Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Review of Ten Thousand a Year” [Text-02], Graham's Magazine, November 1841, p. 252, col. 2


[page 252, column 2:]

Ten Thousand a Year. By the Author of The Diary of a London Physician. Carey and Hart: Philadelphia.

There are several circumstances connected with this book which render it an important topic for the critic. We mean its unusual length — the previous reputation of its author — the peculiarity of its subject — the apparent under-current of design which has been attributed to it — the wide difference of opinion existing in regard to its merit — and, especially, the fact of its being, if not precisely the first, yet certainly the chief of the class of periodical novels — the peculiar advantages and disadvantages of which it will afford a good opportunity for discussing. We much regret, therefore, that we have left ourselves no room, in the present number of the Magazine, for an extended analysis of the work. This we may possibly undertake in December; contenting ourselves, in the meantime, with a few observations at random.

It appears to us that a main source of the interest which this book possesses for the mass, is to be referred to the pecuniary nature of its theme. From beginning to end it is an affair of pounds, shillings, and pence — a topic which comes home at least as immediately to the bosoms and business of mankind, as any which could be selected. The same character in the choice of subject was displayed by Doctor Warren in his “Passages from the Diary of a London Physician.” The bodily health is a point of absolutely universal interest, and was made the basis of all the excitement in that very popular but shamefully ill-written publication.

“Ten Thousand a Year” is also “shamefully ill-written.” Its mere English is disgraceful to an L.L.D. — would be disgraceful to the simplest tyro in rhetoric. At every page we meet with sentences thus involved — “In order, however, to do this effectually I must go back to an earlier period in history than has yet been called to his attention. If it what? attention? — history? shall have been unfortunate enough to attract the hasty eye of the superficial and impatient novel-reader, I make no doubt that by such a one certain portions of what has gone before, and which which what? could not fail of attracting the attention of long-headed people as being not thrown in for nothing (and therefore to be borne in mind with a view to subsequent explanation) have been entirely overlooked or forgotten.” The book is full too of the grossest misusages of language — the most offensive vulgarities of speech and violations of grammar. The whole tone is in the last degree mawkish and inflated. What can be more ridiculous than the frequent apostrophising after this fashion “My glorious Kate, how my heart goes forth towards you! And thou, her brother! who art of kindred spirit, who art supported by philosophy and exalted by religion, so that thy constancy cannot be shaken or overthrown by the black and ominous swell of trouble which is increasing around thee — I know that thou wilt outlive the storm — and yet it rocks thee! What indeed is to become of you all? Whither will you go? And your suffering mother, should she survive so long, is her precious form to be borne away from Yatton?” &c. &c.

There is no attempt at plot — but some of the incidents are wofully ill adapted and improbable. The moralising, throughout, is tedious in the extreme. Two-thirds of the whole novel might have been omitted with advantage. The character of Aubrey is a ridiculous piece of overdone sentimentality — and in character generally the writer fails. One of the worst features of the whole is the transparent puerile attempt to throw ridicule upon the ministerial party by dubbing them with silly names, supposed to be indicative of peculiarities of person or character. While the oppositionists, for example, rejoice in the euphonious appellations of Aubrey, Delamere, and the like, their foes are called Quirk, Gammon, Snap, Bloodsuck, Rotgut, Silly-Punctilio, and other more stupid and beastly indecencies.





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