Last Update: June 20, 1999         Navigation:   Main Menu     Poe's Criticisms
[Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), "Review of New Books," Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, V, December 1839, pp. 327-334.]

[page 327:]


[The first item is a review of The Museum of Religious Knowledge. The review has been attributed to W. E. Burton.]

[The second item is a review of The Christian Keepsake and Missionary Annual for 1840. The review has been attributed to W. E. Burton.]

[page 328:]

[The third item is a review of The Poet: a Metical Romance of the Seventeenth Century. The review has been attributed to W. E. Burton.]

[The fourth item is a review of Albert de Rosann; or The Adventures of a French Gentleman. The review has been attributed to W. E. Burton.]

[page 329:]


Memoirs of His Own Time; Including the Revolution, The Empire, and The Restoration. By Lieut. Gen. Count Mathieu Dumas. Two Volumes. Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia.

    Count Mathieu Dumas will be remembered by all Americans as one of the aid-de camps of General Rochambeau, during his command of the corps of twelve thousand men sent by the French Government to our assistance, in the year 1780. The Count shared this appointment with the Chevalier de Lameth, Count Charles de Damas, the Count de Vauban, the Count de Fersen, the Count de Lauberbiere, and M. Collot.

    The life of Dumas has been long, and exceedingly fruitful of events. He was born in 1753, and these Memoirs extend from the year 1773, when he first entered the service of France, to the end of the year 1826, an extensive period rife with momentous occurrences, in many of which he bore an important, if not at all times a conspicuous part. In 1826, he had considered his political career terminated, and thought only of enjoying, in retirement, the society of his family and friends; but he was unexpectedly thrust back upon public life, wherein he played a busy rôle for the ten subsequent years -- until 1836. Upon these latter years the posthumous journal now published does not touch; although his various positions, during the period, must have imbued his entire spirit with intrigue. We now find him first, a member of the Chamber of Deputies; then principal co-operator with the illustrious La Fayette in the re-organization of the National Guards; then Counsellor of State, and lastly a Member of the Chamber of Peers. It is remarkable that from the year 1827, he had been totally blind; and was prevented, in consequence, from prosecuting the historical undertakings which have been announced, as in progress, and for which he had collected a world of valuable material. These Memoirs are the result of dictation to an amanuensis. They are, of course, very interesting, and should have a place in every historical library.


The Most Important Parts of Blackstone's Commentaries, Reduced to Questions and Answers. By Asa Kinne. Second Edition. W. S. Dean, New York.

    This work was originally prepared by Mr. Kinne (who is a citizen of Natchez) without any view to publication. His primary design was to impress more vividly upon his own mind the spirit and leading facts of Blackstone, than can be done by the ordinary system of perusal, even when careful attention is given to the text, and the whole matter thoroughly noted, or common-placed. There are few men of logical thought who have not, at some period of life, experienced the benefit of reducing a course of study to a system of question and answer; and, certainly, no one who ever tried it, will hesitate to acknowledge its importance and advantage in the methodizing of knowledge--in the stamping it upon memory, in the rendering it distinct, and, in short, in giving it all those qualities which make it enduring, and at any moment available. The system is applicable to all sciences, and in none is more essential than in law, whose complexity exceeds that of all others. Perceiving the great profit of his course, as he continued to pursue it, Mr. Kinne, at length, having completed Blackstone, digested what he had done, and arranged it, as we now see it, for publication. In testimony of the value of what he has accomplished the high authorities of Walworth, Kent, Story, Cranch, Bouvier, Du Ponceau, Ingersoll, Paul Brown, and other eminent jurists, must be considered as decisive. But by the public at large the volume in question has scarcely yet been known; a fact which is accounted for only by some very unusual scruples of the author, in regard to the mode of publication. We are now happy to find that these scruples are removed, and that the book will be circulated, as it deserves to be.

    The copy now before us is one of the second edition; the first having been privately distributed. Mr. Kinne has materially enlarged and greatly improved his work, simplifying it by every means in his power. Among other important points we observe that the ordinary Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Saxon law phrases are very properly Anglicised. Many of the original answers are extended beyond their former limits, in order to afford a more complete exhibition of the fundamental canons of the British law, the great original of our own judicial system, and with a view of making the abstracts plain, and easily comprehensible by the general inquirer. He has also interwoven more than five hundred additional questions and answers, and appended a very serviceable Index. In its [page 330:] present form the work must be regarded by all who survey it carefully, as a valuable addition to our legal and ordinary libraries. To the jurist it will be exceedingly useful in its indicial and digestible character; to the scholar as an aid in the task of revision and condensation; and to every general reader as a convenient manual, not only of law, hut of its origin and principia. In the latter respect we look upon it as a better book than the "Analysis" of Judge Field. We should have mentioned that Mr. K. has judiciously forborne to touch upon those Chapters in the First Book of Blackstone which discuss subjects of a purely local application; such as the king, parliament, etc. He, of course, does not consider an acquaintance with the peculiar political structure of the government of Great Britain either useless or unimportant, but the subject did not fall within the scope of his plan, which was simply to present to the reader an abstract of those laws which regulate the British administration of justice, and from which so large a portion of our own legal code has been derived. We should like to say more of this volume, which is indeed of unusual value, and with which we are especially taken, as with an important step in the simplification and unquacking of an unnecessarily complex and much bemystified science; but the truth is that the merits of the work speak loudly for themselves, and thus leave us very little to say.


[The seventh review is of Dicken's The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. The review is presumed to be by Poe.]

[The eighth review is of J. R. Chandler's An Address, Delivered before the Goethean and Diagnothian Societies. The review is presumed to be by Poe.]


[The nineth item is a review of Keese's The Poets of America. The review has been attributed to W. E. Burton.]

[page 332:]

Nix Mate; an Historical Romance of America. By the Author of "Athenia of Damascus," etc. Two volumes. Colman, New York.

    Mr. Rufus Dawes has given us an original tale, full of exciting incident and wild and wonderful achievements. His plot is good, and his characters are well conceived and spiritedly displayed. The scenic descriptions are also particularly effective.

    It is a difficult and a dangerous matter to blend the ideal with the real in a narration of historical events so well known as the matters connected with Sir Edmond Andros' government of Massachusetts. The introduction of the agency of witches in a New England tale is a good idea, but the author has sadly missed his aim in rendering their magical powers most positive and real. The indisputable matter-of-fact details of colonial government assort but strangely with the freaks of an Indian sorceress, exercising unlimited control over the fiends of hell; and, according to our notions, New England witches are somewhat different from Mr. Dawes' hags of the Brocken and the Hartz, who leave their German mountains to boil their unholy cauldrons on the beach at Nahant. This strange mistake militates against the general effect of the tale; nevertheless, we believe that the publisher will find it the best selling book of the season.



[The eleventh review is of G. P. Morris's National Melodies. The review is presumed to be by Poe.]


United States Military Magazine, and Record of all the Volunteers, together with the Army and Navy. Huddy and Duval, Philadelphia.

    We observe a great improvement in this Magazine. The last number is very creditable to all concerned in its publication. The literary matter is appropriate to the work. The embellishments, too, [page 334:] are well done. The first is a fine lithograph of an officer and private of the Troy Citizens' Corps, accompanied by an account of that body. The second is also a good plate, representing an officer of the Montgomery Light Guard of New York. We have moreover a Grand March entitled the National Greys, and composed expressly for the Magazine. Among the literary sketches we observe one of the "Battle of Brandywine," and the editor says-- "It is not known to whom belongs its authorship." It belongs, however, to John Neal, of Portland, than whom a more graphic or vigorous writer is not now living.

    We believe that the Military Magazine is well supported, and it certainly deserves support.


[The eleventh review is of Walks and Wanderings. The review is presumed to be by Poe.]


The Good Housekeeper. By Mrs. Sarah J. Hale. Weeks, Jordan and Co., Boston.

    This is a very neat, and certainly a very useful little work, and will command a ready sale. It is unusually full, not only in respect to mere culinary matters, but in regard to a world of household affairs. We have recipes, and useful hints, and economical precepts et id genus omne, of wisdom-- sg~w in which young housekeepers, especially, are apt to be sadly deficient.

    In stooping, a moment, from severer pursuits to one of this humble yet highly important character, Mrs. Hale is only following good example--the example of Dr. Kitchener, of our own Miss Leslie, and of one or two dozen others whom we could name. We shall like her all the better when she returns to her customary themes.


~~~ End of Text ~~~

[S:0 - BGM 1839]