Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Critical Notices, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. II, no. 10, August 1836, 2:582-600


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The Old World and the New; or, a Journal of Reflections and Observations made on a Tour in Europe. By the Reverend Orville Dewey. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Mr. Dewey assures us, in the beginning of his Preface, that his volumes are not offered to the public as an itinerary — but it is difficult to say in what other light they should be regarded. To us they appear as strictly entitled to the appellation as any book of travels we have perused. They are indeed an itinerary of the most inartificial character — a journal in which unconnected remarks follow one upon another — object upon object — day upon day — and all with a scrupulous accuracy in regard to dates. Not that we have much objection to this methodical procedure, but that we cannot understand Mr. Dewey in declaring his book not to be what it most certainly is, if it is any thing at all. His subsequent remark, that every American traveller to the old world enjoys a vantage ground for surveying the institutions, customs, and character of his own country is what we can readily appreciate. We think, also, that in many respects our author has made excellent use of this advantage. But we would be doing our conscience a great wrong in recommending the work before us as a whole. Here is some amusement — great liberality — much excellent sense — a high spirit of sound morality and genuine philanthropy; but indeed very little, so we think, of either novelty or profundity. These two hitter qualities are, however, of a nature so strictly relative, and liable to so many modifications from the acquirements or character of the reader, that we feel some hesitation in what we say — and would prefer leaving a decision where it must finally be left — to the voice of the public opinion.

One remarkable feature in the Old World and the New, is its amusing naiveté of manner — a feature which will immediately arrest the attention of every reader. We cannot do better than give a few specimens.

What a pity it is [says Mr. D., and so it is undoubtedly] that cities, or at least streets in cities, could not, like single edifices, be built upon some regular and well considered plan! Not that the result should be such regularity as is seen in Philadelphia or Dublin; the plan indeed would embrace irregularity. But there might bean arrangement, by which a block of buildings, a street, or indeeda whole city, might stand before us as one grand piece of arehitecture. If single specimens of arehitecture have the effect to improve, humanize, and elevate the ideas of a people; if they are a language, and answer a purpose kindred to that of literature, poetry and painting, why may not a whole city have this effect 1 To secure this result, there must, I am afraid, be a power like that of the autocrat ot Russia, who, I am told, when a house is built in his royal city of St. Petersburg which does not conform to his general plan, sends word to the owner that he tsnsl remove that building and put up another of a certain description.

And again, speaking of the Menai bridge —

A celebrated lady (since dead) in speaking of this stupendous work, said that she first saw it from the Isle of Anglesea, so that it was relieved against the lofty mountains of North Wales; and she added in a strain [page 583:] of eloquent and poetical comparison familiar to her, that Snowdon seemed to her a fit back ground for the Menai Bridge.

All this may be very true, but then only think of the eloquent and poetical comparison of Snowdon being a back ground for the Menai Bridge!

Mrs. Hemans and our author go to church together.

She spoke (says he) of the various accompaniments of the service, and when she came to the banners she said ‘ they seemed to wave as the music of the anthem rose to the lofty arches!’ I ventured here to throw in a little dash of prose — saying that I was afraid that they did not wave, that I wished they might, and looked up to see if they did, but could not see it.

Mr. Dewey does not like oatmeal cake.

In good truth I should never desire to have any thing to do with it save as a specimen; for of all the stuff that ever I tasted, it was the most inedible, impracticable, insufferable, dry, hard, coarse, rasping, gritty, chaffy: I could not eat it, and it seemed to me that if I could, it would be no more nourishing than gravel kneaded into mud, and baked in a lime-kiln. As to drink — whiskey! whiskey! the boatman said was the only thing, and the thing indispensable. I tasted of it — and truly it had not the usual odious taste of our American whiskey!

We quote these passages merely as specimens of the singular simplicity — more properly naiveté — which is the prevailing feature of the book.

Mr. Dewey left New York for England on the 8th June 1833, and arrived in St. George's channel on the 24th of the same month, having a fair wind and smooth sea during the entire passage. Leaving England, he visited Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, Prussia, Switzerland, and Italy. Returning by way of Liverpool, he reached home on the 22d of May, 1834.



A New Dictionary of the English Language: By Charles Richardson. London: William Pickering — New York: William Jackson.

The periodical nature of this publication absolves us from what would otherwise be a just charge of neglect in not speaking of it sooner. Five numbers have been issued, and twenty-five more are to be added, at intervals of a fortnight. These numbers are of quarto form, and contain eighty pages in triple columns. The paper is excellent, and the matter beautifully stereotyped. The whole will form, when the publication is completed, two very large quarto volumes, of which the entire cost will have been fifteen dollars. We say when the publication is completed — the work itself is already so — a consideration of great importance, and sure to be appreciated by the thousands of subscribers to the many costly periodicals which have failed in completing their issue, and thus thrown a number of odd volumes upon the hands of the public. In what farther we have to say of this Dictionary, we shall do little more than paraphrase the very satisfactory prospectus of Mr. Richardson himself.

When Dr. Johnson, in 1747, announced his intention of writing a Dictionary of the English language, he communicated the plan of his undertaking in a letter to Lord Chesterfield. The plan was as follows. He would give, first — the natural and primitive meaning of [column 2:] words; secondly, the consequential — and thirdly the metaphorical, arranging the quotations chronologically. The book, however, was published in 1755, without the plan, and strange to say, in utter disregard of the principles avowed in the letter to the Earl of Chesterfield. That these principles were well-conceived, and that if followed out, they would have rendered important service to English lexicography, was not doubted at the time, and cannot be doubted now. Moreover, the necessity for something of the kind which was felt then, is more strongly felt now, for no person has as yel attempted to construct a work upon the plan proposed, and the difficulties which were to have been remedied, are greatly aggravated by time. Eighty years have passed, and not only has no new work been written upon the plan of Dr. Johnson — but no systematic work of reform upon the old basis.

The present Dictionary of Mr. Richardson is, distinctly, a new work, upon a system never attempted before — upon the principles of Home Tooke, the greatest of philosophical grammarians, and whose developments of an entirely novel theory of language have excited the most profound interest and respect in the minds of all who think.

In the Diversions of Purley, it is positively demonstrated that a word has one meaning and one only, and that from this one meaning all the usages of the word must spring. “To discover this meaning,” says Mr. Richardson, “etymological research was indispensable, and I have staled the results of such research with conciseness, it is true, yet with a fullness that will enable the more learned reader to form a judgment for himself, and the path of deeper investigation is disclosed to the pursuit of the curious inquirer.” In tracing the usages of words, Mr. R. has availed himself of ihe materials collected by Johnson and his editors, “the various supplements and provincial vocabularies, the notes of editors and commentators upon our older poets, and of abundant treasures amassed for his own peculiar use.” The quotations are arranged chronologically, and embrace extracts from the earliest to the latest writers of English. The etymology is placed distinctly by itself for the convenience of hasty reference. As an example of the arrangement of the work, we will give the word Calefy.





Lat. Calefieri, to be or become hot. Calere, Vossius deduces from the Doric [[Greet text]] for [[Greek text]], burning.

To heat, to be, become, or cause to be hot.

But crystal will calefie into electricity; that is, a power to attract straws or light bodies and convert the needle freely placed. — Brown. Vulgar Errours, b. ii. e, 1.

As [if] the remembrance of calefaction can warm & man in a cold frosty night. — More. Philos. Poems, c. 2, Pref.

But ice will dissolve in any way of heat; for it will dissolve with fire; it will colliquate in water, or warm oyl; nor doth it onely submit unto an actual heat, but not endure the potential calidity of many waters. — Brown. Vulgar Errours. b. ii. c. 1.

Since the subterranean caliducts have been introduced. Evelyn.

In his prospectus, Mr. Richardson has had occasion to speak in no measured terms of the Dictionary of Dr. Webster. We here repeat his observations because we think them entirely just. [page 584:]

The author is conscious that he should be chargeable with great want of courtesy if he passed unnoticed the American Dictionary of Dr. Webster. His censure however must he short. Or. Webster disarmed and stripped himself for the field, and advanced unaided and unshielded to the combat. He abjured the assistance of Skinner and Vossius, and the learned elders of lexicography; and of Tooke he quaintly says, ‘I have made no use of his writings.’ There is a display of oriental reading in his Preliminary Essays, which as introductory to a Dictionary of the English Language, seems as appropriate and useful as a reference to the code of Gentoo laws to decide a question of English inheritance. Dr. Webster was entirely unacquainted with our old authors.

We believe the North American Review has remarked of the work before us, that its definitions are in some measure too scanty, and not sufficiently compact. This defect, which cannot altogether be denied, and which is, to say the truth, of more importance to the mass of readers than to the philologist, will be found, upon examination, a defect inseparable from the plan originally proposed, and which insists upon an arrangement of derivatives under primitives. We are not tempted, however, to wish any modification of the principal design, for the sake of a partial, and not very important amendment.

We conclude in heartily recommending the work of Mr. Richardson to the attention of our readers. It embraces we think, every desideratum in an English Dictionary, and has moreover a thousand negative virtues. Messrs. Muyo and Davis are the agents in Richmond.

[[Review of Samuel C. Hall's Book of Gems appears here]]

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Report of the Committee on Naval Affairs, to whom was referred memorials from sundry citizens of Connecticid interested in the whale fishing, praying that an exploring expedition be fitted out to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas. March 21, 1836.

That a more accurate, defined, and available knowledge than we at present possess, of the waters, islands, and continental coasts of the great Pacific and Southern Oceans, has long been desirable, no unprejudiced individual conversant with the subject, is likely to deny. A portion of the community unrivalled in activity, enterprise and perseverance, and of paramount importance both in a political and commercial point of view, has long been reaping a rich harvest of individual wealth and national honor in these vast regions. The Pacific [column 2:] may be termed the training ground, the gymnasium of our national navy. The hardihood and daring of that branch of our commercial marine employed in its trade and fisheries, have almost become a proverb. It is in this class we meet with the largest aggregate of that cool self-possession, courage, and enduring fortitude, which have won for us our enviable position among the great maritime powers; and it is from this class we may expect to recruit a considerable proportion of the physical strength and moral intelligence necessary to maintain and improve it. The documentary evidence upon which the report before us is based, forms an appendix to it, and is highly interesting in its character. It awakens our admiration at the energy and industry which have sustained a body of daring men, while pursuing a dangerous and arduous occupation, amid the perils and casualties of an intricate navigation, in seas imperfectly known. It enlists our sympathies in the hardships and difficulties they have combatted, places in strong relief the justice of their claims upon the nation for aid and protection, and shows the expediency of the measure which has at last resulted from their representations. The report itself is clear, manly, decided — the energetic language of men who, having examined the data submitted to them with the consideration the interests it involved seemed to require, are anxious to express their sentiments with a force and earnestness suited to their views of the urgent occasion and of the course they recommend.

It is a glorious study to contemplate the progress made by human industry, from stage to stage, when engaged in the prosecution of a laudable object. Little more than a century ago, only the crews of a few miserable open boats, too frail to venture far from land, waged a precarious warfare with the great leviathans of the deep, along the shores of Cape Cod and Nantucket — then occupied, at distant intervals, by a few inconsiderable fishing stations. The returns even of these first efforts were lucrative, and more appropriate vessels for the service were fitted out. These extended their cruises northward to Labrador, and southward to the West Indies. At length the adventurers, in vessels of yet greater capacity, strength and durability, crossed the Equator and followed their hardy calling along the Eastern Shore of the Southern Peninsula and on the Western and North Western coast of Africa. The Revolution of course operated as a temporary check to their prosperity, but shortly thereafter these dauntless mariners doubled Cape Horn, and launched their daring keels into the comparatively unknown waste beyond, in search of their gigantic prey. Since that fortunate advent, the increase in the shipping, extent, and profits of the fishery, has been unprecedented, and new sources of wealth the importance of which it is at present impossible to estimate, have been opened to us in the same quarter. The trade in skins of the sea-otter and seal, in the fur of land animals on the North West coast, &c. has been extensive in extent and avails. The last mentioned animal, besides the valuable ivory it affords, yields a coarse oil which, in the event of the whale becoming extinct before the perpetual warfare of man, would prove a valuable article of consumption. Of the magnitude of the commercial interest involved in different ways in the Pacific trade, an idea may be gathered in the following extract from the main subject of our review. Let it be [page 588:] borne in mind, that many of the brunches of this undo are as yet in their infancy, that the natural resources to which they refer are apparently almost inexhaustible; and we shall become aware that all which is note in operation, is but as a dim shadow to the mighty results which may be looked for, when this vast field for national enterprise is better known and appreciated.

“No part of the commerce of this country is more important than that carried on in the Pacific Ocean. It is large in amount. Not less than $12,000,000 are invested in and actively employed by one branch of the whale fishery alone ; in the whole trade there is directly and indirectly involved not less than fifty to seventy millions of property. In like manner from 170 to 200,000 tons of our shipping, and from 9 to 12000 of our seamen are employed, amounting to about one-tenth of the whole navigation of the Union. Us results are profitable. It is to a great extent not a mere exchange of commodities, but the creation of wealth by labor from the ocean. The fisheries alone produce at this time an annual income of from five to six millions of dollars; and it is not possible to look at Nantucket, New Bedford, New London, Sag Harbor and a large number of other districts upon our Northern coasts, without the deep conviction that it is an employment alike beneficial to the moral, political, and commercial interests of our fellow-citizens.”

In a letter from Commodore Downes to the Honorable John Reed, which forms part of the supplement to the report, that experienced officer observes —

“During the circumnavigation of the globe, in which I crossed the equator six limes, and varied my course from 40 deg. North to 67 deg. South latitude, I have never found myself beyond the limits of our commercial marine. The accounts given of the dangers and losses to which our ships are exposed by the extension of our trade into seas but little known, so far, in my opinion from being exaggerated, would admit of being placed in bolder relief, unci the protection of government employed in stronger terms. 1 speak from practical knowledge, having myself seen the dangers and painfully felt the want of the very kind of information which our commercial interests so much need, and which, I suppose, would be the object of such an expedition as is now under consideration before the committee of Congress to give. * * * * * * *

The commerce of our country has extended itself to remote parts of the world, is carried on around islands and reefs not laid down in the charts, among even groups of islands from ten to sixty in number, abounding in objects valuable in commerce, but of which nothing is known accurately; no not even the sketch of a harbor has been made, while of such as are inhabited our knowledge is still more imperfect.”

In reading this evidence (derived from the personal observation of a judicious and experienced commander) of the vast range of our commerce in the regions alluded to, and of the imminent risks and perils to which those engaged in it are subjected, it cannot but create a feeling of surprise, that a matter of such vital importance as the adoption of means for their relief, should so long have been held in abeyance. A tabular view of the discoveries of our whaling captains in the Pacific and Southern seas, which forms part of another document, seems still further to prove the inaccuracy and almost utter worthlessness of the charts of these waters, now in use.

Enlightened liberality is the truest economy. It would not be difficult to show, that even as a matter of pecuniary policy the efficient measures at length in progress to remedy the evils complained of by this portion of our civil marine, are wise and expedient. But let us take [column 2:] higher ground. They were called for — Firstly: as a matter of public justice. Mr. Reynolds, in his comprehensive and able letter to the chairman of the committee on Naval Affairs, dated 1823, which, with many other conclusive arguments and facts furnished by that gentleman, forms the main evidence on which the Ute committee founded their report — observes, with reference to the Pacific;

“To look after our merchant there — to offer him every possible facility — to open new channels for his enterprise, and to keep up a respectable naval force to protect him — is only paying a debt we owe to the commerce of the country: for millions have flowed into the treasury from this source, before one cent was expended for its protection.”

So far, then, we have done little as a nation to facilitate, or increase, the operations of our commerce in the quarter indicated; we have left the adventurous merchant and the hardy fisherman, to fight their way among reefs of dangerous rocks, and through the channels of undescribed Archipelagos, almost without any other guides than their own prudence and sagacity; but we have not hesitated to partake of the fruits of their unassisted toils, to appropriate to ourselves the credit, respect and consideration their enterprise has commanded, and to look to their class as the strongest support of that main prop of our national power, — a hardy, effective, and well disciplined national navy.

Secondly. Our pride as a vigorous commercial empire, should stimulate us to become our own pioneers in that vast island-studded ocean, destined, it may be, to become, not only the chief theatre of our traffic, but the arena of our future naval conflicts. Who can say, viewing the present rapid growth of our population, that the Rocky Mountains shall forever constitute the western boundary of our republic, or that it shall not stretch its dominion from sea to sea. This may not be desirable, but signs of the times render it an event by no means without the pale of possibility.

The intercourse carried on between the Pacific islands and the coast of China, is highly profitable, the immense returns of the whale fishery in the ocean which surrounds those islands, and along the continental coasts, have been already shown. Our whalers have traversed the wide expanse from Peru and Chili on the west, to the isles of Japan on the east, gathering national reverence, as well as individual emolument, in their course; and yet until the lute appropriation, Congress has never yielded them any pecuniary assistance, leaving their very security to the scientific labors of countries far more distant, and infinitely less interested, than our own.

Thirdly. It is our duty, holding as we do a high rank in the scale of nations, to contribute a large share to that aggregate of useful knowledge, which is the common property of all. We have astronomers, mathematicians, geologists, botanists, eminent professors in every branch of physical science — we are unincumbered by the oppression of a national debt, and are free from many other draw backs which fetter and control the measures of the trans-Atlantic governments. We possess, as a people, the mental elasticity which liberal institutions inspire, and a treasury which can afford to remunerate scientific research. Ought we not, therefore, to be foremost in the race of philanthropic discovery, in every [page 589:] department embraced by this comprehensive term? Our national honor and glory which, be it remembered, are to be “transmitted as well as enjoyed,” are involved. In building up the fabric of our commercial prosperity, let us not filch the corner stone. Let it not be said of us, in future ages, that we ingloriously availed ourselves of a stock of scientific knowledge, to which we had not contributed our quota — that we shunned as a people to put our shoulder to the wheel — that we reaped where we had never sown. It is not to be controverted that such has been hitherto the case. We have followed in the rear of discovery, when a sense of our moral and political responsibility should have impelled us in its van. Mr. Reynolds, in a letter to which we have already referred, deprecates this servile dependence upon foreign research in the following nervous and emphatic language.

The commercial nations of the earth have clone much, and much remains to be accomplished. We stand a solitary instance among those who are considered commercial, as never having put forth a particle of strength or expended a dollar of our money, to add to the accumulated stock of commercial and geographical knowledge, except in partially exploring our own territory.

When our naval commanders and hardy tars have achieved a victory on the deep, they have to seek our harbors, and conduct their prizes into port by tables and charts furnished perhaps by the very people whom they have vanquished.

Is it honorable in the United States to use, forever, the knowledge furnished by others, to teach us how to shun a rock, escape a shoal, or find a harbor; and add nothing to the great mass of information that previous ages and other nations have brought to our hands. * *

The exports, and, more emphatically, the imports of the United States, her receipts and expenditures, are written on every pillar erected by commerce on every sea and in every clime; but the amount of her subscription stock to erect those pillars and for the advancement of knowledge is no where to be found.


Have we not then reached a degree of mental strength, which will enable us to find our way about the globe without leading-strings? Are we forever to lake the highway others have laid out for us, and fixed with mile-stones and guide boards? No: a time of enterprise and adventure must be at hand, it is already here; and its march is onward, as certain as a star approaches its zenith.

It is delightful to find that such independent statements and opinions as the above, have been approved, and acted upon by Congress, and that our President with a wisdom and promptitude which do him honor, is superintending and facilitating the execution of legislative design. We extract the following announcement from the Washington Globe.

Surveying and Exploring Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas. — We learn that the President has given orders to have the exploring vessels fitted out, with the least possible delay. The appropriation made by Congress was ample to ensure all the great objects contemplated by the expedition, and the Executive is determined that nothing shall be wanting to render the expedition in every respect worthy the character and great commercial resources of the country.

The frigate Macedonian, now undergoing thorough repairs at Norfolk, two brigs of two hundred tons each, one or more tenders, and a store ship of competent dimensions, is, we understand, the force agreed upon, and to be put in a state of immediate preparation.

Captain Thomas A. C. Jones, an officer possessing many high qualities for such a service, has been appointed [column 2:] to the command; and officers for the other vessels will be immediately selected.

The Macedonian has been chosen instead of a sloop of war, on account of the increased accommodations she will afford the scientific corps, a department the President has determined shall be complete in its organization, including the ablest men that can be procured, so that nothing within the whole range of every department of natural history and philosophy shall be omitted. Not only on this account has the frigate been selected, but also for the purpose of a more extended protection of our whalemen and traders; and to impress on the minds of the natives a just conception of our character, power, and policy. The frequent disturbances and massacres committed on our seamen by the natives inhabiting the islands in those distant seas, make this measure the dictate of humanity.

We understand also, that to J. N. Reynolds, Esq. the President has given the appointment of Corresponding Secretary to the expedition. Between this gentleman and Captain Jones there is the most friendly feeling and harmony of action. The cordiality they entertain for each other, we trust will be felt by all, whether citizen or officer, who shall be so fortunate as to be connected with the expedition.

Thus it will be seen, steps are being taken to remove the reproach of our country alluded to by Mr. Reynolds, and that that gentleman has been appointed to the highest civil situation in the expedition; a station which we know him to be exceedingly well qualified to fill. The liberality of the appropriation for the enterprise, the strong interest taken by our energetic chief magistrate in its organization, the experience and intelligence of the distinguished commander at its head, all promise well for its successful termination. Our most cordial good wishes will accompany the adventure, and we trust that it will prove the germ of a spirit of scientific ambition, which, fostered by legislative patronage and protection, shall build up for us a name in nautical discovery commensurate with our moral, political, and commercial position among the nations of the earth.



Elkswatawa; or the Prophet of the West. A Tale of the Frontier. New York: Harper and Brothers.

This novel is written by Mr. James S. French, of Jerusalem, Virginia — the author, we believe, of “Eccentricities of David Crockett,” a book of which we know nothing beyond the fact of its publication. The plot of Elkswatawa is nearly as follows. About the period when rumors were abroad in our frontier settlements, and elsewhere, of contemplated hostilities by the Indians under Tecumseh, one Mr. Richard Rolfe, “a high-toned and chivalrous Virginian,” is a resident of Petersburg. He is left an orphan in early life — is educated under the guidance of an uncle, completes a course of studies at William and Mary, and finally practises law. His uncle now dying, he is left pennyless; and his want of perseverance precludes any hope of professional advancement. In this dilemma he falls in love. The young lady is “a gentle, quiet, little creature,” has hazel eyes, auburn air, and “the loveliest face my eyes ever beheld.” Moreover, she is “intellectual without being too much book-learned, kind without seeming to intend it, and artless without affectation.” “Not a dog” says Mr. French, “but read her countenance aright, and would follow her until he obtained his dinner.” Besides all this, she has some little property, [page 590:] a penchant for Mr. Richard Rolfe, and a very pretty appellation, which is Gay Foreman. But that the course of true love may not run altogether smooth, the young lady's father “knows a thing or two,” and will have nothing to do with our hero. The damsel too refuses to run away with him, and so he is forced to run away by himself. In a word, he resolves “to leave the scene of his unhappiness and seek a home in the western wilds.” “Oh poverty! poverty!” says Mr. Richard Rolfe, in throwing his leg over the saddle, “how often hast thou been sketched in some humble sphere, as fascinating in the extreme — and indeed lovely art thou — in the abstract!” — a very neat and very comfortable little piece of positive fact, or as Ben D’Israeli would call it — of æsthetical psychology.

Our hero is next seen in Kentucky, where we find him, on the night of the 10th of August 1809, in the woods, on the banks of the Ohio, in company with one Mr. Earthquake, a hunter. A cry is suddenly heard proceeding from the river. Stealthily approaching the banks, Mr. R. and his friend look abroad and discover — nothing. Earthquake, however, (whom our hero calls Earth for brevity) is of opinion that the Indians have been murdering some emigrant family. While deliberating, a light is discovered on the Illinois bank of the river, and presently a bund of Indian warriors become visible. They are dancing a war-dance, with a parcel of bloody scalps in their hands, and (credat Judæus!) with Mr. Rolfe's very identical little sweetheart in their abominable clutches! “Is there a human bosom callous to the appeals of pity?” here says Mr. Richard Rolfe, attorney at law, placing his hand upon his heart. Mr. Earthquake, unfortunately, says nothing, but there can be no doubt in any reasonable mind, that had he opened his mouth at all, “Humph! here's a pretty kettle of fish!” would have come out of it.

It appears that Mr. Rolfe having decamped from Petersburg, old Mr. Foreman, as a necessary consequence, becomes unfortunate in business, fails, and goes off to Pittsburg — or perhaps goes to Pittsburg first and then fails — at all events it is incumbent upon him to emigrate and go down the Ohio in a flat-boat with all his family, and so down he goes. He arrives, of course, before any accident can possibly happen to him, exactly opposite the spot where that ill-treated young attorney, Mr. Rolfe, is sitting as aforesaid, with a very long face, in the woods. But having got so far, it follows that he can get no farther. The Indians now cateh him — (what business had he to reject Mr. Rolfe?) they give him a yell — (oh, the old villain!) they kill him — (quite right!) scalp him, and throw him overboard, him and all his family, with the exception of the young lady. Her they think it better to carry across to the Illinois side of the river, and set her up on the top of a rock just opposite our hero, with a view, no doubt, of letting that interesting young gentleman behold her to the greatest possible advantage.

But the glaring improbability of this rencontre (an incident upon which the whole narrative depends) is perhaps the worst feature in Mr. French's novel. Matters now proceed in a more rational manner. The Indians, eight in number, having finished their war-dance, make off with their prey. The two hunters (for Mr. R. has turned hunter) swim the river and proceed to follow in pursuit, with the view of seizing [column 2:] any favorable opportunity for rescuing the young lady. There are now some points of interest. At one time, our friends, hiding in the trunk of a tree, are near being discovered by the red men, when these latter are turned from the path by the rattling of a snake. This is a manoeuvre on the part of Earthquake, who carries the rattles about his person. Something of the same kind, however, is narrated by Cooper. At another period, one of the eight becoming separated from the party, is waylaid and dexterously slain. Air. Rolfe too, manages to obtain a glimpse of the face of the captive, and is convinced of her being his inamorata. The pursuit, however, is unsuccessful, and the maiden is carried to the camp of Tecumseh.

We have now a description of this warrior — of his brother Elkswatawa, the Prophet — of Net-nok-wa, the female chief of the Ottawas — and of Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa her daughter. The two latter are on a visit to Tecumseh, who refuses, for state reasons, the proffered hand of Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa. This princess, becoming interested in the the [[sic]] fate of our heroine, begs her of the Prophet as a slave. The Prophet yields, and Miss Foreman is carried by Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa to visit some of the latter's friends on the Wabash, before setting off for the more distant regions of her tribe. In the meantime, our hunters, arriving at the camp, and having reconnoitred it in vain for any traces of the captive, boldly enter the camp itself, and demand the maiden at the hands of the Prophet. His hostile intentions not being yet sufficiently ripe, Elkswatawa receives them with kindness, and gives them fair words, but disclaims any knowledge of Miss Foreman. Being desired, however, to aid the search by means of his power as a Prophet, the Indian finally points out the true route of Mis-kwabun-o-kwa's party, and our hunters taking leave, determine, as nothing better can be done, to return home for assistance. On their way they come across the body of the Indian, who, it will be remembered, was separated from his party and killed by our friends. Upon his person they find, among other articles, a handkerchief marked with the letters R. Rolfe, in the hand-writing of our hero. He remembers having exchanged handkerchiefs with Miss F. on the day of his leaving Petersburg, and his doubts are now, consequently, resolved into certainty. This incident determines Rolfe to proceed immediately up the Wabash. Here, too, he fails in the object of his search, and the hunters commence their return. On the route an Indian woman is discovered, bearing a torch, and looking for her son whom she supposes to have been murdered by the whites. Touched with pity, our friends aid her in the search, and the son is found, grievously wounded, but not dead. In her lamentations, the mother drops some few words about a white maiden who has taken shelter in her wigwam, and the hopes of Rolfe are rekindled. They bear the wounded man to the hut, and the white maiden, who is found dead, proves not to be Gay Foreman. But the kindness of Rolfe and his companion have excited a deep gratitude in the breasts of the Indian mother and son — the latter is called Oloompa. They pledge their aid in recovering the lady — and, Rolfe having entrusted Oloompa with a letter for his mistress, the hunters resume their journey. Reaching Indiana, they find that, owing to the unsettled state of Indian affairs, no assistance can be rendered them in regard [page 591:] to the rescue of Miss Foreman. They proceed to Kentucky. Earthquake is made sheriff. Rolfe practises law, and having written to Petersburg in relation to Miss F. receives an answer inducing him to believe himself mistaken in regard to the identity of the captive. In the meantime Netnokwa, Mis-kwabun-o-kwa and Miss Foreman are living on the banks of the Red River. The lady is, in some measure, reconciled to her fate by the kind attentions of her Indian friends — who are only prevented from restoring her to the settlements, through dread of the Prophet's resentment. Elkswatawa and Tecumseh are busied in uniting the Indian tribes with the view of a general attack upon the whites. An emissary is thus sent to the wigwam of Netnokwa. Influenced by Miss Foreman the princesses treat the messenger with contempt and laugh at the pretensions of the Prophet. He returns home vowing vengeance, and Elkswatawa is induced to send a party of six warriors for the purpose of bringing all the inmates of Netnokwa's cabin to his camp.

The friendly Indian, Oloompa, determines, in the meantime, to redeem his promise made to the two hunters, finds out the wigwam of Netnokwa, delivers the letter of Rolfe, receives an answer from Miss Foreman, proceeds with it to Kentucky, searches out our hero, and returns with him as a guide to the dwelling of the Indian princess. Earth accompanies them. The cabin is found deserted — the inmates having been carried off the day before in the direction of the Prophet's camp. But the ingenuity of Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa has contrived to leave, on a shelf of the cabin, a letter for the perusal of Oloompa — whose return was, of course, expected. This letter consists of a parcel of little clay figures, representing Netnokwa, Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa, and Miss Foreman, driven by six Indians in the direction of the camp of the Prophet. Upon this hint our hero starts with his two companions in pursuit. They fail, however, in overtaking the Indians in time to accomplish a rescue. The captive with her friends is carried to Tippecanoe, where the Prophet (Tecumseh having gone to the South) is expecting an attack from the American army under General Harrison. Entering the camp, Oloompa mingles with the Indians and finally discovers the tent in which are the princesses and Miss Foreman. Learning that the Prophet has granted to Mis-kwabun-o-kwa the privilege of passing in and out of the tent at pleasure, restricting her only to the limits of the camp, he obtains an interview with her, and prevails upon her to disguise Miss Foreman to represent herself, (the princess) and lhus enable the captive to pass out. The scheme succeeds, and our heroine is restored to the arms of Mr. Rolfe, who is awaiting her beyond the lines. In the meantime, the impatient Indians urge the Prophet to a night attack upon Gen. Harrison. They are repulsed, and at the conclusion of the battle, our friends make their way into the American army. All difficulties now vanish. The lovers are married, and the narrative is brought to a conclusion.

The dry compendium we have given will of course do little more than afford some idea of the plan of the novel. Its chief interest depends upon matters which we have avoided altogether, as being independent of this plan, and as forming a portion of our Indian history. Here Mr. French has been very successful. The characters of Tecumseh and of Elkswatawa appear to us [column 2:] well drawn, and the manoeuvres skilfully detailed by means of which the vast power of the Prophet was attained. It is possible however, that the bear, tiger, Indian, and snake stories of our friend Earthquake, (with which the volumes are plentifully interlarded,) will be considered as forming the better portions of Elkswatawa. We have already adverted to the gross improbability of the main incident upon which tho narrative is hinged. In the entire construction of the tale Mr. French has fallen too obviously, we think, into some mannerisms of Sir Walter Scott.

In him (Sir Walter) these mannerisms, until the frequency of their repetition entitled them to such appellation, being well managed and not over-done, were commendable. They added great force and precision to the development of his stories. They should now be avoided — as a little too much of a good thing. And to a man of genius the world of invention is never shut. There is always something new under the sun — a fact susceptible of positive demonstration, in spite of a thousand dogmas to the contrary. The mannerisms we particularly allude to in Mr. French, are involved in what he so frequently calls the “bringing up” of his narrative. Fixing in his mind, every now and then, some particular epoch of his tale, he deems it of essential importance (when it is by no means so) that the action of his various characters should be “brought up,” with entire regularity, to this epoch. The attention is no sooner engaged in one train of adventure, than a chapter closes with some such sentence as the following. “Leaving him to prosecute his journey, and the hunters with a perfect knowledge of the route he had taken, we return to the camp of the Prophet,” see chapter 21 — or with “Leaving the hunters to hover about the temporary camp of the Indians, we must bring forward other parts of our story,” see chapter 3 — or with “Thus amusing themselves, they continued their journey, to perform which we must leave them, while we bring forward other parts of our story,” see chapter 8 — or “And now having brought up the history of the Prophet to the period of which we are writing we will proceed with our narrative,” see chapter 14 — or “Leaving Rolfe to attend to his profession, and Earthquake to discharge the duties of the office which had just been conferred on him, let us proceed with other parts of our story,” see chapter 15. Many of the chapters commence in a similar strain, and even in the middle of some of them the same interruptions occur. And this adjustment of the date is so frequently repeated that Mr. French's readers are kept in a constant state of chronological hornpipe.

There are some inadvertences to which the author's attention should be called. When Rolfe, and his companion Earthquake, are in the woods on the banks of the Ohio, at the time of the murder of Mr. Foreman's family, they are represented (see page 32, vol. i,) as hearing a sudden cry — upon which, proceeding to the river bank, they look around and see — nothing. The boat containing the family had sunk before their appearance and no traces remained. Yet on page 113 of the same volume, we find the hunters giving to the Prophet a detailed account of the massacre and burning — things of which they could know nothing whatsoever.

When Mis-kwa-bun-o-kwa (that acute young lady) is about leaving her wigwam on the Red River — forced [page 592:] away by the six Indians of the Prophet, she goes to much trouble in making little dirt babies as a means of informing Rolfe and Olonmpa, when they shall arrive, of the disaster which has befallen her. The six Indians, it is possible, would have taken notice of the dirt babies and destroyed them before their departure — for we are told they were set upon a shelf in the wigwam. At all events, the young princess should have had a less opinion of her own ingenuity, and have requested Miss Foreman to write a bona fide epistle to her lover. In this manner she would have saved herself no little dabbling in the mud.

In his dialogues, our author will observe that he makes a far too frequent use of the names of the speakers. Earthquake, for example, cannot say a word to Rolfe, without calling him Rolfe, to commence with — and Rolfe does nothing but Earth Mr. Earthquake to the end of the chapter. This has the most ludicrous effect imaginable. The colloquy might as well proceed, too, without so excessive an use of the word “said.” The “said Earths” and “said Rolfes” have put us in a positive fever. The general style of Mr. French is intrinsically good — but has a certain air of rawness which only time and self-discipline will enable him to mellow down. In depicting character, the novelist is unequal. Earth is natural, and although drawn with force, still free from the usual exaggerations. We have already spoken of Elkswatawa and Tecumseh. Oloompa is a bold and chivalrous Indian, with a fine ideal elevation of manner. Miss Foreman we dislike, because we cannot comprehend her. In vain we endeavor to form of her, from the portrait before us, any definite image. She is a young lady — and we ore told a very pretty one — but Mr. F. must pardon us for saying that she has — no character whatsoever.

Upon the whole we think highly of “Elkswatawa,” as evincing a capacity for better things. But if the question were demanded — What has Mr. French here done for his reputation? — we would reply possibly, upon the spur of the moment — “very little.” Upon second thoughts we should say — “just nothing at all.”



Letters Descriptive of the Virginia Springs — the Roads leading thereto and the Doings thereat. Collected, Corrected, Annotated and Edited by Peregrine Prolix. With a Map of Virginia. Philadelphia: Published by H. S. Tanner.

In our late notice of a Pleasant Peregrination through the Prettiest Parts of Pennsylvania, we had occasion to mention in high terms of commendation these Letters Descriptive of the Virginia Springs. Seeing them now advertised (very opportunely) as for sale in the city of Richmond, we take the liberty of calling attention more particularly to their merits. Every person about to pay a visit to our Springs, should read the book of course — and every person not about to pay them a visit, should most especially read it that he may have the pleasure of changing his mind. The volume is a very small one — a duodecimo of about 100 pages — but is replete with information of the most useful and the most enticing nature to the tourist. It is moreover, as the title implies, increased in value by the addition of a Tanner's Map of Virginia, in which the usual routes [column 2:] to the Springs are marked in colored lines. The volume has already been so freely quoted by all parties, that we can do no more than just copy a few words in relation to the Red Sulphur Springs of our old and highly esteemed friend, Mr. Burke, and to the Grey Sulphur of Mr. Legare.

The distance to the Red Sulphur (from the Salt Sulphur) is eighteen miles over a mountainous and woody region, which grows wilder and more romantic as you proceed. You puss two or three little valleys, into which the sun's rays penetrate between the branches and trunks of the gigantic trees, which have been robbed of their leafy honors by the process of girdling: the ground below being occupied by Indian corn. After ascending several successive elevations, the road reaches the top of a narrow mountain ridge, along which it runs fur several miles, and affords a prospect into the deep and precipitous valley on either side. After descending from this ridge the road follows for several miles the bunk of a beautiful creek, and brings you to the Red Sulphur Spring. This is one of the most beautiful and interesting objects in the Virginia Mountains. It flows from the rock into a quadrangular reservoir, composed of four slabs of white marble, the lower edges of which rest on the rock from which the water gushes. The reservoir is about six feet long, five wide, and four and a half deep; and a beautiful red and mysterious substance covers the bottom, which extending some distance up the sides, sheds through the transparency of the water its own lovely hue. The water is clear and cool, (its temperature being fifty-four of Fahrenheit,) is very strongly charged with sulphurietted hydrogen gas, and contains portions of several neutral salts. It possesses in a high decree the valuable property of lowering an exalted pulse, and is generally diuretic and aperient. To a Philadelphian palate its coolness is very gratifying. The spring is situated near one side of a little triangular plain, almost buried in mountains, and therefore cut short of its fair proportion of sunshine. The buildings, consisting of two large and commodious hotels, and three rows of cabins, are conveniently arranged upon the plain. The best row of cabins is called Philadelphia row, and is built of brick, each cabin containing two good rooms, in one of which is a fire-place. The table and other accommodations are very good, and Mr. Burke, the proprietor, is making every effort by new and expensive improvements to increase the comforts of his future guests.

We have only to add, that Mr. B. has since been successful in making the Red Sulphur every thing which the tourist or the valetudinarian could desire.

At 10 A. M. on the 10th September, [says Mr. Prolix] we left the Red Sulphur Spring in a private carriage, to pay a visit to the Gray Sulphur, situated at the distance of nine miles in a south-west direction, just within the border of Giles county.

This is a new establishment, grown up by magic since the first of June last. It belongs to John D. Legare, Esq. of South Carolina, a gentleman of established literary talent, who by his great enterprise and good taste, has made this lovely wilderness blossom like the rose, and bring forth the fruits of civilization and comfort. There is a comfortable new brick house standing near the middle of a gently sloping plain of about twenty acres, nearly cleared of trees, and entirely surrounded by forest-covered mountains, between whose base and the house are several beautiful conical hills, rendering the view from the portico exceedingly pleasing. Every thing here is conducted after the polished and agreeable manner of South Carolina. All is redolent of the Palmetto, and a little pleasant circle from that state, may generally be found here.

There are two springs under the same cover, within ten feet of each other; one containing, inter alia, bicarbonate of soda, which is an excellent anti-dyspeptic, [page 593:] and is well taken an hour after dinner, which is always so good here that every body eats too much. The other contains some sulphuretted hydrogen and several neutral salts, rendering it aperient and diuretic. It should be taken an hour before breakfast. The breakfasts and suppers are capital, furnished forth with various cakes, in form and color new to the northern eye, of rice, of corn and wheat; and in discussing these interesting subjects, a quiet deliberation reigns, affording the epicure the double opportunity of curing hunger and gratifying taste. The wine is so good, that he who drinks it, falsifies the old adage, that omnes errorem bibunt, — there is no mistake about it.



A year in Spain. By a Young American. Third Edition, enlarged, New- York. Harper and Brothers.

We have more than once recorded in the Messenger the high pleasure afforded us by the pages of Lieutenant Slidell. The “Year in Spain” with the exception of its third volume, is no novelty, we are sure. Its well-limned natural scenery — its exceedingly happy groups of banditti, and boleros, and mouse-colored asses, and muleteers, and modern Sancho Panzas, and Sangrados, and primitive Alealdes, and pallazzos, and plazas, and posadas, are still passing before the eyes of a great majority of our readers in a Kaleidescopal freshness and variety, unimpaired, and unimpairable. It would hardly be worth our while then to tell the public what the public know quite as well as ourselves — that the book has a vigorous interest — has received a great deal of commendation — and deserves it. The third volume in the present edition is superadded to the English imprimatur, and embodies what we consider the most effective portion of the narrative — an account of the author's visit to Grenada. The mechanical execution of the book is honorable to the Messieurs Harpers. The vignettes in each of the volumes, are particularly good. We would sincerely recommend our friends to procure a copy of the work forthwith — to give it a niche in their libraries — and to remember that it may safely be referred to upon occasion, as a most creditable specimen of American talent.



The Adventures of a Gentleman in Search of a Horse. By Caveat Emptor, Gent. One, Etc. Philadelphia: Republished by Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

This book, to say nothing of its peculiar excellence and general usefulness, is remarkable as being an anomaly in the literary way. The first 180 pages are occupied with what the title implies, the adventures of a gentleman in search of a horse — the remaining 100 embrace, in all its details, difficulties, and intricacies, a profound treatise on the English law of horse-dealing warranty! — and this too, strange as it may seem, appears to be the first and only treatise upon a subject so interesting to a great portion of the English gentry. Think of law, serviceable law too, intended as a matter of reference, compiled by a well known attorney, and dedicated to Sir John Gurney, one of the Barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer — think of all this done up in a green muslin cover, and illustrated by very laughable wood-cuts. Only imagine the stare of old Coke, and of the other big wigged tribe in white calf [column 2:] and red-letter binding, as our friend in the green habit shall take his station by their side upon the book shelf!

The adventurous portion of the book is all to which we have attended, and so far we have found much fine humor, good advice, and useful information in all matters touching the nature, the management, and especially the purchase of a horse. We would advise all amateurs to look well, and look quickly into the pages of Caveat Emptor.

[[Review of Joseph H. Ingraham's Lafitte appears here]]

[page 596:]



Introductory Lecture to a Course of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy. Delivered in Hampden Sidney College. By John W. Draper, M. D. Richmond: T. W. White.

Mr. Draper's peculiar reputation is well known — and deservedly acquired. In this Introductory Lecture he has given direct evidence of scientific attainment — of comprehensiveness of mind, and of a thorough acquaintance with the philosophy of instruction. He has inspired us, and we have no doubt that he has succeeded in inspiring all his hearers, with an earnest desire to hear what farther he shall say in the lectures which are to come. We take the liberty of copying a passage of unusual interest and beauty from the pages now before us.

Knowledge, like wealth hoarded up, has its compound interest, increasing in an almost geometrical ratio. A single discovery in one science sheds a light on all kindred knowledge, which is reflected back again. It is thus that modern discovery proceeds with such rapid steps. A first investigator, groping his way in the dark, cannot form a just idea of the nature and position of objects he may encounter, until time and circumstances make them more familiar. Change of opinion is often produced by more extensive information, and the possession of one new fact at variance with received theories, often leads to an entire reformation of scientific faith. But though our theories alter, our facts remain unchanged; and hence we ought not to be discouraged, remembering that theory is only useful so fur as it enables us to collate and reason upon fact.

How many are the triumphs which the world of science can boast of, even in our recollection! How much increased is the amount of all knowledge within the present century! We have a new chemistry, a new science of light, that has almost furnished us with one sense more than nature intended we should have. Astronomy has had its Laplace. Mechanics has produced its steam boats and rail roads. Many of the most interesting geographical problems have received their solution — the Niger has been navigated — and the British standard planted on the magnetic pole. The magnet, that riddle of antiquity, has been made to tell its secret in characters of fire. Electricity has furnished its galvanic battery. Physiology has developed more of the nervous structure of man than all the dreams of metaphysicians could have painted. Geology has sprung from the dust and given us animals and plants, the earliest tenants of this earth. New planets have been found, and the periods and orbits of new comets determined. The laws of the elementary constitution of bodies have been fixed, and the relative weight of their ultimate atoms assigned. Botany, mineralogy, and indeed every science, has advanced with rapid steps, and the last half century has added more to human acquirements than the preceding thousand years.

On every hand philosophy still continues to push her conquests, and discoveries crowd upon us. EHRENBERG has opened to us a new world in his use of the microscope; those little insects, thousands of which might stand on a needle's point, show to us how multiplied and how minute the mechanism of the parts of living things may be. By feeding these creatures on the purest carmine, and then bathing them in distilled [column 2:] water, he has seen through their transparent bodies parts which might rival for complexity the organs of the largest animals. In another branch, Faradat has explained all the phenomena of voltaic electricity, in a series of experimental researches, unrivalled since the lime when Davy demonstrated that the alkalies and earths were metallic oxides. In France, DUTROCHET has built up the doctrine of Endosmose and capillary attraction, which has been extended in this country, and furnished some remarkable results. The newly detected facts of esormorphism and plescomorphism, are shaking chemistry and mineralogy to their very foundation. The discovery of the mode of polarising light — a subject upon which I propose to dwell at some length, if time permits — has given us, to use the words of an eloquent writer, new and infinitely refined perceptions of touch. We are enabled, with mathematical precision, and demonstrative certainly, to assign the exact form of atoms, millions of times beyond microscopic power. We tremble upon the brink of discovering the elementary constitution of the material world. We can feel as it were the molecules of light itself, that most subtle of all fluids. We can almost perceive their sides and their ends, and can actually control, regulate and arrange the constituent parts of a sunbeam!



Memorial of Francis Lieber, Professor of History and Political Economy in the South Carolina College, relative to Proposals for a Work on the Statistics of the United States.

This is a Congressional Documentor about seventeen pages, and should be read by all who feel an interest in the welfare of America. Professor Lieber has herein laid before the Federal Legislature, with remarkable clearness of thought, and force of lucid arrangement, the plan of a proposed work on the Statistics of the Union — the word Statistics to be understood in its truest and most expanded acceptation, as a view of the actual state of the country. In the pages before us, a most comprehensive exhibition is afforded of all the points of interest to the student of political philosophy. Should Congress do nothing in the matter, the author of the Memorial (of which twice the usual number of copies have been printed,) will still have rendered his adopted country a service of no common value, in diffusing among our citizens, by means of the document itself, a vast amount of needful and accurate knowledge on a subject of pre-eminent interest. Should, however, the proposals so ably presented for consideration, be finally adopted, a consummation to be expected as well as desired, America will have the honor of taking the most important step ever yet taken in aid of the roost important of sciences. There can be no doubt of this, we think, in the mind of any person at all conversant with the subject, who will examine the well-arranged and extensive plan of the work in contemplation.

Professor Lieber is well known as a writer of untiring industry, great mental activity, and extensive attainments. His first work, we believe, was entitled “Journal of my Residence in Greece,” written at the instigation of the historian Niebuhr, and issued at Leipzig in 1823. Since then he has published “The Stranger in America,”a piquantly written work, abounding in various information relative to the States — and a volume on the subject of Education, which was submitted to the Trustees of the College of Girard, and which evinces s well-grounded and philosophical knowledge of the [page 597:] science of instruction. We had nearly forgotten the interesting “Reminiscences of Niebuhr,” lately published. Dr. Lieber, however, is still more widely and more favorably known as Editor of the Encyclopedia Americana, a monument, which will not readily decay, of great enterprize, industry, and erudition.



The History of Texas: or the Emigrant's, Farmer's, and Politician's Guide to the Character, Climate, Soil, and Productions of that Country; Geographically Arranged from Personal Observation and Experience. By David B. Edward, formerly Principal of the Academy, Alexandria, Louisiana; Late Preceptor of Gonzales Seminary, Texas. Cincinnati: J. A. James & Co.

This should be classed among useful oddities. His style is somewhat over-abundant — but we believe the book a valuable addition to our very small amount of accurate knowledge in regard to Texas. The author, who is one of the Society of Friends, assures us that he has no lands in Texas to sell, although he has lived three years in the country, and that, too, on the frontiers — that he made one of a party of four who explored the province in 1830, from side to side, and from settlement to settlement, during the space of six months, — and that, in 1835, he had the curiosity to spend six months more in examining the improvements made throughout every locality, “in order that none should be able to detect a falsehood, or prove a material error which could either mislead, or seriously injure those who may put confidence in this work.” For ourselves we are inclined to place great faith in the statements of Mr. Edward, and regard his book with a most favorable eye. It is an octavo of 336 pages, embracing, in detail, highly interesting accounts of the People, the Geographical Features, the Climate, the Savages, the Timber, the Water, &c. of Texas. Much information in regard to Mexico, is included in the body of the work, and, in an Appendix, we have a copy of the Mexican Constitution. We give, by way of extract, a flattering little picture of Texian comfort and abundance.

The people en masse can have a living, and that plentifully too, of animal food, both of beef and pork, of venison and bear meat, besides a variety of fish and fowl, upon easier terms at present, especially the wild came, than any other people, in any other district of North America; which must continue to be the case, for one of the best reasons in the world — at least in Texas: as the wild animals decrease, the domesticated ones will increase!

And, as they have not commenced, except in a few cases (comparatively speaking) upon the border lands of the Gulf, to export corn, they have by just dropping the seed and afterwards stowing away the increase, more bread stuff than they well know sometimes what to do with, it being out of the question to feed their hogs on it, except they were to raise them on such food altogether, which would be a pity, while they have so much mast in the woods, and so many roots in the prairies.

And, as their milch cattle increase in numbers, and that very frequently too foster than they can attend to their milking, they have more, as to family use, much more milk, than they know how to dispose of, except they are well stocked with farrow sows, or have around them pet mustang colts.

With these three main stays of a farmer's life, come, by very little more exertion than just the picking and gathering in, those condiments and relishes, which not [column 2:] only garnish the table, but replenish the appetite, from a source of such plentiful variegation, as the gardens and the fields, the woods and the waters, of a Texas country!



Inklings of Adventure. By the Author of Pencillings by the Way. New York: Saunders and Otley.

These volumes are inscribed “to the distinguished American orator and statesman, Edward Everett,” and are introduced by a Preface over the signature of N. P. Willis, in which “the papers which are to follow,” are said to record some passages in the life of a certain Philip Slingsby. Mr. W. assures us that although his name stands in the title-page of the book as its author, (which, upon reference, we find not to be the case) he can only lake to himself that share of the praise or blame which may attach [be attached] to it as a literary composition. Most assuredly (selling all this badinage aside, which may possibly have a fuller meaning than lies upon its surface) we can see no reason for praising or blaming Mr. Willis except in his character of literateur, for any thing to be found in the volumes before us. We cannot sufficiently express our disgust at that unscrupulous indelicacy which is in the habit of deciding upon the literary merits of this gentleman by a reference to his private character and manners, and feel, indeed, a species of indignation in the thought, that when we propose to say a few words, without any such reference, about the present “Inklings of Adventure,” we are proposing a course of indisputable originality.

Subjoined is the Table of Contents. Pedlar Karl — Niagara; Lake Ontario; The St. Lawrence — The Cherokee's Threat — F. Smith — Edith Linsey (including Frost and Flirtation; Love and Speculation; A Digression ; and Scenery and a Scene) — Scenes of Fear (containing the Disturbed Vigil; the Mad Senior; and the Lunatic's Skate) — Incidents on the Hudson — The Gipsey of Sardis — Tom Fane and I — Larks in Vacation (embracing Driving Stanhope pro. tem.; Saratoga Springs; and Mrs. Captain Thompson) — A Log in the Archipelago — and Miscellaneous Papers (being the Revenge of the Signor Basil; Love and Diplomacy; Minute Philosophies; and the Mad-house of Palermo.)

It will be seen that a great many of these papers (we believe all of them) have been published before. It is not our design, therefore, to speak of them in detail. Perhaps an outline of some individual sketch, with an occasional reference to others, will be found to impart a sufficient idea of the general character of the whole. We open the book at random, and here are six or seven pages with the running title of Niagara. It will be a matter of some interest to see how a poet (one whom we know to be such) will think it proper to handle a subject so momentous.

Mr. Willis — Mr. Slingsby we mean — commences by dating his visit to the Falls, with reference not to any positive or acknowledged a:ra, but, relatively, to an æra in his personal experience. He does not say I went in 1810 — or in 1820. “It was in my senior vacation,” says he, “and I was bound to Niagara for the first time.” We are thus slyly made acquainted with a trio of items, which, when duly considered, are to give weight and character to the subsequent details. We are informed, firstly — that Mr. Slingsby has been to college — secondly, and presumptively, that he graduated, [page 598:] (it is his senior vacation) and thirdly, that he has since paid other visits to Niagara, (he is on his way thither for the first time.) But in the narration of a trip to the great waterfall, some wit, some repartee, has been thought indispensable, and wit cannot so effectively be displayed, as by means of a foil. Our author, therefore, has a companion, and describes him. He is an ugly fellow, of course — seven feet high, ill-dressed, solemn, and sensible. We now see the advantage of all this — and are prepared for the Rembrandtities of contrast. To enjoy them in perfection we must imagine Mr. Slingsby (whom we never saw) as a delicate little gentleman, with a pretty face and figure — fair, funny, fanciful, fashionable, and frisky.

The friends leaving Buffalo cross the outlet of Lake Erie at the ferry, and take horses on the northern bank of the Niagara for the Falls. Mr. Slingsby during the ride, is now lost in admiration of the “noble stream hurrying on headlong to its fearful leap, as broad as the Hellespont, and as blue as the sky,” and now excessively merry at the expense of his ally and foil, “who rides along,” we are told, “like the man of rags you see paraded on an ass in the carnival.” Thus the narrative proceeds in a vein of mingled sentiment and very-good-joke. Let us give another example of this. “The river,” says Mr. Slingsby, “now broke into rapids foaming furiously, and the subterranean thunder increased like a succession of earthquakes, each louder than the last. [A bull.] I had never heard a sound so broad and universal. It was impossible not to suspend the breath, and feel absorbed, to the exclusion of all other thoughts, in the great phenomenon with which the earth seemed trembling to its centre. A tall misty cloud, changing its shape continually, as it felt the shocks of the air, rose up before us, and with our eyes fixed upon it, and our horses at a hard gallop, we found ourselves unexpectedly in front of a large white ——— hotel!”

Having eaten dinner at the large white hotel, Job Smith, the foil, is made to utter some of his solemn drolleries, forcing Mr. Slingsby [oh the quiz!] to leave the table and walk with a smile towards the window. A belle, Miss —— , is thus discovered, and introduced. Of her, “every soul of the fifteen millions of inhabitants between us and the Gulf of Mexico have heard.” She is, moreover, “one of those miracles of nature that occur, perhaps, once in the rise and fall of an empire.” Besides all this, she is “ kind, playful, unaffected, and radiantly, gloriously beautiful.” Mr. Slingsby, therefore, adopts her as foil No. 2, for a species of sentimental gallantry — Job Smith being only foil No. 1, for light wit. It must now be seen at a glance that our author can hardly fail to make a decided hit of his visit to Niagara.

Having made an appointment with Miss —— to accompany her in the morning behind the sheet of the Fall, Mr. Slingsby goes to bed. Getting up at daybreak, however, he determines upon paying a solitary visit to the cataract. But Job (that droll fellow!) has anticipated him in this manoeuvre, and “the angular outline of his tall gaunt figure, stretching up from Table Rock in strong relief against the white body of the spray,” is the first object that meets Mr. Slingby's eye as he descends. We have now his first impressions of Niagara. These are, in general terms, awe, and intense [column 2:] admiration, mingled with a little disappointment. We cut short the impressions (herein following the author's example) for the sake of some witticisms at the expense of Mr. Smith. It may be best to copy a page or two with a view of showing the pervading air with which the narrative is conducted.

“A nice fall, as an Englishman would say, my dear Job.”


Halleck the American poet (a better one never “strung pearls”) has written some admirable verses on Niagara, describing its effect on the different individuals of a mixed party, among whom was a tailor. The sea of incident that has broken over me in years of travel, has washed out of my memory all but the two lines descriptive of its impression upon Snip:

“The tailor made one single note —

Gods! what a place to sponge a coat!”

“Shall we go to breakfast, Job?”

“How slowly and solemnly they drop into the abysm!”

It was not an original remark of Mr. Smith's. Nothing is so surprising to the observer as the extraordinary deliberateness with which the waters of Niagara take their tremendous plunge. All hurry and foam and fret, till they reach the smooth limit of the curve, — and then the laws of gravitation seem suspended, and, like Caesar, they pause and determine, since it is inevitable, to take the death leap with becoming dignity.

“Shall we go to breakfast, Job?” I was obliged to raise my voice to be heard, to a pitch rather exhausting for n empty stomach.

His eyes remained fixed upon the shifting rainbows bending and vanishing in the spray. There was no moving him, and I gave in for another five minutes.

“Do you think it probable, Job, that the waters of Niagara strike on the axis of the world?”

No answer.



“Do you think his Majesty's half of the cataract is finer than ours?’‘


“For water, merely, perhaps. But look at the delicious verdure on the American shore, the glorious trees, the massed foliage, the luxuriant growth even to the very rim of the ravine! By Jove! it seems to me things £row better in a republic. Did you ever see a more barren and scraggy shore than the one you stand upon?”

“How exquisitely” said Job, soliloquizing “that small green island divides the fall! What a rock it must be founded on, not to have been washed away in the ages that these waters have split against it!”

“I’ll lay you a bet it is washed away before the year two thousand — payable in any currency with which we may then be conversant.”

“Don’t trifle!”

“With time or geology do you mean? Is'nt it perfectly clear, from the looks of that ravine, that Niagara has backed up all the way from Lake Ontario? These rocks are not adamant, and the very precipice you stand on has cracked, and looks ready for the plunge. It must gradually wear back to Lake Erie, and then there will be a sweep I should like to live long enough to see. The instantaneous junction of two seas, with a difference of two hundred feet in their levels will be a spectacle — eh, Job?”


“Do you intend to wait and see it, or will you come to breakfast?”

He was immovable. I left him on the rock, went up to the hotel and ordered mutton-chops and coffee, and when they were on the table, gave two of the waiters a dollar each to bring him up nolens-volens. He arrived in a great rage, but with a good appetite, and we finished our breakfast just in time to meet Miss —— , as she slipped like Aurora from her chamber.” [page 599:]

The adventure beneath the sheet is now detailed. The party descend to the bottom of the precipice at the side of the Fall — equip themselves in dresses of coarse linen — and proceed. The guide going first, takes the right hand of Miss , Mr. Slingsby is honored with the left, and Job brings up the rear. The usual difficulties of wind and water are encountered and surmounted, and the chamber behind the sheet finally attained in safety. The same medley of tone, however, still prevails. For example — “Whatever sister of Arethusa inhabits there,” says Mr. Slingsby, “we could but congratulate her on the beauty of her abode. A lofty and well lighted hall, shaped like a long pavilion, extended as far as we could see through the spray, and with the two objections, that you could not have heard a pistol at your ear for the noise, and that the floor was somewhat precipitous, one could scarce imagine a more agreeable retreat for a gentleman who was disgusted with the world, and subject to dryness of the skin. In one respect it resembled the enchanted dwelling of the Witch of Atlas, where Shelley tells us,

Th’ invisible rain did ever sing

A silver music on the mossy lawn.

It is lucky for Witches and Naiads that they are not subject to rheumatism.”

It will not be difficult to foretell, from the general air of the narration (as observed up to this date) in what manner Mr. Slingsby will think it incumbent upon him to wind it up. He will give it a melo-dramatic finale? Most assuredly. The lady is adventurous, and has walked over a narrow ledge, which has broken with her weight. The guide seizes Mr. Slingsby by the shoulder. He turns — and “ what is his horror” at beholding Miss standing far in behind the sheet, upon the last visible point of rock, with the water pouring over her in torrents, and a “gulf of foam” between the lady and the gentleman, which the gentleman “can in no way understand how she has passed over.” This gulf is six feet across, and, of course, says Mr. Slingsby, “it was impossible to jump it” [We have jumped one and twenty feet six inches ourselves, but then we are no Mr. Slingsby, and never could make a joke about Niagara.] That gentleman does not jump, but he does something nevertheless. He “fixes his eyes upon the lovely form standing like a spirit in the misty shroud of the spray,” and endeavors “to sustain her upon her dangerous foot-hold — by the intensity of his gaze.” He may possibly, however, with this end in view, have made use of an eye-glass.

There being nothing better to be done, the guide having absconded, and the lady being upon the eve of destruction, our friend Job, and his legs, are brought into requisition. He stands upon one edge of “the foaming gulf,” and stretches himself across to the other. Miss —— is so kind as to make use of him as a bridge. The guide returns with a rope, pulls up the bridge by means of a running-noose around one of its legs — and the “Visit to Niagara” terminates with an Io Pean in honor of the “foaming gulf,” the “supernatural strength” of Mr. Smith, and the “intensity of the gaze” of the devoted Mr. Slingsby.

The paper of which we have just given an outline will afford a very fair conception of the usual merits and demerits of the sketches of Mr. Willis. Here are many comparatively long passages of a force, or delicacy, [column 2:] or beauty — shall we say unsurpassed by any similar passages in any writer of English? We shall not say too much if we do. The bantering humor interspersed is of the best order. Who can read the endeavor (quoted above) of Mr. Slingsby to get Mr. Smith to his breakfast, without feeling at once impressed with a keen sense of the mingled wit, broad drollery, dramatic effect, and gentlemanly insouciance of the whole affair? The final question of Mr. S. (after amusing his friend with the idea of a junction, some hundred years hence, between Ontario and Erie) — “Do you intend to wait and see it, or will you come to breakfast?” — is inimitably brought about — very quiet, and very quizzical. The catastrophe of the two waiters, and the arrival in a great rage, but with a good appetite, of Mr. Smith, is a palpable hit not to be attained, and not to be appreciated by the rabble. Of force, we have abundant specimens in such sentences, as “Job flounced up, like a snnke touched with a torpedo, and sprang to the window” — “I can imagine the surprise of the gentle clement, after sleeping away a se’nnight of moonlight in the peaceful bosom of Lake Erie, at finding itself of a sudden in such a coil” — or “As far down towards Lake Ontario as the eye can reach, the immense volumes of water rise like huge monsters to the light, boiling and flashing out in rings of foam, with an appearance of vexation and rage that I have seen in no other cataract of the world.” The little sentence, “Whatever sister of Arethusa inhabits there, we could but congratulate her upon the beauty of her abode,” is, among many other similar things, sufficient evidence of a rare delicacy of expression — and we feci at once that writer to be a poet — an Idealist — who tells us “that Miss —— in her uncouth habiliments, looked like a fairy in disguise,” and that the sheet of Niagara is “what a child might imagine the arch of the sky to be where it bends over the edge of the horizon.”

The minor defects are few. Among these few it is sufficient to specify a too frequent allusion to the “axis of the world,” and the absurdities, gravely narrated, which go to make up the catastrophe of the sketch, in the rescue of the young lady. Upon the whole, we may speak of the mere wording as in every respect worthy of a man of taste and a scholar. With the exception of “soubriquet,” written for sobriquet, (a very common error) it would be difficult to find any verbal fault, in the present instance, to which a critic would be pardoned for alluding.

But the whole narrative is disfigured, and indeed utterly ruined, by the grievous sin of affectation. It is this sin, and not, we are convinced, any imbecility in the conceptions of Mr. Willis, (with our readers’ leave we will drop Mr. Slingsby) which has beguiled him into the egregious folly of writing a long article, in a jocular manner, about the cataract of Niagara. He may say, a pleasant sketch is intended, no more — and that the intention is fulfilled. But the utter want of keeping, consequent upon handling such subject in such manner, is sufficient to convince us at a glance, that his intention, even such as it is, is not, in any due degree, fulfilled. The question is not whether the thing pleases, (one who writes as well as Mr. Willis will please in spite of a thousand faults,) but whether, if otherwise handled, it might not have pleased the more. While laughing at the mystification of our friend Job, we are in no proper [page 600:] frame of mind for the grandeur of the fill — and while absorbed in the majesty of the monarch of cataracts, we are aware of an oppressive revulsion of feeling if disturbed for the absurd fripperies and frivolities, or the still more absurd melo-dramatic adventures, of the fop and the woman of fashion. This matter is too obvious for denial. A writer, then, who, in despite of common sense, shall be continually endeavoring to reconcile these obstinate oils and waters of the soul, will be continually laboring at a disadvantage — and this latter point, neglected by gentlemen who should know better, is a point to which the most dunder-headed artizan would not forget to give a proper attention in the making of a pair of breeches, or the building of a pig-stye. If all ethics be not at fault, those mental impressions, however vivid, will be necessarily evanescent, which are deficient in unity. In a word, it may safely be asserted, that a writer neglectful of the totality of effect, will fall short of his end, if that end be a remembrance in the “language of his land.” Compositions grossly failing in this essential, have been habitually discharged from the memory of man. And in this essential Mr. Willis invariably fails — we should rather say, this essential Mr. Willis invariably disregards. He seems especially to have fallen into that heresy (now common in literary, although deduced from mere fashionable life) which would brand as a species of Rosa-Malilda-ism any sustained and unmingled severity of sentiment. Never, surely, in whatever light we regard it, was a heresy more untenable. When applied to the brief essay, or short tale, it is ridiculous — and Mr. Willis should remember that he is an essayist, or nothing.

In the particular here pointed out, we have accused our author of affectation. It is a sin of which the public loudly accuse him, and in general terms. When we say the accusation is just, we wish to be understood as speaking positively. In a relative view, the case is different. Mr. Willis is not a jot more entitled to be called “affected,” than nine-tenths of the gentlemen who are in the habit of so calling him — than nine-tenths of the most popular writers in our land. But his affectation, differing from the tone of their own, is in some measure more readily perceptible. It is, however, a positive folly, no doubt, which induces so clever a writer so frequently to disclaim all knowledge of geography and “figures” — to speak bad French in preference to good English — to talk about Niagara being “as fine a thing as I have seen in my travels,” and about having “pic-nic’d from the Simplegades westward” — to think “gave upon the bay” a forcible phrase, merely because it is a Gallicism — to begin a quotation with “Saith well an American poet,” &c. &c. — to delight in such inversions as “She looked loveliest when driving, did Blanche Carroll” — to inform us that “he never looks back in composition,” and to make use of such pretty little expressions on his title-pages as Pencillings by the Way, and Inklings of Adventure.

Niagara is by no means the best of the sketches before us — it may, very possibly, be the worst. None of them are entitled to the merit of plot. And indeed it appears an idiosyncrasy in Mr. Willis that he has little feeling for incident. In an exceedingly delicate vein of sentiment he is peculiarly at home. Edith Linsey is thus, we think, the happiest effort of his pen. Here is [column 2:] indeed some very beautiful writing. The imitation of Elia is not only an exquisite imitation, but evinces a close affinity of intellect between the imitator and the imitated. We are quite sure no man in America ran. more fully than Mr. Willis, enter into the aosl of Charles Lamb. In a graceful badinage our author preeminently excels. To originality he has little claim — his manner — the touchstone of the essayist — is not peculiarly his own. His scholarship is sufficient and available — his command of language very great. In a vigorous figurative expression — a quality seldom aKoved him — he has indeed few equals. As this point is disputed, we will adduce from the volumes before us on one or two instances, more to show what we mean br vigor of expression, than to prove our position by a number of quotations.

“You ask, in England, who has the privilege of this water? — or you say of an oak, that it stood in such a man's time; but with us water is an element unclaimed and unrented, and a tree dabbles in the clouds as they go over, and is like a great idiot, without soul or responsibility.”

“As you walk in the long porticoes of the hotel, the dark forest mounts up before you like a leafy wall, sat the clouds seem just to clear the pine-tops, and the eagles sail across from horizon to horizon, without lifting their wings as if you saw them from the bottom of a well.”

“As far down towards Lake Ontario as the eye can reach, the immense volumes of water rise like huge monsters to the light, boiling and flashing out in rings if foam, with an appearance of vexation and rage that I use seen in no other cataract of the world.”

“He who has soiled his bright honor with the axis of ambition — he who has leant his soul upon the churn? of a sect in religion — he who has loved, hoped, and trusted in the greater arena of life and manhood — -must look back on days like these, as the broken-winged eagle to the sky — as the Indian's subdued horse to the prairie.”

The chain of the Green Mountains, after a gallop of some hundred miles from Canada to Connecticut, suddenly pulls up on the shore of Long Island Sound, and stands rearing with a bristling mane of pine trees, three hundred feet in air, as if checked in mid career by the sea.

“Next to their own loves ladies like nothing on earth like mending or marring the loves of others; and whik the violets and already-drooping wild flowers were coqueltishly chosen or rejected by those slender fingers, the sun might have swung back to the east like a pendulumn, and those seven and twenty Misses would have watched their lovely school-fellow the same.”

An autumn forest — “It is as if a myriad of rainbows were laced through the tree-tops — as if the sunset of a summer — gold, purple and crimson — had been fused in tir alembic of the west, and poured back in a new deluge of light and color over the wilderness.

The gold of the sunset had glided up the dark pine-tops, and disappeared, like a ring taken slowly from an Ethiop's finger.

“Just above, there is a sudden turn in the glen, which sends the water like a catapult against the opposite angle of the rock, and, in the action of years, it has worn out a cavern of unknown depth, into which Ike whole mass of the river plunges with the abandonment of a flying fiend into hell, and, re-appearing like the angel that has pursued him, glides swiftly, but with divine serenity, on his way.”

We believe that the high powers of Mr. Willis are properly estimated by the judicious among his countrymen. His foibles, his faults, and his deficiencies — let us not forget to say, his merits — are quite as well known to himself as to us. His intellect, if not of the loftiest order, very closely approaches it — and he has stepped upon the threshold of nearly every species of literary excellence.





[S:0 - SLM, 1836] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Criticial Notices (June 1836)