Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Critical Notices, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. II, no. 1, December 1835, 2:41-68


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Critical Notices.

[First review is The Heroine, possibly by Poe.]

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[The second review is of The Hawks of Hawks-Hollow and is certainly by Poe.]

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Tales of the Peerage and the Peasantry, Edited by Lady Dacre. New York: Harper & Brothers.

We had been looking with much impatience for the republication of these volumes, and hencefoward we shall look with still greater anxiety for any thing announced as under the editorial supervision of Lady Dacre. But why, Lady Dacre, this excessive show of modesty, or rather this most unpardonable piece of affectation? Why deny having written volumes whose authorship would be an enviable and an honorable distinction [page 47:] to the proudest literati of your land? And why, above all, announce yourself as editor in a title-page, merely to proclaim yourself author in a preface?

The Tales of the Peerage and the Peasantry are three in number. The first and the longest is Winifred, Countess of Nithsdale, (have a care, Messieurs Harpers, you have spelt it Nithsadle in the very heading of the very initial chapter) a thrilling, and spirited story, rich with imagination, pathos, and passion, and in which the successful termination of a long series of exertions, and trials, whereby the devoted Winifred finally rescues her husband, the Earl of Nithsdale, from tyranny, prison, and death, inspires the reader with scarely [[scarcely]] less heartfelt joy and exultation than we can conceive experienced by the happy pair themselves. But the absolute conclusion of this tale speaks volumes for the artist — like skill of the fair authoress. An every day writer would have ended a story of continued sorrow and suffering, with a bright gleam of unalloyed happiness, and sunshine — thus destroying, at a single blow, that indispensable unity which has been rightly called the unity of effect, and throwing down, as it were, in a paragraph what, perhaps, an entire volume has been laboring to establish. We repeat that Lady Dacre has given conclusive evidence of talent and skill, in the final sentences of the Countess of Nithsdale — evidence, however, which will not be generally appreciated, or even very extensively understood. We will transcribe the passages alluded to.

 ‘And dearer to my ears’ — said Lady Nithsdale’ the simple ballad of a Scottish maiden, than even these sounds as they are wafted to us over the waters!’ “They stopped to listen to the song as it died away; and, as they listened, another and more awful sound struck upon their ears. The bell of one of the small chapels often constructed on the shores of Catholic countries, was tolled for the soul of a departed mariner. As it happened, the tone was not unlike one of which they both retained only too vivid and painful a recollection. The Countess felt her husband's frame quiver beneath the stroke. There was no need of words. With a mutual pressure of the arm they returned upon their steps and sought their home. Unconsciously their pace quickened. They seemed to fly before the stroke of that bell! Such suffering as they had both experienced leaves traces in the soul which time itself can never wholly efface.”

The Hampshire Cottage is next in order — a tale of the Peasantry; and the volumes conclude with Blanche, a tale of the Peerage. Both are admirable, and worthy of companionship with Winifred, Countess of Nithsdale. There can be no doubt that Lady Dacre is a writer of infinite genius, possessing great felicity of expression, a happy talent for working up a story, and, above all, a far more profound and philosophical knowledge of the hidden springs of the human heart, and a greater skill in availing herself of that knowledge, than any of her female contemporaries. This we say deliberately. We have not yet forgotten the Recollections of a Chaperon. No person, of even common sensibility, has ever perused the magic tale of Ellen Wareham without feeling the very soul of passion and imagination aroused and stirred up within him, as at the sound of a trumpet.

Let Lady Dacre but give up her talents and energies, and especially her time to the exaltation of her literary fame, and we are sorely mistaken if, hereafter, she do [[does]] not accomplish something which will not readily die. [column 2:]


[The next review is of the Edinburgh Review.]



Nuts to Crack: or Quips, Quirks, Anecdote and Facete of Oxford and Cambridge scholars. By the author of Facetiae Cantabrigienses, etc. etc. etc. Philadelphia: E. L. Carey &. Hart.

Although this little volume is obviously intended for no other eyes than those of the ‘Oxford and Cambridge scholar,’ and although it is absolutely impossible for any American to enter fully into the spirit of its most inestimable quizzes, oddities and eccentricities, still we have no intention of quarrelling with Carey & Hart, for republishing the work on this side of the Atlantic. Never was there a better thing for whiling away a few loose or unappropriated half hours — that is to say in the hands of a reader who is, even in a moderate degree, imbued with a love of classical whimsicalities. We can assure our friends — all of them who expect to find in these excellent ‘Nuts to Crack’ a mere rifacimento of stale jests — that there are not more than two or three anecdotes in the book positively entitled to the appellation of antique. Some things, however, have surprised us. In the first place what is the meaning of anecdote and Facete? In the second what are we to think of such blunders, as “one of honest Vere's classical jeu d’esprit,” (the jeu d’esprit printed too in Long Primer Capitals) in a volume professing to be Anecdote and Facete (oh! too bad) of Oxford and Cambridge scholars? And thirdly is it possible that he who wrote the Facetie Cantabrigienses is not aware that the “cutting retort attributed to the celebrated Lord Chesterfield, when a student of Trinity Hall, Cambridge” may be found among the Facetiae of Hierocles — not to mention innumerable editions of Joe Miller?

We have already said enough of the Nuts to Crack, but cannot, for our lives, refrain from selecting one of its good things for the benefit of our own especial readers.

The learned Chancery Barrister, John Bell, K. C., “the Great Bell of Lincoln,” as he has been aptly called, was Senior Wrangler, on graduating B. A., at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1786, with many able competitors for that honor. He is likewise celebrated, as every one knows, for writing three several hands; one only he himself can read, another nobody but his clerk can read, and a third neither himself, clerk, nor any body else can read. It was in the latter hand, he one day wrote to his legal contemporary and friend, the present Sir Launcelot Shadwell, inviting him to dinner. Sir Launcelot, finding all his attempts to decypher the note about as vain, as the wise men found theirs to unravel the cabalistic characters of yore, took a sheet of paper, and having smeared it over with ink, folded and sealed it, and sent it as his answer. The receipt of it staggered even the Great Bell of Lincoln, and after breaking the seal, and eyeing it, and turning it round and round, he hurried to Mr. Shadwell's chambers with it, declaring he could make nothing of it. “Nor I of your note,” retorted Mr. S. “My dear fellow” exclaimed Mr. B. taking his own letter in his hand, “is not this as plain as can be,” Dear Shadwell, I shall be glad to see you at dinner to day?” “And is not this equally as plain,” said Mr. S. pointing to his own paper, “My dear Bell, I shall be happy to come and dine with you?” [page 50:]

[The review of Robinson's Practice in the Courts of Law and Equity in Virginia is by Lucian Minor.]

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Memoir of the Reverend John H. Rice, D. D. First Professor of Christian Theology in Union Theological Seminary, Virginia. By William Maxwell. Philadelphia: Published by J. Whetham.

This Memoir will be received and read with pleasure generally: and among those who have been so fortunate as to have seen and heard Dr. Rice, it will be perused with the deepest interest and gratification. We believe there are very many, in Virginia especially, who will be able to identify the letters of this divine, contained [column 2:] in the present volume, with the voice, the manner, and personal appearance of the man himself — and upon all such Mr. Maxwell has conferred an obligation of no common kind. The greater portion of the work consists of these letters, and they are valuable in every respect. Many of them are, as Mr. M. himself expresses it, entirely narrative, and give the most authentic and minute accounts of the various movements of the writer at different periods of his life, particularly after his removal to Richmond, and during his labors in establishing the Union Theological Seminary. Others again are pastoral, and addressed to different members of his Church. Some are merely ordinary letters of friendship. All, however, are full of thought, and give evidence of an elevated, a healthy, cheerful, powerful, and well regulated mind. In availing himself of the assistance afforded by these letters, Mr. Maxwell has never anticipated their contents — thus avoiding much useless repetition, and suffering the subject of the Memoir to tell, in a great measure, his own story in his own words. The work is well — indeed even beautifully gotten up — is embellished with an admirably finished head of Mr. Rice, engraved by J. Sartain, from a painting by W. J. Hubard — and is, in every respect, an acceptable and valuable publication. Among the letters in the volume is one from John Randolph of Roanoke, and several from Win. Wirt. We select one of these latter, being well assured that it will be read with that deep interest which is attached to every thing emanating from the same pen.

TO THE REV. JOHN H. RICE. Washington, February 1, 1822. My DEAR SIR, — Your letter of the 31st ult. is just received at 5 P.M. for I have just returned from the President's. I feel the blush of genuine shame at the apparent presumption of adding my name in favor of the magazine to that of the eminent gentlemen at Princeton. This is real and unaffected — bit you desire it — and I dare follow your beck in any direction. Would that I could in one still more important.

Holingshead's History of Duncan of Scotland, is under copy by my Elizabeth (my daughter. once your pet) for the purpose of showing the full basis of Shakspeare's Macbeth. I think you will be pleased with it — and the readers of Shakspeare must differ much from me, if they do not find it very interesting.

If you suppose from what I said of nine o’clock that that is my hour of going to bed on week-day nights, you are mistaken by several hours. For some time past, I have been obliged to be in my office before breakfast, and till nine or ten o’clock at night, when I have to come home, take my tea, talk over family affairs, and get to bed between eleven and twelve; but it is killing me also. And as death would be most extremely inconvenient to me in more respects than one, at this time, I shall quit that course of operations, and look a little to my health, if I can survive the approaching Supreme Court — sed quæ re de hoc.

My troubles not being already enough, in the estimation of the honorable body now assembled in the Capitol, they are beginning to institute inquiries, for my better amusement, into the circumstances of three fees paid me by the government, in the course of the four years that I have been here, for professional services foreign to my official duties — a thing which has been continually done at all times, under this government, but which they affect to think a new affair entirely, and only an additional proof among ten thousand others of the waste of public money, by the rapacity, if not peculation, of those in office. I an sick of public life; my skin is too thin for the business; a politician should have the hide of a rhinoceros, to bear the thrusts of the folly, ignorance, and meanness of those who are disposed to mount into momentary consequence by questioning their letters, if I may be excused the expression after professing my modesty. “There's nought but care on every hand;” all, all is vanity and vexation of spirit, save religion, friendship, and literature.

I agree that your story of the Oysterman is the best, but I [page 52:] suspect that the Orange story is the true original. I knew old Bletcher: he was a Baptist preacher; and although I did not hear the words, they are so much in his character that I verily believe them to have been uttered by him; and it would have been quite in his character too to have gone on with the amplification you suggest.

I do sincerely wish it were in my power to mount the aforesaid gay streamer, and long Tom, on your gallant little barque. I will try in the spring and summer to contribute a stripe or two, and a blank cartridge or so; but I shall not tell you when I do, that it is I, for it is proper you should have it in your power to say truly, “I do not know who it is.” I have already got credit for much that I never wrote, and much that I never said. The guessers have an uncommon propensity to attribute all galling personalities to me, all sketches of character that touch the quick, and make some readers wince. I have, in truth, in times gone by, been a little wanton and imprudent in this particular, and I deserve to smart a little in my turn. But I never wrote a line wickedly or maliciously. There is nothing in the Spy that deserves this imputation, and nothing in the Old Bachelor, which, give me leave to tell you, “venia deter verbo,” you and your magazine, and your writer, ** have underrated. There is a juster criticism of it in the Analectic Magazine — but this writer, too, has not true taste nor sensibility. He accuses me of extravagance only because he never felt himself, the rapture of inspiration. And you accuse me of redundant figure, because you are not much troubled yourself with the throes of imagination — just as G— H— abuses eloquence because there is no chord in his heart that responds to its notes. So take that. And if you abuse me any more, I will belabor your magazine as one of the heaviest, dullest, most drab-colored periodicals extant in these degenerate days. What! shall a Conestoga wagon-horse find fault with — a courser of the sun, because he sometimes runs away with the chariot of day, and sets the world on fire? So take that again, and put it in your pocket. But enough of this badinage, for if I pursue it much farther you will think me serious — besides it is verging to eleven, and the fire has gone down. I began this scrawl a little after five — walked for health till dark — came in and found company echo remained till near ten — and could not go to bed without a little more talk with you. But I shall tire you and catch cold — so with our united love to Mrs. Rice, my dear Harriet, and yourself, good night.

Your friend, in truth,  



Oration on the Life and Character of the Rev. Joseph Caldwell, D.D. late President of the University of North Carolina, by Walker Anderson, A. M.

It was only within the last few days that we met with the above oration, in a pamphlet form — and we cannot refrain from expressing the very great pleasure its perusal has afforded us. Dr. Caldwell was unquestionably a great and good man — and certain are we that the task of paying tribute to his manifold qualifications and virtues, now that he is gone, could not have been committed to abler hands, than those of Professor Anderson. The tone of feeling pervading the oration is quite characteristic of its author — ardent — affectionate — consistent.

“We come,” says he, near the beginning, “we come as a band of brothers, to do homage to that parental love, of which all of us, the old as well as the young, have been the objects; and by communing with the spirit of our departed father, to enkindle those hallowed emotions which are the fittest offering to his memory. But why needs the living speaker recall to your remembrance the venerated and beloved being whose loss is fresh in the memories of all who hear me? We stand not, it is true, over his grave, as the Spartan over the sepulchre of his king, but his memorials present themselves to the eye on every side and are felt in every throbbing bosom. The shady retreats of this consecrated grove — the oft frequented halls of this seat of learning — the sacred edifice in which we are assembled — and the very spot on which I stand, are Memorials to awaken the [column 2:] busy and thronging recollections of many a full heart! Quocumque ingredimur in aliquam historiam vestigium ponimus. I look around this assembly and see monuments of his love and of his labors, such as can never grace the memory of the warrior, and which throw contempt on all the sculptured memorials of kings. I look at the eyes beaming with intelligence; I contemplate the refined intellects; I see their rich fruits in public and honorable employment; I recall the memory of others who are far distant, but whose thoughts are mingling with ours upon this occasion; who have carried with them the seeds of virtue and wisdom which they gathered here, and in other lands, have brought forth the noblest results of usefulness and honorable consideration. I revert, too, to those whose bright career is ended, and who preceded their guide and instructor to the abodes of the blessed. I think of all this, and feel that you need not the voice of the speaker to arouse your grateful recollections” p. 4.

Mr. Anderson shortly after this, goes into a very interesting sketch of the family history of the deceased, portraying with great tenderness and delicacy, the maternal solicitude to which young Caldwell was so deeply indebted for his well doing in after life — and evincing as we humbly conceive, in this part of his oration, fine powers as a biographical writer. There is much force in his development of the Doctor's character throughout, but especial beauty, we think, in the way in which he treats of his religious principles. One extract more from the pamphlet, in proof of what we have just said, must close this hasty and imperfect notice of it.

“The religious character of Dr. Caldwell, was not the formation of a day, nor the hasty and imperfect work of a dying bed. His trust was anchored on the rock of ages, and he was therefore well furnished for the terrible conflict that awaited him. We have seen that he had made Religion the guide of his youth; it beautified and sanctified the labors of his well spent life; nor did it fail him in the trying hour, which an allwise but inrscrutable Providence permitted to be to him peculiarly dark and fearful. The rich consolations of his faith became brighter and stronger, amidst the wreck of the decaying tabernacle of flesh; and if the dying testimony of a pure and humble spirit may be received, death had for him no sting — the grave achieved no triumph. In any frequent and detailed account of his religious feelings he was not inclined to indulge — the spirit that walks most closely with its God, needs not the sustaining influence of such excitements — yet a few weeks previous to his death, a friend from a distant part of the State calling to see him, made inquiries as to the state of his mind, and had the privilege of hearing from him the calm assurance of his perfect resignation and submission to the will of God. His hope of a happy immortality beyond the grave, was such as belongs only to the Christian, and by him was modestly but humbly entertained. It was to him a principle of strength that sustained him amidst the conflicts of the dark valley; and to us who witnessed the agonies of his patting hour, a bright radiance illuming the gloom which memory throws around the trying scene.” pp. 38, 39.


[The next review is of Francis Glass's Washingtonii Vita.]

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[The next review, of Fay's Normal Leslie, is definitely by Poe.]


[The next review, of Sedgwick's The Linwoods, is definitely by Poe.]

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[The next review is of the Westminster Review]

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[The next review is of the London Quarterly Review]

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[The next review is of the North American Review]



The Crayon Miscellany. By the author of the Sketch Book. No. 3 — Containing Legends of the Conquest of Spain. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard.

We feel it almost an act of supererogation to speak of this book, which is long since in the hands of every American who has leisure for reading at all. The matter itself is deeply interesting, but, as usual, its chief beauty is beauty of style. The Conquest of Spain by the Saracens, an event momentous in the extreme, is yet enveloped, as regards the motives and actions of the principal dramatis personæ in triple doubt and confusion. To snatch from this uncertainty a few striking and picturesque legends, possessing, at the same time, some absolute portion of verity, and to adorn them in his own magical language is all that Mr. Irving has done in the present instance. But that he has done this little well it is needless to say. He does not claim for the Legends the authenticity of history properly so called, — yet all are partially facts, and however extravagant [page 65:] some may appear, they will all, to use the words of the author himself, “be found in the works of sage and reverend chroniclers of yore, growing side by side with long acknowledged truths, and might be supported by learned and imposing references in the margin.” Were we to instance any one of the narratives as more beautiful than the rest, it would be The Story of the Marvellous and Portentous Tower.



Lives of the Necromancers: or an account of the most Eminent Persons in Successive Ages, who have claimed for themselves, or to whom has been imputed by others, the Exercise of Magical Power. By William Godwin, Author of “Caleb Williams,” &c. New York: Published by Harper Brothers.

The name of the author of Caleb Williams, and of St. Leon, is, with us, a word of weight, and one which we consider a guarantee for the excellence of any composition to which it may be affixed. There is about all the writings of Godwin, one peculiarity which we are not sure that we have ever seen pointed out for observation, but which, nevertheless, is his chief idiosyncrasy — setting him peculiarly apart from all other literati of the day. We allude to an air of mature thought — of deliberate premeditation pervading, in a remarkable degree, even his most common-place observations. He never uses a hurried expression, or hazards either an ambiguous phrase, or a premature opinion. His style therefore is highly artificial; but the extreme finish and proportion always observable about it, render this artificiality, which in less able hands would be wearisome, in him a grace inestimable. We are never tired of his terse, nervous, and sonorous periods — for their terseness, their energy, and even their melody, are made, in all cases, subservient to the sense with which they are invariably fraught. No English writer, with whom we have any acquaintance, with the single exception of Coleridge, has a fuller appreciation of the value of words; and none is more nicely discriminative between closely-approximating meanings. The avowed purpose of the volume now before us is to exhibit a wide view of human credulity. “To know” — says Mr. Godwin — “the things that are not, and cannot be, but have been imagined and believed, is the most curious chapter in the annals of man.” In extenso we differ with him.

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in thy philosophy.

There are many things, too, in the great circle of human experience, more curious than even the records of human credulity — but that they form one of the most curious chapters, we were at all times ready to believe, and had we been in any degree skeptical, the Lives of the Necromancers would have convinced us.

Unlike the work of Brewster, the Necromancy of Mr. Godwin is not a Treatise on Natural Magic. It does not pretend to show the manner in which delusion acts upon mankind — at all events, this is not the object of the book. The design, if we understand it, is to display in their widest extent, the great range and wild extravagancy of the imagination of man. It is almost superfluous to say that in this he has fully succeeded. His compilation is an invaluable work, evincing much labor [column 2:] and research, and full of absorbing interest. The only drawback to the great pleasure which its perusal has afforded us, is found in the author's unwelcome announcement in the Preface, that for the present he winds up his literary labors with the production of this book. The pen which wrote Caleb Williams, should never for a moment be idle.

Were we to specify any article, in the Necromancy, as more particularly interesting than another, it would be the one entitled ‘Faustus.’ The prevalent idea that Fust the printer, and Faustus the magician, were identical, is here very properly contradicted.



Inaugural address of the Rev. D. L. Carroll, D.D. President of Hampden Sidney College, delivered on his induction into that office. Published by request of the Board of Trustees. Richmond: T. W. White, 1835. The friends of literature in Virginia have lately been favored with several Inaugural Addresses, each of which has had its peculiar merits. It is only of that whose title has just been given, that we intend to speak. In the correspondence which is prefixed to this Address, we learn that it was “prepared with great haste, amidst anxieties and efforts to regain health, and amidst all the inquietudes of journeying and absence from home.” Apologies are seldom worth the time spent in making or reading them. Generally, an author who prints his production may be supposed to consider it of some value. To make an apology, then, similar to that of Mr. Carroll, is but a modest way of hinting that, with a fair trial, the writer could have done much better. On the whole we wish that there had been no apology; for the Address needs none. It is not our purpose to give an outline of this discourse, or enter into a critical examination of its merits — for merits it has. We wish merely to call the attention of the reader to a few extracts, hoping that a perusal of these will induce him to procure and read the whole Address for himself. The first of these extracts is on a subject too long overlooked, and too much neglected in all our schools. We refer to social qualities. On this subject the author's ideas are just and timely. He says:

“Every literary institution ought to aim at such a well regulated intercourse amongst its students as would inspire them with a dignified self-respect — as would cause them, even in retirement, to conduct themselves with that delicacy and deference to each other's feelings that become a high-minded and honorable company of gentlemen associated in the pursuit of learning. They ought also, under proper restrictions, to mingle occasionally in the best circles of society around them. Neither their morals, their manners, nor their studies would suffer from that evolution and play of the social powers to which such an intercourse would give rise. I know indeed that a certain degree of awkward reserves, and bluntness of manners, and recklessness of dress have, in some minds, become almost inseparably associated with genius. But a moment's reflection may convince any one that it requires no very extraordinary endowments from the Creator, to enable a man, after a little practice, to become a clown in his manners and a sloven in his apparel. Let it not be supposed, however, that in thus contending for the development of the social powers and cultivable graces of our nature, we countenance the contemptible littleness of dandyism. The mere dandy we despise as a thing whose definition the great American lexicographer has given in the following appropriate terms — ” a male of the human species who dresses himself like a doll, and carries his character on his back.” Between the peculiarities of such a creature and the dignified refinement and suavity of the educated gentleman, it were odious to institute a comparison. It [page 66:] is the latter to which regard is to be had in a course of education. All that we contend for is, that the youthful mind should be in spired with a deep consciousness of the existence and the worth of those social powers and kindly sympathies within itself, which bind it indissolubly to its species, and should be led to regard their development and culture as a necessary part of its preparation for future life.”

We are no less pleased with the following sentiments on the subject of the moral influences that should pervade a College.

“The great question is yet to be decided — What influence our educated men will have on the moral destinies of this nation! A question involving all those dear and mighty interests which bind us in hope to this and to a future world. With such a question pending, I tremble for the safety of my country, and blush for its reputation for sound philosophy, when I reflect that here an attempt has been made to break up the alliance between learning and religion, and to sever our literary institutions from the practical influence of a pure Christianity. I am happy to know that this is not to be the order of things in Hampden Sydney. I am not called to take the helm without a chart or compass. And I never shall embark on a voyage of such perils unless I can nail the Bible to the mast. We shall avoid all mere proselytism and the inculcation of minor sectarian peculiarities. But we shall strenuously endeavor so to develope, [[sic]] and discipline, and adapt to action the moral powers of youth, that, appreciating highly their own immortal interests. they shall go out hence on the high ways of society a chosen band, clothed in the panoply of heaven to act as the lifeguards of the virtue, order, and common Christianity of their country.”

The conclusion of Mr. Carroll's Address is full of fervid eloquence, rendered doubly interesting by a vein of that truest of all philosophy, the philosophy of the Christian. In the two last paragraphs sentiments are expressed, which at their delivery must have produced a strong sensation. Such indeed we learn from those present on the occasion, was their effect.

“It well becomes me to tread with modest and tremulous steps in a path consecrated by the luminous career of such men as the brothers Smith, an Alexander, a Hoge, and a Cushing. “There were giants in the earth in those days — mighty men, even men of renown.” But they have gone, as we trust, to adorn higher spheres of usefulness and glory, and to shine in the firmament of God: whilst the radiance of their characters, still not lost to earth, lingers, like the setting sun-beams, on the high places of Hampden Sydney. They have all gone save one, at whose feet, as the Gamaliel of the Church, it has been my distinguished privilege to sit, and to whose masterly management of the young mind I am much indebted for whatever of mental furniture I possess. I enter upon my duties, however diffident, with the unblenching purpose of doing what I can to promote the best interests of the Institution over which I am called to preside. True, with a body and a mind partially wrecked by the arduous labors of past years and by successive attacks of prolonged illness, I cannot promise much. But I come to the performance of my new duties cheerfully, and with the frankness and integrity of a man in sober earnest to do what I can.

“Knowing and admiring, as I always have done, the noble generosity of the Virginian character, I throw myself unreservedly upon the clemency, and I expect the prompt, cordial, efficient cooperation of this honorable Board of Trustees. Ido more. With a heart still bleeding under a recent and final separation from that beloved people, whose sympathies and prayers have been the solace of my past life for years, I throw myself upon the kindness of this privileged Christian community. Most gladly would I find a home in their affections. Most devoutly do I hope for and desire the sustaining influence of their sympathies and of their supplications to heaven in my behalf and in behalf of this Institution. Let all the pious and prayerful join with ne today, in a renewed consecration of this College to God, under the deep conviction that “except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain.” With such for my allies, and God as my help, I shall enter on my labors with the assurance that the inspiriting motto — “ nil desperandum est” — is far more applicable to Hampden Sydney than it was to the republic of Rome in the zenith of her glory.”



1. Judge Story's Discourse. 2. Binney's Eulogiutim.

We have received Mr. Binney's EULOGY pronounced at Philadelphia, and Judge Story's DISCOURSE in Boston, upon our great and lamented countryman, fellow-townsman, neighbor, and friend — for by all these names did a fortuitous conjuncture of circumstances, including his own kind and prideless heart, entitle us to call him. We have read them both, with an interest created by long admiration and love for the subject, but rendered more intense by the beauties of the manner, in which the subject is displayed. We do not say, ‘materiem superat opus.’ To such a material, no human skill could be incommensurately great: and Mr. Binney speaks with no less truth than modesty, in making it the consolation alike of the humblest, and of the most gifted eulogist, “that the case of this illustrious man is one, in which to give with simplicity the record of his life,” is most nearly to copy “the great original;” and to attempt more, “is

. . . ..’ with taper light

To seek the beauteous eye of Heaven to garnish.’ ”

But except Everett among the living, and Wirt and Ames among the departed of our countrymen, we doubt if any American, with the effusions of whose mind we are familiar, could have more closely rivalled by language the character and the actions attempted to be portrayed. It is not our purpose now to review these two eulogies. A more extended notice — of them, and of their great subject, we defer for our next number; in which we shall, perhaps, give also a few light personal reminiscences of Judge Marshall.  



An Address on Education, as connected with the Permanence of our Republican Institutions. Delivered before the Institute of Education of Hampden Sidney College, at its Anniversary Meeting, September the 24th, 1835, on the invitation of that Body. By Lucian Minor, Esq. of Louisa. Published by request of the Institute.

We earnestly call the attention of the public at large, but more especially the attention of all good citizens of Virginia, to the Address with whose title this article is headed. It will be found entire in the columns of the Messenger — but its appearance, likewise, in pamphlet form, simultaneously with the issuing of the present number, affords us an opportunity of noticing it editorially without deviating from established rules.

Virginia is indebted to Mr. Minor — indebted for the seasonable application of his remarks, and doubly indebted for the brilliant eloquence, and impressive energy with which he has enforced them. We sincerely wish — nay, we even confidently hope, that words so full of warning, and at the same time so pregnant with truth, may succeed in stirring up something akin to action in the legislative halls of the land. Indeed there is no time to squander in speculation. The most lukewarm friend of the State must perceive — if he perceives any thing — that the glory of the Ancient Dominion is in a fainting — is in a dying condition. Her once great name is becoming, in the North, a bye-word for imbecility — all over the South, a type for “ the things that have [page 67:] been.” And tamely to ponder upon times gone by is not to meet the exigencies of times present or to come. Memory will not help us. The recollection of our former high estate will not benefit us. Let us act. While we have a resource let us make it of avail. Let us proceed, at once, to the establishment throughout the country, of district schools, upon a plan of organization similar to that of our New England friends. If then, in time, Virginia shall be regenerated — if she shall, hereafter, assume, as is just, that proud station from which her own supine and over-weening self-esteem has been the means of precipitating her, “it will all be owing,” (we take pleasure in repeating the noble and prophetic words of Mr. Minor,) “it will all be owing, under Providence, to the hearkening to that voice — not loud, but solemn and earnest — which from the shrine of Reason and the tombs of buried commonwealths, reiterates and enforces the momentous precept — ‘ENLIGHTEN THE PEOPLE.’ ”



Legends of a Log Cabin. By a Western Man. New York: George Dearborn, Publisher.

We have been much interested in this book in spite of some very glaring faults and absurdities with which it is besprinkled. The work is dedicated to Charles F. Hoffman, Esq. the author of /Winter in the West, (why will our writers persist in this piece of starched and antique affectation?) and consists of seven Tales, viz. The Hunter's Vow, The Heiress of Brandsby, The Frenchman's Story, The Englishman's Story, The Yankee's Story, The Wyandot's Story, and the Minute Men. The plot will be readily conceived. A heterogeneous company are assembled by accident, on a snowy night, in the Log Cabin of a Western hunter, and, pour passer le temps, amuse themselves in telling Stories.

The Hunter's Vow is, we think, the best of the series. A dreamy student who can never be induced to forsake his books for the more appropriate toils of a backwoods’ existence, is suddenly aroused from his apathy by the murder of his old father by an Indian — a murder which takes place under the scholar's own eyes, and which might have been prevented but for his ignorance in the art of handling and loading a rifle. The entire change wrought in the boy's character is well managed. The Heiress of Brandsby is a tale neither so verisimilar, nor so well told. It details the love of a Virginian heiress for a Methodist of no very enticing character; and concludes by the utter subversion, through the means of all powerful love, of the lady's long cherished notions of aristocracy. The Frenchman's Story has appeared before in the American Monthly Magazine. It is a well imagined and well executed tale of the French Revolution. The fate of M. Girond “who left town suddenly,” is related with that air of naked and unvarnished truth so apt to render even a silly narrative interesting. The Englishman's Story is a failure — full of such palpable folly that we have a difficulty in ascribing it to the same pen which wrote the other portions of the volume. The whole tale betrays a gross ignorance of law in general and of English law in especial. The Yankee's Story is much better — but not very good. We have our doubts as to the genuine Yankeeism of the narrator. His language, at all events, savors but little of Down East. [column 2:] The Wyandot's Story is also good (this too has appeared in the American Monthly Magazine) — but we have fault to find, likewise, with the phraseology in this instance. No Indian, let Chateaubriand and others say what they please, ever indulged, for a half hour at a time, in the disjointed and hyperbolical humbug here attributed to the Wyandot. The Minute Men is the last of the series, and from its being told by the author himself, is, we suppose, considered by him the best. It is a tale of the year seventy-five — but, although interesting, we do not think it equal to either The Frenchman's Story or The Hunter's Vow. We recommend the volume to the attention of our readers. It is excellently gotten up.



Traits of American Life. By Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, Editor of “ The American Ladies’ Magazine,” and author of “Northwood,” “ Flora's Interpreter,” &c. &c. Philadelphia: E. L. Carey, and A. Hart.

This volume is beautifully printed — and we are happy in being able to say, conscientiously, that its neat external appearance is its very least recommendation. We are, however, at a loss to understand the Preface — can it be that its ambiguity is intentional? “The Sketches and Stories here offered to the public” — says Mrs. Hale — “have not entirely the attraction of novelty to plead in their favor — but the author trusts that the sentiments inculcated, and principles illustrated, are such as will bear a reiteration.” Does Mrs. H. mean to say that these stories have been published in any form before? (if so, she should have said it more explicitly) — or does she allude merely to novelty of manner or of matter? We think that some of these sketches are old acquaintances of ours.

The volume consists of fourteen different articles. The Lloyds — The Catholic Convert — The Silver Mine — Political Parties — A New Year's Story — Captain Glover's Daughter — The Fate of a Favorite — The Romance of Travelling — The Thanksgiving of the Heart — The Lottery Ticket — An Old Maid — Ladies’ Fairs — The Mode — and The Mysterious Box. The Silver Mine is, perhaps, the best of the whole — but they are all written with grace and spirit, and form a volume of exceeding interest. Mrs. Hale has already attained a high rank among the female writers of America, and bids fair to attain a far higher.



Sketches of History, Life, and Manners in the West. By James Hall. Philadelphia: Harrison Hall.

Mr. Hall has made himself extensively known by his Tales and Legends, as well as by his labors in the editorship of the Western Monthly Magazine. From his long residence in the West, and from his undoubted abilities as a writer, we should suppose he would be excellently qualified to write precisely such a book as he has written. His object in the present publication seems to be not so much the furnishing of topographical or statistical details, as the sketching of character and life in the West, prior to the close of the late war. To those who are at all acquainted with Mr. Hall, or with Mr. Hall's writings, it is superfluous to say that the book is well written, Wild romance and exciting adventure form it; staple. [page 68:]

The policy of our government in regard to the Aborigines is detailed in the commencement of the first volume — the latter portion is occupied with the manners and customs of the French in the great valley of the Mississippi, and with the adventures of the white settlers on the Ohio. The second volume is more varied, and, we think, by far more interesting. It treats, among other things, of Burr's conspiracy — of the difficulties experienced in Mississippi navigation, and of the various military operations carried on in the wilderness of the North West. An Appendix, at the end of the book, embraces some papers relative to the first settlement of Kentucky — none of which have hitherto been published. We confidently recommend to our readers the Western Sketches of Mr. Hall, in the full anticipation of their finding in the book a fund both of information and amusement.



The American Almanac, and Repository of Useful Knowledge, for the year 1836. Boston: Published by Charles Bowen.

This is the seventh number of this invaluable work. Its editor, from the first year of its publication, is understood to have been J. E. Worcester, Esq. the indefatigable author and compiler of a number of works requiring great industry, perseverance, and talent. Nearly twenty years ago he became known to the public by his Universal Gazetteer, a second edition of which, at the present time, we agree with the North American Review in thinking would be highly acceptable to the public. Mr. Worcester has also published a Gazetteer of the United States — The Elements of Geography — the Elements of History — The Historical Atlas — an Edition of Johnson's Dictionary, as improved by Todd and abridged by Chalmers — an Abridgment of the American Dictionary of Dr. Webster — and, lastly, A Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language, with Pronouncing Vocabularies of Classical, Scripture, and Modern Geographical Names — all of them works of intrinsic merit. The American Almanac has long had a well-established reputation, and Mr. Worcester is understood to have prepared, invariably, all of its valuable contents with the exception of the astronomical department. When we consider the great variety of topics treated of, and the extreme difficulty of procuring accurate information in relation to many of them, we must all admire the energy of the editor in having brought the work to its present high state of perfection and utility. We know of no publication of the kind more fully entitled to be called “A Repository of Useful Knowledge.”

The Almanac for 1836 contains the usual Register of the General and State Governments, together with a vast amount of statistical and miscellaneous matter; but “it is more particularly characterized by an account of the principal Benevolent Institutions in the United States, and a view of the Ecclesiastical Statistics of the Religious Denominations.”

We believe that no work of an equal extent in America contains as much important statistical information as the seven volumes of the American Almanac. We are happy to learn that complete sets of the publication can still be obtained. [column 2:]



Clinton Bradshaw; or The Adventures of a Lawyer. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard.

We have no doubt this book will be a favorite with many readers — but for our own parts we do not like it. While the author aims at originality, and evidently fancies himself the pioneer of a new region in fictitious literature, he has, we think, unwittingly stumbled upon that very worst species of imitation, the paraphrasical. Clinton Bradshaw, or the adventures of a Lawyer, is intended, we humbly conceive, as a pendant, in America, to Henry Pelham, or the Adventures of a Gentleman, in England. There are, however, some little awkward discrepancies. When Pelham luxuriates in the drawing-room, and Bradshaw is obstreperous in the tavern, no ingenuity can sustain a parallel. The polished manners of the one are not equalled by even the self-polished pumps of the other. When the British hero is witty and recherche, the American fails to rival him by merely trying to be both. The exquisite's conversation is sentiment itself, and we have no stomach afterwards for the lawyer's sentiment and water.

“The plan of this novel,” says a correspondent of a contemporary Magazine, for whose editorial opinions we have the highest respect, “is exceedingly simple, and the moral it unfolds, if not of the most elevated kind, is still useful and highly applicable to our existing state of society. It is the story of a young lawyer of limited means, and popular talents, whose ambition urges him to elevate himself by all the honorable methods in his power. His professional pursuits lead him among the coarsest criminals, while his political career brings him in contact with the venal and corrupt of all parties. But true alike to himself and the community of which he is a member, the stern principles of a republican, and the uncompromising spirit of a gentle. man, are operative under all circumstances.” These words we quote as affording, in a brief space, some idea of the plot of Clinton Bradshaw. We repeat, however, that we dislike the novel, considered as a novel. Some detached passages are very good. The chief excellence of the book consists in a certain Flemish caricaturing of vulgar habitudes and action. The whole puts us irresistibly in mind of High Life below Stairs. Its author is, we understand, a gentleman of Cincinnati.



Friendship's Offering and Winter's Wreath for 1836 — a beautiful souvenir. The literary portion unusually good. The tale of The Countess, by Mrs. Norton, is the best article in the book. The embellishments are mostly of a high order. Plate No. 7 — The Countess, engraved by H. T. Ryall, from an original painting by E. T. Parris, is exquisite indeed — unsurpassed by any plate within our knowledge.

The Forget Me Not for 1836, edited by Shoberl, is, perhaps, superior to the Winter's Wreath in pictorial, although slightly inferior in literary merit. All the engravings here are admirable.

Fisher's Drawing-Room Scrap-Book for 1836, edited by L. E. L. is, in typographical beauty, unrivalled. The literary portion of the work is but so so, although written nearly altogether by L. E. L. These Annuals may all be obtained, in Richmond, at the bookstore of Mr. C. Hall.






[S:0 - SLM, 1835] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Criticial Notices (December 1835)