The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864/Benjamin Blake Minor's Administration
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Benjamin Blake Minor's Administration
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Benjamin Blake Minor's Administration
The August number, 1843, was issued on the 5th inst., but bore upon its front the name of Benjamin Blake Minor, as its editor and proprietor. His negotiation for the purchase had to be carried on with the administrator, for the sake of the legal title; but for terms, with P. D. Bernard, as the representative of Mr. White's family. By the middle of July, the treaty was concluded and the new editor became the purchaser of the Messenger, with all its materials for printing and publishing and all the unpaid subscriptions for the current year, 1843. He took possession on the 15th of July and immediately made, in the city papers, an announcement of the changed position of affairs. Those papers and many others treated him very fairly and kindly. His first new subscriber was Mrs. Louisa G. Allan, the widow of Poe's benefactor, who had been the new editor's friend for several years.
[Richmond Whig, Tuesday, July 18, 1843.]
TO THE PUBLIC
The Southern Literary Messenger.
Having succeeded to the rights and duties of editor and proprietor of the Southern Literary Messenger, I take this early opportunity of presenting a brief address to its old and tried patrons and to the public generally. The value and importance of the work are too obvious to need comment. It has enjoyed a reputation almost unrivalled and, consequently, a popularity almost universal. For these it was indebted to the ardor, enterprise and industry of one who was, in some respects, pre-eminently qualified to sustain it.
Mr. White gave his heart and his life to the Messenger. His career is now closed; and in his death the work of his love has received a blow, which some may have thought, or feared, would prove fatal. Their fears may be realized, if they fail in the performance of their part. I am resolved that so far as lies in me, they shall not be; and I may say for those whose genius and learning have made the Messenger what it is, that they, too, are thus resolved. Let the hand of liberal patronage be opened and let the gifted minds pour forth their treasures, and the work shall prosper and shall be worthy of patronage. For myself, I desire only a fair compensation for my labors, on which I depend; and the rest shall gladly be given to the cause of literature and whatever credit there may be in the effort to promote its improvement and extension. Give the enterprise encouragement and the spirits to delight, amuse and instruct will be called and will come.
Why should not the work meet with more than its former success? Educated millions may be its patrons. A small fraction of those who can well afford it would place it on an immovable foundation. The North may well receive it as nearly the only representative of Southern literature. The vast unoccupied field of the South might hail it, as the distant lover does the messenger bird of his ladylove. The Southern Review is just risen from its ashes. Long life and success attend it. A competitor—rather a coadjutor cannot injure it. A rival it shall not have. "The Chicora" folded itself for support in the leaves of "the Magnolia;" but the leaves which sheltered it are now withered and dead—like those of its own pure flower, when its season is past. Peace to them and a speedy resurrection to immortality. There are one or two literary publications issued farther South. But to the whole South, from the Potomac to the Gulf of Mexico (and to the West, whose institutions and interests in respect of mental culture are identical), the Messenger bears nearly the only fruits of the literary enterprise and efforts of her sons, the incitement of her genius and the constant vindication of her rights and peculiar institutions.
It is not intended to make the work local,—no, the empire of mind is one; but it shall never cease to be Southern. Some of the Southern States have done nobly. Georgia has even surpassed Virginia, in her generous support. Nor has the North rejected it, but has, in many sections, extended a liberal hand. Let old friends hold fast and new ones enlist in its behalf and the Messenger will seek to reward them, by bringing them solace, amusement and instruction, diffusing a spirit of literary ambition and a taste for letters and maintaining the cause of "true religion and virtue."
I shall address the patrons of the work in the next number, and will not now occupy their attention any longer. I will take leave to say to subscribers that the subscriptions for 1843, which are now due, have been conveyed to me, and as great expense must necessarily be concurred in publishing the work and making payments of the purchase money, they will render invaluable assistance by speedily remitting to me their dues for the present year. Their subscriptions will be much more valuable from being paid at this time, and if remitted, the heavy loss of collecting them will be saved. Having purchased the back numbers of the Messenger, I offer the following inducement to those who will now subscribe. For six dollars in advance and free of postage they shall receive Volumes VIII and IX, for the years 1842 and '43.
It is not the intention of the editor to abandon the legal profession, but (probably confining himself to the city) will pursue it promptly. Any editors of newspapers, religious or secular, who feel a sufficient interest in the Messenger, will confer a favor by giving this address an insertion, or calling public attention to it.
Benj. B. Minor.
Richmond, July 15, 1843.
But he had to complete the August number and addressed himself earnestly to that task. The printers were setting up the article on "Harper's Family Library" page 494. It is believed that a call had been made for "copy" upon Lieut. Maury and that he, under the pressure upon him, cut from Southey's "Life of Nelson," in Harper's Family Library, enough to make eight pages of the Messenger, and sent them as "copy"; and there they are! This was his last editorial act, but far from his last act of friendship. He gave the new editor great encouragement and assistance. Indeed, they had been friends from the time that one was a school-boy in Fredericksburg and the other there as a young middy in the U. S. Navy; and now that school-boy was the son-in-law of his old teacher, whom they both loved and honored.
An address to the patrons of the Messenger was prepared and matters so arranged that the address, of three pages, is the leader. Some things were provided to come after the "Life of Nelson" and attention paid to the Editor's Table, which contains notices of the death of Washington Alston and of Hon. H. S. Legaré. In that of Mr. Legaré, the editor made a courteous call upon the Hon. Wm. C. Rives to pay a tribute to his memory and Mr. Rives responded cordially. The editor had, when a student at the University, been more than once a guest at Castle Hill, the home of the Riveses.
This last half of July would have been a time of anxious labor, with the best of health; but the editor was seized by "the Tyler Grip," which was then prevalent, and had to perform part of his work under its inspiring influence, with faithful Wyatt as his channel of communication with the office.
The September number was prepared in August. Its first article, "A Peep at Caracas, from the Journal of a Traveller," was by Wm. M. Blackford, of Fredericksburg. He was U. S. Chargé at Bogota; was a warm friend of the Messenger, of Maury, of Lucian Minor and of the editor, whose Sunday School teacher he had been.
Another draft is made upon Mr. Allison for the "Mental Grandeur of the Reign of Geo. III." and for a "Sketch of Lord Brougham;" and the editor alludes to the fact that the death of that versatile genius had once been reported and been extensively commented upon, so that he knew what the then survivors thought of him.
A sea-going surgeon replies to an official military seaman, about the regulations of the Navy. Consul Andrews concludes his "St. John, of Jerusalem." Nasus gives the "Story of Lona D'Alvarez." She and the editor were acquainted and her brother, afterwards Judge A. H. Walker, of New Orleans, set the editor to reading Fenimore Cooper's novels, when they were school-mates in Fredericksburg. "The Basque Provinces of Spain" was translated from the French, by a gentleman, Wm. Duane, of Philadelphia. A. Judson Crane, a lawyer of Richmond, contributes an essay on Literature, its toils and rewards. Hon. Wm. C. Rives pays a cordial tribute to his friend H. S. Legaré, late Attorney General of the U. S. Prof. Pike Powers supplies "A Defect in the Science of Mathematics." He was a teacher in Staunton; professor pro tem. of Mathematics in the University of Virginia, after the death of Prof. Bonnycastle, who had taught him; and became a useful and venerable minister of the Episcopal Church. He died, at an advanced age, in Richmond, where he had been for years the rector of St. Andrew's Church. "My Schoolmaster, or Blackstone made Easy," is from the elegant pen of Lucian Minor, "the Father Mathew of Virginia," who died in Williamsburg whilst he was professor of Law in William and Mary. The Sons of Temperance erected a monument over his grave. "The Ice Mountain of Hampshire Co.," by C. B. Hayden, is copied from Silliman's Journal, because Mr. Hayden and the editor were friends at the University of Virginia, when he was the assistant of Prof. Wm. B. Rogers in the Geological Survey of Virginia. He afterwards contributed to the Messenger and became a prominent lawyer in Smithfield, Va.
Mrs. Maria G. Buchanan, of Georgia; Rev. Wm. B. Tappan, of Boston; Mrs. E. J. Eames and others contribute poetry, and the editor pays some attention to new works, after a brief reference, by way of appeal and thanks, to "Ourselves." And now the Messenger is fairly embarked under its new régime.
In October, 1843, some of the same writers appear and some new ones; and there are translations from the German. C. Campbell continues. Of him much remains to be said. Simms returns. The able review of Wilde's "Austria" is by Hon. Muscoe R. H. Garnett, who was cut off even before he had attained his prime, but had gained high and merited distinction.
The tale, "The Fatal Effects of Insincerity," is by the editor's "better half." She was the "Miranda" who described Pennsylvania scenery, from a canal boat on the Kiscaminakee River, and he was the young lady to whom her letter was addressed and who gave it to Mr. White for the Messenger. During their twelve months' engagement, they both contributed to the Guardian, the magazine of the Columbia Female Institute, Tennessee, which was founded by her father and in which she had been highly educated. Mrs. Worthington reappears. The Editor's Table is the more interesting, because Dr. T. C. Reynolds, Chas. Campbell and Mr. Heath figure in it, as well as the editor.
November opens with "A Visit to the Graves of Luther and Melanchthon," by T. C. Reynolds, LL. D., Heidelbergensis. He was a man of great self-conceit, but of learning and ability to sustain it. He had recently returned from Germany and took hold of the Messenger very warmly, because he was in full accord with its objects and he and the editor had been friends at the University of Virginia. He contributed other articles and sometimes assisted editorially, besides paying his subscription. He was a lawyer and for a while edited a Democratic paper in Petersburg. He migrated to St. Louis, Mo., where he engaged actively and prominently in politics. He was sent as U. S. Minister to Spain and claimed to be able to speak well seven languages. When the Southern Confederacy war broke out, he was lieutenant-governor of Missouri and he and Gov. Claiborne Jackson both espoused the cause of the South and left Missouri for the Confederate army. After the war, he returned to St. Louis, resumed the practice of law and was made counsel for that city. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the U. S. Senate. In St. Louis he and the editor revived their old acquaintance. He was twice married and his prospects seemed bright and cheering. But he came to a sad and sudden end, by falling, or throwing himself down the shaft of the elevator in a large public building in St. Louis. He was a native of Charleston, S. C., and once introduced the editor to his family by letter. His father was the "Bosher" of Charleston and furnished the best carriages and other stylish vehicles. He was liberal and gave his children the best advantages of education. One of his sons was once the pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Richmond, Va. The editor, by invitation of the Reynoldses, witnessed a four mile race at Charleston. Dr. Thomas Caute Reynolds' graduating thesis at Heidelberg, in Latin, was reviewed in the Messenger.
After a long absence, a nameless traveller comes back with chapter seven of glimpses into his biography and takes up the memorable canvass of 1840—to be continued.
Mr. Waterston and Mr. Brooks have well posted us in regard to the Congressional burial ground.
The editor gives a full review of the papers of Col. Theodorick Bland, Jr., edited by Charles Campbell.
Gen. Francis H. Smith discourses about the U. S. Military Academy, and Dr. Wm. Maxwell Wood, U. S. N., about the spirit of Democracy.
Hon. John M. Patton, whilst acting governor of Virginia, was so struck with some petitions for pardon which were presented to him, that he sent them to the Messenger. The poets for this number are Judge Meek, Simms, Dr. Myers, H. B. Hirst, Prof. Minnigerode, Mary E. Hewett and some anonymous. The Editor's Table is more extended than usual. Besides many notices of new works, there is something special to the editors and publishers of periodicals and a "Plus and Minus," which is a candid statement of the pros and cons, in regard to the successful management of the Messenger.
In addition to his numerous exchanges, the best publishing houses in all the republic sent him many valuable works. The commonest reciprocity demanded that all these should receive proper attention, and how could that be given, without an examination? In this there were pleasure and instruction, but a vast deal of labor. It had, however, to be encountered, as well as that of deciphering, digesting, adjudging and correcting the MS. that were offered for type-setting. The young and energetic editor cheerfully undertook this Herculean task and sedulously devoted himself to the preparation of the last number of Volume IX.
In the December number, several of the same writers appear, but there are added J. N. Reynolds, and W.——, of Westmoreland county, Va., in prose, and P. P. Cooke and Mrs. Caroline Lee Hentz, in verse. Mr. Cooke and his brother John Esten Cooke became widely known in literary circles. His uncle, St. George Cooke, U. S. A., was also a contributor. The Editor's Table is again full and he discusses M.[Monsieur ] Vattemare's system of International Exchanges of Works of Science, Literature and Art. The volume closes with a general summary: "What's doing."
1844. He had now issued five numbers and made announcements for the volume of the ensuing year—the tenth. On the cover is, besides the Prospectus, "a parting word to our patrons," in which a remarkable fact is stated: "When the Messenger was in its infancy, the Hon. R. H. Wilde obtained near 100 subscribers in Augusta alone and for several years collected and remitted every stiver of their subscriptions." The arrangements of Mr. White for publishing, circulating and collecting were retained, with some extensions, and the office force was the same. The cover was often an important thing, for it contained some editorial overflow, a list of payments and a few advertisements. The volumes ought always to be bound with it. Yale College Law School was advertised there: so were the University of Virginia, and that of Maryland, William and Mary, and the admirable schools of Mrs. Mead, Fred. W. Coleman and others.
The new editor never for one moment supposed that he was adequately equipped for the work in which he had volunteered; but his ambition and tastes led in that direction. For several years, the Messenger had been at the head of American magazines. But at length it was in the market and its sale hanging fire. Who were competing for it is not recalled. This delay, however, was likely to increase the weight of the blow which it had received from the death of its founder. Still, the editor boldly took the helm, with enthusiasm and hope, though he was only about 25½ years of age. The coincidence of his natal day, the 21st of October, with a great event was never adverted to, until the World's Fair in Chicago called attention to the 400th anniversary of Columbus' grand discovery on that day in 1492.
Instead of having devoted himself to Literature, he was practicing and really still studying Law. But he had long enjoyed Literature incidentally and had had good advantages of education, embracing a five years' delightful college career. Having never been averse to study he had, before he attained the age of twenty years, obtained a diploma in Moral Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Virginia, under Prof. Geo. Tucker, and another in the same department, from William and Mary, under its renowned teacher of those subjects, the president, Thos. R. Dew; the degree of LL.B. from the same institution, under Judge N. B. Tucker, and a license to practice law, signed by three Virginia judges. At school and at college he was as much addicted to general reading as he could find time for, and sometimes his studies directed his reading. Whilst he was engaged with Brown's "Moral Philosophy" at the University, being amused with the allusions to Martinus Scriblerus, he got from the library a comfortable English edition, in six or eight volumes, of the works of the author of Scriblerus' Memoirs, and perused the whole edition.
It may not be generally known that about the time he assumed charge of the Messenger, the editor was a candidate for the chair in the University that had been vacated by Prof. George Tucker and obtained a number of very strong testimonials, among which were those from his two preceptors, Prof. Geo. Tucker and President Thos. R. Dew. He was beaten by Dr. McGuffy, who had already attained what he could only hope for. Had he then been placed in the service of his Alma Mater, he would have striven to achieve for his department what Dr. John B. Minor did for that of law; and yet that grand teacher was defeated two or three times, by men of greater present prominence.
An incident occurred which was more amusing than humiliating. One day Wyatt brought into the plain editorial sanctum a card, which was soon followed by a handsome, well dressed and stately gentleman. He was greeted quite cordially, invited to a seat and an effort made to draw him into conversation. But he remained dignified and reserved. At length he said that he desired to see the editor as he had called for that purpose. His surprise was very poorly concealed when he was informed that it was the editor who was trying to entertain him. He said he had expected to find an older and different person. Of course, he knew the editor's name: so he was told that no doubt an older and different man ought to be the editor of such a work and that he probably expected to meet Mr. Lucian Minor. He tried to retrieve his blunder, and the editor, to relieve his embarrassment. He was "the learned Greek," Geo. D. Perdicaris, who had been honored in Richmond and has been mentioned before. Wm. C. Bryant, George Bancroft, Park Benjamin, Horace Greeley and others may have felt a similar surprise, but if so, they concealed it better than the Greek. He was the father of the Perdicaris who was held in captivity lately in Africa. A gentleman now living in Richmond told me he had met this younger Perdicaris in Paris, France.
The Hon. J. K. Paulding, however, "set him up." He rendered the Messenger a gratifying service, for which the editor sent him, in appropriate terms, a draft for twenty dollars. Afterwards the editor called upon him at his residence in New York, when he took him to his library and showed him a fine folio edition, in two volumes, of the works of Chaucer, with this inscription: "Presented by the Editor of the Southern Literary Messenger" He said he deemed that the most complimentary use which he could make of the remittance he had received. His whole deportment was cordial and courteous.
But the New Year is awaiting us. The editor gives his warm greeting to his patrons and then offers them a fine poetical translation of Goethe's "Iphigenia at Tauris," which is a very notable matter. Prof. Minnigerode, so familiar with ancient Greek, was even more proficient in German, which he taught to his elder colleague, Judge Beverly Tucker; and that genius translated this drama, in five acts. So that it will be continued. Dr. Simms discusses "International Copyright;" the review of Mr. Webster's "Bunker Hill Oration" is continued; so is "Blindness and the Blind;" De Leon takes an unfavorable view of Cheap Literature; C. Campbell pursues his antiquities; "Darby Anvil," a new Georgia scene, is presented; some one in Richmond gives a "Tale of the French Revolution," and the editor, besides a full list of notices of new works, reviews "Donna Florida" and "Tupper's Proverbial Philosophy."
Besides Judge Tucker, Judge Meek, William Oland Bourne, the Hirsts, N. C. Brooks, Mrs. Hewitt and D. H. Robinson, of Mississippi, contribute poetry. The cover contains encouraging notices of the press, from Maine to Alabama. It also exhibits the names of the avowed and known contributors to the Messenger from its beginning, which the editor had, with much labor, searched out and classified. It is a remarkable catalogue and ought to be exhumed. It embraces, of both prose and poetical writers, men, 26; women, 14; of only prose writers, men, 89; women, 5, and of poetical writers, men, 82; women, 22. It is not claimed that this list is perfect.
In the next number a new feature commences. The Messenger had become a sort of organ of the United States Army and Navy, and now A Subaltern undertakes, by a series of "Notes on Our Army," to render it a service similar to that which Harry Bluff had done the Navy. He was a man of patriotic military spirit, of ability and integrity, but of a very different temperament from Maury's. He, too, had been a pupil of Bishop Otey. He was then Lieutenant Braxton Bragg, U.S.A., and afterwards a lieutenant-general of the Southern Confederacy. He continued his "Notes" and stirred up a hornets' nest, which hotly buzzed very near the editor's head. But Bragg came generously to the rescue, and the hornets subsided. The editor declined, because of its temper, a communication from Lieutenant C. H. Talcott, U.S.A.
Whilst A Subaltern was thus scoring the abuses in the Army, he was stationed at Fort Moultrie, and the editor visited Charleston. One day a well-manned boat, with several Army officers aboard, came up and took the editor to the Fort, where a memorable day was spent. General Armistead, a Virginian, was in command, and besides Bragg, Wm. T. Sherman (then his particular friend and his Philo in the Messenger), Van Vliet and Churchill were there. The weather was superb, the time at the Fort delightful and the ride to and fro exquisite. And this high enjoyment was kept up until past midnight; for that evening an elegant gentleman, Mr. Robert N. Gourdin, escorted him to the St. Cecilia ball, one of the special social functions of Charleston. In addition to all this, he had much pleasant intercourse with Mr. Mitchell King, Bishop Gadsden and his brother; Mr. Richard Yeadon, Simms' great friend; the fascinating Doctor S. H. Dickson, Mr. Wm. Elliott, the champion captor of Devil Fish, and several others. Dr. Dickson introduced him to his literary club, where an agreeable and instructive evening was passed and more of the literati met. Dr. Dickson became an able contributor to the Messenger, and the faculty of the Richmond Medical College once authorized the editor to try to get him to be their associate; and he came very near succeeding. Dr. Dickson was afterwards invited to both New York and Philadelphia. He died in the latter city, highly distinguished. He was genial and brilliant and also wrote good poetry.
The Magnolia, a monthly, of Charleston, S. C., had been discontinued and the Messenger got some of its contributors.
In this (February) number are two new writers, Dr. T. H. Chivres, who defends Shelley, and the Rev. J. N. Danforth, of Alexandria, D. C., who treats of the influence of the Fine Arts on the moral sensibilities, and there is a tale of Washington, D. C.
The Editor's Table, after "A Word to Every Subscriber," comments upon a convention of the colleges of Virginia, which had been lately held in Richmond, and then takes up Mr. Everett and Prince Albert. Our minister, a learned man, had been honored with D. C. L. by Oxford University. The students made a rumpus, because he was a dissenter, and three eminent English lawyers declared the conferring of the degree null and void. Queen Victoria visited Cambridge and had her consort, not a man of much learning, dubbed D. C. L. The editor, who has always been a thorough American, contrasts the two cases. He next gives an account of an approaching meeting, in Washington, (which he attended) of "The National Institute for the Promotion of Science and Letters;" and of the biographies of the celebrated Randolph, of Roanoke. Then there is a note about Cheap Publications. He had issued some tirades against "Cheap Literature." The editor never favored this, as it was defined; but was firm in supporting the cheapening, for the sake of the reading public, of good productions. There is also a goodly number of notices of new works, from Brantz Mayer's "Mexico," along by "Martin Chuzzlewit" and "Harper's Pictorial Bible," etc., etc., down to "Lea and Blanchard's Complete Confectioner, Pastry Cook and Baker," "Silliman's Journal" and Hannah More's Works,—over five pages of small type.
Tucker's "Iphigenia" again opens the March number, and the other poets are Mrs. Swift, Mrs. Eames, H. P. Vass, E. B. Hale, Dr. J. L. Martin, D. H. Robinson, and C. D. Smith, of Virginia. In prose are Simms, Campbell, Bragg, Miss Walker, Consul Andrews, who has taken up the superstitions of the Maltese people; C. B. Hayden, on the distribution of insanity in the United States, and some others. Holgazan, Dr. Ruschenburger, U. S. N., the author of several works for schools, etc., helps out the Editor's Table; but the editor also spreads a hospitable board.
In April, Mr. John Blair Dabney, a scholarly citizen of Virginia, and a fine writer, replies to Simms and De Leon, on the subject of "International Copyright," to which he was opposed. His brother, Prof. George E. Dabney, was also a fine contributor.
A new writer appears, Jas. L. Hunter, of Alabama, on "Poetical Similarities." An anonymous reviewer of Tennyson's poems is not at all complimentary. The welcome Lucian Minor reappears, as Q. Q., with "Gossip about a Few Books." Subaltern continues: so do Nasus and the Consul; and several of the usual contributors are on hand. But perhaps the most important article is that for which this number was enlarged and delayed: A letter addressed to the Hon. Thomas Walker Gilmer, as Secretary of the Navy, by President London C. Garland, of Randolph-Macon College, on the organization of the Marine Observatory, in Washington. Mr. Garland had an interview with the Secretary and was requested to reduce his suggestions to writing. But whilst doing so, Governor Gilmer was killed by that terrible explosion on the Princeton. Mr. Garland was greatly staggered, but at length concluded to finish his paper and offer it to the Messenger. It is dated February 29, 1844, and is able and interesting. The Observatory was organized and Lieut. M. F. Maury placed in charge of it, and there he remained, until he voluntarily left it, for the Southern Confederacy. It was rumored that President Garland had more than his eye upon it. He was afterwards called to the Chancellorship of Vanderbilt University, where he once received this quondam editor with great cordiality and courtesy. He died there at an advanced age, full of well-earned honors.
Sawyer's "Life of Randolph, of Roanoke," had come out; and, with the motto: "The Lion was Dead that received the Kick," Judge Tucker, who was a half-brother of Mr. Randolph, gives Mr. Sawyer a vigorous kick. The editor had to take some leaves out of his extension table, having lent them to Mr. Garland.Dr. Samuel H. Dickson now gives an original and liberal review of "Slavery in the French Colonies," in which he differs from some of the views held by Dr. Simms, Judge Harper and other Southern writers. And then comes the prize tale. As far back as November the editor had offered $25.00, or its equivalent in any way preferred by the winner, for the best tale. James E. Heath, Gustavus A. Myers, a lawyer well posted in matters literary, and Wm. B. Chittenden, already described, had been appointed the committee of award and they had made their decision in favor of "Stephano Colonna, or Love and Lore; A Tale of the 15th Century." Of its authorship they had not the remotest idea, but it turned out to belong to Mrs. Minor, the spouse of the editor, and the author of "The Fatal Effects of Insincerity," in last year's Messenger. Perhaps she took her prize in some "preferred equivalent."
La Visionnaire was the consort of the editor. She was Virginia Maury Otey, eldest child of the Rt. Rev. James Hervey Otey, D. D., and Eliza D. Pannill, his wife. She was graduated in 1840 with high distinction, at the Columbia (Tennessee) Female Institute, which was founded and watched over by her father. Among her teachers there were a Mrs. Shaw, from Philadelphia, and her attractive daughter, Annie. Misses Shaw and Otey became bosom friends. Miss Shaw married the Rev. Dr. Wm. H. Odenheimer, of Philadelphia, who was afterwards made Bishop of New Jersey.
Miss Otey was a bright scholar and highly accomplished. She was an excellent musician and performed on and sang to the piano, guitar and harp. She was also a fine reader, and the expression which she gave to the sentiments of her songs, together with her distinct enunciation, greatly enhanced the effect of her exquisite singing. She was a ready writer in both prose and verse. The Columbia Institute had a monthly magazine, The Guardian, to which she was a contributor. She was a lover of the poetry of earth and also of what Byron calls "The Poetry of Heaven." She made a pet of the star Aldebaran and addressed to it a poem in The Guardian. It is a singular coincidence that whilst she was writing for The Guardian, the unknown college student whom she afterwards captivated was contributing to The Collegian, of the University of Virginia. During their engagement, he sent her an article which she had published in The Guardian, and she sent him one which Mr. White issued in the Southern Literary Messenger.
Miss Otey was ambitious and her zealous devotion to her numerous scholastic duties rendered a recuperation of her health desirable. Soon after her graduation her father took her to the Greenbrier White Sulphur Springs, in Virginia. With health restored, she got to Petersburg, Virginia, where she paid a double visit to her mother's brother, Capt. Wm. Pannill; for she went to Raleigh, N. C., to visit her father's brother Mr. Walter Otey and returned to Petersburg. In October, 1840, Mr. B. B. Minor had settled there and commenced the practice of law. He was led irresistibly into the society of this fascinating stranger, and whilst she was in Raleigh sent her a parody on one of her songs. In the spring of 1841, Bishop Otey came and took his daughter to Philadelphia, where he left her for some time with their friends, the Odenheimers, whilst he was engaged in important business in New York and Boston. Of course, Mr. Minor very soon reported himself in Philadelphia and made the agreeable discovery that he had been at a college in Pennsylvania with two of Mrs. Odenheimer's brothers, one of whom was his classmate. Mrs. Shaw was with her daughter. After this delightful sojourn in Philadelphia, Mr. Minor removed to Richmond and continued the pursuit of his profession.
On the 26th of May, 1842, Miss Otey and Mr. Minor were married in Columbia, Tenn., in St. Peter's Church, of which her father had been the rector, the Rt. Rev. Leonidas Polk, Bishop of Louisiana, performing the ceremony. A long bridal tour, by way of Niagara Falls, was before them; but on their route, they visited his great-uncle, Gen. James Taylor, at Newport, Ky., his brother-in-law, at Kenyon College; friends in Philadelphia, and parents and other kin in and near Fredericksburg. During his year's residence in Richmond, and before, he had prepared the way pretty well for the kindly reception of his bride.
They were keeping house in Richmond, when he, in July, 1843, became editor and proprietor of the Southern Literary Messenger. She often assisted him in certain branches of his editorial work, and during his long absence in the winter of 1845-6, had charge of the magazine, with the right to call to her aid my friends, Mr. Gustavus A. Myers and Thomas C. Reynolds. Her own contributions will be made known. Her best poetical effusions are not in the Messenger.
On the 23rd of April, 1900, she was called to her final reward in the 78th year of her age, and laid to rest in beautiful Hollywood. She had celebrated her golden wedding in Richmond.
During her long life she gave her influence and efforts to many worthy causes, charitable, æsthetic, religious, educational and patriotic. She was an efficient coadjutor in the formation of the Ladies' Mount Vernon Association and the procuring by it of Washington's home. We visited Mt. Vernon, when its then owner, Mr. John A. Washington, was there and were hospitably received.
The editor advocates the annexation of Texas, in a review of several documents on that subject. No. 5 of these is as follows: "Reply to Governor Gilmer's letter, by Hon. J. Q. Adams and several other Northern members of Congress, and Governor Gilmer's rejoinder to the same." But annexation became too much of a party question for the pages of the Messenger and was dropped. But slavery was a different thing. June had come and in April the National Institute had held a very successful meeting in Washington. Judge B. Tucker had been invited to read a paper before it. He accepted and informed the secretary that his subject would be: "The Moral and Political Effect of the Relation between the Caucasian Master and the African Slave." He had made considerable progress in his preparation, when he received a letter advising him to forbear the subject. He had felt "delighted at an opportunity to plead the cause of Humanity at the bar of Philosophy;" but now could not. So after consulting his warm friend, Judge Upshur, he completed his work, addressed it to the Hon. Chas. J. Ingersoll, and offered it to the Messenger, which makes it its leader for June and continues it.
There are two new writers this month, Wm. Gary Crane, afterwards president of Baylor University, in Texas, and biographer of Gen. Samuel Houston; and Hon. Wm. Boulware, U. S. Chargé at Naples. Rev. John C. McCabe and Lewis J. Cist return. Subaltern gets in his No. 5. Holgazan, Dr. Ruschenberger, and the editor do up the new works.
At the National Institute, there was one great paper, whose subject was not interdicted and which captivated all who heard it. It was on "The Gulf Stream and Currents of the Sea," by M. F. Maury, Lieut. U. S. N. The editor was sojourning with the author, knew what was coming and had the promise of it for the Messenger before it was delivered. It was afterwards expanded into the author's "Physical Geography of the Sea." An edition in pamphlet form was given to the author.
Another new writer makes his appearance and becomes very highly distinguished, having been at the time of his death a professor for many years in the University of Virginia. He is Geo. Frederick Holmes, a native of Demerara. De Leon deals with Dabney. Dr. Dickson is a poet also and his poems are reviewed. The prize tale runs on and its author writes a poem "To a Mocking-Bird, Heard During Sickness."
Whilst in Washington, the editor called at the Treasury Department and thanked Auditor W. B. Lewis for his favors to the Messenger. Besides his ability, he was of commanding presence and great urbanity. President Jackson had brought him from Tennessee. The editor told him that he was a son-in-law of that State and whose daughter he had won; and how, when he went for his bride, he had met Gov. Jas. K. Polk and Mr. Van Buren and had spent a day at the Hermitage with General Jackson, and what he had seen of the Shelbys, Rutledges, Foggs, Catrons and others of Nashville. The Major was a friend of that father-in-law, and knew all these persons, and continued personally the service of his frank. But that was not required now as much as it had been. Still it was quite useful.
An unknown aeronaut makes a six days' journey to the moon; more letters of Pliny, Jr., are translated by Philip Howard, Assistant State Librarian; and after many things in prose and verse, the editor closes with his book-notes.
In September Judge Tucker leads off with the first part of "Gertrude," an original novel, in which his half-brother, Randolph, of Roanoke, is to figure conspicuously.
Mr. J. Tyler Headly becomes a contributor and his works "Washington and His Generals" and "Napoleon and His Marshals" are afterwards reviewed. Henry C. Lea, of Philadelphia, reviews, in full, Wm. Howitt's "Rural and Domestic Life of Germany." More will be said of Mr. Lea.
Sometimes the editor wished to say some things not exactly editorially and adopted the nom de plume Americus South, with the motto: "In the Union and For the Union; In the South and For the South," intended to be indicative of the true position of the Messenger. One of the articles which he wrote under the above signature is the leader for October, 1844, and entitled "French and English Propagandism." This is soon followed by a consideration of Lord Aberdeen's Letter, as "the most extraordinary State paper of the age." It had reference to Texas. A new writer now enlists, with "Cicisbeo, or Customs of Sicily," by Lieut. Wm. D. Porter, U.S.N.
There have been other new contributors. The editor commences his appeal to the Legislature in regard to the Colonial Records of Virginia, and notices the Society of Alumni of her University, before which B. Franklin Minor had delivered the annual address. The editor, Holgazan and Americus South spread a full book table.
In November, "Gertrude;" "The Sciote Captive," by Nasus; Holmes' "Letters on Literature;" "Cicisbeo;" the "Appeal for Colonial Records," with letters from President Tyler and other influential sources, run on and the number is filled and closed, as usual, with prose, poetry and books.
Mr. Edgar A. Poe becomes a contributor for December, with "The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq." Later he furnished "The Editor of the Goosetherumfoodle." Something was afterwards learned about this production. It was sent to the editor by Mr. Poe under this arrangement made between them by correspondence. He was desirous of having Mr. Poe's assistance, especially in the critical department, and agreed to pay him the price he asked ($3.00 for each printed page), for a monthly critical paper. The editor wished to help his magazine and was willing also to be of some service to Mr. Poe. On this last account, the articles he sent were paid for, though they were not worthy of his pen, nor of the kind stipulated for. "Thingum Bob" makes eight pages and is a hit at somebody—George R. Graham, it has been said. This is the first known contribution from Mr. Poe since he left the editorial chair.
The able review of Disraeli's "Coningsby" is by Hugh R. Pleasants, brother of Jno. Hampden Pleasants, and the first editor of the Richmond Dispatch.
The Editor's Table, in "An Adieu to our Patrons and Friends," has cordial thanks to them—especially to contributors, and kind and liberal words for all co-laborers in the fields of literature. The cover contains opinions of the press, from Maine to Georgia, The New York Tribune says: "Mr. Minor, the new editor of this strong-minded and high-toned periodical, shows himself perfectly competent to the task he has imposed upon himself. The range of subjects, too, treated of in the Messenger is almost as broad as the whole field of human interest; and when we open it we feel a most refreshing certainty of having encountered somebody who dares to talk, to have opinions and to defend them."
The Cincinnati Morning Herald, says: "We always welcome the Messenger, though a portion of its contents is occasionally repugnant to our ideas of truth and right. It is well conducted and always contains something to interest and instruct. * * * There is one thing we like about this periodical, a manly independence. We like it as a whole, but think this feature of it especially commendable."
The Portsmouth, Va., Old Dominion "hits the nail on the head" practically: "We cherish this work as the most valuable monthly visitor we have and as worthy of the patronage of every Southerner. Give the proprietor a glorious start in the eleventh volume." There are a number of other compliments and commendations.
The editor made several excursions in the interest of his magazine, and one had been to the North prior to the period that has now been reached. As soon as Mr. Thos. Ritchie, Sr., heard that he was meditating such a trip, he tendered him some excellent letters—actually gave them—to Bryant, B. F. Butler (not him of the Confederate war), and Bancroft, who then lived in Boston. Mr. Ritchie had always been kind to him, though they were on different sides in politics, and all the above distinguished gentlemen were on Mr. Ritchie's side.
In New York Mr. Bryant introduced the editor to his son-in-law, Park Benjamin. But he met a good many in that city to whom he needed no introduction, such as Paulding, Greeley, Tuckerman, Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. Seba Smith, Mrs. Hewitt, James Lawson, a warm friend of Dr. Simms; Geo. P. Morris and others; did not see N. P. Willis. Mr. Greely, who was editor of the Tribune, was very cordial. The last time the editor saw him was when he was signing, in Richmond, the bail-bond of President Jefferson Davis.
Yale College was also visited and a pleasant interview had with Professor Silliman, Sr. In Hartford an agricultural fair was holding in and around the State Capitol. A visit was paid to the neat cottage of Mrs. Sigourney; but she was not at home. In Boston, time passed pleasantly and profitably, outside of its many things and places of deep interest, in company with Mr. Geo. Bancroft, J. Freeman Clarke, Jas. T. Fields and others.
The British Consul in Boston, Mr. T. C. Grattan, was a man of literary culture and more of a gentleman than G. P. R. James, who was British Consul in Richmond. He had a literary circle at his house, which was much enjoyed, as was also a good time with Judge Story over at Harvard. A similar treat was afforded by Rev. Dr. Wayland, president of Brown University, at Providence, R. I.
Besides all these pleasant places was Philadelphia, where were Dr. J. K. Mitchell, Browne, Duane, Gilpin, Henry C. Lea, the Hirsts, J. C. Neal, Godey, Graham, and others. Something, too, was seen of J. Fenimore Cooper, in the bookstore of Cary and Hart. The attentions of H. C. Lea were particularly gratifying and were cordially reciprocated by the Messenger, which, however, was well repaid by his contributions. He was then young, but well educated and full of literary enthusiasm and ambition. He employed himself in the publishing house of Lea and Blanchard. He succeeded them and built up a very large business in the publication of medical works, made a large fortune and became the author of several learned and valuable works. The Messenger developed him as a writer. He composed some poetry and was a fine classical scholar, as was shown by his "Greek Symposium." The Hirsts, too, were developed by the Messenger. Wherever he went the editor always paid his respects especially to publishers and was deeply interested by what was shown him in the grand establishment of the Harpers. In January, 1845, he keeps up his appeal to the Legislature for the Colonial Records of Virginia and is fortified by Charles Campbell, Conway Robinson and Americus South. Lucian Minor comes again, gossipping about books. Bragg's notes on the Army get to No. 7. Hugh R. Pleasants finishes "Coningsby." These, with Mrs. Worthington, W. D. Porter, etc., fill the number, until we come to the Editor's Table, on which is an abundance of greetings and thanks and book-making intelligence.
In December five prizes were offered, viz.:
1. For the best paper on the present state of American Letters, their prospect and means of improvement, of $50.00.
2. The best review of the works of some native prose writer, $35.00.
3. The best review of the works of some native poet, $35.00.
4. The best original tale, $35.00.
5. The best original poem, $35.00.
One of these was awarded to a review of Longfellow. It has some notable companions. For Harry Bluff draws from the Lucky Bag another scrap, on "Lake Defences and Western Interests;" De Leon, in his "Vision of Wagner, a Pupil of Faust," shows how he could write a tale, as well as other things; Gertrude, after some delay, reappears; Bragg, of the Army, and Dr. W. Maxwell Wood, of the Navy ( but then in Peru), contribute and the editor has, at some trouble and expense, obtained a copy of Capt. John Smith's "News from Virginia," in 1608,—the first document relating to the colony at Jamestown that was ever published. There is also a strong setting forth of the University of Virginia, in a review of President Wayland's book: "Thoughts on the Present Collegiate System of the United States." He had omitted that University! The new editor made the Messenger its warm friend during his whole administration. He now offers also "The Morning Song of the Mocking-bird," calling out julep, julep, julep, by his friend, Gen. Wm. B. Taliaferro.
A "Stranger," from Baltimore, has come in with some good poetry. Nasus sets "The Wheel of Life" to revolving. H. C. Lea helps Stranger; and so do Mrs. Eames, H. B. Hirst, E. B. Hale, Simms, and Edgar A. Poe, with "The Raven."
"The Raven" had appeared in the American Whig Review, and the Evening Mirror in New York; but Mr. Poe wrote to the editor and requested him to relax his rule in regard to republications, and let "The Raven" come out "in the beautiful typography of the Messenger." He also said that he wished to make some changes in it. His request, quite diplomatically presented, was complied with in March, 1845, p. 186. He did make a few changes, which were, with his careful criticism, improvements.
The editor reviews numbers 94 and 95 of Harper's Family Library, containing the "Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties; its Pleasures and Rewards," with eminent examples; which was first published in England. The review is substantially the thesis on "The Grandeur of Self-Made Men," which he delivered in the old Bruton Church in Williamsburg, when he received from William and Mary his degree of LL. B. On reading the book, he saw the appropriateness of the thesis and resolved to put them together. Gertrude, after some delay, reappears, along with other good things, as already stated.
In April, 1845, p. 256, is the following editorial: "Literary criticism: E. A. Poe, Esq. We regard faithful criticism as indispensable to the excellence of a literary journal; and in addition to the able reviews which we frequently present to our readers, we design to impart greater vigor and value to the critical department, generally. Under the present rapid multiplication of books, it needs an Argus to watch and guard the press. To enable the Messenger to discharge its part, we have engaged the services of Mr. Poe, who will contribute monthly a critique raisonné of the most important forthcoming works in this country and in Europe. All publishers are invited to send their works. * * * The Messenger is very miscellaneous and takes particular pains in noticing and advertising publications in all branches of Art, Literature and Science." Of course, such an announcement would never have been made without due authority; but it was never in the least part fulfilled by Mr. Poe.
Another paper of the National Institute is given, from J. C. Picket, United States Chargé at Lima, Peru, on the fate and character of Major André, and an inhabitant of the Middle States zealously defends the United States against the accusations of Mr. George Catlin in his work about the North American Indians.
Many of the usual writers and some new ones, in both lines, bring us to May, when Miss Susan Walker finishes her prize story, "The Wheel of Life." No prize was awarded for the best poem;—none of those offered having come up to the standard of the judges.
Wilkes' "U. S. Exploring Expedition" is reviewed at length, and Miss Mary E. Lee, of Charleston, S. C., translates "Walpurgis Night," from the German of Zschokke. Besides other prose, there are nine poetical pieces and a full Editor's Table.
The Messenger has been giving attention to the Carolinas, during the Revolution, and to the services of Guilford Dudley, of North Carolina. This brings in the memorable visit of the editor to Raleigh, in behalf of the Messenger. Just about the time of his arrival, one of that State's greatest men,—if not the greatest,—Judge Wm. Gaston, ended his splendid career, and the whole community was filled with grief. The remains were kept in state for a whole week, as the weather was wintry, for his scattered family to come to the funeral. This, of course, arrested the editor's operations, except socially. A young lawyer, Perrin Busbee, of literary aspirations, took the editor in hand and was of great service to him, besides his letters of introduction to Judge Duncan Cameron and Weston R. Gales. Thus, the editor met, not only them, but Gov. Morehead, Wm. A. Graham, Geo. E. Badger, George Mordecai, Henry W. Miller, Mr. Henry, Bishop Ives, Rev. Dr. Mason, Prof. Smedes, Judge Iredell and the venerable and sociable Judge Thomas Ruffin. Judge Gaston was a Roman Catholic and was interred according to the rites of that Church.
Making acquaintances, especially with contributors, was always highly agreeable, but soliciting subscribers not at all so. But owing to this lingering in Raleigh, there was a piece of good luck. Gov. Morehead not only subscribed to the Messenger, for the State Library, but ordered all the volumes from the beginning, at full price, and to be handsomely bound!
The route from Raleigh was by Fayetteville, Camden and Cheraw to Columbia, where there was delightful intercourse with De Leon, Professor Ellett and his wife and that eloquent orator and conversationalist the Hon. Wm. C. Preston, who had abandoned politics for the presidency of South Carolina University.
Charleston has been mentioned. Augusta was the place in which Mr. Wilde had spread the Messenger. There, time passed very pleasantly and Governor Jenkins and Mr. Ebenezer Starnes are particularly remembered. Mr. Starnes was a contributor and became eminent as a judge. In Savannah were Bishop Stephen Elliott, a high man in every respect; Mr. Wm. B. Hodgson, who had been United States Consul in Egypt; Judge R. M. Charlton; Isaac K. Teft, the prop of the Georgia Historical Society, and Dr. W. A. Caruthers, a Virginian, related to the Spotswoods and the author of a novel in honor of the Knights of the Golden Horse-shoe. In after years, the editor became further familiar with Savannah, through two of his sons who resided there, and one of whom married there.
August. The year 1845 is running on and so is the Messenger, and many new writers enlist in its cause. The editor still manifests his fidelity to the University of Virginia, and gives a sketch of the progress of Archaeological Science in America. Mr. W. C. Scott, of Virginia, discourses on the present state of American Letters; their prospects and means of improvement. In August, Hon. Robert M. T. Hunter, so long the able and vigilant United States Senator for Virginia, discusses at length the Massachusetts proposition for abolishing the slave representation, as guaranteed by the Constitution; and Americus South, in a letter to Harry Bluff, opens the Warehousing System. Still there is room for seven other prose articles and eight poetical ones, besides some notices of new works.
In September the Southern views of slavery are presented, in a masterly manner, in a 16-page review of the published correspondence, on both sides of the great subject, between the Rev. Doctors Fuller, of South Carolina, and Wayland, of Rhode Island. Americus South recurs to the Warehousing System and calls upon Harry Bluff to take it up, as the Messenger had derived from him and his merchant cousin of the same name, all that it knew on the subject.
Mrs. Sigourncy comes again. Miss Matilda F. Dana, I. McLellan, Jr., and others have poetry and there is "The Drought; an Improvvise," by Mrs. B. B. Minor. The drought had been very distressing. Nearly 26 pages are given to an address to the Memphis Convention, by Harry Bluff, upon the Warehousing System, and a number of other important topics. Some time previously he had furnished The Southern Quarterly Review a long and brilliant article, such as his pen alone could have produced, on "The Maritime Interests of the South and West." The Messenger republishes the greater part of it and addresses that, not only to the Memphis Convention, but to Congress.
Whilst attending to these important public matters, the Messenger does not neglect its literary features, but makes them highly attractive, with the aid of a number of favorite writers, besides some things by the editor. There is a humorous sketch, "Canvassing," by Gen. Taliaferro, the author of the Mocking-bird julep song.
Gertrude is finished in 25 chapters, with a hint that there may be a sequel to it; but the author doubts whether he could ever man himself for that painful task.
The Memphis Convention was deemed of such importance that Richmond sent to it delegates, of whom the editor was one, and he attended. On his way thither, he visited Dr. W. Gilmore Simms, at his country seat, Woodlands, and purchased from him his magazine that it might be incorporated with the Messenger, with the new title: "The Southern and Western Literary Messenger and Review" The editor knew that such a title was too long and cumbrous; but yielded to the doctor's preference. He wished his bantling to show some signs of survival and thought it would make the change more acceptable to his patrons. This new title only stated what the Messenger had been already. The editor was pleased to meet at last his abundant contributor and correspondent, and was satisfied with the cordial reception extended to him. Of course, this meeting had been prearranged.
The editor sent to his office an address "To Our Patrons and the Friends of Letters in the South and West," dated New Orleans, November 8th, 1845, announcing this union of the South Carolina and Virginia magazines, which came out in the December number during his absence.
In New Orleans he was so fortunate as to get passage on the same steamer that was to carry to Memphis Mr. Calhoun, the already designated president; Gen. E. P. Gaines, and other distinguished delegates. A grand public reception to Mr. Calhoun had been provided for at Natchez, and Congressman Jefferson Davis was the appointed spokesman; but an accident to our boat threw her arrival at Natchez into the night and the reception in the city had to be given up. Still, Mr. Davis, with his committee and a good many other citizens, came on board and there was an informal, social reception, until the captain gave notice that he was compelled to start. Some distance below Memphis, a fine steamer with flags, music and a large company of ladies and gentlemen, met the disabled Maria, and cheered and saluted her with vast enthusiasm. The two boats were lashed side by side, so that there was easy and constant communication between them. It was November, but the weather was fine and the finish of the long passage was enchanting. The editor was delightfully entertained by Dr. Shanks and family, was made a vice-president of the Convention, and had the opportunity of addressing it. By agreement with Harry Bluff, he introduced the Warehousing System and obtained a highly favorable report from a majority of the Committee to whom it was referred; but owing to a division in the Committee, a vote by the Convention was not pressed. The system was afterwards adopted by Congress and is still in operation. The Messenger had the honor of inaugurating it.
But the affair at Memphis most congenial with the subject in hand was the banquet by and for the members of the press,—editors, of whom some were delegates, correspondents and reporters; a bright and jolly set. They all knew and valued the Messenger and on that account its editor was called to preside. The company was large and embraced a few guests, who were invited for appropriate reasons. Hardly ever, anywhere, has there been, for the same length of time (and the session was not a short one), such a continuous flow of eloquence, wit, repartee, guying, story-telling and song. The menu included good wine and other potables. The absence of George D. Prentice was much regretted: his Courier was represented by its manager, who, though he enjoyed the fun, did not contribute to it as Prentice would have done. The editor first met Mr. Prentice in Richmond. He once tried to see him and some other friends of the Messenger in Louisville, for which he came very near being separated from his family, by the greedy haste of a steamboat captain, who started off with them, without their protector, in violation of his own agreement. Fortunately, he was hailed, "rounded to" and took on board his fuming passenger. To have shot him might not have been in self-defence, but would have been a just retribution for his scoundrelism.
From Memphis the editor went up to St. Louis, in company with some old friends who had settled there and some new ones he had made. The boat which bore them was not large, because of the low stage of the river, and had to be kept "trimmed." On board were the editors of the two leading journals of St. Louis, A. B. Chambers, of the Republican (Whig), and Shadrack Penn, of the Democrat. The positions of these two papers have become reversed. Mr. Penn was a very heavy man, and a great humorist; so that wherever he was a crowd flocked around him to hear his jokes. The mate kept his weights rolling about from place to place, but could not keep his boat in trim. At length he discovered that Mr. Penn was the cause of it. He politely took charge of that weighty gentleman, placed him where it was desirable and the difficulty was removed.
The editor had in St. Louis an A-l time and made as much as possible of the Western part of his new title. Years afterwards, he renewed most agreeably two of the acquaintances he then formed. Mr. Thomas Allen was once a political editor in the "city of magnificent distances." He once remarked, in St. Louis, that he was holding thirteen presidencies: two of these were of The Iron Mountain R. R. Co. and of the first University Club. He has passed away, highly honored. The other, James E. Yeatman, still lives and is as urbane, upright and cultured as he is venerable. "Richard Carvel" is dedicated to him by its admiring author. In 1845, his mother, then Mrs. John Bell, of Nashville, was visiting him. She would have graced the White House, if Mr. Bell had been elected president, in 1860. She and her daughter cordially invited the editor to accompany them to Nashville, on his way home. But this he declined because he wished to visit some near relatives near Milliken's Bend, in Louisiana.
On the 28th of November, the editor started for New Orleans, on his way home. Fortunately for them, the Bell party had already gone. The weather was inclement and the river was filled with floating ice. A few miles north of Cairo, his steamer, Palestine, was stranded by the ice upon a sand-bar and her passengers were in a precarious and uncomfortable state for several days. On the fourth day, whilst some of them were making a raft, on which the editor worked, even by night, that he might have a claim to go ashore on it, a yawl, which had been wagoned from Cairo, was launched and reached the steamer. In it the editor got to land, and afterwards to Cairo, on a wagon without body or seat. Thence a new passage was taken, on a better boat; but she stopped very often for freight and frequently got aground; so that, with a visit of one day to relatives at Milliken's Bend, 19 days were occupied in getting from St. Louis to the Crescent City! The editor employed part of this time in composing some letters to his friend John Hampden Pleasants, in favor of railroads in Virginia, and against the extension of the James River and Kanawha Canal. Pleasants styled them "Mississippi Letters" and published them in the Whig, which he was editing, just under the Messenger. This remarkable "Winter Trip Down the Mississippi" is recorded in the January number of 1846.
When he reached home, nothing had been heard of him for more than three weeks and some of his friends were calling on his wife in a spirit of delicate condolence; but she was more hopeful than they. During this long absence, the Messenger had been under her charge; and Gustavus A. Myers and Dr. T. C. Reynolds had promised to render such assistance as might be requested.
January, 1846. After an unavoidable delay, the first number of Volume XII. appears, bearing "A few Words to our Patrons," dated January 14, 1846. The principles upon which the union of the two Magazines would be conducted are unmistakably declared. Among the books noticed are a collection of L. J. Cist's poems and Munford's "Homer." The editor once met Mr. Cist and his father in Cincinnati. The father, too, was a man of literary industry and a statistician. As to Munford's "Homer," the editor was, on every account, proud of it and greeted it most cordially. It was reviewed by Judge Beverly Tucker, in the Messenger, and splendidly, in the Southern Quarterly, by Prof. Geo. F. Holmes.
"Wilful Love, a Tale," which leads the February number, is from the pen of Mrs. B. B. Minor, and the editor has a short reference to the Memphis Convention and the Warehousing System. M. R. H. Garnett reviews Paget's "Hungary and Transylvania;" Dr. S. H. Dickson has a fine essay on the difficulties in the way of the historian; Wm. M. Blackford has reviewed Chas. J. Ingersoll's "History of the War of 1812;" there are tales, sketches and poetry by Mary G. Wells, Mrs. Buchanan, of Mississippi; W. C. Jack, of Georgia; Mrs. Brandegee, of Connecticut, and others, and over five pages of bibliography.
The year 1846 runs on and so does the Messenger. Boulware and Andrews, whose name has been changed to Winthrop, keep on; so do Nasus and Mrs. Worthington. H. B. Macdonald, of Pennsylvania, and J. M. Legaré, of South Carolina, come forth, whilst P. P. Cooke and the "Stranger" expand; Mary E. Lee continues to translate and originate; W. C. Scott, of Virginia, handles well "Poetry and Religion." Dr. W. Bowen, D. R. Arnall, Benj. T. Cushing and W. G. Blackwood set in with the poets; "Maine," who is Mrs. Anna Peyre Dinnies, renders both prose and verse; J. S. Allen, of Kentucky, reviews Phrenology and other subjects; and the July number had to be enlarged to save time in getting out Judge Tucker's review of Munford's "Homer." The friends of the U. S. Army and Navy keep them before the public; and Mr. Calhoun's report to the Senate, on the "Memorial and Proceedings of the Memphis Convention," is presented. Dr. W. J. Tuck, Prof. Holmes and Thomas W. Storrow furnish good reading. Win. G. Hale, son of Mrs. S. J. Hale, of Philadelphia, then a young teacher in Richmond and who has become highly distinguished as a scholar, professor and author, offers "Leaves from English Catalogues." His cousin, Geo. S. Hale, who was with, him in Richmond, went back to Boston, where he became an eminent lawyer.
The "Susan, of Henrico county," Va., was a very interesting young lady; Miss Susan Archer Telley, from sickness almost a mute, who was well received in society and wrote very respectable verse.
Henry C. Lea, of Philadelphia, who has done so much for the Messenger, for mere love, reviews, in October, "Ægidii Menagii Poemata, Quintaeditio, 1668." E. W. Johnston and Hugh R. Pleasants still show their learning and ability: Pleasants takes hold of "The Prince," by Machiavelli. Chas. B. Hayden résumés Geology, in a review of the works of Henry D. Rogers and Chas. Lyell. Some of the poets become ambitious; one actually tackles Niagara; Lino, of Memphis, has a long and long-lined "Legend of the Oak," and Miss M. B. Macdonald ventures upon a dramatic sketch: "The Priestess of Beauty."
In November, the death of President Thos. R. Dew is lamented. It occurred in Paris, where he had just arrived with his accomplished bride. The editor also speaks of his hopes, expectations and intentions for the next year. Several writers still unknown have furnished excellent articles of nearly every sort. Perhaps too much space is devoted to the civil war in the Carolinas and Georgia, during the Revolution, based upon the "Journal and Letters of Samuel Curwen, a loyalist refugee in England," by Geo. Atkinson Ward. But after the matter was once admitted, it was hard to stop it.
The last things in the Messenger for 1846 show how it kept up to date in important matters: the discovery of explosive cotton, on earth, and of the planet Neptune, in the heavens. The editor has all along endeavored to be faithful to all who had favored him with their patronage and gives the following notice: "The January Messenger, 1847, will be issued with accustomed punctuality, as far as practicable. But as, in the meantime, the office will be removed to the new quarters prepared for it, some delay may be occasioned thereby." If so, due allowance is craved. The Law Building, the Messenger's new home, was erected in 1846, upon the site of the Governor's old and unsightly stable, on the southeast corner of the Capitol Square. That stable was bought from the State, under an Act of the Legislature which provided for the demolition of the rusty Museum and putting in its place a handsome structure for the accommodation of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the General Court and the Circuit Courts of Richmond. There were also some public conveniences which had become intolerable nuisances and were like the "rank offence" of the murder of the King, in Hamlet: they "smelt to Heaven."
My plan then was to convert the stable into convenient quarters for the Messenger only, by putting in a new front, with good doors and windows; running up the second story and covering all with a new roof. But when the front wall of the stable and its old roof were taken down, the rear stone wall lost its support and tumbled in, carrying with it a good part of the end walls; so that a new scheme had to be devised.
In order to get the benefit of the land and the location, the Law Building was conceived. It fronts on Franklin street 60 feet and runs into the Capitol Square 30 feet. It has four stories, each divided by a central stairway and had a swinging balcony along the whole front. On the first two floors were eight lawyers' offices, each with two rooms. The other two floors had large rooms; one of which, overlooking the Square, was occupied by the Virginia Historical Society; the other three were used for printing and mailing the Messenger; but the editorial rooms were the eastern law office on the second floor, with a separate stairway from the street. Possession of these new quarters was taken in January, 1847. After the Whig Building, at the corner of 13th (Governor) and Franklin streets and the new State Court House, just inside the Square, were finished and the nuisances near by removed, the improvement to this previously repugnant southeast corner of the Square was about equal, relatively, to that of the Jefferson Hotel, even before it was impaired by the fire. Surely the damage by that conflagration ought to be speedily repaired. It is a shame that people who get money for nothing should be so much less public-spirited with it than he who made it for them.
For some years the red brick Whig Building, painted to match the stucco of the Law Building, has been combined with it in a hotel, which has several times changed its name. At present there seem to be two, the Whig, the Davis House; the Law, the Franklin House.
The editor also purchased from Governor "Extra Billy" Smith another notch of the Capitol Square and erected thereon a building of the same dimensions as the Law Building, in the rear of it and connected with it by a bridge. One whole floor was the Armory of "The Richmond Blues." In it and a part of the Law Building lent for the purpose, the celebrated Seventh Regiment of New York was so royally entertained, when it escorted hither the remains of President James Monroe, in 1858. In the room of the Virginia Historical Society, which the city had removed to the Athenæum, iced champagne flowed for several hours, from a plated cistern with four spigots. In cutting down the Square the bank was found to be a deposit of marl, with innumerable marine shells. The dirt was carted to the foundation of the old Danville railroad depot near the river.
When Gov. Wise was having the Square graded some remnants of those old nuisances were dug up, and he thought he had discovered a valuable bed of nitre.
In February, 1847, the editor sold to Macfarlane and Fergusson all the printing materials of the Messenger and contracted with them as his publishers. They were now to be his tenants and their property was on the third and fourth floors of the Law Building.
From these new and ample quarters the January number for 1847 was issued. It opens with
a review of Robt. R. Howison's "History of Virginia," from the trenchant pen of John M. Daniel, who attained great celebrity as editor of the Examiner, and was once U. S. Chargé at Naples. Some controversy springs up about Curwen's Journal and there is the usual miscellany in prose and poetry. An unknown Southron gets in another instalment of his Collection of Poems, mostly imaginative. The editor "contents himself with an earnest and sincere greeting to all patrons—present and prospective, of not only a Happy New Year, but a Happy year. He has over six pages of notices of new works, in small type, which show that he could not have been idle. He also refers to the historical features of the Messenger and announces the publication by it of Charles Campbell's "History of Virginia." This came about as follows:
The editor had taken up the "History of Virginia" under the title of "Contributions," in imitation of the example of Rev. Dr. F. L. Hawks, in his "Church History of Virginia," and had kept them going for several months. But he found that, with proper attention to the Messenger, it was impracticable for him to make the necessary research. His intimate friend, Charles Campbell, had finished his "History of Virginia" and was looking out with some anxiety, for a publisher. He proposed to Mr. Campbell to let the Messenger have his MS.; and promised that it should be neatly printed from new type and an edition given him in Messenger form. This offer was cheerfully accepted; the editor prepared an introduction and the publication was commenced. Another edition was published by Lippincott, and the work is so scarce that a copy of it lately sold for fifteen dollars.
Gen. Leslie Combs, of Kentucky; Wm. N. Stanton, W. J. Barbee and C. C. L. become contributors. The editor investigates those remarkable brass French cannon in the Armory yard, at Richmond, and takes great pleasure in noticing the volume of observations made by the National Astronomical Observatory, under Lieut. M. F. Maury.
H. C. Lea takes in hand, in one paper, nine new poets. Alfred Duke comes out with the novelette, "The Fortunes of Esther, the Jewess;" and the editor, with "The Legal Profession and How it was Treated by the House of Burgesses of Virginia," which he wrote for the Legal Observer, of New York. He also reviews, in full, Lanman's "Summer in the Wilderness." The poems of P. P. Cooke and Don Paez and other poems, by another Virginian, are also reviewed. Publicola, of Mississippi, presents strongly "The Present Aspect of Abolitionism." The tale, "Woe and Weal; or the Transitions of Life," by a lady of Virginia, is probably the production of Mrs. Julia M. Cabell, who was a Miss Mayo, of Richmond, and a warm friend of the editor. She once made quite a stir by taking off in the Messenger Mrs. Louisa G. Allan, as Dolly Dumps. Rev. E. L. Magoon sketches Patrick Henry.
Mrs. Worthington is called to her rest and tributes are offered in memoriam. J. M. Legaré continues. The editor notices all the colleges of Virginia. Dr. Francis L. Hawks, an eminent orator, historian and divine, was elected president of William and Mary, but declined and accepted that of the embryo University of Louisiana. Judge Tucker, Wm. H. Macfarland, Win. C. Rives, Rev. Jno. T. Clarke, Sidney S. Bradford, P. P. Cooke and J. G. Holland were all contributors just about the close of the editor's administration. There was one writer, H. R., of Virginia (Henry Ruffner, president of Washington College), who kept expanding and at last got off three articles, which may be worthy of the attention of any professor who values Anglo-Saxon and old English. They are "Essays on the Early Language and Literature of England." In this volume is a full discussion, in which Dr. Simms takes a leading part, of the question whether the brave Michael Rudolph, of Lee's Legion, was Marshal Ney, of France. The October number, 1847, is the last one which bore the name of B. B. Minor as editor and proprietor. Its cover had the Prospectus, dated September 17th, of the Virginia Female Institute, in Staunton, with him as its principal. Without the least solicitation on his part, the friends of that institution made him such flattering overtures and promises, that he unadvisedly yielded and removed, with his family, to Staunton.
Mr. Jno. R. Thompson's salutatory appears at the close of the October number, and his formal address, at the beginning of November; and in this number the late editor says "A few Plain Words at Parting." Of his successor he writes: "Well endowed by nature, having enjoyed the advantages of the best collegiate education, fond of literature, acquainted with its best authors, accustomed to the use of his pen and quite enthusiastic in his devotion to the Messenger, he bids fair to raise it above its present high and honorable position."
Mr. Thompson said that the retiring editor would be one of his contributors. He did send from Staunton one paper, "Stars and Steamers," which was issued in June, though it is dated April 13th. The work had always to be made up in advance and no doubt there were turned over to Mr. Thompson a number of MSS. that had been received and some of them accepted. The above is the last communication of the retired editor to the Messenger. When, at the end of his first session, he voluntarily resigned his headship of the Virginia Female Institute, returned to Richmond and resumed the practice of law, he had to employ his pen in behalf of his profession.
Whatever credit may be granted him, or denied, it must be admitted that he, for four years and a quarter, conducted the Southern Literary Messenger, with a loving zeal, a staunch independence and the best intentions. He retains his attachment to the Messenger and may occasionally put himself in Mr. Thompson's company.