Text: Burton R. Pollin, “January 1836 (Texts),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 82-99 (This material is protected by copyright)


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Texts of January [[1836]]

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1. (1) Lydia H. Sigourney. Zinzendorff and Other Poems. (2) Hannah Flagg Gould. Poems. (3) Elizabeth F. Ellet. Poems: Translated and Original.

2. [William Gilmore Simms]. The Partisan.

3. Charles Joseph Latrobe. The Rambler in North America.

4. [Joseph Holt Ingraham]. The South-West.

5. Sarah Stickney. The Poetry of Life. [column 2:]

6. Catharine M. Sedgwick. Tales and Sketches.

7. Francis Lieber. Reminiscences of an Intercourse with Mr. Niebuhr.

8. [Anon.]. The Young Wife’s Book.

9. [Daniel Defoe]. The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

10. [Anon.]. The Christian Florist.

1

MRS. SIGOUNEY — MISS GOULD — MRS. ELLET.

Zinzendorff, and other Poems. By Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, New York: Published by Leavitt, Lord & Co. 1836.

Poems — By Miss H. F. Gould, Third Edition. Boston: Hilliard, Gray & Co. 1835.

Poems; Translated and Original. By Mrs. E. F. Ellet. Philadelphia: Key and Biddle. 1835.

Mrs. Sigourney has been long known as an author. Her earliest publication was reviewed about twenty years ago, in the North American. She was then Miss Huntley. The fame which she has since acquired is extensive; and we, who so much admire her virtues and her talents, and who have so frequently expressed our admiration of both in this Journal — we, of all persons — are the least inclined to call in question the justice or the accuracy of the public opinion, by which has been adjudged to her so high a station among the literati of our land. Some things, however, we cannot pass over in silence. There are two kinds of popular reputation, — or rather there are two roads by which such reputation may be attained: and it appears to us an idiosyncrasy which distinguishes mere fame from most, or perhaps from all other human ends, that, in regarding the intrinsic value of the object, we must not fail to introduce, as a portion of our estimate, the means by which the object is acquired. To speak less abstractedly. Let us suppose two writers having a reputation apparently equal — that is to say, their names being equally in the mouths of the people — for we take this to be the most practicable test of what we choose to term apparent popular reputation. Their names then are equally in the mouths of the people. The one has written a great work — let it be either an Epic of high rank, or something which, although of seeming littleness in itself, is yet, like the Christabelle of Coleridge, entitled to be called great from its power of creating intense emotion in the minds of great men. And let us imagine that, by this single effort, the author has attained a certain quantum of reputation. We know it to be possible that another writer of very moderate powers may build up for himself, little by little, a reputation equally great — and this, too, merely by keeping continually in the eye, or by appealing continually with little things, to the ear, of that great, overgrown, and majestical gander, the critical and bibliographical rabble.

It would be an easy, although perhaps a somewhat disagreeable task, to point out several of the most popular writers in America — popular in the above mentioned sense — who have manufactured for themselves a celebrity by the very questionable means, and in the very questionable manner, to which we have alluded. But it must not be thought that we wish to include Mrs. Sigourney in the number. By no means. She has trod, however, upon the confines of their circle. She does not owe her reputation to the chicanery we mention, but it cannot be denied that it has been thereby greatly assisted. In a word — no single piece which she has written, and not even her collected works as we behold them in the present volume, and in the one published some years ago, would fairly entitle her to that exalted rank which she actually enjoys as the authoress, time after time, of her numerous, and, in most instances, very creditable compositions. The validity of our objections to this adventitious notoriety we must be allowed to consider unshaken, until it can be proved that any multiplication of zeros will eventuate in the production of a unit.

We have watched, too, with a species of anxiety and vexation brought about altogether by the sincere interest we take in Mrs. Sigourney, the progressive steps by which she has at length acquired the title of the “American Hemans.” Mrs. S. cannot conceal from her own discernment that she has acquired this title solely by imitation. The very phrase “American Hemans” speaks loudly in accusation: and we are grieved that what by the over-zealous has been intended as complimentary should fall with so ill-omened a sound into the ears of the judicious. We will briefly point out those particulars in which Mrs. Sigourney stands palpably convicted of that sin which in poetry is not to be forgiven.

And first, in the character of her subjects. Every unprejudiced observer must be aware of the almost identity between the subjects of Mrs. Hemans and the subjects of Mrs. Sigourney. The themes of the former lady are the unobtrusive happiness, the sweet images, the cares, the sorrows, the gentle affections, of the domestic hearth — these too are the themes of the latter. The Englishwoman has dwelt upon all the “tender and true” chivalries of passion — and the American has dwelt as unequivocally upon the same. Mrs. Hemans has delighted in the radiance of a pure and humble faith — she has looked upon nature with a speculative attention — she has “watched the golden array of sunset clouds, with an eye looking beyond them to the habitations of the disembodied spirit” — she has poured all over her verses the most glorious and lofty aspirations of a redeeming Christianity, and in all this she is herself glorious and lofty. And all this too has Mrs. Sigourney not only attempted, but accomplished — yet in all this she is but, alas! — an imitator.

And secondly — in points more directly tangible than the one just mentioned, and therefore more easily appreciated by the generality of readers, is Mrs. Sigourney again open to the charge we have adduced. We mean in the structure of her versification — in the peculiar turns of her phraseology — in certain habitual expressions (principally interjectional,) such as yea! alas! and many others, so frequent upon the lips of Mrs. Hemans as to give an almost ludicrous air of similitude to all articles of her composition — in an invincible inclination to apostrophize every object, in both moral and physical existence — and more particularly in those mottos or quotations, sometimes of considerable extent, prefixed to nearly every poem, not as a text for discussion, nor even as an intimation of what is to follow, but as the actual subject matter itself, and of which the verses ensuing are, in most instances, merely a paraphrase. These were all, in Mrs. Hemans, mannerisms of a gross and inartificial nature; but, in Mrs. Sigourney, they are mannerisms of the most inadmissible kind — the mannerisms of imitation.

In respect to the use of the quotations, we cannot conceive how the fine taste of Mrs. Hemans could have admitted the practice, or how the good sense of Mrs. Sigourney could have thought it for a single moment worthy of her own adoption. In poems of magnitude the mind of the reader is not, at all times, enabled to include in one comprehensive survey the proportions and proper adjustment of the whole. He is pleased — if at all — with particular passages; and the sum of his pleasure is compounded of the sums of the pleasurable sensations inspired by these individual passages during the progress of perusal. But in pieces of less extent — like the poems of Mrs. Sigourney — the pleasure is unique, in the proper acceptation of that term — the understanding is employed, without difficulty, in the contemplation of the picture as a whole — and thus its effect will depend, in a very great degree, upon the perfection of its finish, upon the nice adaptation of its constituent parts, and especially upon what is rightly termed by Schlegel, the unity or totality of interest. Now it will readily be seen, that the practice we have mentioned as habitual with Mrs. Hemans and Mrs. Sigourney is utterly at variance with this unity. By the initial motto — often a very long one — we are either put in possession of the subject of the poem; or some hint, historic fact, or suggestion is thereby afforded, not included in the body of the article, which, without the suggestion, would be utterly incomprehensible. In the latter case, while perusing the poem, the reader must revert, in mind at least, to the motto for the necessary explanation. In the former, the poem being a mere paraphrase of the motto, the interest is divided between the motto and the paraphrase. In either instance the totality of effect is annihilated.

Having expressed ourselves thus far in terms of nearly unmitigated censure, it may appear in us somewhat equivocal to say that, as Americans, we are proud — very proud of the talents of Mrs. Sigourney. Yet such is the fact. The faults which we have already pointed out, and some others which we will point out hereafter, are but dust in the balance, when weighed against her very many and distinguishing excellences. Among those high qualities which give her, beyond doubt, a title to the sacred name of poet are an acute sensibility to natural loveliness — a quick and perfectly just conception of the moral and physical sublime — a calm and unostentatious vigor of thought — a mingled delicacy and strength of expression — and above all, a mind nobly and exquisitely attuned to all the gentle charities and lofty pieties of life.

The volume whose title forms the heading of this article embraces one hundred and seventy-three poems. The longest, but not the best, of these is Zinzendorff. “It owes its existence,” says the author, “to a recent opportunity of personal intercourse with that sect of Christians who acknowledge Zinzendorff as their founder; and who, in their labors of self-denying benevolence, and their avoidance of the slight, yet bitter causes of controversy, have well preserved that sacred test of discipleship ‘to love one another.’ “ Most of the other pieces were “suggested by the passing and common incidents of life,” — and we confess that we find no fault, with their “deficiency in the wonderful and wild.” Not in these mountainous and stormy regions — but in the holy and quiet valley of the beautiful, must forever consent to dwell the genius of Mrs. Sigourney.

The poem of Zinzendorff includes five hundred and eighty lines. It relates, in a simple manner, some adventures of that man of God. Many passages are very noble, and breathe the truest spirit of the Muse. At page 14, for example.

—————— The high arch

Of the cloud-sweeping forest proudly cast (casts)

A solemn shadow, for no sound of axe

Had taught the monarch Oak dire principles

Of Revolution, or brought down the Pine

Like haughty baron from his castled height.

Thus dwelt the kings of Europe — ere the voice

Of the crusading monk, with whirlwind tone

Did root them from their base, with all their hosts,

Tossing the red-cross banner to the sky.

Again at page 21, we have something equally beautiful, in a very different way. The passage is however much injured by the occurrence of the word ‘that’ at the commencement of both the sixth and seventh line.

———— Now the infant morning raised

Her rosy eyelids. But no soft breeze moved

The forest lords to shake the dews of sleep

From their green coronals. The curtaining mist

Hung o’er the quiet river, and it seemed

That Nature found the summer night so sweet

That ‘mid the stillness of her deep repose

She shunned the wakening of the king of day.

All this is exquisite, and in Zinzendorff there are many passages of a like kind. The poem, however, is by no means free from faults. In the first paragraph we have the following:

———— Through the breast

Of that fair vale the Susquehannah roam’d,

Wearing its robe of silver like a bride.

Now with a noiseless current gliding slow,

Mid the rich velvet of its curtaining banks

It seemed to sleep.

To suppose the Susquehannah roaming through the breast of any thing — even of a valley — is an incongruity: and to say that such false images are common, is to say very little in their defence. But when the noble river is bedizzened out in robes of silver, and made to wash with its bright waters nothing better than curtains of velvet, we feel a very sensible and a very righteous indignation. We might have expected such language from an upholsterer, or a marchande des modes, but it is utterly out of place upon the lips of Mrs. Sigourney. To liken the glorious objects of natural loveliness to the trappings and tinsel of artificiality, is one of the lowest, and at the same time, one of the most ordinary exemplifications of the bathos. At page 21, these verses occur:

No word was spoke,

As when the friends of desolated Job,

Finding the line of language all too short

To fathom woe like his, sublimely paid

That highest homage at the throne of grief,

Deep silence.

The image here italicized is striking, but faulty. It is deduced not from any analogy between actual existences — between woe on the one hand, and the sea on the other — but from the identity of epithet (deep) frequently applied to both. We say the “deep sea,” and the expression “deep woe” is certainly familiar. But in the first case the sea is actually deep; in the second, woe is but metaphorically so. Sound, therefore — not sense, is the basis of the analogy, and the image is consequently incorrect.

Some faults of a minor kind we may also discover in Zinzendorff. We dislike the use made by the poetess of antique modes of expression — here most unequivocally out of place. For example.

Where the red council-fire

Disturbed the trance of midnight, long they sate.

 

What time, with hatred fierce and unsubdued,

The woad-stained Briton, in his wattled boat,

Qualied ’neath the glance of Rome.

The versification of Zinzendorff is particularly good — always sweet — occasionally energetic. We are enabled to point out only one defective line in the poem, and in this the defect has arisen from an attempt to contract enthusiasm into a word of three syllables.

He who found

This blest enthusiasm nerve his weary heart.

There are, however, some errors of accentuation — for example:

So strong in that misanthrope’s bosom wrought

A frenzied malice.

Again —

He would have made himself

A green oasis mid the strife of tongues.

We observe too that Mrs. Sigourney places the accent in Wyoming on the second syllable.

’Twas summer in Wyoming. Through the breast, &c.

———— And the lore

Of sad Wyoming’s chivalry, a part

Of classic song.

But we have no right to quarrel with her for this. The word is so pronounced by those who should know best. Campbell, however, places the accent on the first syllable.

On Susquehannah’s banks, fair Wyoming!

We will conclude our remarks upon Zinzendorff with a passage of surpassing beauty, energy, and poetic power. Why cannot Mrs. Sigourney write always thus?

———— Not a breath

Disturbed the tide of eloquence. So fixed

Were that rude auditory, it would seem

Almost as if a nation had become

Bronzed into statues. Now and then a sigh,

The unbidden messenger of thought profound,

Parted the lip; or some barbarian brow

Contracted closer in a haughty frown,

As scowled the cynic, ‘mid his idol fanes,

When on Mars-Hill the inspired Apostle preached

Jesus of Nazareth.

These lines are glowing all over with the true radiance of poetry. The image in italics is perfect. Of the versification, it is not too much to say that it reminds us of Miltonic power. The slight roughness in the line commencing “When on Mars-Hill,” and the discord introduced at the word “inspired,” evince an ear attuned to the delicacies of melody, and form an appropriate introduction to the sonorous and emphatic closing — Jesus of Nazareth.

Of the minor poems in the volume before us, we must be pardoned for speaking in a cursory manner. Of course they include many degrees of excellence. Their beauties and their faults are, generally, the beauties and the faults of Zinzendorff. We will particularize a few of each.

On page 67, in a poem entitled Female Education, occur the following lines:

———— Break Oblivion’s sleep,

And toil with florist’s art

To plant the scenes of virtue deep

In childhood’s fruitful heart!

To thee the babe is given,

Fair from its glorious Sire;

Go — nurse it for the King of Heaven,

And He will pay the hire.

The conclusion of this is bathetic to a degree bordering upon the grotesque.

At page 160 is an error in metre — of course an oversight. We point it out merely because, did we write ourselves, we should like to be treated in a similar manner. For ‘centred’ we should probably read ‘con centred.’

The wealth of every age

Thou hast center’d here,

The ancient tome, the classic page,

The wit, the poet, and the sage,

All at thy nod appear.

At page 233, line 10, the expression “Thou wert their friend,” although many precedents may be found to justify it — is nevertheless not English. The same error occurs frequently in the volume.

The poem entitled The Pholas, at page 105, has the following introductory prose sentence: “It is a fact familiar to Conchologists, that the genus Pholas possesses the property of phosphorescence. It has been asserted that this may be restored, even when the animal is in a dried state, by the application of water, but is extinguished by the least quantity of brandy.” This odd fact in Natural History is precisely what Cowley would have seized with avidity for the purpose of preaching therefrom a poetical homily on Temperance. But that Mrs. Sigourney should have thought herself justifiable in using it for such purpose, is what we cannot understand. What business has her good taste with so palpable and so ludicrous a conceit? Let us now turn to a more pleasing task.

In the Friends of Man, (a poem originally published in our own Messenger,) the versification throughout is of the first order of excellence. We select an example.

The youth at midnight sought his bed,

But ere he closed his eyes,

Two forms drew near with gentle tread,

In meek and saintly guise;

One struck a lyre of wondrous power,

With thrilling music fraught,

That chained the flying summer hour,

And charmed the listener’s thought —

For still would its tender cadence be

Follow me! follow me!

And every morn a smile shall bring,

Sweet as the merry lay I sing.

The lines entitled Filial Grief, at page 199, are worthy of high praise. Their commencement is chaste, simple, and altogether exquisite. The verse italicized contains an unjust metaphor, but we are forced to pardon it for the sonorous beauty of its expression.

The love that blest our infant dream,

That dried our earliest tear,

The tender voice, the winning smile,

That made our home so dear,

The hand that urged our youthful thought

O’er low delights to soar,

Whose pencil wrote upon our souls,

Alas, is ours no more.

We will conclude our extracts with “Poetry” from page 57. The burden of the song finds a ready echo in our bosoms.

Morn on her rosy couch awoke,

Enchantment led the hour,

And Mirth and Music drank the dews

That freshened Beauty’s flower —

Then from her bower of deep delight

I heard a young girl sing,

“Oh, speak no ill of Poetry,

For ’tis a holy thing!”

 

The sun in noon-day heat rose high,

And on with heaving breast

I saw a weary pilgrim toil,

Unpitied and unblest —

Yet still in trembling measures flow’d

Forth from a broken string,

“Oh, speak no ill of Poetry,

For ’tis a holy thing!”

 

’Twas night, and Death the curtains drew,

Mid agony severe,

While there a willing spirit went

Home to a glorious sphere ——

Yet still it sighed, even when was spread

The waiting Angel’s wing,

“Oh, speak no ill of Poetry,

For ’tis a holy thing!”

We now bid adieu to Mrs. Sigourney — yet we trust only for a time. We shall behold her again. When that period arrives, having thrown aside the petty shackles which have hitherto enchained her, she will assume, at once, that highest station among the poets of our land which her noble talents so well qualify her for attaining.

————

The remarks which we made in the beginning of our critique on Mrs. Sigourney, will apply, in an equal degree, to Miss Gould. Her reputation has been greatly assisted by the frequency of her appeals to the attention of the public. The poems (one hundred and seventeen in number,) included in the volume now before us have all, we believe, appeared, from time to time, in the periodicals of the day. Yet in no other point of view, can we trace the remotest similarity between the two poetesses. We have already pointed out the prevailing characteristics of Mrs. Sigourney. In Miss Gould we recognize, first, a disposition, like that of Wordsworth, to seek beauty where it is not usually sought — in the homelinesses (if we may be permitted the word,) and in the most familiar realities of existence — secondly abandon of manner — thirdly a phraseology sparkling with antithesis, yet, strange to say, perfectly simple and unaffected.

Without Mrs. Sigourney’s high reach of thought, Miss Gould surpasses her rival in the mere vehicle of thought — expression. “Words, words, words,” are the true secret of her strength. Words are her kingdom — and in the realm of language, she rules with equal despotism and nonchalance. Yet we do not mean to deny her abilities of a higher order than any which a mere logocracy can imply. Her powers of imagination are great, and she has a faculty of inestimable worth, when considered in relation to effect — the faculty of holding ordinary ideas in so novel, and sometimes in so fantastic a light, as to give them all of the appearance, and much of the value, of originality. Miss Gould will, of course, be the favorite with the multitude — Mrs. Sigourney with the few.

We can think of no better manner of exemplifying these few observations, than by extracting part of Miss G’s little poem, The Great Refiner.

’Tis sweet to feel that he, who tries

The silver, takes his seat

Beside the fire that purifies;

Lest too intense a heat,

Raised to consume the base alloy,

The precious metal too destroy.

 

’Tis good to think how well he knows

The silver’s power to bear

The or deal to which it goes;

And that with skill and care,

He’ll take it from the fire, when fit

For his own hand to polish it.

 

’Tis blessedness to know that he

The piece he has begun

Will not forsake, till he can see,

To prove the work well done,

An image by its brightness shown

The perfect likeness of his own.

The mind which could conceive the subject of this poem, and find poetic appropriateness in a forced analogy between a refiner of silver, over his crucible, and the Great Father of all things, occupied in the mysteries of redeeming Grace, we cannot believe a mind adapted to the loftier breathings of the lyre. On the other hand, the delicate finish of the illustration, the perfect fitness of one portion for another, the epigrammatic nicety and point of the language, give evidence of a taste exquisitely alive to the prettinesses of the Muse. It is possible that Miss Gould has been led astray in her conception of this poem by the scriptural expression, “He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.”

From the apparently harsh strictures we have thought it our duty to make upon the poetry of Miss Gould, must be excepted one exquisite little morceau at page 59 of the volume now under review. It is entitled The Dying Storm. We will quote it in full.

I am feeble, pale and weary,

And my wings are nearly furled;

I have caused a scene so dreary,

I am glad to quit the world!

With bitterness I’m thinking

On the evil I have done,

And to my caverns sinking

From the coming of the sun.

 

The heart of man will sicken

In that pure and holy light,

When he feels the hopes I’ve stricken

With an everlasting blight!

For widely, in my madness,

Have I poured abroad my wrath,

And changing joy to sadness,

Scattered ruin on my path.

 

Earth shuddered at my motion,

And my power in silence owns;

But the deep and troubled ocean

O’er my deeds of horror moans!

I have sunk the brightest treasure —

I’ve destroyed the fairest form —

I have sadly filled my measure,

And am now a dying storm.

We have much difficulty in recognizing these verses as from the pen of Miss Gould. They do not contain a single trace of her manner, and still less of the prevailing features of her thought. Setting aside the flippancy of the metre, ill adapted to the sense, we have no fault to find. All is full, forcible, and free from artificiality. The personification of the storm, in its perfect simplicity, is of a high order of poetic excellence — the images contained in the lines italicized, all of the very highest.

———

Many but not all of the poems in Mrs. Ellet’s volume, likewise, have been printed before — appearing, within the last two years, in different periodicals. The whole number of pieces now published is fifty seven. Of these thirty-nine are original. The rest are translations from the French of Alphonse de Lamartine and Beranger — from the Spanish of Quevedo and Yriarte — from the Italian of Ugo Foscolo, Alfieri, Fulvio Testi, Pindemonte, and Saverio Bettinelli, — and from the German of Schiller. As evidences of the lady’s acquaintance with the modern languages, these translations are very creditable to her. Where we have had opportunities of testing the fidelity of her versions by reference to the originals, we have always found reason to be satisfied with her performances. A too scrupulous adherence to the text is certainly not one of her faults — nor can we yet justly call her, in regard to the spirit of her authors, a latitudinarian. We wish, however, to say that, in fully developing the meaning of her originals, she has too frequently neglected their poetical characters. Let us refer to the lady’s translation of the Swallows. We have no hesitation in saying, that not the slightest conception of Pierre Jean de Beranger, can be obtained by the perusal of the lines at page 112, of the volume now before us.

Bring me, I pray — an exile sad —

Some token of that valley bright,

Where in my sheltered childhood glad,

The future was a dream of light.

Beside the gentle stream, where swell

Its waves beneath the lilac tree,

Ye saw the cot I love so well —

And speak ye of that home to me?

We have no fault to find with these verses in themselves — as specimens of the manner of the French chansonnier, we have no patience with them. What we have quoted, is the second stanza of the song. Our remarks, here, with some little modification, would apply to the Sepulchres of Foscolo, especially to the passage commencing

Yes — Pindemonte!

The aspiring soul is fired to lofty deeds

By great men’s monuments, &c.

They would apply, also, with somewhat less force, to Lamartine’s Loss of the Anio, in the original of which by the way, we cannot perceive the lines answering to Mrs. E’s verses

All that obscures thy sovereign majesty

Degrades our glory in degrading thee.

Quevedo’s Sonnet Rome in Ruins, we happen to have by us at this moment. The translation in this instance is faultless, and combines, happily, a close approximation to the meaning of the original, with its quaint air and pompous rhythm. The Sonnet itself is a plagiarism entire, from Girolamo Preti. The opening lines of Quevedo,

Pilgrim! in vain thou seekest in Rome for Rome!

Alas! the Queen of nations is no more!

Dust are her towers, that proudly frowned of yore,

And her stern hills themselves have built their tomb,

are little else than the

Roma in Roma non è

In se stessa cadeo morta e sepolta, &c.

of Girolamo. But this is no concern of Mrs. Ellet’s.

Of the original poems, which form the greater part of the volume, we have hardly been able to form an opinion, during the cursory perusal we have given them. Some of them have merit. Some we think unworthy of the talents which their author has undoubtedly displayed. The epigram, for example, at page 102 is rather a silly joke upon a threadbare theme, and, however well it might have suited Mrs. Ellet’s purpose to indite it, she should have had more discretion than to give it permanency in a collection of her poems.

Echo was once a love sick maid

They say: the tale is no deceiver.

However a woman’s form might fade

Her voice would be the last to leave her!

The tragedy (Teresa Contarini) at the end of the volume, “is founded,” says the authoress, “upon an incident well known in the history of Venice, which has formed the material for various works of fiction.” Mrs. E. has availed herself of a drama of Nicolini’s in part of the first scene of the first act, and in the commencement of the fifth act. The resemblance between the two plays is, however, very slight. In plot — in the spirit of the dialogue — and in the range of incidents they differ altogether. Teresa Contarini was received with approbation at the Park Theatre in March 1835, — Miss Philips performing the heroine. We must confine ourselves to the simple remark, that the drama appears to us better suited to the closet than the stage.

In evidence that Mrs. Ellet is a poetess of no ordinary rank, we extract, from page 51 of her volume, a little poem rich in vigorous expression, and full of solemn thought. Its chief merits, however, are condensation and energy.

Hark — to the midnight bell!

The solemn peal rolls on

That tells us, with an iron tongue,

Another year is gone!

Gone with its hopes, its mockeries, and its fears,

To the dim rest which wraps our former years.

 

Gray pilgrim to the past!

We will not bid thee stay;

For joys of youth and passion’s plaint

Thou bear’st alike away.

Alike the tones of mirth, and sorrow’s swell

Gather to hymn thy parting. — Fare thee well!

 

Fill high the cup — and drink

To Time’s unwearied sweep!

He claims a parting pledge from us —

And let the draught be deep!

We may not shadow moments fleet as this,

With tales of baffled hopes, or vanished bliss.

 

No comrade’s voice is here,

That could not tell of grief —

Fill up! — We know that friendship’s hours,

Like their own joys — are brief.

Drink to their brightness while they yet may last,

And drown in song the memory of the past!

 

The winter’s leafless bough

In sunshine yet shall bloom;

And hearts that sink in sadness now

Ere long dismiss their gloom.

Peace to the sorrowing! Let our goblets flow,

In red wine mantling, for the tears of wo!

 

Once more! A welcoming strain!

A solemn sound — yet sweet!

While life is ours, Time’s onward steps

In gladness will we greet!

Fill high the cup! What prophet lips may tell

Where we shall bid another year farewell!

With this extract, we close our observations on the writings of Mrs. Ellet — of Miss Gould — and of Mrs. Sigourney. The time may never arrive again, when we shall be called upon, by the circumstances of publication, to speak of them in connexion with one another.

2

The Partisan: A Tale of the Revolution. By the author of “The Yemassee,” “Guy Rivers,” &c. New York: Published by Harper and Brothers.

Mr. Simms has written, heretofore, “Atalantis, a Story of the Sea” — “Martin Faber, the Story of a Criminal” — “Guy Rivers, a Tale of Georgia,” and “The Yemassee, a Romance of Carolina.” Of these works, Martin Faber passed to a second edition — “Guy Rivers,” and “The Yemassee” each to a third. With these evidences before us of our author’s long acquaintance with the Muse, we must be pardoned if, in reviewing the volumes now upon our table, we make no allowances whatever on the score of a deficient experience. Mr. Simms either writes very well, or it is high time that he should.

“The Partisan” is inscribed to Richard Yeadon, Jr. Esq. of South Carolina; and the terms in which the compliment is conveyed, while attempting to avoid Scylla, have blundered upon Charybdis. The cant of verbiage is bad enough — but the cant of laconism is equally as bad. Let us transcribe the Dedication.

TO RICHARD YEADON, JR. ESQ.
Of South Carolina.

Dear Sir,

My earliest, and, perhaps, most pleasant rambles in the fields of literature, were taken in your company — permit me to remind you of that period by inscribing the present volumes with your name.

THE AUTHOR.

Barnwell, South Carolina.

July 1, 1835.

This is, indeed, the quintessence of brevity. At all events it is meant to be something better than such things usually are. It aims at point. It affects excessive terseness, excessive appropriateness, and excessive gentility. One might almost picture to the mind’s eye the exact air and attitude of the writer as he indited the whole thing. Probably he compressed his lips — possibly he ran his fingers through his hair. Now a letter, generally, we may consider as the substitute for certain oral communications which the writer of the letter would deliver in person were an opportunity afforded. Let us then imagine the author of “The Partisan” presenting a copy of that work to “Richard Yeadon, Jr. Esq. of South Carolina,” and let us, from the indications afforded by the printed Dedication, endeavor to form some idea of the author’s demeanor upon an occasion so highly interesting. We may suppose Mr. Yeadon, in South Carolina, at home, and in his study. By and bye with a solemn step, downcast eyes, and impressive earnestness of manner, enters the author of “The Yemassee.” He advances towards Mr. Yeadon, and, without uttering a syllable, takes that gentleman affectionately, but firmly, by the hand. Mr. Y. has his suspicions, as well he may have, but says nothing. Mr. S. commences as above. “Dear Sir,” (here follows a pause, indicated by the comma after the word “Sir” — see Dedication. Mr. Y. very much puzzled what to make of it.) Mr. S. proceeds, “My earliest,” (pause the second, indicated by comma the second,) “and,” (pause the third, in accordance with comma the third,) “perhaps,” (pause the fourth, as shewn by comma the fourth. Mr. Y. exceedingly mystified,) “most pleasant rambles in the fields of literature,” (pause fifth) “were taken in your company” (pause sixth, to agree with the dash after ‘company.’ Mr. Y.’s hair begins to stand on end, and he looks occasionally towards the door,) “permit me to remind you of that period by inscribing the present volumes with your name.” At the conclusion of the sentence, Mr. S. with a smile and a bow of mingled benignity and grace, turns slowly from Mr. Y. and advances to a table in the centre of the room. Pens and ink are there at his service. Drawing from the pocket of his surtout a pacquet carefully done up in silver paper, he unfolds it, and produces the two volumes of “The Partisan.” With ineffable ease, and with an air of exquisite haut ton, he proceeds to inscribe in the title pages of each tome the name of Richard Yeadon, Jr. Esq. The scene, however, is interrupted. Mr. Y. feels it his duty to kick the author of “The Yemassee” down stairs.

Now, in this, all the actual burlesque consists in merely substituting things for words. There are many of our readers who will recognize in this imaginary interview between Mr. Yeadon and Mr. Simms, at least a family likeness to the written Dedication of the latter. This Dedication is, nevertheless, quite as good as one half the antique and lackadaisical courtesies with which we daily see the initial leaves of our best publications disfigured.

“The Partisan,” as we are informed by Mr. Simms in his Advertisement, (Preface?) was originally contemplated as one novel of a series to be devoted to our war of Independence. “With this object,” says the author, “I laid the foundation more broadly and deeply than I should have done, had I purposed merely the single work. Several of the persons employed were destined to be the property of the series — that part of it at least which belonged to the locality. Three of these works were to have been devoted to South Carolina, and to comprise three distinct periods of the war of the Revolution in that State. One, and the first of these, is the story now submitted to the reader. I know not that I shall complete, or even continue the series.” Upon the whole we think that he had better not.

There is very little plot or connexion in the book before us; and Mr. Simms has evidently aimed at neither. Indeed we hardly know what to think of the work at all. Perhaps, with some hesitation, we may call it an historical novel. The narrative begins in South Carolina, during the summer of 1780, and comprises the leading events of the Revolution from the fall of Charleston, to the close of that year. We have the author’s own words for it that his object has been principally to give a fair picture of the province — its condition, resources, and prospects — during the struggle between Gates and Cornwallis, and the period immediately subsequent to the close of the campaign in the defeat of the Southern defending army. Mr. S. assures us that the histories of the time have been continually before him in the prosecution of this object, and that, where written records were found wanting, their places have been supplied by local chronicles and tradition. Whether the idea ever entered the mind of Mr. Simms that his very laudable design, as here detailed, might have been better carried into effect by a work of a character purely historical, we, of course, have no opportunity of deciding. To ourselves, every succeeding page of “The Partisan” rendered the supposition more plausible. The interweaving fact with fiction is at all times hazardous, and presupposes on the part of general readers that degree of intimate acquaintance with fact which should never be presupposed. In the present instance, the author has failed, so we think, in confining either his truth or his fable within its legitimate, individual domain. Nor do we at all wonder at his failure in performing what no novelist whatever has hitherto performed.

Some pains have been taken in the preface of “The Partisan,” to bespeak the reader’s favorable decision in regard to certain historical facts — or rather in regard to the coloring given them by Mr. Simms. We refer particularly to the conduct of General Gates in South Carolina. We would, generally, prefer reading an author’s book, to reading his criticism upon it. But letting this matter pass, we do not think Mr. S. has erred in attributing gross negligence, headstrong obstinacy, and overweening self-conceit to the conqueror at Saratoga. These charges are sustained by the best authorities — by Lee, by Johnson, by Otho Williams, and by all the histories of the day. No apology is needed for stating the truth. In regard to the “propriety of insisting upon the faults and foibles of a man conspicuous in our history,” Mr. Simms should give himself little uneasiness. It is precisely because the man is conspicuous in our history, that we should have no hesitation in condemning his errors.

With the events which are a portion of our chronicles, the novelist has interwoven such fictitious incidents and characters as might enable him to bind up his book in two volumes duodecimo, and call it “The Partisan.” The Partisan himself, and the hero of the novel, is a Major Robert Singleton. His first introduction to the reader is as follows. “It was on a pleasant afternoon in June, that a tall, well-made youth, probably twenty-four or five years of age, rode up to the door of the “George,” (in the village of Dorchester,) and throwing his bridle to a servant, entered the hotel. His person had been observed, and his appearance duly remarked upon, by several persons already assembled in the hall which he now approached. The new comer, indeed, was not one to pass unnoticed. His person was symmetry itself, and the ease with which he managed his steed, and the” ——— but we spare our readers any farther details in relation to either the tall, well-made youth, or his steed, which latter they may take for granted was quite as tall, and equally well made. We cut the passage short with the less hesitation, inasmuch as a perfect fac-simile of it may be found near the commencement of every fashionable novel since the flood. Singleton is a partisan in the service of Marion, whose disposition, habits, and character are well painted, and well preserved, throughout the Tale. A Mr. Walton is the uncle of Singleton, and has been induced, after the surrender of Charleston (spelt Charlestown) to accept of a British protection, the price of which is neutrality. This course he has been led to adopt, principally on account of his daughter Katharine, who would lose her all in the confiscation of her father’s property — a confiscation to be avoided by no other means than those of the protection. Singleton’s sister resides with Col. Walton’s family, at “The Oaks,” near Dorchester, where the British Col. Proctor is in command. At the instigation of Singleton, who has an eye to the daughter of Col. Walton, that gentleman is induced to tear up the disgraceful protection, and levy a troop, with which he finally reaches the army of Gates. Most of the book is occupied with the ambuscades, bush fighting, and swamp adventures of partisan warfare in South Carolina. These passages are all highly interesting — but as they have little connexion with one another, we must dismiss them en masse. The history of the march of Gates’ army, his fool-hardiness, and consequent humiliating discomfiture by Cornwallis, are as well told as any details of a like nature can be told, in language exceedingly confused, ill-arranged, and ungrammatical. This defeat hastens the denouement, or rather the leading incident, of the novel. Col. Walton is made prisoner, and condemned to be hung, as a rebel taken in arms. He is sent to Dorchester for the fulfilment of the sentence. Singleton, urged by his own affection, as well as by the passionate exhortations of his cousin Katharine, determines upon the rescue of his uncle at all hazards. A plot is arranged for this purpose. On the morning appointed for execution, a troop of horse is concealed in some underwood near the scaffold. Bella Humphries, the daughter of an avowed tory, but a whig at heart, is stationed in the belfry of the village church, and her father himself is occupied in arranging materials for setting Dorchester on fire upon a given signal. This signal (the violent ringing of the church bell by Bella) is given at the moment when Col. Walton arrives in a cart at the foot of the gallows. Great confusion ensues among those not in the secret — a confusion heightened no little by the sudden conflagration of the village. During the hubbub the troop concealed in the thicket rush upon the British guard in attendance. The latter are beaten down, and Walton is carried off in triumph by Singleton. The hand of Miss Katharine is, as a matter of course, the reward of the Major’s gallantry.

Of the numerous personages who figure in the book, some are really excellent — some horrible. The historical characters are, without exception, well drawn. The portraits of Cornwallis, Gates, and Marion, are vivid realities — those of De Kalb and the Claverhouse-like Tarleton positively unsurpassed by any similar delineations within our knowledge. The fictitious existences in “The Partisan” will not bear examination. Singleton is about as much of a non-entity as most other heroes of our acquaintance. His uncle is no better. Proctor, the British Colonel, is cut out in buckram. Sergeant Hastings, the tory, is badly drawn from a bad model. Young Humphries is a braggadocio — Lance Frampton is an idiot — and Doctor Oakenburg is an ass. Goggle is another miserable addition to the list of those anomalies so swarming in fiction, who are represented as having vicious principles, for no other reason than because they have ugly faces. Of the females we can hardly speak in a more favorable manner. Bella, the innkeeper’s daughter is, we suppose, very much like an innkeeper’s daughter. Mrs. Blonay, Goggle’s mother, is a hag worth hanging. Emily, Singleton’s sister, is not what we would wish her. Too much stress is laid upon the interesting features of the consumption which destroys her; and the whole chapter of abrupt sentimentality, in which we are introduced to her sepulchre before having notice of her death, is in the very worst style of times un peu passes. Katharine Walton is somewhat better than either of the ladies above mentioned. In the beginning of the book, however, we are disgusted with that excessive prudishness which will not admit of a lover’s hand resting for a moment upon her own — in the conclusion, we are provoked to a smile when she throws herself into the arms of the same lover, without even waiting for his consent.

One personage, a Mr. Porgy, we have not mentioned in his proper place among the dramatis personæ, because we think he deserves a separate paragraph of animadversion. This man is a most insufferable bore; and had we, by accident, opened the book when about to read it for the first time, at any one of his manifold absurdities, we should most probably have thrown aside “The Partisan” in disgust. Porgy is a backwoods imitation of Sir Somebody Guloseton, the epicure, in one of the Pelham novels. He is a very silly compound of gluttony, slang, belly, and balderdash philosophy, never opening his mouth for a single minute at a time, without making us feel miserable all over. The rude and unqualified oaths with which he seasons his language deserve to be seriously reprehended. There is positively neither wit nor humor in an oath of any kind — but the oaths of this Porgy are abominable. Let us see how one or two of them will look in our columns. Page 174, vol. ii — “Then there was no tricking a fellow — persuading him to put his head into a rope without showing him first how d —— d strong it was.” Page 169, vol. ii — “Tom, old boy, why d —— n it, that fellow’s bloodied your nose.” Page 167, vol. ii — “I am a pacific man, and my temper is not ungentle; but to disturb my slumbers which are so necessary to the digestive organs — stop, I say — d —— n! — dont pull so!” Page 164, vol. ii — “Well, Tom, considering how d——d bad those perch were fried, I must confess I enjoyed them.” Page 164, vol. ii — “Such spice is a d——d bad dish for us when lacking cayenne.” Page 163, vol. ii — “Dr. Oakenburg, your d——d hatchet hip is digging into my side.” Page 162, vol. ii — “The summer duck, with its glorious plumage, skims along the same muddy lake, on the edge of which the d——d bodiless crane screams and crouches.” In all these handsome passages Porgy loquitur, and it will be perceived that they are all to be found within a few pages of each other — such attempts to render profanity less despicable by rendering it amusing, should be frowned down indignantly by the public. Of Porgy’s philosophy we subjoin a specimen from page 89, vol. ii, “A dinner once lost is never recovered. The stomach loses a day; and regrets are not only idle to recall it, but subtract largely from the appetite the day ensuing. Tears can only fall from a member that lacks teeth; the mouth now is never seen weeping. It is the eye only; and, as it lacks tongue, teeth, and taste alike, by Jupiter, it seems to me that tears should be its proper business.” How Mr. Simms should ever have fallen into the error of imagining such horrible nonsense as that in Italics, to be either witty or wise, is to us a mystery of mysteries. Yet Porgy is evidently a favorite with the author.

Some two or three paragraphs above we made use of these expressions. “The history of the march of Gates’ army, his fool-hardiness, &c. are as well told as any details of a like nature can be told in language exceedingly confused, ill-arranged, and ungrammatical.” Mr. Simms’ English is bad — shockingly bad. This is no mere assertion on our parts — we proceed to prove it. “Guilt,” says our author, (see page 98, vol. i) “must always despair its charm in the presence of the true avenger” — what is the meaning of this sentence? — after much reflection we are unable to determine. At page 115, vol. i, we have these words. “He was under the guidance of an elderly, drinking sort of person — one of the fat, beefy class, whose worship of the belly-god has given an unhappy distension to that ambitious, though most erring member.” By the ‘most erring member’ Mr. S. means to say the belly — but the sentence implies the belly-god. Again, at page 196, vol. i. “It was for the purpose of imparting to Col. Walton the contents of that not yet notorious proclamation of Sir Henry Clinton, with which he demanded the performance of military duty from the persons who had been paroled; and by means of which, on departing from the province, he planted the seeds of that revolting patriotism which finally overthrew his authority.” It is unnecessary to comment on the unauthorized use here, of the word ‘revolting.’ In the very next sentence we see the following. “Colonel Walton received his guests with his accustomed urbanity: he received them alone.” This language implies that Colonel Walton received those particular guests and no others, and should be read with an emphasis on the word ‘them’ — but Mr. Simms’ meaning is very different. He wishes to say that Col. Walton was alone when his guests were ushered into his presence. At page 136, vol. i, the hero, Singleton, concludes a soliloquy with the ungrammatical phrase, “And yet none love her like me!” At page 143, vol. i, we read — “ ‘That need not surprise you, Miss Walton; you remember that ours are British soldiers’ — smiling, and with a bow was the response of the Colonel.” We have no great difficulty here in guessing what Mr. Simms wishes to say — his actual words convey no meaning whatever. The present participle’smiling’ has no substantive to keep it company; and the ‘bow,’ as far as regards its syntactical disposition, may be referred with equal plausibility to the Colonel, to Miss Walton, to the British soldiers, or to the author of “The Partisan.” At page 147, vol. i, we are told — “She breathed more freely released from his embrace, and he then gazed upon her with a painful sort of pleasure, her look was so clear, so dazzling, so spiritual, so unnaturally life-like.” The attempt at paradox has here led Mr. Simms into error. The painful sort of pleasure we may suffer to pass; but life is the most natural thing in the world, and to call any object unnaturally life-like is as much a bull proper as to style it artificially natural. At page 148, we hear “that the disease had not yet shown upon her system.” Shown is here used as a neuter verb — shown itself Mr. S. meant to say. We are at a loss, too, to understand what is intended, at page 149, vol. i, by “a look so pure, so bright, so fond, so becoming of heaven, yet so hopeless of earth.” Becoming heaven, not of heaven, we presume should be the phrase — but even thus the sentence is unintelligible. At page 156, vol. i, a countryman “loves war to the knife better than degradation to the chain.” This is a pitiable antithesis. In the first clause, the expression’ to the knife’ is idiomatic; in the second, the words’ to the chain’ have a literal meaning. At page 88, vol. i, we read — “The half-military eye would have studiously avoided the ridge,” &c. The epithet “half-military “ does not convey the author’s meaning. At page 204, vol. i. Mrs. Blonay is represented as striding across the floor “with a rapid movement hostile to the enfeebled appearance of her frame.” Here the forcing “hostile “ to mean not in accordance with, is unjustifiable. At page 14, vol. ii, these words occur. “Cheerless quite, bald of home and habitation, they saw nothing throughout the melancholy waste more imposing than the plodding negro.” The “cheerless quite “ and the “bald of home and habitation” would refer in strict grammatical construction to the pronoun “they” — but the writer means them to agree with “melancholy waste.” At page 224, vol. i, we find the following. “The moon, obscured during the early part of the night, had now sunk westering so far,” &c. At page 194, vol. ii, we are informed that “General Gates deigned no general consultation.” At page 13, vol. ii. “Major Singleton bids the boy Lance Frampton in attendance “ — and at page 95, vol. ii, we have the singular phenomenon of “an infant yet unborn adding its prayer to that of its mother for the vengeance to which he has devoted himself “ — a sentence which we defy his Satanic Majesty to translate.

Mr. Simms has one or two pet words which he never fails introducing every now and then, with or without an opportunity. One of these is “coil” — another, “hug” — another, and a still greater favorite, is the compound “old-time.” Let us see how many instances of the latter we can discover in looking over the volumes at random. Page 7, vol. i — “And with the revival of many old-time feelings, I strolled through the solemn ruins.” Page 18, vol. i — “The cattle graze along the clustering bricks that distinguish the old-time chimney places.” Page 20, vol. i — “He simply cocked his hat at the old-time customer.” Page 121, vol. i — “The Oaks was one of those old-time residences.” Page 148, vol. i — “I only wish for mommer as we wish for an old-time prospect.” Page 3, vol. ii —

“Unfold — unfold — the day is going fast,

And I would know this old-time history.”

Page 5, vol. ii — “The Carolinian well knows these old-time places.” Page 98, vol. ii — “Look, before we shall have gone too far to return to them, upon these old-time tombs of Dorchester.” Here are eight old-times discovered in a cursory glance over “The Partisan” — we believe there are ten times as many interspersed throughout the work. The coils are equally abundant, and the hugs innumerable.

One or two other faults we are forced to find. The old affectation of beginning a chapter abruptly has been held worthy of adoption by our novelist. He has even thought himself justifiable in imitating this silly practice in its most reprehensible form — we mean the form habitual with Bulwer and D’Israeli, and which not even their undoubted and indubitable genius could render any thing but despicable — that of commencing with an “And,” a “But,” or some other conjunction — thus rendering the initial sentence of the chapter in question, a continuation of the final sentence of the chapter preceding. We have an instance of this folly at page 102, vol. ii, where Chapter XII commences as follows: “But, though we turn aside from the highway to plant or to pluck the flower, we may not linger there idly or long.” Again, at page 50 of the same volume, Chapter VII begins — “And two opposing and mighty principles were at fearful strife in that chamber.” This piece of frippery need only be pointed out to be despised.

Instances of bad taste — villainously bad taste — occur frequently in the book. Of these the most reprehensible are to be found in a love for that mere physique of the horrible which has obtained for some Parisian novelists the title of the “French convulsives.” At page 97, vol. ii, we are entertained with the minutest details of a murder committed by a maniac, Frampton, on the person of Sergeant Hastings. The madman suffocates the soldier by thrusting his head in the mud of a morass — and the yells of the murderer, and the kicks of the sufferer, are dwelt upon by Mr. Simms with that species of delight with which we have seen many a ragged urchin spin a cockchafer upon a needle. At page 120, vol. i, another murder is perpetrated by the same maniac in a manner too shockingly horrible to mention. The victim in this case is a poor tory, one Clough. At page 217, vol. i, the booby Goggle receives a flogging for desertion, and Mr. S. endeavors to interest us in the screeches of the wretch — in the cries of his mother — in the cracking of the whip — in the number of the lashes — in the depth, and length, and color of the wounds. At page 105, vol. ii, our friend Porgy has caught a terrapin, and the author of “The Yemassee” luxuriates in the manner of torturing the poor reptile to death, and more particularly in the writhings and spasms of the head, which he assures us with a smile “will gasp and jerk long after we have done eating the body.”

One or two words more. Each chapter in “The Partisan” is introduced (we suppose in accordance with the good old fashion) by a brief poetical passage. Our author, however, has been wiser than his neighbors in the art of the initial motto. While others have been at the trouble of extracting, from popular works, quotations adapted to the subject-matter of their chapters, he has manufactured his own headings. We find no fault with him for so doing. The manufactured mottos of Mr. Simms are, perhaps, quite as convenient as the extracted mottos of his cotemporaries. All, we think, are abominable. As regards the fact of the manufacture there can be no doubt. None of the verses have we ever met with before — and they are altogether too full of coils, hugs, and old-times, to have any other parent than the author of “The Yemassee.”

In spite, however, of its manifest and manifold blunders and impertinences, “The Partisan” is no ordinary work. Its historical details are replete with interest. The concluding scenes are well drawn. Some passages descriptive of swamp scenery are exquisite. Mr. Simms has evidently the eye of a painter. Perhaps, in sober truth, he would succeed better in sketching a landscape than he has done in writing a novel.

3

LATROBE’S RAMBLER.

The Rambler in North America, 1832-33. By Charles Joseph Latrobe, author of “The Alpenstock,” &c. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Mr. Latrobe is connected with a lineage of missionaries. He belongs to an English family long and honorably distinguished by their exertions in the cause of Christianity. His former work, “The Alpenstock,” we have not seen — but the London Quarterly Review calls it “a pleasing and useful manual for travellers in Switzerland.” The present volumes (dedicated to Washington Irving, whom Mr. L. accompanied in a late tour through the Prairies,) consist of thirty-seven letters addressed to F. B. Latrobe, a younger brother of the author. They form, upon the whole, one of the most instructive and amusing books we have perused for years.

By no means blind to our faults, to our foibles, or to our political difficulties, Mr. Latrobe has travelled from Dan to Beersheba without finding all barren. His ob. servations are not confined to some one or two subjects, engrossing his attention to the exclusion, or to the imperfect examination, of all others. His wanderings among us have been apparently guided by a spirit of frank and liberal curiosity; and he deserves the good will of all Americans, (as he has most assuredly secured their esteem) by viewing us, not with a merely English eye, but with the comprehensive glance of a citizen of the world.

To speak in detail of a work so subdivided as “The Rambler in North America,” would cccupy too much of our time. We can, of course, only touch, in general terms, upon its merits and demerits. The latter, we can assure our readers, are few indeed. One instance, nevertheless, of what must be considered false inference from data undeniably correct, is brought to bear so pointedly against our social and political principles, and is, at the same time, so plausible in itself, and so convincingly worded, as to demand a sentence or two of comment. We quote the passage in full, the more willingly, as we perceive it dwelt upon with much emphasis, by the London Quarterly Review.

“There are certain signs, perhaps it might be said of the times, rather than of their peculiar political arrangements, which should make men pause in their judgment of the social state in America. The people are emancipated from the thraldom of mind and body which they consider consequent upon upholding the divine right of kings. They are all politically equal. All claim to place, patronage, or respect, for the bearer of a great name is disowned. Every man must stand or fall by himself alone, and must make or mar his for tune. Each is gratified in believing that he has his share in the government of the Union. You speak against the insane anxiety of the people to govern — of authority being detrimental to the minds of men raised from insignificance — of the essential vulgarity of minds which can attend to nothing but matter of fact and pecuniary interest — of the possibility of the existence of civilization without cultivation, — and you are not understood! I have said it may be the spirit of the times, for we see signs of it, alas, in Old England; but there must be something in the political atmosphere of America, which is more than ordinarily congenial to that decline ofjust and necessary subordination, which God has both permitted by the natural impulses ofthe human mintd, and ordered in His word; and to me the looseness of the tie generally observable in many parts of the United States between the master and servant — the child and the parent — the scholar and the master — the governor and the governed — in brief, the decay of loyal feeling in all the relations of life, was the worst sign of the timnes. Who shall say but that if these bonds are distorted and set aside, the first and the greatest — which binds us in subjection to the law of God — will not also be weakened, if not broken? This, and this alone, short-sighted as I am, would cause me to pause in predicting the future grandeur of America under its present system of government and structure of society.”

In the sentence beginning, “I have said it may be the spirit of the times, for we see signs of it, alas, in Old England, but there must be something,” &c. Mr. Latrobe has involved himself in a contradiction. By the words, “but there must be something in the political atmosphere of America which is more than ordinarily congenial to” insubordination, he implies (although unintentionally) that our natural impulses lead us in this direction — and that these natural impulses are permitted by God, we, at all events, are not permitted to doubt. In the words immediately succeeding those just quoted, he maintains (what is very true) that “subordination was both permitted by,God in the natural impulses of the human mind, and ordered in His word.” The question thus resolves itself into a matter of then and now — of times past and times present-of the days of the patriarchs and of the days of widely disseminated knowledge. The infallibility of the instinct of those 1 natural impulses which led men to obey in the infancy of all things, we have no intention of denying — we must demand the same grace for those natural impulses which prompt men to govern themselves in the senectitude o the world. In the sentence, “Who shall say but that if these bonds are distorted and set aside, the first and the greatest — which binds us in subjection to the law of God — will not also be weakened, if not broken?’ the sophistry is evident; and we have only a few words to say in reply. In the first place, the writer has assumed that those bonds are “distorted” and “set aside” which are merely slackened to an endurable degree. In the second place, the “setting aside” these bonds, (granting them to be set aside) so far from tending to weaken our subjection to the law of God, will the more readily confirm that subjection, inasmuch as our responsibilities to man have been denied, through the conviction of our responsibilities to God, and — to God alone.

We recommend “The Rambler” to the earnest attention of our readers. It is the best work on America yet published. Mr. Latrobe is a scholar, a man of intellect and a gentleman.

4

THE SOUTH-WEST.

The South-West. By a Yankee. New York: Published by Harper and Brothers.

This work, from the pen of Professor Ingraham, rivals the book of which we have just been speaking, in degree — although not in quality — of interest. Mr. Latrobe has proved himself a man of the world, an able teacher, and a philosopher. Professor Ingraham is an amusing traveller, full of fun, gossip, and shrewd remark. In all that relates to the “Mechanics of book-writing,” the Englishman is immeasurably the superior.

Mr. I. in his “Introduction,” informs us that his work “grew out of a private correspondence, which the author, at the solicitation of his friends, has been led to throw ifito the present form, modifying in a great measure the epistolary vein, and excluding, so far as possible, such portions of the original papers as were of too personal a nature to be intruded upon the majesty of the public — while he has embodied, so far as was compatible with the new arrangement, every thing likely to interest the general reader.” The aim of the writer, we are also told, has been to.present the result of his experience and observations during a residence of several years in that district of our country which gives the title to the work. It is, indeed, a matter for wonder that a similar object has never been carried into execution before. The South-West, embracing an extensive and highly interesting portion of the United States, is completely caviare to the multitude. Very little information, upon whose accuracy reliance may be placed, has been hitherto made public concerning these regions of Eldorado — and were the volumes of Professor Ingraham absolutely worthless in every other respect, we should still be inclined to do them all possible honor for their originality in subject matter. But the “South-West” is very far from worthless. In spite of a multitude of faults which the eye of rigid criticism might easily detect — in spite of some inaccuracies in point of fact, many premature opinions, and an inveterate habit of writing what neither is, nor should be English, the Professor has succeeded in making a book, whose abiding interest, coming home to the bosoms and occupations of men, will cause any future productions of the same author to be looked for with anxiety.

The “Yankee,” in travelling Southward, has evit dently laid aside the general prejudices of a Yankee — and, viewing the book of Professor Ingraham, as repre senting, in its very liberal opinions, those of a great majority of well educated Northern gentlemen, we arc inclined to believe it will render essential services in the way of smoothing down a vast deal of jealousy and misconception. The traveller from the North has evinced no disposition to look with a jaundiced eye upon the South — to pervert its misfortunes into crimes — or distort its necessities into sins of volition. He has spoken of slavery as he found it — and it is almost needless to say that he found it a very different thing from the paintings he had seen of it in red ochre. He has discovered, in aword, that while the physical condition of the slave is not what it has been represented, the slave himself is utterly in competent to feel the moral galling of his chain. Indeed, we cordially agree with a distinguished Northern con temporary and friend, that the Professor’s strict honesty, impartiality, and unprejudiced common sense, on the trying subject which has so long agitated our community, is the distinguishing and the most praiseworthy feature of his book. Yet it has other excellences, and excellences of a high character. As a specimen of the picturesque, we extract a passage beginning at page 27, vol. i.

“ ‘Keep away a little, or you’ll run that fellow down,’ suddenly shouted the captain to the helmsman; and the next moment the little fishing vessel shot swiftly under our stern, just barely clearing the spanker boom, whirl ing and bouncing about in the wild swirl of the ship’s wake like a “Masallah boat” in the surf of Madras.

There were on board of her four persons, including the steersman — a tall, gaunt old man, whose uncovered gray locks streamed in the wind as he stooped to his little rudder to luff up across our wake. The lower extremities of a loose pair of tar-coated duck trowsers, which he wore, were incased, including the best part of his legs, in a pair of fisherman’s boots, made of leather which would flatten a rifle ball. His red flannel shirt left his hairy breast exposed to the icy winds, and a huge pea-jacket, thrown, Spanish fashion, over his shoulders, was fastened at the throat by a single but ton. His tarpaulin — a little narrow-brimmed hat of the pot-lid tribe, secured by a ropeyarn — had probably been thrown off in the moment of danger, and now hung swinging by a lanyard from the lower button-hole of his jacket.

As his little vessel struggled like a drowning man in the yawning concave made by the ship, he stood with one hand firmly grasping his low, crooked rudder, and with the other held the main sheet, which alone he tended. A short pipe protruded from his mouth, at which he puffed away incessantly; one eye was tightly closed, and the other was so contracted in a network of wrinkles, that I could just discern the twinkle of a gray pupil, as he cocked it up at our quarter-deck, and took in with it the noble size, bearing, and apparel of our fine ship.

A duplicate of the old helmsman, though less battered by storms and time, wearing upon his chalky locks a red) woollen, conical cap, was “easing off” the fore sheet as the little boat passed; and a third was stretch ing his neck up the companion ladder, to stare at the “big ship,” while the little carroty-headed imp, who was just the old skipper razeed, was performing the culinary operations of his little kitchen under cover of the heavens.”

The portions of the book immediately relating to New Orleans — its odd buildings — its motley assemblage of inhabitants — their manners and free habitudes, have especially delighted us; and cannot fail, of delighting, in general, all lovers of the stirring and life-like. A novelist of talent would find New Orleans the place of all places for the localities of a romance — and in such case he might derive important aid from the “South-West” of Professor Ingraham. At page 140, vol. i, we were much interested in the following account of a fire.

“As I gained the front of this mass of. human beings, that activity which most men possess, who are not modelled after “fat Jack,” enabled me to gain an elevation whence I had an unobstructed view of the whole scene of conflagration. The steamers were lying side by side at the Levee, and one of them was enveloped in wreaths of flame, bursting from a thousand cotton bales, which were piled, tier above tier, upon her decks. The inside boat, though having no cotton on board, was rapidly consuming, as the huge streams of fire lapped and twined around her. The night was perfectly calm, but a strong whirlwind had been created by the action of the heat upon the atmosphere, and now and then it swept down in its invisible power, with the “noise of a rushing mighty wind,” and as the huge serpentine flames darted upward, the solid cotton bales would be borne round the tremendous vortex like feathers, and then — hurled away into the air, blazing like giant meteors — would descend heavily and rapidly into the dark bosom of the river. The next moment they would rise and float upon the surface, black unshapely masses of tinder. As tier after tier, bursting with fire fell in upon the burning decks, the sweltering flames, for a moment smothered, preceded by a volcanic discharge of ashes, which fell in showers upon the gaping spectators, would break from their confinement, and darting upward with multitudinous large wads of cotton, shoot them away through the air, filling the sky for a moment with a host of flaming balls. Some of them were borne a great distance through the air, and falling lightly upon the surface of the water, floated, from their buoyancy, a long time unextinguished. The river became studded with fire, and as far as the eye could reach below the city, it presented one of the most magnificent, yet awful spectacles, I had ever beheld or imagined. Literally spangled with flame, those burning fragments in the distance being diminished to specks of light, it had the appearance, though far more dazzling and brilliant, of the starry firmament. There were but two miserable engines to play with this gambolling monster, which, one moment lifting itself to a great height in the air, in huge spiral wreaths, like some immense snake, at the next would contract itself within its glowing furnace, or coil and dart along the decks like troops of fiery serpents, and with the roaring noise of a volcano.”

Having spoken thus far of the “South-West,” in terms of commendation, we must now be allowed to assert, in plain words, what we have before only partially hinted, that the Professor is indebted, generally, for his success, more to the innate interest of his subject matter, than to his manner of handling it. Numerous instances of bad taste occur throughout the volumes. The constant straining after wit and vivacity is a great blemish. Faulty constructions of style force themselves upon one’s attention at every page. Gross blunders in syntax abound. The Professor does not appear to understand French. This is no sin in itself — but to quote what one does not understand is a folly. Turks’ Heads à la Grec, for example, is ridiculous — see page 34, vol. i. Bulls too ore occasionally met with — which are none the better for being classical bulls. We cannot bear to hear of Boreas blowing Zephyrs.

5

The Poetry of Life. By Sarah Stickney, Author of “Pictures of Private Life.” Philadelphia: Republished by Carey, Lea, and Blanchard.

These two volumes are subdivided as follows. Characteristics of Poetry — Why certain objects are, or are not poetical — Individual Associations — General Associations — The Poetry of Flowers — The Poetry of Trees — The Poetry of Animals — The Poetry of Evening — The Poetry of the Moon — The Poetry of Rural Life — The Poetry of Painting — The Poetry of Sound — The Poetry of Language — The Poetry of Love — The Poetry of Grief — The Poetry of Woman — The Poetry of the Bible — The Poetry of Religion — Impression — Imagination — Power — Taste — Conclusion.

In a Preface remarkable for neatness of style and precision of thought, Miss Stickney has very properly circumscribed within definite limits the design of her work — whose title, without such explanation, might have led us to expect too much at her hands. It would have been better, however, had the fair authoress, by means of a different title, which her habits of accurate thinking might have easily suggested, rendered this explanation unnecessary. Except in some very rare instances, where a context may be tolerated, if not altogether justified, a world, either of the pen or the pencil, should contain within itself every thing requisite for its own comprehension. “The design of the present volumes,” says Miss Stickney, “is to treat of poetic feeling, rather than poetry; and this feeling I have endeavored to describe as the great connecting link between our intellects and our affections; while the customs of society, as well as the license of modern literature, afford me sufficient authority for the use of the word — life in its widely extended sense, as comprehending all the functions, attributes, and capabilities peculiar to sentient beings.”

We remember having read the “Pictures of Private Life” withinterest of no common kind, and with a corresponding anxiety to know something more of the author. In them were apparent the calm enthusiasm, and the analytical love of beauty, which are now the distinguishing features of the volumes before us. We have perused the “Poetry of Life” with an earnestness of attention, and a degree of real pleasure very seldom excited in our minds. It is a work giving evidence of more profundity than discrimination — with no ordinary quantum of either. What is said, if not always indisputable, is said with a simplicity, and a scrupulous accuracy which leave us, not for one moment, in doubt of what is intended, and impress us, at the same time, with a high opinion of the author’s ability. Miss Stickney’s manner is very good — her English pure, harmonious, in every respect unexceptionable. With a strong understanding, and withal a keen relish for the minor forms of poetic excellence — a strictness of conception which will ever prevent her from running into gross error — she is still, we think, insufficiently alive to the delicacies of the beautiful — unable fully to appreciate the energies of the sublime.

We were forcibly impressed with these opinions, in looking over, for the second time, the chapter of our fair authoress, “On the Poetry of Language.” What we have just said in relation to her accuracy of thought and expression, and her appreciation of the minor forms of poetic excellence, will be exemplified in the passage we now quote, beginning at page 187, vol. i.

“There can scarcely be a more beautiful and appropriate arrangement of words, than in the following stanza from Childe Harold:

The sails were filled, and fair the light winds blew,

As glad to waft him from his native home;

And fast the white rocks faded from his view,

And soon were lost in circumambient foam;

And then it may be of his wish to roam

Repented he, but in his bosom slept

The silent thought, nor from his lips did come

One word of wail, whilst others sate and wept,

And to the reckless gales unmanly moaning kept.

“Without committing a crime so heinous as that of entirely spoiling this verse, it is easy to alter it so as to bring it down to the level of ordinary composition; and thus we may illustrate the essential difference between poetry and mere versification.

The sails were trimm’d and fair the light winds blew,

As glad to force him from his native home,

And fast the white rocks vanish’d from his view,

And soon were lost amid the circling foam:

And then, — perchance, of his fond wish to roam

Repented he, but in his bosom slept

The wish, nor from his silent lips did come

One mournful word, whilst others sat and wept,

And to the heedless breeze their fruitless moaning kept.

“It is impossible not to be struck with the harmony of the original words as they are placed in this stanza. The very sound is graceful, as well as musical; like the motion of the winds and waves, blended with the majestic movement of a gallant ship. ‘The sails were filled’ conveys no association with the work of man; but substitute the word - trimmed, and you see the busy sailors at once. The word ‘waft’ follows in perfect unison with the whole of the preceding line, and maintains the invisible agency of the ‘light winds;’ while the word ‘glad’ before it, gives an idea of their power as an unseen intelligence. ‘Fading’ is also a happy expression, to denote the gradual obscurity and disappearing of the ‘white rocks;’ but the ‘circumambient foam’ is perhaps the most poetical expression of the whole, and such as could scarcely have proceeded from a low or ordinary mind.”

All this is well — but what follows is not so. “It may be amusing” — says Miss Stickney, at page 189, “to see how a poet, and that of no mean order, can undesignedly murder his own offspring” — and she proceeds to extract, from Shelley, in illustration, some passages, of whose exquisite beauty she has evidently not the slightest comprehension. She commences with

“Music, when soft voices die

Vibrates in the memory —

Odours, when sweet violets sicken,

Live within the sense they quicken.”

“Sicken” is here italicized; and the author of the “Poetry of Life” thinks the word so undeniably offensive as to render a farther allusion to it unnecessary. A few lines below, she quotes, in the same tone of criticism, the terrific image in the Ode to Naples.

“Naples! — thou heart of men, which ever pantest

Naked, beneath the lidless eye of Heaven!”

And again, on the next page, from the same author —

“Thou art the wine whose drunkenness is all

We can desire, O Love!”

Miss Stickney should immediately burn her copy of Shelley — it is to her capacities a sealed book.

6

MISS SEDGWICK’S SKETCHES.

Tales and Sketches. By Miss Sedgwick, Author of “The Linwoods,” “Hope Leslie,” &c. &c. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard.

This volume includes — A Reminiscence of Federalism — The Catholic Iroquois — The Country Cousin — Old Maids — The Chivalric Sailor — Mary Dyre — Cacoethës Scribendi — The Eldest Sister — St. Catharine’s Eve — Romance in Real Life — and the Canary Family.

All of these pieces, we believe, have been published before. Of most of them we can speak with certainty — for having, in earlier days, been enamored of their pervading spirit of mingled chivalry and pathos, we cannot now forget them even in their new habiliments. Old Maids — The Country Cousin — and one or two others, we have read before — and should be willing to read again. These, our ancient friends, are worthy of the pen which wrote “Hope Leslie” and “The Linwoods.” “Old Maids,” in spite of the equivocal nature of its title, is full of noble and tender feeling — a specimen of fine writing, involving in its melancholy details what we must consider the beau-ideal of feminine disinterestedness — the ne plus ultra of sisterly devotion. The “Country Cousin” possesses all the peculiar features of the tale just spoken of, with something more of serious and even solemn thought. The “Chivalric Sailor” is full of a very different, and of a more exciting, although less painful interest. We remember its original appearance under the title of “Modern Chivalry.” The “Romance of Real Life” we now read for the first time — it is a tale of striking vicissitudes, but not the best thing we have seen from the pen of Miss Sedgwick — that a story is “founded on fact,” is very seldom a recommendation. “The Catholic Iroquois” is also new to us — a stirring history of Christian faith and martyrdom. The “Reminiscence of Federalism” relates to a period of thirty years ago in New England — is a mingled web of merriment and gloom — and replete with engrossing interest. “Mary Dyre” is a veracious sketch of certain horrible and bloody facts which are a portion of the History of Fanaticism. Mary is slightly mentioned by Sewal, the annalist of “the people called Quakers,” to which sect the maiden belonged. She died in vindicating the rights of conscience. This piece originally appeared in one of our Souvenirs. “St. Catherine’s Eve” is “une histoire touchante qui montre à quel point l’enseignement religieux pouvoit étre perverti, et combien le Clergé étoit loin d’etre le gardien des mæurs publiques” — the tale appertains to the thirteenth century. “Cacoethes Scribendi” is told with equal grace and vivacity. “The Canary Family” is a tale for the young — brief, pointed and quaint. But the best of the series, in every respect, is the sweet and simple history of “ The Eldest Sister.”

While we rejoice that Miss Sedgwick has thought proper to condense into their present form these evidences of her genius which have been so long floating at random before the eye of the world — still we think her rash in having risked the publication so immediately after “The Linwoods.” None of these “Sketches” have the merit of an equal number of pages in that very fine novel — and the descent from good to inferior (although the inferior be very far from bad) is most generally detrimental to literary fame. Facilis descensus Averni.

7

Reminiscences of an Intercourse with Mr. Niebuhr, the Historian, during a Residence with him in Rome, in the years 1822 and 1823. By Francis Lieber, Professor of History and Political Economy in South Carolina College. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard.

Mr. Niebuhr has exercised a very powerful influence on the spirit of his age. One of the most important branches of human science has received, not only additional light, but an entirely novel interest and character from his exertions. Those historiographers of Rome who wrote before him, were either men of insufficient talents, or, possessing talents, were not practical statesmen. Niebuhr is the only writer of Roman history who unites intellect of a high order with the indispensable knowledge of what may be termed the art, in contradistinction to the science, of government. While, then, we read with avidity even common-place memorials of common-place men, (a fact strikingly characteristic of a period not inaptly denominated by the Germans “the age of wigs,”) it cannot be supposed that a book like the one now before us, will fail to make a deep impression upon the mind of the public.

Beyond his Roman History, our acquaintance extends to only one or two of Mr. Niebuhr’s publications. We remember the Life of his Father, of which an English translation was printed some time ago, in one of the tracts of the Library of Useful Knowledge, issued under the direction of the Society for the diffusion of Useful Knowledge — and, we have seen The Description of the City of Rome (one volume of it) which appeared in 1829 or ’30, professedly by Bunsen and Platner, but in the getting up of which there can be no doubt of Mr. Niebuhr’s having had the greater share. The Representation of the Internal Government of Great Britain, by Baron Von Vincke, Berlin, 1815, was also written, most probably, by Mr. N. who, however, announced himself as editor alone. “I published,” says he, in the Reminiscences we are now reviewing, “I published the work on Great Britain after that unfortunate time when a foreign people ruled over us (Germans) with a cruel sword, and a heartless bureaucracy, in order to show what liberty is. Those who oppressed us called themselves all the time the harbingers of liberty, at the very moment they sucked the heart blood of our people; and we wanted to show what liberty in reality is.” A translation of an Essay on the Allegory in the first canto of Dante, written by our historian during his perusal of the poet, and intended to be read, or perhaps actually read, in one of the learned societies of Rome, is appended to the present volume. Mr. L. copied it, by permission of the author, from the original in Italian, which was found in a copy of Dante belonging to Mr. Niebuhr. This Essay, we think, will prove of deeper interest to readers of Italian than even Mr. Lieber has anticipated. Its opinions differ singularly from those of all the commentators on Dante — the most of whom maintain that the wood (la selva) in this famous Allegory, should be understood as the condition of the human soul, shrouded in vice; the hill (il colle) encircled by light, but difficult of access, as virtue; and the furious beasts (il fere) which attack the poet in his attempt at ascending, as carnal sins — an interpretation, always putting us in mind of the monk in the Gesta Romanorum, who, speaking of the characters in the Iliad, says — “My beloved, Ulysses is Christ, and Achilles the Holy Ghost: Helen represents the Human Soul — Troy is Hell — and Paris the Devil.”

Dr. Francis Lieber himself is well known to the American public as the editor of the Encyclop;aedia Americana, in which compilation he was assisted by Edward Wigglesworth, and T. G. Bradford, Esqrs. The first original work of our author, we believe, was called Journal of my Residence in Greece, and was issued at Leipzig in 1823. This book was written at the instigation of Mr. Niebuhr, who personally superintended the whole; Mr. L. reading to the historian and his wife, every morning at breakfast, what had been completed in the preceding afternoon. Since that period we have seen, from the same pen, only The Stranger in America, in two volumes, full of interest and extensively circulated — and the book whose title forms the heading of this article.

Not the least striking portion of this latter work, is its Preface, embracing forty-five pages. Niebuhr’s noble nature is, herein, rendered hardly more apparent than the mingled simplicity and enthusiasm of his biographer. The account given by Mr. L. of his first introduction to the Prussian minister — of the perplexing circumstances which led to that introduction — of his invitation to dinner, and consequent embarrassment on account of his scanty nether habiliments — of his final domestication in the house of his patron, and of the great advantages accruing to himself therefrom — are all related without the slightest attempt at prevarication, and in a style of irresistibly captivating bonhommie and näiveté.

Mr. Lieber went, in 1821, to Greece — led, as he himself relates, “by youthful ardor, to assist the oppressed and struggling descendants of that people, whom all civilized nations love and admire.” With a thousand others, he was disappointed in the hope of rendering any assistance to the objects of his sympathy. He found it impossible either to fight, or to get a dinner — either to live or to die. In 1822, therefore he resolved, with many other Philhellenes, to return. Money, however, was scarce, and the adventurer had sold nearly every thing he possessed — but to remain longer was to starve. He accordingly “bargained with a Greek,” and took passage at Missolonghi (Messalunghi) in a small vessel bound for Ancona. After a rough passage, during which the “tartan” was forced to seek shelter in the bay of Gorzola, the wished-for port was finally reached. Here, being altogether without money, Mr. Lieber wrote to a friend in Rome, enclosing the letter to an eminent artist. “My friend,” says Mr. L. “happened to be at Rome, and to have money, and with the promptness of a German student, sent me all he possessed at the time.” This assistance came very seasonably. It enabled the Philhellenist to defray the expenses of his quarantine at Ancona. Had he failed in paying them, the Captain would have been bound for the sum, and Mr. L. would have been obliged finally to discharge the debt, by serving as a sailor on board the Greek vessel.

Having, at length, obtained his pratica, he determined upon visiting Rome; and the anxiety with which he appears to have contemplated the defeat of his hopes in this respect is strikingly characteristic of the man. His passport was in bad order, and provisional, and he had to make his way with it through the police office at Ancona. He was informed too, that orders had been received from Rome forbidding the signature of passports in the possession of persons coming from Greece, except for a direct journey home. “You are a Prussian,” said the officer, “and I must direct your passport home to Germany. I will direct it to Florence: your minister there may direct it back to Rome. Or I will direct it to any place in Tuscany which you may choose; for through Tuscany you must travel in order to reach Germany.” Mr. L. assures us he never felt more wretched than on hearing this announcement. He had made his way round Rome without seeing the Eternal City. The examination of a map of Italy, however, gave him new hope. It pointed out to him how near the south-western frontier line of Tuscany approaches to Rome. The road from Ancona to Orbitello, he thought, was nearly the same as that to the object of his desires, and he therefore requested the officer to direct his passport to Orbitello. “Italians generally,” says Mr. Lieber, “are exceedingly poor geographers.” The gentleman whom he addressed, inquired of another in the adjoining room, whether Orbitello was in Tuscany, or belonged to the Papal territory. Mr. L. pointed out the place on the map: it was situated just within the colors which distinguished Tuscany from the other states of Italy. This satisfied the police, and the passport was made out.

Having hired a vetturino our traveller proceeded towards Orbitello. A few miles beyond Nepi, at the Colonneta, the road divides, and the coachman was desired to pursue the path leading to Rome. A bribe silenced all objections, and when near the city, Mr. L. jumped out of the carriage, and entered the Porta del Populo.

But it was impossible to dwell in Rome without the sanction of the police, and this sanction could not be obtained without a certificate from the Prussian minister that our friend’s passport was in order. Mr. Lieber therefore “hoping that a scholar who had written the history of Rome could not be so cruel as to drive away thence a pilgrim without allowing him time to see and study it,” resolved on disclosing his situation frankly to Mr. Niebuhr.

The Prussian minister resided at the Palazzo Orsini — he was engaged and could not be seen — but the secretary of the legation received the visiter kindly, and having learned his story, retired to an inner apartment. Soon afterwards he returned with a paper written in Mr. Niebuhr’s own hand. It was the necessary permission to reside in Rome. A sum of money was at the same time presented to Mr. L. which the secretary assured him was part of a sum Prince Henry (brother to the reigning king,) had placed at the minister’s disposal for the assistance of gentlemen who might return from Greece. Mr. L. was informed also that Niebuhr would see him on the following day. The result of the interview we must give in the words of our author.

When I went the next morning at the appointed time, as I thought, Mr. Niebuhr met me on the stairs, being on the point of going out. He received me with kindness and affability, returned with me to his room, made me relate my whole story, and appeared much pleased that I could give him some information respecting Greece, which seemed to be not void of interest to him. Our conversation lasted several hours, when he broke off, asking me to return to dinner. I hesitated in accepting the invitation, which he seemed unable to understand. He probably thought that a person in my situation ought to be glad to receive an invitation of this kind; and, in fact any one might feel gratified in being asked to dine with him, especially in Rome. When I saw that my motive for declining so flattering an invitation was not understood, I said, throwing a glance at my dress, “Really, sir, I am not in a state to dine with an excellency.” He stamped with his foot, and said with some animation, “Are diplomatists always believed to be so cold-hearted! I am the same that I was in Berlin when I delivered my lectures; your remark was wrong.”* No argument could be urged against such reasons.

I recollect that dinner with delight. His conversation, abounding in rich and various knowledge and striking observations; his great kindness; the acquaintance I made with Mrs. Niebuhr; his lovely children, who were so beautiful, that when, at a later period, I used to walk with them, the women would exclaim, “Ma guardate, guardate, che angeli!” — a good dinner (which I had not enjoyed for a long time) in a high vaulted room, the ceiling of which was painted in the style of Italian palaces; a picture by the mild Francia close by; the sound of the murmuring fountain in the garden, and the refreshing beverages in coolers, which I had seen, but the day before, represented in some of the most masterly pictures of the Italian schools; — in short, my consciousness of being at dinner with Niebuhr in his house in Rome — and all this in so bold relief to my late and not unfrequently disgusting sufferings, would have rendered the moment one of almost perfect enjoyment and happiness, had it not been for an annoyance which, I have no doubt, will appear here a mere trifle. However, reality often widely differs from its description on paper. Objects of great effect for the moment become light as air, and others, shadows and vapors in reality, swell into matters of weighty consideration when subjected to the recording pen; — a truth, by the way, which applies to our daily life, as well as to transactions of powerful effect; — and it is, therefore, the sifting tact which constitutes one of the most necessary, yet difficult, requisites for a sound historian.

My dress consisted as yet of nothing better than a pair of unblacked shoes, such as are not unfrequently worn in the Levant; a pair of socks of coarse Greek wool; the brownish pantaloons frequently worn by sea-captains in the Mediterranean; and a blue frock-coat, through which two balls had passed — a fate to which the blue cloth cap had likewise been exposed. The socks were exceedingly short, hardly covering my ankles, and so indeed were the pantaloons; so that, when I was in a sitting position, they refused me the charity of meeting, with an obstinacy which reminded me of the irreconcileable temper of the two brothers in Schiller’s Bride of Messina. There happened to dine with Mr. Niebuhr another lady besides Mrs. Niebuhr; and my embarrassment was not small when, towards the conclusion of the dinner, the children rose and played about on the ground, and I saw my poor extremities exposed to all the frank remarks of quick-sighted childhood; fearing as I did, at the same time, the still more trying moments after dinner, when I should be obliged to take coffee near the ladies, unprotected by the kindly shelter of the table. Mr. Niebuhr observed, perhaps, that something embarrassed me, and he redoubled, if possible, his kindness.

After dinner he proposed a walk, and asked the ladies to accompany us. I pitied them; but as a gentleman of their acquaintance had dropped in by this time, who gladly accepted the offer to walk with us, they were spared the mortification of taking my arm. Mr. Niebuhr, probably remembering what I had said of my own appearance in the morning, put his arm under mine, and thus walked with me for a long time. After our return, when I intended to take leave, he asked me whether I wished for any thing. I said I should like to borrow his History. He had but one copy, to which he had added notes, and which he did not wish, therefore, to lend out of his house; but he said he would get a copy for me. As to his other books, he gave me the key of his library to take whatever I liked. He laughed when I returned laden with books, and dismissed me in the kindest manner.

Mr. Lieber became the constant companion of Niebuhr in his daily walks after dinner, during one of which the proposition was discussed to which we have formerly referred — that of our author’s writing an account of his journey in Greece. In March 1823, the minister quitted Rome, and took Mr. Lieber with him to Naples. By way of Florence, Pisa, and Bologna, they afterwards went to the Tyrol — and in Inspruck they parted. A correspondence of the most familiar and friendly nature was, however, kept up, with little intermission, until the death of the historian in 1831. Mr. Lieber disclaims the design of any thing like a complete record of all the interesting or important sentiments of Niebuhr during his own residence with him. He does not profess to give even all the most important facts or opinions. He observes, with great apparent justice, that he lived in too constant a state of excitement to record regularly all he saw or heard. His papers too were seized by the police — and have undergone its criticism. Some have been lost by this process, and others in a subsequent life of wandering. Still we can assure our readers that those presented to us in the present volume, are of the greatest interest. They enable us to form a more accurate idea of the truly great man to whom they relate than we have hitherto entertained, and have moreover, not unfrequently, an interest altogether their own.

8

YOUNG WIFE’S BOOK.

The Young Wife’s Book; Manual of Moral, Religious, and Domestic Duties. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, and Blanchard.

We can conscientiously recommend this little book, not only to that particular class of our fair friends for whom it is most obviously intended, but, in general, to all lovers of good reading. We had expected to find in it a series of mere homilies on the Duties of a Wife, but were agreeably disappointed. Such things are, no doubt, excellent in their way, but unhappily are rarely of much service, for the simple reason that they are rarely read. Unless strikingly novel, and well written, they are too apt to be disregarded. The present volume is made up of mingled amusement and instruction. Short and pithy Lessons on Moral Duties, on the Minor Obligations of Married Life, on Manners, on Fashion, on Dress — Dialogues, and Anecdotes connected with subjects of a similar nature — form the basis of the book.

In one respect we must quarrel with the publication. Neither the title page, nor the Preface, gives us any information in regard to the biblical history of the work. It may be taken for granted that every reader, in perusing a book, feels some solicitude to know, for example, who wrote it; or (if this information be not attainable,) at least where it was written — whether in his native country, or in a foreign land — whether it be original or a compilation — whether it be a new publication or a re-publication of old matter — whether we are indebted for it to one author, or to more than one — in short, all those indispensable details which appertain to a book considered merely as a book. The habit of neglecting these things, is becoming very prevalent in America. Works are daily re-published, from foreign copies, without any primâ facie evidence by which we may distinguish them from original publications; and many a reader, of light literature especially, finds himself in the dilemma of praising or condemning unjustly as American, what, most assuredly, he has no good reason for supposing to be English.

In the Young Wife’s Book now before us, are seventy-three articles. Of these, one is credited to the thirty-first chapter of Proverbs — nine to Standford’s Lady’s Gift — and two to an Old English Divine. Some four or five belong to the Spectator. Seven or eight we recognize as old acquaintances without being able to call to mind where we have seen them; and about fifteen or twenty bear internal evidence of a foreign origin. Of the balance we know nothing whatever beyond their intrinsic merit, which is, in all instances, very great. Judgment and fine taste have been employed, undoubtedly, in the book. As a whole it is excellent — but, for all we know to the contrary, it may have been originally written, translated, or compiled, in Philadelphia, in London, or in Timbuctoo.

9

Daniel Defoe, The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: with a Biographical Account of Defoe. Illustrated with Fifty Characteristic Cuts, from Drawings, by William Harvey, Esq. and engraved by Adams. New York: Published by Harper and Brothers.

This publication is worthy of the Harpers. It is an honor to the country — not more in the fine taste displayed in its getting up, than as evincing a just appreciation of an invaluable work. How fondly do we recur, in memory, to those enchanted days of our boyhood when we first learned to grow serious over Robinson Crusoe! — when we first found the spirit of wild adventure enkindling within us, as, by the dim fire light, we labored out, line by line, the marvellous import of those pages, and hung breathless and trembling with eagerness over their absorbing — over their enchaining interest! Alas! the days of desolate islands are no more! “Nothing farther,” as Vapid says, “can be done in that line.” Wo, henceforward, to the Defoe who shall prate to us of “undiscovered bournes.” There is positively not a square inch of new ground for any future Selkirk. Neither in the Indian, in the Pacific, nor in the Atlantic, has he a shadow of hope. The Southern Ocean has been incontinently ransacked, and in the North — Scoresby, Franklin, Parry, Ross, Ross & Co. have been little better than so many salt water Paul Prys.

While Defoe would have been fairly entitled to immortality had he never written Robinson Crusoe, yet his many other very excellent writings have nearly faded from our attention, in the superior lustre of the Adventures of the Mariner of York. What better possible species of reputation could the author have desired for that book than the species which it has so long enjoyed? It has become a household thing in nearly every family in Christendom! Yet never was admiration of any work — universal admiration — more indiscriminately or more inappropriately bestowed. Not one person in ten — nay, not one person in five hundred, has, during the perusal of Robinson Crusoe, the most remote conception that any particle of genius, or even of common talent, has been employed in its creation! Men do not look upon it in the light of a literary performance. Defoe has none of their thoughts — Robinson all. The powers which have wrought the wonder have been thrown into obscurity by the very stupendousness of the wonder they have wrought! We read, and become perfect abstractions in the intensity of our interest — we close the book, and are quite satisfied that we could have written as well ourselves! All this is effected by the potent magic of verisimilitude. Indeed the author of Crusoe must have possessed, above all other faculties, what has been termed the faculty of identification — that dominion exercised by volition over imagination which enables the mind to lose its own, in a fictitious, individuality. This includes, in a very great degree, the power of abstraction; and with these keys we may partially unlock the mystery of that spell which has so long invested the volume before us. But a complete analysis of our interest in it cannot be thus afforded. Defoe is largely indebted to his subject. The idea of man in a state of perfect isolation, although often entertained, was never before so comprehensively carried out. Indeed the frequency of its occurrence to the thoughts of mankind argued the extent of its influence on their sympathies, while the fact of no attempt having been made to give an embodied form to the conception, went to prove the difficulty of the undertaking. But the true narrative of Selkirk in 1711, with the powerful impression it then made upon the public mind, sufficed to inspire Defoe with both the necessary courage for his work, and entire confidence in its success. How wonderful has been the result!

Besides Robinson Crusoe, Defoe wrote no less than two hundred and eight works. The chief of these are the Speculum Crape-Gownorum, a reply to Roger L’Estrange, and characterized principally by intemperate abuse — a Treatise against the Turks, written for the purpose of showing England “that if it was the interest of Protestantism not to increase the influence of a Catholic power, it was infinitely more so to oppose a Mohammedan one” — an Essay on Projects, displaying great ingenuity, and mentioned in terms of high approbation by our own Franklin — the Poor Man’s Plea, a satire levelled against the extravagances of the upper ranks of British society — the Trueborn Englishman, composed with a view of defending the king from the abuse heaped upon him as a foreigner the Shortest Way with the Dissenters, a work which created strong excitement, and for which the author suffered in the pillory — the Reformation of Manners, a satirical poem, containing passages of uncommon force, that is to say, uncommon for Defoe, who was no poet — More Reformation, a continuation of the above — Giving Alms no Charity, an excellent treatise — a Preface to a translation of Drelincourt on Death, in which is contained the “true narrative” of Mrs. Veal’s apparition — the History of the Union, a publication of much celebrity in the days of its author, and even now justly considered as placing him among the “soundest historians of his time” — the Family Instructor, “one of the most valuable systems of practical morality in the language” — the History of Moll Flanders, including some striking but coarsely executed paintings of low life — the Life of Colonel Jaque, in which an account is given of the hero’s residence in Virginia — the Memoirs of a Cavalier, a book belonging more properly to History than to Fictitious Biography, and which has been often mistaken for a true narrative of the civil wars in England and Germany — the History of the Plague, which Dr. Mead considered an authentic record — and Religious Courtship, which acquired an extensive popularity, and ran through innumerable editions. In the multiplicity of his other publications, and amid a life of perpetual activity, Defoe found time, likewise, to edit his Review, which existed for more than nine years, commencing in February 1704, and ending in May 1713. This periodical is justly entitled to be considered the original of the Tatlers and Spectators, which were afterwards so fashionable. Political intelligence, however, constituted the greater portion of its materiel.

The Edition of Robinson Crusoe now before us is worthy of all praise. We have seldom seen a more beautiful book. It is an octavo of 470 pages. The fifty wood cuts with which it is ornamented are, for the most part, admirable. We may instance, as particularly good, those on pages 6, 27, 39, 49, 87, 88, 92, 137, 146, 256, and 396. The design on the title page is superlative. In regard to the paper, typography, and binding of the work, that taste must be fastidious indeed which can find any fault with either.

10

CHRISTIAN FLORIST.

The Christian Florist; containing the English and Botaniical Names of different Plants, with their Properties briefly delineated and explained. Illustrated by Texts of Scripture, and accompanied with Poetical Extracts from various Authors. First American, from the Second London Edition. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea. Blanchard.

The title, which our readers will perceive is a long one, sufficiently explains the nature and design of this little book. It is very well adapted for a Christmas present, to those especially whose minds are imbued at the same time with a love of flowers — and of him who is a God of flowers, as well as of mightier things. The mechanical execution of the volume is unexceptionable, and the rich colors of the Dahlia show to no little advantage in the frontispiece. The poetical selections are, for the most part, excellently chosen, and the prose commentaries on each article in good taste, and often of great interest.

Speaking of alterations made in the Second London Edition, the Authors of the work say in their Preface “We believe it will be found that most of those suggested have been adopted, with the exception of one, which proposed the rejection of the first piece of Poetry attached to the Sun Flower.” These words excited our curiosity, and turning to page 42, we found six lines from Moore. It seems these had been objected to, not on account of any thing intrinsically belonging to the verses themselves, (what fault indeed could be found there?) but (will it be believed?) on account of the author who wrote them. The Christian Florist deserves the good will of all sensible persons, if for nothing else — for the spirit with which its authors have disregarded a bigotry so despicable.

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page ???:]

* Das war Kleinlich were his words.

 


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Notes:

None.


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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) (January 1836 (Texts))