Text: Burton R. Pollin, “March 1836 (Texts),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 136-147 (This material is protected by copyright)


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Texts of March [[1836]]

1. Francis L. Hawks. Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of the United States — Virginia.

2. Mrs. L. Miles. Phrenology and the Moral Influence of Phrenology.

3. [David Porter]. Mahmoud. The correct title is Constantinople and its Environs.

4. [Augustus Baldwin Longstreet]. Georgia Scenes.

5. [Benjamin B. Thatcher]. Traits of the Tea Party.

1

Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of the United States of America — Virginia. A Narrative of Events connected with the Rise and Progress of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia. — To which is added an Appendix, containing the Journals of the Conventions in Virginia, — from the Commencement to the Present Time. By the Reverend Francis L. Hawks, D. D. Rector of St. Thomas’s Church, New York. New York: Published by Harper and Brothers.

This is a large and handsome octavo of 620 pages. The very cursory examination which we have as yet been able to give it, will not warrant us in speaking of the work in other than general terms. A word or two, however, we may say in relation to the plan, the object, and circumstances of publication, with some few observations upon points which have attracted our especial attention.

From the Preface we learn that, more than five years ago, the author, in conjunction with the Rev. Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, first conceived the idea of gathering together such materials for the History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, as might still exist either in tradition or in the manuscripts of the earlier clergy. That these materials were abundant might rationally be supposed — still they were to be collected, if collected at all, at the expense of much patience, time, and labor, from a wide diversity of sources. Dr. Hawks and his associate, however, were stimulated to exertion by many of the bishops and clergy of the church. The plan originally proposed was merely, if we understand it, the compilation of an annalistic journal — a record of naked facts, to be subsequently arranged and shaped into narrative by the pen of the historiographer. In the prosecution of the plan thus designed, our author and his coadjutor were successful beyond expectation, and a rich variety of matter was collected. Death, at this period, deprived Dr. Hawks of his friend’s assistance, and left him to pursue his labor alone. He now, very properly, determined upon attempting, himself, the execution of the work for which his Annals were intended as materiel. He began with Virginia — selecting it as the oldest State. The present volume is simply an experiment. Should it succeed, of which there can be no doubt whatever, we shall have other volumes in turn — and that, we suppose, speedily, for there are already on hand sufficient data to furnish a history of “each of the older diocesses.”

For the design of this work — if even not for the manner of its execution — Dr. Hawks is entitled to the thanks of the community at large. He has taken nearly the first step (a step, too, of great decision, interest and importance) in the field of American Ecclesiastical History. To that church, especially, of which he is so worthy a member, he has rendered a service not to be lightly appreciated in the extraordinary dearth of materials for its story. In regard to Protestant Episcopalism in America it may be safely said that, prior to this publication of Dr. Hawks, there were no written memorials extant, with the exception of the Archives of the General and Diocesan Meetings, and the Journal of Bishop White. For other religious denominations the materiel of history is more abundant, and it would be well, if following the suggestions and example of our author, Christians of all sects would exert themselves for the collection and preservation of what is so important to the cause of our National Ecclesiastical Literature.

The History of any Religion is necessarily a very large portion of the History of the people who profess it. And regarded in this point of view the “Narrative “ of Dr. Hawks will prove of inestimable value to Virginia. It commences with the first settlement of the colony — with the days when the first church was erected in Virginia — that very church whose hoary ruins stand so tranquilly to-day in the briar-encumbered graveyard at Jamestown — with the memorable epoch when Smith, being received into the council, partook, with his rival, the President, of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and Virginia “commenced its career of civilization” with the most impressive of Christian solemnities. Bringing down the affairs of the church to the appointment of the Reverend William Meade, D.D. as Assistant Bishop of Virginia, the narration concludes with a highly gratifying account of present prosperity. The diocese is said to possess more than one hundred churches, “some of them the fruit of reviving zeal in parishes which once flourished, but have long been almost dead.” Above seventy clergymen are in actual service. There is a large missionary fund, a part of which lies idle, because missionaries are not to be had. Much reliance is placed, however, upon the Seminary at Alexandria. This institution has afforded instruction, during the last three years, to sixty candidates for orders, and has given no less than thirty-six ministers to the Episcopalty.

We will mention, briefly, a few of the most striking points of the History before us. At page 48, are some remarks in reply to Burk’s insinuation of a persecuting and intolerant spirit in the early colonial religion of the State — an insinuation based on no better authority than a statement in “certain ancient records of the province” concerning the trial, condemnation, and execution by fire, of a woman, for the crime of witchcraft. Dr. Hawks very justly observes, that even if the supposed execution did actually take place, it cannot sanction the inferences which are deduced from it. Evidence is wanting that the judgment was rendered by an ecclesiastical power. Witchcraft was an offence cognizable by the common courts of law, having been made a felony, without benefit of clergy, by the twelfth chapter of the first statute of James I, enacted in 1603. So that, allowing the prisoner to have suffered, her death, says our author, cannot more properly be charged to the ecclesiastical, than to the civil, authority. But in point of fact, the trial alluded to by Burk, (see Appendix xxxi,) can be no other than that of the once notorious Grace Sherwood. And this trial, we are quite certain, took place before a civil tribunal. Besides, (what is most especially to the purpose) the accused though found guilty, and condemned, was never executed.

Some observations of our author upon a circumstance which History has connected with the secular feelings of the colony, will be read with pleasure by all men of liberal opinions. We allude to the fact that when one of the colony’s agents in England (George Sandys, we believe) took it upon himself to petition Parliament, in the name of his constituents, for the restoration of the old company, the colony formally disavowed the act and begged permission to remain under the royal government. Now, Burk insists that this disavowal was induced solely by attachment to the Church of England, for whose overthrow the Puritans were imagined to be particularly zealous. With Dr. Hawks we protest against the decision of the historian. It can be viewed in no other light than that of an effort (brought about, perhaps, by love of our political institutions, yet still exceedingly disingenuous) to apologise for the loyalty of Virginia — to apologise for our forefathers having felt what not to have felt would have required an apology indeed! By faith, by situation, by habits and by education they had been taught to be loyal — and with them, consequently, loyalty was a virtue. But if it was indeed a crime — if Virginia has committed an inexpiable offence in resisting the encroachments of the Dictator, (we shall not say of the Commonwealth) let not the Church — in the name of every thing reasonable — let not the Church be saddled with her iniquity — let not political prejudices, always too readily excited, be now enlisted against the religion we cherish, by insinuations artfully introduced, that the loyalty of the State was involved in its creed — that through faith alone it remained a slave — and that its love of monarchy was a mere necessary consequence of its attachment to the Church of England.

While upon this subject we beg leave to refer our readers to some remarks, (from the pen of Judge Beverley Tucker) which appeared under the Critical head of our Messenger before the writer of this article assumed the Editorial duties. The remarks of which we speak, are in reply to the aspersions of Mr. George Bancroft, who, in his late History of the United States, with every intention of paying Virginia a compliment, accuses her of disloyalty, immediately before, and during the Protectorate. Of such an accusation, (for Hening’s suggestions, upon pages 513 and 526, of the Statutes at Large cannot be considered as such) we had never seriously dreamed prior to the publication of Mr. Bancroft’s work, and that Mr. Bancroft himself should never have dreamed of it, we were sufficiently convinced by the arguments of Judge Tucker. We allude to these arguments now, with the view of apprizing such of our readers as may remember them, that the author of the History in question, in a late interview with Dr. Hawks, has “disclaimed the intention of representing Virginia as wanting in loyalty.” All parties would have been better pleased with Mr. B. had he worded his disclaimer so as merely to assure us that in representing Virginia as disloyal he has found himself in error.

We will take the liberty of condensing here such of the leading points on both sides of the debated question as may either occur to us personally or be suggested by those who have written on the subject. In proof of Virginia’s disloyalty it is said:

1. There is a deficiency of evidence to establish the fact, (a fact much insisted upon) that on the death of the governor, Matthews, in the beginning of 1659, a tumultuous assemblage resolved to throw off the government of the Protectorate, and repairing to the residence of Sir William Berkeley, then living in retirement, requested him to assume the direction of the colony. If such had been the fact, existing records would have shown it — but they do not. Moreover, these records show that Berkeley was elected precisely as the other governors had been, in Virginia, during the Protectorate.

2. After the battle of Dunbar, and the fall of Montrose, Virginia passed an act of surrender — she was therefore in favor of the Parliament.

3. The Colonial Legislature claimed the supreme power as residing within itself. In this it evinced a wish to copy the Parliament — to which it was therefore favorable.

4. Cromwell acted magnanimously towards Virginia. The terms of the article in the Treaty of Surrender by which Virginia stipulated for a trade free as that of England, were faithfully observed till the Restoration. The Protector’s Navigation Act was not enforced in Virginia. Cromwell being thus lenient, Virginia must have been satisfied.

5. Virginia elected her own governors. Bennett, Digges, and Matthews, were commonwealth’s men. Therefore Virginia was republican.

6. Virginia was infected with republicanism. She wished to set up for herself. Thus intent, she demands of Berkeley a distinct acknowledgement of her assembly’s supremacy. His reply was “I am but the servant of the assembly.” Berkeley, therefore, was republican, and his tumultuous election proves nothing but the republicanism of Virginia.

These arguments are answered in order, thus:

1. The fact of the “tumultuous assemblage,” &c. might have existed without such fact appearing in the records spoken of. For these records are manifestly incomplete. Some whole documents are lost, and parts of many. Granting that Berkeley was elected precisely in the usual way, it does not disprove that a multitude urged him to resume his old office. The election is all of which these records would speak. But the call to office might have been a popular movement — the election quite as usual. This latter was left to go on in the old mode, probably because it was well known “that those who were to make it were cavaliers.”

Moreover — Beverley, Burk, Chalmers and Holmes are all direct testimony in favor of the “tumultuous assemblage.”

2. The act of surrender was in self-defence, when resistance would have availed nothing. Its terms evince no acknowledgment of authority, but mere submission to force. They contain not one word recognizing the rightful power of Parliament, nor impeaching that of the king.

3. The “claiming the supreme power,” &c. proves any thing but the fealty of the Colonial Legislature to the Commonwealth. According to Mr. Bancroft himself, Virginians in 1619 “first set the world the example of equal representation.” “From that time” (we here quote the words of Judge Tucker,) “they held that the supreme power was in the hands of the Colonial Parliament, then established, and of the king as king of Virginia. Now the authority of the king being at an end, and no successor being acknowledged, it followed, as a corollary from their principles, that no power remained but that of the assembly,” — and this is precisely what they mean by claiming the supreme power as residing in the Colonial Legislature.

4. Chalmers, Beverley, Holmes, Marshall and Robertson speak, positively, of great discontents occasioned by restrictions and oppressions upon Virginian commerce; and a Memorial in behalf of the trade of the State presented to the Protector, mentions “- the poor planters’ general complaints that they are the merchant’s slaves,” as a consequence of “- that Act of Navigation.”

5. It is probable that Bennett, Digges, and Matthews, (granting Bennett to have been disloyal) were forced upon the colony by Cromwell, whom Robertson (on the authority of Beverley and Chalmers,) asserts to have named the governors during the Protectorate. The election was possibly a mere form. The use of the equivocal word named, is, as Judge Tucker remarks, a proof that the historian was not speaking at random. He does not say appointed. They were named — with no possibility of their nomination being rejected — as the speaker of the House of Commons was frequently named in England. But Bennett was a staunch loyalist — a fact too well known in Virginia to need proof.

6. The reasoning here is reasoning in a circle. Virginia is first declared republican. From this assumed fact, deductions are made which prove Berkeley so — and Berkeley’s republicanism, thus proved, is made to establish that of Virginia. But Berkeley’s answer (from which Mr. Bancroft has extracted the words “I am but the servant of the Assembly”) runs thus.

“You desire me to do that concerning your titles and claims to land in this northern part of America, which I am in no capacity to do; for I am but the servant of the Assembly: neither do they arrogate to themselves any power farther than the miserable distractions in England force them to. For when God shall be pleased to take away and dissipate the unnatural divisions of their native country, they will immediately return to their professed obedience. “ Smith’s New York. It will be seen that Mr. Bancroft has been disingenuous in quoting only a portion of this sentence. The whole proves incontestibly that neither Berkeley nor the Assembly arrogated to themselves any power beyond what they were forced to assume by circumstances — in a word, it proves their loyalty. But Berkeley was loyal beyond dispute. Norwood, in his “Journal of a Voyage to Virginia,” states that “Berkeley showed great respect to all the royal party who made that colony their refuge. His house and purse were open to all so qualified.” The same journalist was “sent over, at Berkeley’s expense, to find out the King in Holland, and have an interview with him.”

To these arguments in favor of Virginia’s loyalty may be added the following.

1. Contemporaries of Cromwell — men who were busy in the great actions of the day — have left descendants in Virginia — descendants in whose families the loyalty of Virginia is a cherished tradition.

2. The question, being one of fact, a mistake could hardly have been made originally — or, if so made, could not have been perpetuated. Now all the early historians call Virginia loyal.

3. The cavaliers in England (as we learn from British authorities) looked upon Virginia as a place of refuge.

4. Holmes’ Annals make the population of the state, at the commencement of the civil wars in England, about 20,000. Of these let us suppose only 10,000 loyal. At the Restoration the same Annals make the population 30,000. Here is an increase of 10,000, which increase consisted altogether, or nearly so, of loyalists, for few others had reason for coming over. The loyalists are now therefore double the republicans, and Virginia must be loyal.

5. Cromwell was always suspicious of Virginia. Of this there are many proofs. One of them may be found in the fact that when the state, sympathizing with the victims of Claiborne’s oppression, (a felon employed by Cromwell to “root out popery in Maryland”) afforded them a refuge, she was sternly reprimanded by the Protector, and admonished to keep a guard on her actions.

6. A pamphlet called “Virginia’s Cure, an Advisive Narrative concerning Virginia,” printed in 1681, speaks of the people as “men which generally bear a great love to the stated constitutions of the Church of England in her government and public worship; which gave us the advantage of liberty to use it constantly among them, after the naval force had reduced the colony under the power ( but never to the obedience) of the usurpers.”

7. John Hammond, in a book entitled “Leah and Rachell, or the two fruitful Sisters of Virginia and Maryland,” printed in 1656, speaking of the State during the Protectorate, has the words “ Virginia being whole for monarchy.”

8. Immediately after the fall of Charles I, Virginia passed an Act making it high treason to justify his murder, or to acknowledge the Parliament. The Act is not so much as the terms of the Act.

Lastly. The distinguishing features of Virginian character at present — features of a marked nature — not elsewhere to be met with in America — and evidently akin to that chivalry which denoted the Cavalier — can be in no manner so well accounted for as by considering them the debris of a devoted loyalty.

At page 122 of the work before us, Dr. Hawks has entered into a somewhat detailed statement (involving much information to us entirely new) concerning the celebrated “Parson’s cause” — the church’s controversy with the laity on the subject of payments in money substituted for payments in tobacco. It was this controversy which first elicited the oratorical powers of Patrick Henry, and our author dwells with much emphasis, and no little candor, upon the fascinating abilities which proved so unexpectedly fatal to the clerical interest.

On page 160 are some farther highly interesting reminiscences of Mr. Henry. The opinion of Wirt is considered unfounded, that the great orator was a believer in Christianity without having a preference for any of the forms in which it is presented. We are glad to find that Mr. Wirt was in error. The Christian religion, it has been justly remarked, must assume a distinct form of profession — or it is worth little. An avowal of a merely general Christianity is little better than an avowal of none at all. Patrick Henry, according to Dr. Hawks, was of the Episcopalian faith. That at any period of his life he was an unbeliever is explicitly denied, on the authority of a MS. letter, in possession of our author, containing information of Mr. H. derived from his widow and descendants.

It is with no little astonishment that we have seen Dr. Hawks accused of illiberality in his few remarks upon “that noble monument of liberty,” the Act for the Establishment of Religious Freedom. If there is any thing beyond simple justice in his observations we, for our own parts, cannot perceive it. No respect for the civil services, or the unquestionable mental powers of Jefferson shall blind us to his iniquities. That our readers may judge for themselves we quote in full the sentences which have been considered as objectionable.

“We are informed by him (Jefferson) that an amendment was proposed to the Preamble, by the insertion of the name of our Saviour before the words ‘The Holy Author of our Religion.’ This could at most have had no other effect upon the enacting clause, but that of granting the utmost freedom to all denominations professing to own and worship Christ, without affording undue preference to any; and against this, it would be unreasonable to object. Certain it is, that more than this had never been asked by any religious denomination in Virginia, in any petition presented against the Church; the public, therefore, would have been satisfied with such an amendment. The proposed alteration, however, was rejected, and it is made the subject of triumph that the law was left, in the words of its author, ‘to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.’ That these various classes should have been protected both in person and property, is obviously the dictate of justice, of humanity, and of enlightened policy. But it surely was not necessary, in securing to them such protection, to degrade, not the establishment, but Christianity itself to a level with the voluptuousness of Mahomet, or the worship of Juggernaut; and if it be true that there is danger in an established alliance between Christianity and the civil power, let it be remembered that there is another alliance not less fatal to the happiness and subversive of the intellectual freedom of man — it is an alliance between the civil authority and infidelity; which, whether formally recognized or not, if permitted to exert its influence, direct or indirect, will be found to be equally ruinous in its results. On this subject, Revolutionary France has once read to the world an impressive lesson, which it is to be hoped will not speedily be forgotten.”In Chapter xii, the whole history of the Glebe Law of 1802 — a law the question of whose constitutionality is still undetermined — is detailed with much candor, and in a spirit of calm inquiry. A vivid picture is exhibited of some desecrations which have been consequent upon the sale.

In Chapter xiii, is an exceedingly well-written memoir of our patriarchal bishop the Right Reverend Richard Channing Moore. From this memoir we must be permitted to extract a single passage of peculiar interest.

“It was at one of his stated lectures in the church, (St. Andrew’s in Staten Island) that after the usual services had concluded, and the benediction been pronounced, he sat down in his pulpit waiting for the people to retire. To his great surprise, he soon observed that not an individual present seemed disposed to leave the Church; and after the interval of a few minutes, during which a perfect silence was maintained, one of the members of the congregation arose, and respectfully requested him to address those present a second time. After singing a hymn, the bishop delivered to them a second discourse, and once more dismissed the people with the blessing. But the same state of feeling which had before kept them in their seats, still existed, and once more did they solicit the preacher to address them. Accordingly he delivered to them a third sermon, and at its close, exhausted by the labor in which he had been engaged, he informed them of the impossibility of continuing the services on his part, once more blessed them and affectionately entreated them to retire to their homes. It was within the space of six weeks, after the scene above described, that more than sixty members of the congregation became communicants; and in the course of the year more than one hundred knelt around the chancel of St. Andrew’s who had never knelt there before as partakers of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.”

The historical portion of the work before us occupies about one half of its pages. The other half embraces “Journals of the Conventions of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocess of Virginia — from 1785 to 1835, inclusive.” It is, of course, unnecessary to dwell upon the great value to the church of such a compilation. Very few, if any, complete sets of diocesan Journals of Conventions are in existence. We will conclude our notice, by heartily recommending the entire volume, as an important addition to our Civil as well as Ecclesiastical History.

2

Phrenology, and the Moral Influence of Phrenology: Arranged for General Study, and the Purposes of Education, from the first published works of Gall and Spurzheim, to the latest discoveries of the present period. By Mrs. L. Miles. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard.

Phrenology is no longer to be laughed at. It is no longer laughed at by men of common understanding. It has assumed the majesty of a science; and, as a science, ranks among the most important which can engage the attention of thinking beings — this too, whether we consider it merely as an object of speculative inquiry, or as involving consequences of the highest practical magnitude. As a study it is very extensively accredited in Germany, in France, in Scotland, and in both Americas. Some of its earliest and most violent opposers have been converted to its doctrines. We may instance George Combe who wrote the “Phrenology.” Nearly all Edinburgh has been brought over to belief — in spite of the Review and its ill sustained opinions. Yet these latter were considered of so great weight that Dr. Spurzheim was induced to visit Scotland for the purpose of refuting them. There, with the Edinburgh Review in one hand, and a brain in the other, he delivered a lecture before a numerous assembly, among whom was the author of the most virulent attack which perhaps the science has ever received. At this single lecture he is said to have gained five hundred converts to Phrenology, and the Northern Athens is now the strong hold of the faith.

In regard to the uses of Phrenology — its most direct, and, perhaps, most salutary, is that of self-examination and self-knowledge. It is contended that, with proper caution, and well-directed inquiry, individuals may obtain, through the science, a perfectly accurate estimate of their own moral capabilities — and, thus instructed, will be the better fitted for decision in regard to a choice of offices and duties in life. But there are other and scarcely less important uses too numerous to mention — at least here.

The beautiful little work now before us was originally printed in London in a manner sufficiently quaint. The publication consisted of forty cards contained in a box resembling a small pocket volume. An embossed head accompanied the cards, giving at a glance the relative situations and proportions of each organ, and superseding altogether the necessity of a bust. This head served as an Index to the explanations of the system. The whole formed a lucid, compact, and portable compend of Phrenology. The present edition of the work, however, is preferable in many respects, and is indeed exceedingly neat and convenient — we presume that it pretends to be nothing more.

The Faculties are divided into Instinctive Propensities and Sentiments and Intellectual Faculties. The Instinctive Propensities and Sentiments are subdivided into Domestic Affections, embracing Amativeness, Philoprogenitiveness, Inhabitiveness, and Attachment — Preservative Faculties, embracing Combativeness, Destructiveness, and Gustativeness — Prudential Sentiments, embracing Acquisitiveness, Secretiveness, and Cautionness — Regulating Powers, including Self-Esteem, Love of Approbation, Conscientiousness, and Firmness — Imaginative Faculties, containing Hope, Ideality, and Marvellousness — and Moral Sentiments, under which head come Benevolence, Veneration, and Imitation. The Intellectual Faculties are divided into >Observing Faculties, viz: Individuality, Form, Size, Weight, Color, Order, and Number — Scientific Faculties, viz: Constructiveness, Locality, Time, and Tune — Reflecting Faculties, viz: Eventuality, Comparison, Casuality and Wit — and lastly, the Subservient Faculty, which is Language. This classification is arranged with sufficient clearness, but it would require no great degree of acumen to show that to mere perspicuity points of vital importance to the science have been sacrificed.

At page 17 is a brief chapter entitled a Survey of Contour, well conceived and well adapted to its purpose which is — to convey by a casual or superficial view of any head, an idea of what propensities, sentiments, or faculties, most distinguish the individual. It is here remarked that “any faculty may be possessed in perfection without showing itself in a prominence or bump,” (a fact not often attended to) “it is only where — one organ predominates above those nearest to it, that it becomes singly perceptible. Where a number of contiguous organs are large, there will be a general fulness of that part of the head.”

Some passages in Mrs. Miles’ little book have a very peculiar interest. At page 26 we find what follows.

“The cerebral organs are double, and inhabit both sides of the head, from the root of the nose to the middle of the neck at the nape. They act in unison, and produce a single impression, as from the double organs of sight and hearing. The loss of one eye does not destroy vision. The deafness of one ear does not wholly deprive us of hearing. In the same manner Tiedman reports the case of a madman, whose disease was confined to one side of his head, the patient having the power to perceive his own malady, with the unimpaired faculties of the other side. It is no uncommon thing to find persons acute on all subjects save one — thus proving the possibility of a partial injury of the brain, or the hypothesis of a plurality of organs.”

In the chapter on Combativeness, we meet with the very sensible and necessary observation that we must not consider the possession of particular and instinctive propensities, as acquitting us of responsibility in the indulgence of culpable actions. On the contrary it is the perversion of our faculties which causes the greatest misery we endure, and for which (having the free exercise of reason) we are accountable to God.

The following is quoted from Edinensis, vol. iv.

“All the faculties are considered capable of producing actions which are good, and it is not to be admitted that any one of them is essentially, and in itself – evil — but if given way to beyond a certain degree, all of them (with the sole exception of Conscientiousness) may lead to results which are improper, injurious, or culpable.”

The words annexed occur at page 102.

“Anatomy decides that the brain, notwithstanding the softness of its consistence, — gives shape to the cranium, as the crustaceous tenement of the crab is adjusted to the animal that inhabits it. An exception is made to this rule when disease or ill-treatment injure the skull.”

And again at page 159.

“By appealing to Nature herself, it can scarcely be doubted that certain forms of the head denote particular talents or dispositions; and anatomists find that the surface of the brain presents the same appearance in shape which the skull exhibits during life. Idiocy is invariably the consequence of the brain being too small, while in such heads the animal propensities are generally very full.”

To this may be added the opinion of Gall, that a skull which is large, which is elevated or high above the ears, and in which the head is well developed and thrown forward, so as to be nearly perpendicular with its base, may be presumed to lodge a brain of greater power (whatever may be its propensities) than a skull deficient in such proportion.

3

MAHMOUD.

Mahmoud. New — York. Published by Harper and Brothers.

Of this book — its parentage or birth-place — we know nothing beyond the scanty and equivocal information derivable from the title-page, and from the brief Advertisement prefixed to the narrative itself. From the title-page we learn, or rather we do not learn that Harper and Brothers are the publishers — for although we are informed, in so many direct words that such is the fact, still we are taught by experience that, in the bookselling vocabulary of the day, the word published has too expansive, too variable, and altogether too convenient a meaning to be worthy of very serious attention. The volumes before us are, we imagine, (although really without any good reason for so imagining,) a reprint from a London publication. It is quite possible, however, that the work is by an American writer, and now, as it professes to be, for the first time actually published. From tile Advertisement we understand that the book is a combination of facts derived from private sources; or from personal observation. We are told that “with the exception of a few of the inferior characters, and the trifling accessories necessary to blend the materials, and impart a unity to the rather complex web of the narrative, the whole may be relied upon as perfectly true.”

Be this as it may, we should have read “Mahmoud” with far greater pleasure had we never seen the Anastasius of Mr. Hope. That most excellent and vivid, (although somewhat immoral) series of Turkish paintings is still nearly as fresh within our memory as in the days of perusal. The work left nothing farther to be expected, or even to be desired, in rich, bold, vigorous, and accurate delineation of the scenery, characters, manners, and peculiarities of the region to which its pages were devoted. Nothing less than the consciousness of superior power could have justified any one in treading in the steps of Mr. Hope. And, certainly, nothing at all, under any circumstances whatsoever, could have justified a direct and palpable copy of Anastasius. Yet Mahmoud is no better.

4

Georgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, &c. in the First Half Century of the Republic. By a Native Georgian. Augusta, Georgia.

This book has reached us anonymously — not to say anomalously — yet it is most heartily welcome. The author, whoever he is, is a clever fellow, imbued with a spirit of the truest humor, and endowed, moreover, with an exquisitely discriminative and penetrating understanding of character in general, and of Southern character in particular. And we do not mean to speak of human character exclusively. To be sure, our Georgian is au fait here too — he is learned in all things appertaining to the biped without feathers. In regard, especially, to that class of southwestern mammalia who come under the generic appellation of “savagerous wild cats,” he is a very Theophrastus in duodecimo. But he is not the less at home in other matters. Of geese and ganders he is the La Bruyere, and of good-for-nothing horses the Rochefoucault.

Seriously — if this book were printed in England it would make the fortune of its author. We positively mean what we say — and are quite sure of being sustained in our opinion by all proper judges who may be so fortunate as to obtain a copy of the “Georgia Scenes,” and who will be at the trouble of sifting their peculiar merits from amid the gaucheries of a Southern publication. Seldom — perhaps never in our lives have we laughed as immoderately over any book as over the one now before us. If these scenes have produced such effects upon our cachinnatory nerves — upon us who are not “of the merry mood,” and, moreover, have not been unused to the perusal of somewhat similar things — we are at no loss to imagine what a hubbub they would occasion in the uninitiated regions of Cockaigne. And what would Christopher North say to them? — ah, what would Christopher North say? that is the question. Certainly not a word. But we can fancy the pursing up of his lips, and the long, loud, and jovial resonnation of his wicked, and uproarious ha! ha’s!

From the Preface to the Sketches before us we learn that although they are, generally, nothing more than fanciful combinations of real incidents and characters, still, in some instances, the narratives are literally true. We are told also that the publication of these pieces was commenced, rather more than a year ago, in one of the Gazettes of the State, and that they were favorably received. “For the last six months,” says the author, “I have been importuned by persons from all quarters of the State to give them to the public in the present form.” This speaks well for the Georgian taste. But that the publication will succeed, in the bookselling sense of the word, is problematical. Thanks to the long indulged literary supineness of the South, her presses are not as apt in putting forth a saleable book as her sons are in concocting a wise one.

From a desire of concealing the author’s name, two different signatures, Baldwin and Hall, were used in the original Sketches, and, to save trouble, are preserved in the present volume. With the exception, however, of one scene, “The Company Drill,” all the book is the production of the same pen. The first article in the list is “Georgia Theatrics.” Our friend Hall, in this piece, represents himself as ascending, about eleven o’clock in the forenoon of a June day, “a long and gentle slope in what was called the Dark Corner of Lincoln County, Georgia.” Suddenly his ears are assailed by loud, profane, and boisterous voices, proceeding, apparently, from a large company of raggamuffins, concealed in a thick covert of undergrowth about a hundred yards from the road.

“You kin, kin you?

“Yes I kin, and am able to do it! Boo-oo-oo-oo! Oh wake snakes and walk your chalks! Brimstone and fire! Dont hold me Nick Stoval! The fight’s made up, and lets go at it — my soul if I dont jump down his throat, and gallop every chitterling out of him before you can say ‘quit!’

“Now Nick, dont hold him! Jist let the wild cat come, and I’ll tame him. Ned ‘ll see me a fair fight — wont you Ned?

“Oh yes; I’ll see you a fair fight, my old shoes if I dont.

“That’s sufficient, as Tom Haynes said when he saw the Elephant. Now let him come!” &c. &c. &c.

And now the sounds assume all the discordant intonations inseparable from a Georgia “rough and tumble” fight. Our traveller listens in dismay to the indications of a quick, violent, and deadly struggle. With the intention of acting as pacificator, he dismounts in haste, and hurries to the scene of action. Presently, through a gap in the thicket, he obtains a glimpse of one, at least, of the combatants. This one appears to have his antagonist beneath him on the ground, and to be dealing on the prostrate wretch the most unmerciful blows. Having overcome about half the space which separated him from the combatants, our friend Hall is horror-stricken at seeing “the uppermost make a heavy plunge with both his thumbs, and hearing, at the same instant, a cry in the accent of keenest torture, ‘Enough! My eye’s out!’ “

Rushing to the rescue of the mutilated wretch the traveller is surprised at finding that all the accomplices in the hellish deed have fled at his approach — at least so he supposes, for none of them are to be seen.

“At this moment,” says the narrator, “the victor saw me for the first time. He looked excessively embarrassed, and was moving off, when I called to him in a tone emboldened by the sacredness of my office, and the iniquity of his crime, ‘come back, you brute! and assist me in relieving your fellow mortal, whom you have ruined forever!’ My rudeness subdued his embarrassment in an instant; and with a taunting curl of the nose, he replied; you need’nt kick before you’re spurred. There ‘ant nobody there, nor ha’nt been nother. I was jist seein how I could ‘a’ fout! So saying, he bounded to his plow, which stood in the corner of the fence about fifty yards beyond the battle ground.”

All that had been seen or heard was nothing more nor less than a Lincoln rehearsal; in which all the parts of all the characters, of a Georgian Court-House fight had been sustained by the youth of the plough solus. The whole anecdote is told with a raciness and vigor which would do honor to the pages of Blackwood.

The second Article is “The Dance, a Personal Adventure of the Author” in which the oddities of a back-wood reel are depicted with inimitable force, fidelity and picturesque effect. “The Horse-swap” is a vivid narration of an encounter between the wits of two Georgian horse-jockies. This is most excellent in every respect — but especially so in its delineations of Southern bravado, and the keen sense of the ludicrous evinced in the portraiture of the steeds. We think the following free and easy sketch of a hoss superior, in joint humor and verisimilitude, to any thing of the kind we have ever seen.

“During this harangue, little Bullet looked as if he understood it all, believed it, and was ready at any moment to verify it. He was a horse of goodly countenance, rather expressive of vigilance than fire; though an unnatural appearance of fierceness was thrown into it, by the loss of his ears, which had been cropped pretty close to his head. Nature had done but little for Bullet’s head and neck, but he managed in a great measure to hide their defects by bowing perpetually. He had obviously suffered severely for corn; but if his ribs and hip bones had not disclosed the fact he never would have done it; for he was in all respects as cheerful and happy as if he commanded all the corn cribs and fodder stacks in Georgia. His height was about twelve hands; but as his shape partook somewhat of that of the giraffe his haunches stood much lower. They were short, straight, peaked, and concave. Bullet’s tail, however, made amends for all his defects. All that the artist could do to beautify it had been done; and all that horse could do to compliment the artist, Bullet did. His tail was nicked in superior style, and exhibited the line of beauty in so many directions, that it could not fail to hit the most fastidious taste in some of them. From the root it dropped into a graceful festoon; then rose in a handsome curve; then resumed its first direction; and then mounted suddenly upwards like a cypress knee to a perpendicular of about two and a half inches. The whole had a careless and bewitching inclination to the right. Bullet obviously knew where his beauty lay, and took all occasions to display it to the best advantage. If a stick cracked, or if any one moved suddenly about him or coughed, or hawked, or spoke a little louder than common, up went Bullet’s tail like lightning; and if the going up did not please, the coming down must of necessity, for it was as different from the other movement as was its direction. The first was a bold and rapid flight upwards usually to an angle of forty five degrees. In this position he kept his interesting appendage until he satisfied himself that nothing in particular was to be done; when he commenced dropping it by half inches, in second beats — then in triple time — then faster and shorter, and faster and shorter still, until it finally died away imperceptibly into its natural position. If I might compare sights to sounds, I should say its settling was more like the note of a locust than any thing else in nature.”

“The character of a Native Georgian” is amusing, but not so good as the scenes which precede and succeed it. Moreover the character described (a practical humorist) is neither very original, nor appertaining exclusively to Georgia.

“The Fight” although involving some horrible and disgusting details of southern barbarity is a sketch unsurpassed in dramatic vigor, and in the vivid truth to nature of one or two of the personages introduced. Uncle Tommy Loggins, in particular, an oracle in “rough and tumbles,” and Ransy Sniffle, a misshapen urchin “who in his earlier days had fed copiously upon red clay and blackberries,” and all the pleasures of whose life concentre in a love of fisticuffs — are both forcible, accurate and original generic delineations of real existences to be found sparsely in Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana, and very plentifully in our more remote settlements and territories. This article would positively make the fortune of any British periodical.

“The Song” is a burlesque somewhat overdone, but upon the whole a good caricature of Italian bravura singing. The following account of Miss Aurelia Emma Theodosia Augusta Crump’s execution on the piano is inimitable.

“Miss Crump was educated at Philadelphia; she had been taught to sing by Madam Piggisqueaki, who was a pupil of Ma’m’selle Crokifroggietta, who had sung with Madam Catalani; and she had taken lessons on the piano, from Signor Buzzifuzzi, who had played with Paganini.

“She seated herself at the piano, rocked to the right, then to the left, — leaned forward, then backward, and began. She placed her right hand about midway the keys, and her left about two octaves below it. She now put off the right in a brisk canter up the treble notes, and the left after it. The left then led the way back, and the right pursued it in like manner. The right turned, and repeated its first movement; but the left outrun it this time, hopt over it, and flung it entirely off the track. It came in again, however, behind the left on its return, and passed it in the same style. They now became highly incensed at each other, and met furiously on the middle ground. Here a most awful conflict ensued, for about the space of ten seconds, when the right whipped off, all of a sudden, as I thought, fairly vanquished. But I was in the error, against which Jack Randolph cautions us — ‘It had only fallen back to a stronger position.’ It mounted upon two black keys, and commenced the note of a rattle-snake. This had a wonderful effect upon the left, and placed the doctrine of snake charming beyond dispute. The left rushed furiously towards it repeatedly, but seemed invariably panic struck, when it came within six keys of it, and as invariably retired with a tremendous roaring down the bass keys. It continued its assaults, sometimes by the way of the naturals, sometimes by the way of the sharps, and sometimes by a zigzag, through both; but all its attempts to dislodge the right from its strong hold proving ineffectual, it came close up to its adversary and expired.”

The “Turn Out “ is excellent — a second edition of Miss Edgeworth’s “Barring Out,” and full of fine touches of the truest humor. The scene is laid in Georgia, and in the good old days of fescues, abbiselfas, and anpersants — terms in very common use, but whose derivation we have always been at a loss to understand. Our author thus learnedly explains the riddle.

“The fescue was a sharpened wire, or other instrument, used by the preceptor, to point out the letters to the children. Abbiselfa is a contraction of the words ‘a, by itself, a.’ It was usual, when either of the vowels constituted a syllable of a word, to pronounce it, and denote its independent character, by the words just mentioned, thus: ‘a by itself a, c-o-r-n corn, acorn’ — e by itself e, v-i-l vil, evil. The character which stands for the word ‘and’ (&) was probably pronounced with the same accompaniment, but in terms borrowed from the Latin language, thus: ‘& per se (by itself) &.’ ‘Hence anpersant.’ “

This whole story forms an admirable picture of school-boy democracy in the woods. The master refuses his pupils an Easter holiday; and upon repairing, at the usual hour of the fatal day, to his school house, “a log pen about twenty feet square,” finds every avenue to his ingress fortified and barricadoed. He advances, and is assailed by a whole wilderness of sticks from the cracks. Growing desperate, he seizes a fence rail, and finally succeeds in effecting an entrance by demolishing the door. He is soundly flogged however for his pains, and the triumphant urchins suffer him to escape with his life, solely upon condition of their being allowed to do what they please as long as they shall think proper.

The Charming Creature as a Wife,” is a very striking narrative of the evils attendant upon an ill-arranged marriage — but as it has nothing about it peculiarly Georgian, we pass it over without further comment.

The Gander Pulling “ is a gem worthy, in every respect, of the writer of “The Fight,” and “The Horse Swap.” What a “Gander Pulling “ is, however, may probably not be known by a great majority of our readers. We will therefore tell them. It is a piece of unprincipled barbarity not unfrequently practised in the South and West. A circular horse path is formed of about forty or fifty yards in diameter. Over this path, and between two posts about ten feet apart, is extended a rope which, swinging loosely, vibrates in an arc of five or six feet. From the middle of this rope, lying directly over the middle of the path, a gander, whose neck and head are well greased, is suspended by the feet. The distance of the fowl from the ground is generally about ten feet — and its neck is consequently just within reach of a man on horseback. Matters being thus arranged, and the mob of vagabonds assembled, who are desirous of entering the chivalrous lists of the “Gander Pulling,” a hat is handed round, into which a quarter or half dollar, as the case may be, is thrown by each competitor. The money thus collected is the prize of the victor in the game — and the game is thus conducted. The ragamuffins mounted on horseback, gallop round the circle in Indian file. At a word of command, given by the proprietor of the gander, the pulling, properly so called, commences. Each villain as he passes under the rope makes a grab at the throat of the devoted bird — the end and object of the tourney being to pull off his head. This of course is an end not easily accomplished. The fowl is obstinately bent upon retaining his caput if possible — in which determination he finds a powerful adjunct in the grease. The rope, moreover, by the efforts of the human devils, is kept in a troublesome and tantalizing state of vibration, while two assistants of the proprietor, one at each pole, are provided with a tough cowhide, for the purpose of preventing any horse from making too long a sojourn beneath the gander. Many hours, therefore, not unfrequently elapse before the contest is decided.

The Ball “ — a Georgia ball — is done to the life. Some passages, in a certain species of sly humor, wherein intense observation of character is disguised by simplicity of relation, put us forcibly in mind of the Spectator. For example.

“When De Bathle and I reached the ball room, a large number of gentlemen had already assembled. They all seemed cheerful and happy. Some walked in couples up and down the ball room, and talked with great volubility; but none of them understood a word that himself or his companion said.

“Ah, sir, how do you know that?

“Because the speakers showed plainly by their looks and actions, that their thoughts were running upon their own personal appearance, and upon the figure they would cut before the ladies, when they should arrive; and not upon the subject of the discourse. And furthermore, their conversation was like that of one talking in his sleep — without order, sense, or connexion. The hearer always made the speaker repeat in sentences and half sentences; often interrupting him with ‘what?’ before he had proceeded three words in a remark; and then laughed affectedly, as though he saw in the senseless unfinished sentence, a most excellent joke. Then would come his reply, which could not be forced into connexion with a word that he had heard; and in the course of which he was treated with precisely the civility which he had received. And yet they kept up the conversation with lively interest as long as I listened to them.”

The Mother and her Child,” we have seen before — but read it a second time with zest. It is a laughable burlesque of thebaby ‘gibberish’ so frequently made use of by mothers in speaking to their children. This sketch evinces, like all the rest of the Georgia scenes — a fine dramatic talent.

The Debating Society “ is the best thing in the book — and indeed one among the best things of the kind we have ever read. It has all the force and freedom of some similar articles in the Diary of a Physician — without the evident straining for effect which so disfigures that otherwise admirable series. We will need no apology for copying The Debating Society entire.

About three and twenty years ago, at the celebrated school in W — — n, was formed a Debating Society, composed of young gentlemen between the ages of seventeen and twenty-two. Of the number were two, who, rather from an uncommon volubility, than from any superior gifts or acquirements, which they possessed over their associates, were by common consent, placed at the head of the fraternity. — At least this was true of one of them: the other certainly had higher claims to his distinction. He was a man of the highest order of intellect, who, though he has since been known throughout the Union, as one of the ablest speakers in the country, seems to me to have added but little to his powers in debate, since he passed his twenty-second year. The name of the first, was Longworth; and McDermot was the name of the last. They were congenial spirits, warm friends, and classmates, at the time of which I am speaking.

It was a rule of the Society, that every member should speak upon the subjects chosen for discussion, or pay a fine; and as all the members valued the little stock of change, with which they were furnished, more than they did their reputation for oratory, not a fine had been imposed for a breach of this rule, from the organization of the society to this time. The subjects for discussion were proposed by the members, and selected by the President, whose prerogative it was also to arrange the speakers on either side, at his pleasure; though in selecting the subjects, he was influenced not a little by the members who gave their opinions freely of those which were offered.

It was just as the time was approaching, when most of the members were to leave the society, some for college, and some for the busy scenes of life, that McDermot went to share his classmate’s bed for a night. In the course of the evening’s conversation, the society came upon the tapis. “Mac,” said Longworth, “would’nt we have rare sport, if we could impose a subject upon the society, which has no sense in it, and hear the members speak upon it?”

“Zounds,” said McDermot, “it would be the finest fun in the world. Let’s try it at all events — we can lose nothing by the experiment.”

A sheet of foolscap was immediately divided between them, and they industriously commenced the difficult task of framing sentences, which should possess the form of a debateable question, without a particle of the substance. — After an hour’s toil, they at length exhibited the fruits of their labor, and after some reflection, and much laughing, they selected, from about thirty subjects proposed, the following, as most likely to be received by the society:

Whether at public elections, should the votes of faction predominate by internal suggestions or the bias of jurisprudence?

Longworth was to propose it to the society, and McDermot was to advocate its adoption. — As they had every reason to suppose, from the practice of the past, that they would be placed at the head of the list of disputants, and on opposite sides, it was agreed between them, in case the experiment should succeed, that they would write off, and interchange their speeches, in order that each might quote literally from the other, and thus seem at least, to understand each other.

The day at length came for the triumph or defeat of the project; and several accidental circumstances conspired to crown it with success. The society had entirely exhausted their subjects; the discussion of the day had been protracted to an unusual length, and the horns of the several boarding-houses began to sound, just as it ended. It was at this auspicious moment, that Longworth rose, and proposed his subject. It was caught at with rapture by McDermot, as being decidedly the best that had ever been submitted; and he wondered that none of the members had ever thought of it before.

It was no sooner proposed, than several members exclaimed, that they did not understand it; and demanded an explanation from the mover. Longworth replied, that there was no time then for explanations, but that either himself or Mr. McDermot would explain it, at any other time.

Upon the credit of the maker and endorser, the subject was accepted; and under pretence of economising time, (but really to avoid a repetition of the question,) Longworth kindly offered to record it, for the Secretary. This labor ended, he announced that he was prepared for the arrangement of the disputants.

“Put yourself,” said the President, “on the affirmative, and Mr. McDermot on the negative.”

“The subject,” said Longworth, “cannot well be resolved into an affirmative and negative. It consists more properly, of two conflicting affirmatives: I have therefore drawn out the heads, under which the speakers are to be arranged thus: Internal Suggestions. Bias of Jurisprudence.

Then put yourself Internal Suggestions — Mr. McDermot the other side, Mr. Craig on your side — Mr. Pentigall the other side,” and so on.

McDermot and Longworth now determined that they would not be seen by any other member of the society during the succeeding week, except at times when explanations could not be asked, or when they were too busy to give them. Consequently, the week passed away, without any explanations; and the members were summoned to dispose of the important subject, with no other lights upon it than those which they could collect from its terms. When they assembled, there was manifest alarm on the countenances of all but two of them.

The Society was opened in due form, and Mr. Longworth was called on to open the debate. He rose and proceeded as follows:

Mr. President — The subject selected for this day’s discussion, is one of vast importance, pervading the profound depths of psychology, and embracing within its comprehensive range, all that is interesting in morals, government, law and politics. But, sir, I shall not follow it through all its interesting and diversified ramifications; but endeavor to deduce from it those great and fundamental principles, which have direct bearing, upon the antagonist positions of the disputants; confining myself more immediately to its psychological influence when exerted, especially upon the votes of faction: for here is the point upon which the question mainly turns. In the next place, I shall consider the effects of those’suggestions’ emphatically termed ‘internal’ when applied to the same subject. And in the third place, I shall compare these effects, with ‘the bias of jurisprudence,’ considered as the only resort in times of popular excitement — for these are supposed to exist by the very terms of the question.

“The first head of this arrangement, and indeed the whole subject of dispute, has already been disposed of by this society. We have discussed the question, ‘are there any innate maxims?’ and with that subject and this, there is such an intimate affinity, that it is impossible to disunite them, without prostrating the vital energies of both, and introducing the wildest disorder and confusion, where, by the very nature of things, there exist the most harmonious coincidences, and the most happy and euphonic congenialities. Here then might I rest, Mr. President, upon the decision of this society, with perfect confidence. But, sir, I am not forced to rely upon the inseparable affinities of the two questions, for success in this dispute, obvious as they must be to every reflecting mind. All history, ancient and modern, furnish examples corroborative of the views which I have taken of this deeply interesting subject. By what means did the renowned poets, philosophers, orators and statesmen of antiquity, gain their immortality? Whence did Milton, Shakspeare, Newton, Locke, Watts, Paley, Burke, Chatham, Pitt, Fox, and a host of others whom I might name, pluck their never-fading laurels? I answer boldly, and without the fear of contradiction, that, though they all reached the temple of fame by different routes, they all passed through the broad vista of ‘internal suggestions.’ The same may be said of Jefferson, Madison, and many other distinguished personages of our own country.

“I challenge the gentlemen on the other side to produce examples like these in support of their cause.”

Mr. Longworth pressed these profound and logical views to a length to which our limits will not permit us to follow him, and which the reader’s patience would hardly bear, if they would. Perhaps, however, he will bear with us, while we give the conclusion of Mr. Longworth’s remarks: as it was here, that he put forth all his strength:

Mr. President, — Let the bias of jurisprudence predominate, and how is it possible, (considering it merely as extending to those impulses which may with propriety be termed a bias,) how is it possible, for a government to exist, whose object is the public good? The marble hearted marauder might seize the throne of civil authority, and hurl into thraldom the votaries of rational liberty. Virtue, justice and all the nobler principles of human nature, would wither away under the pestilential breath of political faction, and an unnerved constitution be left to the sport of demagogue and parasite. Crash after crash would be heard in quick succession, as the strong pillars of the republic give way, and Despotism would shout in hellish triumph amidst the crumbling ruins — Anarchy would wave her bloody sceptre over the devoted land, and the blood-hounds of civil war, would lap the crimson gore of our most worthy citizens. The shrieks of women, and the screams of children, would be drowned amidst the clash of swords, and the cannon’s peal: and Liberty, mantling her face from the horrid scene, would spread her golden-tinted pinions, and wing her flight to some far distant land, neveragain to re-visit our peaceful shores. In vain should we then sigh for the beatific reign of those’suggestions’ which I am proud to acknowledge as peculiarly and exclusively ‘internal.’ “

Mr. McDermot rose promptly at the call of the President, and proceeded as follows:

Mr. President, — If I listened unmoved to the very labored appeal to the passions, which has just been made, it was not because I am insensible to the powers of eloquence; but because I happen to be blessed with the small measure of sense, which is necessary to distinguish true eloquence from the wild ravings of an unbridled imagination. Grave and solemn appeals, when ill-timed and misplaced, are apt to excite ridicule; hence it was, that I detected myself more than once, in open laughter, during the most pathetic parts of Mr. Longworth’s argument, if so it can be called.* In the midst of ‘crashing pillars,’ ‘crumbling ruins,’’shouting despotism,’’screaming women,’ and ‘flying Liberty,’ the question was perpetually recurring to me, ‘what has all this to do with the subject of dispute?’ I will not follow the example of that gentleman — It shall be my endeavor to clear away the mist which he has thrown around the subject, and to place it before the society, in a clear, intelligible point of view: for I must say, that though his speech’ bears strong marks of the pen,’ (sarcastically,) it has but few marks of sober reflection. Some of it, I confess, is very intelligible and very plausible; but most of it, I boldly assert, no man living can comprehend. I mention this, for the edification of that gentleman, (who is usually clear and forcible,) to teach him, that he is most successful when he labors least.

“Mr. President: The gentleman, in opening the debate, stated that the question was one of vast importance; pervading the profound depths of psychology, and embracing, within its ample range, the whole circle of arts and sciences. And really, sir, he has verified his statement; for he has extended it over the whole moral and physical world. But, Mr. President, I take leave to differ from the gentleman, at the very threshhold of his remarks. The subject is one which is confined within very narrow limits. It extends no further than to the elective franchise, and is not even commensurate with this important privilege; for it stops short at the vote of faction. In this point of light, the subject comes within the grasp of the most common intellect; it is plain, simple, natural and intelligible. Thus viewing it, Mr. President, where does the gentleman find in it, or in all nature besides, the original of the dismal picture which he has presented to the society? It loses all its interest, and becomes supremely ridiculous. Having thus, Mr. President, divested the subject of all obscurity — having reduced it to those few elements, with which we are all familiar; I proceed to make a few deductions from the premises, which seem to me inevitable, and decisive of the question. Play it down as a self-evident proposition, that faction in all its forms, is hideous; and I maintain, with equal confidence, that it never has been, nor ever will be, restrained by those suggestions, which the gentleman’ emphatically terms internal.’ No, sir, nothing short of the bias, and the very strong bias too, of jurisprudence or the potent energies of the sword, can restrain it. But, sir, I shall here, perhaps, be asked, whether there is not a very wide difference between a turbulent, lawless faction, and the vote of faction? Most unquestionably there is; and to this distinction I shall presently advert and demonstrably prove that it is a distinction, which makes altogether in our favor.”

Thus did Mr. McDermot continue to dissect and expose his adversary’s argument, in the most clear, conclusive and masterly manner, at considerable length. But we cannot deal more favorably by him, than we have dealt by Mr. Longworth. We must, therefore, dismiss him, after we shall have given the reader his concluding remarks. They were as follows:

“Let us now suppose Mr. Longworth’s principles brought to the test of experiment. Let us suppose his language addressed to all mankind — We close the temples of justice as useless; we burn our codes of laws as worthless; and we substitute in their places, the more valuable restraints of internal suggestions. Thieves, invade not your neighbor’s property: if you do, you will be arraigned before the august tribunal of conscience. Robbers, stay your lawless hand; or you will be visited with the tremendous penalties of psychology. Murderers, spare the blood of your fellow creatures; you will be exposed to the excruciating tortures of innate maxims — when it shall be discovered that there are any. Mr. President, could there be a broader license to crime than this? Could a better plan be devised for dissolving the bands of civil society? It requires not the gift of prophecy, to foresee the consequences of these novel and monstrous principles. The strong would tyrannize over the weak; the poor would plunder the rich; the servant would rise above the master; the drones of society would fatten upon the hard earnings of the industrious. Indeed, sir, industry would soon desert the land; for it would have neither reward nor encouragement. Commerce would cease; the arts and sciences would languish; all the sacred relations would be dissolved, and scenes of havoc, dissolution and death ensue, such as never before visited the world, and such as never will visit it, until mankind learn to repose their destinies upon ‘those suggestions, emphatically termed internal.’ From all these evils there is a secure retreat behind the brazen wall of the ‘bias of jurisprudence.’ ”

The gentleman who was next called on to engage in the debate, was John Craig; a gentleman of good hard sense, but who was utterly incompetent to say a word upon a subject which he did not understand. He proceeded thus:

Mr. President, — When this subject was proposed, I candidly confessed I did not understand it, and I was informed by Mr. Longworth and Mr. McDermot, that either of them would explain it, at any leisure moment. But, sir, they seem to have taken very good care, from that time to this, to have no leisure moment. I have inquired of both of them, repeatedly for an explanation; but they were always too busy to talk about it. Well, sir, as it was proposed by Mr. Longworth, I thought he would certainly explain it in his speech; but I understood no more of his speech than I did of the subject. Well, sir, I thought I should certainly learn something from Mr. McDermot; especially as he promised at the commencement of his speech to clear away the mist that Mr. Longworth had thrown about the subject, and to place it in a clear, intelligible point of light. But, sir, the only difference between his speech and Mr. Longworth’s is, that it was not quite as flighty as Mr. Longworth’s. I couldn’t understand head nor tail of it. At one time they seemed to argue the question, as if it were this: ‘Is it better to have law or no law?’ At another, as though it was,’should factions be governed by law, or be left to their own consciences?’ But most of the time they argued it, as if it were just what it seems to be — a sentence without sense or meaning. But, sir, I suppose its obscurity is owing to my dullness of apprehension, for they appeared to argue it with great earnestness and feeling, as if they understood it.

“I shall put my interpretation upon it, Mr. President, and argue it accordingly.

Whether at public elections’ — that is, for members of Congress, members of the Legislature, &c.’ should the votes of faction’ — I don’t know what ‘faction’ has got to do with it; and therefore I shall throw it out.’ Should the votes predominate, by internal suggestions or the bias,’ I don’t know what the article is put in here for. It seems to me, it ought to be, be biased by ‘jurisprudence’ or law. In short, Mr. President, I understand the question to be, should a man vote as he pleases, or should the law say how he should vote?”

Here Mr. Longworth rose and observed, that though Mr. Craig was on his side, he felt it due to their adversaries, to state, that this was not a true exposition of the subject. This exposition settled the question at once on his side; for nobody would, for a moment contend, that the law should declare how men should vote. Unless it be confined to the vote of faction and the bias of jurisprudence, it was no subject at all. To all this Mr. McDermot signified his unqualified approbation; and seemed pleased with the candor of his opponent.

“Well,” said Mr. Craig, “I thought it was impossible that any one should propose such a question as that to the society; but will Mr. Longworth tell us, if it does not mean that, what does it mean? for I don’t see what great change is made in it by his explanation.”

Mr. Longworth replied, that if the remarks which he had just made, and his argument, had not fully explained the subject to Mr. Craig, he feared it would be out of his power to explain it.

“Then,” said Mr. Craig, “I’ll pay my fine, for I don’t understand a word of it.”

The next one summoned to the debate was Mr. Pentigall. Mr. Pentigall was one of those who would never acknowledge his ignorance of any thing, which any person else understood; and that Longworth and McDermot were both masters of the subject, was clear, both from their fluency and seriousness. He therefore determined to understand it, at all hazards. Consequently he rose at the President’s command, with considerable self-confidence. I regret, however, that it is impossible to commit Mr. Pentigall’s manner to paper, without which, his remarks lose nearly all their interest. He was a tall, handsome man; a little theatric in his manner, rapid in his delivery, and singular in his pronunciation. He gave to the e and i, of our language, the sound of u — at least his peculiar intonations of voice, seemed to give them that sound; and his rapidity of utterance seemed to change the termination, “tion “ into “ah.” With all his peculiarities, however, he was a fine fellow. If he was ambitious, he was not invidious, and he possessed an amicable disposition. He proceeded as follows:

Mr. President, — This internal suggestion which has been so eloquently discussed by Mr. Longworth, and the bias of jurisprudence which has been so ably advocated by Mr. McDermot — hem! Mr. President, in order to fix the line of demarkation between — ah — the internal suggestion and the bias of jurisprudence — Mr. President, I think, sir, that — ah — the subject must be confined to the vote of faction, and the bias of jurisprudence” — —

Here Mr. Pentigall clapt his right hand to his forehead, as though he had that moment heard some overpowering news; and after maintaining this position for about the space of ten seconds, he slowly withdrew his hand, gave his head a slight inclination to the right, raised his eyes to the President as if just awakening from a trance, and with a voice of the most hopeless despair, concluded with “I don’t understand the subject, Muster Prusidunt.”

The rest of the members on both sides submitted to be fined rather than attempt the knotty subject; but by common consent, the penal rule was dispensed with. Nothing now remained to close the exercises, but the decision of the Chair.

The President, John Nuble, was a young man, not unlike Craig in his turn of mind; though he possessed an intellect a little more sprightly than Craig’s. His decision was short.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “I do not understand the subject. This,” continued he, (pulling out his knife, and pointing to the silvered or cross side of it,) “is ‘Internal Suggestions.’ And this” (pointing to the other, or pile side,) “is ‘Bias of Jurisprudence:’ “ so saying, he threw up his knife, and upon its fall, determined that “Internal Suggestions” had got it; and ordered the decision to be registered accordingly.

It is worthy of note, that in their zeal to accomplish their purpose, Longworth and McDermot forgot to destroy the lists of subjects, from which they had selected the one so often mentioned; and one of these lists containing the subject discussed, with a number more like it, was picked up by Mr. Craig, who made a public exhibition of it, threatening to arraign the conspirators before the society, for a contempt. But, as the parting hour was at hand, he overlooked it with the rest

The Militia Company Drill,” is not by the author of the other pieces but has a strong family resemblance, and is very well executed. Among the innumerable descriptions of Militia musters which are so rife in the land, we have met with nothing at all equal to this in the matter of broad farce.

The Turf “ is also capital, and bears with it a kind of dry and sarcastic morality which will recommend it to many readers.

An Interesting Interview “ is another specimen of exquisite dramatic talent. It consists of nothing more than a fac-simile of the speech, actions, and thoughts of two drunken old men — but its air of truth is perfectly inimitable.

The Fox-Hunt,” “The Wax Works,” and “A Sage Conversation,” are all good — but neither as good as many other articles in the book.

The Shooting Match,” which concludes the volume, may rank with the best of the Tales which precede it. As a portraiture of the manners of our South-Western peasantry, in especial, it is perhaps better than any.

Altogether this very humorous, and very clever book forms an æra in our reading. It has reached us per mail, and without a cover. We will have it bound forthwith, and give it a niche in our library as a sure omen of better days for the literature of the South.

5

THE TEA PARTY.

Traits of the Tea Party: Published by Harper. Brothers.

This is a neat little duodecimo of 265 pages, including an Appendix, and is full of rich interest over and above what the subject of the volume is capable of exciting. In Boston it is very natural that the veteran Hewes should be regarded with the highest sentiments of veneration and affection. He is too intimately and conspicuously connected with that city’s chivalric records not to be esteemed a hero — and such indeed he is — a veritable hero. Of the Tea Party he is the oldest-but not the only survivor. From the book before us we learn the names of nine others, still living, who bore a part in the drama. They are as follows — Henry Purkitt, Peter Slater, Isaac Simpson, Jonathan Hunnewell, John Hooton, William Pierce, —— McIntosh, Samuel Sprague, and John Prince.

Reminiscences such as the present cannot be too frequently laid before the public. More than any thing else do they illustrate that which can be properly called the History of our Revolution — and in so doing how vastly important do they appear to the entire cause of civil liberty? As the worthies of those great days are sinking, one by one, from among us, the value of what is known about them, and especially of what may be known through their memories, is increasing in a rapidly augmenting ratio. Let us treasure up while we may, the recollections which are so valuable now, and which will be more than invaluable hereafter.

 


[[Footnotes]]

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[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (March 1836 (Texts))