Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Critical Notices, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. II, no. 11, October 1836, 2:716-732


[page 716:]



The Swiss Heiress; or The Bride of Destiny — A Tale. Baltimore: Joseph Robinson.

The Swiss Heiress should be read by all who have nothing better to do. We are patient, and having gone through the whole book with the most dogged determination, are now enabled to pronounce it one of the most solemn of farces. Let us see if it be not possible to give some idea of the plot. It is the year 1780, and “the attention of the reader is directed, first, to a Castle whose proud battlements rise amidst the pines and firs of the Swiss mountains, while, at its base, roll the waters of Lake Geneva,” and, second, to the sun which is setting somewhat more slowly than usual, because he is “unwilling to terminate the natal day of the young heiress of the Baron de Rheinswald, the wealthy proprietor of Montargis castle, and its beautiful environs.” We are thus left to infer — putting ‘the two sentences and circumstances in apposition — that the Montargis Castle where dwells the young heiress of the Baron de Rheinswald, is neither more nor less than the identical castle “with the proud battlements’‘ et cetera, that “rises amid the pines and firs” and so forth, of the “Swiss Mountains and the Lake of Geneva” and all that. However this may be, the Baron de Rheinswald is a “Catholic of high repute’‘ who “early in life marries a lady of great wealth, a member of his own church, actuated by ambition” — that is to say, there was either something or somebody “actuated by ambition,” but we shall not say whether it was a lady or a church. The lady (or perhaps now the church) “lived but five years after the union, and at her death earnestly and solemnly implored that her only son might be devoted to the priesthood.” The lady, or the church (let us reconcile the difficulty by calling the thing “Mother Church”) being thus deceased, the bereaved Baron marries a second wife. She being a protestant however, the high contracting parties sign an instrument by which it is agreed “that the eldest child shall be educated by the mother's direction, a protestant, the second be subject to the father's will and a catholic, and thus alternately with all their children.” This, it must be allowed is a contrivance well adapted for effect. Only think of the interesting little creatures all taking it “turn about!’‘ What fights, too, they will have, when breached, over their prayer-books and bread-and-butter! Our author pauses in horror at anticipated consequences, and takes this excellent opportunity of repeating what “a late writer” (a great friend of his by the bye) says in regard to “chemical combinations” and “opposite properties.”

The first child is a son, and called William. The second is a daughter, Miss Laura, our heroine, the “Swiss Heiress,” and the “Bride of Destiny.” She is the “Swiss Heiress’‘in virtue of a certain “dispensation from the church of Rome, by which the estates of the Baron were to descend to his first catholic child by his second marriage” and she becomes the “Bride of [column 2:] Destiny’‘ because the Baron has very properly selected for her a husband, without consulting her Heiress-ship about the matter. This intended husband is one Count Laniski, young, good-looking, noble, valiant, wise, accomplished, generous, amiable, and possessed of a thousand other good qualities — all of which, of course, are just a thousand better reasons why the Bride of Destiny, being a heroine, will have nothing to do with him. Accordingly, at eight years old, she grows melancholy and interesting, patronizes the gipsies, curses the Count Laniski, talks about “fate, fore-knowledge, and free-will,” and throws aside her bread-and-butter for desperation and a guitar. In spite of all she can do, however, the narrative gets on very slowly, and we are upon the point of throwing the lady (banjo and all) into the street, when the Count himself makes his appearance at the Castle, and thereby frightens her to such a degree that, having delivered a soliloquy, she runs off with her “Brother William” to America.

“Brother William,” however, is luckily killed at the siege of Yorktown, and the “Bride of Destiny” herself is recaptured by her family, the whole of whom, having nothing better to do, have set out in pursuit of her — to wit — her half brother Albert, (who is now Baron de Rheinswald, the old Baron being dead) Clermont a croaking old monk, and Madam de Montelieu a croaking old somebody else. These good people, it seems, are still determined that the “Swiss Heiress” shall be the “Bride of Destiny” — that is to say, the bride of the Count Laniski. To make matters doubly sure too on this head, the old Baron has sworn n round oath on his death-bed, leaving the “Swiss Heiress” his “eternal curse” in the event of her disobedience.

Having caught and properly secured the young lady, the new Baron de Rheinswald takes up his residence for a time “on the borders of Vermont and Canada.” Some years elapse, and so forth. The “Bride of Destiny” is nearly one and twenty; and the Count Laniski makes his appearance with a view of urging his claim. The Heiress, we are forced to say, now behaves in a very unbecoming and unaccountable manner. She should have hung herself as the only rational course, and — heigho! — it would have saved us a world of trouble. But, not having forgotten her old bad habits, she persists in talking about “fate, foreknowledge, and free will,” and it is not therefore to be wondered at that matters in general assume a truly distressing complexion. Just at this crisis, however, a Mr. Frederick Mortimer makes his interesting debut. Never certainly was a more accomplished young man! As becomes a gentleman with such an appellation as Frederick Mortimer, he is more beautiful than Apollo, more sentimental than De Lisle, more distingue than Pelham, and, positively, more mysterious than the “mysterious lady.” Hcsympathizes with the woes of the “Bride of Destiny,” looks unutterable threats at the Count Laniski, beats even the “Swiss Heiress” at discoursing of “free will,” and the author of the “Swiss Heiress” at quoting paragraphs from a “late writer.” The heart of the “Bride of Destiny” is touched — sensibly touched. But Love, in romance, must have impediments, and the Loves of the “Bride of Destiny” and Mr. Frederick Mortimer have two. The first is some inexpressible mystery connected with a certain gold ring, of which the Heiress is especially careful, and the second is that rascally old Baron [page 716:] Rheinswald's “eternal curse.” Nothing farther therefore can be done in the premises, but as we have now only reached Chapter the Sixth, and there are to be seventeen chapters in all, it is necessary to do something — and what better can be done than to talk, until Chapter the Fifteenth, about “fate, foreknowledge, and free will?” Only imagine a string of delightful sentences, such as the following, for the short space of three hundred and ninety-six pages!

“How rapidly time flies,” said the Count, “I have been here weeks, and they seem but days.”

“I am not surprised, my lord,” said Mrs. Fnlkner, smiling.

“Nor I,” he returned, also smiling. “This place, such society, wraps the senses in such blissful illusion that I ‘take no note of time.’ The clock strikes unheeded, unheard.”

“Why do you smile, Miss Montargis r” asked Mrs. Falkner.

“I was just thinking,” she replied, “that Count Laniski had unconsciously given a ‘local habitation and a name’ to the fabled region where cold is so intense as to congeal sound.”

Mrs. Falkner bowed, but could not comprehend what such a region had to do with Count Laniski's compliment to the heiress.

“Take care, Mr. Mortimer,” said Miss Montargis, still smiling, “you are in dangerous vicinity. Have you no fear of cold?”

“It is not sufficiently positive,” he replied,” to destroy my belief that it exists with much latent warmth, which it requires but a little address to render quite sensible.”

Mortimer spoke with mingled playfulness and seriousness, but the latter prevailed, and Miss Montargis felt it a reproof, and blushed, she scarcely knew why.

“To be sensible,” she said, “it must affect others. Who ever felt its influence? not the at least who has painfully realized its negativeness.”

“I am sure you speak mysteries to me,” said Mrs. Falkner, laughing, “what can you mean ?” &c. &c.

We would proceed, but are positively out of patience with the gross stupidity of Mrs. Falkner, who cannot understand what the other ladies and gentlemen are talking about. Now we have no doubt whatever they are discoursing of” fate, foreknowledge, and free will.”

About chapter the fifteenth it appears that the Count Laniski is not the Count Laniski at all, but only Mr. Theodore Montelieu, and the son of that old rigmarole, Madam Montelieu, the housekeeper. It now appears, also, that even that Count Laniski whose appearance at Montargis Castle had such effect upon the nerves of our heroine, was not the Count Laniski at all, but only the same Mr. Theodore Montelieu, the same son of the saint old rigmarole. The true Count, it seems, in his younger days, had as little partiality for the match ordained him by fate and the two fathers, as the very “Bride of Destiny” herself, and, being at college with Mr. Theodore Montelieu at the time appointed for his visit to Montargis Castle, had no scruple in allowing the latter gentleman to personate his Countship in the visit. By these means Mr. M. has an opportunity of seeing his mother, the old rigmarole, who is housekeeper, or something of that kind, at the Castle. The precious couple (that is to say the old rigmarole and her son) now get up a plot, by which it is determined that the son shall personate the Count to the end of the chapter, and so marry the heiress. It is with this end iiiiview, that Mr. Theodore Montelieu is now playing Count at the residence of the Baron in Vermont. Mr. Frederick Mortimer, however, is sadly in his way, and torments the poor fellow grievously, by grinning at him, and sighing at him, and folding his arms at him, and looking at him asquint, and talking him to death about “fate and foreknowledge and free will.” At last Mr. Mortimer tells the gentleman flatly that he [column 2:] knows very well who he is, leaving it to be inferred that he also knows very well who he is not. Hereupon Mr. Theodore Montelieu calls Mr. Frederick Mortimer a liar, a big liar, or something to that effect, “and challenges him to a fight, with a view of either blowing out his already small modicum of brains, or having the exceedingly few blown out, which he himself (Mr. Theodore Montelieu) possesses. Mr. Mortimer, however, being a hero, declines fighting, and contents himself, for the present, with looking mysterious.

It will now be seen that matters are coming to a crisis. Mr. Mortimer is obliged to go to Philadelphia; but, lest Mr. Montelieu should whisk off the heiress in his absence, he insists upon that gentleman bearing him company. Having reached, however, the city of brotherly love, the ingenious young man gives his keeper the slip, hurries back to Vermont, and gets every thing ready for his wedding. Miss Montargis is very angry and talks about the inexplicable ring, fate, fore-knowledge and free will — but old Clermont, the Baron, and Mr. Montelieu, on the other hand, get in an absolute passion and talk about nothing less than the old Baron Rhcinswald and his “eternal curse.’‘ The ceremony therefore proceeds, when just at the most proper moment, and all as it should be, in rushes — Mr. Frederick Mortimer! — it will be seen that he has come back from Philadelphia. He assured the company that the Count Laniski, (that is to say Mr. Theodore Montelieu,) is not the Count Laniski at all, but only Mr. Theodore Montelieu; and moreover, that he himself (Mr. Frederick Montimer) is not only Mr. Frederick Mortimer, but the bona fide Count Laniski into the bargain. And more than this, it is very clearly explained how Miss Laura Montargis is not by any means Miss Laura Montargis, but only the Baroness de Thionville, and how the Baroness de Thionville is the wife of the Baron de Thionville, and how, after all, the Baron de Thionville is the Count Laniski, or else Mr. Frederick Mortimer, or else — that is to say — how Mr. Frederick Mortimer is'nt altogether the Count Laniski, but — but only the Baron de Thionville, or else the Baroitej* de Thionville — in short, how every body concerned in the business is not precisely what he is, and is precisely what he is not. After this horrible development, if we recollect, all the dramatis persona; faint outright, one after the other. The inquisitive reader may be assured, however, that the whole story ends judiciously, and just as it ought to do, and with a very excellent quotation from one of the very best of the “late writers.”

Humph! and this is the “Swiss Heiress,” to say nothing of the “Bride of Destiny.” However — it is a valuable “work” — and now, in the name of “fate, foreknowledge and free will,” we solemnly consign it to the fire.



Address delivered at the Annual Commencement of Dickinson College, July 21, 1836, by S. A. Roszel, A. M. Principal of the Grammar School. Published by Request of the Board of Trustees. Baltimore: John W. Woods.

Mr. Roszel, we have good reason for knowing, is a scholar, of classical knowledge more extensive, and far more accurate than usual. In his very eloquent Address on Education now before us, he has confined [page 717:] himself to the consideration of “tutorial instruction as embraced under the divisions of the subjects to be taught, and the manner of teaching them.” Of the first branch of his theme, the greater portion is occupied in a defence of the learned tongues from the encroachments of a misconceived utilitarianism, and in urging their suitableness as a study for the young. Here, Mr. R. is not only forcible, but has contrived to be in a great measure, original. We are especially pleased to see that, in giving due weight to the ordinary ethical and merely worldly considerations on this topic, he has most wisely dwelt at greater length on the loftier prospective benefits, and true spiritual uses of classical attainment. We cite from this portion of the address a passage of great fervor and beauty.

But are there not translations? inhere wore, a perusal of them would be profitless, for it is to be borne in mind, that the tenor of the preceding remarks has been uniformly to demonstrate the advantages, not only of a perusal, but of the study of the dead languages. And so this question is destitute of pertinence. But there never was a translation of an ancient author. Versions there are, a majority of them dull and spiritless, lifeless and jejune, but they are not translations. And so are there odorless roses, and there might be beamless suns. As in religion we aspire to drink from the fountain head so let it be in literature. Let us be imbued with its spiritual influences j for no one that has pondered them well can remain unimpressed by the magnificent divulgement of quenchless, illimitable intellect, by the resplendency of thought which bursts forth and glows with a steady fervor, in the pages of the blind bard of Greece, and the keen-sighted orator of Rome, with a vigor and intensity so powerful, that the typographical characters themselves seem to stand out, vivid and lustrous, like sentient gems, myriads of sparkling emanations, burning and lucent, flashing a sentiment in every word, an axiom in every line, a corollary in every paragraph. There is an inborn inexpressible satisfaction to the mind well attuned, in being able to appreciate the beauty and the strength, the essence and vitality of those inimitable and indestructible periods of the Athenian orator which called the ruddy blush of shame to the pallid cheek of the coward, stirred the elements of enthusiastic honor to tempestuous agitation, and excited the irrepressible shout, To battle! there is a chaste delight in perusing the cutting satire, the splendid objurgations, and the brilliant invectives of that eloquence, which startled the world's victor from his unsteady throne, and speaking in the bold terms of unquailing freedom, compelled the submission of arms to the toga. But there is a still deeper, more serene and holy rapture, in meditating on the accents of the Redeemer in the very dialect in which they fell from his sacred lips; in meditating with an awe ineffable, on the presumptuous sentence of an earth-born worm, which consigned to a death of ignominy and shame, the august God of the universe.

In Mr. R's remarks “on the manner of teaching’‘ — on the duties of a teacher — there is much to command our admiration and respect — a clear conception of the nature and extent of tutorial duties, and a stern sense of the elevated moral standing of the tutor.

We see, or we fancy we see, in the wording of this Address, another instance of that tendency to Johnsonism which is the Scylla on the one hand, while a jejune style is the Charybdis on the other, of the philological scholar. In the present case we refer not to sesquipedalia verba, of which there are few, but to the too frequent use of primitive meanings, and the origination of words at will, to suit the purposes of the moment. But to these sins (for the world will have them such) a fellow-feeling has taught us to be lenient — and, indeed, while some few of Mr. Roszel's inventions are certainly not English, there are still but today few of them “qui ne le duivent pas etre.” [column 2:]



Posthumous Memoirs of his Own Time. By Sir N. W. Wraxall, Bart, author of “Memoirs of My Own Time.” Philadelphia: Republished by Carey, Lea & Blanchard.

The “Memoirs of My Own Time” were published in 1815. They excited the greatest commotion, and if we are to believe the Baronet, no literary work ever procured for its author “a more numerous list of powerful and inveterate enemies.” The queen, the regent, and the princesses of the royal family disliked the portrait drawn of George the Third, which every reasonable person will allow to be by no means a caricature. They disapproved too, of the somewhat free comments on the peace of 1763, and were highly incensed at certain personal disclosures in regard to the king. The first Lord of the Treasury, son of Charles Jenkinson, was offended at the “just and impartial” character given his father. The partisans, respectively, of Pitt and Fox, arose in arms at what they considered the gross abuse of their leaders. The relatives of Lord North were enraged at the account of his junction with Fox in 1783, notwithstanding the Baronet himself considers that “he had done justice to that most accomplished and amiable nobleman.” But this was not all. The Earl of Bute would not be appeased. The Marquis of Lansdowne spoke of a prosecution in the court of King's Bench on account of the reflections (unavoidable, we are told) made on the resignation of the Earl of Shelburne. The “Quarterly Review” in an article written, we are assured, by “men” in official situations, held the “Memoirs” up to general reprobation as an “imbecile and immoral work,” while the “Edinburg” joined in the hue and cry with still greater virulence, and even more disgusting personal abuse. Lastly, and much more than all to the purpose, Count Woronzow, in consequence of the mention made of him by the Baronet, in his relation of the circumstances connected with the marriage of the Princess Royal to the late Duke of Wirtemberg, instituted a prosecution, in order to vindicate his own official diplomatic conduct. Garrow, then Attorney-General, was retained for the prosecution, and it is to be observed that, passing over in few words the particular passage for which the suit was commenced, he dwelt with the greatest severity against the “Memoirs” at large. The disposition of the government towards the defendant may, however, be fully estimated by the fact, that although the court repeatedly disclaimed having authorized the Attorney-General to call for a vindictive judgment, declaring his sole object to be the clearing up of his own character; and although the Baronel, for an offence which he declared to be unintentional, made at once the most ample, prompt and public apology, still the vindictive judgment of six months imprisonment, and a fine of five hundred pounds, was ordered into execution, a part of the imprisonment actually carried into effect, and the fine remitted only through the most energetic and persevering exertions of Woronzow himself. “Such,” says the author of the Memoirs, “was the combination of assailants which my inflexible regard to truth assembled from the most opposite quarters.” These clamors and difficulties, however, he considered as more than sufficiently counterbalanced by the testimony, now first communicated to the world, of the late Sir George Osborn — a testimony indeed which should [page 718:] be considered of authority. This gentleman, a near relative of Lord North's, was of ancient descent, high character, and large property; and from 1775, until the king's final loss of reason, was one of the grooms of his bed-chamber. In a letter to the Baronet shortly after his commitment to the King's Bench, he thus writes: “I have your first here, and have perused it again with much attention. I pledge my name that I personally know nine parts out of ten of your anecdotes to be perfectly correct. You are imprisoned for giving to future ages a perfect picture of our lime, and as interesting as Clarendon.” For ourselves, we had as soon depend upon the character here given of the “Memoirs” as upon that more highly colored portrait of them painted by the Attorney-General.

Thus persecuted, the Baronet took a lesson from experience, and declined to publish the work now before us during his life-time. He adopted also the necessary measures to guard against its issue during the lifetime of George the Fourth. In so doing, he has, of course, secured his own personal convenience, but the delay has deprived his reminiscences of that cotemporary interest which is the chief seasoning of all similar works. Still the Baronet's pages will excite no ordinary attention, and will be read with unusual profit and pleasure. The book may be regarded as a series of parliamentary sketches, in which are introduced, at random, a thousand other subjects either connected or unconnected with the debates — such as historical notices of the measures introduced, — personal anecdotes and delineations of the speakers — political facts and inferences — attempts at explaining the hidden motives of ministers or their agents — rumors of the day — and remarks upon public events or characters abroad. The Baronet is sadly given to scandal, and is peculiarly piquant in the indulgence of his propensity. At the same time there should be no doubt (for there assuredly is no reason for doubting) that he is fully in earnest in every word he says, and implicitly relies in the truth of his own narrative. The lighter portions of his book, therefore, have all the merit of vraisemblance, as well as of haut gout. His style is occasionally very minute and prosy — but not when he has a subject to his fancy. He is then a brilliant and vivid writer, as he is at all times a sagacious one. He has a happy manner, when warmed with an important idea, of presenting only its characteristic features to the view — leaving in a proper shadow points of minor effect. The reader is thus frequently astonished at finding himself fully possessed of a subject about which very little has been said.

Among the chief characters that figure in the “Memoirs,’‘ and concerning each of whom the Baronet has a world of pithy anecdote, we note Pitt, Burke, Fox, Sheridan, Erskine, Louis the Sixteenth, George the Third, the Queen and royal family, Sir James Lowther, Lord Chesterfield, the late Marquis of Abercorn (John James Hamilton,) Lady Payne (Mademoiselle de Kelbel,) Lord North, Sir Philip Francis the reputed author of Junius, Sir William Draper the defeated antagonist of that writer, George Rose, (the indefatigable and faithful factotum of Pitt,) the Duke of Queensbury, Hurry Dundas, Hastings with his agent Major Scott, Lord Eldon, Grey, Sidmouth, Thurlow, the Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord Liverpool, Marie Antoinette, the Duchess of Devonshire, the Duchess of Gordon, and [column 2:] (we should not have forgotten him) the late dirty Duke of Norfolk, then Earl of Surrey. Of this illustrious personage a laughable account is given. On one occasion — at a great whig dinner at the Crown and Anchor, (in February 1798, while all England was threatened with revolution, and when Ireland was on the brink of open rebellion,) his Grace, inspired as usual with wine, was fool enough to drink “The sovereign majesty of the people.” “Assuredly,” says the Baronet drolly enough, “it was not in the ‘Bill of Rights,’ nor in the principles on which reposes the revolution of 1683, tint the Duke could discover any mention of such an attribute of the people. Their liberties and franchises ore there enumerated; but their majesty was neither recognized or imagined by those persons who were foremost in expelling James the Second.” His Grace accompanied the toast with some pithy observations relating to “the two thousand persons who, under General Washington, first procured reform and liberty for the thirteen American colonies.” Of course it is not very singular that his remarks were considered as savoring of sedition. Growing sober, next morning, he became apprehensive of having proceeded too far. Accordingly, a day or two afterwards, hearing that his words had excited much wrath at St. James's, he waited on the Duke of York with an excuse and an apology, concluding with a request that, in the event of invasion, his regiment of militia might be assigned the post of danger. His Royal Highness listened to him with much attention, and assured him that his desire should be made known to the king — breaking off the conversation abruptly, however, with “Apropos, my lord, have you seen Blue-Beard?” (the popular pantomine of the day.) In two days after this interview the “dirty Duke’‘ received his dismission both from the lord-lieutenancy and from his regiment.

There are several connected narrations of some length and great interest in the volume before us. One of these concerns the noted Westminster election, when the charms and address of the Ouchess of Devonshire aided Fox so largely in defeating the governmental influence — another the accusations of Hastings and Impey — another the debates on the Regency Bill. The “Diamond Necklace” affair, in which Madame de h Motte performed so important a part, is related clearly and pointedly, but with some little diffuseness. We abridge the Baronet's account of this extraordinary matter.

Prince Louis de Rohan, second brother of the Duke de Montbazon, was fifty-one years of age at the epoch in question. He was a prelate of elegant manners, of restless ambition, and of talents, although ill-regulated. It appears that he was credulous and easily duped by the designing. Previous to his attainment of the episcopal dignity, and while only coadjutor of Strasburg, he had been employed in diplomacy, and acted, during a considerable time, as Ambassador from the Court of France at Vienna, in the reign of Maria Theresa. Returning home, he attempted to reach the ministerial situation left vacant by Maurepas. But Louis the Sixteenth had imbibed strong prejudices against hin, and the queen held him in still greater aversion. Tet he was resolutely bent upon acquiring her favor, and indeed entertained, it seems, the hope of rendering himself personally acceptable to her. At this time she [page 719:] was very beautiful, loved admiration, was accessible to flattery, and not yet thirteen years of age.

Among the numerous individuals who then frequented Versailles with the view of advancing their fortune, was Mademoiselle de la Valois. She became an object of royal notice, through the accidental discovery of her descent from Henry the Second, by one of his mistresses, St. Renny, a Piedmontese lady of noble birth. A small pension was bestowed on her, and she soon afterwards married a gentleman of the name of LaMotte, one of the Count de Provence's Ixxly guards. His duties retaining him at Versailles near the person of the Count, Madame de la Motte became well known to the Cardinal de Rohan, whose character she appears to have studied with great attention. She herself was totally devoid of moral principle, and her habits of expense induced her to resort to the most desperate expedients for recruiting her finances. About this time, one Boehmer, a German jeweller well known at the court of France, had in possession a most costly diamond necklace, valued at near seventy thousand pounds sterling, and obtained permission to exhibit it to her majesty. The queen, however, declined buying it. Madame de la Motte receiving information of the fact, resolved to fabricate a letter from the queen to herself, authorizing her to make the purchase. In this letter Marie Antoinette was made to express a determination of taking the necklace at a certain indicated price — under the positive reserve, however, that the matter should remain a profound secret, and that Boehmer would agree to receive his payment by instalments, in notes under her own hand, drawn on her treasurer at stipulated periods.

Furnished with this authority, Madame de la Motte repaired to the Cardinal de Rohan. Submitting to him, as if in confidence, the queen's pretended letter, she dwelt on the excellent opportunity which then presented itself to him, of acquiring her majesty's favor. She urged him to see Boehmer, and to assure him of the queen's desire — the proof of which lay before him. The Cardinal, however credulous, refused to embark in the affair, without receiving from Marie's own mouth the requisite authority. Madame de la Motte had foreseen this impediment and already provided against it. There lived at that time in Paris an actress, one Mademoiselle D’Oliva, who in her figure bore great resemblance to the queen. This lady they bribed to personate her majesty — asserting that a frolic only was intended.

Matters being thus arranged, Madame de la Motte acquainted the Cardinal that Marie Antoinette felt the propriety of his eminence's scruples, and with a view of removing them, and at the same time of testifying her sense of his services, had resolved to grant him an interview in the gardens of Versailles — but that certain precautions must be adopted lest the transaction should come to the knowledge of the king. With this end the Cardinal was told her majesty had fixed upon a retired and shady spot, to which she could repair muffled up in such a manner as to elude notice. “The interview,” Madame de la Motte added, “must be very short, and the queen resolutely refuses to speak a single word lest she may be overheard.” Instead of verbally authorizing De Rohan to pledge her authority to Boehmer, it was therefore settled that she hold in her hand a flower, which, on the Cardinal's approaching her, she would immediately extend to him as a mark of her approval. [column 2:]

This blundering plot, we are told, succeeded. Mademoiselle D’Oliva personated the queen a merveille, and the Cardinal, blinded by love and ambition, was thoroughly duped. Convinced that he had now received an unquestionable assurance of Marie Antoinette's approbation, he no longer hesitated to pledge himself to Boehmer. A deduction of above eight thousand pounds on the price demanded, having been procured from him, promissory notes for the remainder, exceeding sixty thousand pounds, drawn and signed in the queen's name, payable at various periods by her treasurer, were delivered to the jeweller by Madame de la Motte. She then received from him the necklace. Her husband having obtained leave of absence, under the pretence of visiting the place of his nativity, carried off the diamonds, and, arriving safe in London, disposed of some of the finest stones among the dealers of that city. Madame de la Motte herself, we cannot exactly understand why, remained at Paris. The Cardinal, also, continued in unsuspecting security at court. But the day arriving when her majesty's first promissory note became due, the fraud was of course discovered. As soon as the part which de Rohan had performed in it was fully ascertained, the whole matter was laid by her majesty before the king. Louis, after consulting with some of his ministers, finally determined upon the Cardinal's arrest. “Such an event,” says our author, “taking place in the person of a member of the Sacred College, an ecclesiastic of the highest birth and greatest connections, related through the kings of Navarre to the sovereign himself, and grand almoner of France, might well excite universal amazement. Since the arrest of Foucquet, superintendant of the finances, by Louis the Fourteenth, in 1661, no similar act of royal authority had been performed: for we cannot justly compare with it the seizure and imprisonment of the Duke of Maine in 1718, by order of the Regent Duke of Orleans. The Cardinal de Rohan's crime was private and personal, wholly unconnected with the state, though affecting the person and character of the queen. He was conducted to the Bastile, invariably maintaining that he had acted throughout the whole business with the purest intentions; always conceiving that he was authorized by her majesty, and was doing her a pleasure. Madame de la Motte, Mademoiselle D’Oliva, and some other suspected individuals were also conveyed to the same fortress. Notwithstanding the queen's evident innocence in this singular robbery, a numerous class of Parisians either believed or affected to believe her implicated in the guilt of the whole transaction.

This account is followed up by the relation of a private and personal adventure of the Baronet, of the most romantic and altogether extraordinary character. He gives the detailed narrative of a plot, in which he acted a conspicuous part as secret agent, for the restoration of the imprisoned queen Caroline Matilda of Denmark, and to which George the Third had given his approbation and promised his assistance. Had this revolution been carried into effect it would have brought about the most important changes in the political aspect of the north of Europe. The sudden death of the queen put an end to the attempt, however, just when all preparations were completed, and success was beyond a reasonable doubt. In the spring of 1784, a similar exertion [page 720:] placed the young prince royal, then only sixteen years of age, in possession of the Regency, which his mother's death alone prevented her from attaining in 1775. After the queen's decease, some of her most active friends interested themselves with George the Third to procure the Baronet a proper remuneration for his services. For nearly six years, however, the attempt was unsuccessful. The final result is thus related by the author himself.

“In 1790 I came into Parliament; and some months afterwards as I was seated nearly behind Lord North in the House of Commons, only a few members being present, and no important business in agitation, he suddenly turned round to me. Speaking in a low tone of voice so as not to be overheard, “Mr. Wraxall,” said, “I have received his majesty's command to see and talk to you. He informs me that you rendered very important services to the late queen of Denmark, of which he has related to me the particulars. He is desirous of acknowledging them. We must have some conversation together on the subject. Can you come to me to Busby Park, dine, and pass the day?” I waited on him there in June 1781, and was received by him in his cabinet alone. Having most patiently heard my account of the enterprise in which I engaged for the queen Matilda's restoration, he asked me what remuneration I demanded. I answered, one thousand guineas, as a compensation for the expense which I had incurred in her majesty's service, and an employment. He assured me that I should have both. Robinson, then Secretary to the Treasury, paid me the money soon afterwards; and I confidently believe Lord North would have fulfilled his promise of employing me, or rather of giving me a place of considerable emolument, if his administration had not terminated early in the following year, 1782.

The volume concludes with an appendix embodying a variety of correspondence in relation to this singular matter, under the heading of “Letters and Papers respecting the Queen of Denmark.” Altogether, these “Posthumous Memoirs” afford a rich fund of entertainment — and in especial to the lovers of political gossip we most heartily recommend their perusal.



The American Almanac, and Repository of Useful Knowledge, for the year 1837. Boston: Published by Charles Bowen.

This is the eighth number of a work more justly entitled to be called “A Repository of Useful Knowledge” than any with which we are acquainted. From its commencement it has been under the editorial management of Mr. J. E. Worcester, for more than twenty years known to the American public as an able and most indefatigable author and compiler. If we are not mistaken, this period at least has elapsed since the publication of his “Gazetteer of the United States.” Besides that work, of whose great merit it is of course unnecessary now to speak, Mr. W. has written “The Elements of Geography” — “The Elements of History” — an Edition of Johnson's Dictionary as improved by Todd and abridged by Chalmers — an Abridgment of the American Dictionary of Doctor Webster — and a “Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of the English Language, with Pronouncing Vocabularies of Classical, Scripture, and Modern Geographical Names.” All these publications are of high reputation and evince unusual perseverance and ability.

A glance at the “American Almanac” will suffice to assure any one that no ordinary talent, and industry, have been employed in bringing it to its present condition. An acute judgment has been necessary in the selection of the [column 2:] most needful topics, to the exclusion of others having only a comparative value — in the condensation of matter — in the means of acquiring information — and in the estimation of the degree of credit which should be given it when received. The variety of themes handled in the volume, the perspicuity and brevity with which they are treated, their excellent arrangement, and the general accuracy of the statistical details, should secure for the work a circulation even more extensive than at present. With the exception of the astronomical department, for which we are indebted to Mr. Paine, it is understood that all the contents of the volume (a thick and closely printed octavo of 324 pages, abounding in intricate calculations) have been prepared by the indefatigable editor himself.

The “Almanac” for 1837 contains the usual register of the National and State Governments, an American and Foreign obituary and chronicle of recent events, a valuable “Treatise on the use of Anthracite Coal,’‘ by Professor Denison Olmsted of Yale, an account of “Public Libraries,” a “Statistical View of the Population of the United States,” a series of Tables relating to the “Cultivation, Manufacture, and Foreign Trade of Cotton,” and Meteorological notices of Stasonsand the Weather. In the account of each individual State pains have been taken to give accurate intelligence respecting all matters of Internal Improvement — more especially in regard to Canals and Rail-Roads. In the next volume some further details upon this head are promised — some account also of Pauperism in the United States, and a wider variety of statistical notices in relation to foreign countries. We have before stated our conviction, and here repeat it, that no work of equal extent in America embodies as much really important information — important to the public at large — as the eight published volumes of Mr. Worcester's Almanac We believe that complete sets of the work can still be obtained upon application to the publisher, Mr. Charles Bowen of Boston. Its mechanical execution, like that of all books from the same press, is worthy of the highest commendation.



Sketches of Switzerland. By an American. Part Second. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

The London Spectator has very justly observed of this, Mr. Cooper's last work, that two circumstances suffice to distinguish it from the class of sketchy lours. He has contrived to impart a narrative interest to his journey; and, being an American, yet intimately conversant with all the beauties of the Old World, he looks at Switzerland with a more instructed eye than the mass of travellers, and is enabled to commit its landscapes to a comparison which few of them have the means of making — thus possessing an idiosyncracy giving freshness to what otherwise would be faded. In our notice of Part 1, of the work before us, we had occasion to express our full sense of the writer's descriptive powers, refined and strengthened as they now appear to us to be. Is it that Mr. Cooper derives vigor from spleen, as Antæus from earth? This idea might indeed be entertained were his improved power to-day not especially perceptible in his delineations of the calm majesty of nature. It must be observed by all [page 721:] who have read the “Headsman,” and who now read the “Sketches,” that the same scenes are frequently the subject of comment in each work. The drawings in the former are seldom more than mediocre — in the latter we meet with the vivid coloring of a master.

The subject of the first two volumes is Mr. Cooper's visit to Switzerland in 1828 — that of the two now published, his visit in 1832. The four years intervening had effected changes of great moment in the political aspect of all Europe, and produced of course a modification of feeling, taste, and opinion in our author. In his preface he pithily observes — “Four years in Europe are an age to the American, as are four years in America to the European. Jefferson has somewhere said that no American ought to be more than five years at a time out of his own country, lest he get behind it. This may be true as to its facts — but the author is convinced that there is more danger of his getting before it as to opinion. It is not improbable that this book may furnish evidence of both these truths.” In the last sentence there may be some little arrogance, but in the one preceding there is even more positive truth. We are a bull-headed and prejudiced people, and it were well if we had a few more of the stamp of Mr. Cooper who would feel themselves at liberty to tell us so to our teeth.

The criticism alluded to in the following passage has never met our observation. Since it is the fashion to decry the author of “the Prairie” just now, we are astonished at no degree of malignity or scurrility whatever on the part of the little gentlemen who are determined to follow that fashion — but we are surprised that Mr. C. should have thought himself really suspected of any such ridiculous “purposes.”

Someone, in criticising the First Part of Switzerland, has intimated that the writer has a purpose to serve with the “Trades’ Unions” by the purport of some of his remarks. As this is a country in which the avowal of it tolerably sordid and base motive seems to be indispensable, even to safety, the writer desires to express his sense of the critical, liberality, as it may save him from a much graver imputation. There is really a painful humiliation in the reflection, that a citizen of mature years, with as good natural and accidental means for preferment as have fallen to the share of most others, may pass his life without a fact of any sort to impeach his disinterestedness, and yet not be able to express a generous or just sentiment in behalf of his fellow creatures, without laying himself open to suspicions as degrading to those who entertain them, as they are injurious to all independence of thought and manliness of character.

The present volumes strike us as more entertaining upon the whole than those which preceded them. They embrace a wide range of stirring anecdote, and some details of a very singular nature indeed. As the book will be universally read it is scarcely necessary to say more.



An Address delivered before the Students of William and Mary at the opening of the College on Monday, October 10, 1836. By Thomas R. Dew, President, and Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy. Published by request of the Students. Richmond: T. W. White.

Of the talents and great acquirements of Professor Dew it is quite unnecessary to speak. His accession to the Presidency of William and Mary is a source of hearty congratulation with all the real friends of the institution. Already we perceive the influence of his [column 2:] character, and unusual energy, in an increasing attention on the part of the public to the capabilities of this venerable academy — and in a re-assured hope of her ultimate prosperity. Indeed she had never more brilliant prospects than just now, and there can be little doubt that at least as many students as have ever entered, will enter this year. The number has at no time been very great it is true; and yet, in proportion to heralumni, this institution has given to the world more useful men than any other — more truly great statesmen. Perhaps the scenery and recollection of the place, the hospitable population, the political atmosphere, have all conspired to imbue the mind of the student at Williamsburg with a tinge of utilitarianism. Her graduates have always been distinguished by minds well adapted to business, and for the greatest efficiency of character. Some colleges may have equalled her in Physics and Mathematics — indeed we are aware of one institution, at least, which far surpasses her in these studies — but few can claim a rivalship with her in Moral and Political Science; and it should not be denied that these latter are the subjects which give the greatest finish to the mind, and exalt it to the loftiest elevation. To William and Mary is especially due the high political character of Virginia.

She is the oldest college in the Union save one, and even older than that, if we may date back to the establishment of an academy (one of some note) prior to the erection of the present buildings. Respect for her long and great services, and veneration for her ancient walls, will have weight among the people of Virginia. As efficient an education can now be procured in her lecture-rooms as elsewhere in the Union. Her discipline is rigid, but relies strongly on the chivalry and honor of the Southern student. We will attempt to convey briefly some idea of the several professorial departments.

The plan embraces a course of general study which may be pursued to great advantage by all, without reference to the nature of the profession contemplated. Besides this the subject of Law is included. In the classical school is a preparatory department for elementary instruction. In the higher branch the attention of the student is confined to Horace, Cicero de Oratore, Terence, Juvenal, Livy and Tacitus; Xcnophon's Anabasis, Aeschylus, Herodotus, Euripides, Sophocles, Thucydides, and Homer. He will be required to read these works with facility, to master portions of history which may be referred to, and to acquire a thorough acquaintance with the whole Philosophy of the Latin and Greek Grammars. For a degree in the classical department it is necessary that the candidate should not only be a proficient in the studies just mentioned, but that he should obtain a certificate of qualification on the junior mathematical, rhetorical and historical courses. The classical graduate therefore, must be more than a mere Latin and Greek scholar. Besides this degree there are three others — those of A. B, B. L. and A. M. The courses necessary for the degree of A. B. embrace the four great departments of physics, morals, and politics. The degree of B. L. is not conferred for a mere knowledge of Laws. The candidate must have studied, besides the municipal law, the subject of government and national law, together with some exposition of our own system of [page 722:] government. He must, moreover, have obtained the Baccalaureate honor in this or some other institution, or else have attended a full course of lectures in some one of the scientific departments of William and Mary. The degree of A. M. (the highest honor conferred by the college) requires generally two years additional study iifier obtaining the bachelor's degree, and in these two years all the studies pursued in the first portion of the collegiate career are amplified — the principles of science are now applied to facts. A school of civil engineering is most properly attached to the institution.

Would our limits permit, we would be proud to make long extracts from the excellent Address now before us. It is, as usual with every thing from the same source, comprehensive and eloquent, and full of every species of encouragement to the searcher after knowledge. We can well imagine the enthusiasm enkindled in the student by sentences such as these —

There is no privileged class here to rule by the right divine. Far different is our case from the despotisms of the ancient world, or the monarchies of the modern. Sovereignty resided formerly at Babylon, at Thebes, at Persepolis. Now we find it at Paris, Vienna, and London. But in our own more happy country, it pervades our territory like the very air we breathe, reaching the furthest and binding; the most distant together. Politics here is the business of every man, no mailer how humble his condition may be. We have it in commission to instruct the world in the science and the art of government We must, if we succeed, exhibit the extraordinary phenomenon of a well educated, virtuous, intelligent people, “free without licentiousness — religious without a religious establishment — obedient to laws administered by citizen magistrates, without the show of official lictors or fasces, and without the aid of mercenary legions or janissaries,” As a nation, a glorious charge has devolved upon us. Our condition prescribes to each one the salutary law of Solon, that there shall be no neutrals here. Each one must play his part in the great political drama; and you, gentlemen, who have assembled here for the purpose of receiving a liberal education, must recollect that fortunate circumstances have placed you among the privileged few. Every motive of honor, of patriotism, and a laudable ambition, should stimulate to the utmost exertion. Neglect not the precious opportunity which is afforded you. The fine talents are entrusted to your care ; beware lest you bury or throw them away. This is the most important era of your life — the very seed-lime of your existence; success now may insure you success hereafter.

The age in which you live, and the circumstances by which you are surrounded, as inhabitants of the south, create a special demand for your utmost exertions. The times arc indeed interesting and momentous. We seem to have arrived at one of those great periods in the history of man, when fearful and important changes are threatened in the destiny of the world. In the prophetic language of the boldest of philosophers, we may perhaps with truth affirm, that “the crisis of revolutions is at hand.” Never were the opinions of the world more unsettled and more clashing than at this moment. Monarchists and democrats, conservatives and radicals, whigs and tones, agrarians and aristocrats, slave-holders and non-slave-holders, are all now in the great field of contention. What will be the result of this awful conflict, none can say. England's most eloquent and learned divine tells us, ‘hat there now sits an unnatural scowl on the aspect of the population — a resolved sturdiness in their attitude and gait; and whether we look to the profane recklessness of their habits, or to the deep and settled hatred which rankles in their hearts, we cannot but read in these moral characteristics the omens of some great and impending overthrow. The whole continent of Europe is agitated by the conflicts of opinions and principles; and we are far, very far from the calm and quiet condition which betokens the undoubted safety of the republic.

When the limes are so interesting and exciting; when clouds are lowering above the political horizon, portending fearful storms; when the lapse of time is every day disclosing great [column 2:] and startling events, can you, gentlemen, fold your arms in inglorious indolence — throw away the opportunity that is now offered you — fail to prepare for the important part which should devolve on you, and add yourselves to the great mass of the unaspiring?


[[The Review of Memorials to Mrs. Hemans is also by Poe]]



A Dissertation on the Importance of Physical Signs in the Various Diseases of the Abdomen and Thorax. By Robert W. Haxall, M D. of Richmond, Va, Boston: Perkins and Marvin.

The Boylston Medical Committee of Harvard University, having propounded the question, “How far are the external means of exploring the condition of the internal organs useful and important?” a gold medal was, in consequence, awarded to this Dissertation on the subject, by our townsman Dr. Haxall. Notwithstanding the modesty of his motto, “Je n’enseigne pas, Je raconte,” he has here given evidence, not to be misunderstood, of a far wider range of study, of experience, of theoretical and practical knowledge, than that attained, except in rare cases, by our medical men. He has evinced too more than ordinary powers of analysis, and his Essay will command (oh, rare occurrence in the generality of similar Essays!) the entire respect of every well-educated man, as a literary composition in its own peculiar character nearly faultless.

The Dissertation does not respond, in the fullest extent, to the category proposed. The only available method of discussing the question, “How far are the external means of exploring the condition of the internal organs useful and important?” is to show, as far as possible, the deficiencies of other means — to point out the inconvenience and want of certainty attending a diagnosis deduced from symptoms merely general or functional, and to demonstrate the advantages, if any, of those signs (afforded by external examination) which, in medical language, are alone denominated physical. But to do all this would require a much larger treatise [column 2:] than the Committee had in contemplation, and so far, it appears to us, they have been over-hasty in proposing a query so illimitable. Our author (probably thinking thus) has wisely confined himself to diseases occurring in the common routine of practice, and here again only to such as affect the cavities of the Abdomen and Thorax. The brain is not treated of — for, except in a few strictly surgical instances, the unyielding parietes of the skull will admit of no diagnosis deduced from their examination.

In the discussion of the subject thus narrowed, Dr. Haxall has commented upon the physical signs which (assisted as they always are by functional symptoms) lead to the detection of the diseases of the liver, the spleen, the uterus, the ovary, the kidney, the bladder, the stomach, and the intestines — of Typhoid or Typhus Fever — of Inflammation of the Peritonoæum — of Pleura, Pleura-pneumonia, Hydrothorax, Pneumothorax, Catarrh, Emphysema, Asthma, Dilatation of the Bronchia, Pneumonia, Pulmonary Apoplexy, and Phthisis — of Pericarditis, Hypertrophy of the Heart, Dilatation of that organ, and lastly, of Aneurism of the Aorta.

The most important and altogether the most original portion of the Essay, is that relating to the fever called Typhoid. The pathology of fever in general has been at all times a fruitful subject of discussion. Solidists, humorists, and advocates of the idiopathic doctrine, have each their disciples among the medical profession. Dr. H. advocates no theory in especial, but in regard to typhus fever agrees with M. Louis in supposing the true lesion of the disease to reside in an organic alteration of the glands of Peyer. He denies consequently that bilious fever, pneumonia, dysentery, or indeed any other malady, assumes, at any stage, what can be properly called a “typhoid” character, unless the word “typhoid” be regarded as expressive of mere debility. The chief diagnostic signs he maintains to be physical, but enters into a minute account of all the symptoms of the disorder. The Essay is embraced in a pamphlet, beautifully printed, of 108 pages.



Skimmings; or a Winter at Schloss Hainfeld in Lower Styria. By Captain Basil Hall, Royal Navy, F. R. S. Philadelphia: Republished by Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

“Skimmings,” we apprehend, is hardly better, as a title than “Pencillings” or “Inklings” — yet Captain Hall has prefixed this little piece of affectation to some pages of interest. His book, we are informed in the Preface, is intended as a pioneer to a work of larger dimensions, and consisting of passages from journals written during three different excursions to the Continent. The specimen now given us is principally valuable as treating of a region but little known, or at least very partially described.

Towards the close of April 1834, the Captain, accompanied by his wife and family, being on his way from Rome to Naples, received an invitation from a certain Countess Purgstall to visit her castle or Schloss of Hainfeld near Gratz in Lower Styria. The Countess, whoso name and existence were equally unknown to our travellers, was found to be an elderly Scotch lady, who forty years before having married an Austrian nobleman, went with him to Germany, and never returned [page 726:] to Scotland. She claimed moreover to be an early friend of Sir James Hall, the captain's father. Induced by the knowledge of this fact, by the earnest manner in which the old lady urged her invitation, and more especially by a desire of seeing Lower Styria, our author paid her a visit in October, taking the homeward route through that country instead of following the usuaf track of English travellers through the Tyrol.

The Countess Purgstall is a character in whom the reader finds himself insensibly interested. Her maiden name was Jane Anne Cranstoun. She was the sister of Lord Corchousc, and of Mrs. Dugald Stuart — moreover our travellers find her a most agreeable companion and hostess, and discover beyond a doubt that from herself Sir Walter Scott depicted Die Vernon, the most original and spirited of his female paintings. It is, consequently, almost needless to say that in early youth the Countess was a votary of the gay world; and the circumstances under which she was so solicitous for a visit from the son of her old friend, were the more touching on this account. Her only son, a boy of premature talcrtt, having died, she had given herself up to grief; and for three years she had been confined to bed. Captain Hall and his family remained with her, at her urgent desire, until her decease, which took place upon the 23d of March, within a day of the period long before designated by herself for that event.

Besides the variety of singular anecdotes respecting the Countess and her household, the volume is enriched with many curious stories, scandalous, legendary, or superstitious. In a chapter entitled “The Neighbors,” we have the Austrian nobility at their country residences strikingly contrasted with the English noblesse. Here is an account of a dinner given the Captain at the castle of an Hungarian nobleman, near the village of St. Gothard.

In the midst of these national discussions the dinner appeared; and as our morning's expedition had made us more than usually hungry, we looked forward with less dread than we had ever done before to the overloaded table, which all reports of the nature and extent of a German dinner led us to expect. But our fears on this score, if we had any, were groundless, for a less loaded repast never was seen. There was positively too little for the company, and we felt awkward at having, by our intrusion, diminished the scanty allowance of the family. Every dish was carried off the table as clean as if, instead of a goodly company of Hungarian ladies and gentlemen, with it couple of hungry heretics from England, the Baron had introduced a dozen of his wild boar hounds to lick the platters.

As this was the only Hungarian dinner we saw during our stay in these parts, a notice of it may perhaps interest the lovers of good cheer. We had first of all coldish, dirty-looking, thin soup; then a plate with illcut slices of ill-salted tongue; and, after a long and dreary interval, a dish consisting of slices of boiled beef, very cold, very fat, and very tough. I know not whence the fat came; for in that country there are no cattle bred for the table, but only for the plough and the wagon, and after many years of labor they are killed, not because they are fit to be eaten, (quite the contrary) but because they can work no longer. The next dish promised better; it was a salmon twisted into a circle, with his tail in his mouth, like the allegorical images of eternity. But I am sure if I were to live, as the Americans say, from July to Eternity, I should not wish to look upon the like of such a fish again. It had been brought all the way from Carinthia by the bold Baron himself. I need not say more. And yet its bones were [column 2:] so nicely cleaned, that the skeleton might have been placed in a museum of natural history, and named by Agassiz or Deshayes without further trouble. Kelt arrived a dish of sausages which disappeared in what the Germans call an Augenblick or twinkling of an eye. Lastly, came the roast, as it always does in those countries, but instead of a jolly English surloin or haunch, the dish consisted of a small shred of what they facetiously called venison — but such venison! Yet had the original stag been alive from which this morsel was hewn, it could not have moved off faster. To wind up all, instead of dessert, we were presented with a soupplate holding eleven small dry sweet cakes, each as big as a Geneose watch glass. In short, not to spin out this sad repast, it reminded me of long by-gone days spent in the midshipmen's birth on short allowance, where the daily beef and bread of his gracious Majesty used to vanish in like mnnner, and leave, as Shakspeare says, “not a wreck behind.” I ought not to omit that the wine was scarcely drinkable, excepting, I presume, one bottle of Burgundy, which the generous master of the house kept faithfully to himself, not offering even the lady by his side, a stranger and his own invited guest, a single glass, but drinking the whole, to the last drop, himself! So much for a Hungarian magnate!

At Chapter X, we were somewhat astonished at meeting with an old friend, in the shape of the verses beginning “My Life is like the Summer Rose.” These lines are thus introduced. “One day, when I entered the Countess’ room, I observed that she had been writing; but on my sitting down by her bedside, she sent away the apparatus, retaining only one sheet of paper, which she held up, and said — ‘You have written your life; here is mine,’ and she put into my hands the following copy of verses, by whom written she would not tell me. Probably they ore by herself, for they are certainly exactly such as suited her cast of thought.” Here it certainly appears that the Countess desired the Captain to think them her composition. Surely these stanzas have had a singular notoriety, and many claimants!

It appears very clearly from the relation of Captain Hall and from a letter of Lockhart's, published in the volume before us, that the Countess Purgstall (Miss Cranstoun) had no little influence in the formation of the literary character of Sir Walter Scott. In his youth the great novelist, then comparatively unknown, we received on friendly terms by the family of Dugald Stuart, of which Miss Cranstoun, the elder sister of Mrs. Stuart, was a member. This intimacy, we are told, led Sir Walter frequently to consult Miss C. in regard to his literary productions, and we should infer that the sagacity of the young lady readily appreciated the great merit of her protegé. On this head an anecdote of deep interest is related. Burger's poem “Leonore” was received in Scotland about 1793, and a translation of it read by Mrs. Barbauld, at the house of Dugald Stuart, Miss Cranstoun's description of the poem and its effect, took possession of the mind of Sir Walter, and, having with great effort studied the lines in the original, he at length completed himself a poetical translation, and Miss Cranstoun, very much to her astonishment, was aroused one morning at half past six o’clock, to listen to its recital by the translator in person. Of course she gave it all attention, and begged permission to retain the MS. for a few days to look it over at leisure. To this the poet consented — adding that she had as well keep it until his return from the country, whither he was about to proceed on a visit. Of this [page 727:] intended visit, it seems the critic was aware. As soon as Sir Walter had gone, she sent for their common friend Mr. Erskine, afterwards Lord Kinneder, and confided to him a scheme for having the MS. printed. An arrangement was made with Mr. Robert Miller the bookseller, by which a small edition of “Leonore” was to be hastily thrown off, one copy to be done on the finest paper and superbly bound. Mr. Miller had the book soon ready, and despatched it to the address of “Mr. Scott,” so as to arrive when the company were assembled round the tea-table after dinner. Much curiosity was expressed by all — not forgetting Miss C — to ascertain the contents of so beautiful a little volume. The envelope was at length torn off by the astonished author, who, for the first time, thus saw himself in print, and who, “all unconscious of the glories which awaited him, had possibly never dreamed of appearing in such a dress,” He was now called upon to read the poem — and the effect upon the company is said to have been electrical. These reminiscences of Sir Walter form, possibly, the most interesting portions of Schloss Hainfeld. The entire volume, however, has many charms of matter, and more especially of manner. Captain Hull is no ordinary writer. This justice must be done him.



Peter Snook, a Tale of the City; Follow your Nose; and other Strange Tales. By the Author of ‘Charley,’ the ‘Invisible Gentleman,’ &c. &c. Philadelphia: Republished by Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

The ‘Invisible Gentleman’ was exceedingly popular — and is. It belongs to a class of works which every one takes a pleasure in reading, and yet which every one thinks it his duty to condemn. Its author is one of the best of the English Magazinists — possessing a large share of Imagination, and a wonderful fertility of Fancy or Invention. With the exception of Boz, of the London Morning Chronicle, and, perhaps a couple of the writers in Blackwood, he has no rivals in his particular line. We confess ourselves somewhat in doubt, however, whether Boz and the author of ‘Chartley’ are not one and the same — or have not some intimate connection. In the volume now before us, the two admirable Tales, ‘Peter Snook’ and ‘The Lodging-House Bewitched,’ might very well have been written by the author of ‘ Watkins Tottle,’ of which they possess all the whimsical peculiarities, and nearly all the singular fidelity and vigor. The remaining papers, however, ‘Follow your Nose,’ and the ‘Old Maiden's Talisman,’ are more particularly characteristic of the author of the ‘Invisible Gentleman.’

The first of the series is also the best, and presents so many striking points for the consideration of the Magazine writer — (by which we mean merely to designate the writer of the brief and piquant article, slightly exaggerated in all its proportions) that we feel inclined to speak of it more fully than is our usual custom in regard to reprints of English light literature.

Peter Snook, the hero, and the beau ideal of a Cockney, is a retail linen-draper in Bishopgate Street. He is of course a stupid and conceited, though at bottom a very good little fellow, and “always looks as if he was frightened.” Matters go on very thrivingly with him, [column 2:] until he becomes acquainted with MissClarindaBodkin, “a young lady owning to almost thirty, and withal a great proficient in the mysteries of millinery and mantua-making.” Love and ambition, however, set the little gentleman somewhat beside himself. “If Miss Clarinda would but have me,” says he, “we might divide the shop, and have a linen-drapery side, and a haberdashery and millinery side, and one would help the other. There’d be only one rent to pay, and a double business — and it would be so comfortable too!” Thinking thus, Peter commences a desperate flirtation, to which Miss Clarinda but doubtfully responds. He escorts the lady to White Conduit House, Bagnigge Wells, and other “genteel” places of public resort — and finally is so rash as to accede to the proposition on her part of a trip to Margate. At this epoch of the narrative the writer takes occasion to observe that the subsequent proceedings of the hero are gathered from accounts rendered by himself, when called upon afterwards for certain explanations.

It is agreed that Miss Clarinda shall set out alone for Margate, and Mr. Snook follows after some indispensable arrangements. These occupy him until the middle of July, at which period, taking passage in the “Rose in June,” he safely reaches his destination. But various misfortunes here await him — misfortunes admirably adapted to the meridian of Cockney feeling, and the capacity of Cockney endurance. His umbrella, for example, and a large brown paper parcel containing a new pea-green coat, and flowerpatterned embroidered silk waistcoat, are tumbled into the water at the landing place, and Miss Bodkin forbids him her presence in his old clothes. By a tumble of his own too, the skin is rubbed off both his shins for several inches, and his surgeon, having no regard to the lover's cotillon engagements with Miss Clarinda, enjoins upon him a total abstinence from dancing. A cock-chafer, moreover, is at the trouble of flying into one of his eyes, and, worse than all, a tall military-looking shoemaker, Mr. Last, has taken advantage of his delay in reaching Margate, to ingratiate himself with his mistress. Finally, he is “cut” by Last and rejected by the lady, and has nothing left for it but to secure a homeward passage in the “Rose in June.” In the evening of the second day after his departure, the vessel drops anchor off Greenwich. Most of the passengers go ashore with the view of taking the stage to the city. Peter, however, who considers that he has already spent money enough to no purpose, prefers remaining on board. “We shall get to Billingsgate,” says he “while I am sleeping, and I shall have plenty of time to go home and dress and go into the cityand borrow the trifle I may want for Pester and Company's bill, that comes due the day after to-morrow.” This determination is a source of much trouble to our hero, as will be seen in the sequel. Some shopmen who remain with him in the packet, tempt him to unusual indulgences in the way, first of brown stout, and secondly of positive French brandy. The consequence is, that Mr. Peter Snook falls, thirdly, asleep, and, fourthly, overboard.

About dawn, on the morning after this event, Ephraim Hobson, the confidential clerk and factotum of Mr. Peter Snook, is disturbed from a sound nap by the sudden appearance of his master. That gentleman [page 728:] seems to be quite in a hustle, and delights Ephraim with an account of a “whacking wholesale order for exportation” just received. “Not a word to any body about the matter,” exclaims Peter, with unusual emphasis; “it's such an opportunity as don’t come often in a man's life time. There's a captain of a ship, he's the owner of her too; but never mind, there an’t time to enter into particulars now, but you’ll know all by and bye; all you have to do is to do as I tell you, so come along.” Setting Ephraim to work, with directions to pack up immediately all the goods in the shop, with the exception of a few trifling articles, the master avows his intention of going into the city “to borrow enough money to make up Fester's bill for to-morrow.” “I don’t think you’ll want much, sir,” returned Hobson, with a self-complacent air. “I’ve been looking up the long winded ‘tins, you see, since you’ve been gone, and have got Shy's money and Slack's account, which we’d pretty well given up for a bad job, and one or two more. There, there's the list, and there's the key to the strongbox, where you’ll find the money, besides what I’ve look at the counter.” Peter seems well pleased at this, and shortly afterwards goes out,saying he cannot tell when he will be back, and giving directions that whatever goods may be sent in during his absence shall be left untouched until his return.

It appears that after leaving his shop, Mr. Snook proceeded to that of Messieurs Job, Flashbill & Co. (one of whose clerks, on board the Rose in June, had been very liberal in supplying our hero with brandy on the night of his ducking,) looked over a large quantity of ducks and other goods, and finally made purchase of “a choice assortment” to be delivered the same day. His next visit was to Mr. Bluff, the managing partner in the banking house where he usually kept his cash. His business now was to request permission to overdraw a hundred pounds for a few days.

“Humph,” said Mr. Bluff, “money is very scarce but —— Bless me! — yes — it's he! Excuse me a minute, Mr. Snook, there's a gentleman at the front counter whom I want particularly to speak to — I’ll be back with you directly.” As he uttered these words, he rushed out, and, in passing one of tin: clerks on his way forward, he whispered — “Tell Scribe to look at Snook's account, and let me know directly.” He then went to the front counter, where several people were waiting to pay and receive money. ?’ Fine weather this, Mr. Butt. What! you’re not out of town like the rest of them?”

“No,” replied Mr. Butt, who kept a thriving gin-shop, “no, I sticks to my business — make hay while the sun shines — that's my maxim. Wife up at night — I up early in the morning.”

The banker chatted and listened with great apparent interest, till the closing of a huge book on which he kept his eye, told him that his whispered order had been attended to. He then took a gracious leave of Mr. Butt, and returned back to the counting-house with a Blip of paper, adroitly put in his hand while passing, on which was written, “Peter Snook, Linen Draper, Bishopgate Street — old account — increasing gradually — balance 153l. 15s. 6d. — very regular.” “Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Snook,” said he, “but we must catch people when we can. Well, what is it you were saying you wanted us to do?”

“I should like to be able to overdraw just for a few days,” replied Peter.

“How much?”

“A hundred.”

“Won’t fifty do?”

“No, not quite sir.”

“Well, you’re an honest fellow, and don’t come bothering us often, so I suppose we must not be too particular with you for this once.” [column 2:]

Leaving Bluff, Mr. Snook hurries to overtake Mr. Butt, the dealer in spirits, who had just left the banking house before himself, and to give that gentleman an order for a hogshead of the best gin. As he is personally unknown to Mr. Butt he hands him a card on which is written “Peter Snook, linen and muslin warehouse, No. — , Bishopgate street within, &c. &c.” and takes occasion to mention that he purchases at the recommendation of Mr. Bluff. The gin is to be at Queenhithe the same evening. The spirit-dealer, as soon as his new customer has taken leave, revolves in his mind the oddity of a linen-draper's buying a hogshead of gin, and determines to satisfy himself of Mr. Snook's responsibility by a personal application to Mr. Bluff. Upon reaching the bank, however, he is told by the clerks that Mr. Bluff, being in attendance upon a committee of the House of Commons, will not be home in any reasonable time — but also that Peter Snook is a perfectly safe man. The gin is accordingly sent; and several other large orders for different goods, upon other houses, are all promptly fulfilled in the same manner. Meantime Ephraim is busily engaged at home in receiving and inspecting the invoices of the various purchases as they arrive, at which employment he is occupied until dusk, when his master makes his appearance in unusually high spirits. We must here be pardoned for copying about a page.

“Well, Ephraim,” he exclaimed, “this looks something like business! You hav'nt had such a job this many a day! Shop looks well now, eh?”

“You know best, sir,” replied Hobson. “But hang me if I a'nt frightened. When we shall sell all these good? I’m sure I can’t think. You talked of having a haberdashery side to the shop; but if we go on at this rate, we shall want another side for ourselves; I’m sure I don’t know where Miss Bodkin is to be put.”

“She go to Jericho!” said Peter, contemptuously. “As for the goods, my boy, they’ll all be gone before to-morrow morning. All you and I have got to do is to pack ‘em up; so let us turn to and strap at it.”

Packing was Ephrain's favorite employment, but on the present occasion he set to work with a heavy heart. His manner, on the contrary, appeared full of life and spirits, and corded boxes, sewed up trusses, and packed huge paper parcels with a celerity and an adroitness truly wonderful.

“Why, you don’t get on, Hobson,” he exclaimed; “see what I’ve done! Where's the ink-pot ? — oh, here it is!” and he proceeded to mark his packages with his initials and the letter G below. “There,” he resumed, “P. S. G.; that's for me at Gravesend. I’m to meet the Captain and owner there; show the goods — if there's any he don’t like shall bring ‘em back vita me; get bills — bankers’ acceptances for the rest; see ‘em safe on board then — but not before, mind that Master Ephraim ! No, no, keep my weather eye open as the men say on board the Rose in June. By the bye, I hav'nt told you yet about my falling overboard whap into the river.”

“Falling overboard!” exclaimed the astonished shopman, quitting his occupation to stand erect and listen.

“Ay, ay,” continued Peter — “see it won’t do to tell you long stories now. There — mark that truss, will you? Know all ab. ut it some day. Lucky job though — toll you that; got the thundering order by it. Had one tumble, first going off, at Margate. Spoilt my peagreen — never mind — that was a lucky tumble too. Hadn’t been for that, shouldn’t so soon have found out the game a certain person was playing with me. She go to Jericho?”

But for the frequent repetition of this favorite expression, Ephraim Hobson has since declared he should have doubted his master's identity during the whole of that evening, as there was something very singular about him; and his strength ami activity in moving the bales, boxes, and trusses, were such as he had never previously exhibited. The phrase condemning this, that, or the other thing or person to “go to Jericho,” was the only expression that he uttered, as the shopman said, naturally,” [page 729:] and Peter repealed that whimsical anathema as often as usual.

The goods being all packed up, carts arrive to carry them away j and, by half past ten o’clock, the shop is entirely cleared, with the exception of a few trifling articles, to make show on the shelves and counters. Two hackney coaches are called. Mr. Peter Snook gets into one with a variety of loose articles which would require too much time to pack, and his shopman into another with some more. Arriving at Glueenhithe, they find all the goods previously sent already embarked in the hold of a long decked barge which lies near the .shore. Mr. Snook now insists upon Ephraim's going on board and taking supper and some hot rum and water. This advice he follows to so good purpose that he is at length completely bewildered, when his master, taking him up in his arms, carries him on shore, and there setting him down, leaves him to make the best of his way home as he can.

About eight next morning, Ephraim awaking, of course in a sad condition both of body and mind, sets himself immediately about arranging the appearance of the shop “so as to secure the credit of the concern.” In spite of all his ingenuity, however, it maintains a poverty-stricken appearance — which circumstance excites some most unreasonable suspicions in die mind of Mr. Bluff's clerk, upon his calling at ten with Pester and Co.'s bill, (three hundred and sixteen pounds seventeen shillings) and receiving, by way of payment, a check upon his own banking house for the amount — Mr. Snook having written this check before his departure with the goods, and left it with Ephraim. Upon reaching the bank therefore, the clerk inquires if Peter Snook's check is good for three hundred and sixteen pounds odd, and is told that it is not worth a farthing, Mr. S. having overdrawn already for a hundred. While Mr. Bluff and his assistants are conversing upon this subject, Butt, the gin-dealer, calls to thank the banker for having recommended him a customer — which the banker denies having done. An explanation ensues and “slop thief!” is the cry. Ephraim is sent for, and reluctantly made to tell all he knows of his master's proceedings on the day before — by which means a knowledge is obtained of the other houses who (it is supposed) have been swindled. Gelling a description of the barge which conveyed the goods from Queenhithe, the whole party of creditors now set off in pursuit.

About dawn the next morning they overtake the barge a little below Gravesend — when four men are observed leaving her upon sight of the pursuers and rowing to the shore in a skiff. Peter Snook is found silting quietly in the cabin, and although apparently a little surprised at seeing Mr. Pester, betrays nothing like embarrassment or fear.

“Ah, Mr. Pester, is it you? Glad to see you, sir! So you’ve been taking a trip out o’ town, and are going back with us? We shall get to Billingsgate between eight and nine, they say; and 1 hope it won’t be later, as I’ve a bill of yours comes due to-day and I want to be at home in time to write a check for it.”

The goods are also found on board, together with three men in the hold, gagged and tied hand and foot. They give a strange account of themselves. Being in the employ of Mr. Heaviside a lighterman, they were put in charge of “The Flitter,” when she was hired by Peter Snook for a trip to Gravesend. According [column 2:] to their orders they took the barge in the first instance to a wharf near Queenhithe, and helped to load her with some goods brought down in carts. Mr. Snook afterwards came on board bringing with him two fierce looking men and “a little man with a hooked nose,” (Ephraim.) Mr. S. and the little man then “had a sort of a jollification” in the cabin, till the latter got drunk and was carried ashore. They then proceeded down the river, nothing particular occuring till they had passed Greenwich Hospital, when Mr. S. ordered them to lay the barge alongside a large black sided ship. No sooner was the order obeyed than they were boarded by a number of men from said ship, who seized them, bound them hnnd and foot, gagged them and put them down into the hold.

The immediate consequence of this information is, that our poor friend Peter is bound hand and foot, gagged, and put down into the hold in the same manner, by way of retaliation, and for sake-keeping on his way back to the city. On the arrival of the party a meeting of the creditors is called. Peter appears before them in a great rage and with the air of an injured man. Indeed, his behavior is so mal-a-propos to his situation, as entirely to puzzle his interrogators. He accuses the whole party of a conspiracy.

“Peter Snook,” said Mr. Pester solemnly, from the chair, “that look does not become you after what has passed. Let me advise you to conduct yourself with propriety. You will And that the best policy, depend on’t’

“A pretty thing for you, for to come to talk of propriety!” exclaimed Peter; “you that seed me laid hold on by a set of rurhns, arid never said a word, nor given information a’terwards! And here have I been kept away from business 1 don’t know how long, and shut up like a dog in a kennel; but I look upon’t you were at the bottom of it all — you and that fellow with the plum-pudding lace, as blowed me up about a cask of gin! What you both mean by it I can’t think ; but if there's any law in the land, I’ll make you remember it, both of you — that's what I will!”

Mr. Snook swears that he never saw Mr. Jobb in his life except on the occasion of his capture in “The Flitter,” and positively denies having looked out any parcel of goods at the house of Jobb, Flashbill St Co. With the banker, Mr. Bluff, he acknowledges an acquaintance — but nol having drawn for the two hundred and seventy pounds odd, or having ever overdrawn for a shilling in his life. Moreover he is clearly of opinion that the banker has still in his hands more than a hundred and fifty pounds of his (Mr. Snook's) money. He also designates several gentlemen as being no creditors of his, although they were of the number of those from whom large purchases had been made for the “whacking” shipping order, and although their goods were found in “The Flitter.” Ephraim is summoned, and testifies to all the particulars of his master's return, and the subsequent packing, cart-loading and embarkation as already told — accounting for the extravagances of Mr. Snook as being “all along of that Miss Bodkin.”

“Lor’, master, hi's glad to see you agin,” exclaimed Ephraim. “Who’d ha’ thought as ‘twould come to this?”

“Come to what?” cried Peter. “I’ll make ‘em repent of it, every man Jack of ‘em, before I’ve done, if there's law to be had for love or money!”

“Ah, sir,” said Ephraim, “we’d better have stnek to the retail. 1 was afraid that shipping consarn would'nt answer, and tell’d you so, if you recollect, but you would'nt harken to me.”

“What shipping concern?” inquired Peter, with a look of amazement. [page 730:]

“La! master,” exclaimed Ephraim, “it aint of any use to pretend to keep it a secret now, when every body knows it. I did’ut tell Mr. Pester, though, till the last, when all the goods was pone out of the shop, ami the sheriff ‘a officers had come to lake possession of the house.”

“Sheriff's officers in possession of my house !” roared Peter. “All the goods gone out of the shop! What do you mean by that, you rascal? What have you been lining in my absence?” And he sprang forward furiously, and seized the trembling shopman by the collar with a degree of violence which rendered it difficult fur the two officers in attendance to disengage him from his hold.

Hereupon, Mr. Snap, the attorney retained by the creditors, harangues the company at some length, and intimates that Mr. Snook is either mad, or acting the madman for the purpose of evading punishment. A practitioner from Bedlam is sent for, and some artifices resorted to — but to no purpose. It is found impossible to decide upon the question of sanity. The medical gentleman in his report to the creditors confesses himself utterly perplexed, and, without giving a decision, details the particulars of a singular story told him by Mr. Snook himself concerning the mode of his escape from drowning after he fell overboard from the “Rose in June.” “It is a strange unlikely tale to be sure,” says the physician, “and if his general conversation was of that wild imaginative flighty kind which I have so often witnessed, I should say it was purely ideal; but he appears such a plain-spoken, simple sort of a person, that it is difficult to conceive how he could invent such a fiction.” Mr. Snook's narration is then told, not in his very words, but in the author's own way, with all the particulars obtained from Peter's various recitations. This narration is singular enough but we shall give it only in petto.

Upon tumbling overboard, Mr. Snook (at least according to his own story) swam courageously as long as he could. He was upon the point of sinking, however, when an oar was thrust under his arm, and he found himself lifted in a boat by a “dozen dark looking men.” He is taken on board a large ship, and the captain, who is a droll genius, and talks in rhyme somewhat after the fashion of Frazer's Magazine, entertains him with great cordiality, dresses him in a suit of his own clothes, makes him drink in the first place a brimmer of “something hot,” and afterwards plies him with wines and liqueurs of all kinds, at a supper of the most magnificent description. Warmed in body and mind by this excellent cheer, Peter reveals his inmost secrets to his host and talks freely and minutely of a thousand things; of his man Ephraim and his oddities; of his bank account; of his great credit; of his adventures with Miss Bodkin, his prospects in trade, and especially the names, residences, ct cetera, ct cetera, of the wholesale houses with which he is in the habit of dealing. Presently, being somewhat overcome with wine, he goes to bed at the suggestion of the captain, who promises to call him in season for a boat in the morning which will convey him to Billingsgate in full time for Pester and Co.'s note. How long he slept is uncertain — but when he awoke a great change was observable in the captain's manner, who was somewhat brusque, and handed him over the ship's side into the barge where he was discovered by the creditors in pursuit, and which he was assured would convey him to Billingsgate.

This relation we have given in brief, and consequently it implies little or nothing. The result, however, to [column 2:] which the reader is ingeniously led by the author, is that the real Peter Snook has been duped, and that the Peter Snook who made the various purchases about town, and who appeared to Ephraim only during the morning and evening twilight of the eventful day, was, in fact, no other person than the captain of “the strange, black-sided ship.” We are to believe that, taking advantage of Peter's communicativeness, and a certain degree of personal resemblance to himself, he assumed our hero's clothes while he slept, and made a bold and nearly successful attempt at wholesale peculation.

The incidents of this story are forcibly conceived, and even in the hands of an ordinary writer would scarcely fail of effect. But in the present instance so unusual a tact is developed in the narration, that we are inclined to rank “Peter Snook” among the few tales which, each in their own way, are absolutely faultless. Such things, however, insignificant in themselves or their subjects, satisfy tbe mind of the literary critic precisely as we have known a few rude, and apparently unroeaning touches of the brush, fill with unalloyed pleasure the eye of the artist. But no — in the latter case effect is produced chiefly by arrangement, and a proper preponderance of objects. “Peter Snook” is rather a Flemish home-piece, and entitled to the very species of praise which should be awarded to the best of such pieces. The merit lies in the chiaro ‘scuro — in that blending of light and shadow where nothing is too distinct, yet where the idea is fully conveyed — in the absence of all rigid outlines and all miniature painting — in the not undue warmth of the coloring — and in the slight tone of exaggeration prevalent, yet not amounting to caricature. We will venture to assert that no painter, who deserres to be called so, will read “Peter Snook” without assenting to what we say, and without a perfect consciousness that the principal rules of the plastic arts, founded as they surely are in a true perception of the beautiful, will apply in their fullest force to every species of literary composition.



Lives of the Cardinal dc Richelieu, Count Oxenstiern, Count Olivarez, and Cardinal Mazarm. By G. P. R. James. Republished by Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

As a novelist, Mr. James has never, certainly, been popular — nor has he, we think, deserved popularity. Neither do we mean to imply that with “the few” he has been held in very lofty estimation. He has fallen, apparently, upon that unlucky mediocrily permitted neither by Gods nor columns. His historical novels have been of a questionable character — neither veritable history, nor endurable romance — neither “fish, flesh, nor gude red herring.” He has been lauded, it is true, by a great variety of journals, and in many instances mentioned with approbation by men whose critical opinions (could we fully ascertain them) would be entitled to the highest consideration. It is not, however, by the amount, so readily as by the nature or character of such public compliments, that we can estimate their intrinsic value, or that of the object complimented. No man speaks of James, as he speaks, (and cannot help speaking) of Scott, of Bulwer, of D’Israeli, and of numerous lesser minds than these — and all inferior to James, if we harken to the body rather than to the soul [page 731:] of the testimonies offered hourly by the public press. The author of” Richelieu” and “Darnley” is lauded, by a great majority of those who laud him, from mere motives of duty, not of inclination — duty erroneously conceived. He is looked upon as the head and representative of those novelists who, in historical romance, attempt to blend interest with instruction. His sentiments are found to be pure — his morals unquestionable, and pointedly shown forth — his language indisputably correct. And for all this, praise, assuredly, but then only a certain degree of praise, should be awarded him. To be pure in his expressed opinions is a duty; and were his language as correct as any spoken, he would speak only as every gentleman should speak. In regard to his historical information, were it much more accurate, and twice as extensive as, from any visible indications, we have reason to believe it, it should still be remembered that similar attainments are possessed by many thousands of well-educated men of all countries, who look upon their knowledge with no more than ordinary complacency; and that a far, very far higher reach of erudition is within the grasp of any general reader having access to the great libraries of Paris or the Vatican. Something more than we have mentioned is necessary to place our author upon a level with the best of the English novelists — for here his admirers would desire us to place him. Had Sir Walter Scott never existed, and Waverley never been written, we would not, of course, award Mr. J. the merit of being the first to blend history, even successfully, with fiction. But as an indifferent imitator of the Scotch novelist in this respect, it is unnecessary to speak of the author of “Richelieu” any farther. To genius of any kind, it seems to us, that he has little pretension. In the solemn tranquillity of his pages we seldom stumble across a novel emotion, and if any matter of deep interest arises in the path, we are pretty sure to find it an interest appertaining to some historical fact equally vivid or more so in the original chronicles.

Of the volumes now before us we are enabled to speak more favorably — yet not in a tone of high commendation. The book might more properly be called “Notices of the Times of Richelieu,” &c. Of course, in so small a compass, nothing like a minute account of the life and varied intrigues of even Mazarin alone, could be expected. What is done, however, is done with more than the author's usual ability, and with much more than his customary spirit. In the Life of Axel, Count Oxenstiern, there is, we believe, a great deal of information not to be met with in the more accessible historians of Sweden.



A new and compendious Latin Grammar; with appropriate exercises, Analytical and Synthetical. For the use of primary schools, academies, and colleges. By Baynard R. Hall, A. M. Principal of the Bedford Classical and Mathematical Academy, and formerly Professor of the Ancient Languages in the College of Indiana. Philadelphia: Harrison Hall.

The excellences of this grammar have been so well proved, and the work itself so heartily recommended by some of the first scholars in our country that, at this late day especially, we feel called upon to say but little in its behalf. But that little we can say conscientiously.

It appears to us at least as well adapted to its purposes as any Latin Grammar within our knowledge. In some respects it has merits to be met with in no other. It is free from every species of empiricism, and, following the good old track as far as that track can be judiciously followed, admits of no royal road to the acquisition of Latin. The arrangement is lucid and succinct — yet the work embodies a vast deal of matter which could have been obtained only through reference to many of the most elaborate treatises of Europe. In its analysis of idiom it excels any similar book now in common use — an advantage of the highest importance. The size of the work is moderate, yet nothing of consequence to the student is omitted. The definitions are remarkably concise — yet sufficiently full for any practical purpose. The prosodial rules at the beginning are easily comprehended, and thus placed, are easily applied in the further progress of the scholar. A great many useless things to be found in a majority of grammars are judiciously discarded, and lastly, the analytical and synthetical exercises are admirably suited to the illustration of the principles inculcated. Upon the whole, were we a teacher, we would prefer its use to that of any other Latin Grammar whatever.



Reports of Cases decided in the High Court of Chancery of Maryland. By Theodorick Bland, Chancellor. Vol. 1, pp. 705, 8vo.

We cannot perceive any sufficient reason for the publication of this book. The tribunal whose decisions it reports, is not of the last resort;* they therefore are of very questionable authority, even in Maryland; and the Chancellor, though evidently ‘a man of sense and learning, has not, like Kent, Marshall, or Hardwicke, that towering reputation which will stamp his dicta as law (either persuasively or conclusively) beyond the limits of his own state. The cases reported in chief, are all decided by the author of the book. In the notes are given many decisions of his predecessors. So that, wherever we look, there is still but the same inadequate weight of name and station.

Now, the enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information, by throwing in the reader's way piles of lumber, in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful matter, peradventure interspersed. In no department have the complaints of this evil been louder or more just, than in the law. There are five and twenty supreme courts, or courts of appeals, in the United States, (not to mention Arkansas or Michigan) each of which probably emits a yearly volume of its “cases;” besides as many professed legislative law-factories, all possessed with the notion of being Solons and Lycurguses. These surely can give both lawyers and people rules of conduct enough to keep their wits on the stretch, without any supplies from inauthoritative sources. The law books we get from England would of themselves now suffice to employ those lucubrations of twenty years, which used to be deemed few enough for a mastery of the legal profession. From these considerations, we hold him to be no friend to lawyers — and hardly a good citizen — who heedlessly [page 732:] sends forth the bulky addition to their reading, to encumber and perplex the science, and make it more and more a riddle to common minds.

The volume before us, besides these more general objections, is liable to at least another special one. Many of its cases are inordinately voluminous. That of Hannah K. Chase fills 30 pages — Lingan v. Henderson 47 pages — Cunningham v. Browning 33 pages — Owings’ case 40 pages — and “the Chancellor's case” 92 pages! The third one of these cases involves no principle that can probably affect any mortal out of Maryland, and the last is not even a judicial decision in Maryland! it is a mere determination of the legislature of that state, touching the salary of a judge. They might all, we are full sure, have been shortened by two-thirds, with great advantage lo their perspicuity, as well as to the reader's time, patience and money.

There are no running dates on the margin, showing in what year each case was decided. But in other respects, the getting up of the book is uncommonly good. The paper, typography, and binding, are all of the first order. We are sorry however that these appliances were not bestowed to better purpose.



Memoirs of Lucien Bonaparte, (Prince of Canino,) written by himself. Translated from the original manuscript, under the immediate superintendence of the author. Part the First, (from the year 1792, to the year 8 of the Republic.)

In the publication of these memoirs the Prince of Canino disclaims any personal views. “I do it,” he says, “because they appear to offer materials of some value to a history so fruitful in great events, of which the serious study may be useful in future to my country.” In the commencement of the brief introduction from which these words of his are quoted, he complains, but without acrimony, of the pamphleteers who have too often made him the subject of their leisure. “Revelations, secret memoirs, collections of anecdotes, the fruits of imaginations without shame or decency, have not spared me. I have read all of them in my retirement, and I was at first surprised how I could have drawn upon myself so many calumnies, never having offended any person. But my astonishment ceased when I had better appreciated my position — removed from public affairs, without influence, and almost always in silent or open opposition to the powers, though sufficiently near to keep them constantly in fear of my return to favor, how was it possible for the malice of the courtiers to leave me in repose?”

It is not our intention to speak at length of these memoirs. Neither is such a course necessary in regard to a work which will, and must be read, by every person who pretends to read at all. The author professes to suppress all details that are foreign to public affairs — yet he has not too strictly adhered to his intention. There are many merely personal and private anecdotes which have a very shadowy bearing, if any, upon the political movements of the times. That the whole volume is of deep interest it is almost unnecessary to say — for this the subject is alone an assurance. The style of the Prince do Canino, is sufficiently well known to a majority of our readers. The book now before us [column 2:] possesses, in prose, many of those peculiarities of manner, which in so great a measure distinguished, and we must say disfigured, the author's poem of the Cirreide. Here are the same affectations, the same Tacitus-urn, and the same indiscriminate elevation of tone. The edition of this book by Saunders and Otley is well printed, with a clear large type, and excellently bound.



Madrid in 1835. Sketches of the Metropolis of Spain and its Inhabitants, and of Society and Manners in the Peninsula. By a Resident Officer. Two volumes in one. New York: Saunders & Otley.

One portion of this title appertains to volume the first, the other to volume the second. Of Madrid, the author has managed to present a vivid picture by means of a few almost scratchy outlines. He by no means goes over the whole ground of the city, nor is he more definite than necessary; but the most striking features of the life and still-life of the Metropolis are selected with judgment, and given with effect. The manner of the narrative is singularly à la Trollope — and this we look upon as no little recommendation with that large proportion of readers who, in laughing over a book, care not overmuch whether the laugh be at the author or with him.

The sketches, here, of the manners and social habits of Madrid are done with sufficient freedom, and a startling degree of breadth; yet the details, for the most part, have an air of profound truth, and the conviction will force itself upon the mind of the reader that the “Resident Officer” who amuses him is thoroughly conversant with his subject. Such passages as the following, however, are perhaps somewhat overcolored:

No place offers such perfect social facility as the Spanish tertulia. Any body presented by any other body at all known to the master of the house, is sure to be politely received, and, unless in some very peculiar case, offered the house — the usual compliment paid to a stranger or new acquaintance. The great demoralization of society in Spain, may be attributed, in no small degree, to this unbounded admission of a nameless crowd, destitute even of the slightest pretensions to birth, talent or character, into the best houses of the capital and country, where they elbow, and are elbowed by, the most distinguished individuals in the nation — on a footing of the most perfect equality. . . . . A decent coat and look, and the show of a few ounces, are much better passports to society than the best character and station. The master of the house is frequently ignorant of the quality and circumstances of his guests. The usual answer to the query “Do you know that man?” is “No, I know nothing at all about him; he was introduced by so-and-so, who comes here often, but he appears a buen sujeto, muy fino y atento.”

Notwithstanding the greater variety and racy picturesqueness of volume one, volume two will be found upon the whole more entertaining. Here the author deals freely, and en connoisseur, with the Ministry, the Monasteries, the Clergy and their influence, with Prisons, Beggars, Hospitals and Convents. This portion of the work includes also some memorabilia of the year 1835 — the Cholera and the Massacre of July. A chapter on the Spanish Nobility is full of interest.

The work is a large octavo of 340 pages, handsomely printed and bound, and embellished with two good engravings — one of the Convent of the Salesas Viejas, the other of the Prado by twilight.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 731, column 2:]

*Constitution of Maryland, Art. 56.




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