Text: Burton R. Pollin, “July 1836 (Texts),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 226-??? (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 226:]

Texts for July [[1836]]

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1. “Letter to B——.” [Text not printed in this volume.]

2. [James Grant]. Random Reflections on the House of Lords.

3. [Lydia H. Sigourney]. Letters to Young Ladies.

4. [Robert Southey]. The Doctor.

5. Frederick von Raumer. England in 1835.

6. [Anne Grant]. Memoirs of an American Lady.

7. [Mary Griffith]. Camperdown.

8. William D. Gallagher. Erato.

9. [Charles Robbins Gilman]. Life on the Lakes.

10. Leitch Ritchie. Russia and the Russians.

11. [Edgar A. Poe] . Introduction to Supplement.

1

Title: “Letter to B——”

The text of this essay will be printed and discussed in another volume of this edition of the Writings. It is, therefore, not included here.

2

HOUSE OF LORDS.

Random Recollections of the House of Lords, from the year 1830 to 1836. By the author of “Random Recollections of the House of Commons.” Philadelphia: Republished by E. L. Carey & A. Hart.

This is an exceedingly interesting volume, written by Mr. Grant, a young Scotch reporter — a man of sound sense, acute observation, and great knowledge of mankind. Its manner is correct, fluent, and forcible — occasionally rising into a high species of eloquence. It has too, that rare merit in compositions of this nature — the merit of strict impartiality — an impartiality so rigidly observed, that it is nearly impossible to form, from any thing comprehended in the book itself, an estimate of the political principles of the writer.

The work commences, in pursuance of the author’s plan adopted in his book on the other House of Parliament, with an account of the interior of the building in which the Lords assembled prior to its partial destruction by fire in October 1834. This account is full of interest. “The present house,” says the author, “is a small, narrow apartment. Last year it was but very imperfectly lighted. It is more cheerful now, owing to the new windows added to it during the recess. It is incapable of containing more than two hundred and fifty of their lordships with any degree of comfort. It is right to mention, however, that it is but seldom a greater number are present, and it is not often there ore so many.”

Chapter II is occupied with the forms, rules, regulations, &c. of the House, and is also very entertaining. Among other things, we have here a denial of the common assertion that the Lord Chancellor carries the Great Seal before him when advancing to the Bar of the House to receive a bill sent up by the Commons. His Lordship, we are told, very gravely, merely carries before him the bag in which it is deposited when he receives it from the King, or when, on his retirement from office, he delivers it up into his Majesty’s hands. This bag, we ore farther informed, is about twelve inches square, is embroidered with tassels of gold, silver, and silk, and has his Majesty’s arms on both sides. The Great Seal itself is made of silver, and is seven inches in diameter. We do not understand the manner in which the Seal is said to be divided into two parts, and attached to the letters patent. The impression is six inches in diameter, and three quarters of an inch thick. On every new accession we learn that a new Seal is struck, and the old one cut into four pieces and deposited in the Tower. In this chapter we have the following characteristic anecdote of King William. The empressement with which the narrator dwells upon the wonderful circumstance of the monarch’s actually reading a letter “without embarrassment, or the mistake of a single word,” is an amusing instance of the mystifying influence of “the divine right” and its accompaniments, upon the noddles of its devotees. The idea, too, of the King’s asking what are the words in his own speech, is sufficiently burlesque.

Of his extreme good nature and simplicity of manners, he gave several striking proofs at the opening of the present session. The day was unusually gloomy, which, added to an imperfection in his visual organs, consequent on advanced years, and to the darkness of the present House of Lords, especially in the place where the throne is situated, rendered it impossible for him to read the Royal Speech with facility. Most patiently and good-naturedly did he struggle with the task, often hesitating, sometimes mistaking, and at others correcting himself. On one occasion he stuck altogether, when, after two or three ineffectual efforts to make out the word, he was obliged to give it up, when turning to Lord Melbourne, who stood on his right hand, and looking him most significantly in the fare, he said, in a tone sufficiently loud to be audible in all parts of the house, “Eh, what is it?” The infinite good nature and bluntness with which the question was put, would have reconciled the most inveterate republican to monarchy in England, so long as it is embodied in the person of William the Fourth. Lord Melbourne having whispered the obstructing word, the King proceeded to toil through the speech, but by the time he got to about the middle, the Librarian brought him two wax tapers, on which he suddenly paused, and raising his head, and looking at the Lords and Commons, he addressed them on the spur of the moment in a perfectly distinct voice, and without the least embarrassment or the mistake of a single word, in these terms:

My Lords and Gentlemen,

I have hitherto not been able, from want of light, to read this speech in the way its importance deserves; but as lights are now brought me, I will read it again from the commencement, and in a way which I trust will command your attention.

He then again, though evidently fatigued by the difficulty of reading in the first instance, began at the beginning, and read through the speech in a manner which would have done credit to any professor of elocution.

What a running satire on form is the following!

No noble Lord must, on any occasion, or under any circumstances, mention the name or title of any oiler noble Lord. If he wishes to refer to any particular Peer, he must do so in some such phraseology as the following: “The noble Duke, or the noble Marquis who has just sat down” — “the noble Earl at the head of his Majesty’s Government” — “the noble and learned Lord” — “the noble Lord that spoke last” — “the noble Viscount that spoke last but one” — “the noble Baron that spoke last but two,” &c &c

What a world we live in, when such and similar things are related in a volume such as this, by a man of excellent sense, with a gravity becoming an owl!

Chapter III consists of “Miscellaneous Observations,” contrasts the general deportment of the House of Lords with that of the House of Commons, and rejoices that the art of cock-crowing is yet to be learned by the Peers, and that their Lordships have as yet afforded no evidence of possessing the enviable acquirement of braying like a certain long-eared animal, yelping like a dog, or mewing like the feline creation. It includes also some scandalous accounts of the unconquerable somnolency of a certain Ministerial Duke, and a member of the Right Reverend Ben ch of Bishops.

Chapter IV is entitled “Scenes in the House,” and gives a detailed report of two of the most extraordinary of these scenes — one occurring in April 1831, on occasion of the King’s dissolving Parliament — the other in July 1834, when the Duke of Buckingham thought proper to make some allusions to the “potations pottle deep” of Lord Brougham, which were not exactly to the mind of his Lordship. The rest of the book is occupied with admirable personal sketches of most of the leading members, and is subdivided into Late Members, embracing Lord King and Lord Enfield — Dukes of the Tory Party, viz: Dukes of Cumberland, Wellington, Gordon, Newcastle, Buckingham, Northumberland and Buccleugh — Marquises of the Tory Party, including the Marquises of Londonderry, Wellesley, and Salisbury — Earls of the Tory Party, the Earls of Eldon, Wicklow, Limerick, Winchelsca, Roden, Aberdeen, Haddington, Harrowby, Rosslyn, and Mannsfield — Barons of the Tory Party, Lords Wynford, Lyndhuist, Ellenborough, Fitzgerald and Vessey, Ashburton, Abinger, Wharncliffe and Kenyon — Peers who have Seats in the Cabinet, viz: Lord Melbourne, Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord Holland, and Lord Duncannon — Dukes of the Liberal Party, the Dukes of Sussex, Leinster, and Sutherland — Marquises of the Liberal Party, the Marquises of Westminster, Cleveland, Anglesea, Clanricarde, and Conyngham — Earls of the Liberal Party, Earls Gray, Durham, Radnor, Carnarvon, Mulgrave, Burlington, Fife, and Fitzwilliam — Barons of the Liberal Party, Lords Plunkett, Brougham, Denman, Couenham, Langsdale, Hatherton, and Teynham — Neutral Peers, the Duke of Richmond and the Earl of Ripon — and lastly, the Lords Spiritual, under which head we have sketches of the Archbishops of Canterbury and Dublin, and the Bishops of Exeter, London, Durham, and Hereford. The whole of these sketches of personal character are well executed and exceedingly diverting — some, of a still higher order of excellence. The portrait of Lord Brougham, in especial, although somewhat exaggerated in the matter of panegyric, is vividly and very forcibly depicted, and will be universally read and admired. The book concludes in these words.

It is a fact worthy of observation, that with the single exception of Lord Brougham, no man that has, of late years, been raised from the Lower to the Upper House, has made any figure in the latter place. On the contrary, they all seem to be rapidly descending, as public speakers, into obscurity. In addition to Earl Spencer and Lord Glenelg, I may mention the names of Lord Denman, Lord Abinger, Lord Ashburn, Lord Hatherton, &c In fact, there is something in the very constitution of their Lordships, as a body, which has a strong tendency to discourage all attempts at oratorical distinction.

3

SIGOURNEY’S LETTERS.

Letters to Young Ladies. By Mrs. L. H. Sigourney. Second Edition. Hartford: Published by Wm. Watson.

We have to apologize for not sooner calling the attention of our readers to these excellent Letters of Mrs. Sigourney — which only to-day we have had an opportunity of reading with sufficient care to form an opinion of their merits. Our delay, however, is a matter of the less importance, when we consider the universal notice and approbation of the public at large. In this approbation we cordially agree. The book is, in every respect, worthy of Mrs. Sigourney — and it would be difficult to say more.

The Letters (embraced in a duodecimo of two hundred and twelve pages,) are twelve in number. Their subjects are, Improvement of TimeDomestic EmploymentsHealth and DressManners and AccomplishmentsBooksFriendshipCheerfulnessConversationBenevolenceSelf-GovernmentUtility — and Motives to Perseverance. Little has been said on any one of these subjects more forcibly or more beautifully than now by Mrs. Sigourney — and, collectively, as a code of morals and manner for the gentler sex, we have seen nothing whatever which we would more confidently place in the hands of any young female friend, than this unassuming little volume, so redolent of the pious, the graceful, the lofty, and the poetical mind from which it issues.

The prose of Mrs. Sigourney should not be compared, in its higher qualities, with her poetry — but appears to us essentially superior in its minutiæ. It would be difficult to find fault with the construction of more than a very few passages in the Letters — and the general correctness and vigor of the whole would render any such fault-finding a matter of hyper-criticism. We are not prepared to say whether this correctness be the result of labor or not — there are certainly no traces of labor. The most remarkable feature of the volume is its unusually extensive circle of illustration, in the way of brief anecdote, and multiplied reference to authorities — illustration which, while apparently no more than sufficient for the present purpose of the writer, gives evidence, to any critical eye, of a far wider general erudition than that possessed by any of our female writers, and which we were not at all prepared to meet with in one, only known hitherto as the inspired poetess of Natural and Moral Beauty.

Would our limits permit us we would gladly copy entire some one of the Letters. As it is, we must be contented with a brief extract, (on the subject of Memory,) evincing powers of rigid thought in the writer. Few subjects are more entirely misapprehended than that of the faculty of Memory. For a multiplicity of error on this head Leibnitz and Locke are responsible. That the faculty is neither primitive nor independent is susceptible of direct proof. That it exists in conjunction with each primitive faculty, and inseparable from it, is a fact which might be readily ascertained even without the direct assistance of Phrenology. The remarks of Mrs. Sigourney apply, only collaterally, to what we say, but will be appreciated by the metaphysical student.

I am inclined to think Memory capable of indefinite improvement by a judicious and persevering regimen. Were you required to analyze it to its simplest element, you would probably discover it to be a habit of fixed attention. Read, therefore, what you desire to remember, with concentrated and undivided attention. Close the book and reflect. Undigested food throws the whole frame into a ferment. Were we as well acquainted with our intellectual, as with our physical structure, we should see undigested knowledge producing equal disorder in the mind.

To strengthen the Memory, the best course is not to commit page after page verbatim, but to give the substance of the author, correctly and clearly in your own language. Thus the understanding and memory are exercised at the same time, and the prosperity of the mind is not so much advanced by the undue prominence of any one faculty as by the true balance and vigorous action of all. Memory and understanding are also fast friends, and the light which one gains will be reflected upon the other.

Use judgment in selecting from the mass of what you read the parts which it will be useful or desirable to remember. Separate and arrange them, and give them in charge to memory. Tell her it is her duty to keep them, and to bring them forth when you require. She has the capacities of a faithful servant, and possibly the dispositions of an idle one. But you have the power of enforcing obedience and of overcoming her infirmities. At the close of each day let her come before you, as Ruth came to Naomi, and ’beat out that which she hath gleaned.’ Let her winnow repeatedly what she has brought from the field, and ’ gather the wheat into the garner’ ere she goes to repose.

This process, so far from being laborious, is one of the most delightful that can be imagined. To condense, is perhaps the only difficult part of it; for the casket of Memory, though elastic, has bounds, and if surcharged with trifles, the weightier matters will find no fitting place.

While Memory is in this course of training, it would be desirable to read no books whose contents are not worth her care: for if she finds herself called only occasionally, she may take airs like a froward child, and not come when she is called. Make her feel it as a duty to stand with her tablet ready whenever you open a book, and then show her sufficient respect, not to summon her to any book unworthy of her.

To facilitate the management of Memory, it is well to keep in view that her office is threefold. Her first effort is to receive knowledge; her second to retain it; her last to bring it forth when it is needed. The first act is solitary, the silence of fixed attention. The next is also sacred to herself, and her ruling power, and consists in frequent, thorough examination of the state and order of the things committed to her. The third act is social, rendering her treasures available to the good of others. Daily intercourse with a cultivated mind is the best method to rivet, refine, and polish the hoarded gems of knowledge. Conversation with intelligent men is eminently serviceable. For, after all our exultation on the advancing state of female education, with the other sex, will be found the wealth of classical knowledge, and profound wisdom. If you have a parent, or older friend, who will, at the close of each day, listen kindly to what you have read, and help to fix in your memory the portions most worthy of regard, count it a privilege of no common value, and embrace it with sincere gratitude.

We heartily recommend these Letters (which the name of their author will more especially recommend,) to the attention of our female acquaintances. They may be procured, in Richmond, at the bookstore of Messrs. Yale and Wyatt.

4

THE DOCTOR.

The Doctor, &c. New York: Republished by Harper and Brothers.

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

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

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

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

5

RAUMER’S ENGLAND.

England in 1835. Being a Series of Letters written to Friends in Germany, during a Residence in London and Excursions into the Provinces. By Frederick Von Raumer, Professor of History at the University of Berlin, Author of the “History of the Hohenslaufen,” of the “History of Europe from the end of the Fifteenth Century,” of “Illustrations of the History of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” &c. &c. Translated from the German, by Sarah Austin and H. E. Lloyd. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

This work will form an æra in the reading annals of the more contemplative portion of Americans — while its peculiar merits will be overlooked by the multitude. The broad and solid basis of its superstructure — the scrupulous accuracy of its data — the disdain of mere logic in its deductions — the generalizing, calm, comprehensive — in a word, the German character of its philosophy, will insure it an enthusiastic welcome among all the nobler spirits of our land. What though its general tenor be opposed at least apparently to many of our long cherished opinions and deeply-rooted prejudices? Shall we less welcome the truth, or glory in its advancement because of its laying bare our own individual errors? But the England of Von Raumer will be sadly and wickedly misconceived if it be really conceived as militating against a Republicanism here, which it opposes with absolute justice, in Great Britain, and Prussia. It will be sadly misconceived if it be regarded as embracing one single sentence with which the most bigoted lover of abstract Democracy can have occasion to find fault. At the same time we cannot help believing that it will, in some measure, be effectual in diverting the minds of our countrymen, and of all who read it, from that perpetual and unhealthy excitement about the forms and machinery of governmental action which have, within the last half century so absorbed their attention as to exclude in a strange degree all care of the proper results of good government — the happiness of a people — improvement in the condition of mankind — practicable under a thousand forms — and without which all forms are valueless and shadowy phantoms. It will serve also as an auxiliary in convincing mankind that the origin of the principal social evils of any given land ore not to be found (except in a much less degree than we usually suppose) either in republicanism or monarchy or any especial method of government — that we must look for the source of our greatest defects in a variety of causes totally distinct from any such action — in a love of gain, for example, whose direct tendency to social evil was vividly shown in an essay on American Social Elevation lately published in the “Messenger.” In a word, let this book of Von Raumer’s be read with attention, as a study, and as a whole. If this thing be done — which is but too seldom done (here at least) in regard to works of a like character and cast — and we will answer for the result — as far as that result depends upon the deliberate and unprejudiced declaration of any well-educated man. We agree cordially with the opinion expressed by Mrs. Austin in her Preface to this American imprint. The book is the most valuable addition to our stock of knowledge about England and her institutions which America has ever received or which, in the ordinary course of things she is likely to receive.

Of Professor Von Raumer it is almost unnecessary for us to speak — yet a few words may not be amiss. He is a man of unquestionable and lofty integrity — the most highly esteemed living historian — second to none, living or dead, in all the high essentials of the historiographer — profoundly versed in moral and political science — and withal, a lover, and a connoisseur of art, and fully aware of its vast importance in actuating mankind, individually, and nationally. He is a member of the Academy of Sciences at Berlin, and Councillor of the Court Theatre in which he labors to keep up the moral influence of that establishment as a school of art. He has constantly opposed absolutism in every form — especially the absolutism of exclusive political creeds. “If,” says the Conversations Lexicon, “the much talked of juste milieu consists in endless tacking between two opposite principles, Raumer belongs rather to one of the extremes than to that. But if the expression is taken to denote that free and neutral ground on which a man, resting upon the basis of justice, and untrammelled by party views, combats for truth proved by experience, careless whether his blows fall to the right or the left — then Raumer unquestionably belongs to the juste milieu.” He has written the History of the Hohenslaufen and their Time — a history richer than the richest romance — a work On the Prussian Municipal System — a work On the Historical Development of the Notions of Law and GovernmentLetters from Paris in 1830, a series of papers printed precisely as they were written to his family, and evincing a spirit of foresight nearly amounting to prophecy — so accurately were his predictions fulfilled — Letters from Paris in Illustration of the History of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries — a History of Europe from the End of the Fifteenth Century, in six volumes, of which one is yet to be published — a History of the Downfall of Poland — in which although employed and paid by his government he did not hesitate to accuse this government of injustice — Six Dialogues on War and CommerceThe British System of TaxationThe Orations of Æschines and Demosthenes for the CrownCCI Emendationes ad Tabulas Genealogicas Arabum et TurcarumManual of Remarkable Passages from the Latin Historians of the Middle AgesJourney to VeniceLectures on Ancient History — and some other works of which we have no account. The present Letters are printed just as the author wrote them from day to day. We are even assured that some mistakes have been suffered to stand with a view of showing how first impressions were gradually modified.

Mrs. Austin, the translator, however, has taken some liberties in the way of omission, which cannot easily be justified. Some animadversions on her friend Benlhani are stricken out without sufficient reason for so doing. We learn this as well by her own acknowledgment as by ominous breaks in particular passages concerning the great Utilitarian. The latter portion of the book is translated by H. E. Lloyd.

The plan of Von Raumer’s work embraces, as may well be supposed, a great variety of themes — the political topics of the day and of all time — the present state and future prospects of England — comparative views of that country, France, and Prussia — descriptions of scenery about London, localities, architecture, &c, — social condition of the people — society in high life — and frequent disquisitions on the state of art and musical science. We will proceed, without observing any precise order, to speak of some portions which particularly interested us. The book, however, to be properly appreciated, should be read and thoroughly studied.

It appears that although Raumer was received with the greatest kindness by nearly all the leading men of all parties in Great Britain, he was treated with neglect if not with rudeness by Lord Brougham, who remained obstinately deaf to all overtures at an introduction. It does not appear from the course and tenor of these Letters that the harshness with which the traveller so frequently speaks of his Lordship, had its origin in this rude treatment. It is more probable that the rude treatment had its source in the knowledge on the part of Lord Brougham, that Runnier could expose many of his falsities in relation to municipal law and some other matters concerning Prussia. His Lordship’s Report on the State of Education is especially the theme of frequent censure.

The person (says our author) who judges the Prussian institutions most dogmatically is Lord Brougham. He says “It may matter little what sentiments are inculcated on all Prussian children by their military chiefs; but it would be something new in this country systematically to teach all children, from six to fourteen years of age, the doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance, the absolute excellence of its institutions, and the wickedness and iniquity of every effort to improve them.” If the noble lord, in the excitement of debate, and the flow of his eloquence, let such notions and words escape him, we cannot wonder; but that, when called on by a parliamentary committee to give a dispassionate, true testimony, he should have uttered things so entirely false, nay, so utterly absurd, cannot in any way be justified, or even excused. Sir Robert Peel compassionately intimates that our school-children are tormented by theologians, and Brougham places them under the rod and cane of the corporal. That our military arrangements are a school of freedom, and for freedom, and the very antipodes of the English recruiting and flogging system, may, perhaps, be more unintelligible to an Englishman, than all the theological and scientific curiosities of Oxford to a German. But what have military arrangements to do with our schools? If Lord Brougham has read any thing but the title-page of Cousin’s work, he may and must know that all be said about the Prussian schools was entirely visionary, and could only serve to mislead those who believed him. The doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance, so long upheld by certain parties in England, is not known in our schools even by name; and if any Professor at Oxford should venture to speak of church and state as, thank heaven, any Prussian Professor is at liberty to do, it would certainly be said — the heretic brought church and state into danger. In our schools and universities we know of no theological intolerance, no exclusion of Dissenters, no idolatry of what exists for the moment, no forced subscriptions; yet we are not by this alienated from Christianity, but hold fast to the imperishable diamond of the Gospel without converting it into on amulet with thirty-nine points. In Prussia, then, it would seem the wickedness and impiety of every attempt to improve civil institutions is systematically enforced! In Prussia, which, without any boasting of journals and newspapers, silently effected the greatest reforms, and rose from a state of abject degradation, like a phoenix from its ashes — the aversion and opposition between citizens and soldiers, is abolished; the system of the defence of the country is easy, yet general and powerful; the regulations of commerce and of duties of custom freer than in any other part of Europe; the peasants are converted into land-owners; a municipal system introduced twentyseven years ago, which England is now copying; and schools and universities placed on so firm a basis that the calumnies of Lord Brougham can only recoil on his own head. From the descriptions of what is called the Prussian compulsory system, one would be inclined to believe that the children were coupled together like hounds, and driven every morning with blows to be trained! Should a parent be so wicked as not to give his children any education, and purposely keep them from school and church, the law justly gives the magistrates a right of guardianship. This remote threat may have had a salutary effect in individual cases, but I have never heard of the actual application of outward compulsion — obtorto collo. Morality, sense of honor, general custom, conviction of the great advantage of a careful education, suffice among us to excite all parents voluntarily to send their children to school. In perfect accordance with our school laws it is considered Bs equally sinful to withhold nourishment from their minds as from their bodies. If we duly appreciate tile spirit of the laws, cavils about the letter fall away; but even the letter has had a wholesome influence, and without the application of corporal restraint, in promoting the intellectual emancipation of the people.

Our author’s letter on the Finances of Great Britain will be read with surprise and doubt by many, but with respect by all. He commences with an analysis of finance in general, and with a brief survey of many financial distresses which are as old as history itself. His remarks on the absence of all finance in the middle ages will arrest attention. In these days men had no money, and yet did more than in modern times — they effected every thing, and we can effect nothing, without the circulation of the “golden blood.” Every individual in those days, garnered, says Raumer, without the medium of money, what he wanted; and the whole was entirely kept together by ideas. It is only since Machiavelli — since the power of the middle ages was lost in the feudal and ecclesiastical systems, that we have had to seek a new public law, and a science of Finance. In regard to England, our author runs through all the most important epochs of its monied concerns, and shows effectually that she has no reason to tremble at present. He alludes to what is called the enormous burden of her taxes, and of her debt — whose interest is more than 30,000,000l. per annum — far more than half of its revenue, and more than four years revenue of the whole Prussian monarchy! He admits, for the sake of argument, that England must sink under this intolerable pressure, and become bankrupt — but the public debt and its interest, he says, would then at once be annihilated. To the assertion that this remedy is worse than the disease, and would produce a degree of distress much exceeding what is now complained of, he replies, that such an assertion is it direct acknowledgment that the expenditure of the enormous interest above-mentioned is salutary. He proceeds with the affirmation that all the public debts being the property of individuals, there are cases in which this private property cannot remain inviolate without sacrificing the whole — and in this way, a reduction or annihilation of the debt must take place. He refers, for illustration, to the Redemption Bonds of Vienna, and to Solon’s Seisachthcia, and says, there can be no reason for doubting that England would as well survive such abrupt annihilation of her national debt as many other states have done — among whom are Athens, Rome, France, and Austria. He remarks, that Englishmen may as well rejoice that the country has such immense capital, as lament that it is burthened with so many debts — for every debt is there a capital. If these debts were of so little value that the price of stock indicated the loss, instead of the profit — if the interest could only be paid by new loans — if the debts were due to fund-holders out of the country, England would be in a desperate condition in the event of bankruptcy. But, he observes, if all the national debt were abolished, there would, in fact, as regarded the whole national wealth, be no change whatever. The stockholders would lose, of course, a revenue of 30,000,000l.; but, on the other hand, taxes might be abolished to the same amount. Individuals would be ruined — the nation not at all. He shows clearly, however, by statements officially certified by Sir Robert Peel, that England has very little need of apprehending a national bankruptcy — and that since 1816 she has reduced the principal of her debt by no less than $616,000,000. Certainly no state in Europe can boast of a similar progress.

Von Raumer presents a vivid picture of the miseries of Ireland.

When I recollect (says he, after some distressing narrations,) the well-fed rogues in the English prisons, I admire, notwithstanding the very natural increase of Irish criminals, the power of morality — I wonder that the whole nation does not go over and steal, in order to enjoy a new and happier existence. And then the English boast of the good treatment of their countrymen, while the innocent Irish are obliged to live worse than their cattle. In Parliament they talk for years together whether it is necessary and becoming to leave $100,000 annually in the hands of the pastors of 526 Protestants, or $10,759 to the pastors of 3 Protestants, while there are thousands here who scarcely know they have a soul, and know nothing of their body, except that it suffers hunger, thirst and cold. Which of these ages is the dark and barbarous — the former, when mendicant monks distributed their goods to the poor, and, in their way, gave them the most rational comfort; or the latter, when rich (or bankrupt) aristocrats can see the weal of the church and of religion, (or of their relations) only in retaining possession of that which was taken and obtained by violence? All the blame is thrown on agitators, and discontent produced by artificial means. What absurdity! Every falling hut causes agitation, and every tattered pair of breeches, a sans culotle. Since I have seen Ireland, I admire the patience and moderation of the people, that they do not (what would be more excusable in them than in distinguished revolutionists, authors, journalists, Benthamites, baptized and unbaptized Jews,) drive out the devil through Beelzebub, the Prince of the Devils. . . . . . I endeavored to discover the original race of the ancient Irish, and the beauty of the women. But how could I venture to give an opinion? Take the loveliest of the English maidens from the saloons of the Duke of Devonshire or the Marquis of Lansdowne — carry her, not for life, but for one short season, into an Irish hovel — feed her on water and potatoes, clothe her in rags, expose her blooming cheek and alabaster neck to the scorching beams of the sun, and the drenching torrents of rain — let her wade with naked feet through marshy bogs — with her delicate hands pick up the dung that lies in the road, and carefully stow it by the side of her mud resting-place — give her a hog to share this with her; to all this, add no consolatory remembrance of the past, no cheering hope of the future — nothing but misery — a misery which blunts and stupifies the mind — a misery of the past, the present, and the future — would the traveller, should this image of wo crawl from out of her muddy hovel, and imploringly extend her shrivelled hand, recognize the noble maiden whom a few short weeks before he admired as the model of English beauty? . . . . And yet the children, with their black hair and dark eyes, so gay and playful in their tatters — created in the image of God — are in a few years, by the fault of man and the government, so worn out, without advantage to themselves or others, that the very beasts of the field might look down on them with scorn is what I have said exaggerated, or perhaps, merely an unseasonable and indecorous fiction? or should I have suppressed it, because it may offend certain parties? What have I to do with O’Connell and his opponents? I have nothing either to hope or to fear from any of them; but to declare what I saw, thought, and felt, is my privilege and my duty. Discitc jnsliliam, moniti, et non temnere divos!

Our author speaks of the dissolution of the Union as of a measure which would and should naturally be opposed by any person who has never seen Ireland, and who considers the case merely in a general and theoretical point of view — but allows that he can easily conceive how well-disposed persons may rely on this alternative as the most efficient remedy. He does not, however, approve of the demand — although he goes even farther than O’Connell. His propositions are nearly as follows: First, that provisions should be equally made for the schools and churches of the Protestants and Catholics.out of the church property already existing or to be created. Secondly, that the tithes should be abolished — that is, as a mode of taxation — not the tax itself. It is observed, that to deprive the church of its due, and to make a present of it, without any reason, to the landlord, would not only be an act of injustice, but would operate to the prejudice of the poor tenants, since the clergyman has not so many means to distrain the cattle as the temporal landlord, and generally is less willing to employ them. Thirdly, that poor laws should be introduced, taking care to avoid their abuses. This idea is in opposition to that of O’Connell, who dreads the misapplication of the laws as in England. Raumer acknowledges the difficulty of introducing them, but insists upon the necessity. The difficulty proceeds from the want of a wealthy middling class in the country — the true basis of all finance. To obviate this want, be insists — Fourthly, upon a law respecting absentees. He denies the injustice of such law, and rejects as false that notion of private property which would impose on the land owner no duties, while it gives him unconditional rights. He does not, however, propose compelling the absentees to return home, but to pay more to the poor-tax than those who are present. “Is this impossible?” he asks — “have not the Catholics borne for centuries higher taxes than the Protestants? This was possible, without reason; and therefore the other would be very possible, with good reason.” He suggests — Fifthly, the complete abolition of the system of tenants at will, and the conversion of all these tenants at will into proprietors. “On reading this,” he says, “the Tories will throw my book into the fire, and even the Whigs will be mute with astonishment. The whole battery of pillage, jacobinism, and dissolution of civil society, is discharged at me; but it will not touch me — not even the assertion that I would, like St. Crispin, steal leather in order to make shoes for the poor. Even the Radicals ask with astonishment, how I would work this miracle. There is a Sybilline book, a patent and yet hidden mystery, how this is to be effected; and there is a magician who has accomplished it — the Prussian Municipal Law, and King Frederick William III of Prussia.” Granting that his proposal should be rejected unless both parties are gainers, our author proceeds to show that both parties will be so. That those who are raised to the class of land-owners would gain, is evident. That the present proprietors would gain, he asserts, is proved from the fact, that in the long run, the tenant-at-will is able to produce and to pay less than he who has a long lease, the latter less than the hereditary farmer, and the hereditary farmer less than the proprietor. The subject is discussed very fully and clearly in another letter on English Agriculture.

Professor Von Raumer makes a proper distinction between the nature and consequences of English agitation, and the agitation of many continental countries. In these latter we find anticipative and preventive polices — especially in France. When a movement breaks out under a government employing this system, it is because the preventive means are exhausted, and thus every thing rushes at once into disorder and irretrievable confusion. A similar movement, however, in England, (and the remark will apply equally to the United States, although Von Raumer does not so apply it,) is suffered to gather strength and flourish until the overt act, and the citizen who dwells under the influence of the preventive system, would of course, in observing us, expect the same irretrievable confusion to ensue with us as with him. If our own government, or that of England, should attempt to interfere before the overt net, the administration would meet with no support. But when the movement has grown to an open violation of the laws, the case is different indeed. “In short,” says our author, “what is regarded abroad as the beginning of a revolution, is, in reality, the crisis, and is, in a very different sense than in France, le commencement de la fin.”

Much of our traveller’s time, while in Great Britain was passed in close intimacy with her statesmen. Of Russell, Spring Rice, Sir Robert Peel, and O’Connell, he speaks in terms of evident respect. From many passages in which he mentions the latter, we select the following.

I suddenly conceived the project of going straight from P —— to his antagonist — to —— (H —— will be furious) to Daniel O’Connell. I found him in a small room, sitting at a writing table covered with letters, Id his dressing gown. I began with apologies for intruding upon him without any introduction, and pleaded my interest in the history and fate of Ireland, and in his efforts to serve her. When I found he had read my Historical Letters I felt on a better footing. I could not implicitly accept his opinion concerning Elizabeth (which he has borrowed from Lingard) as a good bill. We agreed, however, on the subject of the much disputed and much falsified history of the Catholic conspiracy of 1641 I am also perfectly of his opinion, that the tenants at will — those serfs — are in a worse condition in Ireland than any where, and that, both with regard to moral and intellectual culture, or physical prosperity, their position is not comparable to that of our thrice happy proprietary peasants. I told him that what he desired for Ireland had long been possessed by the Catholics of Prussia: and that hatred and discontent had expired with persecution The English Ministry first made this man a giant: but he is a giant too, by the strength of his own mind and will, in comparison with the Lilliputians cut out of reeds, which we call demagogues; and which are forced to be shut up in the Kopenick hot-house, or put under a Mainz forcing glass to rear them into any size and consideration Thank God, however, the governments of Germany do not prepare the ground for universal discontent. If this prevailed, and prevailed with justice, O’Connells must of necessity arise. Your dissertation on the greatness or smallness of German demagogues (I hear you say) is quite superfluous: you had much better have described to us what that arch agitator and rebel, O’Connell, looks like — What he looks like? A tall gaunt man, with a thin face, sunken cheeks, a large hooked nose, black piercing eye, malignant smile round the mouth, and, when in full dress, a cock’s feather in his hat, and a cloven foot. ’That is just what I imagined him!’ cries one. But, as it happens, that is just what he is not. On the contrary, he has a round, goodnatured face. In Germany he would be taken for a good, hearty, sturdy, shrewd farmer: indeed he distinctly reminded me of the cheerful, sagacious, and witty old bailiff Romanus, in Rotzis.

At page 391, Von Raumer alludes to some notices of his historical works in the British Quarterlies. He complains of injustice done him in a review of his “Letters from Paris in 1830.” The Reviewer states that our traveller did not court society, and that he professes to have seen and become acquainted only with what strikes the eyes of every observer in the streets, tavern, and theatre. This is denied by Von Raumer, who declares his chief associates to have been “wealthy merchants and distinguished literati, old and new peers, members of the Chamber of Deputies, the most celebrated diplomatists, and three of the present ministers of Louis Philippe.”

The remarks of our author upon Art, (in the extensive German signification of the word) are worthy of all attention and bespeak an elevated, acute, and comprehensive understanding of its properties and capabilities. Many pages of the work before us are devoted to comments upon the Architecture, the Painting, the Stage, and especially the Music of England, and these pages will prove deeply interesting to a majority of readers. At pages 143 he thus speaks of Mrs. Sloman.

Lady Macbeth, Mrs. Sloman, a fiendish shrew, who must have been the torment of her husband’s life long before the predictions of the witches. Even in the sleeping scene she betrayed only fear of discovery and punishment; and the exaggerated action, the rubbing of the hands, and seeming to dip them in water, and the rhetorical ’to bed!’ were very little to my taste. . . . . To sum up my impression of the whole — an excess of effort, of bustle, and of accentuation, with every now and then, by way of clap-trap, a violent and yet toneless screaming. Exactly those passages in which these stage passions were the most boisterous and distressing were the most applauded. There is not a single well-frequented German theatre (such as those of Vienna, Berlin or Dresden) in which so bad a performance as this would have been exhibited.

Our traveller is in raptures with Windsor, and censures the tasteless folly of Buckingham house. Of the Italian opera in England he speaks briefly and contemptuously — nor does the national music find any degree of favor in his eyes. His criticisms on sculpture and painting are forcible and very beautiful. In some observations on the attic bas-reliefs, and the works from the Parthenon and Phigalia, to be found in the British Museum, he takes occasion to collate the higher efforts of Grecian art with the rudeness of Roman feeling, and the still more striking rudeness of the German and Italian schools of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. His remarks here are too forcible and too fresh to be omitted.

These schools (the German and Italian) were, it is true, internally impelled by Christianity towards the noblest goal of humanity and of art, but they have unsuitably introduced the doctrine of election even into these regions. To the beautiful forms pardoned by God are opposed the ugly bodies of the non-elect; to the healthy, the sick; to the blessed, the damned. In theology, in philosophy, in history, this dark side of existence may be employed at pleasure, but when it appears in art I feel hurt and uncomfortable. . . . This capul mortuum may be wholly separated. It should evaporate and become invisible. Not till this is accomplished can we place Christian art above Greek art, as the Christian religion above the Greek religion. A great confusion of ideas still prevails, in considering and judging of these things. How often have modern works of art been praised in reference to the doctrine, and ancient works reprobated for similar reasons. But the demoniac is not a suitable subject for art, merely because he is mentioned in the Bible; or a Venus to be rejected, because the worship of the goddess has ceased. Music without discord is unmeaning and tedious, and painting and sculpture likewise need such discord. But every musical discord is necessarily resolved, according to the rules of art — while painters and sculptors often leave their dissonances unresolved, and eternized in stone. In every discord I feel its transition into euphony. It is but a motion, a creation of harmony; but no musician would ever think of affirming that to sing out of tune is ever permitted, much less that it is necessary in his art. The combats of the Centaurs and Lapithæ display a chain of discords, which originate, advance, and develop themselves — one could set them to music without violating the rules and euphony of the science. But were we to attempt a similar musical transposition with many celebrated statues, we should break all the strings of the instrument by the violence of the effort.

We had noted many other passages for comment and extract — (especially a lively Philippic against Utilitarianism on pages 398, 399, an account of Bentham’s penitentiary, and other matters) but we perceive that we are already infringing upon our limits. This book about England will and must be read, and will as certainly be relished, by a numerous class, although not by a majority, of our fellow-citizens. The author, we rejoice to hear, has engaged to translate into his own language the Washington Papers of Mr. Sparks. We will only add that Professor Von Raumer has the honor of being called by the English organ of the High Church and Ultra Tory Party, “a vagrant blackguard unfit for the company of a decent servants’ hall.”

6

MEMOIRS OF AN AMERICAN LADY.

Memoirs of an American Lady. With Sketches of Manners and Scenery in America, as they existed previous to the Revolution. By the author of “Letters from the Mountains.” New York: published by George Dearborn.

This work has been already a favorite with many of our readers — but has long been out of print, and we are glad to see it republished. Mrs. Grant of Laghan is a name entitled to the respect and affection of all Americans. The book, moreover, is full of good things; and as a memorial of the epoch immediately preceding our Revolution, is invaluable. At the present moment too it will be well to compare the public sentiment in regard to slavery, Indian affairs, and some other matters, with the sentiments of our forefathers, as expressed in this volume. In Albany and New York it will possess a local interest of no common character. Every where it will be read with pleasure, as an authentic and well written record of a most exemplary life. The edition is well printed on fine paper, and altogether creditable to Mr. Dearborn.

Some remarks on slavery, at page 41, will apply with singular accuracy to the present state of things in Virginia.

In the society I am describing, even the dark aspect of slavery was softened into a smile. And I must, in justice to the best possible masters, say, that a great deal of that tranquillily and comfort, to call them by no higher names, which distinguish this society from all others, was owing to the relation between master and servant being better understood here than in any other place. Let me not be detested as an advocate for slavery, when I say that I think I have never seen people so happy in servitude as the domestics of the Albanians. One reason was, (for I do not now speak of the virtues of their masters,) that each family had few of them, and that there were no field negroes. They would remind one of Abraham’s servants, who were all born in the house, which was exactly their case. They were baptised too, and shared the same religious instruction with the children of the family; and, for the first years, there was little or no difference with regard to food or clothing between their children and those of their masters.

When a negro woman’s child attained the age of three years, the first new-year’s day after, it was solemnly presented to a son or daughter, or other young relative of the family, who was of the same sex with the child so presented. The child to whom the young negro was given, immediately presented it with some piece of money and a pair of shoes; and from that day the strongest attachment subsisted between the domestic and the destined owner. I have no where met with instances of friendship more tender and generous than that which here subsisted between the slaves and their masters and mistresses. Extraordinary proofs of them have been often given in the course of hunting orlndian trading, when a young man and his slave have gone to the trackless woods together, in the cases of fits of the ague, loss of a canoe and other casualties happening near hostile Indians. The slave has been known, at the imminent risk of his life, to carry his disabled master through trackless woods with labor and fidelity scarce credible; and the master has been equally tender on similar occasions of the humble friend who stuck closer than a brother; who was baptised with the same baptism, nurtured under the same roof, and often rocked in the same cradle with himself. These gifts of domestics to the younger members of the family were not irrevocable; yet they were very rarely withdrawn. If the kitchen family did not increase in proportion to that of the master, young children were purchased from some family where they abounded, to furnish those attached servants to the rising progeny. They were never sold without consulting their mother, who, if expert and sagacious, had a great deal to say in the family, and would not allow her child to go into any family with whom domestics she was not acquainted. These negro women piqued themselves on teaching their children to be excellent servants, well knowing servitude to be their lot for life, and that it could only be sweetened by making themselves particularly useful, and excelling in their department. If they did their work well, it is astonishing, when I recollect it, what liberty of speech was allowed to those active and prudent mothers. They would chide, reprove, and expostulate in a manner that we would not endure from our hire servants; and sometimes exert fully as much authority over the children of the family as the parents, conscious that they were entirely in their power. They did not crush freedom of speech and opinion in those by whom they knew they were beloved, and who watched with incessant care over their interest and comfort.

The volume abounds in quaint anecdote, pathos, and matter of if graver nature, which will be treasured up for future use by the historian. At page 321 is a description of the breaking up of the ice on the Hudson. The passage is written with great power; and, as Southey has called it, “quite Homeric,” (a fact of which we are informed in the preface to this edition) we will be pardoned for copying it entire.

Soon after this I witnessed, for the last time, the sublime spectacle of the ice breaking up on the river; an object that fills and elevates the mind with ideas of power, and grandeur, and indeed, magnificence; before which all the triumphs of human art sink into insignificance. This noble object of animated greatness, for such it seemed, I witnessed; its approach being announced, like a loud and long peal of thunder, the whole population of Albany were down at the river side in a moment; and if it happened, as was often the case, in the morning, there could not be a more grotesque assemblage. No one who had a nightcap on waited to put it off; as for waiting for one’s cloak or gloves, it was a thing out of the question; you caught the thing next you that could wrap round you, and run. In the way you saw every door left open, and pails, baskets, &c. without number set down in the street. It was a perfect saturnalia. People never dreamt of being obeyed by their slaves till the ice was past. The houses were left quite empty: the meanest slave, the youngest child, all were to be found on the shore. Such as could walk, ran; and they that could not, were carried by those whose duty would have been to stay and attend them. When arrived at the show place, unlike the audience collected to witness any spectacle of human invention, the multitude, with their eyes all bent one way, stood immoveable, and silent as death, till the tumult ceased, and the mighty commotion was passed by; then every one tried to give vent to the vast conceptions with which his mind had been distended. Every child, and every negro was sure to say, ’Is not this like the day of judgment?’ and what they said every one else thought. Now to describe this is impossible; but I mean to account in some degree for it. The ice, which bad been all winter very thick, instead of diminishing, as might be expected in spring, still increased, as the sunshine came and the days lengthened. Much snow fell in February, which, melted by the heat of the sun, was .stagnant for a day on the surface of the ice; and then by the night frosts, which were still severe, was added as a new accession to the thickness of it, above the former surface. This was so often repeated, that in some years the ice gained two feet in thickness, after the heat of the sun became such as one would have expected should have entirely dissolved it. So conscious were the natives of the safety this accumulation of ice afforded, that the sledges continued to drive on the ice, when the treeswere budding,and everything looked like spring; nay, when there was so much melted on the surface that the horses were knee deep in water while travelling on it; and porlentous cracks, on every side, announced the approaching rupture. This could scarce have been produced by the mere influence of the sun, till midsummer. It was the swelling of the waters under the ice, increased by rivulets, enlarged by melted snows, that produced this catastrophe; for such the awful concussion made it appear. The prelude to the general bursting of this mighty mass was a fracture lengthwise, in the middle of the stream, produced by the effort of the imprisoned waters, now increased too much to be contained within their wonted bounds. Conceive a solid mass, from six to eight feet thick, bursting for many miles in one continued rupture, produced by a force inconceivably great, and, in a manner, inexpressibly sudden. Thunder is no adequate image of this awful explosion, which roused all the sleepers within reach of the sound, as completely as the final convulsion of nature, and the solemn peal of the awakening trumpet might be supposed to do. The stream in summer was confined by a pebbly strand, overhung with high and steep banks, crowned with lofty trees, which were considered as a sacred barrier against the encroachments of this annual visitation. Never dryads dwell in more security than those of the vine-clad elms, that extended their ample branches over this mighty stream. Their tangled nets laid bare by the impetuous torrents, formed caverns ever fresh and fragrant, where the most delicate plants flourished, unvisited by scorching suns or nipping blasts; and nothing could be more singular than the variety of plants and birds that were sheltered in these intricate and safe recesses. But when the bursting of the crystal surface set loose the many waters that had rushed down, swollen with the annual tribute of dissolving snow, the islands and low lands were all flooded in an instant; and the lofty banks, from which you were wont to overlook the stream, were now entirely filled by an impetuous torrent, bearing down, with incredible and tumultuous rage, immense shoals of ice; which, breaking every instant by the concussion of others, jammed together in some places, in others erecting themselves in gigantic heights for an instant in the air, and seeming to combat with their fellow-giants crowding on in all directions, and falling together with an inconceivable crash, formed a terrible moving picture, animated and various beyond conception; for it was not only the cerulean ice, whose broken edges combatting with the stream, refracted light into a thousand rainbows, that charmed your attention; lofty pines, large pieces of the bank torn off by the ice with all their early green and tender foliage, were driven on like travelling islands, amid the battle of breakers, for such it seemed. I am absurdly attempting to point a scene, under which the powers of language sink. Suffice it, that this year its solemnity was increased by an unusual quantity of snow, which the last hard winter had accumulated, and the dissolution of which now threatened an inundation.

7

CAMPERDOWN.

Camperdown; or News from our Neighborhood — Being a Series of Sketches, by the author of “Our Neighborhood,” &c. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard.

In “Our Neighborhood” published a few years ago, the author promised to give a second series of the work, including brief sketches of some of its chief characters. The present volume is the result of the promise, and will be followed up by others — in continuation. We have read all the tales in Camperdown with interest, and we think the book cannot well fail being popular. It evidences originality of thought and manner — with much novelty of matter. The tales are six in number; Three Hundred Years HenceThe SurpriseThe Seven ShantiesThe Little CoupleThe Baker’s Dozen — and The Thread and Needle StoreThree Hundred Years Hence is an imitation of Mercier’s “Lan deux milles quatre cents quarante,” the unaccredited parent of a great many similar things. In the present instance, a citizen of Pennsylvania, on the eve of starting for New York, falls asleep while awaiting the steam-boat. He dreams that upon his awakening, Time and the world have made an advance of three hundred years — that he is informed of this fact by two persons who afterwards prove to be his immediate descendants in the eighth generation. They tell him that, while taking his nap, he was buried, together with the house in which he sat, beneath an avalanche of snow and earth precipitated from a neighboring hill by the discharge of the signal-gun — that the tradition of the event had been preserved, although the spot of his disaster was at that lime overgrown with immense forest trees — and that his discovery was brought about by the necessity for opening a road through the hill. He is astonished, as well he may be, but, taking courage, travels through the country between Philadelphia and New York, and comments upon its alterations. These latter are, for the most part, well conceived — some are sufficiently outré. Returning from his journey he stops at the scene of his original disaster and is seated, once more, in the disentombed house, while awaiting a companion. In the meantime he is awakened — finds he has been dreaming — that the boat has left him — but also (upon receipt of a letter) that there is no longer any necessity for his journey. The Little Couple, and The Thread and Needle Store are skilfully told, and have much spirit and freshness.

8

ERATO.

Erato. By William D. Gallagher. No. I, Cincinnati, Josiah Drake — No. II, Cincinnati, Alexander Flash.

Many of these poems are old friends, in whose communion we have been cheered with bright hopes for the Literature of the West. Some of the pieces will be recognized by our readers, as having attained, anonymously, to an enviable reputation — among these the Wreck of the Hornet. The greater part, however, of the latter volume of Mr. Gallagher, is now, we believe, for the first time published. Mr. G. is fully a poet in the abstract sense of the word, and w ill be so hereafter in the popular meaning of the term. Even now he has done much in the latter way — much in every way. We think, moreover, we perceive in him a far more stable basis for solid and extensive reputation than we have seen in more than a very few of our countrymen. We allude not now particularly to force of expression, force of thought, or delicacy of imagination. All these essentials of the poet he possesses — but we wish to speak of care, study, and self-examination, of which this vigor and delicacy are in an inconceivable measure the result. That the versification of Mr. G.’s poem The Conqueror, is that of Southey’s Thalaba, we look upon as a good omen of ultimate success — although we regard the metre itself as unjustifiable. It is not impossible that Mr. G. has been led to attempt this rhythm by the same considerations which have had weight with Southey — whose Thalaba our author had not seen before the planning of his own poem. If so, and if Mr. Gallagher will now begin anew, in his researches about metre, where the laureate made an end, we have little doubt of his future renown.

It is not our intention to review the poems of Mr. Gallagher — nor perhaps would he thank us for so doing. They are exceedingly unequal. Long passages of the merest burlesque, and in horribly bad taste, are intermingled with those of the loftiest beauty. It seems too, that the poems before us fail invariably as entire poems, while succeeding very frequently in individual portions. But the failure of a whole cannot be shown without an analysis of that whole — and this analysis, as we have said, is beyond our intention at present. Some detached sentences, on the other hand, may be readily given; but, in equity, we must remind our readers that these sentences are selected.

The following fine lines are from The Penitent — a poem ill-conceived, ill-written, and disfigured by almost every possible blemish of manner. We presume it is one of the author’s juvenile pieces.

Remorse had furrowed his ample brow —

His cheeks were sallow and thin —

His limbs were shrivelled — his body was lank —

He had reaped the wages of sin;

And though his eyes constantly glanced about,

As if looking or watching for something without,

His mind’s eye glanced within!

Wildly his eyes still glared about,

But the eye that glared within

Was the one that saw the images

That frightened this man of sin.

From the same.

We were together: we had tarried

So off by some enchanting spot

To her familiar, and which carried

Her thoughts away — where mine were not —

That, ere she knew, the bright, chaste moon

— Not as of old, (when Time was young)

She roamed the woods, in sandal-shoon,

With bow in hand and quiver strung —

But ’mong the stars, and broad and round

The moon of man’s degenerate race,

Its way had through an opening found,

And shone full in her face!

She started then, and, looking up,

Turned on me her delicious eyes;

And I, poor fool! I dared to hope,

And met that look with sighs!

From the “Wreck of the Hornet” —

Now shrank with fear each gallant heart —

Bended was many a knee —

And the last prayer was offered up,

God of the Deep, to thee!

Muttered the angry Heavens still

And murmured still the sea —

And old and sternest hearts bowed down

God of the Deep, to Thee!

The little ballad “They told me not to love him,” has much tenderness, simplicity, and neatness of expression. We quote three of the five stanzas — the rest are equally good.

They told me not to love him!

They said he was not true;

And bade me have a care, lest I

Should do what I might me:

At first I scorn’d their warnings — for

I could not think that he

Conceal’d beneath so fair a brow,

A heart of perfidy.

 

But they fore’d me to discard him!

Yet I could not cease to love —

For our mutual vows recorded were

By angel hands above.

He left his boyhood’s home, and sought

Forgetfulness afar;

But memory stung him — and he fought,

And fell, in glorious war.

 

He dwells in Heaven now — while I

Am doom’d to this dull Earth:

O, how my sad soul longs to break

Away, and wander forth.

From star to star its course would be —

Unresting it would go,

Till we united were above,

Who severed were below.

By far the best poem we have seen from the pen of Mr. Gallagher is that entitled “August” — and it is indeed this little piece alone which would entitle him, at least now, we think, to any poetical rank above the general mass of versifiers. But the ability to write a poem such as “Hugo,” while implying a capacity for even higher and better things, speaks clearly of present power, and of an upward progress already begun Much of the beauty of the lines we mention, springs, it must be admitted, from imitation of Shelley — but we are not inclined to like them much the less on this account. We copy only the four initial stanzas. The remaining seven, although good, are injured by some inadvertences. The allusion, in stanzas six and seven, to Mr. Lee, a painter, destroys the keeping of all the latter portion of the poem.

Dust on thy mantle! dust,

Bright Summer, on thy livery of green!

A tarnish, as of rust,

Dimmeth thy brilliant sheen:

And thy young glories — leaf, and bud, and flower —

Change cometh over them with every hour.

 

Thee hath the August sun

Looked on with hot, and fierce, and brassy face:

And still and lazily run,

Scarce whispering in their pace,

The half-dried rivulets, that lately sent

A shout of gladness up, as on they went

 

Flame-like, the long mid-day —

With not so much of sweet air as hath stirr’d

The down upon the spray,

Where rests the panting bird,

Dozing away the hot and tedious noon,

With fitful twitter, sadly out of tune.

 

Seeds in the sultry air,

And gossamer web-work on the sleeping trees!

E’en the tall pines, that rear

Their plumes to catch the breeze,

The slightest breeze from the unfruitful West,

Partake the general languor, and deep rest.

9

LIFE ON THE LAKES.

Life on the Lakes: Being Tales and Sketches collected during a Trip to the Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior. By the author of” Legends of a Log Cabin.” New York. Published by George Dearborn.

The name of this book is in shockingly bad taste. After being inundated with the burlesque in the shape of Life in London, Life in Paris, Life at Crockford’s, Life in Philadelphia, and a variety of other Lives, all partaking of caricature, it is not easy to imagine a title more sadly out of keeping than one embracing on the same page this so travestied word Life and the — Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior. We have other faults to find with the work. It contains some ill-mannered and grossly ignorant sneers at Daniel O’Connell, calling him “the great pensioner on the poverty of his countrymen,” and making him speak in a brogue only used by the lowest of the Irish, about “the finest pisanlry in the world.” The two lithographs, (Picture Rocks and La Chapelle) the joint work of Messieurs Burford and Bufford, are abominable in every respect, and should not have been suffered to disgrace the well printed and otherwise handsome volumes. In the manner of the narrative, too, there is a rawness, a certain air of foppery and ill-sustained pretension — a species of abrupt, frisky, and self-complacent Paul Ulricism, which will cause nine-tenths of the well educated men who take up the book, to throw it aside in disgust, after perusing the initial chapter. Yet if we can overlook these difficulties, Life on the Lake, will be found a very amusing performance. We quote from the close of volume the first, the following piquant Indian Story, narrated by an Indian.

As our adventures are thus brought, for the day, to a premature close, suppose I give you an Indian story. If any body asks you who told it me, say you do not know.

Many years ago, when there were very few white men on the lake, and the red men could take the beaver by hundreds upon its shores, our great father, the president, sent a company of his wise men and his warriors to make a treaty with the Chippewas. They did not travel, as the poor Indians do, in small weak canoes; no, they were white warriors, and they had a barge so great she was almost a ship. The warriors of this party, like all our great fathers warriors, were exceeding brave; but among them all, the bravest was he whom the white men called the Major, but the red men called him Ininiwee, or the Bold Man. He was all over brave — even his tongue was brave; and Waab-ojeeg himself never spoke bolder words. For a while the wind was fair and the lake smooth, and the courage of Ininiwee ran over at his mouth in loud and constant boasting. At last they came to the mouth of Grand Marais, and here a storm arose, and one of the wise men — he was tall and large, and, on account of the color of his hair, and for other reasons, the Chippewa? called him Misco-Monedo* — told the warriors of our great father to take off their coats and their boots, so that if the great barge was filled with water, or if she turned over, they might swim for their lives. The words of Misco-Monedo seemed good to the warriors, and they took off their coats and boots, and made ready to swim in case of need. Then they sat still and silent, for the courage of the Major no longer overflowed at his lips; perhaps he was collecting it round his heart. They sat a long while, but at last the guide told them, ’It is over, the warriors are safe.’ Then, indeed, there was great joy among the white men; but Ininiwee made haste to put on his coat and his boots, for he said in his heart, ’If I can get them on before the other warriors, I can say I am brave; I did not take off my boots nor my coal; you are cowards, so I shall be a great chief.’ Ininiwee put on his coat, and then he thought to have put on his boots; but when he tried, the warrior who sat next him in the barge shouted and called for the Misco-Monedo. He came immediately, and saw that Ininiwee, whom they called the Major, in his haste and in his great fright, was trying to put his boot on another man’s leg.”

10

RUSSIA AND THE RUSSIANS.

Russia and the Russians; or, A Journey to St. Peters burg and Moscow, through Courland and Livonia; with Characteristic Sketches of the People. By Leigh Ritchie, Esq. Author of “Turner’s Annual Tour,” “Schindler- hannes,” &c. Philadelphia: E. L. Carey and A. Hart.

This book, as originally published in London, was beautifully gotten up and illustrated with engravings of superior merit, which tended in no little degree to heighten the public interest in its behalf. The present volume is well printed on passable paper — and no more. The name of Leigh Ritchie however, is a host in itself. He has never, to our knowledge, written a bad thing. His Russia and the Russians has all the spirit and glowing vigor of romance. It is full of every species of entertainment, and will prove in America as it has in England, one of the most popular books of the season. In this respect it will differ no less widely from the England of Professor Von Raumer than it differs from it in matter and manner, the vivacious writer of Schinderhannes suffering his own individuality of temperament to color every thing he sees, and giving us under the grave title of Russia and the Russians, a brilliant mass of anecdote, narrative, description and sentiment — the profound historian disdaining embellishment, and busying himself only in laying bare with a master-hand the very anatomy of England. It is amusing, however, although by no means extraordinary, that were we to glean the character of each work from the respective statements of the two writers in their prefaces, we would be forced to arrive at a conclusion precisely the reverse. In this view of the case Leigh Ritchie would be Professor Von Raumer, and Professor Von Raumer Leigh Ritchie. We copy from the book before us the commencement of a sketch of St. Petersburg, in which the artist has done far more in giving a vivid idea of that city than many a wiser man in the sum total of an elaborate painting.

St. Petersburg has been frequently called “the most magnificent city in Europe,” but the expression appears to me to be wholly destitute of meaning. Venice is a magnificent city, so is Paris, so is St. Petersburg; but there are no points of comparison among them. St. Petersburg is a city of new houses, newly painted” The designs of some of them may be old, but the copies are evidently new. They imitate the classic models; but they often imitate them badly, and there is always something to remind one that they are not the genuine classic. They are like the images which the Italian boys carry about the thoroughfares of London — Venuses de Medici and Belvidere Apollos, in stucco.

But the streets are wide, and the walls painted white or light yellow; and from one street opens another, and another, and another — all wide, and white, and light yellow. And then, here and there, there are columned facades, and churches, and domes, and tapering spires — all white too, that are not gilded, or painted a sparkling green. And canals sweep away to the right and left almost at every turning, not straight and Dutch-like, but bending gracefully, and losing themselves among the houses. And there is one vast and glorious river, as wide as the Thames at London, and a hundred times more beautiful, which rolls through the whole; and, beyond it, from which ever side you look, you see a kindred mass of houses and palaces, white and yellow, and columned facades, and churches, and domes, and spires, gilded and green.

The left bank of this river is a wall of granite, with a parapet and trottoir of the same material, extending for several miles; and this forms one of the most magnificent promenades in Europe. The houses on either side look like palaces, for all are white, and many have columns; and there are also absolute de facto palaces; for instance, the Admiralty, the Winter Palace, and the Marble Palace, on one side, and the Academy of Arts, on the other. The water in the middle is stirring with boats, leaping and sweeping through the stream, with lofty, old-fashioned sterns, painted and gilded within and without.

Among the streets, there is one averaging the width of Oxford Street in London, sometimes less, sometimes a little more. It is lined with trees, and shops with painted shutters, and churches of half a dozen different creeds. Its shops, indeed, are not so splendid as ours, nor are their windows larger than those of private houses: but the walls are white and clean, sometimes columned, sometimes pillastered, sometimes basso-relievoed: in fact, if you can imagine such a thing as a street of gin-palaces just after the painting season — and that is a bold word — you may form an idea scarcely exaggerated of the Nevski Prospekt.

But no analogy taken from London can convey an idea of the — grandeur, I may venture to say, presented by the vistas opening from the main street. Here there are no lanes, no alleys, no impasses, no nestling-places constructed of filth and rubbish for the poor. These lateral streets are all parts of the main street, only diverging at right angles. The houses are the same in form and color; they appear to be inhabited by the same classes of society; and the view is terminated, ever and anon, by domes and spires. The whole, in short, is one splendid picture, various in its forms, but consistent in its character.

Such were my first impressions — thus thrown down at random, without waiting to look for words, and hardly caring about ideas, — the first sudden impressions flashed upon my mind by the physical aspect of St. Petersburg.

I have said in a former volume of this work, that I have the custom — like other idlers, I suppose — of wandering about during the first day of my visit to a foreign city, without apparent aim or purpose; without knowing, or desiring to know, the geography of the place; and without asking a single question. Now this is precisely the sort of view which should be taken of the new city of the Tsars, by one who prefers the poetry of life to its dull and hackneyed prose- St. Petersburg is a picture rather than a reality — grand, beautiful, and noble, at a little distance, but nothing more than a surface of paint and varnish when you look closer. Or, rather, to amend the comparison, it is like the scene of a theatre, which you must not by any means look behind, if you would not destroy the illusion.

It will be said, that such is the case with all cities, with all objects that derive their existence from the puny sons of men: but this is one of those misnamed truisms which are considered worthy of all acceptation for no other reason than that they come from the tongue, or through a neighboring organ, with the twang of religion or morality.

London does not lose but gain by inspection; although on inspection it is found to be an enormous heap of dirty, paltry, miserable brick houses, which, but for the con slant repairs of the inhabitants, would in a few years become a mass of such pitiful ruins as the owls themselves would disdain to inhabit. Those narrow, winding, dingy streets — those endless lines of brick boxes, without taste, without beauty, without dignity, without any thing that belongs to architecture, inspire us with growing wonder and admiration. The genius, the industry, the commerce, of a whole continent seem concentrated in this single spot; and the effect is uninterrupted by any of the lighter arts that serve as the mere ornaments and amusements of life. An earnestness of purpose is the predominating character of the scene — a force of determination which seizes, and fixes, and grapples with a single specific object, to the exclusion of every other. The pursuit of wealth acquires a character of sublimity as we gaze; and Mammon rises in majesty from the very deformity of the stupendous temple of common-place in which he is worshipped.

Venice does not lose but gain by inspection; although on inspection it is found to be but the outlines of a great city, filled up with meanness, and dirt, and famine. We enter her ruined palaces with a catching of the breath, and a trembling of the heart; and when we see her inhabitants crouching in rags and hunger in their marble halls, we do but breathe the harder, and tremble the more. The effect is increased by the contrast; for Venice is a tale of the past, a city of the dead. The Rialto is still crowded with the shapes of history and romance; the Giant’s Steps still echo to the ducal tread; and mingling with the slaves and wantons who meet on the Sunday evenings to laugh at the rattle of their chains in the Piazza di San Marco, we see gliding, scornful and sad, the merchant-kings of the Adriatic.

St. Petersburg, on the other hand, has no moral character to give dignity to common-place, or haunt tombs and ruins like a spirit, it is a city of imitation, constructed, in our own day, on what were thought to be the best models; and hence the severity with which its public buildings have been criticised by all travellers, except those who dote upon gilding and green paint, and are enthusiasts in plaster and whitewash. As a picture of a city, notwithstanding, superficially viewed — an idea of a great congregating place of the human kind, without reference to national character, or history, or individuality of any kind — St. Petersburg, in my opinion, is absolutely unrivalled.

It would be difficult, even for the talented artist whose productions grace these sketches, to convey an adequate idea of the scale on which this city is laid out; and yet, without doing so, we do nothing. This is the grand distinctive feature of the place. Economy of room was the principal necessity in the construction of the other great European cities; for, above all things, they were to be protected from the enemy by stone walls. But, before St. Petersburg was built, a change had taken place in the art and customs of war, and permanent armies had become in some measure a substitute for permanent fortifications. Another cause of prodigality was the little value of the land; but, above all these, should be mentioned, the far-seeing, and far-thinking ambition of the builders. Conquest was the ruling passion of the Tsars from the beginning; and in founding a new capital, they appear to have destined it to be the capital of half the world. It is needless to exaggerate the magnitude of the city; as, for instance, some writers have done, by stating that the Nevski Prospekt is half as wide again as Oxford Street in London. Every thing is here on a gigantic scale. The quays, to which vessels requiring nine feet of water cannot ascend, except when the river is unusually high, might serve for all the navies of Europe. The public offices, or at least many of them, would hardly be too small, even if the hundred millions were added to the population of the country, which its soil is supposed to be capable of supporting.

Perhaps it may be as well to introduce here, for the sake of illustration, although a little prematurely as regards the description, a view of the grand square of the Admiralty. This is an immense oblong space in the very heart of the city. The spectator stands near the manege, the building which projects at the left-hand corner. Beyond this is the Admiralty, with its gilded spire, which is visible from almost all parts of the metropolis. Farther on is the Winter Palace, distinguished by a flag, in front of which, near the bottom of the vista, is the column raised to the memory of Alexander. Opposite this, on the right hand, is the palace of the Etat Major, and returning towards the foreground, the War Office. The group in front are employed in dragging stones for the new Isaak’s church, which stands in the left band corner, although the view is not wide enough to admit it. This is to be the richest and most splendid building in the world; but it has been so long in progress, and is now so little advanced, that a notice of it must fall to the lot of some future traveller. Saint Isaak, I believe, is not particularly connected with Russia, except by his day falling upon the birth-day of Peter the Great.

Such is the scale on which St. Petersburg is built; for although this may be considered the heart of the city, the other members correspond. The very vast ness of the vacant spaces, however, it should be observed, seems to make the houses on either side look less lofty; while on the other hand, no doubt the real want of loftiness in the houses exaggerates the breadth of the area between. But on the present occasion, any thing like fancy in the latter respect would have been quite supererogatory. The streets were hardly passable. Here and there n pond or a morass gave pause to the pedestrian; while the droski driver was only indebted to his daily renewed experience of the daily changing aspect of the ground, for the comparative confidence and safety with which he pursued his way. The streets, in fact, were in the same predicament as the roads by which I had reached them: they had thawed from their winter consistence, and their stones, torn up, and dismantled by the severities of the frost, had not yet been put into summer quarters.

The greater part of the streets are what may be termed pebble-roads, a name which describes exactly what they are. At this moment, in the whole city, there are upwards of seven hundred and seventy-two thousand square sagenes* of these roads, while of stone pavement there are only nine thousand four hundred and fifty, and of wood six thousand four hundred.

The wooden pavement, I believe, is peculiar to St. Petersburg, and merits a description. It consists of small hexagons sawed from a piece of resinous wood, and laid into a bed formed of crushed stones and sand. These are fastened laterally into each other with wooden pegs, and when the whole forms a plain surface, the interstices are filled with fine sand, and then boiling pitch is poured over all. This pitch from the porous nature of the wood is speedily absorbed, and on a quantity of sand being strewed above it, the operation is complete, and a pavement constructed which is found to be extremely durable, and which seems to me to suffer much less injury from the frost than the stone causeway. The honor of the invention is due to M. Gourief; and I have no doubt he will ultimately see it adopted in most of the great towns towards the north.

11

SUPPLEMENT.

In compliance with the suggestion of many of our friends, and at the request of a majority of our contributors, we again publish a supplement consisting of Notices of theMessenger.” We have duly weighed the propriety and impropriety of this course, and have concluded that when we choose to adopt it, there can be no good reason why we should not. Heretofore we have made selections from the notices received — only taking care to publish what we conceived to be a fair specimen of the general character of all — and, with those who know us, no suspicion of unfairness in this selection would be entertained. Lest, however, among those who do not know us, any such suspicion should arise, we now publish every late criticism received. This supplement is, of course, not considered as a portion of the Messenger itself, being an extra expense to the publisher.

We commence with the Newbern (North Carolina) Spectator — a general dissenter from all favorable opinions of our Magazine.

Southern Literary Messenger. — The May number of this periodical has been on our table for some days, but our avocations have prevented us from looking into it before to-day. It is as usual, a beautiful specimen of typography, and sustains Mr. White’s acknowledged mechanical taste. Its contents are various, as may be seen by referring to another column of to-day’s paper, and not more various than unequal. Some of the articles are creditable to their authors, while others — indeed a majority of them — would better suit an ephemeral sheet like our own, which makes no great literary pretensions, than the pages of a magazine that assumes the high stand of a critical censor and a standard of correct taste in literature. While its pretensions were less elevated, we hailed the Messenger as an attempt, and a successful one, to call forth southern talent and to diffuse a taste for chaste and instructive reading; and had its conducters been satisfied with the useful and creditable eminence which the work attained almost immediately, the Messenger would not only have had a more extensive circulation, but its labors would have been more beneficial to the community — the great end at which every periodical should aim. With the talent available in any particular spot in the southern country, it is out of the question, truly ridiculous, to assume the tone of a Walsh, a Blackwood or a Jeffries; and to attempt it, without the means to support the pretension, tends to accelerate the downfall of so indiscreet an attempt. We do not wish to be misunderstood in this remark. We believe, indeed we know, that the south possesses talent, and cultivated talent too, in as great abundance perhaps as any population of the same extent so situated; but the meaning which we intend to convey is, that this talent is neither sufficiently concentrated, nor sufficiently devoted to literary pursuits, to be brought forth in support of any single publication in strength adequate to establish an indisputable claim to superiority. Without these advantages, however, the Messenger has boldly put itself forth as an arbiter whose dicta arc supreme ; and with a severity and an indiscreetnesa of criticism, — especially on American works, — which few, if any, of the able ana well established Reviews have ventured to exercise, has been not only unmerciful, but savage. We admit that the number before, as well as the one preceding, is more moderate ; and this change encourages the hope that justness of judgment and a dignified expression of opinion will hereafter characterise the work. The May number, however, is over captious, unnecessarily devoted to faultfinding, in a few cases, in criticising “Spain Revisited,” this spirit shows itself. About ninety lines are occupied in condemnation of the Author’s dedication, a very unpretending one too, and one which will elevate Lieutenant Slidell in the estimation of all who prefer undoubted evidences of personal friendship to tho disposition which dictates literary hyper-criticism. The errors of composition that are to be found in the work, grammatical and other, are also severely handled, we will not say ably. The following is a specimen.

“And now, too, we began” — says Spain Revisited — “to see horsemen jantily dressed in slouched hat, embroidered jacket, and worked spatterdashes, reining fiery Andalusian coursers, each having the Moorish carbine hung at hand beside him.”

“Were horsemen” — says the Messenger, “a generic term,” that is, did the word allude to horsemen generally, the use of the “slouched hat” and “embroidered jacket” in the singular, would be justifiable — but it is not so in speaking of individual horsemen, where the plural is required. The participle “reining” probably refers to “spatterd’ishes,” although of course intended to agree with “horse-men.” The word “each” also meant to refer to the “horsemen,” belongs, strictly speaking, to the “coursers.” The whole, if construed by the rigid rules of grammar, would imply that the horsemen were dressed in spatterdashes — which spatterdashes reined the coursers — and which coursers had each a carbine.”

With all deference to the Messenger, we would ask, if it never entered into the critick’s mind that “slouched hat,” “and embroidered jacket” are here used as generiek terms? Lieutenant Slidell evidently intended that they should be so received: but that he entertained the same intention respecting “horsemen,” the whole context disproves. Had the reviewer placed a comma after the word “horsemen,” in the first line of the paragraph which he dissects, (the relative and verb — who were — being elided, there is authority for so doing,) considered as parenthetical and illustrative all that follows between that comma and the one which comes after “spatterdashes,’’ supplied the personal relative and the proper verb, which are plainly understood before the participle “reining,” we presume that this sentence, ill-constructed as it undoubtedly is, would have escaped the knife, from a conviction that there are many as bad in the Messenger itself. The only critical notice which we have had leisure to read since the reception of the number, is the one which wo have named. We may resume the subject in connexion with the June number.

We are at a loss to know who is the editor of the Spectator, but have a shrewd suspicion that he is the identical gentleman who once sent us from Newbern an unfortunate copy of verses. It seems to us that he wishes to be taken notice of, and we will, for the once, oblige him with a few words — with the positive understanding, however, that it will be inconvenient to trouble ourselves hereafter with his opinions. We would respectfully suggest to him that his words, “while its pretensions were less elevated we hailed the Messenger as a successful attempt, &c. and had its conductors been satisfied with the useful and creditable eminence, &c. we would hare had no objection to it,” &c. are a very fair and candid acknowledgment that he can find no fault with the Messenger but its success, and that to be as stupid as itself is the only sure road to the patronage of the Newbern Spectator. The paper is in error — we refer it to any decent schoolboy in Newbern — in relation to the only sentence in our Magazine upon which it has thought proper to comment specifically, viz. the sentence above (by Lieutenant Slidell) beginning “And now too we began to see horsemen jantily dressed in slouched hat, embroidered jacket, &c.” The Spectator says, “We would ask if it never entered into the critic’s mind that ’slouched hat’ and ’embroidered jacket’ are here used as generic terms? Lieutenant Slidell evidently intended that they should be so received; but that he entertained the same intention respecting ’horsemen,’ the whole context disproves.” We reply, (and the Spectator should imagine us smiling as we reply) that it is precisely because “slouched hat” and “embroidered jacket” are used as generic terms, while the word “horsemen” is not, that we have been induced to wish the sentence amended. The Spectator also says, “With the talent available in any particular spot in the Southern country, it is out of the question, truly ridiculous, to assume the tone of a Walsh, a Blackwood, or a Jeffries.” We believe that either Walsh, or (Blackwood?) or alas! Jeffries, would disagree with the Newbern Spectator in its opinion of the talent of the Southern country — that is, if either Walsh or Blackwood or Jeffries could have imagined the existence of such a thing as a Newbern Spectator. Of the opinion of Blackwood and Jeffries, however, we cannot be positive just now. Of that of Walsh we can, having heard from him very lately with a promise of a communication for the Messenger, and compliments respecting our Editorial course, which we should really be ashamed of repeating. From Slidell, for whom the Spectator is for taking up the cudgels, we have yesterday heard in a similar strain and with a similar promise. From Prof. Anthon, ditto. Mrs. Sigourney, also lately reviewed, has just forwarded usher compliments and a communication. Halleck, since our abuse of his book, writes us thus: “There is no place where I shall be more desirous of seeing my humble writings than in the publication you so ably support and conduct. It is full of sound, good literature, and its frank, open, independent manliness of spirit, is characteristic of the land it hails from.” Paulding, likewise, has sent us something for our pages, and is so kind as to say of us in a letter just received, I should not hesitate in placing the “Messenger” decidedly at the head of our periodicals, nor do I hesitate in expressing that opinion freely on all occasions. It is gradually growing in the public estimation, and under your conduct, and with your contributions, must soon, if it is not already, be known all over the land.” Lastly, in regard to the disputed matter of Drake and Halleck, we have just received the following testimony from an individual second to no American author in the wide-spread popularity of his writings, and in their universal appreciation by men of letters, both in the United States and England. “You have given sufficient evidence on various occasions, not only of critical knowledge but of high independence; your praise is therefore of value, and your censure not to be slighted. Allow me to say that I think your article on Drake and Halleck one of the finest pieces of criticism ever published in this country.”

These decisions, on the part of such men, it must be acknowledged, would be highly gratifying to our vanity, were not the decision vetoed by the poet of the Newbern Spectator. We wish only to add that the poet’s assertion in regard to the Messenger “putting itself forth as an arbiter whose dicta are supreme,” is a slight deviation from the truth. The Messenger merely expresses its particular opinions in its own particular manner. These opinions no person is bound to adopt. They are open to the comments and censures of even the most diminutive things in creation — of the very Newborn Spectators of the land. If the Editor of this little paper does not behave himself we will positively publish his verses. — Ed. Messenger.

From the Augusta Chronicle.

Southern Literary Messenger. — The following flattering tribute to the merits of the Southern periodical, in from the New York Courier and Enquirer; and, for its liberality and independence, it is scarcely less creditable to the Messenger, than to the paper from which it is extracted. The Courier and Enquirer is ever ready to do justice to the South, in all its relations, and to defend it when assailed, and therefore richly merits the warm gratitude and liberal patronage of its people.

[[—]]

From the Courier and Enquirer.

“We have received the May number of the Southern Literary Messenger, and its contents are equal to its reputation. We feel no hesitation in declaring our opinion that this publication is in every essential attribute, at the very head of the periodical literature of its class, in the United States. We do not agree by any means with some of in literary conclusions. For instance, it is very wide of our opinion on the merits of Halleck. In this very number; but there is a vigor and manliness in most of the papers that appear in the Messenger, which we are almost ready to admit, are found no where else in American periodicals. At all events, it holds a proud post among its compeers, and its criticisms in particular, though sometimes a little too tomahawkish, have, generally speaking, a great deal of justice on their aide.”

From the National Intelligencer.

On the subject of the right of instruction, we find in the June number of the Richmond Literary Messenger, a very able paper, which, as soon an we can free our columns from the mass of Congressional matter on our hands, we will spread entire before our readers. The article mines to us in the shape of a letter to a gentleman in Virginia, and is understood to be from the pen of that distinguished jurist, Judge Hopkinson, of Philadelphia. It was elicited by a recent article in the Richmond Enquirer in defence of the right of mandatory instruction, and furnishes a luminous and complete refutation of that, amomrst tho most mischievous of the fallacies which obtain occasional popularity in particular States. Hearing of this letter, the publisher of the Messenger had the good sense and good fortune to obtain a copy of it, and the manliness to publish it in his valuable journal. In so doing he has rendered a service to the public, and enriched his pages with an article which is, itself, worth five years’ subscription to the Messenger.

From the Richmond Compiler.

The Southern Literary Messenger. — Every body must remember, that a very short time ago the attempt to establish a magazine in Virginia, was looked upon as chimaricat in the last degree; and when, at length, the publication waa commenced, in spite of a host of difficulties, its speedy downfall waa universally predicted. Such predictions, no doubt, tended In a great degree to verify themselves, and are the usual resources of the enemies of any scheme of the kind. But it is saying a great deal for the enterprize and talent which have been employed in the service of the Messenger, that it has not only overcome difficulties such as no other magazine in the country ever successfully contended with, but that it has succeeded in attaining to the very first rank among American monthly periodicals. Since the commencement of the second volume, there has hardly been a dissenting voice, in this respect, In the many notices of the journal which have come under our observation. The first literary names in the Union (without reference to mere Editorial opinions) have not scrupled directly to avow their belief, that the Messenger is decidedly the first of American Journals, and that its Editorial articles and management In especial, are far superior to those of any magazine in America, but have suffered these opinions to be published. Here, then, there can be no suspicion of puffery. Yet in spite of all these things, — In spite of the energy which has been displayed in getting up the Journal — in spile of the acknowledged ability with which it is conducted, and the admitted talents of its principal contributors (Judge Hopkinson, Professor Dew, Rbt. Greenhow, Heath, Timothy Flint, Edgar Poe, Judge Tucker, Groesbeck, Minor, Carter, Maxwell and a host of others! — In spite, too, of the general acknowledgement that such a publication is an honor to the State, we find our citizens regarding the work with apathy, if not treating it with positive neglect. Our public presses, too, we think to blame, in not entering more warmly Into the cause of the Messenger. We happen to be aware that these presses are, one and all, favorably disposed to the Journal and proud of its success. But they are, in a measure, bound to some active exertions in its behalf. In such a case as that of the Messenger, silence amounts to positive dispraise. The public in other States naturally look to the Richmond presses for opintou in relation to the magazine, and are at a loss to account for not finding any, except by supposing some dement. We are quite sure that Mr. White has neither any expectation nor desire that we should puff his Journal — that is, praise it beyond its deserts. Yet we may certainly notice each number as it appears, expressing freely, although briefly, our opinion of its deserts. This is nothing more, it appears to us, than our absolute duty — a duty we owe to the cause of Virginia literature, to Mr. White, Mr. Poe, and to ourselves.

The present number, we do not think equal as a whole to the March number, and still less to that for February — which latter may be safely placed in comparison with any single number of any Journal in existence for the great vigor, profundity, ami originality of in articles. Yet we do not mean to say that the number now before us is not an admirable one, and fully equal to any of our Northern magazines in its communications, whits it far surpasses the best of them in its Editorial department.

The first article is “MSS. of Benj. Franklin,” printed from MSS. in the hand-writing of Franklin himself, and never published in any edition of his works. It is unnecessary to say more than this to call public attention to so valuable a paper. “Lionel Granby,” chap. X. is the next prose article. We like the chapter as well if not better, than any of the former ones. The wiiter of these papers is evidently a man of genius — we tnierbt perhaps express our meaning more fully by saying that be has that degree of genius which enables him to appreciate, and keenly fed the labors of men of genius. Some of his detached passages may be considered as very fine. He has, however, no capacity to sustain a connected narrative of any length, and these chapters of “Lionel Granby” are consequently replete with the most ludicrous incongruities. They evince great ignorance of what is called the world. They are full of a shallow pedantry. Their style is excessively turgid, ungrammatical, and inconsequential. “The Prairie” is a delightful little sketch of real scenery. “Random Thoughts” is an excellent article, evincing much true learning and acumen. Such contributors aa the author of this paper are invaluable to the Messenger. “Odds and Ends” is from the pen of Oliver Oldschool — a former correspondent of the Messenger. We believe Oliver Oldschool to be Mr. Garnett. the author of many excellent things on Female Education. The present essay is exceedingly amusing — but somewhat old fashioned. “The Hall of Incholese” by J. N. McJilton should not have been admitted into the columns of the Messenger. It is an imitation of the Editor’s tale of Bon-Bon, and like most other imitations, utterly unworthy of being mentioned in comparison with its original. Nothing but the most extraordinary talent can render a tale of this nature acceptable to the present state of the public appetite. If not exceedingly good, it is always excessively bad. It must be a palpable hit or it is nothing. The “Lecture on German Literature” is in every respect worthy of the talents and learning of its author, George II. Calvert, Editor of the Baltimore American, and the writer of several popular works. It is a spirited and accurate sketch of German Literature from its origin to the present day. The Messenger should secure Mr. Calvert if possible. “Readings with my pencil, No. IV,” is a very good paper. “American Social Elevation” is the best communicated article in the present number, and perhaps one of the best, if not indeed the best (of a similar nature) which has ever appeared in any Journal in the country. Its philosophy is bold and comprehensive without being minute — its style fervid and exceedingly pure. From the initials and place of date, we are led to attribute this essay to Mr. Groesbeck of Cincinnati. “Verbal Criticisms” is a good paper, but we cannot agree with the critic fn his strictures on the phrase “being built.”

The Editorial Department is (as it invariably is,) full, bold, vigorous and original. The first paper is “Lynches Law,” and gives the history and origin, together with a copy of the law. Then follow Critical Notices. New works are reviewed — of Slidell’s, of Professor Anthon’s, of Mrs. Trollope’s, of Paulding’s, of Walsh’s, of Cooper’s, and of Mellcn’s. Praise and blame are distributed with the soundest discrimination, and with an impartiality, (even in the case of known friends,) which it is impossible not to admire; or to impeach.

The Poetical Department is quite limited. Two pieces by Mr. Poe are very beautiful, the one entitled “Irene,” in especial, is full of his rich and well-disciplined imagination. The lines on “Camilla” by Lambert A. Wilmer, are a perfect gem; full of antique strength and classic sorrow.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 237, column 2:]

*  Red Devil.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 239, column 2:]

*  A sagrne if seven feet.

 


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Notes:

None.


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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) (July 1836 (Texts))