Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. John H. Ingram), “Autography,” The Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. IV: Autography & Criticisms (1875), 4:1-62


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Edgar A. Poe

UNDER this head, some years ago, there appeared, in the Southern Literary Messenger, an article which attracted very general attention, not less from the nature of its subject than from the peculiar manner in which it was handled. The editor introduces his readers to a certain Mr. Joseph Miller, who, it is hinted, is not merely a descendant of the illustrious Joe, of Jest-Book notoriety, but that identical individual in proper person. Upon this point, however, an air of uncertainty is thrown by means of an equivoque, maintained throughout the paper, in respect to Mr. Miller's middle name. This equivoque is put into the mouth of Mr. M. himself. He gives his name, in the first instance, as Joseph A. Miller; but, in the course of conversation [page 2:] shifts it to Joseph B., then to Joseph C., and so on through the whole alphabet, until he concludes by desiring a copy of the Magazine to be sent to his address as Joseph Z. Miller, Esquire.

The object of his visit to the editor is to place in his hands the autographs of certain distinguished American literati. To these persons he had written rigmarole letters on various topics, and in all cases had been successful in eliciting a reply. The replies only (which it is scarcely necessary to say are all fictitious) are given in the Magazine, with a genuine autograph fac-simile appended, and are either burlesques of the supposed writer's usual style, or rendered otherwise absurd by reference to the nonsensical questions imagined to have been propounded by Mr. Miller. The autographs thus given are twenty-six in all — corresponding to the twenty-six variations in the initial letter of the hoaxer's middle name.

With the public this article took amazingly well, and many of our principal papers were at the expense of re-printing it with the wood-cut autographs. Even those whose names had been introduced, and whose style had been burlesqued, took the joke, generally speaking, in good part. Some of them were at a loss what to make of the matter. Dr. W. E. Channing, of Boston, was at some trouble, it is said, in calling to mind whether he had or had not actually written to some Mr. Joseph Miller the letter attributed to him in the article. This letter was nothing more than what follows:

— BOSTON, ———.


No such person as Philip Philpot has ever been in my employ as a coachman, or otherwise. The name is an odd one, and not likely to be forgotten. The man must have reference to some other Doctor Channing. It would be as well to question him closely.

Respectfully yours,



The precise and brief sententiousness of the divine is here, it will be seen, very truly adopted, or “hit off.”

In one instance only was the jeu-d’esprit taken in serious dudgeon. Colonel Stone and the Messenger had not been [page 3:] upon the best of terms. Some one of the Colonel's little brochures had been severely treated by that journal, which declared that the work would have been far more properly published among the quack advertisements in a spare corner of the Commercial. The colonel had retaliated by wholesale vituperation of the Messenger. This being the state of affairs, it was not to be wondered at that the following epistle was not quietly received on the part of him to whom it was attributed: —

NEW YORK, ———.


I am exceedingly and excessively sorry that it is out of my power to comply with your rational and reasonable request. The subject you mention is one with which I am utterly unacquainted. Moreover it is one about which I know very little.




These tautologies and anti-climaces were too much for the colonel, and we are ashamed to say that he committed himself by publishing in the Commercial an indignant denial of ever having indited such an epistle.

The principal feature of this autograph article, although perhaps the least interesting, was that of the editorial comment upon the supposed MSS., regarding them as indicative of character. In these comments the design was never more than semi-serious. At times, too, the writer was evidently led into error or injustice through the desire of being pungent — not unfrequently sacrificing truth for the sake of a bon-mot. In the manner qualities were often attributed to individuals, which were not so much indicated by their hand-writing, as suggested by the spleen of the commentator. But that a strong analogy does generally and naturally exist between every man's chirography and character, will be denied by none but the unreflecting. It is not our purpose, however, to enter into the philosophy of this subject, either in this portion of the present paper, or in the abstract. What we may have to say will be introduced elsewhere, and in connection with particular MSS. The practical application of the theory will thus go hand in hand with the theory itself. [page 4:]

Our design is three-fold: — In the first place, seriously to illustrate our position that the mental features are indicated (with certain exceptions) by the hand-writing; secondly, to indulge in a little literary gossip; and, thirdly, to furnish our readers with a more accurate and at the same time a more general collection of the autographs of our literati than is to be found elsewhere. Of the first portion of this design we have already spoken. The second speaks for itself. Of the third it is only necessary to say that we are confident of its interest for all lovers of literature. Next to the person of a distinguished man-of-letters, we desire to see his portrait — next to his portrait, his autograph. In the latter, especially, there is something which seems to bring him before us in his true idiosyncrasy — in his character of scribe. The feeling which prompts to the collection of autographs is a natural and rational one. But complete, or even extensive collections, are beyond the reach of those who themselves do not dabble in the waters of literature. The writer of this article has had opportunities, in this way, enjoyed by few. The MSS. now lying before him are a motley mass indeed. Here are letters, or other compositions, from every individual in America who has the slightest pretension to literary celebrity. From these we propose to select the most eminent names — as to give all would be a work of supererogation. Unquestionably, among those whose claims we are forced to postpone, are several whose high merit might justly demand a different treatment; but the rule applicable in a case like this seems to be that of celebrity, rather than that of true worth. It will be understood that, in the necessity of selection which circumstances impose upon us, we confine ourselves to the most noted among the living literati of the country. The article above alluded to, embraced, as we have already stated, only twenty-six names, and was not occupied exclusively either with living persons, or, properly speaking, with literary ones. In fact the whole paper seemed to acknowledge no law beyond that of whim. Our present essay will be found to include one hundred autographs. We have thought it unnecessary to preserve any particular order in their arrangement. [page 5:]

Chas. Anthon

Professor CHARLES ANTHON, of Columbia College, New York, is well known as the most erudite of our classical scholars; and, although still a young man, there are few, if any, even in Europe, who surpass him in his peculiar path of knowledge. In England his supremacy has been tacitly acknowledged by the immediate re-publication of his editions of Cæsar, Sallust, and Cicero, with other works, and their adoption as text-books at Oxford and Cambridge. His amplification of Lempriére did him high honour, but, of late, has been entirely superseded by a Classical Dictionary of his own — a work most remarkable for the extent and comprehensiveness of its details, as well as for its historical, chronological, mythological, and philological accuracy. It has at once completely overshadowed every thing of its kind. It follows, as a matter of course, that Mr. Anthon has many little enemies, among the inditers of merely big books. He has not been unassailed, yet has assuredly remained uninjured in the estimation of all those whose opinion he would be likely to value. We do not mean to say that he is altogether without faults, but a certain antique Johnsonism of style is perhaps one of his worst. He was mainly instrumental (with Professor Henry and Dr. Hawks) in setting on foot the New York Review, a journal of which he is the most efficient literary support, and whose most erudite papers have always been furnished by his pen.

The chirography of Professor Anthon is the most regularly beautiful of any in our collection. We see the most scrupulous precision, finish, and neatness about every portion of it — in the formation of individual letters, as well as in the tout-ensemble. The perfect symmetry of the MS. gives it, to a casual glance, the appearance of Italic print. The lines are quite straight, and at exactly equal distances, yet are written without black rules, or other artificial aid. There is not the slightest superfluity, in the way of flourish or otherwise, with the exception of the twirl in the C of the [page 6:] signature. Yet the whole is rather neat and graceful than forcible. Of four letters now lying before us, one is written on pink, one on a faint blue, one on green, and one on yellow paper — all of the finest quality. The seal is of green wax, with an impression of the head of Cæsar.

It is in the chirography of such men as Professor Anthon that we look with certainty for indication of character. The life of a scholar is mostly undisturbed by those adventitious events which distort the natural disposition of the man of the world, preventing his real nature from manifesting itself in his MS. The lawyer, who, pressed for time, is often forced to embody a world of heterogeneous memoranda, on scraps of paper, with the stumps of all varieties of pen, will soon find the fair characters of his boyhood degenerate into hieroglyphics which would puzzle Doctor Wallis or Champollion; and from chirography so disturbed it is nearly impossible to decide any thing. In a similar manner, men who pass through many striking vicissitudes of life, acquire in each change of circumstance a temporary inflection of the hand-writing; the whole resulting, after many years, in an unformed or variable MS., scarcely to be recognised by themselves from one day to the other. In the case of literary men generally, we may expect some decisive token of the mental influence upon the MS., and in the instance of the classical devotee we may look with especial certainty for such token. We see, accordingly, in Professor Anthon's autography, each and all of the known idiosyncrasies of his taste and intellect. We recognise at once the scrupulous precision and finish of his scholarship and of his style — the love of elegance which prompts him to surround himself, in his private study, with gems of sculptural art, and beautifully bound volumes, all arranged with elaborate attention to form, and in the very pedantry of neatness. We perceive, too, the disdain of superfluous embellishment which distinguishes his compilations, and which gives to their exterior appearance so marked an air of Quakerism. We must not forget to observe that the “want of force” is a want as perceptible in the whole character of the man, as in that of the MS. [page 7:]

Washington Irving

The MS. of Mr. IRVING has little about it indicative of his genius. Certainly, no one could suspect from it any nice finish in the writer's compositions; nor is this nice finish to be found. The letters now before us vary remarkably in appearance; and those of late date are not nearly so well written as the more antique. Mr. Irving has travelled much, has seen many vicissitudes, and has been so thoroughly satiated with fame as to grow slovenly in the performance of his literary tasks. This slovenliness has affected his hand-writing. But even from his earlier MSS. there is little to be gleaned, except the ideas of simplicity and precision. It must be admitted, however, that this fact, in itself, is characteristic of the literary manner, which, however excellent, has no prominent or very remarkable features.

Park Benjamin

For the last six or seven years, few men have occupied a more desirable position among us than Mr. BENJAMIN. As the editor of the American Monthly Magazine, of the New Yorker, and more lately of the Signal, and New World, he has exerted an influence scarcely second to that of any editor in the country. This influence Mr. B. owes to no single cause, but to his combined ability, activity, causticity, fearlessness, and independence. We use the latter term, however, with some mental reservation. The editor of the World is independent so far as the word implies unshaken resolution to follow the bent of one's own will, let the consequences be what they may. He is no respecter of persons, and his vituperation as often assails the powerful as the powerless — indeed the latter fall rarely under his censure. But we cannot call his independence, at all times, that of principle. We can never be sure that he will defend a cause [page 8:] merely because it is the cause of truth — or even because he regards it as such. He is too frequently biassed by personal feelings — feelings now of friendship, and again of vindictiveness. He is a warm friend, and a bitter, but not implacable enemy. His judgment in literary matters should not be questioned, but there is some difficulty in getting at his real opinion. As a prose writer, his style is lucid, terse, and pungent. He is often witty, often cuttingly sarcastic, but seldom humourous. He frequently injures the force of his fiercest attacks by an indulgence in merely vituperative epithets. As a poet, he is entitled to far higher consideration than that in which he is ordinarily held. He is skilful and passionate, as well as imaginative. His sonnets have not been surpassed. In short, it is as a poet that his better genius is evinced — it is in poetry that his noble spirit breaks forth, showing what the man is, and what, but for unhappy circumstances, he would invariably appear.

Mr. Benjamin's MS. is not very dissimilar to Mr. Irving's, and, like his, it has no doubt been greatly modified by the excitements of life, and by the necessity of writing much and hastily; so that we can predicate but little respecting it. It speaks of his exquisite sensibility and passion. These betray themselves in the nervous variation of the MS. as the subject is diversified. When the theme is an ordinary one, the writing is legible and has force; but when it verges upon any thing which may be supposed to excite, we see the characters falter as they proceed. In the MSS. of some of his best poems this peculiarity is very remarkable. The signature conveys the idea of his usual chirography.

John P. Kennedy

Mr. KENNEDY is well known as the author of “Swallow Barn,” “Horse-Shoe Robinson,” and “Rob of the Bowl,” three works whose features are strongly and decidedly marked. These features are boldness and force of thought, (disdaining ordinary embellishment, and depending for its [page 9:] effect upon masses rather than upon details) with a predominant sense of the picturesque pervading and giving colour to the whole. His “Swallow Barn,” in especial (and it is by the first effort of an author that we form the truest idea of his mental bias), is but a rich succession of picturesque still-life pieces. Mr. Kennedy is well to do in the world, and has always taken the world easily. We may therefore expect to find in his chirography, if ever in any, a full indication of the chief feature of his literary style — especially as this chief feature is so remarkably prominent. A glance at his signature will convince any one that the indication is to be found. A painter called upon to designate the main peculiarity of this MS. would speak at once of the picturesque. This character is given it by the absence of hair-strokes, and by the abrupt termination of every letter without tapering; also in great measure by varying the size and slope of the letters. Great uniformity is preserved in the whole air of the MS., with great variety in the constituent parts. Every character has the clearness, boldness and precision of a wood-cut. The long letters do not rise or fall in an undue degree above the others. Upon the whole, this is a hand which pleases us much, although its bizarrerie is rather too piquant for the general taste. Should its writer devote himself more exclusively to light letters, we predict his future eminence. The paper on which our epistles are written is very fine, clear, and white, with gilt edges. The seal is neat, and just sufficient wax has been used for the impression. All this betokens a love of the elegant without effeminacy.

G. Mellen

The hand-writing of GRENVILLE MELLEN is somewhat peculiar, and partakes largely of the character of his signature as seen above. The whole is highly indicative of the poet's flighty, hyper-fanciful character, with his unsettled and often erroneous ideas of the beautiful. His straining after effect is well paralleled in the formation of the preposterous G in the signature, with the two dots by its [page 10:] side. Mr. Mellen has genius unquestionably, but there is something in his temperament which obscures it.

J. K. Paulding

No correct notion of Mr. PAULDING’S literary peculiarities can be obtained from an inspection of his MS., which no doubt, has been strongly modified by adventitious circumstances. His small a s, t s, and c s are all alike, and the style of the characters generally is French, although the entire MS. has much the appearance of Greek text. The paper which he ordinarily uses is of a very fine glossy texture, and of a blue tint, with gilt edges. His signature is a good specimen of his general hand.

L. H. Sigourney

Mrs. SIGOURNEY seems to take much pains with her MSS. Apparently she employs black lines. Every t is crossed, and every i dotted, with precision, while the punctuation is faultless. Yet the whole has nothing of effeminacy or formality. The individual characters are large, well and freely formed, and preserve a perfect uniformity throughout. Something in her hand-writing puts us in mind of Mr. Paulding's. In both MSS. perfect regularity exists, and in both the style is formed or decided. Both are beautiful; yet Mrs. Sigourney's is the most legible, and Mr. Paulding's nearly the most illegible in the world. From that of Mrs. S. we might easily form a true estimate of her compositions. Freedom, dignity, precision, and grace, without originality, may be properly attributed to her. She has fine taste, without genius. Her paper is usually good — the seal small, of green and gold wax, and without impression. [page 11:]

Robert Walsh

Mr. WALSH’S MS. is peculiar, from its large, sprawling and irregular appearance — rather rotund than angular. It always seems to have been hurriedly written. The t's are crossed with a sweeping scratch of the pen, which gives to his epistles a somewhat droll appearance. A dictatorial air pervades the whole. His paper is of ordinary quality. His seal is commonly of brown wax mingled with gold, and bears a Latin motto, of which only the words trans and mortuus are legible.

Mr. Walsh cannot be denied talent; but his reputation, which has been bolstered into being by a clique, is not a thing to live. A blustering self-conceit betrays itself in his chirography, which upon the whole, is not very dissimilar to that of Mr. E. Everett, of whom we shall speak hereafter.

J. H. Ingraham

Mr. INGRAHAM, or Ingrahame, (for he writes his name sometimes with, and sometimes without the e), is one of our most popular novelists, if not one of our best. He appeals always to the taste of the ultra-romanticists, (as a matter, we believe, rather of pecuniary policy than of choice) and thus is obnoxious to the charge of a certain cut-and-thrust, blue-fire, melodramaticism. Still, he is capable of better things. His chirography is very unequal; at times, sufficiently clear and flowing, at others, shockingly scratchy and uncouth. From it nothing whatever can be predicated, except an uneasy vacillation of temper and of purpose.

W. C. Bryant

Mr. BRYANT’S MS. puts us entirely at fault. It is one [page 12:] of the most commonplace clerk's hands which we ever encountered, and has no character about it beyond that of the day-book and ledger. He writes, in short, what mercantile men and professional penmen call a fair hand, but what artists would term an abominable one. Among its regular up and down strokes, waving lines and hair-lines, systematic taperings and flourishes, we look in vain for the force, polish, and decision of the poet. The picturesque, to be sure, is equally deficient in his chirography and in his poetical productions.

Fitz-Greene Halleck

Mr. HALLECK’S hand is strikingly indicative of his genius. We see in it some force, more grace, and little of the picturesque. There is a great deal of freedom about it, and his MSS. seem to be written currente calamo, but without hurry. His flourishes, which are not many, look as if thoughtfully planned, and deliberately, yet firmly executed. His paper is very good, and of a blueish tint — his seal of red wax.

N. P. Willis

Mr. WILLIS, when writing carefully, would write a hand nearly resembling that of Mr. Halleck; although no similarity is perceptible in the signatures. His usual chirography is dashing, free, and not ungraceful, but is sadly deficient in force and picturesqueness. It has been the fate of this gentleman to be alternately condemned ad infinitum, and lauded ad nauseam — a fact which speaks much in his praise. We know of no American writer who has evinced greater versatility of talent; that is to say, of high talent, often amounting to [page 13:] genius; and we know of none who has more narrowly missed placing himself at the head of our letters.

The paper of Mr. Willis's epistles is always fine and glossy. At present, he employs a somewhat large seal, with a dove, or carrier-pigeon, at the top, the word “Glenmary” at bottom, and the initials “N. P. W.” in the middle.

Rufus Dawes

Mr. DAWES has been long known as a poet; but his claims are scarcely yet settled — his friends giving him rank with Bryant and Halleck, while his opponents treat his pretensions with contempt. The truth is, that the author of “Geraldine” and “Athenia of Damascus” has written occasional verses very well — so well, that some of his minor pieces may be considered equal to any of the minor pieces of either of the two gentlemen above-mentioned. His longer poems, however, will not bear examination. “Athenia of Damascus” is pompous nonsense, and “Geraldine” a most ridiculous imitation of Don Juan, in which the beauties of the original have been as sedulously avoided, as the blemishes have been blunderingly culled. In style, he is, perhaps, the most inflated involved, and falsely-figurative, of any of our more noted poets. This defect, of course, is only fully appreciable in what are termed his “sustained efforts,” and thus his shorter pieces are often exceedingly good. His apparent erudition is mere verbiage, and, were it real, would be lamentably out of place where we see it. He seems to have been infected with a blind admiration of Coleridge — especially of his mysticism and cant.

H. W. Longfellow

H. W. LONGFELLOW, (Professor of Moral Philosophy at Harvard), is entitled to the first place among the poets of America — certainly to the first place among those who have [page 14:] put themselves prominently forth as poets. His good qualities are all of the highest order, while his sins are chiefly those of affectation and imitation — an imitation sometimes verging upon downright theft.

His MS. is remarkably good, and is fairly exemplified in the signature. We see here plain indications of the force, vigour, and glowing richness of his literary style; the deliberate and steady finish of his compositions. The man who writes thus may not accomplish much, but what he does, will always be thoroughly done. The main beauty, or at least one great beauty of his poetry, is that of proportion;  another, is a freedom from extraneous embellishment. He oftener runs into affectation through his endeavours at simplicity than through any other cause. Now this rigid simplicity, and proportion are easily perceptible in the MS., which, altogether, is a very excellent one.

J. Pierpont

The Rev. J. PIERPONT, who, of late, has attracted so much of the public attention, is one of the most accomplished poets in America. His “Airs of Palestine” is distinguished by the sweetness and vigour of its versification, and by the grace of its sentiments. Some of his shorter pieces are exceedingly terse and forcible, and none of our readers can have forgotten his Lines on Napoleon. His rhythm is at least equal in strength and modulation to that of any poet in America. Here he resembles Milman and Croly.

His chirography, nevertheless, indicates nothing beyond the common-place. It is an ordinary clerk's hand — one which is met with more frequently than any other. It is decidedly formed;  and we have no doubt that he never writes otherwise than thus. The MS. of his school-days has probably been persisted in to the last. If so, the fact [page 15:] is in full consonance with the steady precision of his style. The flourish at the end of the signature is but a part of the writer's general enthusiasm.

W. Gilmore Simms

Mr. SIMMS is the author of “Martin Faber,” “Atalantis,” “Guy Rivers,” “The Partisan,” “Mellichampe,” “The Yemassee,” “The Damsel of Darien,” “The Black Riders of the Congaree,” and one or two other productions, among which we must not forget to mention several fine poems. As a poet, indeed, we like him far better than as a novelist. His qualities in this latter respect resemble those of Mr. Kennedy, although he equals him in no particular, except in his appreciation of the graceful. In his sense of beauty he is Mr. K.'s superior, but falls behind him in force, and the other attributes of the author of “Swallow-Barn.” These differences and resemblances are well shown in the MSS. That of Mr. S. has more slope, and more uniformity in detail, with less in the mass — while it has also less of the picturesque, although still much. The middle name is Gilmo re; in the cut it looks like Gilme re.

O. A. Brownson

The Rev. ORESTES A. BROWNSON is chiefly known to the literary world as the editor of the “Boston Quarterly Review,” a work to which he contributes, each quarter, at least two-thirds of the matter. He has published little in book-form — his principal works being “Charles Elwood,” and “New Views.” Of these, the former production is, in many respects, one of the highest merit. In logical accuracy, in comprehensiveness of thought, and in the evident frankness and desire for truth in which it is composed, we [page 16:] know of few theological treatises which can be compared with it. Its conclusion, however, bears about it a species of hesitation and inconsequence, which betray the fact that the writer has not altogether succeeded in convincing himself of those important truths which he is so anxious to impress upon his readers. We must bear in mind, however, that this is the fault of Mr. Brownson's subject, and not of Mr. Brownson. However well a man may reason on the great topics of God and immortality, he will be forced to admit tacitly in the end, that God and immortality are things to be felt, rather than demonstrated.

On subjects less indefinite, Mr. B. reasons with the calm and convincing force of a Combe. He is, in every respect, an extraordinary man, and with the more extensive resources which would have been afforded him by early education, could not have failed to bring about important results.

His MS. indicates, in the most striking manner, the unpretending simplicity, directness, and especially, the indefatigability of his mental character. His signature is more petite than his general chirography.

B. Tucker

Judge BEVERLEY TUCKER, of the College of William and Mary, Virginia, is the author of one of the best novels ever published in America — “George Balcombe” — although, for some reason, the book was never a popular favourite. It was, perhaps, somewhat too didactic for the general taste.

He has written a great deal, also, for the “Southern Literary Messenger” at different times; and, at one period, acted in part, if not altogether, as editor of that Magazine, which is indebted to him for some very racy articles, in the way of criticism especially. He is apt, however, to be led away by personal feelings, and is more given to vituperation for the mere sake of point or pungency, than is altogether consonant with his character as judge. Some five years ago there appeared in the “Messenger,” under [page 17:] the editorial head, an article on the subject of the “Pickwick Papers” and some other productions of Mr. Dickens. This article, which abounded in well-written but extravagant denunciation of everything composed by the author of “The Curiosity Shop,” and which prophesied his immediate downfall, we have reason to believe was from the pen of Judge Beverley Tucker. We take this opportunity of mentioning the subject, because the odium of the paper in question fell altogether upon our shoulders, and it is a burthen we are not disposed and never intended to bear. The review appeared in March, we think, and we had retired from the Messenger in the January preceding. About eighteen months previously, and when Mr. Dickens was scarcely known to the public at all, except as the author of some brief tales and essays, the writer of this article took occasion to predict, in the Messenger, and in the most emphatic manner, that high and just distinction which the author in question has attained. Judge Tucker's MS. is diminutive, but neat and legible, and has much force and precision, with little of the picturesque. The care which he bestows upon his literary compositions makes itself manifest also in his chirography. The signature is more florid than the general hand.

John Sanderson

Mr. SANDERSON, Professor of the Greek and Latin languages in the High School of Philadelphia, is well known as the author of a series of letters, entitled “The American in Paris.” These are distinguished by ease and vivacity of style, with occasional profundity of observation, and, above all, by the frequency of their illustrative anecdotes, and figures. In all these particulars, Professor Sanderson is the precise counterpart of Judge Beverly Tucker, author of “George Balcombe.” The MSS. of the two gentlemen are nearly identical. Both are neat, clear and legible. Mr. Sanderson's is somewhat the more crowded. [page 18:]

H. F. Gould

About Miss GOULD’S MS. there is great neatness, picturesqueness, and finish, without over-effeminacy. The literary style of one who writes thus will always be remarkable for sententiousness and epigrammatism; and these are the leading features of Miss Gould's poetry.

C. S. Henry

Prof. HENRY, of Bristol College, is chiefly known by his contributions to our Quarterlies, and as one of the originators of the New-York Review, in conjunction with Dr. Hawks and Professor Anthon. His chirography is now neat and picturesque, (much resembling that of Judge Tucker), and now excessively scratchy, clerky, and slovenly — so that it is nearly impossible to say anything respecting it, except that it indicates a vacillating disposition, with unsettled ideas of the beautiful. None of his epistles, in regard to their chirography, end as well as they begin. This trait denotes fatigability. His signature, which is bold and decided, conveys not the faintest idea of the general MS.

Emma C. Embury

Mrs. EMBURY is chiefly known by her contributions to the Periodicals of the country. She is one of the most nervous of our female writers, and is not destitute of originality — that rarest of all qualities in a woman, and especially in an American woman.

Her MS. evinces a strong disposition to fly off at a tangent from the old formulæ; of the Boarding Academies. Both in it, and in her literary style, it would be well that she should no longer hesitate to discard the absurdities of mere fashion. [page 19:]

Wm. Landor

Mr. LANDOR acquired much reputation as the author of “Stanley,” a work which was warmly commended by the press throughout the country. He has also written many excellent papers for the Magazines. His chirography is usually petite, without hair-lines, close, and somewhat stiff. Many words are carefully erased. His epistles have always a rigorous formality about them. The whole is strongly indicative of his literary qualities. He is an elaborately careful, stiff, and pedantic writer, with much affectation and great talent. Should he devote himself ultimately to letters, he cannot fail of high success.

Eliza Leslie

Miss LESLIE is celebrated for the homely naturalness of her stories and for the broad satire of her comic style. She has written much for the Magazines. Her chirography is distinguished for neatness and finish, without over-effeminacy. It is rotund, and somewhat diminutive; the letters being separate, and the words always finished with an inward twirl. She is never particular about the quality of her paper or the other externals of epistolary correspondence. From her MSS. in general, we might suppose her solicitous rather about the effect of her compositions as a whole, than about the polishing of the constituent parts. There is much of the picturesque both in her chirography and in her literary style.

Joseph C. Neal

Mr. NEAL has acquired a very extensive reputation through his “Charcoal Sketches,” a series of papers originally written for the “Saturday News,” of this city, and afterwards published in book form, with illustrations by Johnston. The whole design of the “Charcoal Sketches” may be stated as the depicting of the wharf and street loafer; but this design has been executed altogether in caricature. The extreme of burlesque runs throughout the work, which is, also, chargeable with a tedious repetition of slang and incident. The loafer always declaims the same nonsense, in the same style, gets drunk in the same way, and is taken to the watch-house after the same fashion. Reading one chapter of the book, we read all. Any single description would have been an original idea well executed, but the dose is repeated ad nauseam, and betrays a woful poverty of invention. The manner in which Mr. Neal's book was belauded by his personal friends of the Philadelphia press, speaks little for their independence, or less for their taste. To dub the author of these “Charcoal [page 20:] Sketches” (which are really very excellent police-reports) with the title of “the American Boz,” is either outrageous nonsense, or malevolent irony.

In other respects, Mr. N. has evinced talents which cannot be questioned. He has conducted the “Pennsylvanian” with credit, and, as a political writer, he stands deservedly high. His MS. is simple and legible, with much space between the words. It has force, but little grace. Altogether, his chirography is good; but as he belongs to the editorial corps, it would not be just to suppose that any deductions, in respect to character, could be gleaned from it. His signature conveys the general MS. with accuracy.

Seba Smith

Mr. SEBA SMITH has become somewhat widely celebrated as the author, in part, of the “Letters of Major Jack Downing.” These were very clever productions; coarse, but full of fun, wit, sarcasm and sense. Their manner rendered them exceedingly popular, until their success tempted into the field a host of brainless imitators. Mr. S. is also the author of several poems; among others, of “Powhatan, a Metrical Romance,” which we do not very particularly admire. His MS. is legible, and has much simplicity about it. At times it vacillates, and appears unformed. Upon the whole, it is much such a MS. as David Crockett wrote, and precisely such a one as we might imagine would be written by a veritable Jack Downing; by Jack Downing himself, had this creature of Mr. Smith's fancy been endowed with a real entity. The fact is, that “The Major” is not all a creation; at least one half of his character actually exists in the bosom of his originator. It was the Jack Downing half that composed “Powhatan.”

Jos. Hopkinson

Judge HOPKINSON’S hand is forcible, neat, legible, and devoid of superfluity. The characters have much slope, and whole words are frequently run together. The lines are at equal distances, and a broad margin is at the left of the page, as is the case with the MSS. of Judge Marshall, and other jurists. The whole is too uniform to be picturesque. The writing is always as good at the conclusion, as at the commencement of the epistles — a rare quality in MSS., evincing indefatigability in the writer.

Alexander Slidell

Lieutenant SLIDELL, some years ago, took the additional name of Mackenzie. His reputation, at one period, was extravagantly high — a circumstance owing, in some measure, [page 21:] to the esprit de corps of the navy, of which he is a member, and to his private influence, through his family, with the Review-cliques. Yet his fame was not altogether undeserved; although it cannot be denied that his first book, “A Year in Spain,” was in some danger of being overlooked by his countrymen, until a benignant star directed the attention of the London Bookseller, Murray, to its merits. Cockney octavos prevailed; and the clever young writer who was cut dead in his Yankee habiliments, met with bows innumerable in the gala dress of an English imprimatur. The work now ran through several editions, and prepared the public for the kind reception of “The American in England,” which exalted his reputation to its highest pinnacle. Both these books abound in racy description; but are chiefly remarkable for their gross deficiencies in grammatical construction.

Lieut. Slidell's MS. is peculiarly neat and even — quite legible, but altogether too petite and effeminate. Few tokens of his literary character are to be found, beyond the petiteness, which is exactly analogous with the minute detail of his descriptions.

Francis Lieber

Francis LIEBER is Professor of History and Political Economy in the College of South Carolina, and has published many works distinguished by acumen and erudition. Among these we may notice a “Journal of a Residence in Greece,” written at the instigation of the historian Niebuhr; “The Stranger in America,” a piquant book abounding in various information relative to the United States; a treatise on “Education;” “Reminiscences of an intercourse with Niebuhr;” and an “Essay on International Copy-Right” — this last a valuable work.

Professor Lieber's personal character is that of the frankest and most unpretending bonhommie, while his erudition is rather massive than minute. We may therefore expect his MS. to differ widely from that of his brother scholar, Professor Anthon; and so in truth it does. His [page 22:] chirography is careless, heavy, black, and forcible, without the slightest attempt at ornament — very similar, upon the whole to the well-known chirography of Chief Justice Marshall. His letters have the peculiarity of a wide margin left at the top of each page.

Sarah J. Hale

Mrs. HALE is well known for her masculine style of thought. This is clearly expressed in her chirography, which is far larger, heavier, and altogether bolder than that of her sex generally. It resembles in a great degree that of Professor Lieber, and is not easily deciphered.

Edward Everett

Mr. EVERETT’S MS. is a noble one. It has about it an air of deliberate precision emblematic of the statesman, and a mingled grace and solidity betokening the scholar. Nothing can be more legible, and nothing need be more uniform. The man who writes thus will never grossly err in judgment, or otherwise;  but we may also venture to say that he will never attain the loftiest pinnacle of renown. The letters before us have a seal of red wax, with an oval device bearing the initials E. E. and surrounded with a scroll, inscribed with some Latin words which are illegible.

Robert M. Bird

Dr. BIRD is well known as the author of “The Gladiator,” “Calavar,” “The Infidel,” “Nick of the Woods,” and some other works — Calavar being, we think, by far the best of them, and beyond doubt one of the best of American novels.

His chirography resembles that of Mr. Benjamin very closely; the chief difference being in a curl of the final [page 23:] letters in Dr. B.'s. The characters, too, have the air of not being able to keep pace with the thought, and an uneasy want of finish seems to have been the consequence. A vivid imagination might easily be deduced from such a MS.

John Neal

Mr. JOHN NEAL’S MS. is exceedingly illegible and careless. Many of his epistles are perfect enigmas, and we doubt whether he could read them himself in half an hour after they are penned. Sometimes four or five words are run together. Any one, from Mr. Neal's penmanship, might suppose his mind to be what it really is — excessively flighty and irregular, but active and energetic.

C. M. Sedgwick

The penmanship of Miss SEDGWICK is excellent. The characters are well sized, distinct, elegantly but not ostentatiously formed, and with perfect freedom of manner, are still sufficiently feminine. The hairstrokes differ little from the downward ones, and the MSS. have thus a uniformity they might not otherwise have. The paper she generally uses is good, blue, and machine-ruled. Miss Sedgwick's handwriting points unequivocally to the traits of her literary style — which are strong common sense, and a masculine disdain of mere ornament. The signature conveys the general chirography.

J. Fenimore Cooper

Mr. COOPER’S MS. is very bad — unformed, with little of distinctive character about it, and varying greatly in different epistles. In most of those before us a steel pen has been employed, the lines are crooked, and the whole chirography has a constrained and school-boyish air. The [page 24:] paper is fine, and of a bluish tint. A wafer is always used. Without appearing ill-natured, we could scarcely draw any inferences from such a MS. Mr. Cooper has seen many vicissitudes, and it is probable that he has not always written thus. Whatever are his faults, his genius cannot be doubted.

F. L. Hawks

Dr. HAWKS is one of the originators of the “New York Review,” to which journal he has furnished many articles. He is also known as the author of the “History of the Episcopal Church of Virginia,” and one or two minor works. He now edits the “Church Record.” His style, both as a writer and as a preacher, is characterized rather by a perfect fluency than by any more lofty quality, and this trait is strikingly indicated in his chirography, of which the signature is a fair specimen.

Henry Wm. Herbert

This gentleman is the author of “Cromwell,” “The Brothers,” “Ringwood, the Rover,” and some other minor productions. He at one time edited the “American Monthly Magazine,” in connection with Mr. Hoffman. In his compositions for the Magazines, Mr. HERBERT is in the habit of doing both them and himself gross injustice, by neglect and hurry. His longer works evince much ability, although he is rarely entitled to be called original. His MS. is exceedingly neat, clear, and forcible; the signature affording a just idea of it. It resembles that of Mr. Kennedy very nearly; but has more slope and uniformity, with, of course, less spirit, and less of the picturesque. He who writes as Mr. Herbert, will be found always to depend chiefly upon his merits of style for a literary reputation, and will not be unapt to fall into a pompous grandiloquence. The author of “Cromwell” is sometimes wofully turgid. [page 25:]

J. G. Palfrey

Professor PALFREY is known to the public principally through his editorship of the “North American Review.” He has a reputation for scholarship; and many of the articles which are attributed to his pen evince that his reputation is well based, so far as the common notion of scholarship extends. For the rest, he seems to dwell altogether within the narrow world of his own conceptions; imprisoning them by the very barrier which he has erected against the conceptions of others.

His MS. shows a total deficiency in the sense of the beautiful. It has great pretension — great straining after effect; but is altogether one of the most miserable MSS. in the world — forceless, graceless, tawdry, vacillating and unpicturesque. The signature conveys but a faint idea of its extravagance. However much we may admire the mere knowledge of the man who writes thus, it will not do to place any dependence upon his wisdom or upon his taste.

This article will be concluded in our next number, and will embrace the autograph of every writer of note in America.

F. W. Thomas

F. W. THOMAS, who began his literary career at the early age of seventeen, by a poetical lampoon upon certain Baltimore fops, has since more particularly distinguished himself as a novelist. His “Clinton Bradshaw” is perhaps better known than any of his later fictions. It is remarkable for a frank, unscrupulous portraiture of men and things, in high life and low, and by unusual discrimination and observation and respect to character. Since its publication he has produced “East and West” and “Howard Pinckney,” neither of which seems to have been so popular as his first essay; although both have merit. [page 26:]

“East and West,” published in 1836, was an attempt to portray the every-day events occurring to a fallen family emigrating from the East to the West In it, as in “Clinton Bradshaw,” most of the characters are drawn from life. “Howard Pinckney” was published in 1840.

Mr. Thomas was, at one period, the editor of the Cincinnati “Commercial Advertiser.” He is also well known as a public lecturer on a variety of topics. His conversational powers are very great. As a poet, he has also distinguished himself His “Emigrant” will be read with pleasure by every person of taste.

His MS. is more like that of Mr. Benjamin than that of any other literary person of our acquaintance. It has even more than the occasional nervousness of Mr. B.'s, and, as in the case of the editor of the “New World,” indicates the passionate sensibility of the man.

R. M. Morris

Mr. MORRIS ranks, we believe, as the first of our Philadelphia poets since the death of Willis Gaylord Clark. His compositions, like those of his late lamented friend, are characterised by sweetness rather than strength of versification, and by tenderness and delicacy rather than by vigour or originality of thought. A late notice of him in the “Boston Notion” from the pen of Rufus W. Griswold, did his high qualities no more than justice. As a prose writer, he is chiefly known by his editorial contributions to the Philadelphia “Inquirer,” and by occasional essays for the Magazines.

His chirography is usually very illegible, although at times sufficiently distinct. It has no marked characteristics, and like that of almost every editor in the country, has [page 27:] been so modified by the circumstances of his position, as to afford no certain indication of the mental features.

E. Holden

EZRA HOLDEN has written much, not only for his paper, “The Saturday Courier,” but for our periodicals generally, and stands high in the public estimation, as a sound thinker, and still more particularly as a fearless expresser of his thoughts.

His MS. (which we are constrained to say is a shockingly bad one, and whose general features may be seen in his signature), indicates the frank and naive manner of his literary style — a style which not unfrequently flies off into whimsicalities.

Geo. R. Graham

Mr. GRAHAM is known to the literary world as the editor and proprietor of “Graham's Magazine,” the most popular periodical in America, and also of the “Saturday Evening Post,” of Philadelphia. For both of these journals he has written much and well.

His MS. generally, is very bad, or at least very illegible. At times it is sufficiently distinct, and has force and picturesqueness, speaking plainly of the energy which particularly distinguishes him as a man. The signature above is more scratchy than usual. [page 28:]

W. L. Stone

Colonel STONE, the editor of the New York “Commercial Advertiser,” is remarkable for the great difference which exists between the apparent public opinion respecting his abilities, and the real estimation in which he is privately held. Through his paper, and a bustling activity always prone to thrust itself forward, he has attained an unusual degree of influence in New York, and, not only this, but what appears to be a reputation for talent. But this talent we do not remember ever to have heard assigned him by any honest man's private opinion. We place him among our literati, because he has published certain books. Perhaps the best of these are his “Life of Brandt,” and “Life and Times of Red Jacket.” Of the rest, his story called “Ups and Downs,” his defence of Animal Magnetism, and his pamphlets concerning Maria Monk, are scarcely the most absurd. His MS. is heavy and sprawling, resembling his mental character in a species of utter unmeaningness, which lies like the nightmare, upon his autograph.

Jared Sparks

The labours of Mr. SPARKS, Professor of History at Harvard, are well known and justly appreciated. His MS. has an unusually odd appearance. The characters are large, round, black, irregular, and perpendicular — the signature, as above, being an excellent specimen of his chirography in general. In all his letters now before us, the lines are as close together as possible, giving the idea of irretrievable confusion; still none of them are illegible upon close inspection. We can form no guess in regard to any mental peculiarities from Mr. Sparks’ MS., which has been no doubt modified by the hurrying and intricate nature of his researches. We might imagine such epistles as these to have [page 29:] been written in extreme haste, by a man exceedingly busy, among great piles of books and papers huddled up around him, like the chaotic tomes of Magliabecchi. The paper used in all our epistles is uncommonly fine.

H. S. Legare

The name of H. S. LEGARE is written without an accent on the final e, yet is pronounced as if this letter were accented, — Legrey. He contributed many articles of high merit to the “Southern Review,” and has a wide reputation for scholarship and talent. His MS. resembles that of Mr. Palfrey of the “North American Review,” and their mental features appear to us nearly identical. What we have said in regard to the chirography of Mr. Palfrey will apply with equal force to that of the present Secretary.

George Lunt

Mr. GEORGE LUNT of Newburyport, Massachusetts, is known as a poet of much vigour of style and massiveness of thought. He delights in the grand, rather than in the beautiful, and is not unfrequently turgid, but never feeble. The traits here described impress themselves with remarkable distinctness upon his chirography, of which the signature gives a perfect idea.

Jos. R. Chandler

Mr. CHANDLER’S reputation as the editor of one of the best daily papers in the country, and as one of our finest [page 30:] belles lettres scholars, is deservedly high. He is well known through his numerous addresses, essays, miscellaneous sketches, and prose tales. Some of these latter evince imaginative powers of a superior order.

His MS. is not fairly shown in his signature, the latter being much more open and bold than his general chirography. His handwriting must be included in the editorial category — it seems to have been ruined by habitual hurry.

H. T. Tuckerman

H. T. TUCKERMAN has written one or two books consisting of “Sketches of Travel.” His “Isabel” is, perhaps, better known than any of his other productions, but was never a popular work. He is a correct writer so far as mere English is concerned, but an insufferably tedious and dull one. He has contributed much of late days to the “Southern Literary Messenger,” with which journal, perhaps, the legibility of his MS. has been an important, if not the principal recommendation. His chirography is neat and distinct, and has some grace, but no force — evincing, in a remarkable degree, the idiosyncrasies of the writer.

L. A. Godey

Mr. GODEY is only known to the literary world as editor and publisher of “The Lady's Book,” but his celebrity in this regard entitles him to a place in this collection. His MS. is remarkably distinct and graceful; the signature affording an excellent idea of it. The man who invariably writes so well as Mr. G. invariably does, gives evidence of a fine taste, [page 31:] combined with an indefatigability which will ensure his permanent success in the world's affairs. No man has warmer friends or fewer enemies.

John S. Du Solle

Mr. DU SOLLE is well known through his connection with the “Spirit of the Times.” His prose is forcible, and often excellent in other respects. As a poet, he is entitled to higher consideration. Some of his Pindaric pieces are unusually good, and it may be doubted if we have a better iersifer in America.

Accustomed to the daily toil of an editor, he has contracted a habit of writing hurriedly, and his MS. varies with the occasion. It is impossible to deduce any inferences from it, as regards the mental character. The signature shows rather how he can write than how he does.

J. S. French

Mr. FRENCH is the author of a “Life of David Crockett,” and also of a novel called “ Elkswatawa,” a denunciatory review of which, in the “Southern Messenger,” some years ago, deterred him from further literary attempts. Should he write again, he will probably distinguish himself, for he [page 32:] is unquestionably a man of talent. We need no better evidence of this than his MS., which speaks of force, boldness, and originality. The flourish, however, betrays a certain floridity of taste.

Theo. S. Fay

The author of “Norman Leslie” and “The Countess Ida” has been more successful as an essayist about small matters, than as a novelist. “Norman Leslie” is more familiarly remembered as “The Great Used Up,” while “The Countess” made no definite impression whatever. Of course we are not to expect remarkable features in Mr. FAY’S MS. It has a wavering, finicky, and over-delicate air, without pretension to either grace or force; and the description of the chirography would answer, without alteration, for that of the literary character. Mr. F. frequently employs an amanuensis, who writes a very beautiful French hand. The one must not be confounded with the other.

J. K. Mitchell

Dr. MITCHELL has published several pretty songs which have been set to music, and become popular. He has also given to the world a volume of poems, of which the longest was remarkable for an old-fashioned polish and vigour of versification. His MS. is rather graceful than picturesque or forcible — and these words apply equally well to his poetry in general. The signature indicates the hand.

G. P. Morris

General MORRIS has composed many songs which have [page 33:] taken fast hold upon the popular taste, and which are deservedly celebrated. He has caught the true tone for these things, and hence his popularity — a popularity which his enemies would fain make us believe is altogether attributable to his editorial influence. The charge is true only in a measure. The tone of which we speak is that kind of frank, free, hearty lentiment (rather than philosophy) which distinguishes Beranger, and which the critics, for want of a better term, call nationality.

His MS. is a simple unornamental hand, rather rotund than angular, very legible, forcible, and altogether in keeping with his style.

G. H. Calvert

Mr. CALVERT was at one time principal editor of the “Baltimore American,” and wrote for that journal some good paragraphs on the common topics of the day. He has also published many translations from the German, and one or two original poems — among others an imitation of Don Juan called “Pejayo,” which did him no credit. He is essentially a feeble and common-place writer of poetry, although his prose compositions have a certain degree of merit. His chirography indicates the “common-place” upon which we have commented. It is a very usual, scratchy, and tapering clerk's hand — a hand which no man of talent ever did or could indite, unless compelled by circumstances of more than ordinary force. The signature is far better than the general manuscript of his epistles.

J. McJilton

Mr. MCJILTON is better known from his contributions to the journals of the day than from any book publications. He has much talent, and it is not improbable that he will [page 34:] hereafter distinguish himself, although as yet he has not composed anything of length which, as a whole, can be styled good. His MS. is not unlike that of Dr. Snodgrass, but it is somewhat clearer and better. We can predicate little respecting it beyond a love of exaggeration and bizarrerie.

W. D. Gallagher

Mr. GALLAGHER is chiefly known as a poet. He is the -author of some of our most popular songs, and has written many long pieces of high but unequal merit. He has the true spirit, and will rise into a just distinction hereafter. His manuscript tallies well with our opinion. It is a very fine one, — clear, bold, decided and picturesque. The signature above does not convey, in full force, the general character of his chirography, which is more rotund, and more decidedly placed upon the paper.

Rich. H. Dana

Mr. DANA ranks among our most eminent poets, and he has been the frequent subject of comment in our Reviews. He has high qualities, undoubtedly, but his defects are many and great.

His MS. resembles that of Mr. Gallagher very nearly, but is somewhat more rolling, and has less boldness and decision. The literary traits of the two gentlemen are very similar, although Mr. Dana is by far the more polished writer, and has a scholarship which Mr. Gallagher wants. [page 35:]


Mr. MCMICHAEL is well known to the Philadelphia public by the number and force of his prose compositions, but he has seldom been tempted into book publication. As a poet, he has produced some remarkably vigourous things. We have seldom seen a finer composition than a certain celebrated “Monody.”

His MS., when not hurried, is graceful and flowing, without picturesqueness. At times it is totally illegible. His chirography is one of those which have been so strongly modified by circumstances that it iB nearly impossible to predicate any thing with certainty respecting them.

N. C. Brooks

Mr. N. C. BROOKS has acquired some reputation as a Magazine writer. His serious prose is often very good — is always well-worded — but in his comic attempts he fails, without appearing to be aware of his failure. As a poet he has succeeded far better. In a work which he entitled “Scriptural Anthology” among many inferior compositions of length, there were several shorter pieces of great merit; — for example “Shelley's Obsequies” and “The Nicthanthes.’’

Of late days we have seen little from his pen.

His MS. has much resemblance to that of Mr. Bryant, although altogether it is a better hand, with much more freedom and grace. With care Mr. Brooks can write a fine MS. just as with care he can compose a fine poem.

Thos. H. Stockton

The Rev. THOMAS H. STOCKTON has written many [page 36:] pieces of fine poetry, and has lately distinguished himself as the editor of the “Christian World.”

His MS. is fairly represented by his signature, and bears much resemblance to that of Mr. N. C. Brooks of Baltimore. Between these two gentlemen there exists also, a remarkable similarity, not only of thought, but of personal bearing and character. We have already spoken of the peculiarities of Mr. B.'s chirography.

C. W. Thomson

Mr. THOMSON has written many short poems, and some of them possess merit. They are characterised by tenderness and grace. His MS. has some resemblance to that of Professor Longfellow, and by many persons would be thought a finer hand. It is clear, legible, and open — what is called a rolling hand. It has too much tapering, and too much variation between the weight of the hair strokes and the downward ones, to be forcible or picturesque. In all those qualities which we have pointed out as especially distinctive of Professor Longfellow's MS. it is remarkably deficient; and, in fact, the literary character of no two individuals could be more radically different.

W. E. Channing

The Reverend W. E. CHANNING is at the head of our moral and didactic writers. His reputation both at home and abroad is deservedly high, and in regard to the matters of purity, polish and modulation of style, he may be said to have attained the dignity of a standard and a classic. He has, it is true, been severely criticised, even in respect to [page 37:] these very points, by the Edinburgh Review. The critic, however, made out his case but lamely, and proved nothing beyond his own incompetence. To detect occasional, or even frequent inadvertences in the way of bad grammar, faulty construction, or mix-usage of language, is not to prove impurity of style — a word which happily has a bolder signification than any dreamed of by the Zoilus of the Review in question. Style regards, more than anything else, the tone of a composition All the rest is not unimportant, to be sure, but appertains to the minor morals of literature, and can be learned by rote by the meanest simpletons in letters — can be carried to its highest excellence by dolts, who, upon the whole, are despicable as stylists. Irving's style is inimitable in its grace and delicacy; yet few of our practiced writers are guilty of more frequent inadvertences of language. In what may be termed his mere English, he is surpassed by fifty whom we could name. Mr. Tuckerman's English, on the contrary, is sufficiently pure, but a more lamentable style than that of his “Sicily” it would be difficult to point out.

Besides those peculiarities which we have already mentioned as belonging to Dr. Channing's style, we must not fail to mention a certain calm, broad deliberateness which constitutes force in its highest character, and approaches to majesty. All these traits will be found to exist plainly in his chirography, the character of which is exemplified by the signature, although this is somewhat larger than the general manuscript.

L. A. Wilmer

Mr. WILMER has written and published much; but he has reaped the usual fruits of a spirit of independence, and has thus failed to make that impression on the popular mind which his talents, under other circumstances, would have effected. But better days are in store for him, and for all who “hold to the right way,” despising the yelpings [page 38:] of the small dogs of our literature. His prose writings have all merit — always the merit of a chastened style. But he is more favourably known by his poetry, in which the student of the British classics will find much for warm admiration. We have few better versifiers than Mr. Wilmer.

His chirography plainly indicates the cautious polish and terseness of his style, but the signature does not convey the print-like appearance of the MS.

J. E. Dow

Mr. Dow is distinguished as the author of many fine sea-pieces, among which will be remembered a series of papers called “The Log of Old Ironsides.” His land sketches are not generally so good. He has a fine imagination, which as yet is undisciplined, and leads him into occasional bombast. As a poet he has done better things than as a writer of prose.

His MS., which has been strongly modified by circumstances, gives no indication of his true character, literary or moral.

H. Hastings Weld

Mr. WELD is well known as the present working editor of the New York “Tattler” and “Brother Jonathan.” His attention was accidentally directed to literature about ten years ago, after a minority, to use his own words, “spent at sea, in a store, in a machine shop, and in a printing-office.” He is now, we believe, about thirty-one years of age. His deficiency of what is termed regular education would scarcely be gleaned from his editorials, which, in general, are unusually well written. His “Corrected Proofs” is a work which does him high credit, and which has been extensively circulated, although “printed at odd times by himself, when he had nothing else to do.” [page 39:]

His MS. resembles that of Mr. Joseph C. Neal in many respects, but is less open and less legible. His signature is altogether much better than his general chirography.

M. St. Leon Loud

Mrs. M. ST. LEON LOUD is one of the finest poets of this country; possessing, we think, more of the true divine afflatus than any of her female contemporaries. She has, in especial, imagination of no common order, and unlike many of her sex whom we 3 could mention, is not content to dwell in decencies forever

While she can, upon occasion, compose the ordinary metrical sing-song with all the decorous proprieties in which are in fashion, she yet ventures very frequently into a more ethereal region. We refer our readers to, a truly beautiful little poem entitled the “Dream of the Lonely Isle,” lately published in this Magazine.

Mrs. Loud's MS. is exceedingly clear, neat and forcible, with just sufficient effeminacy and no more.

Pliny Earle

Dr. PLINY EARLE, of Frankford, Pa., has not only distinguished himself by several works of medical and general science, but has become well known to the literary world, of late, by a volume of very fine poems, the longest, but by no means the best of which, was entitled “Marathon.” This latter is not greatly inferior to the “Marco Bozzaris” of Halleck; while some of the minor pieces equal any American poems. His chirography is peculiarly neat and beautiful, giving indication of the elaborate finish which characterises his compositions. The signature conveys the general hand. [page 40:]

David Hoffman

DAVID HOFFMAN, Esq., of Baltimore, has not only contributed much and well to monthly Magazines and Reviews, but has given to the world several valuable publications in book form. His style is terse, pungent, and otherwise excellent, although disfigured by a half comic half serious pedantry.

His MS. has about it nothing strongly indicative of character.

S. D. Langtree

S. D. LANGTREE, has been long and favourably known to the public as editor of the “Georgetown Metropolitan,” and, more lately, of the “Democratic Review,” both of which journals he has conducted with distinguished success. As a critic he has proved himself just, bold and acute, while his prose compositions generally, evince the man of talent and taste.

His MS. is not remarkably good, being somewhat too scratchy and tapering. We include him, of course, in the editorial category.

R. T. Conrad

Judge CONRAD occupies, perhaps, the first place among our Philadelphia literati. He has distinguished himself both as a prose writer and a poet — not to speak of his high legal reputation. He has been a frequent contributor to the periodicals of this city, and, we believe, to one at least of the Eastern Reviews. His first production which attracted general notice was a tragedy entitled “Conrad, King of Naples.” It was performed at the Arch Street Theatre, and elicited applause from the more judicious. This play [page 41:] was succeeded by “Jack Cade,” performed at the Walnut Street Theatre, and lately modified and reproduced under the title of “Aylmere.” In its new dress, this drama has been one of the most successful ever written by an American, not only attracting crowded houses, but extorting the good word of our best critics. In occasional poetry Judge Conrad has also done well. His lines “On a Blind Boy Soliciting Charity” have been greatly admired, and many of his other pieces evince ability of a high order. His political fame is scarcely a topic for these pages, and is, moreover, too much a matter of common observation to need comment from us.

His MS. is neat, legible, and forcible, evincing combined caution and spirit in a very remarkable degree.

J. Q. Adams

The chirography of Ex-President ADAMS (whose poem, “The Wants of Man,” has, of late, attracted so much attention), is remarkable for a certain steadiness of purpose pervading the whole, and overcoming even the constitutional tremulousness of the writer's hand. Wavering in every letter, the entire MS. has yet a firm, regular, and decisive appearance. It is also very legible.

P. P. Cooke

P. P. COOKE, Esq., of Winchester, Virginia, is well known, especially in the South, as the author of numerous excellent contributions to the’’ Southern Literary Messenger.” He has written some of the finest poetry of which America can boast. A little piece of his, entitled “Florence Vane,” and contributed to the “Gentleman's Magazine” of this city, during our editorship of that journal, was remarkable for the high ideality it evinced, and for the great delicacy and melody of its rhythm. It was universally admired and [page 42:] copied, as well here as in England. We saw it not long ago, as original, in Bentley's Miscellany. Mr. Cooke has, we believe, nearly ready for press a novel called “Maurice Werterbern,” whose success we predict with confidence. Elis MS. is clear, forcible, and legible, but disfigured by some little of that affectation which is scarcely a blemish in his literary style,

J. Beauchamp Jones

Mr. J. BEAUCHAMP JONES has been, we believe, connected for many years past with the lighter literature of Baltimore, and at present edits the “Baltimore Saturday Visiter,” with much judgment and general ability. He is the author of a series of papers of high merit now in course of publication in the “Visiter,” and entitled “Wild Western Scenes.”

His MS. is distinct, and might be termed a fine one; but is somewhat too much in consonance with the ordinary clerk style to be either graceful or forcible.

W. E. Burton

Mr. BURTON is better known as a comedian than as a literary man; but he has written many short prose articles of merit, and his quondam editorship of the “Gentleman's Magazine” would, at all events, entitle him to a place in this collection. He has, moreover, published one or two books. An annual issued by Carey and Hart in 1840, consisted entirely of prose contributions from himself, with poetical ones from Charles West Thompson, Esq. In this work many of the tales were good.

Mr. Burton's MS. is scratchy and petite, betokening indecision and care or caution. [page 43:]

Richard Henry Wilde

RICHARD HENRY WILDE, Esq., of Georgia, has acquired much reputation as a poet, and especially as the author of a little piece entitled “My Life is like the Summer Rose,” whose claim to originality has been made the subject of repeated and reiterated attack and defence. Upon the whole it is hardly worth quarrelling about. Far better verses are to be found in every second newspaper we take up. Mr. Wilde has also lately published, or is about to publish, a “Life of Tasso,” for which he has been long collecting material.

His MS. has all the peculiar sprawling and elaborate tastelessness of Mr. Palfrey's, to which altogether it bears a marked resemblance. The love of effect, however, is more perceptible in Mr. Wilde's than even in Mr. Palfrey's.

Lewis Cass

LEWIS CASS, the Ex-Secretary of War, has distinguished himself as one of the finest belles-lettres scholars of America. At one period he was a very regular contributor to the “Southern Literary Messenger,” and even lately he has furnished that journal with one or two very excellent papers.

His MS. is clear, deliberate, and statesmanlike; resembling that of Edward Everett very closely. It is not often that we see a letter written altogether by himself. He generally employs an amanuensis, whose chirography does not differ materially from his own, but is somewhat more regular. [page 44:]

James Brooks

Mr. JAMES BROOKS enjoys rather a private than a public literary reputation; but his talents are unquestionably great, and his productions have been numerous and excellent. As the author of many of the celebrated Jack Downing letters, and as the reputed author of the whole of them, he would at all events be entitled to a place among our literati.

His chirography is simple, clear and legible, with little grace and less boldness. These traits are precisely true of his literary style.

Jack Downing

As the authorship of the Jack Downing letters is even still considered by many a moot point, (although in fact there should be no question about it), and as we have already given the signature of Mr. Seba Smith, and (just above) of Mr. Brooks, we now present our readers with a facsimile signature of the ’’ veritable jack” himself, written by him individually in our own bodily presence. Here, then, is an opportunity of comparison.

The chirography of “the veritable Jack” is a very good, honest sensible hand, and not very dissimilar to that of Ex-President Adams.

J. R. Lowell

Mr. J. R. LOWELL, of Massachusetts, is entitled, in our opinion, to at least the second or third place among the poets of America. We say this on account of the vigour of his imagination — a faculty to be first considered in all criticism upon poetry. In this respect he surpasses, we think, any of our writers (at least any of those who have [page 45:] put themselves prominently forth as poets) with the exception of Longfellow, and perhaps one other. His ear for rhythm, nevertheless, is imperfect, and he is very far from possessing the artistic ability of either Longfellow, Bryant, Halleck, Sprague, or Pierpont. The reader desirous of properly estimating the powers of Mr. Lowell will find a very beautiful little poem from his pen in the October number of this Magazine. There is one also (not quite so fine) in the number for last month. He will contribute regularly.

His MS. is strongly indicative of the vigour and precision of his poetical thought. The man who writes thus, for example, will never be guilty of metaphorical extravagance, and there will be found terseness as well as strength in all that he does.

L. J. Cist

Mr. L. J. CIST, of Cincinnati, has not written much prose, and is known especially by his poetical compositions, many of which have been very popular, although they are at times disfigured by false metaphor, and by a meretricious straining after effect. This latter foible makes itself clearly apparent in his chirography, which abounds in ornamental flourishes, not illy executed, to be sure, but in very bad taste.

T. S. Arthur

Mr. ARTHUR is not without a rich talent for description of scenes in low life, but is uneducated, and too fond of mere vulgarities to please a refined taste. He has published “The Subordinate,” and “Insubordmation,” two tales distinguished by the peculiarities above mentioned. He has [page 46:] also written much for our weekly papers and the “Lady's Book.”

His hand is a commonplace clerk's hand, such as we might expect him to write. The signature is much better than the general MS.

Jas. E. Heath

Mr. HEATH is almost the only person of any literary distinction residing in the chief city of the Old Dominion. He edited the “Southern Literary Messenger” in the five or six first months of its existence; and, since the secession of the writer of this article, has frequently aided in its editorial conduct. He is the author of “Edge-Hill,” a well-written novel, which, owing to the circumstances of its publication, did not meet with the reception it deserved. His writings are rather polished and graceful, than forcible or original; and these peculiarities can be traced in his chirography.

Thos. H. Chivers

Dr. THOMAS HOLLEY CHIVERS, of New York, is at the same time one of the best and one of the worst poets in America. His productions affect one as a wild dream — strange, incongruous, full of images of more than arabesque monstrosity, and snatches of sweet unsustained song. Even his worst nonsense (and some of it is horrible) has an indefinite charm of sentiment and melody. We can never be sure that there is any meaning in his words — neither is there any meaning in many of our finest musical airs — but the effect is very similar in both. His figures of speech are metaphor run mad, and his grammar is often none at all. Yet there are as fine individual passages to be found in the poems of Dr. Chivers, as in those of any poet whatsoever.

His MS. resembles that of P. P. Cooke very nearly and in poetical character the two gentlemen are closely akin. [page 47:] Mr. Cooke is, by much, the more correct, while Dr. Chivers is sometimes the more poetic. Mr. C. always sustains himself; Dr. C. never.

Joseph Story

Judge STORY, and his various literary and political labours, are too well known to require comment.

His chirography is a noble one — bold, clear, massive, and deliberate, betokening in the most unequivocal manner all the characteristics of his intellect. The pram, unornamented style of his compositions is impressed with accuracy upon his hand-writing, the whole air of which is well conveyed in the signature.

J. Frost

Mr. JOHN FROST, Professor of Belles Lettres in the High School of Philadelphia, and at present editor of “The Young People's Book,” has distinguished himself by numerous literary compositions for the periodicals of the day, and by a great number of published works which come under the head of the utile rather than of the dune — at least in the estimation of the young. He is a gentleman of fine taste, sound scholarship, and great general ability.

His chirography denotes his mental idiosyncrasy with great precision. Its careful neatness, legibility, and finish are but a part of that turn of mind which leads him so frequently into compilation. The signature here given is more diminutive than usual.

James F. Otis

Mr. J. F. OTIS is well known as a writer for the Magazines; and has, at various times, been connected with [page 48:] many of the leading newspapers of the day — especially with those in New York and Washington. His prose and poetry are equally good; but he writes too much and too hurriedly to write invariably weld. His taste is fine, and his judgment in literary matters is to be depended upon at all times when not interfered with by his personal antipathies or predilections.

His chirography is exceedingly illegible and, like his style, has every possible fault except that of the common-place.

J. N. Reynolds

Mr. REYNOLDS occupied at one time a distinguished position in the eye of the public on account of his great and laudable exertions to get up the American South Polar expedition, from a personal participation in which he was most shamefully excluded. He has written much and well. Among other works, the public are indebted to him for a graphic account of the noted voyage of the frigate Potomac to Madagascar.

His MS. is an ordinary clerk's hand, giving no indication of character.

David Paul Brown

DAVID PAUL BROWN is scarcely more distinguished in his legal capacity than by his literary compositions. As a dramatic writer he has met with much success His “Sertorius” has been particularly well received both upon the stage and in the closet. His fugitive productions, both in prose and verse, have also been numerous, diversified, and excellent.

His chirography has no doubt been strongly modified by the circumstances of his position. No one can expect a [page 49:] lawyer in full practice to give in his MS. any true indication of his intellect or character.

E. C. Stedman

Mrs. E. CLEMENTINE STEDMAN has lately attracted much attention by the delicacy and grace of her poetical compositions, as well as by the piquancy and spirit of her prose. For some months past we have been proud to rank her among the best of the contributors to “Graham's Magazine.”

Her chirography differs as materially from that of her sex in general as does her literary manner from the usual namby-pamby of our blue-stockings. It is, indeed, a beautiful MS., very closely resembling that of Professor Longfellow, but somewhat more diminutive, and far more full of grace.

John G. Whittier

J. GREENLEAF WHITTIER is placed by his particular admirers in the very front rank of American poets. We are not disposed, however, to agree with their decision in every respect. Mr. Whittier is a fine versifier, so fir as strength is regarded independently of modulation.. His subjects, too, are usually chosen with the view of affording scope to a certain vivida vis of expression which seems to be his forte; but in taste, and especially in imagination, which Coleridge has justly styled the soul of all poetry, he is ever remarkably deficient. His themes are never to our liking.

His chirography is an ordinary clerk's hand, affording little indication of character. [page 50:]

Ann S. Stephens

Mrs. ANN S. STEPHENS was at one period the editor of the “Portland Magazine,” a periodical of which we have not heard for some time, and which, we presume, has been discontinued. More lately her name has been placed upon the title-page of “The Lady's Companion” of New York, as one of the conductors of that journal — to which she has contributed many articles of merit and popularity. She has also written much and well, for various other periodicals, and will, hereafter, enrich this magazine with her compositions, and act as one of its editors.

Her MS. is a very excellent one, and differs from that of her sex in general, by an air of more than usual force and freedom.

Note. — The foregoing “Chapter on Autography,” as will be seen from a reference in the opposite page, originally appeared in two parts. — Ed. [page 51:]


IN the foregoing facsimile signatures of the most distinguished American literati our design was to furnish the readers of the Magazine with a complete series of Autographs, embracing a specimen of the MS. of each of the most noted among our living male and female writers. For obvious reasons, we made no attempt at classification or arrangement — either in reference to reputation or our own private opinion of merit. Our second article will be found to contain as many of the Dii majorum gentium as our first; and this, our third and last, as many as either — although fewer names, upon the whole, than the preceding papers. The impossibility of procuring the signatures now given, at a period sufficiently early for the immense edition of December, has obliged us to introduce this Appendix.

It is with great pleasure that we have found our anticipations fulfilled, in respect to the popularity of these chapters — our individual claim to merit is so trivial that we may be permitted to say so much — but we confess it was with no less surprise than pleasure that we observed so little discrepancy of opinion manifested in relation to the hasty critical, or rather gossiping observations which accompanied the signatures. Where the subject was so wide and so necessarily personal — where the claims of more than one hundred literati, summarily disposed of, were turned over for re-adjudication to a press so intricately bound up in their interest as is ours — it is really surprising how little of dissent was mingled with so much of general comment. The fact, however, speaks loudly to one point: — to the unity of truth. It assures us that the differences which exist among us, are differences not of real, but of affected opinion, and that the voice of him who maintains fearlessly what he believes honestly, is pretty sure to find an echo (if the speaker be not mad) in the vast heart of the world at large. [page 52:]

Chas. Sprague

The writings of CHARLES SPRAGUE were first collected and published about nine months ago by Mr. Charles S. Francis, of New York. At the time of the issue of the book, we expressed our opinion frankly, in respect to the general merits of the author — an opinion with which one or two members of the Boston press did not see fit to agree — but which, as yet, we have found no reason for modifying. What we say now is, in spirit, merely a repetition of what we said then. Mr. Sprague is an accomplished belles-lettres scholar, so far as the usual ideas of scholarship extend. He is a very correct rhetorician of the old school. His versification has not been equalled by that of any American — has been surpassed by no one, living or dead. In this regard there are to be found finer passages in his poems than any elsewhere. These are his chief merits. In the essentials of poetry he is excelled by twenty of our countrymen whom we could name. Except in a very few instances he gives no evidence of the loftier ideality. His “Winged Worshippers” and “Lines on the Death of M. S. C.” are beautiful poems — but he has written nothing else which should be called so. His “Shakspeare Ode,” upon which his high reputation mainly depended, is quite a second-hand affair — with no merit whatever beyond that of a polished and vigourous versification. Its imitation of “Collins’ Ode to the Passions” is obvious. Its allegorical conduct is mawkish, passe, and absurd. The poem, upon the whole, is just such a one as would have obtained its author an Etonian prize some forty or fifty years ago. It is an exquisite specimen of mannerism without meaning and without merit — of an artificial, but most inartistical style of composition, of which conventionality is the sou], — taste, nature and reason the antipodes. A man may be a clever financier without being a genius. [page 53:]

It requires but little effort to see in Mr. Sprague's MS. all the idiosyncrasy of his intellect. Here are distinctness, precision, and vigour — but vigour employed upon “rare rather than upon its legitimate functions. The signature fully indicates the general hand — in which the spirit of elegant imitation and conservatism may be seen reflected as in a mirror.

Cornelius Mathews

Mr. CORNELIUS MATHEWS is one of the editors of “Arcturus,” a monthly journal which has attained much reputation during the brief period of its existence He is the author of “Puffer Hopkins,” a clever satirical tale somewhat given to excess in caricature, and also of the well-written retrospective criticisms which appear in his Magazine. He is better known, however, by “The Motley Book,” published some years ago — a work which we had no opportunity of reading. He is a gentleman of taste and judgment, unquestionably.

His MS. is much to our liking — bold, distinct and picturesque — such a hand as no one destitute of talent indites. The signature conveys the hand.

C. Fenno Hoffman

Mr. CHARLES FENNO HOFFMAN is the author of “A Winter in the West,” “Greyslaer,” and other productions of merit. At one time he edited, with much ability, the “American Monthly Magazine” in conjunction with Mr. Benjamin, and, subsequently, with Dr. Bird. He is a gentleman of talent.

His chirography is not unlike that of Mr. Mathews. It has the same boldness, strength, and picturesqueness, but is more diffuse, more ornamented and less legible. Our fac-simile [page 54:] is from a somewhat hurried signature, which fails in giving a correct idea of the general hand.

Horace Greeley

Mr. HORACE GREELEY, present editor of “The Tribune,” and formerly of the “New-Yorker,” has for many years been remarked as one of the most able and honest of American editors. He has written much and invariably well. His political knowledge is equal to that of any of his contemporaries — his general information extensive. As a belles-lettres critic he is entitled to high respect.

His MS. is a remarkable one — having about it a peculiarity which we know not how better to designate than as a ronverse of the picturesque. His characters are scratchy and irregular, ending with an airapt taper — if we may be allowed this contradiction in terms, where we have the far-simile to prove that there is no contradiction in fact. All abrupt MSS., save this, have square or ronrise terminations of the letters. The whole chirography puts us in mind of a jig. We can fancy the writer jerking up his hand from the paper at the end of each word, and, indeed, of each letter. What mental idiosyncrasy lies perda beneath all this, is more than we can say, but we will venture to assert that Mr. Greeley (whom we do not know personally) is, personal!’, a very remarkable man.

Prosper M. Wetmore

The name of Mr. PROSPER M. WETMORE is familiar to all readers of American light literature. He has written a great deal, at various periods, both in prose and poetry, (but principally in the latter) for our Papers, Magazines, and Annuals. Of late days we have seen but little, comparatively speaking, from his pen.

His MS. is not unlike that of Fitz-Greene Halleck, but [page 55:] is by no means so good. Its clerky flourishes indicate a love of the beautiful with an undue straining for effect — qualities which are distinctly traceable in his poetic efforts. As many as five or sis words are occasionally run together; and no man who writes thus will be noted for finish of style. Mr. Wetmore is sometimes very slovenly in his best compositions.

Henry W.

PROFESSOR WARE, of Harvard, has written some very excellent poetry, but is chiefly known by his “Life of the Saviour,” “Hints on Extemporaneous Preaching,” and other religious works.

His MS. is fully shown in the signature. It evinces the direct, unpretending strength and simplicity which characterize the man, not less than his general compositions.

William B. O. Peabody

The name of WILLIAM B. O. PEABODY, like that of Mr. Wetmore, is known chiefly to the readers of our light literature, and much more 6miliarly to Northern than to Southern readers. He is a resident of Springfield, Mass. His occasional poems have been much admired.

His chirography is what would be called beautiful by the ladies universally, and, perhaps, by a large majority of the bolder sex. Individually, we think it a miserable one — too careful, undecided, tapering, and effeminate. It is not unlike Mr. Paulding's, but is more regular and more legible, with less force. We hold it as undeniable that no man of genius ever wrote such a hand. [page 56:]

Epes Sargent

EPES SARGENT, Esq., has acquired high reputation as the author of “Velasco,” a tragedy full of beauty as a poem, but not adapted — perhaps not intended — for representation. He has written, besides, many very excellent poems — “The Missing Ship,” for example, published in the “Knickerbocker” — the “Night Storm at Sea” — and, especially, a fine production entitled “Shells and Sea-Weeds.” One or two Theatrical Addresses from his pen are very creditable in their way — but the way itself is, as we have before said, execrable. As an editor, Mr. Sargent has also distinguished himself. He is a gentleman of taste and high talent.

His MS. is too much in the usual clerk style to be either vigourous, graceful, or easily read. It resembles Mr. Wetmore's, but has somewhat more force. The signature is better than the general hand, but conveys its idea very well.

W. Allston

The name of “WASHINGTON ALLSTON,” the poet and painter, is one that has been long before the public. Of his paintings we have here nothing to say — except brieiy, that the most noted of them are not to our taste. His poems are not all of a high order of merit; and, in truth the faults of his pencil and of his pen are identical. Yet every reader will remember his “Spanish Maid” with pleasure, and the “Address to Great Britain,” first published in Coleridge's “Sibylline Leaves,” and attributed to an English author, is a production of which Mr. Allston may be proud.

His MS., notwithstanding an exceedingly simple and even boyish air, is one which we particularly admire. It is forcible, picturesque and legible, without ornament of any description. Each letter is formed with a thorough distinctness [page 57:] and individuality. Such a MS. indicates caution and precision, most unquestionably — but we say of it as we say of Mr. Peabody's (a very different MS.) that no man of original genius ever did or could habitually indite it under any circumstances whatever. The signature conveys the general hand with accuracy.

Alfred B. Street

MR. ALFRED B. STREET has been long before the public as a poet. At as early an age as fifteen, some of his pieces were published by Mr. Bryant in the “Evening Post” — among these was one of much merit, entitled a “Winter Scene.” In the “New York Book,” and in the collections of American poetry by Messieurs Keese and Bryant, will be found many excellent specimens of his maturer powers. “The Willewemoc,” “The Forest Tree,” “The Indian's Vigil,” “The Lost Hunter,” and “White Lake” we prefer to any of his other productions which have met our eye. Mr. Street has fine taste, and a keen sense of the beautiful. He writes carefully, elaborately, end correctly. He has made Mr. Bryant his model, and in all Mr. Bryant's good points would be nearly his equal, were it not for the sad and too perceptible stain of the imitation. That he has imitated at all — or rather that, in mature age, he has persevered in his imitations — is sufficient warranty for placing him among the men of talent rather than among the men of genius.

His MS. is full corroboration of this warranty. It is a very pretty chirography, graceful, legible, and neat. By most persons it would be called beautiful. The fact is, it is without fault — but its merits, like those of his poems, are chiefly negative. [page 58:]

R. Penn Smith

MR. RICHARD PENN SMITH, although, perhaps, better known in Philadelphia than elsewhere, has acquired much literary reputation. His chief works are “The Forsaken,” a novel; a pseudo-auto-biography called “Colonel Crocket's Tour in Texas;” the tragedy of “Caius Marius,” and two domestic dramas entitled “The Disowned” and “The Deformed.” He has also published two volumes of miscellanies under the title of “The Actress of Padua and other Tales,” besides occasional poetry. We are not sufficiently cognisant of any- of these works to speak with decision respecting their merits. In a biography of Mr. Smith, however, very well written by his friend Mr. McMichael of this city, we are informed of “The Forsaken” that “a large edition of it was speedily exhausted” — - of “The Actress of Padua,” that it “had an extensive sale and was much commended” — of the “Tour in Texas,” that “few books attained an equal popularity” — of “Caius Marius,” that “it has great capabilities for an acting play” of “The Disowned” and “The Deformed,” that they “were performed at the London theatres, where they both made a favourable impression” — and of his poetry in general, “that it will be found superior to the average quality of that commodity.” “It is by his dramatic efforts,” says the biographer, “ that his merits as a poet must be determined, and judged by these he will be assigned a place in the foremost rank of American writers.” We have only to add that we have the highest respect for the judgment of Mr. McMichael.

Mr. Smith's MS. is clear, graceful, and legible, and would generally be called a fine hand, but is somewhat too clerky for our taste. [page 59:]

O. W. Holmes

DR. OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, of Boston, late Professor of Anatomy and Physiology at Dartmouth College, has written many productions of merit, and has been pronounced, by a very high authority, the best of the humourous poets of the day.

His chirography is remarkably fine, and a quick fancy might easily detect, in its graceful yet picturesque quaintness, an analogy with the vivid drollery of his style. The signature is a fair specimen of the general MS.

G. W. Doane

BISHOP DOANE, of New Jersey, is somewhat more extensively known in his clerical than in a literary capacity, but has accomplished much more than sufficient in the world of books to entitle him to a place among the most noted of our living men of letters. The compositions by which he is best known were published, we believe, during his professorship of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in Washington College, Hartford.

His MS. has some resemblance to that of Mr. Greeley of “The Tribune.” The signature is far bolder and altogether better than the general hand.

Albert Pike

We believe that Mr. ALBERT PIKE has never published his poems in book form; nor has he written anything since 1834. His “Hymns to the Gods,” and “Ode to the Mocking Bird,” being printed in Blackwood, are the chief basis of his reputation. His lines “To Spring” are, however, much better in every respect, and a little poem from his pen, entitled “Ariel,” and originally published in the “Boston [page 60:] Pearl,” is one of the finest of American compositions. Mr. Pike has unquestionably merit, and that of a high order. His ideality is rich and well-disciplined. He is the most classic of our poets in the best sense of the term, and of course his classicism is very different from that of Mr. Sprague — to whom, nevertheless, he bears much resemblance in other respects. Upon the whole, there are few of our native writers to whom we consider him inferior.

His MS. shows clearly the spirit of his intellect. We observe in it a keen sense not only of the beautiful and graceful but of the picturesque — neatness, precision and general finish, verging upon effeminacy. In force it is deficient. The signature fails to convey the entire MS. which depends upon masses for its peculiar character.

James McHenry

DR. JAMES MCHENRY, of Philadelphia, is well known to the literary world as the writer of numerous articles in our Reviews and lighter journals, but more especially as the author of “The Antediluvians,” an epic poem which has been the victim of a most shameful cabal in this country, and the subject of a very disgraceful pasquinade on the part of Professor Wilson Whatever may be the demerits, in some regard, of this poem, there can be no question of the utter want of fairness and even of common decency which distinguished the Philippic in question. The writer of a just review of the “Antediluvians” — the only tolerable American epic — would render an important service to the literature of his country.

Dr. McHenry's MS. is distinct, bold and simple, without ornament or superfluity. The signature well conveys the idea of the general hand. [page 61:]

R. S. Nichols

MRS. R. S. NICHOLS has acquired much reputation of late years by frequent and excellent contributions to the Magazines and Annuals. Many of her compositions will be found in our pages.

Her MS. is fair, neat and legible, but formed somewhat too much upon the ordinary boarding-school model to afford any indication of character. The signature is a good specimen of the hand.

Richa. A. Locke

MR. RICHARD ADAMS LOCKE is one among the few men of unquestionable genius whom the country possesses. Of the “Moon Hoax” it is supererogatory to say one word — not to know that argues one's self unknown. Its rich imagination will long dwell in the memory of every one who read it, and surely if

the worth of any thing

Is just so much as it will bring —

if, in short, we are to judge of the value of a literary composition in any degree by its effect — then was the “Hoax” most precious.

But Mr. Locke is also a poet of high order. We have seen — nay more — we have heard him read — verses of his own which would make the fortune of two-thirds of our poetasters; and he is yet so modest as never to have published a volume of poems. As an editor — as a political writer — as a writer in general — we think that he has scarcely a superior in America. There is no man among us to whose sleeve we would rather pin — not our faith (of that we say nothing) — but our judgment.

His MS. is clear, bold, and forcible — somewhat modified, no doubt, by the circumstances of his editorial position — but still sufficiently indicative of his fine intellect. [page 62:]

R. W. Emerson

MR. RALPH WALDO EMERSON belongs to a class of gentlemen with whom we have no patience whatever — the mystics for mysticism's sake. Quintilian mentions a pedant who taught obscurity, and who once said to a pupil “this is excellent, for I do not understand it myself.” How the good man would have chuckled over Mr. E.! His present role seems to be the outCarlyling Carlyle. Lycophron Tenebrosus is a fool to him. The best answer to his twaddle is cui bono? — a very little Latin phrase very generally mistranslated and misunderstood — cui bono? — to whom is it a benefit? If not to Mr. Emerson individually, then surely to no man living.

His love of the obscure does not prevent him, nevertheless, from the composition of occasional poems in which beauty is apparent by flashes. Several of his effusions appeared in the “Western Messenger” — more in the “Dial,” of which he is the soul — or the sun — or the shadow. We remember the “Sphynx,” the “Problem,” the “Snow Storm,” and some fine old-fashioned verses entitled “Oh fair and stately maid whose eye.”

His MS. is bad, sprawling, illegible and irregular — although sufficiently bold. This latter trait may be, and no doubt is, only a portion of his general affectation.




Ingrahm omits the footnote: “Since this article was prepared for the press, we have been grieved to hear of the death of Mr. Mellen.” He also omits a number of entries, mostly for authors who were presumably considered too obscure in 1874, but also, more curiously, such entries as R. W. Griswold and J. E. Snodgrass.


[S:0 - JHI, 1874] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Autography (J. H. Ingram, 1874)