Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), Review of New Books, from Graham’s Magazine, May 1842, pp. 298-300


[page 298, unnumbered, full page:]


[column 1:]


[Review of Hawthorne’s Twice Told Tale]


[page 300, column 1, continued]


The Vigil of Faith, and Other Poems. By C. F. Hoffman, Author of “Greyslaer,” &c. S. Colman: New York.

Mr. Charles Fenno Hoffman is well known as the author of several popular novels, and as the quondam editor of the “American Monthly Magazine;” but his poetical abilities have not as yet attracted that attention which is indubitably their due.

“The Vigil of Faith,” a poem of fifty-two irregular stanzas, embodies a deeply interesting narrative supposed to be related by an Indian encountered by the author in a hunting excursion amid the Highlands of the Hudson. [column 2:] It bears the impress of the true spirit upon every line; but appears to be carelessly written.

The occasion Poems are scarcely more beautiful, but, in general, are more complete and polished. Now and the, however, we observe, even in these, an inaccurate rhythm. Here, for example, in “Moonlight on the Hudson,” page 63, we note a foot too much —

“Or cradle-freighted Ganges, the reproach of mothers.”

This line is not used as an Alexandrine but occurs in the body of a stanza. Mr. Hoffman is, also, somewhat too fond of a double rhyme, which, unduly employed, never fails to give a flippant air to a serious poem. It is not improbable that we shall speak more fully of this really beautiful volume hereafter. Its external or mechanical appearance excels that of any book we have seen for a long time.


The Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, called the Magnificent. By William Roscoe. From the London Edition Corrected. In Two Volumes. Carey & Hart: Philadelphia.

The genius of Lorenzo de’ Medici has never, perhaps, been so highly estimated, as his exertions on behalf of Italian literature. Yet he was not only an author unsurpassed by any of his illustrious contemporaries, but, as a statesman, gave evidence of profound ability. A work illustrating the value of his character and discussing his vast influence upon his age, has been long wanting, and no man lives who could better supply the desideratum than Mr. Roscoe. In republishing these volumes Messieurs Cary & Hart have rendered a service of the highest importance to the reading public of America.


The Poets and Poetry of America. With an Historical Introduction. By Rufus W. Griswold. Carey & Hart: Philadelphia.

This is a volume of remarkable beauty externally, and of very high merit internally. It embraces selections from te poetical works of every true poet in America without exception; and these selections are prefaced, in each instance, with a brief memoir, for whose accuracy we can vouch. We know that no pains or expense have been spared in this compilation, which is, by very much indeed, the best of its class — affording, at one view, the justest idea of our poetical literature. Mr. Griswold is remarkably well qualified for the task he has undertaken. We shall speak at length of this book in our next.


Beauchampe, or the Kentucky Tragedy. A Tale of Passion. By the Author of “Richard Hurdis,” “Border Beagles,” etc. Two Volumes. Lea & Blanchard: Philadelphia.

The events upon which this novel is based are but too real. No more thrilling, no more romantic tragedy did ever the brain of poet conceive than was the tragedy of Sharpe and Beauchampe. We are not sure that the author of “Border Beagles” has done right in the selection of his theme. Too little has been left for invention. We are sure, however, that the theme is skilfully handled. The author of “Richard Hurdis” is one among the best of our native novelists — pure, bold, vigorous, original.



The attribution of the four reviews given here is highly probable, although not absolutely certain. They were considered to be the work of Poe by Heartman and Canny (1943), and attributed to Poe by T. O. Mabbott and William D. Hull. Mabbott’s notes at the University of Iowa list them all as “sure,” except the review of Roscoe, which he gives as “accept.” Hull credits the review of Hoffman to Poe, but without certainty, saying, “there is nothing quite definite enough.” Hull makes a similar statement about the review of Roscoe, noting, “This notice is typical enough of Poe’s brief notices; but there is in it nothing distinctive. From its position, however, it is safe to say that it is probably Poe’s.” Following Killis Campbell (The Nation, 1909, p. 623), Mabbott and Hull both connect this review of Griswold with the review of June 1842. Campbell also attributed the review of Simms to Poe (The Nation, 1909, p. 623). Hull attributes this review to Poe as certain. Hull comments about similarities, in reference to the fact that the chief interest of the book is in the real events, between this review, Poe’s “Literati” article on Hoffman, and a comment about “Beauchampe” from the review of Simm’s The Wigwam and the Cabin. Hull also mentions a comment from Poe’s “Marginalia” of the Democratic Review for December 1844.


[S:0 - GM, 1842] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Review of New Books [Text-02]