Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Legends of a Log Cabin,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VIII: Literary Criticism - part 01 (1902), pp. 120-121


[page 120, continued:]


[Southern Literary Messenger, December, 1835.]

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

The Hunter’s Vow is, we think, the best of the series. A dreamy student who can never be induced to forsake his books for the more appropriate toils of a backwoods’ existence, is suddenly aroused from his apathy by the murder of his old father by an Indian — a murder which takes place under the scholar’s own eyes, and which might have been prevented but for his ignorance in the art of handling and loading a rifle. The entire change wrought in the boy’s character is [page 121:] well managed. The Heiress of Brandsby is a tale neither so verisimilar, nor so well told. It details the love of a Virginian heiress for a Methodist of no very enticing character; and concludes by the utter subversion, through the means of all powerful love, of the lady’s long cherished notions of aristocracy. The Frenchman’s Story has appeared before in the American Monthly Magazine. It is a well imagined and well executed tale of the French Revolution. The fate of M. Girond “who left town suddenly,” is related with that air of naked and unvarnished truth so apt to render even a silly narrative interesting. The Englishman’s Story is a failure — full of such palpable folly that we have a difficulty in ascribing it to the same pen which wrote the other portions of the volume. The whole tale betrays a gross ignorance of law in general — and of English law in especial. The Yankee’s Story is much better — but not very good. We have our doubts as to the genuine Yankeeism of the narrator. His language, at all events, savors but little of Down East. The Wyandot’s Story is also good (this too has appeared in the American Monthly Magazine) — but we have fault to find, likewise, with the phraseology in this instance. No Indian, let Chateaubriand and others say what they please, ever indulged, for a half hour at a time, in the disjointed and hyperbolical humbug here attributed to the Wyandot. The Minute Men is the last of the series, and from its being told by the author himself, is, we suppose, considered by him the best. It is a tale of the year seventy-five — but, although interesting, we do not think it equal to either The Frenchman’s Story or The Hunter’s Vow. We recommend the volume to the attention of our readers. It is excellently gotten up.





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