Text: Burton R. Pollin, “The Broadway Journal: Text (March 1845),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. III: Broadway Journal (Text) (1986), pp. 25-69 (This material is protected by copyright)


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(a) WHATEVER may be the merits or demerits, generally, of the Magazine literature of America,(25/1) there can be no question as to its extent or its influence. The topic — Magazine literature — is therefore, an important one. In a few years its importance will be found to have increased in geometrical ratio. The whole tendency of the age is Magazine-ward.(25/6) The quarterly reviews have never been popular. Not only are they too stilted (by way of keeping up a due dignity), but they make a point, for the same reason, of discussing only topics which are caviare(25/10) to the many, and which, for the most part, have only a conventional interest, even with the few. Their issues, also, are at too long intervals: their subjects get cold before being served up. In a word, their ponderosity is quite out of keeping with the movement — with the rush of the age. We now demand the light artillery of the intellect: we need the curt, the condensed, the pointed, the readily diffused — in place of the verbose, the detailed, the voluminous, the inaccessible. On the other hand, the lightness of the artillery must not degenerate into pop-gunnery(25/19-20) — by which character we may designate the character of the greater portion of the newspaper press; whose sole legitimate object is the discussion of ephemeral matters in an ephemeral manner. Whatever talent may be brought to bear upon our daily journals, (and in many cases this talent is very great) still the imperative necessity of catching, currente calamo,(25/26) every topic as it flits before the eye of the public, must, of course, materially narrow the limits of their power. The bulk, and the period of issue of the Monthly Magazine, seem to be precisely adapted, if not to all the literary wants of the day, at least to the largest and most imperative, as well as the most consequential portion of them.

With these views, we shall, of course, regard attentively all that concerns our Magazines. It is our design to treat this class of journals with a consideration to which hitherto they have been unaccustomed. We propose neither to belaud(25/36) nor to abuse them; but in regarding them as the most important arenas for our literary men, we shall be pardoned for sweeping them clean of all that is adventitious.

Keeping these intentions in mind, as points to be accomplished in the future, we shall content ourselves, this week, with a few observations, at random, on the March number of Graham’s Magazine — reserving its general character, as well as the general character of its class, for more deliberate investigation hereafter.

The two first plates(25/45-46) are capitally designed and engraved; the “Dacota Woman and Assiniboin Girl,” in especial, is worthy of all commendation. No annual has been issued in [page 26:] America which might not have been proud of these illustrations. The third plate, called the “Love-Letter,” is dis graceful in every respect. The flesh of the woman is sheep’s wool, and the hand holding the love-missive, has the air of having been carved by a very small child, with a dull knife, from a raw potato. The essay on Egotism is well written and pointed. Miss Sedgwick’s “Incidents at Rome” is only mediocre; it has little either of force or novelty. Mr. Simms’ “Boatman’s Revenge” is a spirited tale, by one of our best narrators of similar things — a man whose literary interests have suffered by too pertinacious a residence in the South. Mr. Simms is full of fault, but he has a ‘true vigor which more than redeems it. The division of his present story into chapters is without meaning, and has a stiffness which is objectionable. “Serenading” is only so-so. “Lucy Dutton,” by Fanny Forrester, is gracefully told. “Foreign Mysteries,” by Grund, and “Carry Carlisle” by Mrs. Osgood, are the best contributed prose articles in the number; the latter piece embodying also some of the best poetry. The editorial criticisms of “Graham” are in general vigorous and pungent — but the notice of “Lowell’s Conversations” in the present number, by no means does justice, we think, to the very great and peculiar abilities of the author reviewed.

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A Manual of Ancient and Modern History. By W. C. Taylor, L.L.D., M.R. A.S., of Trinity College, Dublin. Revised, with a chapter on the History of the United States, by C. S. Henry, D.D., professor of Philosophy and History in the University of the City of New York. D. Appleton k Co., 200 Broadway.

“The use of history is not to load the memory with facts, but to store the mind with principles,” says Dr. Taylor, in his preface; but [page 27:] if this were true, it would be an idle labor to compress a world of facts into the compass that he has done in his manual; principles alone would have answered a better purpose. But it is an unmeaning sentence. The principles of history, like the principles of chemistry, are facts: we have need of nothing else. Facts ate to the mind what manure is to the soil — nothing of value will grow without them. How absurd it would be for a man to talk of the philosophy of history, whose memory was not well stored with facts. Happily for us, Dr. Taylor has not acted on his own theory, but has given us as many historical facts as could well be disposed of in 800 pages; and it is this, not his principles, which gives so high a value to his manual. There is yet no settled principle in regard to the best manner of pursuing historical studies; and it is not probable that there ever will be. In nine cases out of ten, accident will guide the student in his choice of books; and elegance of style more than any other cause, will gain popularity for an historian. Some of the worst histories that have been written, are the most popular; indeed, a good history will stand but little chance of popularity. If every man knew himself thoroughly, he would have need of no other knowledge of mankind, for his Cory, which sounds so grand, is only an exceedingly imperfect account of the lives of men precisely like ourselves; and whether they wore crowns or tarpaulins, the particulars of their lives are alike valuable as materials for philosophy. The life of any milliner in Broadway is as good material for history as the life of Queen Anne. If the whole plan of writing histories were reversed, and the quarrels and speeches of corporals and hucksters from the earliest periods to the present time were given, we should know as much of the philosophy of the human mind as we do now. The most important fact to be gleaned from the history of mankind, is whether or not the human mind has improved since the creation; and the only way to determine it is by comparing man at the outset with man at the present. But history can aid us but little here; we must have a more reliable source than the records which men make of each other. The true objects for the student of humanity will be found m the monuments which men have left of their habits, like foot prints in the sand, by which we ascertain in what direction they have travelled. A comparison of the Astor House with the pyramid of Cheops, if we but knew the uses to which both buildings were put, will enable us to determine, better than any history that has been written, whether the human mind has male any advances during the last three thousand years.

But we are undesignedly uttering all manner of heterodoxies, when we had only intended to call attention to the very valuable work under notice, whose original value has been enhanced by an additional chapter by Professor Henry. (we call him Professor, lest he be con. founded with Dr. Henry, the historian of England,) on the history of the United States, which brings down our history literally to the present time, giving an account of President Tyler’s Texas message to Congress.

The work is divided into ancient and modern history, the first part beginning with the Egyptians and ending with the creation of the Western empire, and a separate chapter on India. The second part commences with the Gothic kingdom of Italy, and ends with the affairs of yesterday. There are also separate chapters devoted to the history of Colonization, the history of the Jews, and the history of China.

As a manual of history it will be found one of the most useful, and at the same time most readable compends, that have been published.


THE NUN, OR LIFE IN A CONVENT. By one of the Sisterhood, first American from the fifth London edition. Farmer & Daggers, Ann st.

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NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS. — The communication by R. H. will appear next week; we shall be glad to hear from him often.

We have taken the liberty to clip off a part of the letter fromHorace,” because it contains a puff on ourselves: we have not the least repugnance to a puff, but we do not like the plan of helping to give one currency.

We have ample reason to believe that we did the publisher of Graham’s Magazine an injustice last week in respect to his paying contributors. We are assured that he has uniformly paid liberally where pay has been asked, and that during the last three or four years he has paid more to American authors than any other publisher in the country. [page 28:]

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IN replying to the letter signed “Outis,” which appears in last Saturday’s “Weekly Mirror“, I find it advisable, for reasons which will be obvious as I proceed, to dismiss for the present the editorial “we.”

For the “Evening Mirror” of January 14, before my editorial connection with the “Broadway Journal,” I furnished a brief criticism on Professor Longfellow’s “Waif.”

In the course of my observations, I collated a poem called “The Death-Bed,” and written by Hood, with one by Mr. Aldrich, entitled “A Death-Bed.” The criticism ended thus:

We conclude our notes on the “Waif,” with the observation that, although full of beauties, it is infected with amoral taint — or is this a mere freak of our own fancy? We shall be pleased if it be so: — but there does appear, in this little volume, a very careful avoidance of all American poets who may be supposed especially to interfere with the claims of Mr. Longfellow. These men Mr. Longfellow can continuously imitate (is that the word?) and yet never even incidentally commend.

Much discussion ensued. A friend of Mr. Longfel1ow’s penned a defence which had at least the merit of being thoroughly impartial; for it defended Mr. L., not only from the One tenth of very moderate disapproval in which I had indulged, but from the nine-tenths of my enthusiastic admiration into the bargain. The fact is, if I was not convinced that in ninety-nine hundredths of all that I had written about Mr. Longfellow I was decidedly in the wrong, at least it was no fault of Mr. Longfellow’s very luminous friend.

This well-intended defence was published in the “Mirror” with a few words of preface by Mr. Willis, and of postscript by myself.

Still dissatisfied, Mr. L., through a second friend, addressed to Mr. Willis an expostulatory letter, of which the Mirror printed only the following portion:

It has been asked, perhaps, why Lowell was neglected in this collection? blight it not as well be asked why Bryant, Dana and Halleck were neglected? The answer is obvious to an one who candidly considers the character of the collection. It professed to be, according to the Poem, from the humbler poets; and it was intended to embrace pieces that were anonymous, or which were easily accessible to the general reader — the waifs and estrays of literature. To put any. tiling of Lowell’s, for example, into a collection of waif’s would be a particular liberty with pieces which are all collected and christened.”

Not yet content, or misunderstanding the tenor of some of the wittily-put comments which accompanied the quotation, the aggrieved poet, through one of the two friends as before, or perhaps through a third, finally prevailed on the good nature of Mr. Willis to publish an explicit declaration of his disagreement with “all the disparagement of Longfellow” which had appeared in the criticism in question.

Now when we consider that many of the points of censure made by me in this critique were absolutely as plain as the nose upon Mr. Longfellow’s face — that it was impossible to gainsay them — that we defied him and his coadjutors to say a syllable in reply to them — and that they held their tongues and not a syllable said — when we consider all this, I say, then the satire of the “all” in Mr. Willis’ manifesto becomes apparent at once. Mr. Longfellow did not see it; and I presume his friends did not see it. I did. In my mind’s eye [page 29:] it expanded itself thus; — “My dear Sir, or Sirs, what will you have? You are an insatiable set of cormorants, it is true; but if you will only let me know what you desire, I will satisfy you, if I die for it. Be quick! — merely say what it is you wish me to admit, and (for the sake of getting rid of you) I will admit it upon the spot. Come! I will grant at once that Mr. Longfellow is Jupiter Tonans, and that his three friends are the Graces, or the Furies, whichever you please. As for a fault to be found with either of you, that is impossible, and I say so. I disagree with all — with every syllable of the disparagement that ever has been whispered against you up to this date, and (not to stand upon trifles) with all that ever shall be whispered against you henceforward, forever and forever. May I hope at length that these assurances will be sufficient?”

But if Mr. Willis really hoped anything of the kind he was mistaken.

In the meantime Mr. Briggs in this paper — in the “Broadway Journal” — did the the honor of taking me to task for what he supposed to be my insinuations against Mr. Aldrich.

My reply (in the “Mirror”) prefaced by a few words from Mr. Willis, ran as follows;

Much interest has been given in our literary circles of late to the topic of plagiarism.

About a month ago a very eminent critic connected with this paper, took occasion to point out a parallelism between certain lines of Thomas Hood, and certain others which appeared in the collection of American poetry edited by Mr. Griswold. Transcribing the passages, he ventured the assertion that “somebody is a thief.” (He goes on below to speak for himself.)

The matter had been nearly forgotten, if not altogether so, when a it good-natured friend” of the American author (whose name had by us never been mentioned) considered it advisable to re-collate the passages, with the view of convincing the public (and himself) that no plagiarism is chargeable to the party of whom he thinks it chivalrous to be the “good-natured friend.”

For our own part should ire ever be guilty of an indiscretion of this kind, we deprecate all aid from our “good natured friends” — but in the mean time it is rendered necessary that once again we give publicity to the collation of poems in question. Dr.Hood’s lines run thus:

We watched her breathing through the night,

Her breathing soft and low,

As in her breast the wave of life

Kept heaving to and fro.

So silently we seemed to speak,

So slowly moved about,

As we had lent her half our powers

To eke her being out.

Our very hope belied our fears;

Our fears our hope belied;

We thought her dying when she slept,

And sleeping when she died.

But when the thorn came dim and sad,

And chill with early showers,

Her quiet eyelids closed; — she had

Another morn than ours.

Mr. Aldrich’s thus: —

Her sufferings ended with the day,

Yet lived ,be at its close,

And breathed the long, long night away

In statue-like repose;

But when the sun in all its state

Illumed the eastern skid,

She passed through Glory’s morning gate,

And walked in paradise.

And here, to be sure, we might well leave a decision in the case to the verdict of common sense. But since the “Broadway Journal” insists upon the “no resemblance,” we are constrained to point out especially where our supposed similarity lies. In the first place, then, the subject in both pieces is death. In the second it is the death of a woman. In the third, it is the death of a woman tranquilly dying. In the fourth, it is the death of a woman who lies tranquilly through-out the night. In the fifth it is the death of a woman whose “breathing soft and low is watched through the night’ in the one instance and who “breathed the long long night away in statue-like repose” in the other. In the sixth place, in both poems this woman dies just at day-break. In the seventh place, dying just at daybreak, this woman to both cases, steps directly into Paradise. In the eighth place all these identities of circumstance are related in identical rhythms. In the ninth place these identical rhythms are arranged in identical metres; and, in the tenth place. these identical rhythms and metres are constructed into identical stanzas.

At this point the matter rested for a fortnight, when a fourth friend of Mr. Longfellow took up the cudgels for him and [page 30:] Mr. Aldrich conjointly, in another communication to the “Mirror.” I copy it in full.


DEAR WILLIS — Fair play is a jewel, and I hope you will let us have it. I have been much amused, by some of the efforts of your critical friend to convict Longfellow of imitation, and Aldrich and others, of plagiarism. What is plagiarism? And what constitutes a good ground for the charge? Did no two men ever think alike without stealing one from the other? or, thinking alike, did no two men ever use the same, or similar words, to convey the thoughts, and that, without any communication with each other? To deny it would be absurd. It is a thing of every day occurrence.

Some years ago, a letter was written from some part of New England, describing one of these scenes, not very common during what is called “the January thaw,” when the snow, mingled with rain, and freezing as it falls, forms a perfect covering of ice upon every object. The storm clears away suddenly, and the moon comes up. The letter proceeds — “every tree and shrub, as far as the eye can reach, of pure transparent glass — a perfect garden of moving, waving, breathing chrystals. * * * Every tree is a diamond chandelier, with a whole constellation of stars clustering to every socket,” &c. This letter was laid away where such things usually are, in a private drawer, and did not see the light for many years. But the very next autumn brought out, among the splendid annuals got up in the country, a beautiful poem from Whittier, describing the same, or rather a similar scene, in which is this line

“The trees, like chrystal chandeliers,”

was put in italics by every reviewer in the land, for the exceeding beauty of the imagery. Now the letter was written, probably about the same time with the poem, though the poem was not published till nearly a year after. — The writers were not, and never have been, acquainted with each other, and neither could possibly have seen the work of the other before writing. Now, was there any plagiarism here? Yet there are plenty of “identities.” The author of the letter, when urged some years after, to have it published, consented very reluctantly, through fear that he should be charged with theft; and, very probably, the charge has been made, though I have never seen it.

May not this often occur? What is morenatural1 Images are not created, but suggested. And why not the same images, when the circumstances are precisely the same, to different minds? Perhaps your critic will reply, that the case is different after one of the compositions is published, How so? Does he, or you, or anybody read everything that is published? I am a great admirer, and a general reader of poetry. But, by what accident I do not know, I had never seen the beautiful lines of Hood, till your critical friend brought them to my notice in the Mirror. It is certainly possible that Aldrich had not seen them several years ago — and more than probable that Hood had not seen Aldrich’s. Yet your friend affects great sympathy for both, in view of their better compunctions of conscience, for their literary piracies.

But, after all, wherein does the real resemblance between these two compositions consist? Mr. —— I had almost named him, finds nearly a dozen points of resemblance. But when he includes rhythm, metre and stanza among the dozen, he only shows a bitter resolution to make out a case, and not a disposition to do impartial justice. Surely the critic himself who is one of our finest poets, does not mean to deny that these mere externals are the common property of all bards. Ile does not feel it necessary to strike out a new stanza, or to invent new feet and measures, whenever he would clothe his “breathing thoughts in words that burn.”

Again, it is not improbable that, within the period of time since these two writers, Hood and Aldrich, came on the stage, ten thousand females have died, and died tranquilly, and died just at day-break, and that after passing a tranquil night, and, so dying, were supposed by their friends to have passed at once to a better world, a morning in heaven. The poets are both describing an actual, and not an imaginary occurrence. And here — including those before — mentioned, which are common property — are nine of the critic’s identities, which go to make up the evidence of plagiarism. The last six, it requires no stretch of the imagination to suppose, they might each have seen and noticed separately. The most of them, one other poet at least, has noticed, many years ago, in a beautiful poem on these words of the angel to the wrestling Jacob —” Let me go, far the day breaketh.” Wonder if Hood ever saw that?

The few remaining “identities” are, to my mind, sufficiently disposed of by what I have already said. I confess I was not able, until the appearance of the critic’s second paper in which he brought them out specially, “marked, numbered, and labelled,” to perceive the resemblance on which the grave charge of literary piracy, and moral dishonesty of the meanest kind was based. In view of all the glaring improbabilities of such a case, a critic should be very slow — to make such a charge. I say glaring improbabilities. For it seems to me that no circumstantial evidence could be sufficient to secure a verdict of theft in such a case. Look at it. A man, who aspires to fame, who seeks the esteem and praise of the world, and lives upon his reputation, as his vital element, attempts to win his object — how? By stealing, in open day, the finest passages, the most beautiful thoughts (no others are worth stealing) and the rarest images of another, and claiming them as his own; and that too, when he knows that every competitor for tame, and every critical tribunal in the world, as well as the real owner, will be ready to identify the borrowed plumes in a moment, and cry him down as a thief. A madman, an idiot, if he were capable of such an achievement, might do it, but no other. A rogue may steal what he can conceal in his pocket, or his chest — but one must be utterly non compos, to steal a splendid shawl, or a magnificent plume, which had been admired by thousands for its singular [page 31:] beauty, for the purpose of sporting it in Broadway. In nine hundred and ninety-nine cases of a thousand, such charges are. absurd, and indicate rattier the carphtg littleness of the critic, than the delinquency of his victim.

Pray did you ever think the worse of Dana because your friend, John Neal, charged him with pirating upon Paul Allen, and Bryant too, in his poem of “THE DYING RAVEN?” or of yourself, because the same friend thought he had detected you in the very act of stealing front Pinckney, and Miss Francis, now Mrs. Child? Surely not. Every body knows that John Neal wishes to be supposed to have read every thing that ever was written, and never have forgotten any thing. He delights, therefore, in showing up such resemblances.

And now — for the matter of Longfellow’s imitations — In what do they consist? The critic is not very specific in this charge. Of what kind are they? Are they imitations of thought? Why not call them plagiarisms then, and show them up? Or are they only verbal imitations of style? Perhaps this is one of them, in his poem on the “Sea Weed.”

——— “drifting, drifting, drifting

On the shitting

Currents of the restless main.”

resembling, in form and collocation only, a line in a beautiful and very powerful poem of MR. EDGAR A. POE. (Write it rather EDGAR, a Poet, and then it is right to a T.) I have not the poem before me, and have forgotten its title. But he is describing a magnificent intellect in ruins, if I remember rightly — and, speaking of the eloquence of its better days, represents it is

—— “flowing, flowing, flowing

Like a river.”

Is this what the critic means? Is it such imitations as this that he alludes to? If not, I am at fault, either in my reading of Longfellow, or in my general familiarity with the American Poets. If this be the kind of imitation referred to, permit me to say, the charge is too paltry for any man, who valued his reputation either as a gentleman or a scholar, to make. Who, for example, would wish to be guilty of the littleness of detracting from the uncommon merit of that remarkable poem of this same Mr. Poe’s, recently published in the Mirror, from the American Review, entitled “THE RAVEN,” by charging him with the paltriness of imitation? And yet, some snarling critic, who might envy the reputation he had not the genius to se. cure for himself, might refer to the frequent, very forcible, but rather quaint repetition, in the last two lines of many of the stanzas, as a palpable imitation of the manner of Coleridge, in several stanzas of the Ancient Mariner. Let me put them together.

Mr. Poe says —

“Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore,

Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.”

And again —

“It shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore —

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore.”

Mr. Coleridge says, (running two lines into one):

“For all averred I had killed the bird, that made the breeze to blow.

‘Ah, wretch!’ said they, I the bird to slay, that made the breeze to blow,“’

And again —

“They all averred I had killed the bird, that brought the fog and mist.

‘ ’Twas right,’ said they, ’ such birds to slay, that bring the fog and mist.”

I have before me an anonymous poem, which I first saw some five years ago, entitled “The Bird of the Dream.” I should like to transcribe the whole — but it is too long. The author was awaked from sleep by the song of a beautiful bird, sitting on the sill of his window — the sweet notes had mingled with his dreams, and brought to his remembrance, the sweeter voice of his lost” CLARE.” He says —

“And thou wert in my dream — a spirit thou didst seem —

  The spirit of a friend long since departed;

  Oh! she was fair and bright, but she left me one dark night —

  She left me all alone, and broken-hearted.

* * * * * * * *

  My dream went on, and thou went a warbling too,

  Mingling the harmonies of earth and heaven;

  Till awayawayaway — beyond the realms of day

  My angel CLARE to my embrace was given.

* * * * * * * *

  Sweet bird from realms of light, oh! come again to-night,

  Come to my window-perch upon my chair

  Come give me back main that deep impassioned strain

  That tells me thou hast seen and loved my CLARE.

Now I shall not charge Mr. Poe with Plagiarism — for, as I have said, such charges are perfectly absurd. Ten to one, he never saw this before. But let us look at the “identities” that may be made out between this and at “THE RAVEN.” First, in each case, the poet is a broken-hearted lover. Second, that lover longs for some hereafter communion with the departed. Third, there is a bird. Fourth, the bird is at the poet’s window. Fifth, the bird being at the poet’s window, makes a noise. Sixth, making a noise, attracts the attention of the poet; who, Seventh, was half asleep, dosing, dreaming. Eighth, the poet invites the bird to come in. Ninth, a confabulation ensues. Tenth, the bird is supposed to be a visitor from the land of spirits. Eleventh, allusion is made to the departed. Twelfth, intimation is given that the bird knew something of the departed. Thirteenth, that he knew her worth and loveliness. Fourteenth, the bird seems willing to linger with the poet. Fifteenth, there is a repetition, in the second and fourth lines, of a part, and that the emphatic part, of the first and third. Here is a round baker’s-dozen (and one to spare) of identities, to offset the dozen found between Aldrich and Hood, and that too, without a word of rhythm, metre or stanza, which should never form a part of such a comparison. Moreover, this same poem contains an [page 32:] example of that kind of repetition, which I have supposed the critic meant to charge upon Longfellow as one of his imitations

“Away — away — away,” &c.

I might pursue it further. But I will not. Such criticisms only make the author of them contemptible, without soiling a plume in the cap of his victim. I have selected this poem of Mr. Poe’s, for illustrating my remarks, because it is recent, and must be familiar to all the lovers of true poetry hereabouts. It is remarkable for its power, beauty, and originality, (out upon the automaton owl that has presumed to croak out a miserable parody — I commend him to the tender mercies of Haynes Bayley,)* and shows more forcibly than any which I can think of, the absurdity and shallowness of this kind of criticism.

One word more — though acquainted with Mr. Longfellow, I have never seen Mr. Aldrich, nor do I even know in what part of the country he resides; and I have no acquaintance with Mr. Poe. I have written what I have written from no personal motives; but simply because, from my earliest reading of reviews and critical notices, I have been disgusted with this wholesale mangling of victims without rhyme or reason. I scarcely remember an instance where the resemblances detected were not exceedingly far-fetched and shadowy, and only perceptible to a mind pre-disposed to suspicion, and accustomed to splitting hairs. OUTIS.

What I admire in this letter is the gentlemanly grace of its manner, and the chivalry which has prompted its composition. What I do not admire is all the rest. In especial, I do not admire the desperation of the effort to make out a case. No gentleman should degrade himself, on any grounds, to the paltriness of ex-parte argument; and I shall not insult Outis at the outset, by assuming for a moment that he (Outis) is weak enough, to suppose me (Poe) silly enough, to look upon all this abominable rigmarole as anything better than a very respectable specimen of special pleading.

As a general rule in a case of this kind, I should wish to begin with the beginning, but as I have been unable, in running my eye over Outis’ remarks, to discover that they have any beginning at all, I shall be pardoned 1br touching them in the order which suits me best.

Outis need not have put himself to the trouble of informing his readers that he has “some acquaintance with Mr. Longfellow.”

It was needless also to mention that he did not know me. I thank him for his many flatteries — but of their inconsistency I complain. To speak of me in one breath as a poet, and in the next to insinuate charges of “carping littleness,” is simply to put forth a flat paradox.

When a plagiarism is committed and detected, the word “littleness” and other similar words are immediately brought into play. To the words themselves I have no objection whatever; but their application might occasionally be improved.

Is it altogether impossible that a critic be instigated to the exposure of a plagiarism, or still better, of plagiarism generally wherever he meets it, by a strictly honorable and even charitable motive? Let us see. A theft of this kind is committed — for the present we will admit the possibility that a theft of this character can be committed. The chances of course are, that an established author steals from an unknown one, rather than the converse; for in proportion to the circulation of the original, is the risk of the plagiarism’s detection. The person about to commit the theft, hopes for impunity altogether on the ground of the reconditeness of the source from which he thieves. But this obvious consideration is rarely borne in mind. We read a certain passage in a certain book. We meet a passage nearly similar, in another book. The first book is not at hand, and we cannot compare dates. We decide by what we fancy the probabilities of the case. The one author is a distinguished man — our sympathies are always in favor of distinction. “It is not likely,” we say in our hearts “that so distinguished a personage as A. would be guilty of plagiarism from this B. of whom [page 33:] nobody in the world has ever heard.” We give judgment, therefore, at once against B. of whom nobody in the world has ever heard; and it is for the very reason that nobody in world has ever heard of him, that, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, the judgment so precipitously given is erroneous. Now then the plagiarist has not merely committed a wrong in itself — a wrong whose incomparable meanness would deserve exposure on absolute grounds — but he, the guilty, the successful, the eminent, has fastened the degradation of his crime — the retribution which should have overtaken it in his own person-upon the guiltless, the toiling, the unfriended struggler up the mountainous path of Fame.

Is not sympathy for the plagiarist, then, about as sagacious and about as generous as would be sympathy for the murderer whose exultant escape from the noose of the hangman should be the cause of an innocent man’s being hung? And because I, for one, should wish to throttle the guilty with the view of letting the innocent go, could it be considered proper on the part of any “acquaintance of Mr. Longfellow’s” who came to witness the execution — could it be thought, I say either chivalrous or decorous on the part of this” acquaintance” to get up against me a charge of” carping littleness,” while we stood amicably together at the foot of the gallows?

In all this I have taken it for granted that such a sin as plagiarism exists. We are informed by Outis, however, that it does not. “I shall not charge Mr. Poe with plagiarism,” he says, “for, as I have said, such charges are perfectly absurd.” An assertion of this kind is certainly funny (I am aware of no other epithet which precisely applies to it); and I have much curiosity to know if Outis is prepared to swear to its truth-holding right aloft his hand, of course, and kissing the back of D‘Israeli’s “Curiosities,” or the “Mélanges,” of Suard and André. But if the assertion is funny (and it is) it is by no means an original thing. It is precisely, in fact, what all the plagiarists and all the “acquaintances” of the plagiarists since the flood, have maintained with a very praiseworthy resolution.

The attempt to prove, however, by reasoning à priori, that plagiarism cannot exist, is too good an idea on the part of Outis not to be a plagiarism in itself. Are we mistaken?or have we seen the following words before in Joseph Miller, where that ingenious gentleman is bent upon demonstrating that a leg of mutton is and ought to be a turnip?

“A man who aspires to fame, etc. attempts to win his object — how? By stealing, in open day, the finest passages, the most beautiful thoughts (no others are worth stealing) and claiming them as his own; and that too when he knows that every competitor, etc., will be ready to cry him down as a thief.”

Is it possible? — is it conceivable that Outis does not here see the begging of the whole question. Why, of course, if the theft had to be committed “in open day” it would not be committed; and if the thief “knew” that every one would cry him down, he would be too excessive a fool to make even a decent thief if he indulged his thieving propensities in any respect. But he thieves at night — in the dark — and not in the open day (if he suspects it), and he does not know that he will be detected at all. Of the class of wilful plagiarists nine out of ten are authors of established reputation, who plunder recondite, neglected, or forgotten books.

I pause for the present, through want of space, but will resume the subject at some length in the next ” Journal,” and hope to convince our friend Outis that he has made a series of very singular mistakes. E. A. P. [page 34:]

[[BJ March 8, 1845 - 1:153]]

(a) No person of proper feeling can peruse the works of a distinguished author or authoress (the latter is a very absurd word, to be sure, but for that very reason the more necessary,) without an instantaneous desire to make his (or her) personal acquaintance — provided always that the said author (or authoress) has not committed himself (or herself)to the extent of perpetraying criticisms full of” carping littleness” upon the last” Sonnet to the Katy-Did,” or the next to the last” Sonnet to the Katy-Did‘nt,” composed by the person of proper feeling store said — for, in such a case as we have imagined, the identical ‘c proper feeling” of which we speak, would of course induce the person to get as far away from the critic as possible. But, as a general rule, we are always inquisitive about the physical appearance of a celebrated author; and it is but a sort of corrollary from this proposition, that if we are prevented by unhappy circumstances, from beholding the author himself, we still entertain a longing to see his portrait. If we cannot see this, we get his autograph if possible — but if this again is not to be discovered, we then regard ourselves as unfortunate beings and subject to an especial dispensation on the part of Providence.

It is with a view of ministering to this very commendable curiosity that we furnish our readers, this week, with the subjoined engraving. — It either is, or ought to be, an accurate portrait of one of the most distinguished of American authoresses. We are not quite sure that we have ever seen a more striking likeness, and we presume it will be recognized at once by all who have ever met the original. We might pick out, perhaps, a few material points of variation, and we would do so upon the spot, were it not for fear of offending the artist, who is an exceedingly sensitive person. But for this, we would say, for example, that the nose is a little — a very little too Grecian. — That the “fine phrenzy” of the eyes has not been preserved so decidedly as it should be — that the chin has too shrewish a character — that the little finger of the left hand is too straight (or perhaps a little too crooked) — that the table is too round — the feather of the pen too feathery — and the ink (as far as we can judge of it through a metal ink stand,) too blue. We forbear to give the name of the original, because, in the case of the ladies, an editor must be cautious how he deals in personalities — and we cannot be sure of not having an invitation to Hoboken forthwith. The name, however, is a point of no consequence. The portrait will be recognised the world over — if not, the fault will lie in that rather unusual acidity of expression worn at present by the fair lady, who happens to be engaged in a perusal of one of our criticisms upon her ante. penultimate ode “To the Universe.” [page 35:]

[[BJ March 8, 1845 - 1:156]]

The Saturday Emporium. March 1st, 1845. Ward & Co., Ann St., New-York.

This is an admirable paper, one better adapted to the uses of the poor we have never stumbled upon in the course of our Newspaper experience, since it can be put to more uses than one; after it has en. lightened the intellect, refreshed the spirit and warmed the heart, it may be made to warm the body by using it as a counterpane for the bed. It is large enough, stout enough, and white enough. Neither does it contain any of those heavy articles which papers of this class often do that would be likely to bruise the limbs if used in the way which we have recommended, nor any of the poppyish ones that would be likely to cause too deep a slumber, nor any of those grotesque ones which would cause nightmares, nor yet any of those very light articles which would keep it from lying gently upon a sleeper. However, it was not our intention to pronounce a panegyric, though we hardly know of a case in which we could do it with a clearer con. science, but to vindicate ourselves from a vile aspersion upon our critical honesty which the paper contained last Saturday, in a notice of our review of Bulwer’s Minor Poems published by Farmer and Daggers, and edited by C. Donald Macleod. So far from having any “private pique” to “gratify,” we have no private feelings of any kind, but pure good will, towards every person whose name is connected with the book, excepting Bulwer, for whom we entertain no very profound admiration. Mr. Macleod will acquit us of the smallest tinge of personal unkindness towards himself, for we only know him by his writings which have heretofore impressed us with a very high opinion of his abilities; and for the publisher of the “Minor Poems,” we certainly have none but the kindest feelings. Do not, we beseech of you, Messieurs of the Emporium, accuse us of making attacks upon people when we simply utter our opinions and fortify them with reasons.

[[BJ March 8, 1845 1:159]]

In a late lecture on the “Poets and Poetry of America,” delivered before an audience made up chiefly of editors and their connexions, I took occasion to speak what I know to be the truth, and I endeavoured so to speak it that there should be no chance of misunderstanding what it was I intended to say. I told these gentlemen to their teeth that, with a very few noble exceptions, they had been engaged for many years in a system of indiscriminate laudation of American books — a system which, more than any other one thing in the world, had tended to the depression of that “American Literature” whose elevation it was designed to effect. I said this, and very much more of a similar tendency, with as thorough a distinctness as I could command. Could I, at the moment, have invented any terms more explicit, wherewith to express m contempt of our general editorial course of corruption and puffery, should have employed them beyond the shadow of a doubt; — and should I think of anything more expressive hereafter, I will endeavour either to find or to make an opportunity for its introduction to the public.

And what, for all this, had I to anticipate? In a very few cases, the open, and, in several, the silent approval of the more chivalrous portion of the press; but in a majority of instances, I should have been weak indeed to look for anything but abuse. To the Willises — the O’Sullivans — the Duyckincks — to the choice and magnanimous few who spoke promptly in my praise, and who have since taken my hand with a more coral and more impressive grasp than ever — to these I return, of course, my acknowledgements, for that they have rendered me my due. To my vilifiers I return also such thanks as they deserve, inasmuch as without what they have done me the honor to say, there would have been much of point wanting in the compliments of my friends. Had I, indeed, from the former, received any less equivocal tokens of disapprobation, I should at this moment have been looking about me to discover what sad blunder I had committed.

I am most sincere in what I say. I thank these, my opponents, for their good will, — manifested, of course, after their own fashion. No doubt they mean me well — if they could only be brought to believe it; and I shall expect more reasonable things from them hereafter. In the mean time, I await patiently the period when they shall have fairly made an end of what they have to say — when they shall have sufficiently exalted themselves in their own opinion — and when, especially, they shall have brought me over to that precise view of the question which it is their endeavor to have me adopt.

E. A. P.

[page 37:]

[[BJ March 15, 1845 - 1:161]]



IN prose satire done at random in our newspapers and other journals, we have been by no means, as a people, deficient; but in verse we are scarcely so much satirists as subjects for satire. We have had, to be sure, Trumbull’s clumsy “McFingal,” Halleck’s “Croakers,” the “Vision of Rubeta,” with its sequel, and one or two other similar things, inclusive of a late volume of poems by William Ellery Channing, which we take to have been intended either for satire or burlesque, on the ground that it is impossible to comprehend them as any thing else. But beyond these works (each of which has its peculiar merits and defects,) we have really nothing to show a foreigner as a specimen of our satirical abilities done into verse.

An ingenious friend at our elbow suggests that this deficiency arises from the want of a suitable field for satirical dis play. “In England,” he says, “satire abounds, because the people find a proper target in the aristocracy, whom they (the people) regard as a distinct race of beings, with whom they have nothing in common; relishing even the most virulent abuse of the upper classes, with a gusto undiminished by any feeling that they (the people) have a personal concern in it. In Russia, or Austria, on the contrary,” says our friend, “such a thing as satire is unknown; because it is dangerous to touch the aristocracy, and to satirise themselves would not exactly accord with the people’s notions of either the decorous or expedient. It is the same thing” he continues “in America. Here the people who write are the people who read — and thus in satirizing the people we satirize only ourselves, and can feel no real sympathy in the satire.”

All this is more verisimilar than true. Our friend forgets that no individual ever considers himself as one of the mass. He, the individual, is the pivot — the immoveable and central pivot, on which all the rest of the world spins round. We may abuse the people by wholesale, and with a perfectly clear conscience, so far as regards any compunction for offending one single human being of the whole multitude of which that people is composed. Every one of the crowd will clap his hands lustily, and cry “encore! give it to them, the poor miserable vagabonds! it serves them right.” It seems to us, however, that we, here in America, have refused to encourage satire — not because what satire we have had, touches us too personally — but because what we have had has been too despicably namby-pamby to touch any body at all. This namby-pambyism, on the other hand, has arisen from the national sin of imitation — a sin perpetrated by all colonies upon the mother countries from which they spring. [page 37:] We content ourselves with doing what not only has been done before, but what (however well done) has been done ad nauseam. We should not be able to endure infinite repetitions of even absolute excellence in itself — but what is “McFingal” more than a faint echo from “Hudibras” — and what is the “Vision of Rubeta” but an illimitable gilded swill-trough overflowing with Dunciad and water? Let any vigorous, original, and fearless man of genius in America set himself to the task of composing a satire, and there will be no longer any complaints of the American deficiency in this respect, nor any need of transcendental reasons to account for it.

We are led to these ideas by happening upon a copy of Mr. Benjamin’s “Infatuation,” which we have never had an opportunity of seeing before. It is not sufficiently pronounced in its object, to warrant us in classing it with “legitimate” satire; but there is enough in it, we think, to show conclusively that the author might succeed if he pleased in this class of writing, at least as well, if not very much better, than any of his countrymen who have preceded him. The poem is full of nerve, point, and terseness — the thrusts are dexterous and well aimed — and the versification peculiarly good of its kind. We have only to regret that the kind is not a more original kind than the hackneyed but undoubtedly forcible Iambic Pentameter.

We quote a few lines which embody not only some unusual pungencies of thought and expression, but some novel and very forcible rhythmical effects:

“Now o‘er the world Infatuation sheds

The Polka’s poppies into vacant heads.

Asleep the Polka seems a tangled maze,

Awake the Polka prompts a hundred lays:

Polka the halls, the balls, the calls resound,

And Polka skims, Camilla-like, the ground.

Where roves in groves the nonsensedoating nymph,

And dreams by streams us smooth and clear as lymph,

Some leaf as brief as woman’s love flits by,

And brings dear Polka to her pensive eye.

So in swift circles, backward, forward, wheeled,

The Polka’s graces were at first revealed;

Perchance some posture-master, happy man,

From Nature drew the Polka’s pretty plan.

Oh, wondrous figure, exquisitely stepp’d,

In thee who would not, should not be adept?

Oh Polka, Polka, wherefore art thou so?

I’ve asked ten dandies, and the ‘ten do’nt know!’ ”



“I shall not accuse Mr. Poe of plagiarism,” says Outis, “for, as I have observed before, such charges are perfectly absurd” — and Outis is certainly right in dwelling on the point that he has observed this thing before. It is the one original point of his essay — for I really believe that no one else was ever silly enough to “observe it before.”

Here is a gentleman who writes in certain respects as a gentleman should, and who yet has the effrontery to base a defence of a friend from the charge of plagiarism, on the broad ground that no such thing as plagiarism ever existed. I confess that to an assertion of this nature there is no little [page 38:] difficulty in getting up a reply. What in the world can a man say in a case of this kind? — he cannot of course give utterance to the first epithets that spring to his lips — and yet what else shall he utter that shall not have an air of direct insult to the common sense of mankind? What could any judge on any bench in the country do but laugh or swear at the attorney who should begin his defence of a petty-larceny client with an oration demonstrating à priori that no such thing as petty larceny ever had been, or in the nature of things, ever could be committed? And yet the attorney might snake as sensible a speech as Outis — even a more sensible one — any thing but a less sensible one. Indeed, mutato nomine, he might employ Outis’ identical words. He might say — “In view, gentlemen of the jury, of all the glaring improbabilities of such a case, a prosecuting attorney should be very slow to make such a charge. I say glaring improbabilities, for it seems to me that no circumstantial evidence could be sufficient to secure a verdict of theft in such a case. Look at it. [Here the judge would look at the maker of the speech.] Look at it. A man who aspires to (the) fame (of being a beau) — who seeks the esteem and praise of all the world (of dandies) and lives upon his reputation (for broadcloth) as his vital element, attempts to win his object — how? By stealing in open day the finest waist-coats, the most beautiful dress-coats (no others are worth stealing) and the rarest pantaloons of another, and claiming them as his own; and that too when he knows that every competitor for (the) fame (of Brummelism) and every fashion-plate Magazine in the world, as well as the real owner, will be ready to identify the borrowed plumes in a moment, and cry him down as a thief. A madman, an idiot, if he were capable of such an achievement, might do it, gentlemen of the jury, but no other.”

Now of course, no judge in the world whose sense of duty was not overruled by a stronger sense of the facetious, would permit the attorney to proceed with any such speech. It would never do to have the time of the court occupied by this gentleman’s well-meant endeavour to shown à priori, the impossibility of that ever happening which the clerk of this same court could show à posteriori had been happening by wholesale ever since there had been such a thing as a foreign count. And yet the speech of the attorney was really a very excellent speech, when we compare it with that of Outis. For the “glaring improbability” of the plagiarism, is a mere nothing by the side of the” glaring improbability” of the theft of the sky-blue dress-coat, and the yellow plaid pantaloons: — we may take it for granted, of course, that the thief was one of the upper ten thousand of thieves, and would not have put himself to the trouble of appropriating any garments that were not of indisputable bon ton, and patronised even by Professor Longfellow himself. The improbability of the literary theft, I say, is really a mere trifle in comparison with the broad-cloth larceny. For the plagiarist is either a man of no note or a man of note — In the first case, be is usually an ignoramus, and getting possession of a rather rare book, plunders it without scruple, on the ground that nobody has ever seen a copy of it except himself. In the second case (which is a more general one by far) be pilfers from some poverty-stricken, and therefore neglected man of genius, on the reasonable supposition that this neglected man of genius will very soon cut his throat, or die of starvation, the sooner the better, no doubt,) and that in the mean time he will be too busy in keeping the wolf from the door to look after the purloiners of his property — and too poor, and too cowed, and for these reasons too contemptible, under any circumstances, to dare accuse of so base a thing as theft, the [page 39:] wealthy and triumphant gentleman of elegant leisure who has only done the vagabond too much honor in knocking him down and robbing him upon the highway.

The plagiarist, then, in either case, has very reasonable ground for expecting impunity, and at all events it is because be thinks so, that he perpetrates the plagiarism — but how is it with the count who steps into the shop of the tailor, and slips under his cloak the sky-blue dress coat, and — the yellow plaid pantaloons? He, the count, would be a greater fool in these matters than a count ever was, if he did not perceive at once, that the chances were about nine hundred and ninety-nine to one, that he would be caught the next morning before twelve o‘clock, in the very first bloom and blush of his promenade down Broadway, by some one of those officious individuals who are continually on the qui vive to catch the counts and take away from them their sky-blue coats and yellow plaid pantaloons. Yes, undoubtedly; the count is very well aware of all this; but he takes into consideration, that although the nine-hundred and ninety-nine chances are certainly against him, the one is just as certainly in his favor — that luck is every thing — that life is short — that the weather is fine — and that if he can only manage to get safely through his promenade down Broadway in the sky-blue dress coat and the yellow plaid pantaloons, he will enjoy the high honor, for once in his life at least, of being mistaken by fifteen ladies out of twenty, either for Professor Longfellow, or Phœbus Apollo. And this consideration is enough — the half of it would have been more than enough to satisfy the count that, in putting the garments under his cloak, he is doing a very sagacious and very commendable thing. He steals them, then, at once, and without scruple, and, when he is caught arrayed in them the next morning, he is, of course, highly amused to hear his counsel make an oration in court about the “glaring improbability” of his having stolen them when he stole them — by way of showing the abstract impossibility of their ever having been stolen at all.

“What is plagiarism?” demands Outis at the outset, avec lair d‘un Romain qui sauve sa patrie — “what is plagiarism and what constitutes a good ground for the charge?”

Of course all men anticipate something unusually happy in the way of reply to queries so cavernously propounded; but if so, then all men have forgotten, or no man has ever known that Outis is a Yankee. He answers the two questions by two others — and perhaps this is quite as much as any one should expect him to do. “Did no two men,” he says,” ever think alike without stealing one from the other? — or thinking alike, did no two men ever use the same or similar words to convey the thoughts, and that without any communication with each other? — To deny it is absurd.”

Of course it is — very absurd; and the only thing more absurd that I can call to mind at present, is the supposition that any person ever entertained an idea of denying it. But are we to understand the denying it, or the absurdity of denying it, or the absurdity of supposing that any person intended to deny it, as the true answer to the original queries?

But let me aid Outis to a distinct conception of his own irrelevance. I accuse his friend, specifically, of a plagiarism. This accusation Outis rebuts by asking me with a grave face — not whether the friend might not, in this individual case, and in the compass of eight short lines, have happened upon ten or twelve peculiar identities of thought and identities of expression with the author front whom I charge him with plagiarising — but simply whether I do not admit the possibility that once in the course of eternity some two individuals might not happen upon a single identity of thought, and give it voice in a single identity of expression. [page 40:]

Now, frankly, I admit the possibility in question, and would request my friends to get ready for me a strait-jacket if I did not. There can be no doubt in the world, for example, that Outis considers me a fool: — the thing is sufficiently plain: and this opinion on the part of Outis is what mankind have agreed to denominate an idea; and this idea is also entertained by Mr. Aldrich, and by Mr. Longfellow — and by Mrs. Outis and her seven children — and by Mrs. Aldrich and hers — and by Mrs. Longfellow and hers including the grand-children and great grand-children, if any, who will be instructed to transmit the idea in unadulterated purity down an infinite vista of generations yet to come. And of this idea thus extensively entertained, it would really be a very difficult thing to vary the expression in any material degree. A remarkable similarity would be brought about, indeed, by the desire of the parties in question to put the thought into as compendious a form as possible, by way of bringing it to a focus at once and having done with it upon the spot.

Outis will perceive, therefore, that I have every desire in the world to afford him that “fair play” which he considers “a jewel,” since I admit not only the possibility of the class of coincidences for which he contends, but even the impossibility of there not existing just as many of these coincidences as he may consider necessary to make out his case.

One of the species he details as follows, at some length:

Some years ago, a letter was written from some part of New England, describing one of those scenes, not very common during what is called” the January thaw,” when the snow, mingled with rain, and freezing as it falls, forms a perfect covering of ice upon every object. The storm clears away suddenly, and the moon comes up. The letter proceeds — ‘every tree and shrub, as far as the eye can reach, of pure transparent glass — a perfect garden of moving, waving, breathing chrystals. * * * Every tree is a diamond chandelier, with a whole constellation of stars clustering to every socket,” &c. This letter was laid away where such things usually are, in a private drawer, and did not see the light for many years. But the very next autumn brought out, among the splendid annuals got up in the country, a beautiful poem from Whittier, describing the same, or rather a similar scene, in which the line

“The trees, like chrystal chandeliers,”

was put in italics by every reviewer in the land, for the exceeding beauty of the imagery. Now the letter was written, probably, about the same time with the poem, though the poem was not published till nearly a year after. — The writers were not, and never have been, acquainted with each other, and neither could possibly have seen the work of the other before writing. Now, was there any plagiarism here?”

After the fashion of Outis himself I shall answer his query by another. What has the question whether the chandelier friend committed a plagiarism, to do with the question whether the Death-Bed friend committed a plagiarism, or whether it is possible or impossible that plagiarism, generally, can be committed?

But, merely for courtesy’s sake, I step aside from the exact matter in hand. In the case mentioned I should consider material differences in the terms of description as more remarkable than coincidences. Since the tree really looked like a chandelier, the true wonder would have been in likening it to anything else. Of course, nine common-place men out of ten would have maintained it to be a chandelier-looking tree. No poet of any pretension, however, would have committed himself so far as to put such a similitude in print. The chandelier might have been poetically likened to the chrystallized tree — but the converse is a platitude. The gorgeous unaltered handiwork of Nature is always degraded by comparison with the tawdry gew-gaws of Art — and perhaps the very ugliest thing in the world is a chandelier. If “every reviewer in the land put the passage into Italics on account of the exceeding beauty of the imagery,” then every printer’s devil in the land should have been flogged for not taking it out of Italics upon the spot, and putting [page 41:] it in the plainest Roman — which is too good for it by one half.

I put no faith in the nil admirari, and am apt to be amazed at every second thing which I see. One of the most amazing things I have yet seen, is the complacency with which Outis throws to the right and left his anonymous assertions, taking it for granted that because be (Nobody) asserts them, I must believe them as a matter of course. However — he is quite in the right. I am perfectly ready to admit anything that he pleases, and am prepared to put as implicit faith in his ipse dixit as the Bishop of Autun did in the Bible — on the ground that he knew nothing about it at all.

We will understand it, then, not merely as an anonymous assertion but as an absolute fact, that the two chandelier authors “were not and never have been acquainted with each other, and that neither could have seen the work of the other before writing.” We will agree to understand all this as indisputable truth, I say, through motives of the purest charity, for the purpose of assisting a friend out of trouble, and without reference to the consideration that no third person short of Signor Blitz or Professor Rogers could in any conceivable manner have satisfied himself of the truth of the twentieth part of it. Admitting this and every thing else, to be as true as the Pentateuch, it follows that plagiarism in the case in question was a thing that could not by any possibility be — and do I rightly comprehend Outis as demonstrating the impossibility of plagiarism where it is possible, by adducing instances of inevitable similarity under circumstances where it is not?

The fact is, that through want of space and time to follow Outis through the labyrinth of impertinences in which he is scrambling about, I am constrained, much against my sense of decorum, to place him in the high-road of his argument, so that he may see where he is, and what he is doing, and what it is that he is endeavouring to demonstrate.

He wishes to show, then, that Mr. Longfellow is innocent of the imitation with which I have charged him, and that Mr. Aldrich is innocent of the plagiarism with which I have not charged him; and this duplicate innocence is expected to be proved by showing the possibility that a certain, or that any uncertain series of coincidences may be the result of pure accident.

Now of course I cannot be sure that Outis will regard my admission as a service or a disservice, but I admit the possibility at once; and not only this, but I would admit it as a possibility were the coincidences a billion, and each of the most definitive peculiarity that human ingenuity could conceive. But, in admitting this, I admit just nothing at all, so far as the advancement of Outis’ proper argument is concerned. The affair is one of probabilities altogether, and can be satisfactorily settled only by reference to their Calculus.

I shall continue, if not conclude the subject in the next “Journal“, and our readers may take it for granted that there will be some very “interesting developments” before I have done. [page 42:]

[[BJ March 15, 1845 - 1:169]]

[[rhand]] We have had frequent requests within the last ten days, for a copy of “Florence Vane” — a little poem recited by Mr. Poe in his late Lecture on the Poetry of America. To oblige our friends, therefore, (and ourselves,) we publish the lines, from memory, as accurately as we can.



I LOVED thee long and dearly,

Florence Vane!

My life’s bright dream and early

Hath come again.

I renew in my fond vision

My heart’s dear pain —

My hopes and thy derision,

Florence Vane.


The ruin lone and hoary,

The ruin old

Where thou didst hark my story,

At even told —

That spot — the hues Elysian

Of sky and plain

I treasure in my vision,

Florence Vane.


Thou wast lovelier than the roses

In their prime;

Thy voice excelled the closes

Of sweetest rhyme;

Thy heart was as a river

Without a main —

Would I had loved thee never,

Florence Vane.


But fairest, coldest, wonder,

Thy glorious clay

Lieth the green sod under,

Alas the day!

And it boots not to remember

Thy disdain,

To quicken love’s pale ember,

Florence Vane.


The lilies of the valley

By young graves weep;

The pansies love to dally

Where maidens sleep —

May their bloom, in beauty vieing,

Never wane

Where thine earthly part is lying,

Florence Vane.

[[BJ March 15, 1845 - 1:173-174]]

[page 43:]


Inaugural Address, delivered before the Mechanics’ Institute of the State of New York, by James J. Mapes, President. 1845.

Unlike the greater part of the addresses which we have heard and read, this impresses us less with the importance of the speaker than of his subject. Indeed, we have rarely read an essay in which the writer has contrived so completely to overshadow himself in the greatness of his theme. Mr. Mapes is too much of an enthusiast in the cause of science to waste his own, or his hearer’s time, with any superfluous flourishes of rhetoric, or by introducing in a practical discourse any extrinsic subject. He is plain, direct, and impressive. His great aim is to impress upon the minds of his hearers the importance of cultivating the intellect by storing it with facts. He makes a forcible appeal in behalf of the arts of design, which we trust will not be without an influence upon those who heard it. The importance of an artistic education to our mechanics, is but imperfectly understood. Without an ability to design, the most stringent tariff would do little towards aiding our manufactures. The address contains an idea, not altogether new, but new in its application, respecting the use of Caryatides in architecture. We should be glad to see it adopted by way of an experiment; to substitute the form of some living thing in the place of the eternal columns which disfigure so many of our public buildings. Anything would be a relief to the wearisome effect of the five orders, even though it were disorder itself.

We congratulate the Mechanics’ Institute on having for a President a gentleman who unites to extensive information an original genius, sod a disinterested zeal in the propagation of knowledge. We have hardly a right to expect wit in a discourse like this, but we see little scintillations of it bursting forth here and there, as if by stealth, and without the consciousness of the lecturer.

With a president like Mr. Mapes, and so intelligent an officer as Mr. Barritt, the actuary, the Mechanics’ Institute must exert in the community an influence of inestimable benefit.


Cruikshank’s Omnibus, with numerous illustrations. Philadelphia: E. Ferrett & Co. For sale by W. H. Graham, 162 Nassau st.

The purchaser of this little volume will be sure to get the worth of his money. Although Cruikshank’s name is very nearly a sygonym for fun, yet his designs are not pure fun, for like the works of genius, they are tinged with a dash of melancholy. One could weep almost as readily as laugh at some of his most humorous sketches.


The Democratic Review for March.

This is altogether a very excellent number; it is, in fact, the best that we have seen of this magazine. The first article, on Tyler, which we hope is from the pen of the editor, beause it will induce us to read his political speculations hereafter, if it be, is the best paper in it; and may be read with pleasure by any one, without regard to political prejudices, merely for the easy strength of the style and the confident impudence (we know of no other word that will exactly express our meaning) of its tone. The paper on Fiction by Major Davezac we are very happy to commend, because we have seen some of the Major’s Essays that we could not approve with a clear conscience. The account of the four Presidents of Texas is highly interesting, and the other papers are both readable and profitable.


Martin’s Illustrated Family Bible. Part 2.

The second number of this magnificent work-in all points the best edition of the Bible that has yet been issued in this country — extends to the 22d chapter of Genesis. It contains an exquisitely engraved picture by J. Brain, in line, after a Holy Family by Leonardo da Vinci — a chef d‘œuvre in art worthy to accompany a chef d‘œuvre in publication, as this Bible is. [page 44:]


(a) “The New World.”

But for fear of disparaging the “Broadway Journal,” we would say, unhesitatingly, that the “New World,” under the editorial guidance of Charles Eames, is the very best weekly paper of its class, published in this country. Not to mention the more solid qualities which render him a good editor, editorially considered, Mr. Eames is one of our most vigorous and original thinkers; and unlike some original thinkers whom we have in our mind’s eye, he has the faculty of imparting to his readers, through an accurate and exceedingly graceful style, a full consciousness that he does think both vigorously and originally, and knows well what he is thinking about — a very great deal to say of any man, as times go.


(b) Anastasis; or the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body rationally and Scripturally considered. By George Bush, Professor of Hebrew, New York City University. Second edition, New York and London. Wiley and Putnam, 1845.

We simply announce the publication of a second edition of this much talked — of work; we shall review it at length hereafter.

[[BJ March 15, 1845 - 1:175]]

(c) TO READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS. — We thank “A.“for his communication; the intelligence which it gives will be of service.

The exceedingly pleasant letter of Horace H —— will be duly attended to. Two or three of our Engravings were copied from designs by Gavarni, in a recently published French work; we staled the fact in regard to the first one, and supposed that it would be understood that the others were copies also; but it appears that they were supposed to be originals. It was our intention to publish none but original designs, and we tried to procure those that were worthy a place in our paper, but we could not readily meet with such, and therefore we selected some that were admirable as drawings, and entirely beyond the reach of the greater part of our readers in the original work in which they appeared. We have, at last, procured assistance in this department of our Journal, which will save us from the necessity hereafter of copying from any foreign work. We shall commence next week or the week after, the publication of a series of original drawings by artists of genius, which will leave no doubt of their perfect originality. We feel that in giving some passages in the Life of a Lion, as an originality, we are keeping fully within the spirit of our promises. The article formed one of a collection published many years ago, and now quite out of print.

It will not be necessary to call the attention of our readers to the elegant essay of Rudolph Hertzman. Those who read his initial number will need no call to anything bearing his signature.

[[BJ March 22, 1845 - 1:178]]

[page 45:]


“PRAY,” inquires Outis of Mr. Willis, “did you ever think the worse of Dana because your friend John Neal charged him with pirating upon Paul Allen, and Bryant, too in his poem of THE DYING RAVEN?”

I am sincerely disposed to give Outis his due, and will not pretend to deny his happy facility in asking irrelevant questions. In the present case, we can only imagine Mr. Willis’ reply: — “My dear Sir,” he might say, “I certainly do not think much the worse of Mr. Dana, because Mr. Neal charged him with the piracy, but be so kind as not to inquire what might have been my opinion bad there been any substantiation of the charge.”

I quote Outis’ inquiry, however, not so much to insist upon its singular luminousness, as to call attention to the argument embodied in the capital letters of “THE DYING RAVEN.”

Now, were I, in any spasm of perversity, to direct Outis’ catechetical artillery against himself, and demand of him explicitly his reasons for causing those three words to be printed in capitals, what in the world would he do for a reply? As a matter of course, for some moments, he would be profoundly embarrassed — but, being a true man, and a chivalrous one, as all defenders of Mr. Longfellow must be, he could not fail, in the end, to admit that they were so printed for the purpose of safely insinuating a charge which not even an Outis had the impudence openly to utter. Let us imagine his thoughts while carefully twice underscoring the words. Is it impossible that they ran thus? — “I am perfectly well aware, to be sure, that the only conceivable resemblance between Mr. Bryant’s poem and Mr. Poe’s poem, lies in their common reference to a raven; but then, what I am writing will be seen by some who have not read Mr. Bryant’s poem, and by many who have never heard of Mr. Poe’s, and among these classes I shall be able to do Mr. Poe a serious injustice and injury, by conveying the idea that there is really sufficient similarity to warrant that charge of plagiarism, which I, Outis, the ‘acquaintance of Mr. Longfellow,’ am too high-minded and too merciful to prefer.”

Now, I do not pretend to be positive that any such thoughts as these ever entered the brain of Outis. Nor will I venture to designate the whole insinuation, as a specimen of “carping littleness, too paltry for any man who values his reputation as a gentleman;” for in the first place, the whole matter, as I have put it, is purely supposititious, and in the second, I should furnish ground for a new insinuation of the same character, inasmuch as I should be employing Outis’ identical words.

The fact is, Outis has happened upon the idea that the [page 46:] most direct method of rebutting one accusation, is to get up another. By showing that I have committed a sin, he proposes to show that Mr. Aldrich and Mr. Longfellow have not. Leaving the underscored DYING RAVEN to argue its own case, he proceeds, therefore, as follows: —

“Who, for example, would wish to be guilty of the littleness of detracting; from the uncommon merit of that remarkable poem of this same Mr. Poe’s, recently published in the Mirror, front the American Review, entitled ‘The Raven,’ by charging him with the paltriness of imitation? And yet, some snarling critic, who might envy the reputation he had not the genius to secure for himself, might refer to the frequent, very forcible, but rather quaint repetition, in the last two lines of many of the stanzas, as a palpable imitation of the manner of Coleridge, in several stanzas of the Ancient Mariner. Let the put them together.

Mr. Poe says

“Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore,

  Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.”

And again

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore —

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”

Mr. Coleridge says, (running two lines into one);

“For all averred I had killed the bird, that made the breeze to blow.

‘Ah, wretch!’ said they, ‘the bird to slay, that made the breeze to blow.‘”

And again

“They all averred I had killed the bird, that brought the fog and mist.

  ’Twas tight,’ said they, ’such birds to slay, that bring the fog and mist.’ ”

The “rather quaint” is ingenious. Fully one-third of whatever effect” The Raven” has, is wrought by the quaintness in question — a point elaborately introduced, to accomplish a well-considered purpose. What idea would Outis entertain of me, were I to speak of his defence of his friends as very decent, very respectable, but rather meritorious?

In the passages collated there are two points upon which the “snarling critic” might base his insinuation — if ever so weak a” snarling critic” existed. Of these two points one is purely hypothetical — that is to say, it is disingenuously manufactured by Mr. Longfellow’s acquaintance to suit his own purposes — or perhaps the purposes of the imaginary snarling critic. The argument of the second point is demolished by my not only admitting it, but insisting upon it. Perhaps the least tedious mode of refuting Outis, is to acknowledge nine tenths of every thing he may think proper to say.

But, in the present instance what am I called upon to acknowledge? I am charged with imitating the repetition of phrase in the two concluding lines of a stanza, and of imitating this from Coleridge. But why not extend the accusation, and insinuate that I imitate it from every body else? for certainly there is no poet living or dead who has not put in practice the identical effect — the well — understood effect of the refrain. Is Outis’ argument to the end that I have no right to this thing for the reason that all the world has? If this is not his argument, will he be kind enough to inform me (at his leisure) what it is? Or is he prepared to confess him self so absurdly uninformed as not to know that whatever a poet claims on the score of original versification, is claimed not on account of any individual rhythmical or metrical effects (for none are individually original) but solely on account of the novelty of his combinations of old effects?

The hypothesis, or manufacture, consists in the alteration of Coleridge’s metre, with the view of forcing it into a merely ocular similarity with my own, and thus of imposing upon some one or two grossly ignorant readers. I give the verses of Coleridge as they are:

For all averred, I had killed the bird

That made the braze to blow,

Ah wretch, said they, the bird to slay,

That made the breeze to blow.

The verses beginning, “They all averred,” etc., are arranged in the same manner. Now I have taken it for granted that it is Outis’ design to impose the idea of similarity between my lines and those of Coleridge, upon some one or two grossly ignorant individuals: at the same time, whoever attempts [page 47:] such an imposition is rendered liable at least to the suspicion of very gross ignorance himself. The ignorance or the knavery are the two uncomfortable horns of his dilemma.

Let us see. Coleridge’s lines are arranged in quatrains mine in couplets. His first and third lines rhyme at the closes of the second and fourth feet — mine flow continuously, without rhyme. His metre, briefly defined, is alternately tetrameter acatalectic, and trimeter acatalectic — mine is uniformly octameter catalectic. It might be expected, however, that at least the rhythm would prove to be identical — but not so. Coleridge’s is iambic (varied in the third foot of the first line with an anapaest) — mine is the exact converse, trochaic. The fact is, that neither in rhythm, metre, stanza, or rhyme, is there even a single point of approximation throughout; the only similarity being the wickedly or sillily manufactured one of Outis himself, appealing from the ears to the eyes of the most uncultivated classes of the rabble. The ingenuity and validity of the manufacture might be approached, although certainly not paralleled, by an attempt to show that blue and yellow pigments standing unmixed at separate ends of a studio, were equivalent to green. I say “not paralleled,” for even the mixing of the pigments, in the case of Outis, would be very far, as I have shown, from producing the supposititious effect. Coleridge’s lines, written together, would result in rhymed iambic heptameter acatalectic, while mine are unrhymed trochaic octameter catalectic — differing in every conceivable circumstance. A closer parallel than the one I have imagined, would be the demonstration that two are equal to four, on the ground that, possessing two dollars, a man will have four when he gets an additional couple for that the additional couple is somewhere, no one, after due consideration, will deny.

If Outis will now take a seat upon one of the horns of his dilemma, I will proceed to transcribe the third variation of the charges insinuated through the medium of the “snarling critic.”

I have before me an anonymous poem, which I first saw some five years ago, entitled” The Bird of the Dream.” I should like to transcribe the whole — but it is too long. The author was awakened from sleep by the song of a beautiful bird, sitting on the sill of his window — the sweet notes had mingled with his dreams, and brought to his remembrance, the sweeter voice of his lost “CLARE.” He says —

“And thou Overt in my dream — a spirit thou didst seem —

  The spirit of a friend long since departed;

  Oh she was fair and bright, but she left me one dark night —

  She left me all alone, and broken-hearted.

* * * * * * * *

  My dream went on, and thon went a warbling too,

  Mingling the harmonies of earth and heaven;

  Till away — away — away — beyond the realms of day —

  My angel CLARE to my embrace was given.

* * * * * * * *

  Sweet bird from realms of light, oh! come again to night,

  Come to my window-perch upon my chair —

  Give me back main that deep impassioned strain

  That tells me thou hast seen and loved my CLARE.

Now I shall not charge Mr. Poe with Plagiarism — for; as I have said, such charges are perfectly absurd. Ten to one, he never saw this before. But let us look at the “identifies” that may be made out between this and “THE RAVEN.” First, in each case, the poet is a broken-hearted lover. Second, that lover longs for some hereafter communion with the departed. Third, there is a bird. Fourth, the bird is at the poet’s window. Fifth, the bird being at the poet’s window, makes a noise. Sixth, making a noise attracts the attention of the poet; who, Seventh, was half asleep, dosing, dreaming. Eighth, the poet invites the bird to come in. Ninth, a confabulation ensues. Tenth, the bird is supposed to be a visitor from the land of spirits. Eleventh, allusion is made to the departed. Twelfth, intimation is given that the bird knew something of the departed. Thirteenth, that he knew her worth and loveliness. Fourteenth, the bird seems willing to linger with the poet. Fifteenth, there is a repetition, in the second and fourth lines, of a part, and that the emphatic part, of the first and third. Here is a round baker’s dozen (and one to spare) of identities, to offset the dozen found between Aldrich and hood, and that too, without a word of rhythm, metre or stanza, which should never form a part of such a comparison.

The first point to be attended to here is the “ten to one that I never saw it before.” Ten to one that I never did — but Outis might have remembered that twenty to one I [page 48:] should like to see it. In accusing either Mr. Aldrich or Mr. Hood, I printed their poems together and in full. But an anonymous gentleman rebuts my accusation by telling me that there is a certain similarity between a poem of my own and an anonymous poem which he has before him, and which he would like to transcribe if it were not too long. He contents himself, therefore, with giving me, from this too long poem, three stanzas which are shown, by a series of intervening asterisks, to have been culled, to suit his own purposes, from different portions of the poem, but which, (again to suit his own purposes) he places before the public in consecutive connexion! The least that can be said of the whole statement is that it is deliciously frank — but, upon the whole, the poem will look quite as well before me, as before Outis, whose time is too much occupied to transcribe it. I, on the other hand, am entirely at leisure, and will transcribe and print the whole of it with the greatest pleasure in the world — provided always that it is not too long to refer to — too long to have its whereabouts pointed out — as I half suspect, from Outis’ silence on the subject, that it is.

One thing I will take it upon myself to say, in the spirit of prophecy: — whether the poem in question is or is not in existence (and we have only Nobody’s word that it is) the passages as quoted, are not in existence, except as quoted by Outis, who in some particulars, I maintain, has falsified the text, for the purpose of forcing a similarity, as in the case of the verses of Coleridge.

All this I assert in the spirit of prophecy, while we await the forthcoming of the poem. In the meantime, we will estimate the “identities” with reference to the “Raven” as collated with the passages culled by Outis — granting him every thing he is weak enough to imagine I am in duty-bound to grant — admitting that the poem as a whole existsthat the words and lines are ingenuously written — that the stanzas have the connexion and sequence he gives them and that although he has been already found guilty of chicanery in one instance, he is at least entirely innocent in this.

He has established, he says, fifteen identities, “and that, too, without a word of rhythm, metre, or stanza, which should never form a part of such comparison” — by which of course we are to understand that with the rhythm, metre, and stanza (omitted only because they should never form a part of such comparison) he would have succeeded in establishing eighteen. Now I insist that rhythm, metre and stanza should form and muse form a part of the comparison, and I will presently demonstrate what I say. I also insist therefore, since he could find me guilty if he would upon these points, that guilty he must and shall find me upon the spot. He then, distinctly, has established eighteen identities — and I proceed to examine them one by one.

“First,” he says “in each race the poet is a broken-hearted lover.” Not so: — my poet has no indication of a broken heart. On the contrary he lives triumphantly in the expectation of meeting his Lenore in Aidenn, and is so indignant with the raven for maintaining that the meeting will never take place, as to call him a liar and order him out of the house. Not only is my lover not a broken-hearted one — but I have been at some pains to show that broken hearts and matters of that kind are improperly made the subject of poems. I refer to the last chapter of an article entitled “Marginalia” and published, in the last December number, I believe, of the” Democratic Review.”

“Second,” says Outis, “that lover longs for some hereafter communion with the bird.” In my poem there is no expression of any such longing-the nearest approach to it is [page 49:] the triumphant consciousness which forms the thesis and staple of the whole. In Outis’ poem the nearest approach to the “longing” is contained in the lover’s request to the bird to repeat a strain that assures him (the lover) that it (the bird) has known the lost mistress.

“Third — there is a bird, “says Outis. So there is. Mine however is a raven, and we may take it for granted that Outis’ is either a nightingale or a cockatoo.

“Fourth, the bird is at the poet’s window.” As regards my poem, true; as regards Outis‘, not: — the poet only requests the bird to come to the window.

“Fifth, the bird being at the poet’s window, makes a noise.” The fourth specification failing, the fifth, which depends upon it, as a matter of course fails too.

“Sixth, making a noise attracts the attention of the poet.” The fifth specification failing, the sixth, which depends upon it, fails likewise, and as a matter of course, as before.

“Seventh, [the poet] was half asleep, dozing, dreaming.” False altogether: only my poet was “napping,” and this in the commencement of the poem, which is occupied with realities and waking action. Outis’ poet is fast asleep and dreams every thing.

“Eighth, the poet invites the bird to come in.” Another palpable failure. Outis’ poet indeed asked his bird in; but my raven walked in without any invitation.

“Ninth — a confabulation ensues.” As regards my poem, true; but there is not a word of any confabulation in Outis‘.

“Tenth — the bird is supposed to be a visiter from the land of spirits.” As regards Outis’ poem, this is true, only if we give a wide interpretation to the phrase “realms of light.” In my poem the bird is not only not from the world of spirits, but I have specifically conveyed the idea of his having escaped from “some unhappy master“, of whom he had caught the word “Nevermore” — in the concluding stanza, it is true, I suddenly convert him into an allegorical emblem or personification of Mournful Remembrance, out of the shadow of which the poet is “lifted nevermore.”

“Eleventh — allusion is made to the departed.” Admitted.

“Twelfth — intimation is given that the bird knew some thing of the departed.” True as regards Outis’ poem only. No such intimation is given in mine.

” Thirteenth — that he knew her worth and loveliness.” Again — true only as regards Outis’ poem. It should be observed here that I have disproved the twelfth and thirteenth specifications purely for form’s sake: — they are nothing more than disingenuous repetitions of the eleventh. The” allusion to the departed” is the “intimation,” and the intimation is that “he knew her worth and loveliness.”

“Fourteenth — the bird seems willing to linger with the poet.” True only as regards my poem — in Outis’ (as quoted) there is nothing of the kind.

“Fifteenth — there is a repetition, in the second and fourth lines, of a part, and that the emphatic part, of the first and third.” What is here asserted is true only of the first stanza quoted by Outis, and of the commencement of the third. There is nothing of it in the second, In my poem there is nothing of it at all, with the exception of the repetition in the refrain, occurring at the fifth line of my stanza of six. I quote a stanza — by way of rendering every thing perfectly intelligible, and affording Outis his much coveted ‘t fair play”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hash spoken! [page 50:]

Leave my loneliness unbroken! — quit the bust above my door

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from oft my door.”

Quoth the raven “Nevermore.”

Sixteenth — concerns the rhythm. Outis’ is iambic — mine the exact converse, trochaic.

Seventeenth — regards the metre. Outis’ is hexameter alternating with pentameter, both acatalectic.* Mine is octameter acatalectic, alternating with heptameter catalectic repeated in the refrain of the fifth verse, and terminating with tetrameter catalectic.

Eighteenth and last has respect to the stanza — that is to say, to the general arrangement of the metre into masses. Of Outis’ I need only say that it is a very common and certainly a very stupid one. My own has at least the merit of hein; my own. No writer living or dead has ever employed anything resembling it. The innumerable specific differences between it and that of Outis it would be a tedious matter to point out — but a far less difficult matter than to designate one individual point of similarity.

And now what are we to think of the eighteen identities of Outis — the fifteen that he establishes and the three that he could establish if he would — that is to say, if he could only bring himself to be so unmerciful!

Of the whole eighteen, sixteen have shown themselves to be lamentable failures — having no more substantial basis than sheer misrepresentation “too paltry for any man who values his reputation as a gentleman and a scholar,” and depending altogether for effect upon the chances that nobody would take the trouble to investigate their falsehood or their truth.

Two — the third and the eleventh — are sustained: and these two show that in both poems there is “an allusion to the departed,” and that in both poems there is “a bird.”

The first idea which suggests itself at this point is, whether not to have a bird and not to have an allusion to a deceased mistress, would not be the truer features of distinctiveness after all — whether two poems which have not these items might not be more rationally charged with similarity than any two poems which have.

But having thus disproved all the identities of Outis (for any one comprehending the principle of proof in such cases will admit that two only, are in effect just nothing at all) I am quite ready, by way again of affording him “fair play,” to expunge every thing that has been said on the. subject, and proceed as if every one of these eighteen identities were in the first bloom and deepest blush of a demonstration.

I might grant them as demonstrated, to be sure, on the ground which I have already touched — that to prove me or any body else an imitator is no mode of showing that Mr. Aldrich or Mr. Longfellow is not. But I might safely admit them on another and equally substantial consideration which seems to have been overlooked by the zeal of Outis altogether. He has clearly forgotten that the mere number of such coincidences proves nothing, because at any moment we can oblige it to prove too much. It is the easiest thing imaginable to suggest — and even to do that which Outis has failed in doing — to demonstrate a practically infinite series of identities between any two compositions in the world — but it by no means follows that all compositions in the world have a similarity one with the other, in any comprehensible sense [page 51:] of the term. I mean to say that regard must be had not only to the number of the coincidences, but to the peculiarity of each — this peculiarity growing less and less necessary, and the effect of number more and more important, in a ratio prodigiously accumulative, as the investigation progresses. And again — regard must be had not only to the number and peculiarity of the coincidences, but to the antagonistic differences, if any, which surround them — and very especially to the space, over which the coincidences are spread, and the number or paucity of the events, or incidents, from among which the coincidences are selected. When Outis, for example, picks out his eighteen coincidences (which I am now granting as sustained) from a poem so long as The Raven, in collation with a poem not forthcoming, and which may therefore, for anything anybody knows to the contrary, be as long as an infinite flock of ravens, he is merely putting himself to unnecessary trouble in getting together phantoms of arguments that can have no substance wherewith to aid his demonstration, until the ascertained extent of the unknown poem from which they are culled, affords them a purpose and a palpability. Can any man doubt that between The Iliad and the Paradise Lost there might be established even a thousand very idiosyncratic identities? — and yet is any man fool enough to maintain that the Iliad is the original of the Paradise Lost?

But how is it in the case of Messieurs Aldrich and Hood? The poems here are both remarkably brief — and as I have every intention to do justice, and no other intention in the world, I shall be pardoned for collating them once again. Mr. Hood’s poem runs thus:


We watched her breathing through the night,

Her breathing soft and low,

As in her breast the wave of life

Kept heaving to and fro.

So silently we seemed to speak,

So slowly moved about,

As we had lent her half our powers

To eke her being out.

Our very hope belied our fears;

Our fears our hope belied;

We thought her dying when she slept,

And sleeping when she died.

But when the morn came dim and sad,

And chill with early showers,

Her quiet eyelids closed-she had

Another morn than ours.

Mr. Aldrich’s poem is as follows:


Her sufferings ended with the day,

Yet lived she at its close,

And breathed the long, long night away,

In statue-like repose;

But when the sun in all its state

Illumed the eastern skies,

She passed through Glory’s morning gate,

And walked in Paradise.

Now, let it be understood that I am entirely uninformed as to which of these two poems was first published. And so little has the question of priority to do with my thesis, that I shall not put myself to the trouble of inquiring. What I maintain is, that there are sufficient grounds for belief that the one is plagiarised from the other: — who is the original and who is the plagiarist, are points I leave to be settled by any one who thinks the matter of sufficient consequence to give it his attention.

But the man who shall deny the plagiarism abstractly — what is it that he calls upon us to believe? First — that two poets, in remote parts of the world, conceived the idea of composing a poem on the subject of Death. Of course, there is nothing remarkable in this. Death is a naturally poetic theme, and suggests itself by a seeming spontaneity to every poet in the world. But had the subject chosen by [page 52:] the two widely separated poets, been even strikingly peculiar — had it been, for example, a porcupine, a piece of gingerbread, or anything unlikely to be made the subject of a poem, still no sensible person would have insisted upon the single coincidence as any thing beyond a single coincidence. We have no difficulty, therefore, in believing what, so far, we are called upon to believe.

Secondly, we must credit that the two poets concluded to write not only on death, but on the death of a woman. Here the mind, observing the two identities, reverts to their peculiarity or non-peculiarity, and finding no peculiarity — admitting that the death of a woman is a naturally suggested poetic subject — has no difficulty also in admitting the two coincidences — as such and nothing beyond.

Thirdly, we are called upon to believe that the two poets not only concluded to write upon death and upon the death of a woman, but that, from the innumerable phases of death, the phase of tranquility was happened upon by each. Here the intellect commences a slight rebellion, but it is quieted by the admission partly of the spontaneity with which such an idea might arise, and partly of the possibility of the coincidences, independently of the consideration of spontaneity.

Fourthly — we are required to believe that the two poets happened not only upon death — the death of a woman — and the tranquil death of a woman — but upon the idea of representing this woman as lying tranquilly throughout the whole night, in spite of the infinity of different durations which might have been imagined for her trance of tranquility. At this point the reason perceives the evidence against these coincidences, (as such and nothing more), to be increasing in geometrical ratio. It discards all idea of spontaneity, and if it yield credence at all, yields it altogether on the ground of the indisputable possibility.

Fifthly — we are requested to believe that our poets happened not only upon death — upon the death of a woman — upon the tranquil death of a woman — and upon the lying of this woman tranquilly throughout the night — but, also, upon the idea of selecting, from the innumerable phases which characterise a tranquil death-bed, the identical one of soft breathing — employing also the identical word. Here the reason gives up the endeavour to believe that one poem has not been suggested by the other: — if it be a reason accustomed to deal with the mathematical Calculus of Probabilities it has abandoned this endeavour at the preceding stage of the investigation. The evidence of suggestion has now become prodigiously accumulate. Each succeeding coincidence (however slight) is proof not merely added, but multiplied by hundreds, and hundreds of thousands.

Sixthly, we are called upon to believe not only that the two poets happened upon all this, together with the idea of the soft breathing, but also of employing the identical word breathing, in the same line with the identical word, night. This proposition the reason receives with a smile.

Seventhly, however, we are required to admit not only all that has been already found inadmissible, but in addition, that the two poets conceived the idea of representing the death of the woman as occurring precisely at the same instant, out of all the infinite instants of all time. This proposition the reason receives only with a sneer.

Eighthly — we are called upon to acquiesce in the assertion that not only all these improbabilities are probable, but that in addition again, the two poets happened upon the idea of representing the woman as stepping immediately into Paradise; — and, ninthly, that both should not only happen upon all this, but upon the idea of writing a peculiarly brief poem, on so admirably suggestive a thesis: — and, tenthly, that out of the various rhythms, that is to say variations of [page 53:] poetic feet, they should have both happened upon the iambus: — and, eleventhly, that out of the absolutely infinite metres that may be contrived from this rhythm, they should both have hit upon the tetrameter acatalectic for the first and third lines of a stanza: — and, twelfthly, upon the trimeter acatalectic for the second and fourth; and, thirteenthly, upon an absolute identity of phrase at, fourteenthly, an absolutely identical position, viz: upon the phrases, “But when the morn,” &c., and,” But when the sun, &c.,” occurring in the beginning of the first line in the last stanza of each poem — and, fifteenthly and lastly, that out of the vast multitude of appropriate titles, they should both have happened upon one whose identity is interfered with at all, only by the difference between the definite and indefinite article.

Now the chances that these fifteen coincidences, so peculiar in character, and all occurring within the compass of eight short lines on the one part, and sixteen on the other — the chances, I say, that these coincidences are merely accidental, may be estimated, possibly, as about one to one hundred millions; and any man who reasons at all, is of course grossly insulted in being called upon to credit them as accidental.

In the next number of the Journal, I shall endeavour to bring this subject to an end.

E. A. P.

[page 54:]

[[BJ March 22, 1845 - 1:183]]


The Messenger was founded in the beginning of the year 1835, by Thomas W. White, a very worthy and energetic printer and publisher of Richmond Va., at a period when no Journal of the kind had ever taken root south of the Potomac, and amid loud warnings from the publisher’s friends not to engage in the undertaking. He persevered, however, and, by dint of much personal exertion, obtained, in the first six months, about six or seven hundred subscribers. During this period, no editor was regularly engaged — the proprietor depending upon occasional aid from his friends. Mr. James E. Heath and Mr. E. V. Sparhawk aided him very materially. At the beginning of the seventh month one of the present editors of the “Broadway Journal” made an arrangement to edit the “Messenger,” and by systematic exertion on the part of both publisher and editor the circulation was increased by the end of the subsequent year to nearly five thousand — a success quite unparalleled in the history of our five dollar Magazines. After the secession of Mr. Poe, Mr. White took the editorial conduct upon his own shoulders and sustained it remarkably well. At his death, about three years since, Mr. B. B. Minor, of Va., became editor and proprietor, and is still so. In his hands the work maintains its old fame.

The Messenger has always been a favorite with the people of the South and West, who take a singular pride in its support. Its subscribers are almost without exception the Elite, both as regards wealth and intellectual culture, of the Southern aristocracy, and its corps of contributors are generally men who control the public opinion of the Southerners on all topics. The influence of the work is, therefore, prodigious — and it has always been exerted, we sincerely believe, in behalf of the chivalrous, the tasteful and the true.

Its subscription-list is by no means confined, however, to the South and West. A great many of the most distinguished persons in the North and East are among its warmest supporters. Indeed there are comparatively few illustrious American names that are not to be found upon its list. In the aristocracy of its friends it is quite an anomaly in the literary world.

Mr. Minor is about to make some important improvements in the work, with a view of extending the circulation among ourselves here in the North and East, and we shall not fail to do our part in this endeavour. The New-York agent is Mr. John Bisco, publisher of the “Broadway Journal,” 153 Broadway. Any communications or subscriptions for the Messenger, may be forwarded either to him or to Edgar A. Poe, at the same office. The March number is just issued and is unusually good. We shall notice it more fully hereafter.


(b) THE COLUMBIAN MAGAZINE for April, contains the usual quantity of readable matter and two exceedingly fine articles; The Children of Mount Ida, by L. Maria Child, and a flight of fancy by Mrs. F. S. Osgood. It also contains two engravings, and a flower piece, of that peculiar Order of merit which distinguishes the embellishments of this magazine. [page 55:]

[[BJ March 22, 1845 - 1:186]]


(a) OUR attention has been called to the following resolution, which was presented and acted upon at a late meeting of the New York Historical Society

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire and report whether it be not expedient that some effort, and if so, what should be made, to give A PROPER NAME to the country.”

We are glad to see from this, that intelligent minds are at length roused to the importance of giving our country a title, which shall distinguish it from the vast continent of which it forms only a portion. A few individuals have long felt its want of a proper name, but we do not recollect that any direct effort to obtain one has been made until now.

When thought is once given to this subject, it seems strange that our anomalous deficiency has not been more gen erally observed. But at home it gives little or no inconvenience. W e are understood when we speak of “this country” and “our country.” A sense of our want is not forced upon us until intercourse with other nations commences. Then we discover how general an idea is attached to the words America and American. They call up no distinct associations of locality. Speak of an American belonging to any other part of this continent, and he is so fortunate as to have a distinguishing appellation. He is a Canadian, a Mexican, a Brazilian, a Peruvian, a Chilian, — a man that bears his country in his name. But what are the people of our confederacy? Toibe known we must be described. We are “inhabitants of the United States of North America,” — a ridiculous, but unavoidable circumlocution, which, after all, strictly implies only that we live in this particular portion of the world, and not that we are native to its soil, and can, by birthright, claim it as our country. When we think of a Greek or Roman, it is with associations of country and history, that at once give him character and interest. And why should not we, too, link to our history and destiny some word that shall be our fitting representative? Surely there is enough to suggest one in our land of beauty and promise, in what we have been, and are, and hope to be.

Were a suitable name once chosen, we cannot imagine any serious difficulty in bringing it into general use. It is our national boast that the greatest obstacle cannot daunt us. Here they are few and trifling. We have not to conquer any strong attachment to an old title, nor to soothe a popular dislike to needed change. Let it be authorized by government, and a year or two would suffice to carry the chosen name, through teachers, into our numerous academies and common schools, and into new editions of all our popular geographies. While children would be catching it at their studies, their parents would soon become familiar with it, through newspapers and public documents.

The obvious want of a proper name for our country, and the ease with which an attractive one might be brought into general use, suggest an inquiry as to the word which we shall adopt. Columbia is a name that has often been applied to us by poets and fourth of July orators, but is not one that has caught the public fancy. Nor can we see any appropriateness in giving the name of the great discoverer, to only a portion of the mighty continent which he made known to the civilized world: His fame is a common heritage, and his name properly belongs to the whole. Another objection to adopting it for ourselves exclusively, is that it has been already applied to a republic now unfortunately in fragments.

Washington Irving proposes the fine old Indian word Appalachia. This has the great merit of significance. It brings to mind not only that extinct race beyond whom even no Indian tradition can go, but also the great natural features of our country upon which they have left the record of their [page 56:] names and labors. The interest which would attach to it is common to the Union. We have scarcely a State or Territory in which some vestiges of the lost race do not appear. Their expressive names cling to out mountain peaks, and theirs are the most wonderful monuments of human skill that rise in the midst of our prairies and valleys.

Mr. Field, the mover of the resolution in the Historical Society, has heretofore proposed that, as a nation, we take the name of America, and bestow Columbia upon the continent. The history of the last century is sufficient proof that greater changes than this have been effected in the names of kingdoms and republics. Custom would not, therefore, present an insurmountable obstacle. A little confusion would naturally arise from it at first, though it could neither be of great extent nor long continuance. The words North and South Columbia, would express all that we now mean by North and South America. As every country contained in them beside our own, has its distinct appellation, they could not long feel any inconvenience from the change. It would scarcely be felt m any but public transactions. We have to choose between a name for ourselves or one for the continent. In discontinuing the present name of the continent, we change the word which is least frequently used. Were common consent once obtained, it would evidently be easy to accomplish this.

America is a name most obviously appropriate to our country. In our early existence as a people, it was virtually given to us. We were called the American colonies; our national legislature was the American Congress; and we achieved our independence as Americans. It is the name naturally applied to us in all but our foreign and official relations.

One important consideration in this change, would be the appropriate act of justice it would render to the great navigator who has been so unworthily robbed of this slight reward for his years of patient and persevering toil. It has long been felt proper that his name should belong to at least some portion of his discovery but it would be far more fitting and just, that the common land he found should in common bear his name.

For ourselves, we care little whether Apalachia or America become our national title, or what other is chosen in their place, if neither of these will suit the public taste, so that it be only one that shall fall pleasantly — on our ears, while it be comes a watchword to awaken high thoughts and purposes. Let it be one that we shall love to see linked with that national literature which is even now springing up in our midst, and which will become more characteristic with every successful effort to make our country true to itself, and less imitative even in so small a thing as its names.

So far as the Committee appointed by the Historical Society under the resolution we have quoted, are concerned, we are sure of the faithful and competent discharge of the duty assigned them. All bring to it a hearty love of country, a deep sense of our great want as a people, and a warm admiration of those beautiful Indian names which are passing from our hills and waters with every successive year.

The above well-written article is furnished by a correspondent whose opinions we highly value. In this case, however, we give our vote for Apalachia — first, because it is distinctive America is not, and can never be made so. We may legislate as much as we please, and assume for our country whatever name we think right — but to us it will be no name, properly so called, unless we can take it away from the regions which employ it at present. Now South America is America, and will insist on remaining so. We give our vote for Apalachia, secondly, because it is indigenous, springing from the country itself, or from one of its most magnificent and distinctive features — thirdly, because in employing it, we do honor to the Aborigines, whom, hitherto, we have at all points unmercifully despoiled, assassinated, and dishonored — fourthly, because in itself it is musical, and of sufficient length to have dignity and force — fifthly and lastly, because it is the suggestion of the most deservedly eminent among all the pioneers of American literature. It is but just that Mr. Irving should name the land, for which in Letters he first established a name.

[page 57:]

[[BJ March 22, 1845 - 1:190]]


MRS. R. S. NICHOLS. — Mrs. Nichols, of Cincinnati, is one of our most imaginative and vigorous poets. We have lately fallen upon a copy of “An Address of the Carriers of the Cincinnati Daily American Republican to its Patrons, for January, 1845.” This is the composition of Mrs. Nichols; and although we should scarcely look for anything very original in a New-Year’s Address, still there is a great deal both of originality and of other high merit here. We quote at random a stanza or two, not hoping, of course, to convey any just idea of the skill manifested in the general conduct of the poem — that point which is so severe a test of the artist:

Bride of my youthful days, gentle and fair,

Low lies thy grave at the portals of Time

Wrapt in thy shroud of long sunshiny hair

The hours upborne by the wings of the air,

Entombed thee in love, singing dirges sublime!

* * * * *

This grew my whitened beard — moistened my eye;

Faint was my voice’s tone — languished my heart;

Then, in my dreary age, AUTUMN drew nigh,

Like a sweet angel of love from the sky,

Ready to act the Samaritan’s part!

* * * * *

Oft, when the glowing stars-footprints of GOD! —

Lit up the earth with a holier light,

We o’er each pleasant place falteringly trod,

Wailing the fate of the brown-fading sod

That shrunk from our steps, as if tearing a blight.


Down by a flashing rill, winding in shade,

Leaping to sunlight in gladness, and mirth,

We, in a softened mood, pleasantly made

A couch, where the streamlet a monody played —

A death-song for one of the brightest of Earth!


Pale grew the berries red, close at our feet;

Wan looked the waning Moon over our head;

Then moaned the hollow winds, winged and fleet,

And Autumn folded her white winding-sweet,

White Winter approached, and enshrouded the dead!

The rhythm here is anapæstic — by no means an usual one with us, and requiring much art in the handling. There are some lapses, to be sure, in all the stanzas except the second one quoted, which is rhythmically perfect. Even the lapses, however, or variations, are strictly defensible, and show that Mrs. Nichols has, at all events, a well cultivated ear.

[[BJ March 22, 1845 - 1:191]]

(b) THE SATURDAY EMPORIUM. — There is an excellent weekly paper with this title published in New York, by Ward & Co., of Ann street. It so happens we have never seen more than three numbers of it, the last of which contained an imputation upon our editorial honesty, which we felt bound to answer; and being struck with the generally agreeable tone of its articles, its enormous size, and neat appearance, we took that occasion to state the same to our friend, the public. It so happened also that we had just read a paragraph which has been pretty generally circulated the last three months, informing the poor that a sheet of brown paper would make a warmer coverlid for a bed than an ordinary rose blanket; and it seemed to us that a poor family could not do a better thing this cold weather, than to provide themselves with a paper for a sixpence, which would answer the double purpose of a “quilt by night, a library by day,” which we said.

It appears that the Emporium regards this as a doubtful compliment, but it appears to us that we could not have paid it a more unequivocal one. However, the Emporium says it prefers the calumet of peace, to the tomahawk of war. Very good. Then put this in your pipe and smoke it; and when you copy any thing from our columns again, have the kindness to give us credit for it.

[[The following minor section is omitted from the facsimile text, although clearly intended at the bottom of the present page, based on the notes:]]


Shall we not soon hear from P. P. C., of Va.?

We return our warmest acknowlegments to the author of the “Tale of Luzon” — also to our esteemed friend, M. L. L.

Is there no hope of our hearing from “Ellen” of the C. M.?

The Communication fromM. of Albany,” is received. It will appear at the first convenient opportunity.

[page 58:]

[[BJ March 29, 1845 - 1:194]]


“I have written what I have written,” says Outis, “from no personal motives, but simply because, from my earliest reading of reviews and critical notices, I have been disgusted with this wholesale mangling of victims without rhyme or reason.”

I have already agreed to believe implicitly every thing asserted by the anonymous Outis, and am fully prepared to admit, even, his own contradictions, in one sentence, of what he has insisted upon in the sentence preceding. I shall assume it as indisputable, then, (since Nobody says it) that, first, he has no acquaintance with myself and “some acquaintance with Mr. Longfellow,” and secondly, that he has “written what he has written from no personal motives whatever.” That he has been disgusted with — the mangling of victims without rhyme or reason,” is, to be sure, a little unaccountable, for the victims without rhyme or reason are precisely the victims that ought to be mangled; but that be has been disgusted “from his earliest reading” with critical notices and reviews. is credible enough if we but imagine his “earliest reading” and earliest writing to have taken place about the same epoch of time.

But to be serious; if Outis has his own private reasons for being disgusted with what he terms the “wholesale mangling of victims without rhyme or reason,” there is not a man living, of common sense and common honesty, who has not better reason (if possible) to be disgusted with the insufferable cant and shameless misrepresentation practised habitually by just such persons as Outis, with the view of decrying by sheer strength of lungs — of trampling down — of rioting down — of mobbing down any man with a soul that bids him come out from among the general corruption of our public press, and take his stand upon the open ground of rectitude and honor.

The Outises who practise this species of bullyism are, as a matter of course, anonymous. They are either the “victims without rhyme or reason who have been mangled by wholesale,” or they are the relatives, or the relatives of the relatives of the “victims without rhyme or reason who have been mangled by wholesale.” Their watchwords are “carping littleness,” “envious malignity,” and “personal abuse.” Their low artifices are insinuated calumnies, and indefatigable whispers of regret, from post to pillar, that “Mr. So-and-So, or Mr. This-and-That will persist in rendering himself so dreadfully unpopular” — no one, in the meantime, being more thoroughly and painfully aware than these very Outises, that the unpopularity of the just critic who reasons his way, guiltless of dogmatism, is confined altogether within the limits of the influence of the victims without rhyme and reason who have been mangled by wholesale. Even the manifest injustice of a Gifford is, I grieve to say, an exceedingly popular thing; and there is no literary element of popularity more absolutely and more universally effective than the pungent impartiality of a Wilson or a Macaulay. In regard to my own course — without daring to arrogate to myself a single other quality of either of these eminent men than that pure contempt for mere prejudice and conventionality which [page 59:] actuated them all, I will now unscrupulously call the attention of the Outises to the fact, that it was during what they (the Outises) would insinuate to be the unpopularity of my “wholesale mangling of the victims without rhyme and reason” that, in one year, the circulation of the “Southern Messenger” (a five-dollar journal) extended itself from seven hundred to nearly five thousand, — and that, in little more than twice the same time, “Graham’s Magazine” swelled its list from five to fifty-two thousand subscribers.

I make no apology for these egotisms, and I proceed with them without hesitation-for, in myself; I am but defending a set of principles which no honest man need be ashamed of defending, and for whose defence no honest man will consider an apology required.

The usual watchwords of the Outises, when repelling a criticism, — their customary charges, overt or insinuated, are (as I have already said) those of “personal abuse” and “wholesale (or indiscriminate) mangling.” In the present instance the latter solely is employed — for not even an Outis can abuse me, with even a decent show of verisimilitude, of having ever descended, in the most condemnatory of my reviews, to that personal abuse which, upon one or two occasions, has indeed been levelled at myself, in the spasmodic endeavours of aggrieved authors to rebut what I have ventured to demonstrate.

I have then to refute only the accusation of mangling by wholesale — and I refute it by the simplest reference to fact. What I have written remains; and is readily accessible in any of our public libraries. I have had one or two impotent enemies, and a multitude of cherished friends — and both friends and enemies have been, for the most part, literary people; yet no man can point to a single critique, among the very numerous ones which I have written during the last ten years, which is either wholly fault-finding or wholly in approbation; nor is there an instance to be discovered, among all that I have published, of my having set forth, either in praise or censure, a single opinion upon any critical topic of moment, without attempting, at least, to give it authority by something that wore the semblance of a reason. Now, is there a writer in the land, who, having dealt in criticism even one-fourth as much as myself, can of his own criticisms, conscientiously say the same? The fact is, that very many of the most eminent men in America whom I am proud to number among the sincerest of my friends, have been rendered so solely by their approbation of my comments upon their own works — comments in great measure directed against themselves as authors — belonging altogether to that very class of criticism which it is the petty policy of the Outises to cry down, with their diminutive voices, as offensive on the score of wholesale vituperation and personal abuse. If, to be brief, in what I have put forth there has been a preponderance of censure over commendation, — is there not to be imagined for this preponderance a more charitable motive than any which the Outises have been magnanimous enough to assign me — is not this preponderance, in a word, the natural and inevitable tendency of all criticism worth the name in this age of so universal an authorship, that no man in his senses will pretend to deny the vast predominance of good writers over bad?

“And now,” says Outis, “[[sic]] [and now too, say I] “for the matter of Longfellow’s imitations — in what do they consist? The critic is not very specific in this charge. Of what kind are they? Are they imitations of thought? Why not call them plagiarisms then, and show them up? Or are they only, verbal imitations of style? Perhaps this is one of them, in his poem on the “Sea Weed,”

——— “drifting, drifting, drifting,

On the shifting

Currents of the restless main.”

resembling in form and collocation only, a line in a beautiful and very [page 60:] powerful Poem of MR. EDGAR A. POE. (Write it rather EDGAR, a Poet, and then it is right to a T.) I have met the poem before me, and have forgotten its title. But he is describing a magnificent intellect in ruins, if I remember rightly — and, speaking of the eloquence of its better days, represents it as

——— “flowing, flowing, flowing,

Like a river.”

Is this what the critic means? Is it such imitations as this that he alludes to? If not, I am at fault, either in my reading of Longfellow, or in my general familiarity with the American Poet. If this be the kind of imitation referred to, permit me to say, the charge is too paltry for any man, who valued his reputation either as a gentleman or a scholar.”

Elsewhere he says:

Moreover, this poem contains an example of that kind of repetition which I have supposed the critic meant to charge upon Longfellow as one of his imitations

Away — away — away — &c.

I might pursue it farther, but I will not. Such criticisms only make the author of them contemptible, without soiling a plume in the cap of his victim.

The first point to be here observed is the complacency with which Outis supposes me to make a certain charge and then vituperates me for his own absurd supposition. Were I, or any man, to accuse Mr. Longfellow of imitation on the score of thrice employing a word in consecutive connexion, then I, (or any man) would only be guilty of as great a sotticism as was Outis in accusing the of imitation on the score of the refrain. The repetition in question is assuredly not claimed by myself as original — I should therefore be wary how I charged — Mr. Longfellow with imitating it from myself. It is, in fact, a musical effect, which is the common property of all mankind, and has been their common property for ages.

Nevertheless the quotation of this

drifting, drifting, drifting

is, on the part of Outis, a little unfortunate. Most certainly the supposed imitation had never been observed by me — nor even had I observed it, should I have considered it individually, as a point of any moment; — but all will admit, (since Outis himself has noticed the parallel,) that, were a second parallel of any obviousness to be established from the same brief poem, “The Sea-Weed,” this second would come in very strong corroboration of the first. Now, the sixth stanza of this very “Sea-Weed” (which was first published in “Graham’s Magazine” for January 1845) commences with

From the far off isles enchanted;

and in a little poem of my own, addressed “To Mary,” and first published at page 636 of the first volume of the “Southern Literary Messenger,” will be found the lines:

“And thus thy memory is to me

Like some enchanted far off isle

In some tumultuous sea.”

But to show, in general, what I mean by accusing Mr. Longfellow of imitation, I collate his “Midnight Mass for the Dying Year” with “The Death of the Old Year” of Tennyson.


Yes, the Year is growing old,

And his eve is pale and bleared,

Death, with frosty hand and cold,

Plucks the old man by the beard,

Sorely, — sorely!


The leaves are falling, falling,

Solemnly and slow;

Caw, caw, the rooks are calling;

It is a sound of woe,

A sound of woe!


Through woods and mountain-passes

The winds, like anthems, roll;

They are chanting solemn masses,

Singing, Pray for this poor soul,

Pray, — pray!


And the hooded clouds, like friars,

Tell their beads in drops of rain,

And patter their doleful prayers;

But their prayers are all in vain,

All in vain!


There he stands in the foul weather,

The foolish, fond Old Year,

Crowned with wild flowers and with heather,

Like weak, despised Lear,

A king, — a king


Then comes the summer-like day,

Bids the old man rejoice!

His joy! his last! O, the old man gray,

Loveth her ever soft voice

Gentle and low.


To the crimson woods he saith —

To the voice gentle and low,

Of the soft air like a daughter’s breath,

Pray do not mock me so

Do not laugh at me


And now the sweet day is dead;

Cold in his arms it lies;

No stain from its breath is spread

Over the glassy skies,

No mist nor stain!


Then, too, the Old Year dieth,

And the forests utter a moan, [page 61:]

Like the voice of one who crieth

In the wilderness alone, rest,

Vex not his ghost!


Then comes, with an awful roar,

Gathering and sounding, on,

The storm-wind from Labrador,

The wind Euroclydon,

The storm-wind!


Howl! howl! and from the forest

Sweep the red leaves away!

Would, the sins that thou abhor

O soul! could thus decay,

And be swept away!


For there shall come a mightier blast,

There shall be a darker day;

And the stars, from heaven down-cast,

Like red leaves be swept away!

Kyrie Eleyson!

Christie Eleyson!


Full knee-deep lies the winter snow,

And the winter winds are wearily sighing;

Tell ye the church-bell sad and low,

And tread softly, and speak low,

For the Old Year lies a-dying.

Old Year, you must not die,

You came to us so readily,

You lived with us so steadily,

Old Year, you shall not die.


He lieth still: he doth not move;

He will not see the dawn of day;

He hath no other lite above

He gave me a friend, and a true, true love,

And the New Year will take ‘em away.

Old Year, you must not go,

So long as you have been with us,

Such joy as you have seen with us,

Old Year, you shall not go.


He frothed his bumpers to the brim;

A jollier year we shall not see;

But though his eyes are waxing dim,

And though his foes speak ill of him,

He was a friend to me.

Old Year, you shall not die;

We did so laugh and cry with you,

I‘ve half a mind to die with you,

Old Year, if you must die.


He was full of joke and jest,

But all his merry quips are o‘er;

To see him die, across the waste

His son and heir doth ride post haste,

But he‘ll be dead before.

Every one for his own;

The night is starry and cold, my friend,

And the New Year, blithe and bold, my friend,

Comes up to take his own.


How hard he breathes! Over the snow

I heard just now the crowing cock.

The shadows flicker to and tro:

The cricket chirps: the light burns low

‘Tis nearly one o‘clock.

Shake hands before you die;

Old Year, we‘ll dearly rue for you,

What is it we can do for you?

Speak out before you die.


His face is growing sharp and thin

Alack! our friend is gone!

Close up his eyes; tie up his chin;

Step from the corpse and let him in

That standeth there alone,

And waiteth at the door.

There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,

And a new face at the door, my friend,

A new face at the door.

I have no idea of commenting, at any length, upon this imitation; which is too palpable to be mistaken; and which belongs to the most barbarous class of literary piracy; that class in which, while the words of the wronged author are avoided, his most intangible, and therefore his least defensible and least reclaimable property, is appropriated. Here, with the exception of lapses, which, however, speak volumes, (such for instance as the use of the capitalized “Old Year,” the general peculiarity of the rhythm, and the absence of rhyme at the end of each stanza,) there is nothing of a visible or palpable nature by which the source of the American poem can be established. But then nearly all that is valuable in the piece of Tennyson, is the first conception of personifying the Old Year as a dying old man, with the singularly wild and fantastic manner in which that conception is carried out. Of this conception and of this manner he is robbed. What is here not taken from Tennyson, is made up mosaically, from the death scene of Cordelia, in “Lear” — to which I refer the curious reader.

In “Graham’s Magazine” for February 1843, there appeared a poem, furnished by Professor Longfellow, entitled “The Good George Campbell,” and purporting to be a translation from the German of O. L. B. Wolf. . In “Minstrelsy Ancient [page 62:] and Modern by William Motherwell, published by John Wylie, Glasgow 1827,” is to be found a poem partly compiled and partly written by Motherwell himself. It is entitled “The Bonnie George Campbell.” I give the two side by side:


Hie upon Hielands

And low upon Tay,

Bonnie George Campbell

Rade fort on a day.

Saddled and bridled

And gallant rade he;

Hame cam his gude horse,

But never cam he.


Out cam his auld mither

Greeting fu’ lair,

And out cam his bonnie bride

Rivin’ her hair.

Saddled and bridled

And booted rade he;

Toom hame cam the saddle,

But never cam he.


“My meadow lies green,

And my corn is unshorn;

My barn is too big,

And my baby’s unborn.”

Saddled and bridled

And booted rade he;

Toom hame cam the saddle,

But never cam he.



High on the Highlands,

And deep in the day,

The good George Campbell

Rode free and away.

All saddled, all bridled,

Gay gatments he wore;

Home came his gude steed,

But he nevermore.


Out came his mother,

Weeping so sadly;

Out came his beauteous bride

Weeping so madly.

All saddled, all bridled,

Strong armor he wore;

Home came the saddle,

But he nevermore.


My meadow lies green,

Unreaped is my corn,

My garner is empty,

My child is unborn.

All saddled, all bridled,

Sharp weapons he bore:

Home came the saddle,

But he nevermore!

Professor Longfellow defends himself (I learn) from the charge of imitation in this case, by the assertion that he did translate from Wolff, but that Wofff copied from Motherwell. I am willing to believe almost anything rather than so gross a plagiarism as this seems to be — but there are difficulties which should be cleared up. In the first place how happens it that, in the transmission from the Scotch into the German, and again from the German into the English, not only the versification should have been rigidly preserved, but the rhymes, and alliterations? Again; how are we to imagine that Mr. Longfellow with his known intimate acquaintance with “Motherwell’s Minstrelsy” did not at once recognize so remarkable a poem when he met it in Wolff? I have now before me a large volume of songs, ballads, etc. collected by Wolff; but there is here no such poem — and, to be sure, it. should not be sought in such a collection. No collection of his own poems has been published, and the piece of which we are in search must be fugitive — unless, indeed, it is included in a volume of translations from various tongues, of which O. L. B. Wolff is also the author — but of which I am unable to obtain a copy.* It is by no means improbable that here the poem in question is to be found — but in this case it must have been plainly acknowledged as a translation, with its original designated. How, then, could Professor Longfellow have translated it as original with Wolff? These are mysteries yet to he solved. It is observable — peculiarly so — that the Scotch “Toom” is left untranslated in the version of Graham’s Magazine. Will it be found that the same omission occurs in Wolff’s version?

In “The Spanish Student” of Mr. Longfellow, at page 80, will be found what follows:

Scene IV. — Preciosa’s chamber. She is sitting with a book in her hand near a table, on which are lowers. A bird singing in its cage. The Count of Lara enters behind, unperceived.

Preciosa reads.

All are sleeping, weary heart!

Thou, thou only sleepless art!

Heigho! I wish Victorian were here.

I know not what it is makes me so restless! [The bird sings.

Than little prisoner with thy motley coat,

That from thy vaulted, wiry dungeon singest,

Like thee I am a captive, and, like thee,

I have a gentle gaoler. Lack-a-day!

All are sleeping, weary heart!

Thou, thou only sleepless art

All this throbbing, all this aching,

Evermore shall Jeep thee waking,

For a heart in sorrow breaking

Thinketh ever of its smart!

Thou speakest truly, poet! and methinks

More hearts are breaking in this world of ours

Than one would say. In distant villages

And solitudes remote, where winds have wafted

The barbed seeds of love, or birds of passage

Scattered them in their flight, do they take root, [page 63:]

And grow in silence, and in silence perish.

Who hears the falling of the forest leaf?

Or who takes note of every flower that dies?

Heigho! I wish Victorian would come.

Dolores! [Turns to lay down her book, and perceives the Count. Ha!

Lara. Senora, pardon me.

Preciosa. How’s this? Dolores!

Lara. Pardon me

Preciosa. Dolores!

Lara. Be not alarmed; I found no one in waiting.

If I have been too bold

Preciosa [turning her back upon him]. You are too bold!

Retire! retire, and leave me!

Lara. My dear lady,

First hear me! I beseech you, let me speak!

’Tis for your good I come.

Preciosa [turning toward hint with indignation]. Begone! Begone!

You are the Count of Lara, but your deeds

Would make the statues of your ancestors

Blush on their tombs! Is it Castilian honor,

Is it Castilian pride, to steal in here

Upon a friendless girl, to do her wrong?

O shame! shame! shame! that you, a nobleman,

Should be so little noble in your thoughts

As to send jewels here to win my love,

And think to buy my honor with your gold!

I have no words to tell you how I scorn you!

Begone! The sight of you is hateful to me!

Begone, I say!

A few passages farther on in the same scene we meet the following stage directions: — “He tries to embrace her, she starts back and draws a dagger from her bosom.” A little farther still and “Victorian enters behind.”

Compare all this with a “Scene from Politian, an Unpublished Tragedy by Edgar A. Poe,” to be found either at page 13, or at page 106, of the second volume of the “Southern Literary Messenger.”

The scene opens with the following stage directions:

A lady’s apartment, with a window open and looking into a garden. Lalage in deep mourning, reading at a table, on which lie some books and a hand mirror. In the back ground, JACINTA learn carelessly on the back of a chair.

* * * * *

Lalage reading. “It in another climate, so he said,

Bore a bright golden flower but not i’ this soil.

[Pauses, turns over some leaves, and then resumes.

No ling’ring winters there, nor snow, nor shower,

But ocean ever, to refresh mankind,

Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind.”

Oh, beautiful! most beautiful! how like

To what my fever‘d soul doth dream of Heaven!

O happy land! [pauses] She died — the maiden died —

O still more happy maiden who couldst die!


[Jacinta returns no answer, and Lalage presently resumes.

Again a similar tale,

Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea!

Thus speaketh one Ferdinand i’ the words of the play,

“She died full young” — one Bossola answers him

“I think not so; her infelicity

Seemed to have years too many.” Ah luckless lady!

Jacinta! [Still no answer.] Here’s a far sterner story

But like, oh very like in its despair,

Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily

A thousand hearts, losing at length her own.

She died. Thus endeth the history, and her maids

Lean over her and weep — two gentle maids

With gentle names, Eiros and Charmion.

Rainbow and Dove-Jacinta!

* * * * *

[Jacinta finally in a discussion about certain jewels, insults her mistress, who bursts into tears.

Lalage. Poor Lalage! and is it come to this?

Thy servant maid! — but courage! — ‘tis but a viper

Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul!

[Taking up the mirror.

Ha! here at least ’s a friend — too much a friend

In earlier days — a friend will not deceive thee.

Fair mirror and true! now tell me, for thou canst,

A tale — a pretty tale — and heed thou not

Though it be rife with. woe. It answers me.

It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks,

And beauty long deceased — remembers me

Of Joy departed — Hope, the Seraph Hope

Inurned and entombed! — now, in a tone

Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible

Whispers of early grave untimely yawning

For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true! thou liest not!

Thou hast no end to gain — no heart to break.

Castiglione lied who said he loved

Thou true — he false! — false! — false!

[While she speaks a Monk enters her apartment, and approaches unobserved.

Monk. Refuge thou hast [page 64:]

Sweet daughter! in Heaven. Think of eternal things!

Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray.

Lalage. I cannot pray! — my soul is at war with God!

[Arising hurriedly.

The frightful sounds of merriment below

Disturb my senses — go, I cannot pray!

The sweet airs from the garden worry me!

Thy presence grieves me — go! — thy priestly raiment

Fills me with dread — thy ebony crucifix

With horror and awe!

Monk. Think of thy precious soul!

Lalage. Think of my early days! — think of my father

And mother in Heaven! think of our quiet home

And the rivulet that ran before the door!

Think of my little sisters! — think of them!

And think of me! — think of my trusting love

And confidence — his vows — lily ruin — think — think

Of my unspeakable miser! — Begone!

Yet stay! yet stay! what was it thou saidst of prayer

And penitence? Didst than not speak of faith

And vows before the throne?

Monk. I did.

Lalage. ‘Tis well.

There is a vow were fitting should be made

A sacred vow, imperative, and urgent —

A solemn vow.

Monk. Daughter, this zeal is well.

Lalage. Father! this zeal is any thing but well.

Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing?

A crucifix whereon to register

A pious vow?

[He hands her his gun.

Not that! — Oh! no! — no! no! [Shuddering.

Not that! not that! I tell thee, holy man,

Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me

Stand back! I have a crucifix myself —

I have a crucifix! Methinks ‘twere fitting

The deed — the vow — the symbol of the deed

And the deed’s register should tally, father!

Behold the cross wherewith a vote like mine

Is written in Heaven!

[Draws a cross-handled dagger and raises it on high.

Monk. Thy words are madness, daughter!

And speak a purpose unholy — thy lips are livid

Thine eyes are wild — tempt not file wrath divine

Pause ere too late! — oh! be not — be not rash

Swear not the oath — oh! swear it not!

Lalage. ’Tis sworn!

The coincidences here are too markedly peculiar to be gainsayed. The sitting at the table with books, etc. — the flowers on the one hand, and the garden on the other — the presence of the pert maid — the reading aloud from the book — the pausing and commenting — the plaintiveness of what is read, in accordance with the sorrow of the reader — the abstraction — the frequent calling of the maid by name — the refusal of the maid to answer — the jewels — the “begone” — the unseen entrance of a third person from behind — and the drawing of the dagger — are points sufficiently — noticeable to establish at least the imitation beyond all doubt.

Let us now compare the concluding lines of Mr. Longfellow’s “Autumn” with that of Mr. Bryant’s “Thanatopsis:”

Mr. B. has it thus:

So live, that when thy summons comes to join

The innumerable caravan that moves

To that mysterious realm where each shall take

His chamber in the silent halls of Death,

Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night,

Scourged to his dungeon; but, sustained and soothed]

By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave

Like one who wraps the drapery of big couch

About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Mr. L. thus:

To him the wind, aye and the yellow leaves

Shall have a voice and give him eloquent teachings.

He shall so hear file solemn hymn that Death

Has lifted up for all, that he shall go

To his long resting-place without a tear.

Again, in his “Prelude to the Voices of the Night” Mr. Longfellow says: —

Look then into thine heart and write!

Sir Philip Sidney in the “Astrophel and Stella” has:

Foole, said my ‘Muse to me, looke in thy heart and write!

Again — in Longfellow’s “Midnight ‘Mass” we read

And the hooded clouds like friars.

The Lady in Milton’s “Corpus” says:

When the grey-hooded even

Like a sad votarist in palmer’s tweeds.

And again: — these lines by Professor Longfellow will be remembered by every body: [page 65:]

Art is long and time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still like muffled drums are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

But if any one will turn to page 66 of John Sharpe’s edition of Henry Headley’s Select Beauties of Ancient English Poetry, published at London in 1810, he will there find an Exequy on the death of his wife by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester, and therein also the following lines, where the author is speaking of following his wife to the grave:

But hark! my pulse, like a soft drum,

Beats my approach — tells thee I come!

And slow howe‘er my marches be,

I shall at last sit down by thee.

Were I disposed indeed, to push this subject any farther, I should have little difficulty in culling, from the works of the author of “Outre Mer,” a score or two of imitations quite as palpable as any upon witch I have insisted. The fact of the matter is, that the friends of Mr. Longfellow, so far from undertaking to talk about my “carping littleness” in charging Mr. Longfellow with imitation, should have given me credit, under the circumstances, for great moderation in charging him with imitation alone. Had I accused him, in loud terms, of manifest and continuous plagiarism, I should but have echoed the sentiment of every man of letters in the land beyond the immediate influence of the Longfellow coterie. And since I, “knowing what I know and seeing what I have seen” — submitting in my own person to accusations of plagiarism for the very sins of this gentleman against myself — since I contented myself, nevertheless, with simply setting forth the merits of the poet in the strongest light, whenever an opportunity was afforded me, can it be considered either decorous or equitable on the part of Professor Longfellow to beset me, upon my first adventuring an infinitesimal sentence of dispraise, with ridiculous anonymous letters from his friends, and moreover, with malice prepense, to instigate against me the pretty little witch entitled Miss Walter; advising her and instructing her to pierce me to death with the needles of innumerable epigrams, rendered unnecessarily and therefore cruelly painful to my feelings by being first carefully deprived of the point?

E. A. P.

[[BJ March 29, 1845 1:203]]


The plot of “Fashion” runs thus: Adam Trueman, a blunt, warm. hearted, shrewd, irascible, wealthy, and generous old farmer of Cattaraugus county, N. Y., had a daughter, (Ruth) who eloped with an adventurer. The father forgave the daughter, but resolving to disappoint the hopes of the fortune hunter, gave the couple a bare subsistence. In consequence of this, the husband maltreated, and finally abandoned the wife, who returned, broken-hearted, to her father’s house and there died, after giving birth to a daughter, Gertrude That she might escape the ills of fortune-hunting by which her mother was destroyed, Trueman sent the child, of an early age, to be brought up by relatives in Geneva; giving his own neighbours to understand that she was dead. The Geneva friends were instructed to educate her in habits of self-dependence, and to withold from her the secret of her parentage, and heirship; — the grandfather’s design being to secure [page 66:] for her a husband who will love her solely for herself. The friends by advice of the grandfather, procured for her when grown up to womanhood, a situation as music teacher in the house of Mr. Tiffany, a quondam foot-pedlar, and now by dint of industry a dry-goods merchant doing a flashy it not nourishing huskies; much of his success having arisen from the assistance of Trueman, who knew him and admired his hones: industry au a travelling pedlar.

The efforts of the dry goods merchant, however, are insufficient to keep pace with the extravagance of his wife, who has become infected with a desire to shine as a lady of fashion, in which desire she is seconded by her daughter, Seraphuta, the musical pupil of Gertrude. The follies of the mother and daughter so far involve Tiffany as to lead him into a forgery of a friend’s endorsement. This crime is suspected by his confidential clerk, Snobson, an intemperate blackguard, who at length extorts from his employer a confession, under a promise of secresy provided that Seraphina shall become Mrs. Snobson. Mrs. Tiffany, however, is by no means privy to this arrangement she is anxious to secure a title for Seraphina, and advocates the pretensions of Count Jolimaitre, a quondam English cook, barber, and valet, whose real name was Gustave Treadmill, and who, having spent much time at Paris, suddenly took leave of that city, for that city’s good, and his own; abandoning to despair a little laundress (Millinette) to whom he was betrothed, but who had rashly entrusted him with the whole of her hard earnings during life.

Gertrude is beloved (for her own sake) by Colonel Howard “of the regular army,” and returns his affection. The Colonel, however, makes no proposal, because he considers that his salary of “fifteen hundred a year” is no property of his own, but belongs to his creditors. He has endorsed for a friend to the amount of seven thousand dollars, and is left to settle the debt as he can. He talks, therefore, of resigning, going west, making a fortune, returning; and then offering his hand with his fortune, to Gertrude.

At this juncture, Trueman pays a visit to his old friend Tiffany, and is put at fault in respect to the true state of Gertrude’s heart (and indeed of every thing else) by the tattle of Prudence; Mrs. Tiffany’s old-maiden sister. She gives the old man to understand that Gertrude is in love with T. Tennyson Twinkle, a poet who is in the sad habit of reading aloud his own verses, but who has really very respectable pretensions, as times go. T. T. T. nevertheless, has no thought of Gertrude, but is making desperate love to the imaginary money-bags of Seraphina. He is rivalled, however, not only by the Count, but by Augustus Fogg, a gentleman of excessive hart ton, who wears black and has a general indifference to every thing but hot suppers.

Millinette, in the mean time, has followed hex deceiver to America, and happens to make an engagement as femme de chambre and general instructor in Parisian modes, at the very house (of all houses in the world) where her Gustave, as Count Jolimaitre, is paying his addresses to Miss Tiffany. The laundress recognizes the cook, who, at first overwhelmcdwith dismay, finally recovers his self-possession, and whispers to his betrothed a place of appointment at which he promises to “explain all.” This appointment is overheard by Gertrude, who for some time has had her suspicions of the Count. She resolves to personate Millinette in the interview, and thus obtain means of exposing the impostor. Contriving therefore to detain the femme de chambre from the assignation, she herself (Gertrude) blowing out the candles and disguising her voice, meets the Count at the appointed room in Tiffany’s house, while the rest of the company (invited to a ball) are at supper. In order to accomplish the detention of Millinette, she has been forced to give some instructions to Zeke (re-baptized Adolph by Mrs. Tiffany) a negro footman in the Tiffany livery. These instructions are overheard by prudence, who mars everything by bringing the whole household into the room of appointment before any secret has been extracted from the Count. Matters are made worse for Gertrude by a futile attempt on the Count’s part to conceal himself in a closet. No explanations are listened to. Mrs. Tiffany and Seraphina are in a great rage — Howard is in despair — and True. man entertains so bad an opinion of his grandaughter [[grand-daughter]] that he has an idea of suffering her still to remain in ignorance of his relationship. The company disperse in much admired disorder, and everything is at odds and ends.

Finding that she can get no one to hear her explanations, Gertrude writes an account of all to her friends at Geneva. She is interrupted by Trueman — shows him the letter — he comprehends all — and hurries the lovers into the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Tiffany, the former of whom is in despair, and the latter in high glee at information just received that Seraphina has eloped with Count Jolimaitre.

While Trueman is here avowing his relationship, bestowing Gertrude [page 67:] upon Howard, and relieving Tiffany from the fangs of Snobann by showing that person that he is an accessary to his employer’s forgery, Millmette enters, enraged at the Count’s perfidy to herself, and exposes him in full. Scarcely has she made an end when Seraphina 3 appears in search of her jewels, which the Count, before committing himself by the overt act of matrimony, has insisted upon her securing. As she does not return from this errand, however, sufficiently soon, her lover approaches on tip-toe to see what has become of her; is seen and caught by Millinette; and funding the game up, confesses every thing with exceeding nonchalance. Trueman extricates Tiffany from his embarrassments on condition of his sending his wife and daughter to the country to get rid of their fashionable notions; and even carries his generosity so far as to establish the Count in a restaurant with the proviso that he, the Count, shall in the character and proper habiliments of cool: Treadmill, carry around his own advertisement to all the fashionable acquaintances who had solicited his intimacy while performing the role of Count Jolintaitre.

We presume that not even the author of a plot such as this, would be disposed to claim for it any thing on the score of originality or invention. Had it, indeed, been designed as a burlesque upon the arrant conventionality of stage incidents in general, we should have regarded it as a palpable hit. And, indeed, while on the point of absolute unoriginality, we may as well include in one category both the events and the characters. The testy yet generous old grandfather, who talks in a domineering tone, contradicts every body, slaps all mankind on the back, thumps his cane on the floor, listens to nothing, chastises all the fops, comes to the assistance of all file insulted women, and relieves all the dramatis personae from all imaginable dilemmas: — the hen-pecked husband of low origin, led into difficulties by his Vulgar and extravagant wife: — the die-away daughter aspiring to be a Countess: — the villain of a clerk who aims at the daughter’s hand through the fears of his master, some of whose business secrets he possesses: — the French grisetto metamorphosed into the dispenser of the highest Parisian modes and graces — the intermeddling old maid making bare-faced love to every unmarried man she meets: — the stiff and stupid man of high fashion who utters only a single set phrase: the mad poet reciting his own verses: — the negro footman in livery impressed with a profound sense of his own consequence, and obeying with military promptness all orders from every body: — the patient, accomplished, and beautiful governess, who proves in the end to be the heiress of the testy old gentleman: — the high-spirited officer, in love with the governess, and refusing to marry her in the first place because he is too poor, and in the second place because she is too rich and, lastly, the foreign impostor with a title, a drawl, an eye-glass, and a moustache, who makes love to the supposititious heiress of the play in strutting about the stage with his coat-tails thrown open after’ the fashion of Robert Dlacaire, and who, in the end; is exposed and disgraced through the instrumentality of some wife or mistress whom he has robbed and abandoned: — these things we say, together with such incidents as one person supplying another’s place at an assignation, and such equivoques as arise from a surprisal in such cases — the concealment and discovery of one of the parties in a closet — and the obstinate refusal of all the world to listen to an explanation, are the common and well-understood property of the playwright, and have been so, unluckily, time out of mind.

But, for this very reason, they should be abandoned at once. Their hackneyism is no longer to be endured. The day has at length arrived when men demand rationalities in place of conventionalities. It will no longer do to copy, even with absolute accuracy, the whole tone of even so ingenious and really spirited a thing as the “School for Scandal.” It was comparatively good in its day, but it would be positively bad at the present day, and imitations of it are inadmissible at any day.

Bearing in mind the spirit of these observations, we may say that “Fashion” is theatrical but not dramatic. It is a pretty well-arranged selection from the usual routine of stage characters, and stage manœuvres — but there is not one particle of any nature beyond green room nature, about it. No such events ever happened in fact, or ever could happen; as happen in “Fashion.” Nor are we quarrelling, now, with the mere exaggeration of character or incident; — were this all, the play, although bad as comedy might be good as farce, of which the exaggeration of possible incongruities is the chief element. Our fault-finding is on the score of deficiency in verisimilitude — in natural art — that is to say, in art based in the natural laws of man’s heart and understanding.

When, for example, Mr. Augustus Fog; (whose name by the bye has little application to his character) says, in reply to Mrs. Tiffany’s [page 68:] invitation to the conservatory, that he is “indifferent to flowers,” and replies in similar terms to every observation addressed to him, neither are we affected by any sentiment of the farcical, nor can we feel any sympathy in the answer on the ground of its being such as any human being would naturally make at all times to all queries-making no other answer to any. Were the thing absurd in itself, we should laugh, and a legitimate effect would be produced; but unhappily the only absurdity we perceive is the absurdity — of the author in keeping so pointless a phrase in any character’s mouth. The shameless importunities of Prudence to Trueman are in file same category — that of a total deficiency in verisimilitude, without any compensating incongruousness that is to say, farcicalness, or humor. Also in the same category we must include the rectangular crossings and recrossings of the dramatis personae on the stage; the coming forward to the foot-lights when any thing of interest is to be told; the reading of private letters in a loud rhetorical tone; the preposterous soliloquising; and the even more preposterous “asides.” Will our play-wrights never learn, through the dictates of common sense, that an audience under no circumstances can or will be brought to conceive that what is sonorous in their own cars at a distance of fifty feet from the speaker cannot be heard by an actor at the distance of one or two?

No person of common ingenuity will be willing to admit that even the most intricate dramatic narrative could not be rendered intelligible without these monstrous inartisticalities. They are the relics of a day when men were content with but little of that true Art whose nature they imperfectly understood, and are now retained solely through that supine spirit of imitation which grows out of the drama itself as the chief of the imitative arts, and which has had so much to do in degrading it, in effect, by keeping it stationary while all of its sisters have been making rapid progress. The drama has not declined as many suppose: it has only been left out of sight by every thing else. We must discard all models. The Elizabethan theatre should be abandoned. We need thought of our own — principles of dramatic action drawn not from the “old dramatists” but from the fountain of a Nature that call never grow old.

It must he understood that we are not condemning Mrs. Mowatt’s comedy in particular, but the modern drama in general. Comparatively, there is much merit in “Fashion,” and in many respects (and those of a telling character) it is superior to any American play. It has, in especial, the very high merit of simplicity in plot. What the Spanish play-wrights mean by dramas of intrigue are the worst acting dramas in the world: — the intellect of an audience call never safely be fatigued by complexity. The necessity for verbose explanation on the part of Trueman at the close of “Fashion” is, however, a serious defect. The dénouement should in all cases be full of action and nothing else. Whatever cannot be explained by such action should be communicated at the opening of the play.

The colloquy in Mrs. Mowatt’s comedy is spirited, generally terse, and well seasoned at points with sarcasm of much power. The management throughout shows the fair authoress to be thoroughly conversant with our ordinary stage effects, and we might say a good deal in commendation of some of the “sentiments” interspersed: — we are really ashamed, nevertheless, to record our deliberate opinion that if “Fashion” succeed at all (and we think upon the whole that it will) it will owe the greater portion of its success to the very carpets, the very ottomans, the very chandeliers, and the very conservatories that gained so decided a popularity for that most inane and utterly despicable of all modern comedies — the “London Assurance” of Bourcicault.

The above remarks were written before the comedy’s representation at the Park, and were based on the author’s original MS., in which some modifications have been made — and not at all times, we really think, for the better. A good point, for example, has been omitted, at the dénouement. In the original, Trueman (as will be seen in our digest) pardons the Count, and even establishes him in a restaurant, on condition of his carrying around to all his fashionable acquaintances his own advertisement as restaurateur. There is a piquant, and dashing deviation, here, from the ordinary routine of stage “poetic justice,” which could not have failed to tell, and which was, perhaps, the one original point of the play. We can conceive no good reason for its omission. A scene, also, has been introduced, to very little purpose. We watched its effect narrowly, and found it null. It narrated nothing; it illustrated nothing; and was absolutely nothing in itself. Nevertheless it might have been introduced for the purpose of giving time for swine other scenic arrangements going on out of sight.

The comedy was thus cast:

Adam Trueman  .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .  Mr. Chippendale.
Count de Jolintaitre  .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . W. H. Crisp.
Colonel Howard  .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  Dyott.
Mr. Tiffany  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  Barry.
Mr. T. Tennison Twinkle  .    .   . .   .   .    .    .   .   .  De Walden.
Sir Augustus Fog  .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  Bridges.
Mr. Snobson  .   .   .   .    .    .   . .   .   .   .    .   .    .   .   .  Fisher.
Zee, a colored servant  .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  Skerrett.
Master of the ceremonies  .   .   . .   .    .   .   .   .    .   .   .  Gallot.
Mrs. Tiffany  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  Mrs. Barry.
Gertrude  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .  Miss Clara Ellis.
Seraphina Tiffany  .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .  Miss Kate Horn.
Prudence  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .   .   .   Mrs. Knight.
Millinette  .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   . .   .   .   .   .    .    .   .   .  Dyott.

A well written prologue was well delivered by Mr. Crisp, whose action is far better than his reading — although the latter, with one exception, is good. It is pure irrationality to recite verse, as if it were prose, without distinguishing the lines: — we shall touch this subject again. As the Count, Mr. Crisp did every thing that could be done: his grace of gesture is preeminent, — Miss Horne looked charmingly as Seraphina. Trueman and Tiffany were represented with all possible effect by Chippendale and Barry: — and Mrs. Barry as Mrs. Tiffany was the life of the play. Zeke was caricatured. Dyott makes a bad colonel — his figure is too diminutive. Prudence was well exaggerated [page 69:] by Mrs. Knight — and the character in her hands, elicited more applause than any one other of the dramatis personæ.

Some of the author’s intended points were lost through the inevitable inadvertences of a first representation — but upon the whole, every thing went off exceedingly well. To Mrs. harry we would suggest that the author’s intention was, perhaps, to have elite pronounced ee-light, and bouquet, bokett: — the effect would be more certain. To Zeke we would say, bring up the table bodily by all means (as originally designed) when the fow tool is called for. The scenery was very good indeed — and the carpet, ottomans, chandelier, etc. were also excellent of their kind. The entire “getting up” was admirable. “Fashion,” upon the whole, was well received by a large, Fashionable, and critical audience; and will succeed to the extent we have suggested above. Compared with the generality of modern dramas, it is a good play-compared with most American dramas it is a very good one — estimated by the natural principles of dramatic art, it is altogether unworthy of notice.

[[BJ March 29, 1845 - 1:207]]

(a) A MISTAKE. The announcement. in several papers, that Edgar A. Poe is to become editor ofThe Aristidean” (the new Democratic five-dollar Monthly) is a mistake.The Aristideanwill continue to be edited, and no doubt well edited, by T. D. English.

(b) ERRATUM. In our notice last week of a poem by Mrs. Nicholls, we spoke of her rhythm as anapæstic. We meant to say dactylic, of course.

(c) TO CORRESPONDENTS. A thousand thanks to Kate Carol.

The capital essay of “R. H.,” will appear next week.

Many thanks toViolet Vane,” and theStranger.”

Notices ofHuman Magnetism,” “The Lady’s Book,” “Graham’s Magazine,” and several other works, are necessarily deferred until next week.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 32:]

*  “I would be a Parody, written by a ninny,

  Not worth a penny, and sold for a guinea,” &c.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 36:]

*  Infatuation; a poem. spoken before the Mercantile Library Association of Boston, October 9, 1844. By Park Benjamin. Boston W. D. Ticknor & Co.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of age 50:]

*  This is as accurate a description as can be given of the alternating (of the second and fourth) lines in few words. The fact is, they are indescribable without more trouble than they are worth — and seem to me either to have been written by some one ignorant of the principles of verse, or to be misquoted. The line, however,

“That tells me thou hath seen and loved my Clare,”

answers the description I have given of the alternating verses, and was no doubt the general intention for all of them.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 62:]

*  Sammlung vorzuglicher Volkslieder der bekanetesten Nationen, grostentheils zun ersten male, metrisch in das Deutche ubertragen. Frankfurt, 1837.





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