The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864/John Reuben Thompson's Administration
|←Benjamin Blake Minor's Administration||The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864 by
John Reuben Thompson's Administration
|George W. Bagby's Editorship →|
Mr. John Reuben Thompson's Administration
In seeking the control of the Messenger Mr. Thompson was influenced by the same considerations that Mr. Minor had been. He was young, but quite well posted in literature and the author of some published prose and poetry. He was an alumnus of the University of Virginia, a graduate of its Law School, under Judge Henry St. George Tucker, and now a member of the Richmond Bar. He was a very agreeable gentleman; of medium stature, neat in person and pleasant in appearance and address.
In finishing Volume XIII., he had several serials, articles already accepted, and had agreed to complete Campbell's History. Indeed, a large majority of its contributors were bound to hold on to the Messenger and he very soon obtained new ones. One of these is "Ik Marvel," with whose notes of foreign travel he had been much taken.
Just after his greetings for the New Year, 1848, Mrs. Sigourney and Lieut. Maury stand by him. That wonderful Jno. Quincy Adams had asked the lieutenant-superintendent to give a written description of the National Observatory and here it is,—Maury-esque: "Ik" begins very modestly, with "A Man Overboard," less than one page. But how he has developed and expanded as Donald G. Mitchell! In one of his late works, "Queen Anne and the Georges," he gives a sketch of Beckford's Vathek," in which he says: "He reaches at last, in company with the lovely Mironihar, the great hall of Eblis; here we have something horrific and Dantesque—something which I am sure had its abiding influence upon the work of Edgar Poe."
P. P. Cooke furnishes a critique, not unfriendly, upon Poe's prose and poetry, as a sequel to Mr. Lowell's "Memoirs," a few years before. In this time Mr. Poe had produced some of his best things, including "The Raven." Mr. Cooke makes a very common mistake, when he says "Mr. Poe edited the Messenger for several years;" it was only one year. Cooke becomes a regular story-teller.
The Virginia Historical Society holds its first annual meeting under its new organization, in the Capitol, December 16, 1847, and its president, Wm. Cabell Rives, delivers an address. This new organization was in succession to and substitution for "The Historical Department of the Society of Alumni of the University of Virginia," which had, upon the motion and plan of B. B. Minor, been formed and set in operation, in 1845-46. Upon its invitation, the Hon. Wm. C. Rives had delivered an address before it at the University. The "new organization" was effected mainly through the instrumentality of Mr. Minor, Col. Thos. H. Ellis and Conway Robinson, aided by Ex-president Wm. Maxwell, who was to be secretary and librarian, with a salary. The editorial work for the first number of Volume XIV. occupies eight pages and is well done.
Another new contributor was Henry A. Washington, then a young lawyer in Richmond. But his paper on "The Social System of Virginia" changed his career. It led to his election to the Chair of History, etc., in Wiliam and Mary college There he married the daughter of Judge Tucker and was appointed editor, for the Federal Government, of the papers of Mr. Jefferson, which Congress had bought. This caused him to spend, with his wife, much time in Washington, where he came, by an accident, to an untimely end, when he had accomplished only a part of his task.
Mr. C. M. Farmer, Richmond, has ventured to publish a book of his poems and is "rowed up Salt River." But C. F. Hoffman's poems are treated very differently.
Another new contributor is Geo. W. Thompson, who vindicates the title of Virginia to the North Western Territory and her rights upon the Ohio. But three of the oldest stand by him,—Heath, Lucian Minor and Lieut. Maury. This last writes, at the request of the Hon. T. Butler King, M. C., one of his prophetic letters on "Steam Navigation to China." Sidney Dyer, H. H. Clements, W. C. Richardson and Win. H. Holcombe are among the new poets; and Mr. Thompson obtains two regular correspondents, W.W.M. and G.B.M., in Paris. There is another review of Howison's "History of Virginia," more favorable than that by Mr. Daniel, and just after it appears the "Stars and Steamers" of the late editor, Mr. Minor.
J. M. Legaré has gotten out a collection of his poems and they are encouragingly reviewed. Mr. Thompson furnishes much good matter for the North as well as the South and some very fine essays, whose authors are unknown, except a satirical one by J. B. Dabney. M. F. Maury defends the Dead Sea Expedition, under Lieut. Lynch; Edgar A. Poe reviews the poems of Mrs. S. Anna Lewis and discusses, in two articles, "The Rationale of Verse." Park Benjamin translates valuable matter from Lamartine and there is a review of "Early Voyages to America," prepared for the Virginia Historical Society by Conway Robinson. Mr. Thompson is successfully attentive to his special department and some of the good anonymous writing may have been from his pen. P. H. H., of Charleston, is probably Paul Hayne, just peeping out.
About this time, the Messenger paid a good deal of attention to European matters; Magyar and Croatian, German, Italian and French. There are several letters from the Paris correspondent, W. W. Mann, and Park Benjamin writes some from New York. Phil Cooke still writes stories; and Mr. Thompson copyrights, in his own name, but author not given, "The Chevalier Merlin." He was P. P. Cooke. Sidney Dyer indulges in "The Pleasures of Thought," not as long as those Pleasures on which Campbell, Akenside and Rogers have dilated, but still in thirty- eight nine-line stanzas. One E. C., of Virginia, dares eighteen sonnets, with explanations "betwixt and between." H. T. Tuckerman still keeps up his sketches of celebrities. Some one reviews Longfellow and his "Evangeline" rather tartly; and it was said that he discontinued his gratuitous copy of the Messenger. Yet, he afterwards wrote to Thompson about Poe.
Lieut. Maury presents, in person as well as in print, the National Observatory to the Virginia Historical Society. He also discusses "The Isthmus Line to the Pacific." Virginia's orator, Ex-Governor James McDowell, makes in Congress such a great speech that S. L. C. reviews and lauds it. Ik expands in "The Reveries of a Bachelor" and other things.
Mr. Thompson, under the signature of (Greek) Sigma, contributes poetry, viz.: "Stanzas on the Proposed Sale of the Natural Bridge;" and some to Arnelie Louise Rives, on her departure for Paris.
Mr. Poe and Thompson have become acquainted and Mr. Poe, when in Richmond, frequents the editorial sanctum. He is now quite a regular contributor and furnishes five papers of Marginalia and a review of the poems of Frances Sargent Osgood. A number of new poets appear and several old ones. But death claims three favorite supporters,—Mary G. Wells, Mary E. Lee and Edgar A. Poe. The editor notices each. In that of Mr. Poe he quotes a letter from Longfellow and copies "The Bells" and "Annabel Lee." Of the latter he says: "The day before he left Richmond, he placed in our hands, for publication in the Messenger, the MS. of his last poem, which has since found its way (through a correspondent of a Northern newspaper with whom Mr. Poe had left a copy), into the newspaper press and been extensively circulated. As it was designed for this magazine, we publish it, though our readers may have seen it before." This was in November, 1849. Poe is gone, but Thompson and the Messenger live on. He tries to get out his December number in time for it to be a Christmas memento to his readers, to one and all of whom he heartily says, "Benedicite."
Charles Lanman has come again; Ik Marvel holds on; Lucian Minor remains faithful; Yalla-busha puts forth Junius E. Leigh as her poet and other localities have their fledglings. But G. W. Thompson has a poem, "God's Minstrelsy;" Sininis has a longer one, "Metacom of Montaup;" Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Dinnies, Mrs. Osgood and Mrs. Eames, J. M. Legaré", R. H. Stoddard and P. H. Hayne all contribute. Hon. B. F. Porter, of South Carolina, debuts. J. M. C. (Mrs. Dr. Cabell and sister of Mrs. Gen. Scott) continues. "The Chevalier Merlin" and "The Seldens of Sherwood" run on; but a new edition of Rev. Dr. Ruffner's "Judith Bensadi" and its sequel has been called forth. There is much good essaying and reviewing. Mr. Thompson uses both Sigma and his own signature. He has a poetical retrospect of 1849; a dirge for the funeral of President Taylor; and Lines to Mrs. L. G. R., on her marriage. He had heard the famous Swedish Nightingale in New York and wishes her to delight the people of Richmond as she had him. So he invokes his Muse to petition both her and her P. T. Barnum to come hither. They did come and this writer paid $144.00 for 12 tickets, for himself and some friends to hear her.
When the works of Poe came out in the edition (1850) of Willis, Lowell and Griswold, Mr. Thompson merely expressed his great disappointment. But the next month, during his absence, a review of that same edition got into the hands of his printers and he did not see it until it had gone through the press. It "lambasted" the whole editorial trio. Thompson inserted a note, in which he largely eased off Willis and Griswold, but let the flagellation remain, as deserved, on the back of Mr. Lowell.
Mr. Wm. Burke, a gentlemanly and scholarly teacher of a good many bright young men of Virginia, translates into excellent verse three books of Virgil's Æneid. He also translated, in similar style, a good part, if not the whole, of Lucan's "Pharsalia," as is mentioned during Mr. Minor's editorship. Mr. Burke became a physician.
In publishing Poe's review of Headly and Channing, Mr. Thompson says: "From advance sheets of 'The Literati,' a work in press by the late Edgar A. Poe, we take the following sketches, as good specimens of that tomahawk-style of which the author was so great a master. In the present instances, the satire is well deserved."
The corner-stone of the Washington Monument is laid and the Messenger records all the proceedings. President-elect Zachary Taylor and his son Richard and here and a number of other distingués.
Miss Margaret Junkin wields her pen, which made her so widely known as Mrs. Preston. Philip Pendleton Cooke dies and fitting tributes are paid him; one by Dr. R. W. Griswold.
It is very probable that the editor opens Volume XVII. with sonnets, on "The Four Greatest Blessings of Life: Old Wine to Drink; Old Wood to Burn; Old Books to Read and Old Friends to Love." The signature this time is (Greek) Kappa Sigma. Claiming the credit of having brought Jenny Lind to Richmond, he addresses to her a "Song of Rejoicing." Aglaus turns out to be Henry H. Timrod: so that he, Hayne, Legaré, Hon. B. F. Porter, Simms, and Azim, also of South Carolina, were all sustaining Thompson at the same time. The Messenger contains the whole of the drama "Norman Maurice, or the Man of the People." Mulchinock, Barhydt, a lady of Richmond and others send poetry. The city of Richmond has turned the Academy into the Athenæum for public lectures, etc., and Judge John Robertson delivers the opening address. Thackeray delivered there his lectures on the Georges. P. D. Bernard issues a new edition of "Riego" and J. B. Dabney, alluding to the unnecessary incog, of the author, reviews it very favorably. It was a proof-sheet of this edition which Judge Robertson lost, but luckily it fell into the hands of his particular friend, Mr. B. B. Minor, who was requested to keep mum, and he did.
Dr. Jno. P. Little writes the "History of Richmond." Lieut. Maury has another of his great papers, on "The Commercial Prospects of the South." Mr. Thompson truly says of this very great man: "The views of Lieut. Maury are marked in a high degree with the originality and lucidus ordo which characterize everything that comes from his pen. His style, too, is singularly pure and fresh and at times becomes really poetical, showing that had he not been one of the first savants, he might have been one of the most distinguished litterateurs of the age."
When, if ever, will Maury's "Vision of the Valley of the Amazon" be realized? He afterwards issued a tract upon "The Amazon and the Atlantic Slopes of South America."
The question of slavery is still discussed. That versatile genius and prolific yet elegant writer, Judge Nathaniel Beverly Tucker, is no more and Mr. Thompson pays him a high and appropriate tribute. It is worth noting that two young editors of the Messenger were trained in the Law by two brothers. Mr. Thompson was at the University of Virginia, under Prof. Henry St. Geo. Tucker, who had been president of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. Mr. Minor commenced at the University under Prof. Jno. A. Davis, but finished at William and Mary, under Prof. Beverly Tucker, who had been a circuit judge in Missouri. It has been seen how both of these brothers were intimately connected with the Messenger.
Mr. Thompson also made editorial excursions and recorded them. He was taken to task for some strictures he gave on his accommodations at the vaunted Charleston Hotel; and it was hinted that he was treated well enough for a bachelor. He admits this impeachment, but insists that even a bachelor was entitled to better than he received. Did Ik Marvel give embodiment to bachelor Thompson's reveries?
If there was any advantage in matrimony, Mr. Thompson's predecessor had that; for he was very much married and celebrated his golden wedding, in Richmond, after Mr. Thompson had been called to the Spirit land. When he was at the Charleston Hotel, he had not the least cause for complaint. But that may have been because he was in company with Mr. Win. Elliott and his two attractive daughters. Mr. Thompson, however, was willing to marry. The accomplished lady whose hand he tried to win married quite late a widower with several children. She is now an élite widow, with nothing but step-children, and is very highly esteemed. Mr. Thompson published an article on old bachelors, by F. W. Shelton.
But then Mr. Thompson could write poetry, which Minor could not, and if he ever attempted it, he had the good sense not to rush it into print. Mr. Thompson's poetry, too, has flashes of wit and ripples of pleasantry and humor. He was fond of epigrams, jeux d' esprit and even good puns; and of all these he published a goodly number. Mr. Minor ought to have offered the only thing from his pen which Mr. Thompson might have been likely to accept, an epitaph on a dog. Mr. Minor's chum at William and Mary presented him a fine pointer-puppy, which he had named Dew, after the revered president This pet had to be left to the nurture of a physician and farmer, in what were the future battle fields of Grant and Lee, around Spottsylvania C. H. The farmer used the physician's science in agricultural improvement and already had a fine flock of sheep. Some of these were found dead and Dew was suspected of being the cause; but was spared for further evidence. This was soon given by the death of several other valuable lambs and the dog was caught flagrante delicto. He was very properly lynched. The father's kindness to his son was stronger than his grief over his lost sheep and he actually wrote an apologetic letter on the fate of the pet. He was more than exonerated and the son sent to his younger sister the following
EPITAPH FOR A DEPARTED DOG:
Dew is fallen, but not from Heaven;
By loving hand the blow was given.
Dew falls on flowers while we sleep;
But this Dew fell upon the sheep.
His paws in blood he did imbrue
And met the fate that was his due.
Once again I invoked the Comic Muse. In Atlanta, Ga., I boarded at the same house with the express agent and his wife, who had a bright and interesting son, whom they were disciplining too restrictively. He asked their permission to obtain a goat that he might play with it, train it to draw, etc. They refused it. I sympathized with the little fellow and addressed to his parents in Hudibrastic style a petition to gratify their disappointed only child. I put in it as much fun as I could and also as much persuasion. It tickled the parents and they handed it around among the boarders, one of whom was the widow of a Governor of Georgia.
I would like to see how I rhymed it at that time. Anyhow, it brought out Capricorn and the boy was made happy. He got outdoor exercise and had something to manage and guide. Then, too, goat wagons are often very useful.
I would also very much like to see now the leader I wrote the day on which Mr. John Hampden Pleasants made me edit, in his place, the Richmond Whig.
In a Northern "School Reader" (fifth or sixth), I once saw quite a good poem ascribed to me as the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger; but I knew nothing about it.
At another time, Mr. Thompson describes a sermon of Henry Ward Beecher's which he went from New York to Brooklyn to hear.
In Savannah, Ga., he saw Mr. I. K. Teft's unusually large and unique collection of autographs, and visited Mr. Alexander A. Smets' remarkable library, with its great rarities. He also met Gen. Henry R. Jackson, one of the poets of Georgia. J. A. Turner reviews Jackson's poems.
"The Seldens of Sherwood" is concluded in fifty-four chapters; but who the author, F——, was is unknown. Hugh R. Pleasants sketches the Virginia Constitutional Convention, of 1829-'30. Oliver P. Baldwin starts the Weekly Magnolia. He was so quiet and retiring a gentleman, that his abilities as a writer and speaker were for some time unknown. They became widely acknowledged, but not because of his fading Magnolia. He for some time edited the Dispatch and came to deliver eloquent public lectures and addresses.
Who furnished Notes and Comments on that long trip to China? A Southron writes "Michael Bonham, or The Fall of Bexar," a tale of Texas, in five parts. Moncure D. Conway comes in. Hon. John Y. Mason writes about a line of French steamers from Norfolk. He was both a State and a Federal Judge; our Minister to France and Secretary of the U. S. Navy. L. M. translates for his father, aged 77, Cicero's Cato, the elder, a treatise De Senectute. This must have been the filial Lucian Minor. The sermons preached at the University of Virginia by different able men, on the "Evidences of Christianity," have been volumed and are reviewed. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is reviewed and Lord Morpeth rebuked. Prof. Henry A. Washington delivers before the Virginia Historical Society an address on the first constitution of Virginia, 1776. There are honors paid to Henry Clay, and the editor has sonnets on the death of Mr. Webster. He well sustains his department. Sketches of the Flush Times in Alabama are introduced and take like Longstreet's "Georgia Scenes."
There is a common impression that the price of subscription to the Messenger was reduced from $5.00 to $3.00, when the form of publication was changed. This is a mistake. Up to the end of Volume XVIII. (1852), Mr. Thompson was both editor and proprietor. But by January, 1853, he had made an arrangement with his publishers, by which they became the proprietors and he their editor. It was then that the subscription was reduced to $3.00; but there was not the least change in the form or character of the work. It was thought that the reduction might, by a large accession of new subscribers, strengthen it financially. Mr. Thompson went on editing it in his usual style and Volume XIX. is very similar, in every respect, to its predecessors.In his first Editor's Table, he makes a strong showing in behalf of the Messenger. These tables are copious and varied and sometimes graced and seasoned by his own verses. The notices of new works evince taste, judgment and industry. Paul Hayne has become the editor of W. C. Richards' Southern Literary Gazette and a poetical contributor of the Charleston Weekly News and visits Richmond. Thos. B. Bradley addresses R. H. Stoddard poetically. He and his cousin, Miss Julia Pleasants, of Alabama, get out together a volume of their poetry. James C. Bruce delivers a fine address before the Society of Alumni of the University of Virginia. The constant friend, Tuckerman, brings forth his "Month in England." Jos. G. Baldwin, author of the inimitable "Flush Times," collects them in a book. He shows what he can do, in a serious style, by his "Representative Men," beginning with Jackson and Clay. Poe was charged with plagiarizing from Tennyson the poem: "Thou wast that all to me, love," etc. Mr. Thompson defends Poe and acquits him upon the testimony of Tennyson. We feel indebted to Mr. Thompson for a full and accurate version of Muhlenburg's "I Would Not Live Alway."
John Brown's raid and execution; the appearance of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" with its key, and Mrs. Stowe's visit to England could not allay feeling on the subject of slavery there, or in any section of this perturbed country. Mr. Thompson fires off an epigram, which was stolen by the New York Day-Book:
When Latin I studied, my Ainsworth in hand,
I answered my teacher that sto meant to stand.
But if asked I should now give another reply,
For Stowe means, beyond any cavil, to lie.
Dr. Geo. F. Holmes reviews "The Key to the Cabin" and Mrs. Ex-President Tyler addresses a telling epistle to the Duchess of Sutherland and the other ladies of England, of her stripe.
Mr. Thompson refers to the useful services of Historian Campbell in behalf of a public library in Petersburg, and Thos. S. Gholson's address at its opening. Mr. C. and Mr. B. B. Minor started for Petersburg, in the winter of 1840-1, a Library and Reading Room, in the new Exchange Building, in which Mr. Minor had his first law office. L.I.L.; S.L.C.; T. V. Moore, etc., are good contributors. There are poems from the pens of Francis S. Key, Mrs. Dr. Hicks, C.Q.M. Jordan, Mary J. Windle, Virginia L. Smith (Mrs. French), Musœus, Tenella, T. H. Chivers, Caroline Howard and Thackeray. Oh! that two years' voyage to China! Let's have all three Isthmian canals—Panama, Nicaragua, Tehuantepec—and Eads' ship railway, too, to shorten the route to the Celestial Empire. Simms has been long missing: he has taken charge, for a new proprietor, of the Southern Quarterly Review.
With a poetical L'Envoi the editor closes his good work for 1853 and in due time puts out the inviting commencement of it for another year. But he had had a visit to the Crystal Palace with J. G. Baldwin!
The first Editor's Table for 1854 is full of thanks and congratulations and says that the list of subscribers is constantly increasing. This cheering statement is repeated later. We have also a description of Beecher's tabernacle and congregation and of one of his anathemaic sermons against the South. He even prayed that the babes, whom he had just baptized, might not become slaveholders.
The Messenger runs on very well, when in June we learn that Mr. Thompson is absent and therefore the acting editor, John Esten Cooke, has taken the liberty of publishing an address, on "Colonial Life of Virginia," which Mr. Thompson had delivered in the Richmond Athenæum. But said absence is not accounted for, until we have, in July, an editorial letter from Europe, dated London, June 2nd. This is followed by two others from London and one from Paris, dated July, 1854; and there are two others, without date, which may have been written after his return. He seems to have slipped abroad, without any notice through, his magazine. The Editor's Table was suspended, but notices of new books pretty well kept up during his absence.
That long voyage to China having ended, another traveller makes a shorter overland journey to the East and finally reaches China. In those days, the Messenger was nearly as full of China as are the magazines of the present stirring era.
There is a long and learned discussion of "Why do Mills Run Faster by Night Than by Day?" The debate got so heated that one of the arguers said his opponent, L., had come at him, "bulging ad hominem cum pitchforko;"—like Senator T. of South Carolina. A typographical error as to mills started another question, equally scientific, "Why do mules run faster by night than by day?" There are long articles on "Free Schools and the University of Virginia," and on "Universities and Colleges." The eloquent and gifted B. Johnson Barbour delivers an address before the Literary Societies of Virginia Military Institute. Hugh Blair Grigsby describes, by request, the library of Randolph, of Roanoke. There are translations from French and German, some tales and reviews of Thackeray, Milliard and Bulwer; and the latter' s oration, in defence of Classical Literature, before the University of Edinburgh. But this defence has been as well made in the Messenger, by Geo. E. Dabney and others.
Mrs. Virginia Maury (Otey) Minor, of Richmond, offers "A Bouquet of Memories, or Spring Scenes on Land and Water," in prose and verse, descriptive of the pleasures of her visit to the home of Dr. Austin Brockenbrough (the uncle-in-law of her husband), in Tappahannock, Va.
Mr. Thompson defends the Messenger against an assault of Putnam's Magazine, in New York. He is a warm friend of Sculptor Gait, who is in Richmond, and wishes him to be employed to execute a statue of Mr. Jefferson, for his University, and he rejoices when the Legislature appropriates ten thousand dollars for that purpose.
The London Critic is very savage towards Edgar A. Poe. Whilst Mr. Thompson deprecates it, he issues it. M. LL. W. H. has loomed up in prose and verse; the approved Tenella hails from Raleigh; B. L. G., Miss Talley, Henry Ellen, Hayne, T. V. Moore, Julia Pleasants, Kilgour, Dr. Bendan, A. B. Seals, Everest, Eames, J. A. Turner, Mrs. Sigourney, E. L. Hines and others supply poetry. To correct various misprints of "Annabel Lee," Mr. Thompson reprints it from the MS. which Mr. Poe gave him five days before his death.
Some one at the University reviews Marion Harland's "Alone." The editor lets volume XX. slip off, as he had done to Europe. During the Confederacy war, he revisited London and Paris and abode some time in each.
The Messenger is about to attain its majority and is the oldest monthly of its kind in the United States, except The Knickerbocker, which is only six months its senior. The editor renders hearty thanks to patrons, contributors and the press and says: "Yet, we deem it proper to tell the Southern people that for years past the Messenger has met with only the most meagre patronage and now stands in need of enlarged means, or it must share the fate of other similar works which have preceded it and perished. * * * We shall omit no exertion to maintain its good repute to the last;" and thus he enters upon the twenty-first year and furnishes five pages of literary notices.
Jos. G. Baldwin has published his celebrated "Party Leaders" and is reviewed; W. S. Grayson has become quite a writer on Mental Philosophy; Arago's "Memoirs of my Youth" is translated and Augusta Greenwood writes "Shade and Sunshine," in nine chapters. There is a discussion about the English language, based upon Rev. R. W. Bailey's Manual of that great tongue, and Dr. S. H. Dickson delivers an address before the New England Society, which had been published, but not copyrighted. Mr. Thompson, at first, intended only to make extracts from it, but concluded to take the whole, with an apology to the author. Dr. Dickson is the elegant gentleman who is so highly spoken of during Mr. Minor's editorship and who was so near becoming a professor in the Richmond Medical College.
Passing by a number of good things, we come to an editorial note of a lecture on "The Geology of Words," delivered before the Athenæum by the Rev. Thos. V. Moore, a distinguished Presbyterian divine of Richmond, who removed to Nashville, Tenn. And still further on, the editor resumes his "Notes on European Travel" and takes us to Wiesbaden, Frankfort, Baden Baden, Strasburg, etc. He promises to gratify numerous correspondents, by continuing these notes, which have been so long deferred by the temporary loss of all his papers on his return voyage. He has yet to go through Northern Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. He sometimes breaks out into rhyme.
"A Kingdom Mortgaged" is a sequel to the serial of Gaston Phoebus. Under the title "The Daughters of Washington" is an account of the formation, in Richmond, of the association of ladies for the purchase of Mt. Vernon. Isaac McLellan, of New York, aids them with a poetic appeal.
A review of the poems of Owen Meredith, who has been a contributor to the Messenger, and now resides in Paris, where Mr. Thompson met him, is taken from the London Examiner. Smithson's bequest; its objects and issues are presented. "Gonsalvo of Cordova; or The Conquest of Granada," in nine books, is translated from the Spanish, by A. Roane; the Ladies' Mt. Vernon Association have a celebration and Rev. J. Lansing Burrows makes an address for them and so does Beverly R. Wellford, Jr.
Tenella, besides some poetry, contributes her, "Reminiscences of Cuba." Marion Harland (Miss Hawes, of Richmond) has out her "Hidden Path," which is noticed. There is an exceedingly able article of 44 pages on: "The Black Race in North America; Why was their Introduction Permitted?" The editor says that the author had commenced it two years ago; but threw aside his half-completed MS. Very recently, at the urgent instance of a number of gentlemen to whom the leading views were explained and who thought the present crisis demanded it, he resumed his work and finished it. Mr. Thompson thought it was worth publishing, without being divided, notwithstanding its length. Who was the author?
There is an investigation, in continuance of that instituted by Mr. B. B. Minor, of those extraordinary brass French cannon in the armory at Richmond. Mr. B. B. Minor furnishes copies of some interesting revolutionary MSS. found in an old iron chest in the basement of the Capitol and relating to the raising of money for the soldiers of the Revolution, by the ladies of Alexandria and Fredericksburg, including Washington's mother.
S. S. C., of Columbus, Ga., and S. A. L., of Washington, Pa., are frequent contributors. Poetry is freely interspersed. Mr. Jas. Barron Hope, as literary executor of the late Henry Ellen, distributes with a liberal hand Mr. Ellen's poetical estate. Besides other things, Mr. Ellen undertakes a long poem, in two cantos: "Leoni Di Monota, a Legend of Verona." Meek, Eames, Sigourney, Cist, Leigh, and other old friends appear; whilst there are a number of new Muse-courters, including the Rev. Win. Love, Marion Harland, etc. Two works, by Richmond ladies, are expected: one by Miss Susan Archer Talley and the other by Mrs. Anna Cora (Mowatt) Ritchie.
Besides his notices of new works, the editor closes the year with a brief address to his patrons, in which he says: "We are truly gratified to announce that the apprehensions which were so seriously felt and so frankly stated by the proprietors, two months ago, are so far allayed that arrangements have been entered into for the prolonged existence of the work, at least during 1856. * * * Whatever may be the ultimate fate of the Messenger, there have been drawn forth, by the recent appeal to the public, expressions of kindly regard for the work and of appreciation (only too flattering) of the editor's services in Southern Literature, both on the part of the press and of private individuals, which he can never cease to remember with gratitude."
1856. Now comes the change in the form of "The Ancient Mariner,"—the Messenger: "the number of pages is increased, while the size of the page, always cumbrous, will be diminished. More material will be given and in a more convenient form." A new design is adopted for the cover and there are to be two volumes a year. So that there is a "New Series, Volume I., January to June. John R. Thompson, editor: Macfarlane, Fergusson & Co., proprietors." The original title of the Messenger had been very properly restored from the too heavy one, which Minor and Simms had given it at the time of their union, in 1845.
The year opens with a companion to that long article already referred to, viz.: "Africa in America." But the general tenor of the contents seems to be more lightsome than heretofore. A translation from Emile Souvestre is continued. "North and South Carolina Colleges" is copied from Duychink's Cyclopædia, and the death of Rev. Dr. Henry, president of South Carolina College, is announced and lamented. The editor gives a hearty greeting to his patrons, with thanks for having enabled him "to address the Southern public once more in behalf of their literature." He renews his appeal for support and cites the example of an old contributor, who has sent him twelve new names.
Cecilia gives another touch to "Tennyson's Portraiture of Woman." S. A. L., recurring to what had occurred in the previous volume, takes up the Astronomer of the Georgia University. Hugh Blair Grigsby directs attention to the early history of Virginia and her convention of 1776. Prescott and Macaulay are well reviewed. Mr. Thackeray visits Richmond and delivers, in the Athenæum, his lectures on "The Royal Georges of England." (Mr. Thompson gave him a supper at his father's, where wit and other things flowed.) Historian George Bancroft makes a fine address at a grand celebration at King's Mountain, S. C. Thomas B. Holcombe discusses "The Moral Tendency of Goethe's Writings," and S., "The Pursuit of Truth." The Rev. Wm. N. Pendleton, of Lexington, Va., discourses upon the "Philosophy of Dress," an address he had prepared, by invitation, for the Athenæum. Mrs. Win. F. Ritchie did produce another work, entitled "Mimic Life." "The University of Virginia; its Character and Wants" are again frankly considered. Duychink's "Cyclopædia of American Literature" furnishes a sketch and portrait of Simms, and a picture of Woodlands.
Mr. Thompson is very enthusiastic over the eloquence of Edward Everett; first, in his oration, in Richmond, March 19, 1856, on "Washington," for the Ladies' Mount Vernon Association; and afterwards, at the inauguration of the Dudley Astronomical Observatory, at Albany. But Mr. Thompson does not notice another exhibition, in Richmond, of the eloquence and liberality of the eminent New Englander. By request he delivered, for some good local object, his finished lecture on "Charity." Mrs. B. B. Minor was a founder and vice-president of the Mt. Vernon Association. She gave the orator a lunch and cleared his throat for his eloquence with some of her noted ambrosia, which he highly commended.
There is a tribute, with a portrait, to Dr. Francis Lieber, and Jos. G. Baldwin treats, in his own style, of the genius and character of Alexander Hamilton. The great writer and logician, Dr. Albert Taylor Bledsoe, is brought forward with his "Liberty and Slavery." When he was professor of Mathematics in the University of Virginia, his proper chair would have been that of Moral Philosophy. John Hampden Pleasants, "The Murat of the Press," sketches Virginia's distinguished son and Jefferson's trusty coadjutor, Jos. C. Cabell. Judge Abel P. Upshur, though dead, expounds the true theory of government. L. C. B., of Westmoreland county, was not much of a prophet, though he may have been a good deal of a philosopher, in his lengthy paper on "The Country in 1950; or the Conservatism of Slavery."
E. De Leon sends from Egypt his "Pilgrimage to Palestine." Gov. H. A. Wise delivers an oration, on the "Fourth of July," before the Virginia Military Institute, and citizens of Lexington, and Ex-President John Tyler a lecture, before the Petersburg Library Association, on "The Dead of the Cabinet." Could Bossuet have done it better? Hugh S. Legaré, Abel P. Upshur, Thos. W. Gilmer, what a trio! And Commodore Beverly Kennon perished by the side of Upshur, Gilmer, Gardiner and Maxey on the Princeton.
There is much good lighter reading, of which is "Lilias," a novel, by Lawrence Neville, author of "Edith Allen." The poetry, too, is abundant: From Owen Meredith, T. B. Aldrich, T. Dunn English, Baron Hope Ellen, Adrian Beaufain, Bob Ruly, Amie and others. But one curious thing must not be omitted: The account of Ben Bannaker, the negro astronomer of Maryland.
Mr. Thompson's own work is conspicuous. Besides his notices of new works and his lively and instructive Editor's Table, he gives us another batch of his "Notes of European Travel," his "Reminiscences of Rome" and two special poems. One, on "Patriotism," was spoken before the convention of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, in Carusi's Saloon, Washington, January 3, 1856. It is largely satirical. The other, on Virginia, was delivered before the Virginia Alpha of the Phi Beta Society, in the chapel of William and Mary, July 3, 1856, and was published by order of that Society. The society was inaugurated at William and Mary, suspended by the Revolution and revived at the same place, when Wm. Short, of Philadelphia, its only surviving member and its last president, was present.
In heralding his 24th volume (New Series, Volume III.) Mr. Thompson says: "The New Year opens well for Southern Letters. There are gratifying evidences, in many quarters of our beautiful and genial section of the country, of a rich blossoming of thought, a quickening of latent genius, a gushing forth of the bright waters of poetry from what has so long been thought a sterile and unsympathizing soil." The volume is extensively Virginian and historical. There is a history of "The Virginia Navy of the Revolution," in three numbers, with an addendum, which would be news to a great many, and accounts of three celebrations on the spot of the settlement of Jamestown. These celebrations have been revived by the association for the preservation of Virginia antiquities and measures have already been started for a grander commemoration and an Exposition, on the 13th of May, 1907, the 300th anniversary of the genesis of these United States.
There are two controversies: Superintendent Fras. H. Smith, of the Virginia Military Institute, made an elaborate report on the Progress of Education in Virginia, in which he claimed that his Military State Institution had greatly improved the colleges and academies of the State, in their curricula, methods and discipline. A friend of the University warmly reviews this report, which brings out a strong defender of Superintendent Smith. The university and college man comes again, even more so, and stirs up the Smith man.
The next spat involved the editor. He had published, from the Church Review, a laudatory sketch of Dr. John Esten Cooke, after whom his friend, the rising young author, was named. Dr. Cooke's family were of Maryland; but he, like Poe, was born in Boston, whilst his parents were there temporarily; but he gained his chief distinction in Kentucky, where he was a teacher and author in medicine and theology. But he changed his relations from the Methodist to the Episcopal Church and published a work against the validity of Presbyterian Ordination. On this account, the Presbyterian organ in Richmond berates the Messenger and its editor very severely. Mr. Thompson defends himself very successfully; and this fact may be added to show how ill-judged was this attack. When the church of that remarkable man, Rev. Dr. Moses D. Hoge, was dedicated, Mr. Thompson had, by invitation, composed a hymn for the occasion.
Still, there was room for much good literary matter. Paul H. Hayne has become not only an editor, but a lecturer. He is noted for his sonnets, and Thompson pops off one at him, for his volume of them. Among the contributors are Jno. P. Kennedy, W. S. Grayson, H. T. Tuckerman, E. A. Pollard, Ex-President John Tyler, Gov. H. A. Wise, S. A. L. of Washington, Pa., and Prof. J. M. Fishburn. There are reviews of St. Geo. Tucker's tale of Bacon's Rebellion, Percival's poems and of the Edinburgh Review, of October, 1856, for its assault upon the United States.
Among the poets are Barron Hope (who now has out a volume), G. P. R. James, A. Judson Crane, Amie, S. A. Talley, John Esten Cooke, Caroline Howard, Emeline S. Smith, Adrian Beaufain, T. Dunn English, George E. Senseney, T. B. Aldrich, Matilda, R. A. Oakes and B. B. Foster.
We have unexpectedly more of the editor's European excursions. He had put all his travels in a book, which was actually printed in New York; but the whole edition was incinerated. After a while, the publisher discovered, in a drawer, a single set of the printed sheets, which he had handsomely bound and sent to Mr. Thompson. So we now have in the Messenger, all that he chose to tell of that famous foreign trip. Amie wrote a poem on the lone volume; which is said to be still in existence.
Bishop Mead's "Old Churches and Families of Virginia" is reviewed; also Poe's "Raven" and its origin traced to Wilson's "Noctes Ambrosianæ, in Old Ebony," number 41, for March, 1829, and to Mrs. E. B. Browning's "Lady Geraldine's Courtship." The novel "Lilias," by Laurence Neville, is finished.
Mr. Thompson tenders to every one concerned a courteous and persuasive "Vive, valeque."
The volumes for 1858 have recognition of both the Army and the Navy. They are also historical,—Virginian and Revolutionary. Mr. C. Campbell has a bout with Mr. Richard Randolph in relation to the treatment of Patrick Henry, as to his military rank, by the Committee of Safety, in 1775, and Mr. Campbell completely vindicates the statements contained in his History. Probably that committee rendered a greater public service by keeping Mr. Henry out of the Colonial Army and making him Governor of Virginia.
Announcement is made of a new and improved edition of Campbell's "History of Virginia," with an appeal in its behalf. There are numerous selections, probably furnished by Mr. Campbell, from the Lee papers.
One of the main literary features is a copyrighted novel, by a lady of South Carolina: "Vernon Grove; or Hearts As They Are." Very soon after it was finished, it was issued from New York in book form, and very well received. It turns out that the Zarry Zyle; or Larry Lyle, of the earlier years of the Messenger, was P. P. Cooke.
1858. This was the year of the inauguration of the grand Washington Monument, in Richmond, on the 22nd of February. The March number contains the opening ode, by Mr. Thompson, and the oration, by the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, which had been printed in advance. But the celebration is recorded in the April number. The writer was there and felt a deep personal interest in everything that related to the Washington Monument, because he had set the ball in motion, through the Virginia Historical Society.
The assemblage was grand, despite the weather, which was inclement and signalized by a driving snowstorm. Yet a large multitude stood and faced it for hours. The venerable minister's (Dr. Adam Empie) supplications were heard by only a few; the stentorian bellowing of the Masonic orator (Robert G. Scott, Sr.) was unintelligible, and then it came to Governor Wise, whose usual eloquence rang out clear and distinct. One could hardly refrain from shouting aloud: "Thank God for stump-speaking!"
The Messenger spreads this brief speech, in large type, on its pages. Mr. Hope did not give his terminal ode to the press, because he wished to deliver it in other places. At length the writer sought refuge from the storm in the Capitol, and there, from a window in the State Library, saw Mr. Hunter speaking and the rest of the proceedings. Only a few feet away, the widow and child of the deceased sculptor, Crawford, were viewing the same scenes.
The Rev. Dr. Gilman, one of the literary ornaments of Charleston, S. C., is no more. Thompson knew him and pays friendly tribute to him. Lucian Minor died in Williamsburg, July 8th, and he is characterized as he so richly deserved by B., who was probably his bosom-friend, Wm. M. Blackford, Sr., then of Lynchburg, Va.
David Paul Browne, the supporter of Mr. White, has a work on "Christianity in the Legal Profession": "The Forum; or Forty Years' Full Practise, at the Philadelphia Bar," two volumes. The Messenger reviews it. R. E. C. considers the problem of Free Society. Holt Wilson investigates Cotton, Steam and Machinery. Mozis Addums indites his humorous and racy letters to Billy Ivvins. Dr. Geo. W. Bagby, the author of these orthographic epistles, afterwards became widely known as the successor of Mr. Thompson and a writer outside the Messenger.
Death has partly changed the defenders of the South on the subject of slavery. A new one steps forth, James P. Holcombe, who grapples the question: "Is Slavery Consistent with Natural Law?" In the early part of his career, Mr. Holcombe seemed to have fine powers, mainly of acquisition, but he kept progressing, until he became highly distinguished both as a writer and a speaker. Among the positions which he held was that of associate professor, with Dr. John B. Minor, in the Law School of the University of Virginia. There are other prose writers. The poetical offerings are so abundant that only a part can be adverted to. John E. Cooke has one, "Honoria Vane;" so have Amie, Mabel, Hayne, English and Timrod. Simms is still absent, but his place is fully supplied by Adrian Beaufain, with his "Areytos; or Songs of the South."
Mr. G. P. R. James, as British Consul, had come from Norfolk to Richmond and is now about to change officially to Venice. His friends present him with a silver julep bowl, properly inscribed, and Mr. Thompson adds a complimentary poem. We can not concur in his estimate of Consul James. To us he was not a gentleman; but a selfish and exacting John Bullite.
Putnam's spiteful monthly has "gone where the woodbine twineth;" but Mr. Thompson has to watch the rising Atlantic Monthly, which is decidedly anti-Southern. Charles Dana is now connected with the once friendly Tribune, and has published his "Cyclopedia of American Literature." Mr. Thompson shows up its one-sided injustice to the South. He is generous to all his brother and sister poets and to some competing literary ventures, especially Russell's Monthly, of Charleston, S. C. His sketch of the great French actress, Rachel, with a contrast between her and Charlotte Bronté, is a good specimen of his style and sentiments. It is, too, a sort of postscript to his "Notes of Foreign Travel," for he had two interviews with Rachel, in Paris. Mr. Thompson says: "Once more we greet our subscribers in a new volume of the Messenger. The good old magazine has, we hope, some vitality in it yet, and we confidently appeal to the contents of the present number for the interest and piquancy which our contributors lend to its pages. With the new year, we have formed new associations with writers in various parts of the country, which will enable us to maintain the character of the Messenger and make it still worthier of the Southern public. * * * It is for them we strive and it is their encouragement we most desire." He also trusts that the cherished literary friends of the work are held to it by such ties of enduring affection and pleasing reminiscence, that they will not withdraw their valued aid.
Miss Susan A. Talley opens with a fine prose article on "Reading." There is a good deal more from the Lee papers and early letters from Arthur Lee, whilst he was pursuing his education in Europe. There are "Letters from a Spinster," by J. D. P. Tuckerman takes hold of Balzac and afterwards of Sleep. A Traveller treats of "The Thugs of India" and afterwards of "Funeral Rites in the East" and religious novels are discussed. Venerable William and Mary is burned a short time before a celebration there, on its 166th aniversary, to which Hon. Edward Everett had been invited. He sends a reply, full of interest and sympathy. Bishop Percy's "Reliques of Ancient Romance Poetry" is reviewed. Catherine of Russia is portrayed (from the London Times). John E. Cooke furnishes some Revolutionary letters, from Gen. Steuben and others.
Alex. H. Sands delivers before the Hollins Institute, at commencement, an address, "The Intellectual Culture of Woman." He was a lawyer of Richmond, of some literary self-culture. From friendship for the work and its proprietors, he, after Mr. Thompson's retirement, rendered the Messenger some editorial service, but was never employed as editor, as has been by some supposed.
There is a full review of several of the works of Dr. Simms, who is still absent, but engaged in his faithful labors. The poems of Aldrich are attended to. Moses Adams describes the tableaux of "Paradise and the Peri," in Richmond, in aid of the Mt. Vernon fund. They were really beautiful and magnificent, which was mainly due to the taste and skill of Mrs. Wm. F. Ritchie, who had learned a good deal of stage scenery, costumes and effects whilst she was "on the boards" as Mrs. Mowatt. She was also a splendid reader and explained the tableaux. The writer's people were in them with her and one of his sons was, for some services which he rendered, dubbed by Miss Cunningham a "Knight of Mt. Vernon." Mr. Thompson also republishes, from a Richmond newspaper, an humorous extravaganza of Dr. Bagly, in which he divides our globe between an American and European Republic and a Russian Empire, and reduces to very subordinate places in the Republic many of those who now claim to be "the hub of the Universe" and the tip-top of civilization. An Alabamian reviews Dr. R. Shelton Mackenzie's five volumes of the works of John Wilson—Christopher North. Coventry Patmore's poems are specially noticed. There is "The Polite Art of Novelling, a Didactic Fiction by G. Buggini Wufficks"; a satire. But there is also a copyrighted novel: "Green way Court; or The Bloody Ground," which is, at its close, acknowledged by John E. Cooke.
Bulwer's "What Will He Do With It?" is doubly reviewed. E. T. defends Lord Macaulay against the assault upon him in the June number of Blackwood. The Messenger started the "Reveries of a Bachelor." It now has those of a widower. It also has observations on "The Cæsars of De Quincey."
Gen. Win. H. Gaines, in a letter to Gen. Henry Lee, April first, 1810, describes the battle of Eutaw. F. Pardigon translates for the Messenger, from his own history, some transactions of the French Revolution of 1848. E. A. Pollard, of New York, pays a month's visit to his old Blue Ridge home. Praed's poems are extensively exhibited. There is a review of the "Memoirs of Robert Houdin," ambassador, author and conjurer; also "Kate," a novelette, and a sketch, in two parts, of "Foolometers."
The poetry is abundant. How Amie has expanded! Mr. Thompson might have made her Mrs. Editor. Fanny Fielding, of Norfolk, comes forth in both poetry and prose. A young lady of Virginia looks into a mirror a century old and is inspired with 175 lines of good poetry. Maria Gertrude Buchanan has a long ode on Virginia. Mr. Thompson has: "Poesy, an Essay in Rhyme," delivered before the Literary Societies of Columbian College, at the Smithsonian Institution, June 28th, 1859.
The projected celebration at William and Mary was held on the 19th of February, notwithstanding the late conflagration, and St. George Tucker delivers a semi-epic poem, from which large extracts are given in the Editor's Table. Then, on the Fourth of July, at the close of the session, Hugh Blair Grigsby delivers there, before the students, an oration, with the whole of which the Messenger favors its readers.
This year, the editor made two notable excursions: One was on the Baltimore & Ohio R. R., in company with Judge Warren, of Boston, Commander M. F. Maury, N. P. Willis, Bayard Taylor and Hon. Jno. P. Kennedy. They had plenty of grand scenery, excellent cheer (cognac for the cele-brandi and lager for the cele-beerimi) and lots of fun. Maury was full of humor and pleasantry. But the other excursion was of greater interest and higher sentiment, being a pious pilgrimage to the site of ancient Jamestown. By pre-agreement of a year, a party went from Brandon, in a small steamboat chartered for the purpose, anchored at Jamestown and went ashore in boats. It consisted of sixteen ladies and gentlemen, who hailed from four States and from Halifax. They were there to see all that could be found of the historic place, to recall the associations of the past and especially to plant ivy upon the remnant of the old brick church tower. Among them were the venerable and versatile Thomas Ritchie, Sr., whose daughter was the proprietress of Brandon, and the Hon. Edward Everett. They searched and viewed everything and planted the ivy. But Mr. Thompson was gently constrained to address the orator of Massachusetts "in such unstudied phrases of welcome as he could command and the occasion suggested." Mr. Everett made a beautiful and very happy reply. After some refreshments at the house of the manager of the plantation, the pilgrims returned to hospitable Brandon.
Mr. Thompson makes an earnest appeal for the preservation of whatever remains of Jamestown and its protection from the stormy winds and tides. The A. P. V. A. now have well in hand the work for which he entreated and the Federal Government is helping them to stay the encroachments of the waters, which have already enrivered nearly the whole of what was so long the capital of Virginia.
Once more the editor salutes his patrons and the public: "With the present number, the Messenger enters upon the second quarter of a century of its existence. Twenty-five years have been completed since its first appearance and a second generation of readers have grown up in the interim. The occasion is interesting in itself; but it is rendered doubly so by the present excited state of feeling in the United States."
He then takes a view of the troublous state of our country and argues that, whether the Union be preserved, or severed, the South ought to maintain its own independent position in the Republic of Letters. He shows how much less sectional the Messenger has been in its literary work than the Northern magazines and how just and impartial it has been toward litterateurs "beyond the Tweed." "The sins of Bryant, the editor, have not deadened us to the beauties of Bryant the poet." When Thompson was taken to his rest, he was the literary editor of Bryant's Paper; and when the University of Virginia had their celebration of his memory, the testimonial of him by Park Benjamin was as cordially received as any that was given.
Washington Irving is no more and in addition to his own tribute, the editor copies Tuckerman's loving and tearful account of the obsequies at Sunnyside. England loses Macaulay and that sad event is duly commemorated. At this time, there are in the Messenger two controversies relating to Macaulay. One concerns his unfavorable opinions of the United States and the authenticity of his letter to the Hon. H. S. Randall, the biographer of Jefferson. The Messenger obtains and publishes the letter, of whose genuineness there could be no doubt. The other is about Macaulay's characterization of the infamous Duke of Marlborough and is carried on by E. T. and W. G. M., who writes from Westover, Va., whereas Wm. G. Minor, who might have done it, was probably in Missouri. E. T. contributes other things in prose and verse.
Mr. Thompson says, with more than surprise, that Chas. A. Dana's "Household Book of Poetry" does not contain "Home, Sweet Home"!! He captures a floating poem, "How Strange," by Florence Percy, because he thinks it is from the pen of his pet. But he is mistaken, for Amie still writes, but from San Francisco, and says Florence Percy is in Italy.
The Lee papers, "Letters of a Spinster," "Reveries of a Widower," and "Foolometers," by Procrustes, Jr., are still running. Mozis Addums copyrights his "Blue Eyes" and "Battlewick, a Winter's Tale." Rev. W. Carey Crane, in an address before the Historical Society of Mississippi, gives the history of that State. John Esten Cooke contributes poetry and "Recollections of a Contented Philosopher," from Southern Field and Fireside. His sketch of Jefferson also is taken from Appleton's Cyclopædia. When he so unexpectedly commenced his literary career he was the Sunday School teacher of Mr. B. B. Minor's sons, in the days of good old Dr. Adam Empie, the first rector of St. James, Richmond, and used to visit his scholars and their parents, who always gladly welcomed him. He was never employed as editor of the Messenger, but rendered it valuable service, in every way.
Mabel, a poetess of Mississippi, sends prose sketches, "Unloved," and "The Little Flower." Mrs. M. J. Preston, the Margaret Junkin of former days, reviews con amore, Elizabeth B. Browning. There is much discussion about "The Ancient Ballad of the Nut Brown Maid" and its authorship. Hugh Blair Grigsby reviews fully and finely (in the Richmond Enquirer, whence the notice is transferred) Campbell's new and enlarged "History of Virginia." "The Races of Men" is by Henry A. Washington, Professor of History and Constitutional Law in William and Mary. He has been spoken of. Procrustes, Jr., presents "Great Men a Misfortune;" and some one treats of Descartes and his method. We have also "a Dish of Epics" and other side dishes which will have to stand aside. But the life-like statue of the great orator and commoner of the West, Henry Clay, is unveiled, with becoming ceremonies; and B. Johnson Barbour delivers an eloquent oration. His mother, the widow of Gov. James Barbour, was the originator of the movement which led to the possession of the statue, and president of the association formed for the purpose of raising the necessary funds. Mr. Barbour and Mr. Thompson were warm admirers and strong adherents of Mr. Clay and once, when he lost the nomination for the presidency of the United States, they both wrote him letters of deep regret and Mr. Thompson sent him one of his poems.
The way in which Mr. Joel T. Hart, the self-made sculptor of Kentucky, came to be engaged to execute the statue was this: Mr. B. B. Minor had in Tappahannock, Va., a school-mate, John Custis Darbey, of Richmond county. Darbey studied medicine and settled in Lexington, Ky., where he became distinguished and influential. He knew Hart's history, believed in his genius and resolved to befriend him. Hart prepared what was regarded by his friends as a model bust of Mr. Clay and brought it to Richmond, along with a letter of introduction and unreserved recommendation, from Dr. Darbey to Mr. Minor.
This letter, a careful examination of the model (for Mr. Minor was personally acquainted with Mr. Clay), and some study of the artist himself induced him to give his assistance to Mr. Hart. He had no voice in the matter, but put the sculptor in contact with those who had and after a full and fair investigation the contract was awarded to Hart. He also made a statue of Mr. Clay for New Orleans. We have seen his chef d'oeuvre, "The Triumph of Virtue," in the exposition of Louisville, whose ladies purchased it at a liberal price.
Of the poetry in this volume Susan Pleasants, now Mrs. Creswell, of Louisiana, is one author. Amie, T. Dunn English, Cameron Risque, Fanny Fielding and W. W. Turner are others.
The Editorial Table for May, 1860, opens thus: "The editorial conduct of this magazine will pass into other hands with the next issue." Then comes a valedictory well enough conceived and expressed, so far as it goes. But there is not one word of any reason for the change, or of what he intends to do, or whither to go. He compliments his successor, but does not name him.
The next month, however, that successor, Dr. Geo. W. Bagby, another young man, informs us that on the 15th of May, from 5 P. M., at Zetelle's restaurant, a complimentary dinner was given to Mr. Thompson, by a number of his friends and admirers. Mr. W. H. Macfarland presides, with Mr. Thompson on his right. Among the invited guests are Jno. E. Cooke, Dr. H. G. Latham, of Lynchburg, and Dr. Bagby. Mr. Thompson responds to a speech from Mr. Macfarland; there were toasts and other speeches and Dr. C. Bell Gibson sings a song of his own making, in which there is an allusion to the Field and Fireside. Mr. Thompson recites, by request, the poem he wrote for the Old Dominion Society of New York, on their first anniversary, and which was read at their dinner, by the Hon. Alex. Boteler.
Mr. Macfarland stood very high in Richmond and had had a good deal of experience on such occasions. He was a little pompous in his manner and appearance; but was a Christian gentleman of high character and generous spirit. He was also a good writer and speaker and was selected as the orator for the public celebration in honor of the Hon. Benjamin Watkins Leigh. Mr. Leigh was truly a great man and the orator eulogized him appropriately and deservedly. His effort was published in the Messenger.
The celebration took place in the Capitol Square, where preparations had been made for it, in the walk which runs now at the foot of the steps to the new State Library.
Though Mr. Thompson did not tell it to the readers of the Messenger, he had accepted a position with the Field and Fireside, a weekly agricultural and literary journal of Augusta, Ga. He had given it several flattering notices in the Messenger, which stated that it was edited (perhaps founded) by his friend and Paris correspondent, W. W. Mann. Mr. Thompson did a good part by the Messenger for about thirteen years.