Text: Edgar Allan Poe (?), (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Corse de Leon,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. X: Literary Criticism - part 03 (1902), pp. 160-162


[page 160, continued:]


[Graham’s Magazine, June, 1841.]

BERNARD DE ROHAN and Isabel de Brienne are betrothed to each other in childhood; but the father of the latter dying, and her mother marrying again, the union of the two lovers is opposed by the father-in-law, the Lord of Masseran, who has another husband in view for her, the Count de Meyrand. To escape his persecutions, the heroine elopes, and is married in a private chapel to De Rohan; but just as the ceremony has closed, the pair are surprised by Masseran and Meyrand, who fling the hero into a dungeon, and bear off Isabel. The young wife manages to escape, however, and reaches Paris to throw herself on the protection of the King, Henry the Second. Here she learns that her husband, whom the monarch had ordered to be [page 161:] freed, has perished in a conflagration of Masseran’s castle; and she determines to take the veil. In vain the king endeavours to persuade her to wait. She is inflexible, until surprised by the reappearance of De Rohan, who, instead of perishing as supposed, has been rescued, unknown, by Corse de Leon, a stern, wild, yet withal, generous sort of a brigand, with whom he had become accidentally acquainted on the frontiers of Savoy. As the stolen marriage of the lovers has been revoked by a royal edict, it is necessary that the ceremony should be repeated. A week hence is named for the wedding, but before that time arrives De Rohan not only fights — unavoidably, of course — with his rival, which the monarch has forbidden, but is accused by Masseran of the murder of Isabel’s brother in a remote province of France. De Rohan is tried, found guilty, and condemned to die; but on the eve of execution is rescued by his good genius, the brigand. He flies his country, and in disguise joins the army in Italy, where he greatly distinguishes himself. Finally, he storms and carries a castle, by the assistance of Corse de Leon, which Meyrand, now an outlaw, is holding out against France; at the same time rescuing his long lost bride from the clutches of the count, into which she had fallen by the sack of a neighbouring abbey. In the dungeon of the captured castle Isabel’s brother is discovered, he having been confined there by Masseran, prior to charging De Rohan with his murder. After a little farther bye-play, which only spoils the work, and which we shall not notice, the lovers are united, and thenceforth “all goes merry as a marriage bell.”

This is the outline of the plot — well enough in its way; but partaking largely of the common-place, and [page 162:] marred by the conclusion, which we have omitted, and which was introduced only for the purpose of introducing the famous death of Henry the Second, at a tournament.

The characters, however, are still more common-place. De Rohan and Isabel are like all James’ lovers, — mere nothings; Father Welland and Corse de Leon are the beneficent spirits, and Meyrand and Masseran are the evil geniuses, of the novel. The other characters are lifeless, common, and uncharacteristic. They make no impression, and you almost forget their names. There is no originality in any of them, and save a passage of fine writing here and there, nothing to be praised in the book. Corse de Leon, the principal character, talks philosophy like Bulwer’s heroes, and is altogether a plagiarism from that bombastic, unnatural, cut-throat school; besides, he possesses a universality of knowledge, combined with a commensurable power, which, although they get the hero very conveniently out of scrapes, belie all nature. In short, this is but a readable novel, and a mere repetition of the author’s former works.





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