Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Clinton Bradshaw,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VIII: Literary Criticism - part 01 (1902), pp. 109-110


[page 109, continued:]


[Southern Literary Messenger, December, 1835.]

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

“The plan of this novel,” says a correspondent of a contemporary Magazine, for whose editorial opinions [page 110:] we have the highest respect, “is exceedingly simple, and the moral it unfolds, if not of the most elevated kind, is still useful and highly applicable to our existing state of society. It is the story of a young lawyer of limited means, and popular talents, whose ambition urges him to elevate himself by all the honorable methods in his power. His professional pursuits lead him among the coarsest criminals, while his political career brings him in contact with the venal and corrupt of all parties. But true alike to himself and the community of which he is a member, the stern principles of a republican, and the uncompromising spirit of a gentleman, are operative under all circumstances.” These words we quote as affording, in a brief space, some idea of the plot of Clinton Bradshaw. We repeat, however, that we dislike the novel, considered as a novel. Some detached passages are very good. The chief excellence of the book consists in a certain Flemish caricaturing of vulgar habitudes and action. The whole puts us irresistibly in mind of High Life below Stairs. Its author is, we understand, a gentleman of Cincinnati.





[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Clinton Bradshaw)