. The same thing may be said even of that remarkable work, “The Doctor,” and of a great many other similar publications.

“Self” has all the principal traits of “Cecil,” and is, perhaps, a more entertaining book upon the whole — although its subject does not offer so many facilities. We recommend it heartily to all persons troubled with ennui.

———

(b) The Waverley Novels, by Sir Walter Scott: with the author’s latest corrections and additions. Complete in five volumes (3340 pages) for two dollars and fifty cents. Philadelphia Carey &, Hart.

The general title of this work, as we give it above, includes all necessary information respecting it. A greater amount of valuable and interesting reading was never furnished for the same money. The contents of the second volume (just issued) are The Heart of Mid-Lothian; The Bride of Larnmermoor; The Legend of Montrose; Ivanhoe; The Monastery; and The Abbott. The New York agents are Burgess, Stringer & Co., NV. 11. Graham, and Saxton & Miles.

———

(c) Veronica; or The Free Court of Aarau. Translated from the German of Zschokke, by the Author of Giafar Al Barmeki.

This is number 51 of Harper’s “Library of Select Novels.” Zschokke, of late, has become popular in America, to an extent which neither his intrinsic merit nor his foreign reputation would appear to justify. We would not undervalue his genius, (if genius it can be called,) but we mean to say that there are numerous Germans whose works might be translated to better purpose. “Veronica” is not the least interesting of his novels — but the author of “Giafar Al Barmeki” has himself written a far better original thing, and we would urgently advise him to leave the task of translation to those who have no capacity for anything else. [page 151:]

[[BJ June 14, 1845 - 1:381]]

MISCELLANIES.

A PASSIONATE LOVER of FLOWERS. — “We want no better evidence of a good heart than the passionate love of flowers,” says the good-hearted Major Noah in his last Messenger; but we do. In passing a very beautiful flower-garden in the neighborhood of New York, a week or two since, we made a similar remark to a lady, who replied, “it’s all stuff; I was passing by this garden a few days since, and seeing the owner of it trimming her flowers, I asked her to give me a pink out of her border of carnations. ‘I never give away my flowers,’ was the ’ good-hearted’ response of this passionate lover of flowers.”

[[BJ June 14, 1845 - 1:382]]

THE POETRY OF EUROPE. — By Longfellow. — The first volume of this collection of poetry has just been issued. It is a very large book, neatly printed, with a portrait of Schiller, and a very indifferent ornamental title page. It includes none of the poetry of England, and but little of the poetry of France. The translations are from a great variety of sources, British and American. We hear that the professor receives three thousand dollars for editing the work.

[[BJ June 21, 1845 - 1:390]]

[The two noble poems subjoined have already appeared in print — although we are unable to say in what work they originated. They are the composition of one of our most justly distinguished poetesses — Miss ANNE CHARLOTTE LYNCH. We have no excuse to offer for copying them in the “Journal” — except that we have been profoundly impressed with their excellence. In modulation and force of rhythm — in dignity and loftiness of sentiment — and in terse. energy of expression — they equal if they do not excel any thing of the same character written by an American. — EDS. B. J.]

THE IDEAL.

(8 stanzas)

and

THE IDEAL FOUND.

(7 stanzas)

[page 152:]

[[BJ June 21, 1845 - 1:390]]

A JUST VIEW OF A BAD HABIT.

(a) We find the following very sensible remarks, in a late number of the Charleston Mercury, and we copy them to give currency to such excellent sentiments. But we must resist the imputation of the last sentence. We think that New York is the debtor in this case.

A NEW IMAGE OF WAR. Among the men of former times, hunting was termed “the image of war” — especially the pursuit of wild boars, lions and other ferocious beasts. It had some claim to the distinction. It combined violent exercise, personal peril, the submission to privation and the distinctions, of success, skill and courage. In our day there is enough said about “campaigns,” “bathes,” “victories,” “defeats,” “glory” and all that, to make a stranger thank we were engaged incessantly in the business of knocking each other’s brains out — that a bloody and desolating civil war was waged from year’s end to year’s end. What sort of fight and what sort of victory it is, we need not explain. But the dialect is perfectly devilish, and its use is, we are persuaded, of most demoralizing consequence. Those of the opposite party we call the “enemy;” when we put them out of office, we call them the “vanquished,” — and contrary to the laws of modern war, we proceed to treat them as criminals. Dismissing them from office is known by the terms “slaughtering,” “guillotining,” “cutting off heads,” an similar bloody-minded phrases.

Now aside from the bad taste of using such murderous language, it can hardly fail that this habitual dressing up of our party contests in the Era; of war and crime, does tend insensibly to embitter them; to deprive the elections of their peaceable character, and to deepen in personal feeling the differences of opinion on public measures. In our dialect too, the offices of the country are the “spoil” of the successful party, and they are seized up on as the plunder of the “enemy.” All this vile phraseology and much of the equally vile practices connected with it, we owe to New York.

Now, who could expect, after reading the above, to find what follows from the pen of the same writer in the same column of the same paper. It will require no very extraordinary gift in this case, for the Editor of the Mercury to see himself as others see him, if he will be at the trouble of reading both his articles at the same sitting.

The South awoke — with one hand she strangled one Presidential candidate, and with the other, she drew that old sword, (the proud spirit of the South) before whose keen edge, no foes or party, since the foundation of the government had ever been able to stand. She triumphed in the Presidential election. The struggle came on in Congress. She triumphed again in spite of foes and traitors, South and North. Flushed with her recent victories, there she stands, with stern defiance on her brow, and her yet unsheathed and dripping sword in her hand. Before heaven! she shall not sheath it, until she is safe, and safe forever. Texas shall be hers, in spite of a world in arms; and to crown her redemption, the fetters of unjust taxation shall be torn from her free limbs. She will no longer endure to be the mock and ribald scoff of fools and fanatics, or the impassive and plundered victim, of mean, venal and dastard monopolists. She will vindicate her rightful station amongst the people of the earth; and whilst fearing none, command the respect and peace of all.

We do not remember ever having seen so much belligerent bluster, and warlike word-spilling as this, in any New York political Journal, even the day before an election. If the South is really indebted to New York for her coinage of hot words, she uses them with a degree of liberality that her teacher never indulged in. [page 153:]

[[BJ June 21, 1845 - 1:393]]

(a) PLATO CONTRA ATHEOS. — Plato against the Atheists; or the Tenth Book of the Dialogue on Laws, accompanied with Critical Notes, and followed by Extended Dissertations on some of the Main Points of the Platonic Philosophy and Theology, especially as compared with the Holy Scriptures, by Tayler Lewis, LL. D., Professor of the Greek Language and Literature, in the University in the city of New York.-New York, Harper & Brothers.

The Laws of Plato were probably the work of his old age — of his extreme senility — and although Dr. Lewis insists upon this point, as one tending to make us think more favorably of the composition, on the ground of its embodying the philosopher’s most matured and best settled opinions — we cannot help regarding the question as disputable. As a dramatic work, all admit it to be inferior to the Republic. There are but three interlocutors — Clinias, a Cretan; Alegillus, a Spartan; and a stranger, who is spoken of only as the Athenian — but, who is the Socrates of the colloquy; the two first, being merely listeners, or speaking but for the purpose of foils. The nine first books are occupied with legislative schemes given at length, with preambles, and arguments in support of both preambles and schemes. The tenth book (now published) deals with laws enacted against violators of religion — that is to say, public worship — it being taken for granted that State and Church can never properly exist apart. The greater portion — indeed nearly the whole of the book, however, is taken up with an exordium, investigating the reasons for the laws — the latter in fact occupying only a few of the concluding pages.

The argument is directed first, against those who deny the Divine existence — secondly, against those who deny a Providence while admitting the existence of a God — thirdly, against those who, admitting both, yet maintain that the Deity is easily propitiated by sinners. [page 154:]

Clinias opens the first branch of this argument, by asserting that the existence of God is readily shown by the universality of man’s belief in his existence, as well as by the evidences of design in natural phenomena.

This ease of demonstration the Athenian denies; declaring, however, that whatever difficulty there is, is not innate in the subject, but springs from the perverseness of the Ionic Atheists in imposing upon the world the ideas of chance, nature, art, etc., and in the refutation of these ideas the reasoner discusses at length the nature of soul as involving, necessarily, self motion. Thence, he deduces the priority in time of soul to body — thence, again, of the properties of soul to the properties of body. The inference is, that Art is the mother of Nature — that law, will, thought, or design, must have been before qualities, such as hardness, weight — etc, etc.

The intention here is to refute the particular opinion of the Atheist, that religion had no better foundation than conventionality, since belief in the existence of God is the production of human law-which, again, is a product of Art — Art itself being regarded as the offspring of Nature.

The question of motion is examined very minutely — and all kinds of motion are divided into motion by impulse, and, that which moves something else by commencing motion in itself; the latter species being psyche, or soul.

In the next place, occurs the question whether one or more souls are at work in the Universe. It is decided that there are two — the soul of good and the soul of evil.

The second grand division of the subject is the investigation of the arguments which deny a Providence. The Athenian maintains a minute, special interference with human affairs, chiefly on the ground that the whole is composed of its parts, and that to neglect the smallest portion is to neglect the whole.

In entering the third division of his theme, the speaker opposes the arguments of those who maintain that the Deity is easily appeased, by adverting to the pre-supposed antagonism between good and evil. Where a conflict is continually going on, he says, the least neutrality or supineness — that is to say, the least mercy shown to sin, would be treason against the cause of the Piglet throughout the Universe.

The offenders against religion are divided into six classes, or rather grades. The book ends with a specification of penalties, and a law, in especial against private rites and churches.

Such is a fair, although very succinct synopsis of a work comparatively little known, although very frequently made the subject of converse.

No one can doubt the purity and nobility of the Platonian soul, or the ingenuity of the Platonian intellect. But if the question be put to-day, what is the value of the Platonian philosophy, the proper answer is — “exactly nothing at all.” We do not believe that any good purpose is answered by popularizing his dreams; on the contrary we do believe that they have a strong tendency to ill — intellectually of course.

We could wish that Dr. Lewis (however excusable may be his evident enthusiasm for his favorite) had less frequently interspersed his comments with such passages as the following:

“Then surely should Plato be studied, if for no other purpose, as a matter of curiosity, to see if there may not possibly be some other philosophy than THIS NOISY BACONIANISM ABOUT WHICH THERE IS KEPT UP SUCH AN EVERLASTING DIN, or that dell more noisy because more empty transcendentalism which some would present as its only antidote.

* * * * Especially will this be the case at a time when physical science, in league with a subtle pantheism, is everywhere substituting ITS JARGON of laws and elements, nebular star-dust, and vital forces, and magnetic fluids, for the recognition of a personal God and an ever wakeful, ever energizing special Providence.”

For our own parts we vastly prefer even the noise of Bacon, the laws of Contbe, or the nebular star-dust of Nichols to what Dr. Lewis will insist upon terming “the clear, simple, [page 155:] common-sense philosophy of Plato,” — but these things are perhaps merely matters of taste. It would be as well, however, to bear in mind the aphoristic sentence of Leibnitz — “La plupart des sectes ont raison en beaucoup de ce qu‘elles avancent, mais non pas en ce qu‘elles nient.”

We regret that it has been thought advisable to give the Greek text unaccompanied with a translation. The object, so far as we can comprehend the annotator, seems to have been the placing of the doctrines of Plato more immediately with in the reach of the public. For this end we should have had a paraphrase, at least.

[[BJ June 21, 1845 - 1:394]]

(a) A PILGRIMAGE TO TREVES, through the Valley of the Meuse and the Forest of Ardennes in the year 1844. Harper & Brothers, 1845.

We have here another new book from the pen of an American, and a very modest and entertaining one it is. The author, a son of the Rev. Dr. Anthon of this city, says that, having determined to “attempt the production of a book,” he took up his residence in Spa to carry on its manufacture, for three sensible reasons; first because it is a pleasant place to live in; secondly because it is a fashionable watering place which being deserted at that time afforded him excellent accommodations; and thirdly because it is in the vicinity of Liege and Brussels, from which cities he could obtain all the books of which he stood in need. We like this manner of producing a book, and we only regret that all authors cannot, like Mr. Anthon, select their cities of refuge when the fit of production comes over them. But there have been many books produced in garrets and prisons and other places very far from being pleasant, which will be read with delight, and have power to make any place pleasant when the “Pilgrimage to Treves” will have been utterly forgotten.

We do not mean to underrate Mr. Anthon’s work because it was produced under circumstances so exceedingly agreeable. There are but few young gentlemen of his years and opportunities who ever think of producing a book at all, or if they should make the attempt, would succeed as well as he has done.

The author begins his book with Charlemagne and Aix-la-Chapelle and serves up anew several bits of history which do not possess much novelty to recommend them. The “Pilgrimage” is not commenced until we reach the middle of the book, when the interest of the work begins. The author set out from Dinant on the 4th of September to join the pilgrims who were flocking in immense numbers to Treves to witness the exhibition of the sacred robe of Christ which happens to be in possession of the church of that city. Mr. Anthon informs us, however, that he does not himself attach any importance to relics, and very conclusively argues that the chances are a considerable many to nothing that Christ never had the sacred robe of Treves on his back. [page 156:]

In some of his descriptions he is sufficiently exact, but in others he is exceedingly vague and uncertain: for instance, in speaking of Hardenne, a seat of the King of the Belgians, he says it is “furnished in a style of simple elegance,” which must be interpreted according to the reader’s own ideas of what constitutes simple elegance. Probably some readers if made acquainted with the realities of Hardenne would say that it was furnished in a style of the most superb and thrilling magnificence, for we saw in one of our morning papers, a day or two since, an allusion to a new Broadway Omnibus which was styled “a truly palatial carriage,” and every newspaper reader knows that all the steamboats in our waters are “floating palaces.”

The sacred tunic was presented to Treves by the Empress Helena, she having procured it in Palestine three hundred years after the crucifixion.

“Since the exposition which took place in the year 12, the Tunic has been publicly displayed time times, seven times at Treves and twice at Ehrenbreitstein, to which place it had been transported on account of the risk of destruction or plunder to which it was exposed during the war which distracted Germany The last exposition occurred in 1810, and lasted 19 days. The number of strangers who visited Treves during this time amounted to 227,000. According to the belief of some, miraculous cures were wrought by the sight and touch of the relic. It is said that many paralytics, and other persons so sick or infirm that they had to be carried before it, afterward walked without assistance.

Those who dread the predominance of the Roman Catholic faith, and look with anxiety on the signs which seem to indicate that she is about to resume much of her ancient dominion, will be struck by the fact that the exposition of the sacred Robe in the year 1844 has attracted a greater host of pilgrims than on any previous occasion. The number of strangers who visited Treves from the 17th of August to the 6th of October amounted to upward of 450,000!”

The sacred robe is deposited in a chamber of the Cathedral, where it is kept except on occasions of exhibition.

“The crowd of pilgrims entering the great portal on the right in regular procession, two and two, reached the central nave where they separated into two files, one on each side of it. Advancing in this order, marshalled by officers with scarfs of red and yellow, the colours of Treves, they travelled the whole length of the choir, and arrived at its upper end, where the two files again united at the foot of an elevated platform of variegated marble, ascended on each side by a broad flight of steps, and decorated for the occasion with flowering plants. In the centre of this platform, directly in front of the treasure chamber, from which it had been taken, was displayed the revered object of their pilgrimage, spread out in a glass case, and decked with white satin and blue drapery trimmed with gold. The people mounted the platform by the right-hand staircase, and passed in front of the relic, where they were permitted to pause for as instant, while they gave to one of the attending priests some small object, such as a medal, a rosary, or a representation of the Robe, embroidered on silk, or engraved on paper. The priest touched these to the Tunic, and having thus, in the opinion of the orthodox, extracted some of its virtues, restored them to their owners, who then descended the flight of steps on the left, and quitted the Cathedral by a side door. Upon a table were seen the offerings of the pilgrims, an immense pile of copper coins, testifying at once to the multitude of the donors and to their individual poverty.

I am not ashamed to confess that, as I stood upon this elevation, and surveyed the whole scene which was passing, I felt deeply moved. The spectacle which the interior of that venerable edifice then presented might indeed excuse a moment’s credulity. On one side the pilgrims were pressing forward with faces of eager expectation, chastened by religious awe, while the solemn melody of the organ conspired to elevate the thoughts all from earth; and as they descended, it was easy to read on their countenances the joy and gratitude with which they were filled.

The Roman Catholics seize eagerly on examples of the emotion which so impressive a ceremony can hardly fail to excite, as proofs of a peculiar and divine influence which the relic exerts on the stubborn hearts of heretics. A chronicler of the exposition relates, for instance, with considerable naivete, that an Israelitish woman, on seeing it, burst into tears, and immediately made an offering of four thalers, which, in his opinion, is a very strong testimony to the authenticity and virtue of the Robe.”

There are a few more pages, but properly, the pilgrimage ends here. [page 157:]

[[BJ June 21, 1845 - 1:396]]

[Probably Not by Poe]

(a) De Rohan; or The Court Conspirator. An Historical Romance. By M. Eugene Sue, author of “The Mysteries of Paris,” etc. etc. New York: Harper & Brothers.

This is number 54 of Harper’s “Library of Select Novels.” It is by no means as good a book as the have a right to expect from the author of “The Mysteries of Paris;” its interest has been materially impaired by too close an adherence to historical fact. The chief actors are two young girls, nobly born, and each of an heroic devotion beautifully diverse in character; a youth of great sensitiveness and timidity; a cynical and brutal giant and buffoon; a nobleman of the gay Court of Louis XIV; and an eccentric Dutch philosopher, of great genius and erudition.

———

[Probably Not by Poe]

(b) Ocean Work. Ancient and Modern: or, Evenings on Sea and Land. By J. Hall Wright, author of “Breakfast-table Scenes.” (Science.) New York, Appleton & Co.

This neat little book is one of the second series of “Tales for the People ant] their children,” and in our estimation is one of the best among them. A little more science and a little less prattle would have greatly enhanced its value as a book for the people, but even in its present shape it contains a great amount of knowledge in a very limited space.

———

(c) The Age of Elizabeth. By William.Howitt. No. 13 of Wiley & Putnam’s Library of choice reading. — Wiley & Putnam. Price cents.

The expressive title of this series of works, choice reading, may be applied with as great truth to this book as to any one yet issued. The “Age of Elizabeth,” contains some of the best criticisms and most agreeable writing of the author.

———

(d) The Blind Girl, with Other Tales: by Emma C. Embury. New York: Harper &. Brothers.

This little volume includes“Constance Latimer, or The Blind Girl;” “The Son and Heir;” “The Village Tragedy;” “Newton Ainslie;” and “Frank Morrison.” The first was originally written as a contribution to a Fair for the benefit of the Institution for the Blind: — it is an exceedingly pathetic tale. The others are also excellent, each in a different way. Mrs. Embury is one of the very best of our female writers.

(e) The Dutchman’s Fireside: a Tale, by the author of “Letters from the South,” “John Bull in America,” “The Backwoods man,” &c. Two volumes in one, New York; Harper & Brothers.

This is number 9 of the Harpers’ “Pocket Edition of Select Novels.” The novel itself is too well known in America to need comment. It is, perhaps, the best work of its author. We particularly admire the clear print and convenient form of these editions.

———

(f) A system of Latin Versification: in a series of Progressive Exercises, including specimens of Translation from English and German Poetry into Latin verse. For the use of Schools and Colleges: by Charles Anthon, LL.D., Professor of the Greek languages in Columbia College, New York, etc. etc. New York Harper & Brothers.

A very admirable volume which we shall, of course, notice more fully hereafter.

———

The Gambler’s Wife. A Novel. By the Author of the “Young Prima Donna,” “The Belle of the Family,” “The Old Dower House,” etc. etc. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Number 50 of the “Library of Select Novels.” A well written and well-constructed story of profound, although homely interest.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - BRP3J, 1986] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (June 1845)