Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Review of New Books,”, Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, VI, February 1840, pp. 100-106


[page 100:]   REVIEW OF NEW BOOKS.

Where Hudson's Wave, Ida; a Scena. Written and Dedicated to John W. Francis, M. D., by George P. Morris the Music composed by Joseph Philip Knight.

This last composition of General Morris is fully equal to any thing which has proceeded from his pen; and in saying this we intend to express a very high degree of praise. We predict for it universal popularity, in the strictest sense of the term as well as that more valuable popularity which arises from the known opinions of those who are the best competent to judge. The simplicity, strength, and grace of “Ida” have rarely been equalled.  

A Mongraph of the Limniades, and other Fresh Water Univalve Shells of N. America. By S. Stehman Haldeman, Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, etc., etc. J. Dobson, Philadelphia.

Mr. Haldeman proposes to publish by subscription and in periodical numbers, a work with the above title; the design may be stated, without technicality, as that of describing and figuring all the Fresh Water Univalve shells of this country. The specimen received by us is in uniformity with the Unionidae of Conrad, and the Helices of Binney. It is beautifully printed, and the engraving and coloring are capitally done. The terms are one dollar per number.

There can be no doubt that a good illustrated description of our Fresh Water Univalves is a desideratum but we are not sure that Mr. Haldeman is altogether upon the right track. In calling his genus the Lymniades he is, no doubt, endeavoring to preserve uniformity with Messieurs Conrad and Binney, but we think, as these gentlemen are neither of them in accordance with the best usage in their terminations, it would have been better not to have followed them. The motto from Deshayes, too Le seul moyen d’améliorer la nomenclature est de la fixer par la restitution, aux especes, des premiers noms qu’elles ont recus involves a proposition far more easily dreamed of than executed. Nevertheless Mr. Haldeman cannot give us accurate descriptions and delineations of the branch of Malacology in question, without accomplishing a good work however he may differ from our own notions in regard to that ever-vexed question of classification.

[The next entry, by Poe, is a long review of Longfellow's Voices of the Night, proceeding through pages 101 and 102.]

[page 103:]

[The next entry, probably by W. E. Burton, is Marryatt's Diary of America.]

[page 105:]

The Spitfire, a Novel, by the author of The Arethusa. Two Volumes. Carey and Hart, Philadelphia.

A lively, pleasant, chit-chatty sort of a book, and pretty good as nautical novels go. There is a sufficiency of sentimental pirates, lovely and ill-used ladies, sailor's yarns, shipwrecks, and cross old gentlemen to satisfy the severest Aristarchus of the most fashionable circulating library. We rather object to the moral bearing of the whole affair, although we dissent in toto from the “poetical justice” so universally awarded to all villains in the fifth acts of plays, and the last chapters of romances of this and every age villains do not always, nor even generally, meet with punishment and shame in reality, and we should have been pleased if Captain Chamier had courageously departed from this common-place fiction and uncommon reality, and exhibited the success of an impudent rogue over the tactics of a modest and virtuous man, if such-a-one is to be found in the world. But the objection which we have alluded to is to the author's attempt at investing the character of a pirate and a cut-throat with the attributes of a hero and a deserving man of endeavoring to excite the sympathies of the reader in behalf of this common ruffian and finally, marrying him to an amiable warm-hearted girl. All this is against nature, and beneath the skill of the weaver of fiction.

[The review of The Spitfire is attributed to W. E. Burton by W. D. Hull, but to Poe by T. O. Mabbott, Tales and Sketches, p. 1252. It applies nicely to Poe's tale “The Cask of Amontillado.”]]

The Philosophy of Human Life. Being an Investigation of the Great Elements of Life: the Power that acts the Will that directs the Action and the Accountability or Sanctions that influence the Formation of Volitions. Together with Reflections adapted to the Physical, Political, Popular, Moral, and Religious Natures of Man. By Amos Dean, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence in the Albany Medical College. Marsh, Capen, Lyon and Webb, Boston.

Such is the long title of what we cannot help considering a very powerfully conceived and well digested a very remarkable and original work. But with this brief and general commendation we must, in a great measure, content ourselves; for the very character of the book lies in its luminous and closely logical order to disturb which by way of instancing its merit, would be but an illogical way of proceeding. This publication should be studied by all who have at heart the subject of which it treats. Mr. Dean rejects some portions of the phrenological doctrines of Combe, but bases his work, as a whole, upon the positions of that extraordinary mind.

Pictures of Early Life; or, Sketches of Youth. By Mrs. Emma C. Embury. Marsh, Capen, Lyon and Webb, Boston.

“From the midst of a peaceful and happy home,” says Mrs. Embury in her preface, “a home gladdened by the voices of joyous childhood, I send forth these pictures of early struggles, temptations, and errors.” And very exquisitely painted pictures they are; leaving upon the mind of the reader not only distinct and vivid images of many a scene of the sorrows and triumphs of youth, but a deep and irresistible conviction of the kind heart and beautiful enthusiasm of the artist.

The U. S. Military Magazine, and Record of all The Volunteers. Huddy and Duval, Phila.

The last number of this work is very entertaining, and does great credit to the publishers. By way of frontispiece we are presented with a capital lithographed portrait of General William Henry [page 106:] Harrison, which is accompanied by a good biographical sketch of that distinguished individual. The other embellishments are, also, well done the first being a representation of the General, with his staff, at the Battle of the Thames the second of an officer and two soldiers of the Cleveland Grays, of Cleveland, Ohio. Altogether the Military Magazine appears to be well conducted, and we understand that it receives a very extensive support, especially from the numerous volunteer companies of the Union.  

[The next entry, by Poe, is the first of two reviews of Henry Duncan's Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons.]

The Fright, by Ellen Pickering, author of “Nan Darrell,” “The Squire,” “The Heiress,” “The Prince and the Pedler,” etc.. etc. Two Volumes. Carey and Hart, Philadelphia.

Miss Pickering has acquired a very enviable reputation among all lovers of light, literature, and she may be considered as a highly popular writer. Her style is excellent in its way simple, inartificial, and direct. She never instructs, but always interests, and frequently excites. There is much of a fine romance in all that she indites. We expressed our opinion of “Nan Darrell” not very long ago it is an entertaining book well worth reading. “The Fright” is quite as good, and perhaps better.  

New Historical Work. We are happy to announce that Messers. Carey and Hart are about to give the reading world an opportunity of enjoying the wondrous beauties of M. Thiers’ celebrated work, The History of the French Revolution, translated from the original text by the classic Frederic Scholberl, with original notes and tables of reference. This valuable and standard book is to be published in three large octavo volumes, with illustrations. M. Theirs is busily employed upon his new work, The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte, for which the firm of Messierus Dubôchet, and Co., of Paris, are to give him the sum of five hundred thousand francs.



These items were attributed to Poe by Hull, except the final item, “New Historical Work,” which is included here only as possibly by Poe. Poe did have an interest in France and it seems reasonable that Burton would not have bothered with such a minor item, assigning it instead to his paid editor, Poe.


[S:0 - BGM, 1840] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Review of New Books [Text-02]