The Literati of New York/No. I/William Kirkland
Mr. William Kirkland — husband of the author of "A New Home" — has written much for the magazines, but has made no collection of his works. A series of "Letters from Abroad" have been among his most popular compositions. He was in Europe for some time, and is well acquainted with the French language and literature, as also with the German. He aided Dr. Turner in the late translation of Von Raumer's "America," published by the Langleys. One of his best magazine papers appeared in "The Columbian" — a review of the London Foreign Quarterly for April, 1844. The arrogance, ignorance and self-glorification of the Quarterly, with its gross injustice towards everything un-British, were severely and palpably exposed, and its narrow malignity shown to be especially mal-à-propos in a journal exclusively devoted to foreign concerns, and therefore presumably imbued with something of a cosmopolitan spirit. An article on "English and American Monthlies" in Godey's Magazine, and one entitled "Our English Visitors," in "The Columbian," have also been extensively read and admired. A valuable essay on "The Tyranny of Public Opinion in the United States," (published in "The Columbian" for December, 1845) demonstrates the truth of Jefferson's assertion, that in this country, which has set the world an example of physical liberty, the inquisition of popular sentiment overrules in practice the freedom asserted in theory by the laws. "The West, the Paradise of the Poor," and "The United States' Census for 1830 ," the former in "The Democratic Review," the latter in "Hunt's Merchants' Magazine," with sundry essays in the daily papers, complete the list of Mr. Kirkland's works. It will be seen that he has written little, but that little is entitled to respect, for its simplicity and the evidence which it affords of scholarship and diligent research. Whatever Mr. Kirkland does is done carefully. He is occasionally very caustic, but seldom without cause. His style is vigorous, precise, and, notwithstanding his foreign acquirements, free from idiomatic peculiarities.
Mr. Kirkland is beloved by all who know him; in character mild, unassuming, benevolent, yet not without becoming energy at times; in person rather short and slight; features indistinctive; converses well and zealously, although his hearing is defective.