Text: Various, Literary Reviews, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. I, no. 9, May 1835, 1:520-531


[page 520:]


I PROMESSI SPOSI, or the Betrothed Lovers; a Milanese Story of the Seventeenth Century: as translated for the Metropolitan, from the Italian of Alessandro Manzoni, by G. W. Featherstonhaugh. Washington: Stereotyped and published by Duff Green. 1834. 8vo. pp. 249.

The appearance of this work strongly reminds us of the introductory remarks with which the Edinburg Review, thirty years ago, prefaced its annunciation of Waverley. We would gladly appropriate them, were it fair to do so; but “honor among thieves!” Reviewers must not steal from Reviewers; and what is it but theft, when he who borrows, can never have anything worthy of acceptance to give in return?

We may, nevertheless, so far imitate “the grand [column 2:] Napoleon of the realms of criticism,” as to congratulate our readers on the appearance of a work, which promises to be the commencement of a new style in novel writing. Since the days of Fielding, unimitated and inimitable — and of Smollett, between whose different productions there was scarce a family likeness, we have had a succession of dynasties reigning over the regions of romance. We have had the Ratcliffe dynasty, the Edgeworth dynasty, and the Scott dynasty; each, like the family of the Cæsars, passing from good to bad, and from bad to worse, until each has run out. Partial movements in the provinces have occasionally set up the standard of rival aspirants: but these have soon passed away. Heroines from the bogs, and heroes from the highlands of Scotland, or the Polish wilds, could not maintain their pretensions, though uniting in themselves all that is admirable both in the civilized and the savage character. Perhaps this was the reason. We like to read of things that may a little remind us of what we have seen in real life. Sir Charles Grandison in the Scottish Kilt, is a startling apparition.

The younger D’Israeli has indeed, occasionally flashed upon us the light of his capricious genius; but one of his caprices has been to disappoint the hope that he had raised. He has shown us what he could do, and that is all. Mr. Bulwer too, in a sort of freak of literary radicalism, has set up for himself. He scorned to add to the number of those who dress themselves in the cast-off habiliments of Scott; and study, as at a glass, to make themselves like him, as if ambitious to display their thefts. He learned the craft of plagiarism in the Spartan school, where detection was the only disgrace. He would not steal, not he, from any but “the poor man, who had nothing save one little ewe lamb, that lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.” He would imitate none but himself, and draw from no other models. His novels are all echoes of each other. There is hardly a page which might not be known for his, nor a favorite character which is not an exhibition of one of the phases of his exquisite self. The variety is between what he imagines himself to be, and what he imagines that he might have been, had he been a cavalier of the seventeenth century, or had circumstances made him a highwayman or a murderer. We are aware that he denies all this, and may be unconscious of it: but his identity can no more be mistaken than that of the one — eyed companion of Hogarth's “idle apprentice.” We are aware too, that Mr. Bulwer is a member of a certain literary cabal, who aspire to direct the public taste, and bring all the influence of wealth and fashion and political connexion in aid of their pretensions. He is a sort of literary Jack Cade. “His mouth is the law.” We know that the “amphitrion on l‘on dire” is always the true amphitrion. But we never expect to travel as caterers for a public journal. We in the south do not do that sort of thing. We are not taught so to “raise the wind.” We are not up to perpetual motion, nor to the art of making our living by taking our pleasure. We feel ourselves therefore under no obligation to admire Mr. Rogers's poems, though he be a banker — nor Mr. Bulwer's novels, nor himself, though he be a member of Parliament; nor though his female doublure Lady Blessington, “have the finest bust,” and “the prettiest foot,” and be “the finest woman in London.” We do not put the names [page 521:] of our fine women in the newspapers. The business of female education with us, is not to qualify a woman to be the head of a literary coterie, nor to figure in the journal of a travelling coxcomb. We prepare her, as a wife, to make the home of a good and wise and great man, the happiest place to him on earth. We prepare her, as a mother, to form her son to walk in his father's steps, and in turn, to take his place among the good and wise and great. When we have done this, we have accomplished, if not all, at least the best that education can do. Her praise is found in the happiness of her husband, and in the virtues and honors of her sons. Her name is too sacred to be profaned by public breath. She is only seen by that dim doubtful light, which, like “the majesty of darkness,” so much enhances true dignity. She finds her place by the side of the “Mother of the Gracchi,” and of her whom an English poet, who well knew how to appreciate and how to praise female excellence, has simply designated as


We much fear, that after all this, the author of the work before us will have no reason to thank us for our praise. On the contrary, there may be danger of involving him in the displeasure, which we may draw upon ourselves from that same cabal, which has its members on both sides of the Atlantic. “Ca me; Ca thee,” is the order of the day. If half the praise be due, which is lavished on the works that daily issue from the press, we may live to see the writings which instructed and delighted our youth, laid on the same shelf with Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus. Men can no more read every thing than they can eat every thing; and the petits plats, that are handed round hot-and-hot, leave us no room to do honor to the roast beef of old England, nor to the savory Virginia ham. But these are the food by which the thews and sinews of manhood are best nourished. They at once exercise and help digestion. Dyspepsia was not of their day. It came in with French Gastronomy. Are we mistaken in thinking, that we see symptoms of a sort of intellectual dyspepsia, arising from the incessant exhibition of the bon bons and kickshaws of the press?

Well! here is something that will stick by the ribs; a work of which we would try to give a sort of outline, but that it cannot be abridged. The machinery of the story is not intricate, but each part is necessary to the rest. To leave anything out is to tell nothing.

It might be too much to say that this novel is, in every sense of the word, original. The writer is obviously familiar with English literature, and seems to have taken at least one hint from Sir Walter Scott. The use made by that writer of the records and traditions of times gone by, has suggested this hint. It naturally occurred to Manzoni, a native of Italy, that much of the same sort of material was to be found among the archives of the petty Italian states, now blotted from the map of Europe. It is obvious that the collisions of small states, though less interesting to the politician than those of mighty nations, must afford more occasion for a display of individual character, and the exercise of those passions which give romance its highest interest. But what is known of the great and good men who nobly acted their parts in these scenes, when the very theatre of their acts is crushed and buried beneath the rubbish of revolution? To drag them [column 2:] from beneath the ruins, and permit the world to dwell for a moment on the contemplation of their virtues is a pious and praiseworthy task. It is sad to think how the short lapse of two centuries can disappoint the hope that cheered the last moments of the patriot and the hero. “For his country he lived, for his country he died;” his country was all to him; but his country has perished, and his name has perished with it. With the civil wars of England we are all familiar; and our hearts have glowed, and our tears have fallen, in contemplating the virtues and the sufferings of those who acted in those scenes; but, if we may credit the traditions imbodied in this book, a contemporary history of the Italian Republics would display characters yet more worthy of our admiration and our sympathy. The Cardinal Borromeo is an historical character. The writer obviously means to paint him as he was; and the annals of mankind may be searched in vain for a more glorious example of the purity, the enthusiasm, and the inspiration of virtue.

We might suspect that something of a zeal for the honor of the Romish Church had mingled itself in the rich coloring of this picture. But Manzoni was as much alive, as Luther himself, to the abuses of that church. In an episode, which will be found at page fifty-eight, he discloses some, of the precise character of which we were not hitherto aware. We knew that something was wrong, but what that something might be, was never certainly known. The author has unveiled the mystery. He has withdrawn a curtain, behind which we had never been permitted to look. We had guessed, and we had read the guesses of others; but we never knew precisely what was there. The moral coercion, more cruel than bodily torture, by which a poor girl, the victim of the heartless pride of her parents, without command, without even persuasion, (for both it seems are forbidden) is driven to the cloister, that her brother may have more ample means to uphold his hereditary honors; this was a thing inscrutable and inconceivable to us. In reading such works as Mrs. Sherwood's Nun, we feel that we are dealing with conjectures. We turn to the scene exhibited in this work, and we know it to be real life. We would gladly grace our pages with it. It would probably be read with more interest than any thing we can say; but it is before the public, and we have no right to discharge our debts to our readers, by giving them what is theirs already. We will only pray their indulgence so far as to offer a short extract, as a specimen of the writer's power. It is a picture of some of the horrors of the plague, as it raged in Milan in the year 1628. It may serve to show us that the pestilence, which lately stooped upon us, was in comparison, an angel of mercy.

The cars spoken of in the following extract, are those in which the uncoffined bodies of the dead were borne to a common receptacle, “naked for the most part, some badly wrapped up in dirty rags, heaped up and folded together like a knot of serpents.” The “monalti” were men who, having had the plague, were considered exempt from future danger, and were employed to bury the dead.

A lady came from the threshold of one of the houses, whose aspect announced youth advanced, but not yet passed away. Her beauty was obscured, but [page 522:] not obliterated, by distress and mortal languor; that sort of beauty, at once majestic and soft, which is so conspicuous in the Lombard race. She walked with pain, but did not stagger; her eyes shed no tears, but bore marks of having done so abundantly. There was, in her grief, a something inexpressibly quiet and deep, betokening a soul imbued and filled with it. But it was not her own appearance alone, that in the midst of so much wretchedness, marked her especially for commiseration, and awakened in her favor a feeling now deadened and worn out in all hearts. She bore inher arms a girl about nine years old, — dead, but dressed in a white frock of spotless purity, with her hair divided in front, as if her own hands had adorned her for a feast, long promised as the reward of her goodness. She held her, seated on one of her arms, with her breast upon the lady's breast; and she might have been thought to be alive, but that her young white hand hung heavy and lifeless on one side, like wax-work, and her head lay upon her mother's shoulder, with an air of abandonment heavier than that of sleep. Her mother! If the resemblance had not proclaimed the relation, the distress of the survivor announced it too plainly.

“A coarse monalti drew near the lady, and silently offered to relieve her from her burthen, but with an air of unwonted respect and involuntary hesitancy. But she, with an action betokening neither disgust nor scorn, drew back, and said,‘No; do not touch her now; I must lay her on that car myself; take this.’ She opened her hand, showed a purse, and dropped it into his. She then continued:‘Promise me not to take a thread from her, and to suffer no other to do so, and to put her in the ground just as she is.’

“The monalti placed his hand on his breast, and then with an obsequious zeal, rather like one subdued by a new and strange emotion, than as if prompted by the unexpected gift, he busied himself to make room on the car for the little corpse. The lady placed her there, as on a bed, laid her straight, kissed her cold brow, spread over her a white sheet, and then spoke for the last time.’ Adieu, Cecilia! Rest in peace! This evening we meet again, to part no more. Pray for us, my child, and I will pray for thee, and for the rest. You,’ added she to the monalti,‘when you pass again at vespers, will come and take me too, and not me alone.’

“Having said this, she re-entered the house, and presently appeared at the window, holding in her arms a still younger darling, alive, but with the marks of death on its face. She stood, as if contemplating the unworthy obsequies of the first, until the car moved, and while it remained in sight, and then she disappeared. What remained, but to lay her only surviving babe upon the bed, place herself by her side, and die with her; even as the stately blossom, with the bud beside it on its stem, falls before the scythe that levels all the plants in the meadow.”

There is a power in this to which we do not scruple to give great praise. We regret to say that the translation has many faults. We lament it the more, because they are obviously faults of haste. The translator, we fear, was hungry; a misfortune with which we know how to sympathize. The style is, for the most part, Italian, in English words, but Italian still. [column 2:] This is a great fault. In some instances it would be unpardonable. In this instance, perhaps, it is more than compensated by a kindred excellence. In a work like this, abounding in the untranslatable phrases of popular dialogue, it gives a quaint raciness which is not unacceptable. It does more. Such translations of such works, would soon make the English ear familiar with Italian idioms, which once naturalized, would enrich the language. It is already thus incalculably enriched by the poetry of Burns and the novels of Scott. A familiarity with Shakspeare, (which is not the English of the present day,) preserves a store of wealth which would else be lost. The strength of a language is in the number and variety of its idiomatic phrases. These are forms of speech which use has rendered familiar, and emancipated from the crippling restraint of regular grammar. They enable the speaker to be brief, without being obscure. His meaning, eliptically expressed, is distinctly and precisely understood. Should any other work of Manzoni fall into the hands of Mr. Featherstonhaugh, we hope he may have time to correct those inaccuracies of which he is doubtless sensible; but we trust he will not consider his popular Italian idioms as among his faults. Smollett, in his translation of Don Quixotte, through extreme fastidiousness, threw away an opportunity of doubling the force of the English language.

This work comes to us as the harbinger of glad tidings to the reading world. Here is a book, equal in matter to any two of Cooper's novels, and executed at least as well, which we receive at the moderate price of forty-two cents! It forms one number of the Washington Library, published monthly, at five dollars per annum. At this rate, a literary gourmand, however greedy, may hope to satisfy his appetite for books, without starving his children. The author has our praise, and the translator and publisher have our thanks.


[[The review of J. P. Kennedy's Horse-Shoe Robinson has been attributed to Poe.]]

[page 524, column 2, continued:]


JOURNAL — By FRANCES ANNE BUTLER. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard. [Presented to the Editor of the Messenger, by Mr. C. Hall.]

Perhaps no book has, for many years, been looked for, long previous to its publication, with such intense curiosity, as this record of Miss Fanny Kemble's observations and opinions of men and women, manners and customs, in the United States. We say Miss Fanny Kemble's opinions — for while bearing that name, most of those opinions were formed. Under that name she was hailed in this country, as the inheritress of the genius of Mrs. Siddons, whose fame is connected in the minds of Americans with all that is noble, and majestic, and powerful in the dramatic art. Under that name she received the admiration of thousands, was made a sharer of the hospitality of many of the most [page 525:] distinguished citizens of the country — and received a homage to which nothing but the highest genius, and the purest moral worth could have entitled her. It is not therefore as Mrs. Frances Anne Butler, the wife of an American citizen, that we look upon her in her character of authoress — but as the favorite actress, applauded to the echo, surfeited with flattery, and loaded with pecuniary rewards.* It is impossible to consider this book in any other than a personal point of view. Its very form forbids our separating the author from the work — the opinions and sentiments, from the individual who utters them. The idea of both exist [[exists]] in an indivisible amalgamation. Nor we fear, will it be possible for nine-tenths of her readers to weigh a single expression of Fanny Kemble the authoress, unmingled with the idea of Fanny Kemble the actress, the star — the “observed of all observers.” Hence this Journal will have an effect probably far beyond the anticipations [column 2:] of its writer. It will not only be looked upon as the test of Mrs. Butler's ability as an author; but it will, whether justly or not, convey to the thousands who have already perused, and the tens of thousands who will hereafter peruse it, a picture of her character and dispositions. The picture may, and doubtless will be an exaggerated one — few pictures are otherwise; but still it will be received as true, because the outlines have been traced by the original herself. We are sorry to say that the “counterfeit resemblance” of the fair authoress, presented by her book, displays many harsh and ill-favored lineaments, and the traces of passions which we could wish did not disfigure its many noble and magnanimous features. Mrs. Butler cannot claim for herself the immunity which she awards with great justice to poetical writers, of a distinction between their real and their written sentiments.* If this book contains as we suppose, the faithful transcripts of her daily observations and opinions, revised long after they were penned, and thus exhibiting her true, unexaggerated impressions, by them must she be judged — and in passing judgment upon her work, a candid critic will find much, very much, to admire and approve, and much also to censure and condemn.

We have read Mrs. Butler's work with untiring interest — indeed the vivacity of its style, the frequent occurrence of beautiful descriptions, of just and forcible observations, and many sound views of the condition of society in this country — the numerous characteristic anecdotes, and some most discriminating criticisms of actors and acting, must stamp her work as one of no ordinary merit. And these attractions in a great measure neutralize, although they cannot redeem, her innumerable faults of language, her sturdy prejudices, her hasty opinions, and her ungenerous sarcasms — These abound in the Journal, and yet it is more than probable that her censorious spirit has to a great extent been suppressed, as almost every page is studded with asterisks, indicating, we may presume, that her sins of hasty censure have been greatly diminished to the public eye, by the saving grace of omission.

The defects of the work are not confined to the exhibition of prejudices and the expression of unjust opinions: the style and language is often coarse, we might say vulgar; and her more impassioned exclamations are often characterized by a vehemence which is very like profanity, an offence that would not be tolerated in a writer of the other sex. We cite a few, from among the many passages which we have noted, as specimens of undignified, unfeminine and unscholarlike phraseology: The word “dawdled” seems a great favorite with Mrs. Butler — as, for instance: “Rose at eight, dawdled about,” &c. vol. i. p. 18. “Rose at [page 526:] half past eight, dawdled about as usual,” p.21. “Came up and dawdled upon deck,” p. 47. “Came home, daudled about my room,” p. 97. — And in numberless other instances this word is used, apparently, to signify loitering or dallying, spelled indiscriminately dawdled, or daudled. Indeed so much does our fair authoress seem to have been addicted to the habit which the word implies — be it what it may — that in the second volume she speaks of having “dressed for once without dawdling,” as an uncommon occurrence. She is also fond of the word “gulp,” and uses it in strange combinations, as — “My dear father, who was a little elated, made me sing to him, which I greatly gulped at,” p. 61. “I gulped, sat down, and was measured,” (for a pair of shoes,) p. 103 — “on the edge of a precipice, several hundred feet down into the valley: it made me gulp to look at it,” &c.

At page 97, she tells us, that “when the gentlemen joined us they were all more or less ‘how come’d you so indeed?’ ” and shortly after, “they all went away in good time, and we came to bed:

————————————————— To bed — to sleep —

To sleep! — perchance to be bitten! aye — there's the scratch:

And in that sleep of our's [[ours]] what bugs may come,

Must give us pause.”

She thus describes the motions of persons on ship-board, in rough weather: “Rushing hither and thither in all directions but the one they purpose going, and making as many angles, fetches, and ridiculous deviations from the point they aim at, as if the devil had tied a string to their legs, and jerked it every now and then in spite.” p. 18.

At page 99: “Supped, lay down on the floor in absolute meltiness away, and then came to bed.” “When I went on, I was all but tumbling down at the sight of my Jaffier, who looked like the apothecary in Romeo and Juliet, with the addition of some devilish red slashes along his thighs and arms,” p. 107. “Away walloped the four horses,” &c. p. 131. “How they did wallop and shamble about,” &c. p. 149. “Now I‘ll go to bed; my cough's enough to kill a horse,” p. 153. “Heaven bless the world, for a conglomerated amalgamation of fools,” p. 190. “He talked an amazing quantity of thickish philosophy, and moral and sentimental potter.” In truth, “‘potter” and “pottering,” seem to be favorites equally with daudling, and she as frequently makes use of them. For instance, “He sat down, and pottered a little,” p. 58. They “took snuff, eat cakes, and pottered a deal,” p. 182. “After dinner pottered about clothes,” &c. p. 220. “Sat stitching and pottering an infinity,” p. 230 — and many other varieties of the same word. But of the infinite number of literary novelties of this sort, it would be impossible, within the limits we have prescribed to ourselves, to give more than a few specimens. We will take two or three more at random: “My feet got so perished with the cold, that I didn‘t know what to do,” p. 230. “He was most exceedingly odd and dauldrumish. I think he was a little ‘how come‘d you so indeed.’ ” p. 195; “yesterday began like May, with flowers and sun-shine, it ended like December, with the sulks, and a fit of crying. The former were furnished me by my friends and Heaven, the latter by myself and the d—l.” p. 198. “At six o’clock, D—— roused me; and grumpily enough I arose.” Ib. “At [column 2:] one o’clock, came home, having danced myself fairly off my legs.” p. 227.

Such blemishes as these, apparently uniting the slang of the boarding school and the green room, deform the work of Mrs. Butler, and are much to be lamented, because they may have the effect of blinding the hasty, prejudiced or fastidious reader, to the many beauties which are to be found in its pages. Indeed the work has already encountered the severest criticisms from the newspaper press, imbittered by the many censorious remarks of Mrs. B. upon the manners and institutions of the country; her severe, and in many instances just strictures upon the state of society in the cities in which she sojourned; and the supercilious sneers which she has uttered against the editorial fraternity, “the press gang,” as she uncourteously denominates that numerous and powerful body. The censures of her book, are doubtless, in the main, well deserved; but in their excess, the merits which the “Journal” unquestionably possesses in great abundance and of a high order, have in many cases been passed by unheeded by her indignant critics. And here we cannot refrain from the utterance of a remark which has frequently occurred to us, and which is brought forcibly to mind by the reception which Mrs. Butler's criticisms upon America have met with: we think that too much sensitiveness is felt by our countrymen, at the unfavorable opinions expressed by foreigners, in regard to our social, political, and moral condition — and that the press, as the organ of public sentiment, is prone to work itself into a superfluous frenzy of indignation, at what are generally considered “foreign libels” upon us. To be indignant at gross misrepresentations of our country, is an exhibition of patriotism in one of its most laudable forms. But the sentiment may be carried too far, and may blind us to evils and deficiencies in our condition, when pointed out by a foreigner, which it would be well for us rather to consider with a view to their amendment. It may so far blunt our sense of the justice of the maxim “fas est, ab hoste doceri,” as to induce us to entertain jealousy and aversion for the most judicious suggestions, if offered by others than our own countrymen. Entertaining these views, we have read Mrs. Butler's work, with a disposition to judge of it impartially; and while we have perceived many instances of captious complaints in regard to matters of trifling importance in themselves; and frequently a disposition to build up general censures upon partial, individual causes of disgust, displeasure or disappointment — we feel bound to say, that, taking the work as a whole, we do not think a deliberate disposition to misrepresent, or a desire to depreciate us, can be discovered in it. The strictures upon our modes of living, our social relations, &c. are often unworthy the writer. She complains for instance, that “the things (at the hotel in New York,) were put on the table in a slovenly, outlandish fashion; fish, soup, and meat, at once, and puddings, and tarts, and cheese, at another once; no finger glasses, and a patched table cloth — in short, a want of that style and neatness which is found in every hotel in England. The waiters too, remind us of the half-savage highland lads, that used to torment us under that denomination in Glasgow — only that they were wild Irish instead of Scotch.” vol. i. p. 49.

Frequently too, she complains of the audiences before [page 527:] whom she performed, with occasional reproofs of their ungracious conduct in not sufficiently applauding her father or herself: She says, of the first appearance of the former at the Park Theatre:

When he came on they gave him what every bod here calls an immense reception; but they should se our London audience get up, and wave hats and hand kerchiefs, and shout welcome as they used to do to us The tears were in my eyes, and all I could say was “they might as well get up, I think.” Vol. i. p. 93. — And on another occasion: “The people were stupid to a degree to be sure; poor things, it was very hot. In deed I scarcely understood how they should be amuse with the School for Scandal; for though the dramatic situations are so exquisite, yet the wit is far above the generality of even our own audiences, and the tone and manners altogether are so thoroughly English, that] should think it must be for the most part incomprehensible to the good people here,” — p. 110.

At the Philadelphia audiences, she grumbles as follows:

The audiences here, are without exception, the most disagreeable I ever played to. Not a single hand did they give the balcony scene, or my father's scene with the friar; they are literally immoveable. They applauded vehemently at the end of my draught scene and a great deal at the end of the play; but they are nevertheless intolerably dull, and it is all but impossible to act to them,” — p. 157.

Of the ladies of this country, she seems to have formed a low estimate in many respects, and to look upon them generally with no little contempt. Of those in New York, she says: “The women dress very much, and very much like French women gone mad; they all of them seem to me to walk horribly ill, as if they wore tight shoes.” — And again: “The women here, like those in most warm climates, ripen very early, and decay proportionably soon. They are, generally speaking, pretty, with good complexions, and an air of freshness and brilliancy, but this I am told is very evanescent; and whereas, in England, a woman is in the full bloom of health and beauty, from twenty to five and thirty; here, they scarce reach the first period without being faded, and looking old. They marry very young, and this is another reason why age comes prematurely upon them. There was a fair young thing at dinner to-day, who did not look above seventeen, and she was a wife. As for their figures, like those of the French women, they are too well dressed for one to judge exactly what they are really like: they are, for the most part, short and slight, with remarkably pretty feet and ancles; but there's too much pelerine and petticoat, and “de quoi” of every sort to guess any thing more,” — p. 88.

This is a delicate subject, and one on which we should be averse to enter the lists with Mrs. Butler, prejudiced as she most probably is. But some of her observations on the mode of nurturing females, strike us as exhibiting good sense: In the following note to the above, we apprehend there is much truth:

The climate of this country is made the scape — goat upon which all the ill looks, and ill health of the ladies is laid; but while they are brought up as effeminately as they are, take as little exercise, live in rooms heated like ovens during the winter, and marry as early as they do; it will appear evident, that many causes combine with an extremely variable climate, to sallow their complexions, and destroy their constitutions.”

We are sorry to be forced to say, that there is also [column 2:] much sound sense and unwelcome truth in her remarks upon the situation of married females in our fashionable circles generally, (although the picture is over wrought and is more peculiarly applicable to northern females,) which we quote from Vol. i. p. 160.

The dignified and graceful influence which married women among us exercise over the tone of manners, uniting the duties of home to the charms of social life, and bearing, at once, like the orange tree the fair fruits — of maturity with the blossoms of their spring, is utterly unknown here. Married women are either house — drudges and nursery — maids, or, if they appear in society, d comparative cyphers; and the retiring, modest youthful bearing, which among us distinguishes girls of fifteen or sixteen is equally unknown. Society is entirely led by chits, who in England would be sitting behind a pinafore; the consequence is, that it has neither the — elegance, refinement, nor the propriety which belong to ours; but is a noisy, racketty, vulgar congregation of flirting boys and girls, alike without style and decorum.”

This view of manners is drawn from the society of the cities of New York and Philadelphia; — appended to the above extract, is a note, entering more into the details of her impressions regarding their fashionable, circles, which we give entire:

When we arrived in America, we brought letters of introduction to several persons in New York; many were civil enough to call upon us, we were invited out to sundry parties, and were introduced into what is there called the first society. I do not wish to enter into any description of it, but will only say, that I was most disagreeably astonished; and had it been my fate to have passed through the country as rapidly as most travellers do, I should have carried away a very unfavorable impression of the best society of New York. Fortunately, however, for me, my visits were repeated and my stay prolonged: and, in the course of time I became acquainted with many individuals whose manners and acquirements were of a high order, and from whose intercourse I derived the greatest gratification. But they generally did me the favor to visit me, and I still could not imagine how it happened that I never met them at the parties to which I was invited, and in the circles where I visited. I soon discovered that they formed a society among themselves, where all those qualities which I had looked for among the self-styled best, were to be found. When I name Miss Sedgewick, Halleck, Irving, Bryant, Paulding and some of less fame, but whose acquirements rendered their companionship delightful indeed, amongst whom I felt proud and happy to find several of my own name; it will no longer appear singular that they should feel too well satisfied with the resources of their own society, either to mingle in that of the vulgar fashionables, or seek with avidity the acquaintance of every stranger that arrives in New York. It is not to be wondered at, that foreigners have spoken as they have, of what is termed fashionable society here, or have condemned, with unqualified censure, the manners and tone prevailing in it; their condemnations are true and just as regards what they see: nor perhaps would they be much inclined to moderate them, when they found that persons possessing every quality that can render intercourse between rational creatures desirable, were held in light esteem, and neglected, as either bores, blues, or dowdies, by those so infinitely their inferiors in every worthy accomplishment. The same separation, or if anything a still stronger one, subsists in Philadelphia, between the self-styled fashionables, and the real good society. The distinction there, is really of a nature perfectly ludicrous; a friend of mine was describing to me a family whose manners were unexceptionable, and whose mental accomplishments were of a high order; upon my expressing some surprise that I had never met with them, my informant replied, “Oh, no, they are not received [page 528:] by the Chestnut street set.” If I were called upon to define that society in New York and Philadelphia, which ranks (by right of self-arrogation,) as first and best; I should say it is a purely dancing society, where a fiddle is indispensable to keep its members awake; and where their brains and tongues seem, by common consent, to feel that they had much better give up the care of mutual entertainment to the feet of the parties assembled, and they judge well. Now, I beg leave clearly to be understood, there is another, and a far more desirable circle; but it is not the one into which strangers find their way generally. To an Englishman, this fashionable society presents, indeed, a pitiful sample of lofty pretensions without adequate foundation. Here is a constant endeavor to imitate those states of European society, which have for their basis the feudal spirit of the early ages; and which are rendered venerable by their rank, powerful by their wealth, and refined, and in some degree respectable, by great and general mental cultivation. Of Boston I have not spoken. The society there, is of an infinitely superior order. A very general degree of information, and a much greater simplicity of manners render it infinitely more agreeable,” — pp. 161-2.

As few matters, worldly or spiritual, escaped the observation of our authoress, it is not wonderful that her pen was occasionally dipped in the political cauldron. But as her ideas are in most instances tinged with her own national prejudices, we shall not dwell upon them longer than to say that she sees already a decided aristocratic tendency among us, and to quote the following summary of her opinion as to the permanence of our institutions and government: — “I believe in my heart that a republic is the noblest, highest, and purest form of government; but I believe that according to the present disposition of human creatures, 'tis a mere beau ideal, totally incapable of realization. What the world may be fit for six hundred years hence, I cannot exactly perceive — but in the mean time [[meantime]], 'tis my conviction that America will be a monarchy before I am a skeleton.” p.56. If argument with a lady on such a subject could be reconciled to the precepts of gallantry, it would certainly be unprofitable where the causes of her belief are so vaguely stated. And we think she has furnished the best argument against herself in her frequent comparisons of the condition of the mass of the people of this country to that of the laboring class in England, in which she constantly decides in favor of America. It will scarcely be argued that a people enjoying such blessings as she ascribes to the condition of the mass of American citizens, could easily be induced to change their government, and yield up a certain good for a doubtful improvement — far less that they would willingly submit to a form of government which they look upon as particularly odious. The following passage shows what are her views of the condition of the laboring classes among us:

I never was so forcibly struck with the prosperity and happiness of the lower orders of society in this country, as yesterday returning from Hoboken. The walks along the river and through the woods, the steamers crossing from the city, were absolutely thronged with a cheerful, well-dressed population abroad, merely for the purpose of pleasure and exercise. Journeymen, laborers, handicraftsmen, tradespeople, with their families, bearing all in their dress and looks evident signs of well-being and contentment, were all flocking from their confined avocations, into the pure air, the bright sunshine, and beautiful shade of this lovely place. I do not know any spectacle which could give a foreigner, especially an Englishman, a better illustration of that [column 2:] peculiar excellence of the American government — the freedom and happiness of the lower classes. Neither is it to be said that, this was a holiday, or an occasion of peculiar festivity — it was a common week-day such as our miserable manufacturing population spends from sun-rise to sun-down, in confined, incessant, unhealthy toil — to earn, at its conclusion, the inadequate reward of health and happiness so wasted — the contrast struck me forcibly — it rejoiced my heart; it surely was an object of contemplation, that any one who had a heart must have rejoiced in.”

We had intended to make several additional extracts from what we think the better portions of the Journal, such as would exhibit the authoress in her most favorable light. But we have “daudled” so long on the way, that those extracts must be brief, and will probably fail to do the justice we proposed to the fair writer. As however, we have not selected the worst of the passages from those which we deemed it our duty to censure, we may be forgiven, if we should fail to quote the best of those which exhibit her good sense and ability as a writer.

Of the fate of the aborigines of this country, she says:

The chasing, enslaving, and destroying creatures, whose existence, however inferior, is as justly theirs, as that of the most refined European is his; who for the most part, too, receive their enemies with open — handed hospitality, until taught treachery by being betrayed, and cruelty by fear; the driving the child of the soil off it, or, what is fifty times worse, chaining him to till it; all the various forms of desolation which have ever followed the landing of civilized men upon uncivilized shores; in short, the theory and practice of discovery and conquest, as recorded in all history, is a very singular and painful subject of contemplation.

“ ’Tis true, that cultivation and civilization, the arts and sciences that render life useful, the knowledge that ennobles, the adornments that refine existence, above all, the religion that is its most sacred trust and dear reward, all these, like pure sunshine and healthful airs following a hurricane, succeed the devastation of the invader; but the sufferings of those who are swept away are not the less, and though I believe that good alone is God's result, it seems a fearful proof of the evil wherewith this earth is cursed, that good cannot progress but over such a path. No one, beholding the prosperous and promising state of this fine country, could wish it again untenanted of its enterprising and industrious possessors; yet even while looking with admiration at all they have achieved, with expectation amounting to certainty to all that they will yet accomplish; ‘tis difficult to refrain from bestowing some thoughts of pity and of sadness upon those, whose homes have been overturned, whose language has past away, and whose feet are daily driven further from those territories of which they were once sole and sovereign lords. How strange it is to think, that less than one hundred years ago, these shores, resounding with the voice of populous cities — these waters, laden with the commerce of the wide world, were silent wildernesses, where sprang and fell the forest leaves, where ebbed and flowed the ocean tides from day to day, and from year to year in uninterrupted stillness; where the great sun, who looked on the vast empires of the east, its mouldering kingdoms, its lordly palaces, its ancient temples, its swarming cities, came and looked down upon the still dwelling of utter loneliness, where nature sat enthroned in ever lasting beauty, undisturbed by the far off din of worlds “beyond the flood.”

There is eloquence and good feeling in the following:

In beholding this fine young giant of a world, with all its magnificent capabilities for greatness, I think every Englishman must feel unmingled regret at the [page 529:] unjust and unwise course of policy which alienated such a child from the parent government. But, at the same time, it is impossible to avoid seeing that some other course must, ere long, have led to the same result, even if England had pursued a more maternal course of conduct towards America. No one, beholding this enormous country, stretching from ocean to ocean, watered with ten thousand glorious rivers, combining every variety of climate and soil; therefore, every variety of produce and population; possessing within itself every resource that other nations are forced either to buy abroad, or to create substitutes for at home; no one, seeing the internal wealth of America, the abundant fertility of the earth's surface, the riches heaped below it, the unparalleled facilities for the intercourse of men, and the interchange of their possessions throughout its vast extent, can for an instant indulge the thought that such a country was ever destined to be an appendage to any other in the world, or that any chain of circumstances whatever, could have long maintained in dependance [[sic]] a people furnished with every means of freedom and greatness. But far from regretting that America has thrown off her allegiance, and regarding her as a rebellious subject, and irreverent child; England will surely, ere long, learn to look upon this country as the inheritor of her glory; the younger England, destined to perpetuate the language, the memory, the virtues of the noble land from which she is descended. Loving and honoring my country, as I do, I cannot look upon America with any feeling of hostility. I do not only hear the voice of England in the language of this people, but I recognize in all their best qualities, their industry, their honesty, their sturdy independence of spirit, the very witnesses of their origin, they are English; no other people in the world would have licked us as they did; nor any other people in the world, built upon the ground they won, so sound, and strong, and fair an edifice.

“With regard to what I have said in the beginning of this note, of the many reasons which combined to render this country independent of all others; I think they in some measure tell against the probability of its long remaining at unity with itself. Such numerous and clashing interests; such strong and opposite individuality of character between the northern and southern states; above all, such enormous extent of country; seem rationally to present many points of insecurity; many probabilities of separations and breakings asunder; but all this lies far on, and I leave it to those who have good eyes for a distance.” Vol. i. pp. 187-8.

From her description of a voyage up the Hudson river, which is one of the most beautiful portions of the work, we can give but two brief passages:

We passed the light — house of Stoney Point, now the peaceful occupant of the territory, where the blood in English veins was poured out by English hands, during the struggle between old established tyranny and the infant liberties of this giant world. Over all and each, the blessed sky bent its blue arch, resplendently clear and bright, while far away the distant summits of the highlands rose one above another, shutting in the world, and almost appearing as though each bend of the river must find us locked in their shadowy circle, without means of onward progress.” Vol. i. p. 207.

* * * * * *

“Where are the poets of this land? Why such a world should bring forth men with minds and souls larger and stronger than any that ever dwelt in mortal flesh. Where are the poets of this land? They should be giants, too; Homers and Miltons, and Goethes and Dantes, and Shakspeares. Have these glorious scenes poured no inspirings into hearts worthy to behold and praise their beauty? Is there none to come here and worship among these hills and waters, till his heart burns within him, and the hymn of inspiration flows from his lips, and rises to the sky? Is there not one among the sons of such a soil to send forth its praises [column 2:] to the universe, to throw new glory round the mountains, new beauty over the waves? is inanimate nature, alone, here “telling the glories of God?” Oh, surely, surely, there will come a time when this lovely land will be vocal with the sound of song, when every close — locked valley, and waving wood, rifted rock and flowing stream shall have their praise. Yet ‘tis strange how marvellously unpoetical these people are! How swallowed up in life and its daily realities, wants, and cares; how full of toil and thrift, and money — getting labor. Even the heathen Dutch, among us the very antipodes of all poetry, have found names such as the Donder Berg for the hills, whilst the Americans christen them Butter Hill, the Crow's Nest, and such like. Perhaps some hundred years hence, when wealth has been amassed by individuals, and the face of society begins to grow chequered, as in the old lands of Europe, when the whole mass of population shall no longer go running along the level road of toil and profit, when inequalities of rank shall exist, and the rich man shall be able to pay for the luxury of poetry, and the poor man who makes verses, no longer be asked, “Why don‘t you cast up accounts?” when all this comes to pass, as perhaps some day it may, America will have poets. It seems strange to me that men such as the early settlers in Massachusetts, the Puritan founders of New England, the “Pilgrim Fathers,” should not have had amongst them some men, or at least man, in whose mind the stern and enduring courage, the fervent, enthusiastic piety, the unbending love of liberty, which animated them all, becomne the inspiration to poetic thought, and the suggestion of poetical utterance. They should have had a Milton or a Klop stock amongst them. Yet after all, they had excitement of another sort, and moreover, the difficulties, and dangers, and distresses of a fate of unparalleled hardship, to engross all the energies of their minds; and I am half inclined to believe that poetry is but a hot house growth.” Vol. i. pp. 212-13.

Our friends, Oliver Oldschool and Anthony Absolute, will be pleased to observe that Mrs. Butler abjures the Waltz, and agrees with them in objecting to its tendency:

Dr. called, and gave me a sermon about waltzing. As it was perfectly good sense, to which I could reply nothing whatever, in the shape of objection, 1 promised him never to waltz again, except with a woman, or my brother. * * * * * * * * * * * After all, 'tis not fitting that a man should put his arm round one's waist, whether one belongs to any one but one's self or not. ’Tis much against what I have always thought most sacred, — the dignity of a woman in her own eyes, and those of others. I like Dr. ——— most exceedingly. He spoke every way to my feelings of what was right to — day. After saying that he felt con vinced from conversations which he had heard amongst men, that waltzing was immoral in its tendency, he added,’ I am married, and have been in love, and can not imagine any thing more destructive of the deep and devoted respect which love is calculated to excite in every honorable man's heart, not only for the individual object of his affection, but for her whole sex, than to see any and every impertinent coxcomb in a ball room, come up to her, and, without remorse or hesitation, clasp her waist, imprison her hand, and absolutely whirl her round in his arms.’ So spake the Doctor; and my sense of propriety, and conviction of right, bore testimony to the truth of his saying. So, farewell, sweet German Waltz! next to hock, the most intoxicating growth of the Rheinland. I shall never keep time to your pleasant measure again! — no matter; after all, anything is better than to be lightly spoken of, and to deserve such mention.” Vol. i. pp. 227-28.

Mrs. Butler seems to have no great love of the dramatic art — that is, the art of stage performance. Several [page 530:] pages in the second volume are devoted to this subject, (pp. 59, 60 and 61) in which she argues with great force in support of the position, that acting is “the very lowest of the arts.” Like all her criticisms of subjects connected with the stage, it is an admirable passage; but it is too long for quotation. A shorter one conveys the same idea, in eloquent language:

I acted like a wretch, of course; how could I do otherwise? Oh, Juliet! vision of the south! rose of the garden of the earth! was this the glorious hymn that Shakspeare hallowed to your praise? was this the mingled strain of Love's sweet going forth, and Death's dark victory, over which my heart and soul have been poured out in wonder and ecstacy? — How I do loathe the stage! these wretched, tawdry, glittering rags, flung over the breathing forms of ideal loveliness; these miserable, poor, and pitiful substitutes for the glories with which poetry has invested her magnificent and fail creations — the glories with which our imagination reflects them back again. What a mass of wretched mumming mimickry acting is. Pasteboard and paint for the thick breathing orange groves of the south green silk and oiled parchment, for the solemn splendor of her noon of night; wooden platforms and canvass curtains, for the solid marble balconies, and rich dark draperies of Juliet's sleeping chamber, that shrine of love and beauty; rouge, for the startled life — blood in the cheek of that young passionate woman; an actress, a mimicker, a sham creature, me, in fact, or any other one for that loveliest and most wonderful conception, in which all that is true in nature, and all that is exquisite in fancy, are moulded into a living form. To act this! to act Romeo and Juliet! — horror! horror! how I do loathe my most impotent and unpoetical craft!” Vol. ii. pp. 16-17.

In another and sadder strain, there are many beautiful portions, from which we can only select the following — and with this our extracts must end:

“ ’Tis strange, that Messenger Bird threw more than a passing gloom over me. If the dead do indeed behold those whom they have loved, with loving eyes and fond remembrance, do not the sorrows, the weariness, the toiling, the despairing of those dear ones rise even into the abodes of peace, and wring the souls of those who thence look down upon the earth, and see the wo and anguish suffered here? Or, if they do not feel, — if, freed from this mortal coil, they forget all they have suffered, all that we yet endure, oh! then what four — fold trash is human love! what vain and miserable straws are all the deep, the dear, the grasping affections twined in our hearts’ fibres, — mingled with our blood! — how poor are all things — how beggarly is life. Oh, to think that while we yet are bowed in agony and mourning over the dead, — while our bereaved hearts are aching, and our straining eyes looking to that heaven, beyond which we think they yet may hear our cries, they yet may see our anguish, the dead, the loved, the mourned, nor see, nor hear; or if they do, look down with cold and careless gaze upon the love that lifts our very souls in desperate yearning towards them.” Vol. ii. pp. 54-55.

We have thus endeavored to give our readers an idea of this very remarkable book — a task of no little difficulty from its variable features, its mixture of sense and silliness, of prejudice and liberality — almost every page bearing a distinct and peculiar character. There are many things which have elicited censure, on which we have not laid any stress, and among these are the frequent exhibitions of attachment to her native country, and preference of its people, its customs, its laws, &c. to those of America. We cannot find fault with her for so noble and so natural a sentiment, even though [column 2:] it should lead her to depreciate and underrate us. Besides, she acknowledges the blindness of her partiality to England, and speaks of it with great candor, as a national characteristic:

How we English folks do cling to our own habits, our own views, our own things, our own people; how in spite of all our wanderings and scatterings over the whole face of the earth, like so many Jews, we never lose our distinct and national individuality; nor fail to lay hold of one another's skirts, to laugh at and depreciate all that differs from that country, which we delight in forsaking for any and all others.” Vol. i. p. 90.

The chief fault of the work will be found in the dictatorial manner of the writer. A female, and a young one too, cannot speak with the self-confidence which marks this book, without jarring somewhat upon American notions of the retiring delicacy of the female character. But the early induction of Mrs. B. upon the stage, has evidently given her a precocious self-dependence and a habit of forming her own opinions. There is perhaps no situation in which human vanity is so powerfully excited, as that of the favorite actor. The directness of the applause which greets his successful efforts is most intoxicating, and mingles so much admiration of the performer with delight at the performance, that he or she, whose vanity should resist its fascinations, must be a stoic indeed.* The effects of this personal homage, added to the advantages [page 531:] of her birth, and her really masculine intellect, are apparent in Mrs. B's Journal. But she also displays some fine feminine traits, which the flatteries of delighted audiences, the admiration of ambitious fashionables, and the consciousness of being the chief Lion of the day, could not destroy. Her sympathy for a sick lady, lodging in the same house in Philadelphia, is frequently and delicately expressed; and various other incidents shew that kindness and generosity are among her prominent qualities. Many pages are devoted to the subject of religion, and as appears from them, she was attentive to the performance of her devotions: Yet we cannot but think her religion as displayed in this book, more a sentiment than a principle; rather the imbodying of a poetical fancy, than that pervading feeling of the heart which enters into and characterizes the actions of those who feel its influence. — In conclusion, we will repeat what we have said before, that there is much to admire and much to condemn in this work — enough of the former to render it one of the most attractive (as it is one of the most original) that has recently issued from the press; and in censuring its faults it will be but justice to bear in mind a sentiment of Mrs. B.; “After all, if people generally did but know the difficulty of doing well, they would be less damnatory upon those who do ill.” p. 114, vol. i.



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 525, column 1:]

*  We are far from wishing to convey the idea that a popular actor of real merit is in any way placed under obligation, (especially such an obligation as would render it improper or ungrateful for him to speak with freedom of the communities of which his audiences formed parts,) by the pecuniary benefits received from the public for the exhibition of his talents. Mrs. Butler has, we think, settled that question in her book; and it will be better for both the audiences and the actors, whenever differences arise between them, to consider each other on the footing of equality, which she points out as the equitable and common — sense relation of the two parties. Nothing can be more rational than the following:

“It may not be amiss here to say one word with regard to the gratitude which audiences in some parts of the world claim from actors, and about which I have lately heard a most alarming out-cry. Do actors generally exercise their profession to please themselves and gratify their own especial delight in self-exhibition? Is that profession in its highest walks one of small physical exertion and fatigue, (I say nothing of mental exertion) and in its lower paths is it one of much gain, glory, or ease? Do audiences, on the other hand, use to come in crowds to play — houses to see indifferent performers? and when there do they out of pure charity and good — will, bestow their applause as well as their money upon tiresome performers? — I will answer these points as far as regards myself, and therein express the gratitude which I feel towards the frequenters of theatres. I individually disliked my profession, and had neither pride nor pleasure in the exercise of it. I exercised it as a matter of necessity, to earn my bread, — and verily it was in the sweat of my brow. The parts which fell to my lot were of a most laborious nature, and occasioned sometimes violent mental excitement, always immense physical exertion, and sometimes both. In those humbler walks of my profession, from whose wearisomeness I was exempted by my sudden favor with the public, I have seen, though not known, the most painful drudgery, — the most constant fatigue, the most sad contrast between real cares and feigned merriments, — the most anxious penurious and laborious existence imaginable. For the part of my question which regarded the audiences, I have only to say, that I never knew, saw, heard or read of any set of people who went to a play — house to see what they did not like; this being the case it never occurred to me that our houses were full but as a necessary consequence of our own attraction, or that we were applauded, but as the result of our own exertions. I was glad the houses were full, because I was earning my livelihood, and wanted the money; and I was glad the people applauded us, because it is pleasant to please, and human vanity will find some sweetness in praise, even when reason weighs its worth most justly.” Vol. ii. pp. 109-110.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 525, column 2:]

*  “Moore talks about Byron's writing with the same pen full of ink,’ Adieu, adieu, my native land,’ and ‘Hurra, Hodgson, we are going.’ It proves nothing, except what I firmly believe, that we must not look for the real feelings of writers in their works — or rather that what they give us, and what we take for heart feeling, is head weaving — a species of emotion engendered somewhere betwixt the bosom and the brain, and bearing the same proportion of resemblance to reality that a picture does — that is — like feeling, but not feeling — like sadness, but not sadness — like what it appears, but not indeed that very thing: and the greater a man's power of thus producing sham realities, the greater his qualification for being a poet.” Journal, vol. i. pp. 21-22.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 530, column 2:]

*  This position has been beautifully illustrated by some modern English writer, but by whom we have forgotten. Mrs. Butler is fully aware of the intoxicating nature of the applause bestowed on actors, and speaks most sensibly on the subject, although she is probably unconscious of its full effects upon her own feelings, and manner of thinking and writing.

“Excitement,” says she, “is reciprocal between the performer and the audience; he creates it in them, and receives it back again from them: and in that last scene in Fazio, half the effect that I produce is derived from the applause which I receive, the very noise and tumult of which tends to heighten the nervous energy which the scene itself begets.”

The idea is farther carried out in the following striking passage:

“The evanescent nature of his triumph, however an actor may deplore it, is in fact but an instance of the broad moral justice by which all things are so evenly balanced. If he can hope for no fame beyond mere mention, when once his own generation passes away, at least his power, and his glory, and his reign is in his own person, and during his own life. There is scarcely to be conceived a popularity for the moment more intoxicating than that of a great actor in his day, so much of it becomes mixed up with the individual himself. The poet, the painter, and the sculptor, enchant us through their works; and with very, very few exceptions, their works, and not their very persons are the objects of admiration and applause; it is to their minds we are beholden; and though a certain degree of curiosity and popularity necessarily wait even upon their bodily presence, it is faint compared with that which is bestowed upon the actor; and for good reasons — he is himself his work. His voice, his eyes, his gestures, are his art, and admiration of it cannot be separated from admiration for him. This renders the ‘ephemeral glory which he earns so vivid, and in some measure maybe supposed to compensate for its short duration. The great of the earth, whose fame has arisen like the shining of the sun, have often toiled through their whole lives in comparative obscurity, through the narrow and dark paths of existence. Their reward was never given to their hands here, — it is but just their glory should be lasting. Vol. ii pp. 61-62.



The attribution of the review of Mrs. Butler is particularly problematic. William Hull felt confident that it was by Poe, based on internal evidence. Mabbott, in a letter of June 9, 1966, stated that he felt the review was probably by Heath. Burton Pollin and Joseph V. Ridgley (Collected Writings of E. A. Poe, Volume 5: Writings in the SLM, 1997) thought it more likely that the author was Sparkhawk, noting a comment in the April issue of the SLM promising the review in the next issue. Poe himself wrote on May 30, 1835 to T. W. White, apologizing for not having prepared a more in-depth review of J. P. Kennedy's Horse-Shoe Robinson. His excuse was that “Ill health alone prevented me from so doing.” It would seem exceedingly awkward to offers such an excuse after having written this very lengthy review of Mrs. Butler's Journal, hence Poe is most likely not the author.


[S:0 - SLM, 1835] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - SLM Literary Reviews (May 1835)