Text: Felix Forresti, “The True Odin,” Waverley Magazine (Boston, MA), vol. VII, no. 8, August 20, 1853, p 121, cols. 1-2


[page 121, column 1, continued:]

The True Odin.

As the pitting of two champions against one is foul play, we propose, on the present occasion to step in and see that justice is done — not that Fiat Justitia is not perfectly able to defend himself, but because we wish to show J. J. P. that misrepresentation is not argument. This we do from the pleasure that it naturally gives us not only to view the ineffectual flounderings of Satan while Michael has him on his back, but to give audible utterance to our delight at the same time.

What will, no doubt, astonish every body on reading the two articles, lately published in your Magazine, is, the spiritual collusion which seems to have subsisted between the two writers — the latter person appearing to be more of a gentleman of the two.

I have been led to make these remarks from the fact that no man but one who has held intimate intercourse with the spirits, would make use of such balderdash as both H. S. C. and J. J. P. In short, the latter person does not seem to be so well acquainted with a certain kind of wild animal, called a “Hyena,” as the former.

H. S. C. began by blowing his Ram’s Horn, but the walls of Jericho don’t fall. This fortissimo blast — (I suppose from too much overtasking of his lungs, rather unused to loud bellowing) — ends in a most obsequious pidnissimo [[pianissimo]].

He says that Fiat Justitia wound up by making the puny assertion that he (Joe) had obtained, not fame, but the notoriety of a confirmed inebriate. Fiat Justitia never said any such thing; but what he has said, he can never gainsay. This shows how much respect he has for the truth.

There are some remarks in the article, written by H. S. C., which takes the shine off of anything that was ever composed by any one else, with the exception of J. J. P. — one of which is, his calling Poe’s “metaphysical creations,[[“]] “caravans of the ocean.” By this, we suppose, he must mean a great shoal of whales, or porpoises. But this, too, like the rest, may have been the result of his having had too intimate an intercourse with the spirits — for no man but one who has either had the “Delirium Tremens,” or the St. Vitus’ dance, could write in any such way.

But this is not all — this man does not understand his own mother tongue — if he did I am sure he would write in good English — for, in asking himself a question in bad grammar, he answers it by saying, ‘No! such a thing is incredible; nay, more — it is false! He has left behind him “deep foot prints in the sands of Time.”

Who disputes it? This is just what “we all know.” But “this is just what we do not want” — as foot prints, [[“]]made in the sand of Time,” never become fossillated; — what we want are footprints made in the everlasting Granite of all the Ages.

I appeal to Scripture to show you that no one but a simpleton would build a house, either for himself or another, on the bare sand. The fact is, I never knew before how much to appreciate the eloquent remark, “The Lord save me from my friends!”

But there are some of his remarks worthy of commendation. Such a thing cannot be said of H. S. C.

He says, the great objection the critic, Fiat Justitia, has to Poe, is, that “he was born too far South.” This is certainly, a noble remark, and worthy, in every way, of a wiser head. This is too often the case — particularly where the very subject under consideration proves how much has been done that is lasting, per se, for the Republics of letters at the South.

That there is, in the Northern Press, a spirit of determined [column 2:] hostility to all literary effort made in the South, is too true; but, unfortunately for the North, it is just like that made by H. S. C. to get rid of the onus probandi that the Raven was not taken from the Poem “To Allegra Florence in Heaven,” which weighs so heavily on his shoulders. But Michael knows too much ever to let Satan get up off his back again.

We would give a bottle of Perfait Amour to know that J. J. P. is a Southerner. He begins by blowing a loud blast on his brass instrument, but concludes with the following flute tones, in which he admits everything for which Fiat Justitia contends — namely, that,

“He might have soared to the Gates of Light,

But he built his nest with the birds of night.”

I will now conclude the part that I have taken in this discussion, by quoting the following lines on Edgar A. Poe, by Dr. S. H. Chivers, which I find in an early number of the Georgia Citizen, published about three years ago:

“Like the great Prophet in the desert lone,

He stood here waiting for the golden morning:

From Death’s dark Vale. I hear his distant moan

Coming to scourge the world he wa [[was]] adorning —

Scorning, in glory now, their impotence of scorning.”

Now, until both your champions can write just such lines as these, they had better “shut up shop.”

“Fiat Justitia, rust cœlum.”





Although at a quick glance, the name of Felix Forresti may look like another pseudonym, that name actually belonged to a professor of Italian Language and Literature at Columbia University, beginning prior to 1840 and resigning in 1856. His name is sometimes provided as E. Felix Forresti. Given the fact that Chivers had moved to New York about 1850 and subsequently lived in New Haven and Boston, they may have been friends or at least acquaintances. Several commentators have assumed that the ardent defense of “Fiat Justitia” was made by Chivers under another false name. Among there commentators are Emma Lester Chase and Lois Ferry Parks, the editors of Chivers’ correspondence (The Complete Works of Thomas Holley Chivers, volume I, Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1957, p. 210, n1.) It is not impossible, of course, that Chivers did write both letters, and merely appropriated a name. The idea that a professor of Italian in New York would happen to have a copy of a newspaper from Georgia (the Georgia Citizen, mentioned near the end of the letter) containing Chivers’ poem is certainly remarkable. There is no correspondence known between Chivers and Forresti, nor is Forresti mentioned in any of Chivers’ known letters to others, but the surviving correspondence is certainly not complete.



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