Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), Literary, Broadway Journal (New York), September 20, 1845, vol. 2, no. 11, p. ???, col. ?


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[page 173, column 1, continued:]

Editorial Miscellany.

IN A TALE called “The Broken-Hearted, a Touching Incident of Real Life, by John G. Whittier,” which we find in a “Philadelphia Saturday Courier” of June 19, 18 — (year torn off) there occurs the following passage:

It cannot be that earth is man’s only abiding place. It cannot be that our life is a bubble, cast off by the ocean of eternity, to float a moment upon its waves, and sink into darkness and nothingness. Else why is it, that the high and glorious aspirations, which leap like angels from the temple of our hearts, arc forever wandering abroad unsatisfied? Why is it that the rainbow and the cloud come over us with a beauty that is not of earth, and then pass off, and leave us to muse upon their faded loveliness? Why is it that the stars which hold their festivals around the midnight throne, are set above the grasp of our limited faculties — forever mocking us with their unapproachable glory? And why is it — that bright forms of human beauty are present to our view and then taken from us, leaving the thousand streams of our affection to flow back in an alpine torrent upon our hearts? We are bom for a higher destiny than that of earth. There is a realm where the rainbow never fades — where the stars will he spread out before us, like islands that slumber on the ocean — and where the beautiful beings which here pass before us like visions, will stay in our presence forever.

The passage subjoined is also lying before us in print — but we are unable to trace its source. It is attributed to Bulwer — whether rightly or not we cannot say.

I cannot believe that earth is man’s abiding place. It cannot be that life is cast upon the ocean of eternity to float for a moment upon its waves and sink into nothingness! Else why is it that the glorious aspirations which leap like angels from the temples of our hearts, are forever wandering about unsatisfied? Why is it that the rainbow and clouds come over us with a beauty that is not of earth; and then pass off and leave us to muse on their loveliness? Why is it that the stars who hold their festival around their midnight throne are set above the grasp of our limited faculties, forever mocking us with unapproachable glory? And finally, why is it that bright forms of human beauty are presented to our view and then taken from us, leaving the thousand streams of our affections to flow back in Alpine torrents upon our earts? We are born for a higher destiny than that of earth: there is [column 2:] a realm where the rainbow never fades — where the stars will be spread out before us like the islands that slumber in the ocean; and where the beings that pass before us like shadows, will stay in our presence forever!

Somebody has perpetrated a gross plagiarism in the premises, but we have not the slightest idea that this somebody is Mr. Whittier. We have too high an opinion of his integrity to believe him guilty of this, the most despicable species of theft. Most despicable, we say. The ordinary pickpocket filches a purse, and the matter is at an end. He neither lakes honor to himself, openly, on the score of the purloined purse, nor does he subject the individual robbed to the charge of pick-pocketism in his own person; by so much the less odious is he, then, than the filcher of literary property. It is impossible, we should think, to imagine a more sickening spectacle than that of the plagiarist, who walks among mankind with an erecter step, and who feels his heart beat with a prouder impulse, on account of plaudits which he is conscious are the due of another. It is the purity, the nobility, the ethereality of just fame — it is the contrast between this ethereality and the grossness of the crime of theft, which places the sin of plagiarism in so detestable a light. We are horror-stricken to find existing in the same bosom the soul-uplifting thirst for fame, and the debasing propensity to pilfer. It is the anomaly — the discord — which so grossly offends.

We repeat, that, in the case now in question, we are quite confident of the blamelessness of Mr. Whittier — but we would wish that the true criminal be ruthlessly exposed. Who is he? No doubt some of our friends can tell us. We remember in one of the poems of Delta (published, perhaps in the seventh volume of Blackwood) something which very remarkably resembles the passages quoted above.

ANOTHER parallel — Here are the concluding lines of “Knowledge is Power, a Poem pronounced before the Junior Lyceum of the City of Chicago, on the 22d of February 1843, by William H. Bushnell.

To each and all, may life’s wide sea

Ne’er rise before your sail —

But may your course be ever free

From each tempestuous gale:

And may you pass your portals fair

To Heaven, free and light —

And life be mingled less with care

Than his, who bids you now — good night.

And here are the concluding lines of “The Age; a Satire pronounced before the New York Society of Literature at the Second Anniversary, January 23d, 1845, by Alfred Wheeler.”

And may sweet dreams of love and truth,

Upon your slumbers rest,

And cloudless hope, the joy of youth,

Dwell peaceful in each breast —

And may your fives be free from care,

Your path be ever bright,

Your days, more promising and fair,

Than mine have been — Good night!

[page 173, column 2, continued:]

PROFESSOR HORNCASTLE gave his first entertainment, in this country, at the Society Library, last week. We were unable to attend his performance.

While glancing at his “posters” we were much struck by the following paragraph. “The Professor thinks it right, in consequence of the frequent mistakes, to make it generally known that he never was on the stage. It is a Mr. James Henry Horncastle, who was formerly at the theatre. If his friends will look at the initials of the name, they will see the mistake.”

The Professor may think it right to make this announcement, [page 174:] but we think it extremely wrong. In the first place, of what consequence is it, whether he was or was not upon the stage? The fact, if established, does not make him either a better singer or a better man. In the next place it would certainly have been in much better taste had he said — the party for whom I am mistaken is my brother, and not a Mr. James Henry Horncastle. It would have been in better taste, for the reason, that this Mr. James Henry Horncastle is very generally known in this city, not only for his talents, which are considerable and versatile, but for his gentlemanly demeanor and honorable conduct. We therefore think that the professor need not be very much shocked, even if he should be mistaken for his brother: at any rate the announcement is a gratuitous exposure of some affair with which the public has nothing to do, and which should certainly have been kept back while the party so slightingly spoken of, is absent from the country, and therefore unable to define his own position.

We have been frequently asked from what source Professor Horncastle derives his title of Professor? What Professorship does he bold? To these questions we are unable to reply, never having seen an account of Mr. Horncastle’s election to a vacant chair.

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THE MESMERIC journals, and some others, are still making a to-do about the tenability of Mr. Vankirk’s doctrines as broached in a late Magazine paper of our own, entitled “Mesmeric Revelation.”. “The Regenerator” has some very curious comments, indeed: it says:

“However accurate or inaccurate the reasons of this clairvoyant may have been, it is self-evident to me they were heterogeneous and probably were solecisms; at all events they were unintelligible in my apprehension — his “unparticled matter,” i.e. “God,” “God in quiescence,” i. e. “mind,” &c. I would fain transcribe verbatim his answers to his mesmerisers, but brevity, which is your legitimate due, forbids: therefore let the following suffice, viz. —

Question: What is God? Answer: [after a long pause,] “It is difficult to tell; he is not spirit, for he exists; nor is he matter, as you understand it — immateriality is a mere word; but there are gradations of matter, of which man knows nothing; the grosser impelling the finer, the finer pervading the grosser; the gradations of matter increase in rarity or fineness until we arrive at a matter unparticled;-here the law of impulsion and permeation is modified; this matter is God, and thought is this matter in motion.” And lastly — “It is clear, however, that it is as fully matter as before.” If this is not incoherent language, then am I no competent judge of logic. However, the argument, if sane, in reality amounts to materialism, and our clairvoyant is a materialist still, and propagating the doctrine I have maintained and held forth to the world more than thirty years, viz., that God is matter — is “all in all” — as the Christian Scriptures declare. Be that as it may, there can be no effect without a natural cause; hence I conclude Vankirk’s ratiocination was the legitimate or natural effect of his former cogitations and present anxiety concerning this much harped upon theological enigma — the soul’s immortality.

Now would not any one suppose, that our sentence as above given, viz.: “It is as clear, however, that it is as fully matter as before” — would not any one suppose that it immediately followed the words “matter is motion,” and that the “it” referred to “thought?” Of course, any one would. But, as we wrote them, the sentences are separated by some dozen intervening paragraphs, and there is no connexion whatever.

These things, however, are of little consequence. We wait with great patience for the end of the argumentation.

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A CORRESPONDENT of Mr. Simms’ Monthly Magazine makes some odd mistakes in giving that work an account of literary people and literary doings in New York. Some omissions in the lists of contributors to the principal Magazines, [column 2:] are particularly noticeable. Many constant writers are unmentioned, and some of the occasional ones paraded forth, are no credit to the journals in question. In speaking of the “Broadway Journal,” the correspondent announces, as its only contributors, Mrs. Childs and T. H. Chivers. Of the former we never heard. Dr. Chivers never contributed a line to our paper in his life. Our regular contributors would do honor to any Magazine in the land — Lowell, Simms, Benjamin, Duyckinck, Page, (the artist,) the author of the Vision of Rubeta, Tuckerman, Mrs. Osgood, Mrs. Ellett, Mrs. Hewitt, Miss Lawson, Miss Fuller, and so forth, are writers of which any journal might be proud.

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EMERSON’S Arithmetic has been translated into modern Greek.

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FREDERICA BREMER, the gifted Swedish novelist, will not come here, as she intended, this summer, her visit being necessarily postponed till another year, by the illness of a near friend.

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A SUIT for libel has been instituted against J. Fenimore Cooper, by the Rev. Mr. Tiffany of Cooperstown.

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WE CALL the attention of our readers to some beautiful six octave piano fortes, now in the store of Mr. Chambers, 385 Broadway. They are well finished, possess a beautiful quality of tone, with great power and delicacy of touch.

Let those in need of a piano forte, call and see these instruments.

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THE WORK OF VON RAUMER, the Prussian traveller and critic, on the United States, has appeared, and its table of contents is said to be of great promise. A translation may be expected to appear shortly in this country. Mrs. Ellett, of South Carolina, will probably translate it. — N. O. Picayune.

The Baron’s comments on American literature are particularly vapid. He seems to have not the remotest conception of the actual condition of our letters. The translation is completed. Mrs. Ellet has done only a portion — though abundantly able to have done all, and well.

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We learn from Messrs. Robinson and Jones that the subscription papers for the volume of Poems, by Lewis J. Cist, have been very well filled, and that the work is now in press. Mr. C. bas written a great deal for eastern and western magazines and papers, and has many admirers who will be pleased to possess his productions in a collected form. A number of his poems have had a very wide circulation, and given his name a place among the younger Bards of America. — Cincinnati Gazette.

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MR. WILLIAM FAIRMAN, of this city, bas become, for the present, interested in the conduct of theBroadway Journal.He is about taking a tour through some of the States, for the purpose of promoting the general interests of the work, and we commend him to the attention of our friends.


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Notes:

This review was attributed as being by Poe by W. D. Hull.

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[S:0 - BJ, 1845] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Literary (Poe?, 1845)