Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), [Review of Marryatt’s The Phantom Ship], Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, June 1839, vol IV, no. 6, pp. 4:358-359


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[page 358, continued:]

The Phantom Ship. By Captain Marryatt. E. L. Carey and A. Hart, Philadelphia.

However popular, in any certain or uncertain sense. the writings of Captain Marryatt have already been or may be, we believe that the opinion formerly expressed of them by Mr. Willis —

To him the direful spring

Of woes unnumbered —

was but the echo of the private idea entertained by every reasonable critic in Christendom.

Let us give the devil his due, and accord the author of Snarleyyow what credit he may desire for a very equivocal fertility of invention, displayed in a copiousness of incident pervading his entire writings. Let us also award him the somewhat higher praise of an air of truthfulness, naturalness, and bonhommie in the individual case of Peter Simple — admitting at the same time that no better nautical adventures are to be met with than we find in this the best of his novels — and we have then [page 359:] said every thing that can conscientiously be said in his favor. Per contra, we have evidence, upon every page of the numerous volumes with which he has surfeited the public, of a miserable mental inanity, a positive baldness of thought, an utter absence of all lofty imagination, an inconsequence of narration, and a feeble childishness of manner which would be unpardonable in any school-boy of decent pretensions. His English and his method of putting it together betray too unquestionably a deficiency in the ordinary education of a gentleman. To his common style the expressive epithet flat is the only one very positively applicable. In short, Captain Marryatt seems born to show the age the abundant falsity of that old dogma which esteems the popularity, or, more strictly, the circulation of a book, a proper and sufficient test of its merit.

The Phantom Ship has been too long before our readers to need an extended notice. The old legend of the Flying Dutchman (a legend, by the bye, possessing all the rich materiel which a vigorous imagination could desire) is worked up with so many of the pitiable niaiseries upon which we have commented, that few persons of disciplined intellect will derive from the medley any other impressions than those of the ridiculous and outré. The story, however, is by no means the worst from the pen of Captain Marryatt, and thus far we most unequivocally recommend it. At all events it is a somewhat more creditable production than that unfortunate Diary of a Blazé.


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - BGM, 1839] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Review of The Phantom Ship [Text-02]