Text: Burton R. Pollin, “April 1835 (Texts),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 5-8 (This material is protected by copyright)


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Texts of April [[1835]]

1. The North American Review (April 1835).

2. The London Quarterly Review (February 1835).

3. [Jacob H. Drew]. The Life, Character, and Literary Labours of Samuel Drew, A. M.

4. Henry Lee. The Life of the Emperor Napoleon.

5. [George H. Borrow]. Celebrated Trials of All Countries. . . .

6. Andrew Reed. No Fiction.

7. [Laure Saint-Martin Junot]. Memoirs of Celebrated Women of All Countries.

8. [Charlotte Anley]. Influence, a Moral Tale.

9. Charles Whitehead. Lives and Exploits of English Highwaymen, Pirates and Robbers.

10. [Laughton Osborn]. The Confessions of a Poet.

11. [Anon.]. The Language of Flowers.

12. Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth. Practical Education.

13. James B. Fraser. The Highland Smugglers.

14. John G. Lockhart. Valerius.

15. An Account of Col. Crockett’s Tour to the North and Down East.

16. [Susanna Warfield]. Illorar de Courcy.

17. [Charles Fenno Hoffman]. A Winter in the West. [page 6, column 1:]

1

North American Review. — The April number is for the most part excellent. But we are forcibly reminded by it of a defect in the Reviews of this country, which it seems to us, might with some little exertion, be remedied. The fault to which we allude, is their tardiness in noticing the publications of the day. In this number of the North American, we find several pages devoted to a review of Burkhardt’s Travels in Africa, which have been before the public sixteen years, while the crowd of new works of undoubted merit which fill our book stores, have not as yet, with but few exceptions, attracted the attention of the reviewers. In this book-making age, we are aware that it is impossible for a Quarterly to review the twentieth part of the productions constantly issuing from the press: but if as we suppose, it is the design of these periodicals to direct the taste of the public in every department of science and literature, surely they should contain reviews of such works selected from the mass, as are best worthy attention; and should endeavor to keep pace with the stream of publication. We can see little value in a review of a book after every reading man in the community has perused it, and formed his opinion upon its merits. Thus to lag behind the march of current literature, deprives the criticisms of the reviewer of much of their value and weight. In the instance to which we have alluded, it might well be asked whether the travels of Burkhardt,(a) English reviews of which we read ten or twelve, or more years ago, could have the same claim upon the public interest as the newer works of Burnes, Jacquemonit, Bennet and many others, whose books possess the charm of novelty? We subjoin the contents of the April number: 1. Politics of Europe: 2. Coleridge:(b) 3. Mineral Springs of Nassau: 4. Life of G. D. Boardman: 5. National Gallery: 6. Italy: 7. Last Days of Pompeii: 8. Immigration: 9. Burkhardt’s Travels in Africa: 10. Popular Education.

The first article contains a spirited review of the political events in France since the revolution of 1830, and of the foreign and internal policy of Louis Philippe. The progress of the juste milieu(c) system is well delineated, and a forcible picture is drawn of the present posture of the French government. We do not entirely coincide with the writer’s ideas of the onward course of the cause of liberty, (or perhaps more correctly, of revolution) in France; but consider the article gene rally correct and instructive. That on Coleridge is admirable: and we heartily rejoice that in a work so much looked up to in England as is the North American, for the expression of our literary opinions, justice so ample should have been done to that extraordinary mind. A Baltimore newspaper, in allusion(d) to the article in question, speaks of ” the pitiful shifts to which the reviewer is driven to account for a fact which he admits, viz. that there is but here and there an individual who understands him,” [Coleridge.] “What stronger proof do we want,” says the journalist, “of that confusion of thought and mysticism with which he has been charged?” We think far stronger proofs are necessary to support the accusation. That but few comprehend the metaphysical treatises of Coleridge, is owing to the simple fact, that few are so thoroughly [column 2:] versed in psychological knowledge as to maintain a position in the van of the science, the post universally acceded to Coleridge by the learned in ethics. It is for this class of men that he has written, and in whose applauses he has received a plentiful reward. These, at least, will not hesitate to say that so far from being justly charged with confusion of thought, and its consequence confission of expression, no man who ever lived thought more distinctly even when thinking wrong, or more intimately felt and comprehended the power of the niceties of words. That his philosophical disquisitions are abstruse, is the fault of the subjects, and not of the language in which he has treated them, than which none can be more lucid or appropriate.

The article on Italy is interesting — also that on the National Gallery. In the notice of the Last Days of Pompeii,(e) justice is by no means done to that most noble of modern novels.

2

The London Quarterly Review for February, American Edition, No. 1. Vol. 2. is printed on good paper, with excellent type. It contains, 1. Wanderings in New South Wales, by George Bennet, Esq. F. L. S. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons: 2. Correspondence of Victor de Jacquemont: 3. Population of Great Britain and Ireland: 4. Coleridge’s Table Talk: 5. Egypt and Thebes: 6. Rush on the Prophecies: 7. The Church and the Voluntary System: 8. Recent German Belles Lettres: 9. England, France, Russia and Turkey: 10. Sir Robert Peel’s Address. The eighth article contains much information on a subject with which Americans are, for the most part, indifferently conversant. Coleridge’s Table Talk is highly interesting, as every authentic fragment of his sentiments and opinions must be. The work reviewed in this article, is published by Mr. Henry Coleridge, a near relative of the departed philosopher and poet, and is made up from notes of numerous conversations, taken down by the publisher immediately after their occurrence. They bear the impress of Coleridge’s mind, will be read with interest by all classes, and probably do more to make the general reader acquainted with him and his opinions, than all else that has been written. — We take this opportunity of noticing the excellent American Edition of the London, Edinburg, Foreign and Westminster Reviews, combined. It does much honor to Mr. Foster of New York, the publisher; and the compression of matter is such, without being printed too fine, as to give to subscribers for the sum of eight dollars, these four periodicals for which upwards of twenty dollars was formerly paid. The paper, type, and execution, are good.

3

The Life of Samuel Drew, the shoemaker and philosopher of Cornwall, by his son, is published by Harper & Brothers, and consists of 360 pages. Drew was an extraordinary man, whose works, especially his theological ones, have gained him no little celebrity. It now appears that he had much to do with the writings attributed to Dr. Coke. [page 7:]

4

The Life of the Emperor Napoleon, Vol. 1, by H. Lee. New York, Charles De Behr. This work has great merits and remarkable faults. Published ostensibly as a corrector of the numerous errors of other biographers of Napoleon, and especially those of Sir Walter Scott and Lockhart, it cannot but be read with interest. The errors detected and set right, are numerous and important. In most instances Mr. Lee clearly makes out his charges — in some we are sorry to see that he seems to be governed by a spirit of captiousness: And we cannot but object to the tone of his strictures upon Sir Walter Scott. Milder language would better have graced his cause. We have prepared a review of this work, which we are compelled to postpone to the next number of the Messenger.

5

Celebrated Trials of all Countries, and remarkable cases of Criminal Jurisprudence, selected by a Member of the Philadelphia Bar. Philadelphia, E. L. Carey and S. Hart. Such a book as this was much wanted. The records of criminal trials were scattered through the newspapers or buried in some huge tomes of antique law reports, almost inaccessible to the ordinary reader. And this book seems fitted to supply the deficiency to a considerable extent. It is a large octavo, and contains a selection of criminal trials from the early period of 1588, down to the present day, among them some of the most celebrated cases on record, such as that of Sir Walter Raleigh in 1602, of the Earl of Strafford in 1643, of Alexis Petrowitz Czarowitz in 1815, of the rebels, Kilmarnock, Cromartie, Balmerino, &c. in 1745, and others of equal interest-the judicial proceedings in relation to which, belong to history. The contents of the work are highly interesting, but we cannot withhold our censure of their arrangement. The trials are huddled together without the slightest attention to chronological order; and it would seem that the gentleman of the Philadelphia Bar, who is made responsible for the compilation of the work, could merely have selected the several cases leaving the printer to arrange them as he pleased. The consequence is, that the reader finds himself shifting backward and forward, from century to century, in a complete medley of dates. This is to be lamented, because the history of criminal jurisprudence is a history of the progress of civil liberty, and of the expansion of the human mind. And the interest which we find in tracing the progress of just and equitable rules in the trials of malefactors, is marred by this defect of arrangement. As future volumes of this work are partly promised, it is to be hoped that in them this fault will be amended.

6

No Fiction. Narrative founded on recent and interesting facts, by the Rev. Andrew Reed, D. D. has been [column 2:] republished by the Harpers. With a plot of great simplicity, and with diction equally simple, this work has attained much celebrity. It is indeed thrillingly interesting. Martha, a more recent effort by the same writer, is however, in every respect a book of greater merit.

7

Memoirs of Celebrated Women of all Countries. By Madame Junot. Philadelphia, Carey, Lea and Blanchard. These memoirs are amusing, and so far we can recommend them highly, but no farther. Their morality is questionable indeed; and they bear upon their face, in a certain pervading air of romance, sufficient evidence of their own inauthenticity. There is a sad mistake too in the title of the work. These are not memoirs of celebrated women in all countries: they are merely Madame Junot’s celebrated women in a few particular regions. The greater part of them have no pretensions to celebrity. It has been remarked that the sketch of Marina Minszech will afford a fair sample of the Duchess’s biographical style. In this opinion we concur, and as it is a pretty fable, we advise all to read it who have no inclination for the book entire.

8

Influence, a Moral Tale, by the author of Miriam. Philadelphia, Key and Biddle. There is an air of modest tranquillity about this book which we admire. It is a pleasing tale addressed to the young, to serious parents, and to friends — and it pretends to be nothing more. Its style too is unobjectionable. If the work developes [[sic]] in the author no extraordinary capabilities, it is, we think, because there was no intention of developing them.

9

Lives of the English Pirates, Highwaymen and Robbers, by Whitehead. Philadelphia, Carey and Hart. These lines will be read in spite of all that a too fastidious taste may say to the contrary. We see no very good reason why they should not be.

10

Confessions of a Poet, 2 vols. Carey, Lea and Blanchard. The most remarkable feature in this production is the bad paper on which it is printed, and the typographical ingenuity with which matter barely enough for one volume has been spread over the pages of two. The author has very few claims to the sacred name he has thought proper to assume. And indeed his own idea on this subject seem not to satisfy himself. He is in doubt, poor man, of his own qualifications, and having proclaimed himself a poet in the title page, commences his book by disavowing all pretensions to the character. We can enlighten him on this head. There is nothing of the vates about him. He is no poet — and most positively he is no prophet. He is a writer of notes. He is fond of annotations; and composes one [page 8:] upon another, putting Pelion upon Ossa.(a) Here is an example: “Ce n’est pas par affectation que j’aie mis en Francais [[Français]] ces remarques, mais pour les detourner [[détourner]] de la connoissance du vulgaire.” Now we are very sure that none but le vulgaire,(b) to speak poetically, will ever think of getting through with the confessions: thus there the matter stands. Lest his book should not be understood he illustrates it by notes, and then lest the notes should be understood, why he writes them in French. All this is very clear, and very clever to say no more. There is however some merit in this book, and not a little satisfaction. The author avers upon his word of honor that in commencing this work he loads a pistol, and places it upon the table. He farther states that, upon coming to a conclusion, it is his intention to blow out what he supposes to be his brains. Now this is excellent. But, even with so rapid a writer as the poet must undoubtedly be, there would be some little difficulty in completing the book under thirty days or thereabouts. The best of powder is apt to sustain injury by lying so long “in the load.”(c) We sincerely hope the gentleman took the precaution to examine his priming before attempting the rash act. A flash in the pan — and in such a case — were a thing to be lamented. Indeed there would be no answering for the consequences. We might even have a second series of the Confessions.

11

The Language of Flowers, embellished with fine colored engravings. Philadelphia, Carey, Hart and Co. This is a book which will find favor in the eyes of the ladies, and thus, par consequence in the eyes of the gentlemen. Its motto is pretty and apposite:

By all those token-flowers that tell

What words can never speak so well.

12

Mr. and Miss Edgeworth’s Practical Education has been republished by the Harpers. Its character is well established.

13

The Highland Smugglers. By the author of Adventures of a Kussilbush, &c. 3 vols. Carey, Hart and Co. This book is very much praised and we think justly. It is full of exquisite descriptions of that region of romance the Scottish Highlands, and has a manner of its own. [column 2:]

14

Mr. Lockhart’s excellent novel Valerius is republished by the Harpers. The scene is in the time of Trajan, and the subject is managed in that masterly style which we look for in Lockhart. We have heard objections urged to the antique nature of his tale — ill-mannered sneers, and by men who should know better, at travelling back to Roman history for interest which could as well be found at home. Procul — O procul este profani! Valerius is a book to live.

15

An Account of Col. Crockett’s Tour to the North and Down East, written by himself. Carey, Hart and Co. We see no reason why Col. Crockett should not be permitted to expose himself if he pleases, and to be as much laughed at as he thinks proper — but works of this kind have had their day, and have fortunately lost their attractions. We think this work especially censurable for the frequent vulgarity of its language.

16

Illoraz de Courcy, an auto-biographical novel, by Josiah Templeton, Esq., 2 vols. Baltimore, William and Joseph S. Neal. We have looked at this book attentively — for we confess it was impossible to read it. A glance over one or two pages will be sufficient to convince any reasonable person that it is a mere jumble of absurdities. The gentleman should not have thrust his name (if it be not a nom de guerre,) into the title page.

17

A Winter in the West, by a New Yorker. New York, Harper and Brothers. This is a work of great sprightliness, and is replete with instruction and amusement. The writer evinces much talent in producing an interesting narrative of a journey performed in the most unpropitious period of the year. His observations on life in the backwoods are sensible, and we should imagine correct, and his details in relation to Michigan particularly interest us. The adventures of the road are told with great vivacity, and although there are no thrilling scenes or surprising incidents in the book, it cannot be read with indifference. The traits of Indian character scattered through its pages are vivid and striking, and the reflections on the condition of that fast failing race mark the philanthropic spirit of the author. Mr. Hoffman, formerly connected with the New York American, and now Editor of a Monthly Magazine, is the reputed author of this spirited work.

 


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Notes:

Errata:

In the original printing, the heading numbers for item 13 is omitted, and items 14-17 are misnumbered as 13-16. (The associated notes are properly numbered.)


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[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (April 1835 (Texts))