Text: Burton R. Pollin, “September 1836 (Texts),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 277-288 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 277, continued:]

Texts of September [[1836]]

1. [Edgar A. Poe]. “Editorial.”

2. [Lydia Maria Child]. Philothea.

3. [Robert Montgomery Bird]. Sheppard Lee.

4. [W. C. Hazlitt, E. L. Bulwer, and Sergeant Talfourd, eds.]. Literary Remains of the Late William Hazlitt. [page 278, column 1:]



To the Editor of the Southern Literary Messenger.

Sir, — In your August number (page 573) is a quotation from Mr. Burke’s speech to the Electors of Bristol, upon the subject of instructions from constituents to their representatives. Will you oblige me by giving another passage or two from that speech, which will show how inapplicable Mr. Burke’s remarks are to our country. Immediately after the word “arguments,” at the end of your last quotation, Mr. Burke proceeds thus:

“To deliver an opinion is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear, and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions, mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience, these are things utterly unknown to the laws of THIS LAND, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of OUR CONSTITUTION.

“Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain as an agent, and advocate against the other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You (choose a member indeed, but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of Parliament.”

This theory of each member’s representing not those who chose him, but the whole nation, gave rise to what was called virtual representation, when the people of America complained that they had no representatives in Parliament. Is it not evident, that under OUR CONSTITUTION, if every member represents his own constituents, all will be represented? It was different indeed under the rotten borough system of England, now happily exploded. Mr. Burke was elected to Parliament, but having voted, under pretence of consulting the general good, for many measures obnoxious to the people of Bristol, he was defeated when he attempted to be re-elected. The making of loud professions of interest in the public welfare, and desire for the general good, accompanied by a neglect of immediate duties, reminds one of professions of universal philanthropy from the lips of a bad husband and a bad father.

Yours respectfully,   Q. V. R.

[Our correspondent, in supposing Mr. Burke’s remarks “inapplicable to this country,” seems to be misled by the word “congress.” Had not this term been appropriated to our National Assembly the paragraph would have escaped attention. The whole is applicable, we think, fully, even to “Congress” itself. Write “our General Legislature” in place of “Parliament,” “assembly” instead of “congress,” for “Bristol” read “Virginia,” and we see no difficulty whatever. [column 2:]

Our general legislature is not an assembly of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain as an agent, and advocate against the other agents and advocates; but our general legislature is a deliberative [Mr. B. has italicized deliberative] assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole. You choose a member indeed, but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Virginia, but a member of our general legislature.

We can see no inapplicability here, nor is a word of the paragraph to be denied, when made referrible [[referable]] to us. Mr. Burke, we apprehend, wished simply to place a representative and deliberative assembly, consisting of delegates from various sections of one nation, in contradistinction to a meeting of ambassadors from a number of distinct and totally hostile powers. In the former case, supposing the judgment, rather than the will of the people, to be represented, he allows of no “authoritative mandates” from the constituent to the representative — in the latter instance, and in such instance alone, he can imagine the binding power of letters of instruction from home, upon the ambassadors assembled.

In regard to the “making of loud professions of interest in the public welfare, and desire for the general good, accompanied by a neglect of immediate duties” we conceive that, in the case of Burke, or in any similar case, if the passage of a law is to operate for the general good, yet for the individual harm of the Senator’s constituents, then the Senator has but one “immediate duty” — to vote for it.]



Philothea: Romance. By Mrs. Child, author of the Mother’s Book, &c. Boston: Otis, Broaders, Co. New York: George Dearborn.

Mrs. Child is well known as the author of “Hobomok,” “The American Frugal Housewife,” and the “Mother’s Book.” She is also the editor of a “Juvenile Miscellany.” The work before us is of a character very distinct from that of any of these publications, and places the fair writer in a new and most favorable light. Philothea is of that class of works of which the Telemachus of Fenelon, and the Anarchlarsis of Barthelemi,(a) are the most favorable specimens. Overwhelmed in a long-continued inundation of second-hand airs and ignorance, done up in green muslin, we turn to these pure and quiet pages with that species of gasping satisfaction with which a drowning man clutches the shore.

The plot of Philothea is simple. The scene is principally in ancient Athens, during the administration of Pericles; and some of the chief personages of his time are brought, with himself, upon the stage. Among these are Aspasia, Alcibiades, Hippocrates, Anaxagoras of Clazomenæ, Plato, Hermippus the comic writer, Phidias the Sculptor, Artaxerxes of Persia, and Xerxes his son. Philothea, the heroine of the tale, and the grand daughter of Anaxagoras, is of a majestic beauty, of great purity and elevation of mind. Her friend, Etidora, of a more delicate loveliness, and more flexile disposition, is the adopted daughter of Phidias, who bought her, when an infant, of a goat-herd in Phelle — [page 279:] herself and nurse having been stolen from the Ionian coast by Greek pirates, the nurse sold into slavery, and the child delivered to the care of the goat-herd. The ladies, of course, have lovers. Eudora is betrothed to Philæmon. This Athenian, the son of the wealthy Cherilaus, but whose mother was born in Corinth, has incurred the dislike of Aspasia, the wife of Pericles. She procures the revival of an ancient law subjecting to a heavy fine all citizens who married foreigners, and declaring all persons, whose parents were not both Athenians, incapable of voting in the public assemblies or of inheriting the estates of their fathers. Philæmon, thus deprived of citizenship, prevented from holding office, and without hope of any patrimony, is obliged to postpone, indefinitely, his union with Eudora. The revisal of the obnoxious law has also a disastrous effect upon the interests of Philothea. She is beloved of Paralus, the son of Pericles, and returns his affection. But in marrying, she will bring upon him losses and degradation. Pericles, too, looks with an evil eye upon her poverty, and the idea of marriage is therefore finally abandoned.

Matters are thus situated, when Philothea, being appointed one of the Canephoræ, (whose duty it is to embroider the sacred peplus, and to carry baskets in the procession of the Panathenaia,) is rigidly secluded by law, for six months, within the walls of the Acropolis. During this time, Eudora, deprived of the good counsel and example of her friend, becomes a frequent visitor at the house of Aspasia, by whose pernicious influence she is insensibly affected. It is at the return of Philothea from the Acropolis that the story commences. At the urgent solicitation of Aspasia, who is desirous of strengthening her influence in Athens by the countenance of the virtuous, Anaxagoras is induced to attend, with his grand-daughter, a symposium at the house of Pericles. Eudora accompanies them. The other guests are Hermippus, Phidias, the Persian Artaphernes, Tithonus a learned Ethiopian, Plato, Hipparete the wife of Alcibiades, and Alcibiades himself. At this symposium Eudora is dazzled by the graces of Alcibiades, and listens to his seductive flattery — forgetful of the claims of Hipparete, the wife of Alcibiades, and of Philrmon, her own lover. The poison of this illicit feeling now affects all the action of the drama. Philothea discovers the danger of her friend, but is sternly repulsed upon the proffer of good advice. Alcibiades is appointed a secret interview by Endora, which is interrupted by Philothea — not however before it is observed by Philetmon, who, in consequence, abandons his mistress, and departs, broken-hearted, from Athens. The eyes of Eudora are now opened, too late, to the perfidy of Alcibiades, who had deceived her with the promise of marriage, and of obtaining a divorce from Hipporete. It is Hipparete who appeals to the Archons for a divorce from Alcibiades, on the score of his notorious profligacy; and, in the investigations which ensue, it appears that a snare has been laid by Aspasia and himself, to entrap Eudora, and that, with a similar end in view, he has also promised marriage to Electra, the Corinthian.

Pericles seeks to please the populace by diminishing the power of the Areopagus. He causes a decree to be passed, that those who denied the existence of the Gods, or introduced new opinions about celestial things, should be tried by the people. This, however, proves [column 2:] injurious to some of his own personal friends. Hermippus lays before the Thesmothetme Archons an accusation of blasphemny against Anaxagoras, Phidias, and Aspasia; and the case is tried before the fourth assembly of the people. Anaxanoras is charged with not having offered victims to tihe Gods, and with having blasphemed the divine Phoebus, by saying the sun was only a huge ball of fire, — and is condemned to die. Phlidias is accused of blasphemy, in having carved the likeness of himself and Pericles on the shield of heaven-born Pallas, of having said that he approved the worship of the Gods merely becatise he wished to have his own works adored, and of decoying to his own house the maids and matrons of Athens, under the pretence of seeing sculpture, but in fact, to administer to the profligacy of Pericles. He is also adjudged to death. Aspasia is accused of saying that the sacred baskets of Demeter contained nothing of so much importance as the beautiful maidens who carried them; and that the temple of Poseidon was enriched with no offerings from those who had been wrecked, notwithstanding their supplications-thereby implying ir-reverent doubts of the power of Ocean’s God. Her sentence is exile. Pericles, however, succeeds in getting the execution of the decrees suspended until the oracle of Amphiaraus can be consulted. Antiphon, a celebrated diviner, is appointed to consult it. He is absent for many days, and in the meantime Pericles ha.s an opportunity of tampering wvith the people, as he has already done with Antiphon. The response of the oracle opportunely declares that the sentences be reconsidered. It is done — Phidias and Anaxagoras are merely banished, while Aspasia is acquitted. These trials form perhaps the most interesting portion of the book.

Chapter XI introduces us to Anaxagoras, the conterited resident of a small village near Lampsacus in Ionia. He is old, feeble, and in poverty. Philothea watches by his side, and supports him with the labor of her hands. Plato visits the sage of Clazomenwe in his retreat, and brings news of the still-beloved Athens. The pestilence is raging — the Pirwus is heaped with unburied dead. Hipparete has fallen a victim. Peri cles was one of the first sufferers, but has recovered through the skill of Hippocrates. Phidias who, after his sentence of exile, departed with Eudora to Elis, and grew in honor among the Eleans-is dead. Eudora still remains at his house, Elis having bestowed upon her the yearly revenues of a farm, in consideration of the affectionate care bestowed upon her illustrious bene factor. Philremon is in Persia instructing the sons of the wealthy Satrap Megabyzus. Alcibiades is living in unbridled license at Athens. But the visiter has not yet spoken of Paralus, the lover of Philothea.

“Daughter of Aleimenes,” he at length says, (we copy here half a page of the volume, as a specimen of the grace of the narrative) “Daughter of Alcimenes, your heart reproaches me that I forbear to speak of Paralus. That I have done so, has not been from forgetfulness, but because I have with vain and self-defeating prudence sought for cheerful words to convey sad thoughts. Patralus breathes and moves, but is apparently unconscious of existence in this world. He is silent and abstracted, like one just returned from the cave of Trophoniuts. Yet beautiful forms are ever with him in infinite variety; for his quiescent soul has now undisturbed recollection of the divine archetypes in the ideal world, of which all earthly [page 280:] beauty is the shadow.”

“He is happy, then, though living in the midst of death,” answered Philothea. “But does his memory retain no traces of his friends?”

“One — and one only,” he replied. “The name of Philothea was too deeply engraven to be washed away by the waters of oblivion. He seldom speaks; but when he does you are ever in his visions. The sound of a female voice accompanying the lyre is the only thing that makes him smile; and nothing moves him to tears save the farewell song of Orpheus to Eurydice. In his drawings there is more of majesty and beauty than Phlydias or Myron ever conceived; and one figure is always there — the Pythlia, the Muse, the Grace, or something combining all these, more spiritual than either.”

The most special object of Plato’s visit to Anaxagoras is the bearing of a message from Pericles. Hippocrates has expressed a hope that the presence of Philothea may restore, in some measure, the health and understanding of Paralus, and the once ambitious father has sent to beg the maiden’s consent to a union with his now deeply afflicted son.

“Philothea would not leave me even if I urged it with tears,” replied Anaxagoras, “and I am forbidden to return to Athens.”

“Pericles has provided an asylum for you, on the borders of Attica,” answered Plato, “and the young people would soon join you after their marriage. He did not supppose [[suppose]] that his former proud opposition to their loves would be forgotten; but he said hearts like yours would forgive it all, the more readily beause [[because]] he was now a man deprived of power, and his son suffering under a visitation of the gods. Alcibiades laughed aloud when he heard of this proposition; and said his uncle would never think of making it to any but a maiden who sees the zephyrs run, and hears the stars sing. He spoke truth in his profane merriment. Pericles knows that she who obediently listens to the inward voice, will be most likely to seek the happiness of others, forgetful of her own wrongs.”

“I do not believe the tender hearted maiden ever cherished resentment against any living thing,” replied Anaxagoras. “She often reminds me of Hesiod’s description of Leto:

Placid to men and to immortal gods;

Mild from the first beginning of her days;

Gentlest of all in Heaven.

She has indeed been a precious gift to my old age. Simple and loving as she is, there are times when her looks and words fill me with awe, as if I stood in the presence of divinity.”

“It is a most lovely union when the Muses and the Charities inhabit the same temple,” said Plato. “I think she learned of you to be a constant worshipper of the innocent and graceful nymphs, who preside over kind and gentle actions. But tell me, Anaxagoras, if this marriage is declined, who will protect the daughter of Alcimenes when you are gone?”

The philosopher replied, “I have a sister Heliodora, the youngest of my father’s flock, who is Priestess of the Sun, at Ephesus. Of all my family, she has least despised me for preferring philosophy to gold; and report bespeaks her wise and virtuous. I have asked and obtained from her a promise to protect Philothlea when I am gone; but 1 will tell my child the wishes of Pericles, and leave her to the guidance of her own heart. If she enters the home of Paralus, she will be to him, as she has been to me, a bounty like the sunshine.”

Philothea assents joyfully to the union, although Chrysippus, the wealthy prince of Clazomenœ, has made her an offer of his hand. Anaxagoras dies. His grand-daughter, accompanied by Plato, and some female acquaintances, takes her departure for Athens, and arrives safely in the harbor of Phalerum. No important change has occurred in Paralus, who still shows [column 2:] a total unconsciousness of past events. The lovers are, however, united. Many long passages about this portion of the narrative are of a lofty and original beauty. The dreamy, distraught, yet unembittered existence of the husband, revelling in the visions of the Platonic philosophy — the anxiety of the father and his friends — the ardent, the pure and chivalric love, with the uncompromising devotion and soothing attentions of the wife — are pictures whose merit will not fail to be appreciated by all whose good opinion is of value.

Hippocrates has been informed that Tithonus, the Ethiopian, possesses the power of leading the soul from the body, “ by means of a soul-directing wand,” and the idea arises that the process may produce a salutary effect upon Paralus. Tithonus will be present at the Olympian Games, and thither the patient is conveyed, under charge of Pericles, Plato and his wife. On the route, at Corinth, a letter from Philemon, addressed to Anaxagoras, is handed by Artaphernes, the Persian, to Philothea. At the close of the epistle, the writer expresses a wish to be informed of Eudora’s fate, and an earnest hope that she is not beyond the reach of Philothea’s influence. The travellers finally stop at a small town in the neighborhood of Olympia, and at the residence of Proclus and his wife Melissa, “worthy simple-hearted people with whom Phidias had died, and under whose protection he had placed his adopted daughter.” The meeting between this maiden and Philothea is full of interest. The giddy heart of Eudolra is chastened by sorrow. Phidias had desired her marriage with his nephew Pandcenus — but her first love is not yet forgotten. A letter is secretly written by Philothea to Philcemon, acquainting him with the change in the character of Eudora, and with her unabated affection for himself. “Sometimes,” she writes, “a stream is polluted in the fountain, and its waters are tainted through all its wanderings; and sometimes the traveller throws into a pure rivulet some unclean thing, which floats awhile and is then rejected from its bosom. Eudora is the pure rivulet. A foreign strain floated on the surface, but never mingled with its waters.”

The efforts of Tithonus are inadequate to the effectual relief of Paralus. We quote in full the account of the Ethiopian’s attempt. Mrs. Child is here, however, partially indebted to a statement by Clearchus, of an operation somewhat similar to that of Tithonus, performed either by the aid, or in the presence of Aristotle. It will be seen that even the chimeras of animal magnetism were, in some measure, known to the ancients. The relation of Clearchus mentions a diviner with a spiritdrawing wand, and a youth whose soul was thereby taken from the body, leaving it inanimate. The soul being replaced by the aid of the magician, the youth enters into a wild account of the events which befell him during the trance. The passage in “Philothea” runs thus.

Tithonus stood behind the invalid and remained perfectly quiet for many minutes. He then gently touched the back part of his head with a small wand, and leaning over him, whispered in his ear. An unpleasant change immediately passed over the countenance of Paralus. He endeavored to place his hand on his head, and a cold shivering seized him. Philothea shuddered, and Pericles grew pale, as they watched these symptoms; but the silence remained unbroken. A second and a third time the Ethiopian touched him with his wand, and spoke in whispers. The expression of pain deepened; insomuch that his friends could not look upon him without anguish of heart. Finally his limbs [page 281:] straightened, and became perfectly rigid and motionless.

Tithonus, perceiving the terror he had excited, said soothingly, “O Athenians, be not afraid. I have never seen the soul withdrawn without a struggle with the body. Believe me it will return. The words I whispered, were those I once heard from the lips of Plato. ‘The human soul is guided by two horses-one white with a flowing mane, earnest eyes, and wings like a swan, whereby he seeks to fly; but the other is black, heavy, and sleepy-eyed-ever prone to lie down upon the earth.’ The second time I whispered, ‘Lo, the soul seeketh to ascend!’ And the third time I said, ’Behold, the winged separates from that which has no wings. ’ When life returns, Paralus will have remembrance of these words.”

“Oh, restore him! restore him!” exclaimed Philothea, in tones of agonized intreaty.

Tithonus answered with respectful tenderness, and again stood in profound silence several minutes, before le raised the wand. At the first touch, a feeble shivering gave indication of returning life. As it was repeated a second and a third time, with a brief interval between each movement, the countenance of the sufferer grew more dark and troubled, until it became fearful to look upon. But the heavy shadow gradually passed away, and a dreamy smile returned, like a gleam of sunshine after storms. The moment Philothea perceived an expression familiar to her heart, she knelt by the couch, seized the hand of Paralus, and bathed it with her tears.

When the first gush of emotion had subsided, she said in a soft low voice, “Where have you been, dear Paralus?” The invalid answered, “ A thick vapor enveloped me, as with a dark cloud; and a stunning noise pained my head with its violence. A voice said to me, ’ The human soul is guided by two horses; one white, with a flowing mane, earnest eyes, and wings like a swan, whereby he seeks to fly; but the other is black, heavy, and sleepy-eyed-ever prone to lie down upon the earth. ’ Then the darkness began to clear away. But there was strange confusion. All things seemed rapidly to interchange their colors and their forms — the sound of a storm was in mine ears — the elements and the stars seemed to crowd upon me and my breath was taken away. Then I heard a voice saying, ’ Lo, the soul seeketh to ascend! ’ And I looked and saw the chariot and horses, of which the voice had spoken. The beautiful white horse gazed upward, and tossed his mane, and spread his wings impatiently; but the black horse slept upon the ground. The voice again said, ’Behold, the winged separates from that which hath no wings! ’ And suddenly the chariot ascended, and 1 saw the white horse on light, fleecy clouds, in a far blue sky. Then I heard a pleasing silent sound — as if dew-drops made music as they fell. I breathed freely, and my form seemed to expand itself with buoyant life All at once I was floating in the air, above a quiet lake, where reposed seven beautiful islands, full of the sound of harps; and Philothea slept at my side, with a garland on her head. I asked, ’Is this the divine home whence I departed into the body? ’ And a voice above my head answered, ’ It is the divine home. Man never leaves it. He ceases to perceive. ’ Afterward, I looked downward, and saw my dead body lying on a couch. Then again there came strange con fusion-and a painful clashing of sounds — and all things rushing together. But Philothea took my hand, and spoke to me in gentle tones, and the discord ceased.”

The mind of Paralus derives but a temporary benefit from the skill of Tithonus, and even the attendance of the patient upon the Olympian games (a suggestion of Pericles) fails of the desired effect. A partial revival is indeed thus brought about-but death rapidly en sues. The friends of the deceased return to Athens, accompanied by the adopted daughter of Phlidias. Philothea dies. Not many days after the funeral ceremonies, Eudora suddenly disappears. Alcibiades is suspected (justly) of having entrapped her to his summer [column 2:] residence in Salamis. The pages which follow this event detail the rescue of the maiden by the ingenuity of two faithful slaves, Mibra and Getsa-the discovery of her father in Artaphernes the Persian, whom she accompanies to the court of Artaxerxes-her joyful meeting there, and marriage with Phliaemon, after refusing the proffered hand of Xerxes himself.

In regard to the species of novel of which “Philothea” is no ignoble specimen, not any powers on the part of any author can render it, at the present day, popular. Nor is the voice of the people in this respect, to be adduced as an evidence of corrupted taste. We have little of purely human sympathy in the distantly antique; and this little is greatly weakened by the constant necessity of effort in conceiving appropriateness in manners, costume, habits, and modes of thought, so widely at variance with those around us. It should be borne in mind that the “Pompeii” of Bulwer cannot be considered as altogether belonging to this species, and fails in popularity only in proportion as it does so belong to it. This justly admired work owes what it possesses of attraction for the mass, to the stupendousness of its leading event — an event so far from weakened in interest by age, rendered only more thrillingly exciting by the obscurity which years have thrown over its details — to the skill with which the mind of the reader is prepared for this event — to the vigor with which it is depicted — and to the commingling with this event human passions wildly affected thereby-passions the sternest of our nature, and common to all character and time. By means so effectual we are hurried over, and observe not, unless with a critical eye, those radical defects or difficulties (coincident with the choice of epoch) of which we have spoken above. The fine perception of Bulwer endured these difficulties as inseparable from the groundwork of his narrative — did not mistake them for facilities. The plot of “Philothea,” like that of the Telemachus, and of the Anarcharsis, should be regarded, on the other hand, as the mere vehicle for bringing forth the antique “manners, costume, habits, and modes of thought,” which we have just mentioned as at variance with a popular interest to-day. Regarding it in this, its only proper light, we shall be justified in declaring the book an honor to our country, and a signal triumph for our country-women.

Philothea might be introduced advantageously into our female academies. Its purity of thought and lofty morality are unexceptionable. It would prove an effectual aid in the study of Greek antiquity, with whose spirit it is wonderfully imbued. We say wonderfully for when we know that the fair authoress disclaims all knowledge of the ancient languages, we are inclined to consider her performance as even wonderful. There are some points, to be sure, at which a scholar might cavilsome perversions of the character of Pericles — of the philosophy of Anaxagoras — the trial of Aspasia and her friends for blasphemy, should have been held before the Areopagus, and not the people — and we can well believe that an erudite acquaintance of ours would storm at more than one discrepancy in the arrangement of the symposium at the house of Aspasia. But the many egregious blunders of Barthelemi are still fresh in our remembrance, and the difficulty of avoiding errors in similar writings, even by the professed scholar, cannot readily be conceived by the merely general reader.

On the other hand, these discrepancies are exceedingly few in Philothea, while there is much evidence on every [page 282:] page of a long acquaintance with the genius of the times, places, and people depicted. As a mere tale, too, the work has merit of no common order — and its purity of language should especially recommend it to the attention of teachers.



Sheppard Lee: written by himself. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Like philothea, this novel is an original in American Belles Lettres at least; and these deviations, however indecisive, from the more beaten paths of imitation, look well for our future literary prospects. Thinking thus, we will be at the trouble of going though briefly, in detail, the plot and the adventures of Sheppard Lee.

The hero relates his own story. He is born “somewhere towards the close of the last century,” in the State of New Jersey, in one of the oldest counties that border upon the Delaware river. His father is a farmer in good circumstances, and famous for making good sausages for the Philadelphia market. He has ten children besides Sheppard. Nine of these die, however, in six years, by a variety of odd accidents — the last expiring in a fit of laughter at seeing his brother ridden to death by a pig. Prudence, the oldest sister, survives. The mother, mourning for her children, becomes melancholy and dies insane. Sheppard is sent to good schools, and afterwards to the College at Nassau Hall, in Princeton, where he remains three years, until his father’s decease. Upon this occurrence he finds himself in possession of the bulk of the property; his sister Prudence, who had recently married, receiving only a small farm in a neighboring county. After making one or two efforts to become a man of business, our hero hires an overseer to undertake the entire management of his property.

Having now nothing to do, and time hanging heavily on his hands, Sheppard Lee tries many experiments by way of killing the enemy. He turns sportsman, but has the misfortune to shoot his dog the first day, and upon the second his neighbor’s cow. He breeds horses and runs them, losing more money in a single hour than his father had ever made in two years together. At the suggestion of his overseer he travels, and is robbed of his baggage and money, by an intelligent gentlemanly personage from Sing-Sing. He thinks of matrimony, and is about coming to a proposal, when his inamorata, taking offence at his backwardness, casts her eyes upon another wooer, who has made her an offer, and marries him upon the spot.

Upon attaining his twenty-eighth year, Mr. Lee discovers his overseer, Mr. Aikin Jones, to be a rogue, and himself to be ruined. Prudence, the sister, tells our hero moreover, that he has lost all the little sense he ever possessed, while her husband is so kind as to inform him that “he is wrong in the upper story.” A quarrel ensues and Mr. Lee is left to bear his misfortunes alone.

In Chapter V, we have a minute description of the state of the writer’s affairs at this epoch, and it must be owned that his little property of forty acres presented a [column 2:] sufficiently woe-begone appearance. One friend, however, remains steadfast, in the person of our hero’s negro servant, Jim Jumble — an old fellow that had been the slave of his father and was left to him in the will. This is a crabbed, self-willed old rascal, who will have every thing his own way. Having some scruples of conscience about holding a slave, and thinking him of no value whatever, but, on the contrary, a great deal of trouble, our hero decides upon setting him free. The old fellow, however, bursts into a passion, swears he will not be free, that Mr. Lee is his master and shall take care of him, and that if he dares to set him free he will have the law of him, “he will by ge-hosh!”

At length, in spite of even the services of Jim Jumble, our hero is reduced to the point of despair. His necessities have compelled him to mortgage the few miserable acres left, and ruin stares him in the face. He attempts many ingenious devices with a view of amending his fortune — buys lottery tickets which prove all blanks — purchases stock in a southern gold mining company, is forced to sell out at a bad season, and finds himself with one-fifth the sum invested — gets a new coat, and makes a declaration to a rich widow in the neighborhood, who makes him the laughing stock of the country for his pains — and finally turns politician, choosing the strongest party, on the principle that the majority must always be right. Attending a public meeting he claps his hands and applauds the speeches with so much spirit, that he is noticed by some of the leaders. They encourage him to take a more prominent part in the business going on, and at the next opportunity he makes a speech. Being on the hurrah side he receives great applause, and indeed there is such a shouting and clapping that he is obliged to put an end to his discourse sooner than he had intended. He is advised to set about converting all in the neighborhood who are not of the right way of thinking, and the post office in the village is hinted at as his reward in case the county is gained. Mr. Lee sets about his task valiantly, paying his own expenses, and the hurrahs carry the day. His claim to the post-officeship is universally admitted, but, in some way or other, the appointment is bestowed upon one of the very leaders who had been foremost in commending the zeal and talents of our author, and in assuring him that the office should be his. Mr. Lee is enraged, and is upon the point of going over to the anti-hurrahs, when he is involved in a very remarkable tissue of adventure. Jim Jumble conceives that money has been buried by Captain Kid, in a certain ugly swamp, called the Owl-Roost, not many rods from an old church. The stories of the negro affect his master to such a degree that he dreams three nights in succession of finding a treasure at the foot of a beech-tree in the swamp. He resolves to dig for it in good earnest, choosing midnight, at the full of the moon, as the moment of commencing operations. On his way to the Owl-Roost at the proper time, he passes by the burial ground of the old church, and the wall having fallen down across his path, he strikes his ankle against a fragment — the pain causing him to utter a groan. To his amazement this interjection of suffering is echoed from the grave yard; a voice screaming out in awful tones, O Lord! O Lord! and, casting his eyes around, our hero beholds three or four shapes, whom he supposes to be devils incarnate, dancing about among the tomb-stones. The beech-tree, however, is finally reached in safety, and by dint [page 283:] of much labor a large hole excavated among the roots. But in his agitation of mind the adventurer plants an unlucky blow of the mattock among the toes of his right foot, and sinking down upon the grass, “falls straight-way into a trance.”

Upon recovering from this trance, Mr. Lee finds himself in a very singular predicament. He feels exceedingly light and buoyant, with the power of moving without exertion. He sweeps along without putting his feet to the ground, and passes among shrubs and bushes without experiencing from them any hindrance to his progress. In short, he finds himself to be nothing better than a ghost. His dead body is lying quietly beside the excavation under the beech-tree.(a) Mr. Lee is entirely overcome with horror at his unfortunate condition, and runs, or rather flies, instinctively to the nearest hut for assistance. But the dogs, at his approach, run howling among the bushes, and the only answer he receives from the terrified family is the discharge of a blunderbuss in his face. Returning in despair to the beech-tree and the pit, he finds that his body has been taken away. Its disappearance throws him into a phrenzy, and he is about to run home and summon old Jim Jumble to the rescue, when he hears a dog yelping and whining in a peculiarly doleful manner, at some little distance down in the meadow. Coming to a place in the edge of the marsh where are some willow trees, and an old worm fence, he there discovers to his extreme surprise, the body of a certain well-to-do personage, Squire Higginson. He is lying against the fence, stone dead, with his head down, and his heels resting against the rails, and looking as if, while climbing, he had fallen down and broken his neck.

Our hero pities the condition of Mr. Higginson, but being only a ghost, has no capacity to render him assistance. In this dilemma he begins to moralize upon the condition of Mr. H. and of himself. The one has no body — the other no soul. “Why might not I” — says, very reasonably, the ghost of Mr. Lee, “Why might not I — that is to say my spirit — deprived by an unhappy accident of its natural dwelling — take possession of a tenement which there remains no spirit to claim, and thus, uniting interests together, as two feeble factions unite together in the political world, become a body possess-ing life, strength, and usefulness? Oh, that I might be Squire Higginson!”

The words are scarcely out of his mouth, before our hero feels himself vanishing, as it were, into the dead man’s nostrils, “into which his spirit rushes like a breeze,” and the next moment he finds himself John Hazlewood Higginson, Esquire, to all intents and purposes — kicking the fence to pieces in a lusty effort to rise upon his feet, and feeling as if he had just tumbled over it. We must here give a couple of pages in the words of the author.

“God be thanked,” I cried, dancing about as joyously as the dog, “I am now a respectable man with my pockets full of money. Farewell then, you poor miserable Sheppard Lee! you raggamuffin! you poor wretched shote! you half-starved old sand-field Jersey Kill-Deer! you vagabond! you beggar! you Dicky Dout! with the wrong place in your upper story! you are now a gentleman and a man of substance, and a happy dog into the bargain. Ha! ha! ha!” and here I fell a laughing out of pure joy; and giving my dog Ponto a buss, as if that were the most natural act in the world, and a customary way of showing my satisfaction, I began to stalk towards my old ruined house, without [column 2:] exactly knowing for what purpose, but having some vague idea about me, that I would set old Jim Jumble and his wife Dinah to shouting and dancing; an amusement I would willingly have seen the whole world engaged in at that moment.

I had not walked twenty yards, before a woodcock that was feeding on the edge of the marsh, started up from under my nose, when clapping my gun to my shoulder, I let fly at him, and down he came.

“Aha, Ponto,” said I, “when did I ever fail to bring down a woodcock? Bring it along, Ponto, you rascal — Rum-te, ti, ti! rum-te, ti, ti!” and I went on my way singing for pure joy, without pausing to recharge or to bag my game. I reached my old house, and began to roar out, without reflecting that I was now something more than Sheppard Lee, “Hillo! Jim Jumble, you old rascal! get up and let me in.”

“What you want, hah?” said old Jim, poking his head from the garret window of the kitchen, and looking as sour as a persimmon before frost. “Guess Massa Squire Higginson drunk, hah? What you want? Spose I’m gwyin to git up afo sunrise for notin, and for any body but my Massa Sheppard?”

“Why you old dog,” said I, in a passion, “I am your Master Sheppard; that is, your Master John Hazlewood Higginson, Esquire; for as for Sheppard Lee, the Jersey kill-deer, I’ve finished him, you rascal; you’ll never see him more. So get down and let me into the house, or I’ll”

“You will hah?” said Jim, “you will what?”

“I’ll shoot you, you insolent scoundrel!” I exclaimed in a rage — as if it were the most natural thing in the world for me to be in one; and as I spoke I raised my piece; when “bow-wow-wow!” went my old dog Bull, who had not bitten a man for two years, but who now rushed from his kennel under the porch, and seized me by the leg.

“Get out Bull, you rascal,” said I, but he only bit the harder; which threw me into such a fury, that I clapped the muzzle of my gun to his side, and having one charge remaining, blew him to pieces.

“Golla-matty!” said old Jim, from the window, whence he had surveyed the combat; “golla-matty! — shoot old Bull!”

And with that the black villain snatched up the half of a brick, which I suppose he kept to daunt unwelcome visiters, and taking aim at me, he cast it so well as to bring it right against my left ear, and so tumbled me to the ground. I would have blown the rascal’s brains out, in requital of this assault, had there been a charge left in my piece, or had he given me time to reload; but as soon as he had cast the brick, he ran from the window, and then reappeared, holding out an old musket, that I remembered he kept to shoot wild ducks and muskrats in the neighboring marsh with. Seeing this formidable weapon, and not knowing but that the desperado would fire upon me, I was forced to beat a retreat, which I did in double quick time, being soon joined by my dog Ponto, who had fled, like a coward, at the first bow-wow of the bull-dog, and saluted in my flight by the amiable tones of Dinah, who now thrust her head from the window, beside Jim’s, and abused me as long as I could hear.(b)

Our hero finds that in assuming the body of Squire Higginson, he has invested himself with a troublesome superfluity of fat — that he has moreover a touch of the asthma — together with a whizzing, humming, and spinning in the head. One day, while gunning, these infirmities prove more than usually inconvenient, and he is upon the point of retreating to the village to get his dinner, when a crowd of men make their appearance, and setting up a great shout, begin to run towards him at full speed. Hearing them utter furious cries, and perceiving a multitude of dogs in company, he is seized with alarm and makes for the woods. He is overtaken however, charged with the murder of Sheppard Lee, [page 284:] and committed by Justice Parkins — a mass of evidence appearing against him, among which that of Jim Jumble is not the least important, who swears that the prisoner came to his house, shot his bull-dog, threatened to blow his brains out, and bragged that he had “just finished Mr. Lee.”

In this dilemma our hero relates the whole truth to the prosecuting attorney, and is considered a madman for his pains. The body of Sheppard Lee, however, not appearing, the prisoner is set at liberty, and takes his way to Philadelphia in the charge of some new friends appertaining to him as John Hazlewood Higginson, Esquire. He finds himself a rich brewer, living in Chestnut Street, and the possessor of lands, houses, stocks, and Schuylkill coal-mines in abundance. He is troubled nevertheless with inveterate gout, and a shrew of a wife, and upon the whole he regrets his former existence as plain Sheppard Lee. Just opposite our brewer’s residence is the dwelling of Mr. Periwinkle Smith, an aristocrat, wealthy or supposed to be so, although some rumors are abroad touching mortgages. He has an only daughter, and among her frequent visitors is one Isaac Dulmer Dawkins, Esq., a young dandy of the first water, tall, slim, whiskered, mustached, of pure blood, and living on his wits. This personage is often noted by our hero, upon his passage to and from the house of Mr. Smith. Suddenly his visits are discontinued — a circumstance which the brewer has soon an opportunity of explaining to his satisfaction. Going to the Schuylkill for the purpose of drowning himself, and thus putting an end at once to the gout and the assiduities of Mrs. Higginson, our hero is surprised at finding himself anticipated in his design by I. Dulmer Dawkins, Esq. who leaps into the river at the very spot selected for his own suicide. In his exertions to get Mr. D. out, he is seized with apoplexy — reviving partially from which, he discovers a crowd attempting to resuscitate the dandy.

“I could maintain,” says our hero, “my equanimity no longer. In the bitterness of my heart I muttered, almost aloud, and as sincerely as I ever muttered any thing in my life, ‘I would I were this addle-pate Dawkins, were it only to be lying as much like a drowned rat as he!’ I had not well grumbled the last word, before a sudden fire flashed before my eyes, a loud noise like the roar of falling water passed through my head, and I lost all sensation and consciousness.”

As I Dulmer Dawkins, our friend finds himself beset by the duns, whom he habitually puts off by suggestions respecting a rich uncle, of whose very existence he is sadly in doubt. Having ceased to pay attention to Miss Smith, upon hearing the rumors about the mortgages, it appears that he was jilted in turn by a Miss Betty Somebody, and thus threw himself into the river in despair. His adventures are now various and spirited, but his creditors grow importunate, and vow they will be put off no longer with the old story of the rich uncle, when an uncle, and a rich one, actually appears upon the tapis. He is an old vulgar fool, and I Dulmer Dawkins, Esquire, is in some doubts about the propriety of allowing his claim to relationship, but finally consents to introduce the old quiz, son and daughter, into fashionable society, upon considering the pecuniary advantages to himself. With this end he looks about for a house, and learns that the residence of Periwinkle Smith is for sale. Upon calling upon that gentleman however, he is treated very civilly indeed, [column 2:] being shown the door, after having sufficiently ascertained that the rumors about the mortgages should have been construed in favor of Mr. Smith — that he is a richer man than ever, and that his fair heiress is upon the point of marriage with a millionaire from Boston. He now turns his attention to his country cousin, Miss Patty Wilkins, upon finding that the uncle is to give her forty thousand dollars. At the same time, lest his designs in this quarter should fail, he makes an appointment to run off with the only daughter of a rich shaver, one Skinner. The uncle Wilkins has but little opinion of I Dulmer Dawkins, and will not harken to his suit at all. In this dilemma our hero resorts to a trick. He represents his bosom friend and ally, Mr. Tickle, as a man of fashion and property, and sets him to making love to Miss Patty, in the name of himself, I Dulmer. The uncle snaps at the bait, but the ally is instructed to proceed no farther without a definite settlement upon Miss Patty of the forty thousand dollars. The uncle makes the settlement and matters proceed to a crisis — Mr. Tickle pleasing himself with the idea of cheating his bosom friend I Dulmer, and marrying the lady himself. A farce of very pretty finesse now ensues, which terminates in Miss Patty’s giving the slip to both lovers, bestowing her forty thousand dollars upon an old country sweetheart, Danny Baker, and in I Dulmer’s finding, upon flying, as a dernier resort, to the broker’s daughter, that she has already run away with Sammy, Miss Patty Wilkins’ clodhopper brother.

Driven to desperation by his duns, our hero escapes from them by dint of hard running and takes refuge, without asking permission, in the sick chamber of old Skinner, the shaver. Finding the old gentleman dead, he takes possession of his body forthwith, leaving his own carcase on the floor.

The adventures in the person of Abram Skinner are full of interest. We have many racy details of stock-jobbing and usury. Some passages, of a different nature are well written. The miser has two sons, and his parsimony reduces them to fearful extremity. The one involves him deeply by forgery; and the other first robs his strong box, and afterwards endeavors to murder him.

It may be supposed that the misery now weighing me to the earth was as much as could be imposed upon me; but I was destined to find before the night was over that misery is only comparative, and that there is no affliction so positively great, that greater may not be experienced. In the dead of the night, when my woes had at last been drowned in slumber, I was aroused by feeling a hand pressing upon my bosom; and starting up I saw, for there was a taper burning upon a table hard by, a man standing over me, holding a pillow in his hand, which, the moment I caught sight of him, he thrust into my face, and there endeavored to hold it, as if to suffocate me.

The horror of death endowed me with a strength not my own, and the ruffian held the pillow with a feeble and trembling arm. I dashed it aside, leaped up in the bed, and beheld in the countenance of the murderer the features of the long missing and abandoned son, Abbot Skinner.

His face was white and chalky, with livid stains around the eyes and mouth, the former of which were starting out of their orbits in a manner ghastly to behold, while his lips were drawn asunder and away from his teeth, as in the face of a mummy. He looked as if horror-struck at the act he was attempting; and yet there was something devilish and determined in his air that increased my terror to ecstacy! I sprang from the bed, threw myself on the floor, and, grasping his knees, besought [page 285:] him to spare my life. There seemed indeed occasion for all my supplications. His bloated and altered visage, the neglected appearance of his garments and person, and a thousand other signs, showed that the whole period of his absence had been passed in excessive toping, and the murderous and unnatural act which he meditated, manifested to what a pitch of phrenzy he had arrived by the indulgence.

As I grasped his knees, he put his hand into his bosom, and drew out a poniard, a weapon I had never before known him to carry; at the sight of which I considered myself a dead man. But the love of life still prevailing, I leaped up, and ran to a corner of the room, where I mingled adjurations and entreaties with loud screams for assistance. He stood as if rooted to the spot for a moment; then dropping his horrid weapon, he advanced a few paces, clasped his hands together, fell upon his knees, and burst into tears, and all the while without having uttered a single word. But now, my cries still continuing, he exclaimed, but with a most wild and disturbed look — “Father I won’t hurt you, and pray dont hurt me!”

Horrors such as these induce our hero to seek a new existence. Filling his pockets with money, he sets off in search of a corpse of which to take possession. At length, when nearly exhausted, a drunken fellow, apparently dead, is found lying under a shed. Transferring the money from his own person to that of the mendicant, he utters the usual wish, once, twice, thrice — and in vain. Horribly disconcerted, and dreading lest his charm should have actually deserted him, he begins to kick the dead man with all the energy he has left. At this treatment the corpse suddenly becomes animated, knocks our hero down with a whiskey jug, and makes off with the contents of his pockets, being a dozen silver spoons, and four hundred dollars in money. This accident introduces us to the acquaintance of a genuine philanthropist, Mr. Zachariah Longstraw, and this gentleman being at length murdered by a worthy ex-occupant of Sing-Sing, to whom he had been especially civil, our hero reanimates his body with excessive pleasure at his good fortune. The result is that he finds himself cheated on all sides, is arrested for debt, and is entrapped by a Yankee pedlar and carried off to the South as a tit-bit for the anti-abolitionists. On the route he ascertains (by accidently overhearing a conversation) that the missing body of Sheppard Lee, which disappeared in so mysterious a manner from the side of the pit at the Owl-Roost, was carried off by one Dr. Feuerteufel, a German, who happened to be in search of subjects for dissection, and whose assistants were the dancing spectres in the church yard, which so terribly disconcerted our hero when on his way to the beech-tree. He is finally about to be hung, when a negro who was busied in preparing the gallows, fortunately breaks his neck in a fall, and our adventurer takes possession of his body forthwith.

In his character of Nigger Tom, Mr. Lee gives us some very excellent chapters upon abolition and the exciting effects of incendiary pamphlets and pictures, among our slaves in the South. This part of the narrative closes with a spirited picture of a negro insurrection, and with the hanging of Nigger Tom.

Our hero is revived, after execution, by the galvanic battery of some medical students, and having, by his sudden display of life, frightened one of them to death, he immediately possesses himself of his person. As Mr. Arthur Megrim, he passes through a variety of adventures, and fancies himself a coffee-pot, a puppy, a chicken, a loaded cannon, a clock, a hamper of crockery [column 2:] ware, a joint stock, a Greek Demi-God and the Emperor of France. Dr. Feuerteufel now arrives in the village with a cargo of curiosities for exhibition — among which are some mummies. In one of them our hero recognizes the identical long missed body of Sheppard Lee.

The sight of my body thus restored to me, and in the midst of my sorrow and affliction, inviting me back, as it were, to my proper home, threw me into an indescribable ferment. I stretched out my arms, I uttered a cry, and then rushing forward, to the astonishment of all present, I struck my foot against the glass case with a fury that shivered it to atoms or at least the portion of it serving as a door, which, being dislodged by the violence of the blow, fell upon the floor and was dashed to pieces. The next instant, disregarding the cries of surprise and fear which the act occasioned, I seized upon the cold and rigid hand of the mummy, murmuring “Let me live again in my own body, and never — no! never more in another’s!” Happiness of happiness! although, while I uttered the word, a boding fear was on my mind, lest the long period the body had remained inanimate, and more especially the mummifying process to which it had been subjected, might have rendered it unfit for further habitation, I had scarcely breathed the wish before I found myself in that very body, descending from the box which had so long been its prison, and stepping over the mortal frame of Mr. Arthur Megrim, now lying dead on the floor.

Indescribable was the terror produced among the spectators by this double catastrophe — the death of their townsman, and the revival of the mummy. The women fell down in fits, and the men took to their heels; and a little boy who was frightened into a paroxysm of devotion, dropped on his knees, and began fervently to exclaim

Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

In short, the agitation was truly inexpressible, and fear distracted all. But on no countenance was this passion (mingled with a degree of amazement) more strikingly depicted than on that of the German Doctor, who, thus compelled to witness the object of a thousand cares, the greatest and most perfect result of his wonderful discovery, slipping off its pedestal and out of his hands, as by a stroke of enchantment, stared upon me with eyes, nose and mouth, speechless, rooted to the floor, and apparently converted into a mummy himself. As I stepped past him, however, hurrying to the door, with a vague idea that the sooner I reached it the better, his lips were unlocked, and his feelings found vent in a horrible exclamation — “Der tyfel!” which I believe means the devil — “Der tyfel! I have empalm him too well!”(c)

Sheppard Lee now makes his way home into New Jersey (pursued however the whole way by the German Doctor, crying “Mein Gott! Ter Tyfel! and stop mine mummy!”) and is put to bed and kindly nursed after his disaster by his sister Prudence and her husband. It now appears (very ingeniously indeed) that, harassed by his pecuniary distress, our hero fell into a melancholy derangement, and upon cutting his foot with the mattock, as related, was confined to bed, where his wonderful transmigrations were merely the result of delirium. At least this is the turn given to the whole story by Prudence. Mr. Lee, however, although he partially believes her in the right, has still a shadow of doubt upon the subject, and has thought it better to make public his own version of the matter, with a view of letting every body decide for himself.

We must regard “Sheppard Lee,” upon the whole, as a very clever, and not altogether unoriginal, jeu d’esprit. Its incidents are well conceived, and related [page 286:] with force, brevity, and a species of directness which is invaluable in certain cases of narration — while in others it should be avoided. The language is exceedingly unaffected and (what we regard as high praise) exceedingly well adapted to the varying subjects. Some fault may be found with the conception of the metempsychosis which is the basis of the narrative. There are two general methods of telling stories such as this. One of these methods is that adopted by the author of Sheppard Lee. He conceives his hero endowed with some idiosyncracy beyond the common lot of human nature, and thus introduces him to a series of adventures which, under ordinary circumstances, could occur only to a plurality of persons. The chief source of interest in such narrative is, or should be, the contrasting of these varied events, in their influence upon a character unchanging — except as changed by the events themselves. This fruitful field of interest, however, is neglected in the novel before us, where the hero, very awkwardly, partially loses, and partially does not lose, his identity, at each transmigration. The sole object here in the various metempsychoses seem to be, merely the depicting of seven different conditions of existence, and the enforcement of the very doubtful moral that every person should remain contented with his own. But it is clear that both these points could have been more forcibly shown, without any reference to a confused and jarring system of transmigration, by the mere narrations of seven different individuals. All deviations, especially wide ones, from nature, should be justified to the author by some specific object — the object, in the present case, might have been found, as above-mentioned, in the opportunity afforded of depicting widely-different conditions of existence actuating one individual.

A second peculiarity of the species of novel to which Sheppard Lee belongs, and a peculiarity which is not rejected by the author, is the treating the whole narrative in a jocular manner throughout (inasmuch as to say “I know I am writing nonsense, but then you must excuse me for the very reason that I know it”) or the solution of the various absurdities by means of a dream, or something similar. The latter method is adopted in the present instance — and the idea is managed with unusual ingenuity. Still — having read through the whole book, and having been worried to death with incongruities (allowing such to exist) until the concluding page, it is certainly little indemnification for our sufferings to learn that, in truth, the whole matter was a dream, and that we were very wrong in being worried about it at all. The damage is done, and the apology does not remedy the grievance. For this and other reasons, we are led to prefer, in this kind of writing, the second general method to which we have alluded. It consists in a variety of points — principally in avoiding, as may easily be done, that directness of expression which we have noticed in Sheppard Lee, and thus leaving much to the imagination — in writing as if the author were firmly impressed with the truth, yet astonished at the immensity, of the wonders he relates, and for which, professedly, he neither claims nor anticipates credence — in minuteness of detail, especially upon points which have no immediate bearing upon the general story — this minuteness not being at variance with indirectness of expression — in short, by making use of the infinity of arts which give verisimilitude to a narration — [column 2:] and by leaving the result as a wonder not to be accounted for. It will be found that bizzarreries(*) thus conducted, are usually far more effective than those otherwise managed. The attention of the author, who does not depend upon explaining away his incredibilities, is directed to giving them the character and the luminousness of truth, and thus are brought about, unwittingly, some of the most vivid creations of human intellect. The reader, too, readily perceives and falls in with the writer’s humor, and suffers himself to be borne on thereby. On the other hand what difficulty, or inconvenience, or danger can there be in leaving us uninformed of the important facts that a certain hero did not actually discover the elixir vitæ, could not really make himself invisible, and was not either a ghost in good earnest, or a bonâ fide(*) [[bona fide]] Wandering Jew?



Literary Remains of the Late William Hazlitt, with a Notice of his Life by his Son, and Thoughts on his Genius and Writings, by E. L. Bulwer, M. P. and Mr. Sergeant Talfourd, M. P. New York: Saunders and Otley.

There is a piquancy in the personal character and literary reputation of Hazlitt, which will cause this book to be sought with avidity by all who read. And the volume will fully repay a perusal. It embraces a Biographical Sketch of Mr. H. by his son; “Some Thoughts on his Genius” by Bulwer; “Thoughts on his Intellectual Character,” by Sergeant Talfourd; a few words of high compliment contained in a Letter to Southey from Charles Lamb; a Sonnet, by Sheridan Knowles, on Bewick’s portrait of the deceased; six other sonnets to his memory, by “a Lady;” and twenty-two Essays by Hazlitt himself, and constituting his “Literary Remains.” The volume is embellished with a fine head of the Essayist, engraved by Marr, from a drawing by Bewick.

William Hazlitt, upon his decease in 1830, was 52 years old. He was the youngest son of the Reverend William Hazlitt, a dissenting Minister of the Unitarian persuasion. At the age of nine he was sent to a day school in Wern, and some of his letters soon after this period evince a singular thirst for knowledge in one so young. At thirteen, his first literary effort was made, in the shape of ian epistle to the “Shrewsbury Chronicle.” This epistle is signed in Greek capitals Elioson, and is a decently written defence of Priestley, or rather an expression of indignation at some out rages offered to the Doctor at Birmingham. It speaks of little, however, but the school-boy. At fifteen, he was entered as a student at the Unitarian College, Hackney, with a view to his education as a dissenting minister, and here his mind first received a bias towards philosophical speculation. Several short essays were written at this time — but are lost. Some letters to his father, however, which are printed in the present volume, give no evidence of more than a very ordinary ability. At seventeen, he left College (having abandoned [page 287:] all idea of the Ministry) and devoted himself to the study of painting as a profession — prosecuting his metaphysical reading at spare moments. At eighteen, he commenced the first rough sketch of a treatise “On the Principles of Human Action.” At twenty, accident brought him acquainted with Coleridge, whose writings and conversation had, as might be expected, great influence upon his subsequent modes of thought. At twenty-four, during the short peace of Amiens, he visited Paris with a view of studying the works of art in the Louvre. Some letters to his father written at this period, are given in the volume before us. They relate principally to the progress of his own studies in art, and are not in any manner remarkable. After spending a year in Paris he returned to London, abandoned, in despair, the pencil for the pen, and took up his abode temporarily, with his brother John, in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury. His treatise “On the Principles of Human Action,” a work upon which he seems to have greatly prided himself, (perhaps from early associations) was now completed, after eight years of excessive labor. He was not, however, successful in finding a publisher until a year afterwards — he being then twenty-eight. This was in 1805. In 1806, he published a pamphlet with the title of “Free Thoughts on Public Affairs.” In 1807, he abridged to one volume Tucker’s large work in seven — the “Light of Nature,” and wrote for Messrs. Longman and Co. a “Reply to Malthus’s Works on Population.” In 1808, he married Miss Stoddart, sister of the present Chief Justice of Malta. By this lady, who still lives, he had several children, all of whom died in early childhood, except the Editor of these “Remains.” Shortly after his marriage, he went to live at Winterslow, in Wiltshire. An English Grammar, written about this period, was published some years afterwards. In 1808, he also published a compilation, entitled “The Eloquence of the British Senate, being a selection of the best Speeches of the most distinguished Parliamentary Speakers, from the beginning of the reign of Charles I to the present tinme.” We are told also, that in the autumn of this same year he was “engaged in preparing for publication his ’Memoirs of Holeroft’ “ — the first seventeen chapters of this work were written by Holcroft himself. In 1811, Mr. Hazlitt removed to London and “tenanted a house once honored in the occupation of Milton.” In 1813, he delivered at the Russell Institution, a series of “Lectures upon the History and Progress of English Philosophy.” Shortly after this he became connected with the public press. For a short time he was engaged with the “Morning Chronicle” as a Parliamentary Reporter — but relinquished the occupation on account of ill health. He afterwards wrote political and theatrical criticisms for the “Champion,” the “Morning Chronicle,” the “Examiner,” and the “Times.” It was about this period, if we understand his biographer, that the collection of Essays appeared called “The Round Table.” Of these, forty were written by Mr. Hazlitt, and twelve by Leigh Hunt. In 1818, his Theatrical Criticisms were collected and published under the title of “A view of the English Stage.” In this year also, he delivered at the Surrey Institution a series of Lectures on the “Comic Writers, and the Poets of England,” and on the “Dramatic Literature of the age of Elizabeth.” These were subsequently published in single volumes under their respective titles. In 1819, the [column 2:] whole of his Political Essays appeared in one volume. His next published work was the “Characters of Shakspeare’s Plays.” In 1823, Mr. Hazlitt was divorced from his wife under the law of Scotland — shortly before this epoch having given to the world “Liber Amoris,” a publication for many reasons to be regretted. In this same year appeared a “Critical Account of the Principal Picture Galleries of England” — also the first series of “Table-Talk,” in two volumes, consisting of Essays on various subjects, a few of which had previously appeared in the “London Magazine.” In 1824, Mr. H. married Isabella, widow of Lieut. Col. Bridge water, a lady of some property; proceeding, after the wedding, oi a tout- through France and Italy. “Notes” of this journey appeared in the “Morning Chronicle,” and were afterwards collected in a volume. In 1825, appeared the second series of “Table-Talk,” and the “Spirit of the Age,” a series of criticisms on the more prominent literary men then living. In 1826, the “Plain Speaker” was published, and another edition of the “Table-Talk.” At this period, and for some years previous, Mr. Hazlitt was a frequent contributor to the “Edinburgh Review,” the “New Monthly,” “Monthly,” and “London” Magazines, and other periodicals. In 1829, he published “Selections from the British Poets,” and in 1830, “Northcote’s Conversations,” the “Life of Titiani,” (in which Mr. Northcote had a large share, and whose name, indeed, appeared as author on the title-page) and his chief work, “The Life of Napoleon,” in four volumes. In August of this year he was attacked by a species of cholera, and on the 18th of September he died. We are indebted for the facts in this naked outline of Mr. Hazlitt’s life, principally to the memoir by his son in the volume before us. The Memoir itself bears upon its face so obvious and indeed so very natural an air of the most enthusiastic filial affection and admiration, that we are forced to place but little reliance upon the critical opinions it advances.

The “Thoughts on the Genius of William Hazlitt,” by Mr. Bulwer, differ in many striking points from the “Thoughts” by Sergeant Talfourd, on his “Intellectual Character.” We give the preference unhesitatingly to the noble paper of Talfourd — a brilliant specimen of accurate thinking and fine writing. The article of Bulwer, indeed, seems to be a compulsory thing — an effort probably induced by earnest solicitation — and no labor of love. Hazlitt, moreover, was personally unknown to him. Sergeant Talfourd, on the contrary, appears to write with a vivid interest in the man, and a thorough knowledge of his books. Nothing more fully than is here said, need be said, on the character, on the capacities, or on the works of Hazlitt, and nothing possibly can be said more happily or more wisely.

Of the Essays which constitute the body of the book before us, all have a relative — most of them a very high positive value. To American readers Hazlitt is principally known, we believe, as the Dramatic Critic, and the Lecturer on the Elder Poetry of England. Some of the papers in the present volume will prove the great extent and comprehensiveness of his genius. One on the “Fine Arts” especially, cannot fail of seizing public attention. Mr. Hazlitt discourses of Painting, as Chorley(a) of Music. Neither have been equalled in their way. A fine passage of Hazlitt’s on the ideal commences thus —

The ideal is not a negative, but a positive thing. The leaving out the details or peculiarities of an individual face [page 288:] does not make it one jot more ideal. To paint history is to paint nature as answering to a general, predominant, or preconceived idea in the mind, of strength, beauty, action, passion, thought, &c.; but the way to do this is net to leave out the details, but to incorporate the general idea with the details; that is, to show the same expression actuating and modifying every movement of the muscles, and the same character preserved consistently through every part of the body. Grandeur does not consist in omitting the parts, but in connecting all the parts into a whole, and in giving their combined and varied action; abstract truth or ideal perfection does not consist in rejecting the peculiarities of form, but in rejecting all those which are not consistent with the character intended to be given, and in following up the same general idea of softness, voluptuousness, strength, activity, or any combination of these, through every ramification of the frame. But these modifications of form or expression can only be learnt from nature, and therefore the perfection of art must always be sought in nature. [column 2:]

“The Fight” will show clearly how the writer of true talent can elevate even the most brutal of themes. The paper entitled “My first acquaintance with Poets,” and that headed “Of Persons one would wish to have seen,” have a personal interest apart from the abilities of the writer. The article “On Liberty and Necessity,” that “On Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding,” and that “On the Definition of Wit,” bear with them evidence of a truth but little understood, and very rarely admitted — that the reasoning powers never exist in perfection unless when allied with a very high degree of the imaginative faculty.(b) In this latter respect, Hazlitt (who knew and acknowledged the fact) is greatly deficient. His argumentative pieces, therefore, rarely satisfy any mind, beyond that of the mere logician. As a critic — he is perhaps unequalled. Altogether he was no ordinary man. In the words of Bulwer, it may justly be said — that “a complete collection of his works is all the monument he demands.”



[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 278, column 1:]

*  Some misapprehensions having arrisen(*) [[arisen]], it may be as well to state that all after this word “Editorial,” is strictly what it professes to be.






[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (September 1836 (Texts))