Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), “Our Book-Shelves (IV),” Aristidean (New York, NY), October 1845, pp. 320-322


[page 320:]


THE “great book” of the month decidedly — is the republication by JAMES ACKERMANN, of CATLIN’S magnificent “Indian Sketches.” This consists of twenty-five plates, of an extra large size, lithographed in the most finished manner, and then colored so as to resemble pictures in water colors. It is hardly possible to give the reader an adequate idea of the spirit and effect of these. They must be seen in order to be appreciated. We have seen and examined the English edition, and believe it to be, in some respects, inferior. The letterpress is handsomely go up, and the port-folios fashioned in the most perfect manner. This is merely, we learn, the commencement of works of a similar character and style. We consider every effort of the kind creditable to all by whom it is projected and carried out; but this most creditable.

WILEY and PUTNAM continue their “Library of Choice Reading,” with unabated spirit. Since our last they have issued three numbers; and announce, in addition, as in readiness, “The Twins and Heart,” by TUPPER, the author of “The Crock of Gold.”

No. 24. — “Bubbles from the Brunnen,” by Sir F. B. HEAD. One of the most racy and readable of books; marked by a clear, vivid and vivacious style; and filled with amusing and diversified incident. We know of no book which we can recommend sooner, as a fireside companion, than this.

No. 25. — “Table Talk,” by HAZLITT. Second series. Part 1. We have expressed our opinion fully in the last number, on the powers of HAZLITT. This volume is in nowise inferior to the former volumes in the series, from the same pen.

No. 26. — “Selections from Taylor, Barrow, South, Fuller, etc.,” by BASIL MONTAGUE. A judicious selection. It makes up a manual of practical piety and pure wisdom.

The same firm have published three more of their “Library of American Books.”

No. 4. [[ — ]] “The Wigwam and the Cabin,” by W. GILMORE SIMMS. The reading public who reside north of the POTOMAC are not as familiar as they should be, with the author of this book. Mr. SIMMS is a writer, of force, clearness, and often positive power, with great felicity of incident, and occupies, by right, a high position among the American authors. Mr. POE places him the very first of American novelists; and though we do not admit this, we give him a prominent place in the foremost rank. The volume before us is a collection of tales, most of which have been formerly published in the annuals. They are printed together, for the first time; and will attain a very extensive circulation. “James Grayling,” is one of the best defined ghost stories we have ever read. “The Snake in the Cabin,” delighted us hugely. We hope to see another volume, of the same kind, from the same pen.

No. 5. — “Big Able and the Little Manhattan,” by CORNELIUS MATTHEWS. Under the guise of a record of the proceedings of two vagabonds, descendants the one of HENDRICK HUDSON, and the other of the last chief of the tribe who once owned the island on which the [page 321:] the city is built, Mr. MATTHEWS has endeavored to portray the present and shadow the future of the city of NEW YORK. The faults and merits of the work are Mr. MATTHEWS’ own. They appear in his other works. The main design — the under-current of meaning is obscurely made out; but the incidents are vividly brought before us — and the touches of sly satire and quiet humor, which are profusely scattered through the work, are really delightful. We threw the book down in a huff, however; for we had become interested in the adventures of the two oddities who give it a title, and the abruptness of the conclusion forced us on the allegory, to our great dissatisfaction.

No. 6. — “Wanderings of a Pilgrim, under the Shadow of Mont Blanc,” by GEORGE B. CHEEVER, D. D. Why this book was presented to the public, we cannot conceive, unless to show that a Doctor of Divinity could write a work not purely theological. It contains a vast deal of cant and drivel, and is composed in the most slovenly style. What is still worse, it is full of abuse of the Catholics — and on this account should not have appeared in a selection of works for all classes. Whether we do or do not admit the strictures contained to be true, we must lay down the positive rule, that to excite the prejudices of one set of men against any other, is a positive injury to the community. This jarring of sects and sectaries has done more to promote a disrespect for the religion of CHRIST, than all the efforts of skeptics. We believe in the Unity of the DEITY, and have, therefore, no sympathy with the Trinitarian doctrines of the Roman Catholics; but we love to see Christian charity, which books, like this before us, tends to weaken. We profoundly believe it to be a very potent engine in the hands of SATAN; and have no doubt that the Great Spirit of Evil guided the author's pen, as he wrote.

The same publishers, we are glad to see, announce “The Raven, and other Poems,” by EDGAR A. Poe.

HARPER & Brothers have furnished the public with little since our last. Among their issues, we observe the following:

“A Journal of the Texan Expedition against Mier,” &c., by Gen. THOMAS J. GREEN. A book of thrilling adventures — historically correct — and one which gives a clear idea, not only of the hardihood and daring courage of the Mier volunteers, but of the condition of TEXAS, at the present time. It is a valuable work of reference; and is positively crammed with incident and interest. Its typographical execution is neat and beautiful.

The same publishers have completed their edition of the “Wandering Jew;” and brought within one number of completion, their very valuable “Encyclopedia of Domestic Economy.” They have also commenced the publication of serial volumes, under the title of “Harpers’ New Elements of Morality, including Polity,” by WILLIAM WHEEWELL, D. D. Invaluable as this book will prove, as a text-book, and containing as it does the most perfect system, the publishers deserve to receive the substantial thanks of the community, in its extensive circulation. A more instructive volume could not be found.

LEAD and BLANCHARD, of PHILADELPHIA, have issued the first volume of a most valuable work, namely: — [page 322:]

“Historical Sketch of the Second War between the United States of America and Great Britain, declared by Act of Congress, the 18th of June, 1812, and concluded by Peace, the 15th of February, 1815,” by CHARLES J. INGERSOLL. In three volumes. Mr. INGERSOLL is a nervous and forcible writer; and the powers of research and talent with which he had been liberally gifted by nature, appear to have been appealed to in the construction of this work. It contains, however, glaring faults in the way of carelessness. The proofs were probably never read by the author.

CAREY and HART have issued “The Life and Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs,” &c. With engravings after designs, by DARLEY. We sat down to this book quietly; read, laughed — read, and laughed again. There is more true, indigenous humor in this, than anything we have yet seen, from the American press — “Jack Downing,” “Jonathan Slick,” and “Major Jones,” not excepted. Captain SUGGS is a man of metal — “yea! an honest, incorruptible very jewel of a fellow.” And Daddy ELIAS BIGGS — with his repeated visits to the “yeathen war” — and his hatred of the Chatahospa people! That he may speedily have another scrape at COCKERELL’S BEND, is our earnest wish. The designs of DARLEY, in the book, like all he does, are inimitable. The look of profound fright in the sentry — the solemn grandeur of Captain SUGGS, at the drum-head court-martial — the portrait of the veritable Captain himself — his reception of the Bank President — with KIT KUNCKER, his horse and his dog — are they not all pictured by the graver?

The author of this book is the editor of a country paper, in ALABAMA, in which, we believe, the sketches first appeared. He is evidently a man of the most decided, unapproachable and original humor.

There appears to be little doing, in the way of publishing. There have been other works issued by various houses, and by those we have noticed, but not anything worthy of especial note.



This item is the fourth installment of the series “Our Bookshelves,” printed in the Aristidean. W. D. Hull, 1941, attributes this installment (and installment III) to Poe.


[S:0 - Aristidean, 1845] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Our Bookshelves (IV) [Text-02]