The Southern Literary Messenger, 1834-1864/Second Volume
THE SECOND VOLUME
There was a hiatus of the months of October and November before the commencement of Volume II. in December, 1836. It opens with an important Publisher's Notice: "The gentleman referred to in the ninth number of the Messenger, as filling its editorial chair, retired thence with the eleventh number, and the intellectual department is now under the conduct of the proprietor, assisted by a gentleman of distinguished literary, talents. Then referring to his contributors, he continues: "Among these we hope to be pardoned for singling out the name of Mr. Edgar A. Poe; not with design of making any invidious distinction, but because such a mention of him finds numberless precedents in the Journals on every side, which have sung the praises of his uniquely original vein of imagination and of humorous, delicate satire."
Who was the editor for only two numbers is not known,  but the distinguished assistant was undoubtedly Mr. Poe, who, though not formally announced as editor, was soon proclaimed such, all over the country. As early as page 13 there are "Scenes from an unpublished Drama," by Edgar A. Poe. On page 33 is his Prize Tale, "MS. Found in a Bottle;" from "The Gift," edited by Miss Leslie. Mr. Kennedy had tried to induce Gary & Hart to publish all sixteen of Poe's Tales of the Folio Club, but they would only consent to insert the above in Miss Leslie's Annual for that year. The Messenger reproduced it and gave Miss Leslie a flattering notice.
The critical notices embrace 28 pages and some of them are trenchant and one of them murderous. That is a review of "Norman Leslie: A Tale of the Present Times," New York, Harpers. Though the work is anonymous, the reviewer speedily drags to light the author as "nobody but Theodore S. Fay, one of the editors of the New York Mirror," and then proceeds to demolish him. Among other things he says: "As regards Mr. Fay's style, it is unworthy of a school-boy. The editor of the New York Mirror has either never seen an edition of Murray's Grammar, or he has been a-Willising so long as to have forgotten his vernacular language. Let us examine one or two of his sentences at random." Here we have a "blistering detail;" a "blistering truth;" a "blistering story," and
a "blistering hand,"—to say nothing of innumerable other blisters interspersed throughout the work. "But we have done with Norman Leslie: if ever we saw such a silly thing, may we be—blistered."
Besides his reviews of books, Mr. Poe thought proper to take full notice seriatim of the Edinburg; the Westminster; the London Quarterly; the North American, etc., and he adhered to this. He gives a very favorable critique of the "Address on Education, delivered by Lucian Minor, before the Institute of Education of Hampden-Sidney College;" which was published in pamphlet form, although it appeared in the present number of the Messenger.
Among the reviews are those of several Southern works, viz.: "The Heroine-Cherubina," by Eaton Stanard Barrett; a new edition published in Richmond, by P. D. Bernard, Mr. White's son-in-law; the second volume of Conway Robinson's "Practice in the Courts in Virginia," also published in Richmond; Maxwell's "Life of the Rev. Dr. John H. Rice;" Walker Anderson's "Oration on the Rev. Dr. Joseph Caldwell, late President of the University of North Carolina;" Rev. D. L. Carroll's "Inaugural Address, as President of Hampden-Sidney College," published in Richmond, by Mr. White. There are also tributes to Washington Irving, Miss Sedgwick and Mrs. Sarah J. Hale.
Among the poets of this number are two Elizas, far apart,—one from Maine and the other of Richmond.
The second number for January, 1836, contains "A Pæeon;" "Metzengerstein, a Tale in Imitation of the German;" "Scenes from an Unpublished Drama," all by Poe; and seventeen pages of critical notices, by the same. The first of these is a grouping review, not unkind perhaps for Poe, of the poems of Mrs. L. H. Sigourney, Miss H. F. Gould and Mrs. E. F. Ellett. He is quite savage towards Simms' "Partisan, a Tale of the Revolution," and particularly towards its brief and unobjectionable dedication to the author's friend, Richard Yeadon, Jr. He is far more favorable to Prof. Lieber's "Reminiscences of the Great Historian Niebuhr," to the Harper's re-publication of "Robinson Crusoe" and even to Miss Sedgwick's "Tales and Sketches."
There is a Prize Poem, "The Fountain of Oblivion," by a Virginian. This number introduces a new feature in a supplement of eight pages, which consists of a short Publisher's Notice and the expressions of the Press in regard to the Messenger; not only in Virginia, but in several other States, North, South and West
To the next number, Mr. Poe contributes a tale, "The Duc De L'Omelette" (which gives rise to some criticism); a poem, "The Valley Nis," a prose sketch of Palestine, and a number of critical notices, of which there are 32 pages. But of these, Judge Beverly Tucker was probably the author of the splendid article on Chief Justice Marshall, in review of three orations in honor of that great jurist, by Horace Binney in Philadelphia; Dr. Joseph Story, in Boston, and Edgar Snowden, in Alexandria, D. C.
Mr. Poe transfixes Mr. Morris Mattson, of Philadelphia, author of "Paul Ulric; or the Adventures of an Enthusiast" He says: "When we called 'Norman Leslie' the silliest book in the world we had certainly never seen 'Paul Ulric.' * * * Of Mr. Mattson's style the less we say the better. It is quite good enough for Mr. Mattson's matter," etc. Yet he gives this silly book a review (with extracts) of seven pages. He lets off with a kind word, "Rose Hill, a Tale of the Old Dominion," by a Virginian, an unpretending duodecimo of about 200 pages.
There are discriminating but favorable reviews of Martin's Gazetteer of Virginia; "The Confessions of Emilia Harrington," by Lambert A. Wilmer, of Baltimore;" Lieut. Alexander Slidell's "American in England;" H. F. Chorby's "Conti, the Discarded, with other tales and fancies;" "Noble Deeds of Woman," two volumes; Bulwer's "Rienzi;" Dr. Peter Mark Roget's "Animal and Vegetable Physiology, considered with reference to Natural Theology," in noticing which some strong objections are presented to the plan which was adopted for the Bridgewater Treatises; and "Mathew Cary's Autobiography."
Besides some very good prose in this number are a poem, "A Lay of Ruin," by Miss Draper; one, "Living Alone," by T. Flint; and one, on Greece, by Eliza, of Maine.
One of the prose articles is a biographical sketch of Jonathan P. Cushing, born March 12, 1793, at Rochester, New Hampshire. With a collegiate education, a love of study and a laudable ambition, he settled in the South, for the sake of his health, and though an Episcopalian, was made president of Hampden-Sidney College, and though a Northern man, led Virginians to the formation of their first State Historical Society, of which they elected him the first president
This number closes with a unique paper entitled "Autography," which consists of 24 short letters, from distinguished persons, with a facsimile of the signature of each. This ingenious matter attracted so much comment that it was extended in August up to 38 letters, the last of which is from Theodore S. Fay, at whom some fun is poked. Indeed, there are editorial remarks upon all the letters.
To the March number Mr. Poe contributes, besides critical notices, a tale, "Epimanes," followed by a short poem "To Helen." The prose articles are long and strong: the study of the Classics is ably defended; President Thomas R. Dew expounds, for the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society, "The Influence of the Federative Republican System of Government upon Literature and the Development of Character;" and the Rev. E. F. Stanton discusses the importance of "Manual Labor Schools, as Connected with Literary Institutions." There are also the Inaugural of Judge Henry St. George Tucker as president of the aforesaid Society, and Mr. Maxwell's speech in honor of Judge Marshall, their late president Mr. J. F. Otis lets out his mind on the poetry of Robert Burns, as do others on a variety of topics; and the Tripoli and Lionel Granby serials are continued.
The critical notices commend Dr. F. L. Hawks' "Ecclesiastical History of Virginia;" Mrs. L. Miles' work on Phrenology; Judge Longstreet's celebrated "Georgia Scenes" and "Traits of the Famous Boston Tea Party;" of the actors in which there were then ten survivors. But with a short sword the critic dispatches "Mahmoud," probably a reprint, by the Harpers, from a London publication. It is condemned as a useless trespasser upon the Anastasius of Mr. Hope. Judge Longstreet became a zealous Methodist preacher and no doubt a good many of his hearers, like ourselves, could not help, whilst listening to him, thinking of his "Georgia Scenes," of which Mr. Poe said: "If these Scenes have produced such effects upon our cachinnatory nerves—upon us who are not 'of the merry mood', and, moreover, have not been unused to the perusal of somewhat similar things—we are at no loss to imagine what a hubbub they would occasion in the uninitiated regions of Cockaigne. What would Christopher North say to them?" etc., etc.
April opens with an unpublished lecture, on "The Providence of God in the Government of the World," by Benjamin Franklin, and some letters of his, which had appeared in print. Mr. Poe furnishes "Some Ancient Greek Authors, Chronologically Arranged;" "A Tale of Jerusalem;" the explanation of Maelze's "Chess-player;" and fourteen and a half pages of critical notices, of which ten and a half are devoted to the poems of Jos. Rodman Drake and Fitz Greene Halleck.
This is a remarkable paper and eminently characteristic of the editor. He first defends himself against the strictures of Willis Gaylord Clark, Col. Stone and the New York Mirror: Colonel Stone, of the New York Commercial Advertiser, had declared that "by far the greater number of those (Mr. Poe's critiques) we have read have been flippant, unjust, untenable and uncritical." The Knickerbocker and the Mirror refused for some time to exchange with the Messenger. Mr. Poe then goes into an analysis of poetry and American criticism and gives Mr. Drake an alembic sifting. He ridicules the "Culprit Fay" and assigns its author to an ordinary rank as a poet. He thinks "Bronx" is his best. He is less severe towards Halleck, but does not give him any high place and thinks his best is his tribute to his friend, Drake, which he copies. He then reviews Paulding and Manly on Slavery; "Bubbles from the Brunnens of Nassau;" and has a short reply to Theodore Fay's claim that the sale of a book is the proper test of its merit: "To save time and trouble we will believe it, and are prepared to acknowledge as a consequence of the theory, that the novel, 'Norman Leslie,' is not at all comparable to the 'Memoirs of Davy Crockett,' or the popular lyric of Jim Crow." There is also a dramatic poem in five scenes: "The Death of Robespierre."
This number closes with eight pages of notices of the Messenger, by widely scattered newspapers. The Richmond Compiler, along with much that is complimentary, ventures to say: "That Mr. Poe, the reputed editor of the Messenger, is a gentleman of brilliant genius and endowments is a truth which I believe will not be controverted by a large majority of its readers. For one, however, I confess that there are occasionally manifested some errors of judgment, or faults in taste, or whatever they may be called, which I should be glad to see corrected. I do not think, for example, that such an article as 'The Duc De L'Omelette' ought to have appeared. * * * Mr. Poe is too fond of the wild, unnatural and horrible. Why will he not permit his fine genius to soar into purer, brighter and happier regions? Why will he not disenthral himself from, the spells of German enchantment," etc. * * * "When he passes from the region of shadows into the plain, practical dissecting room of criticism, he manifests great dexterity and power. He exposes the imbecility and rotteness of our ad captandum, popular literature, with the hand of a master," etc. Another writer dubbed some things Mr. Poe's "queerities." The appearance of the April number was greatly delayed.
Now the month of May had come, on the 16th of which Mr. Poe was married, "at the house where they all lived, by the Rev. Amasa Converse," to his cousin Virginia Clemm, and went on editing the Messenger pretty much in his old fashion. Mr. Fergusson is not sure as to the house in which the marriage was solemnized: he knows that he received some of the wedding cake. He thinks that Mr. Poe and his wife were for a while at the same place where he had been boarding and that was the three-story building, kept by the Yarringtons, at the corner of Twelfth and Bank streets, and in the rear of the present Richmond Dispatch. He used to carry matters for the Messenger to Mr. Poe at the Yarringtons'. Very singularly, years afterwards, when Macfarlane and Fergusson owned the Messenger they removed it to that very building and issued it thence until they sold it, when it was carried to Washington, near the close of the great war. The night of the evacuation, their printing office was fired, "lock, stock and barrel."
The May number opens with something about the Benjamin Franklin MS. from Alice Addertongue. Oliver Oldschool comes again and L. A. Wilmer has a poem "On the Death of Camilla." Mr. Poe has a sonnet and a poem, "Irene." Thereafter, he furnishes an editorial on the origin of Lynch's Law and fifteen pages of critical notices.
The first of these pitches into Lieut. Slidell's "Spain Revisited," though he had commended his other work; and he handles with undue slash and length the author's letter of dedication, as he had done Simms' to Yeadon. He charges Slidell with many "niaiseries, an abundance of very bad grammar and a superabundance of gross errors in syntactical arrangement."
The next is Anthon's "Sallust." The last critical notice which Mr. Poe wrote for the Messenger was of Anthon's "Cicero." He was very partial to that gentleman as an author and they were also personal friends. He recommends Mrs. Trollope's "Paris and the Parisians" to all lovers of fine writing and vivacious humor, and touches up the Americans for having been unnecessarily atrabilious towards her book of flum-flummery about the good people of the Union. He praises highly Paulding's "Life of Washington."—By the by, a Francis Glass, of Ohio, published a Vita Washingtonii, in Latin, which was reviewed ironically in the Messenger for December. Mr. Poe is favorable to Mr. Robert Walsh's "Didactics" and Mr. J. Fenimore Cooper's "Sketches of Switzerland." Mr. Walsh was a contributor to the Messenger. Mr. Cooper suppressed a good part of his work for fear that it would not be acceptable to his own countrymen. A criticism by O. (probably J. F. Otis), of Grenville Mellen's poems, is adopted, and Mr. Poe adds, in full, "a spirited lyric," by Mellen, with which he was "specially taken" and which was sung at Plymouth on the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims, December 22d, 1620.
The June number must have been prepared in May and partly after Mr. Poe's marriage, and he contributes to it only the critical notices, of fifteen pages, and a short editorial about the "Right of Instruction;" which Judge Hopkinson, of Philadelphia, strongly opposes, in opening the number. There is a poetical tribute to G. D. Perdicaris, the learned and patriotic Greek; Eliza of Maine holds on and we have the usual variety of prose and poetry, including another lecture, on "The Obstacles and Hindrances to Education," by the veteran James M. Garnett.
The Critiques begin with "A Pleasant Peregrination through the Prettiest Parts of Pennsylvania, Performed by Peregrine Prolix, Philadelphia;" etc., of which is written: "It is very certain that Peregrine Prolix is a misnomer, that his book is an excellent thing and that the Preface is not the worst part of it." Its title is a pleasant alliteration. It receives over five pages. The editor does not altogether approve of "Notices of the War of 1812," by John Armstrong, once Secretary of War. But how he lets himself out over "The Letters, Conversations and Recollections of S. T. Coleridge;" and pleads for an American publication of the "Biographia Literaria." He is kind to the Rev. Calvin Colton's "Change to Episcopacy" and to Lieut. M. F. Maury's "Work on Navigation." But he retaliates with vigor upon Col. Stone, by averring that his "Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman" is "an imposition upon the Public," which he proceeds to demonstrate; and thus winds up: "The term flat is the only general expression which would apply to it. It is written, we believe, by Col. Stone, of the New York Commercial Advertiser, and should have been printed among the quack advertisements, in a spare corner of his paper." Clark had ascribed quackery to Poe, and Stone had approved it: Messenger for April, p. 327.
Mr. Poe is more friendly to "Watkins Tottle and other Sketches, by Boz," than was a former editor to the same author, who was still unknown. With a few good words for "Flora and Thalia, or Gems of Flowers and Poetry," this number closes with a rebuke to Mr. Whittaker, of the Southern Literary Journal, of Charleston, S. C., because he, instead of recognizing the Messenger as a coadjutor in the same cause, seemed "disposed to unite with the Knickerbocker and New York Mirror, in covert, and therefore unmanly, thrusts at the Messenger."
Now the July number brings us "Letters from Randolph;" "Example and Precept," by Paulding; "Erostratus;" "Miseries of Bashfulness;" "British Parliament, in 1835," translated from Revue des Deux Mondes teacher Garnett again; "National Ingratitude," by Matthew Carey; more of the "Diary of an Invalid;" "Love and Constancy," by E. Burke Fisher; and a number of poems, long and short, by Eliza, J. F. Otis, M. Carey, Jno. C. McCabe and others.
Unless Mr. Poe wrote "Erostratus," there is nothing of his but thirteen pages of critical notices. These embrace "Random Recollections of the House of Lords," by Mr. Grant, a young Scotch reporter; Mrs. Sigourney's "Letters to Young Ladies;" "The Doctor," which he thinks was not written by Southey, but its wit and humor have seldom been equaled; "Frederick Von Raumer's England, in 1835;" a reprint of "Memoirs of an American Lady"—partly before the Revolution, by Mrs. Grant of Laghan; "Camperdown, or News from Our Neighborhood," and a sequel, by an anonymous author, both of which are approved. The poems of W. D. Gallagher are handled both with and without gloves: "Life on the Lakes" is pretty well scored; but "Russia and the Russians," by Leigh Ritchie, an American reprint without the illustrations, is highly lauded.
There is another eight-page Supplement of Notices of the Press, some of which employ a true and friendy candor that is tolerated. But the Newbern (North Carolina) Spectator is taken to task severely for its strictures. Its editor is charged with being aggrieved because his poor poetry had been rejected, and, after having his objections to the Messenger answered, is thus dismissed: "If the editor of this little paper does not behave himself we will positively publish his verses."
The Richmond papers were all friendly to the Messenger; but the Compiler particularly so. It was then edited by Gallagher and also had a correspondent, X. Y. Z., whose observations upon the Messenger were fair, discriminative and independent. They probably had some influence. I think X. Y. Z. was Judge John Robertson, the author of "Riego, or the Spanish Martyr."
To the August number Mr. Poe contributes two poems: "Israfel" and "The City of Sin;" some editorial matter and eighteen and one-half pages of critical notices. But he has numerous favorite assistants in filling his other columns. Several prose writers appear as poets: Mr. Paulding, Dr. Robert M. Bird, Mrs. Ellett, and W. Maxwell. Mr. Simms not only furnishes some stanzas, but has a poetical tribute paid to him. There is quite a long poem, by Omega, of Richmond, on "Marcus Curtius." Mrs. Sigourney opens the number and Mr. P. P. Cooke makes his début. Mr. Henry Lee sends from Paris an extract from the second volume of his "Life of Napoleon," about the battle of Lodi. There are more Letters of John Randolph and various other good things. Perhaps Mr. James E. Heath wrote one, on "The Influence of Names."
The "Editorial" embraces the extracts from Burke to which Judge Hopkinson referred in discussing "The Right of Instruction," and "Pinakidia, or Tablets," which manifest Mr. Poe's extensive reading.
There are notices of fifteen publications, from Rev. Orville Dewey's "The Old World and the New," to N. P. Willis' "Inklings of Adventure." As a Mr. Slingsby he describes Willis, "with a pretty face and figure,—fair, funny, fanciful, fashionable and frisky."
One of the productions reviewed is "Elkswatawa; or the Prophet of the West," by Jas. S. French, a Virginian and author of "Eccentricities of David Crockett." The heroine was a Miss Mattie Rochelle, who became a daughter-in-law of President Tyler. Last, we have the other installment of Autography, referred to in February.
PRESS NOTICES OF THE AUGUST NUMBER
[The Courier and Daily Compiler, August 31, 1836.]
The August number of the Southern Literary Messenger has been well received by most of the editorial corps who
The criticisms are pithy and often highly judicious, but the editors must remember that it is almost as injudicious to obtain a character for regular cutting and slashing as for indiscriminate laudation.
Mr. Poe's Reply
September 2, 1836.
To the Editor of the Compiler:
Dear Sir—In a late paragraph respecting the Southern Literary Messenger, you did injustice to that Magazine, and perhaps your words, if unanswered, may do it an injury. As any such wrong is far from your thoughts you will, of course, allow the editor of the Messenger the privilege of reply.
The reputation of a young Journal, occupying a conspicuous post in the eye of the public, should be watched by those who preside over its interests, with a jealous attention, and those interests defended when necessary and when possible. But it is not often possible. Custom debars a Magazine from answering in its own pages (except in rare cases), contemporary misrepresentations and attacks. Against these it has seldom, therefore, any means of defence —the best of reasons why it should avail itself of the few which through courtesy fall to its lot. I mean this as an apology for troubling you today.
(a.) Your notice of the Messenger would generally be regarded as complimentary, especially as to myself. I would, however, prefer justice to compliment, and the good name of the Magazine to any personal consideration. The concluding sentence of your paragraph runs thus: "The criticisms are pithy and often highly judicious, but the editors must remember that it is almost as injurious to obtain a character for regular cutting and slashing as for indiscriminate laudation." The italics are my own. I had supposed you aware of the fact that the Messenger had but one editor—it is not right that others should be saddled with demerits which belong only to myself.
(b.) But this is not the point to which I especially object. You assume that the Messenger has obtained a character for "regular cutting and slashing;" or if you do not mean to assume this, every one will suppose that you do—which, in effect, is the same. Were the assumption just, I would be silent and set about immediately amending my editorial course. You are not sufficiently decided, I think, in saying that a career of "regular cutting and slashing is almost as bad as one of indiscriminate laudation." It is infinitely worse. It is horrible. The laudation may proceed from— philanthropy, if you please; but the "indiscriminate cutting and slashing" only from the vilest passions of our nature. But I wish to examine briefly two points—first, is the charge of "indiscriminate cutting and slashing" just, granting it adduced against the Messenger, and second, is such charge adduced at all? Since the commencement of my editorship, in December last, 94 books have been reviewed. In 79 of these cases, the commendation has so largely predominated over the few sentences of censure that every reader would pronounce the notices highly laudatory. In seven instances, viz.: 'in those of "The Hawks of Hawk Hollow;" "The Old World and the New;" "Spain Revisited;" the poems of Mrs. Sigourney, of Miss Gould, of Mrs. Bllet and of Halleck praise slightly prevails. In five, viz.: in those of Clinton Bradshaw, "The Partisan," "Elkswatawa," "Lafitte" and the Po-Drake, censure is greatly predominant; while the only reviews decidedly and harshly condemnatory are those of "Norman Leslie," "Paul Ulric" and "Ups and Downs." The "Ups and Downs" alone is unexceptionably condemned. Of these facts you may at any moment satisfy yourself by reference. In such case the difficulty you will find in classing these notices, as I have here done, according to the predominance of censure, or commendation, will afford you sufficient evidence that it can not justly be called "indiscriminate."
But this charge of "indiscriminate cutting and slashing" has never been adduced, except in four instances, while the rigid justice and impartiality of our Journal have been lauded, even ad nauseam, in more than four times four hundred. You should not, therefore, have assumed that the Messenger had obtained a reputation for this "cutting and slashing"—for the asserting a thing to be famous is a well known method of rendering it so. The four instances to which I allude are the Newbern Spectator, to which thing I replied in July; The Commercial Advertiser, of Colonel Stone, whose "Ups and Downs" I had occasion (pardon me) to "use up;" the New York Mirror, whose editor's "Norman Leslie" did not please me, and the Philadelphia Gazette, which, being conducted by one of the subeditors of the Knickerbocker, thinks it is its duty to abuse all rival magazines.
(c.) I have only to add that the inaccuracy of your expression in the words: "The August number of the Southern Literary Messenger has been well received by most of the editorial corps who have noticed it," is of a mischievous tendency in regard to the Messenger. You have seen, I presume, no notices which have not been seen by myself,—and you must be aware that there is not one, so far, which has not spoken in the highest terms of the August number. I can not, however, bring myself to doubt that your remarks upon the whole were meant to do the Messenger a service and that you regard it with the most friendly feelings in the world.
The Editor of the Messenger.
Courier and Compiler's Rejoinder.
[Sept. 2, 1836. Richmond Courier and Daily Compiler.]
Gallaher and Davis.
(a.) The idea that "injury" may accrue to the Messenger from what we have said may have arisen from the "jealous attention" above alluded to, but we doubt whether the public will concur in the opinion. At all events, we can not appreciate that sort of jealousy which deems it proper to defend "reputation" for such slight causes.
(b.) We should have thought a critical eye would have observed that this was a mere typographical error. We did not mean to assume the editor had already obtained "a character for regular cutting and slashing." We only warned him against that unenviable sort of reputation. He has chosen to transpose our words and use the word "indiscriminate," which makes us say what we did not say. There is surely a vast difference in the import of the terms. "Regular" dissection might be just and proper, from the nature of the subjects reviewed; but "indiscriminate" would imply the indulgence of a savage propensity in all cases whatsoever. The enumeration, therefore, of the cases in which praise predominated was scarcely necessary to a defence, because this defence is "adduced" against a charge which was never made by us. The admission that the reviews of three works were "harshly condemnatory" is enough of itself to justify the warning which we had the temerity to utter; and the further avowal that Col. Stone's "Ups and Downs" was "unexceptionably condemned" would sustain the idea that the laudation ad nauseam of the "rigid justice and impartiality" of the editor was not entirely merited. No perfectly dispassionate mind can assent to the proposition that the works thus "harshly" and "unexceptionably condemned" deserved a total and unqualified reprobation. The thing is not reasonable.
(c.) We are not willing to admit the "inaccuracy" of this expression. A single exception is enough to justify the use of the word "most," and that exception, if we remember aright, the Baltimore Chronicle furnished. We can not, therefore, allow the inaccuracy" of the intimation towards the Messenger.
We make no professions here as to the nature of our "feeling" for that journal. If these have not been rightly understood, it is not probable that we can now make them palpable. One thing, however, we will venture to remark, in "rigid justice," and that is that one so sensitive as the editor of the Messenger, and so tolerant of a difference of opinion, may probably be led to reflect whether any provocation should induce the conductor of a grave literary work to censure "harshly" and "unexceptionably." Those who wield a ready and satirical pen very rarely consider that the subjects of their witticisms have nerves as sensitive as their own; and the instance before us shows the necessity of learning patiently to bear as well as "rigidly" inflict the lash of criticism. It is not probable we shall ever again disturb, even by a hint, the current of laudation, having had another confirmation of the truth, that giving advice, even with the best of motives, is rather an unthankful business.
The enterprise of the Messenger is strikingly indicated by the opening of the September number. The first act of Bulwer's "Cromwell" and an extract from Chorley's "Memoirs of Mrs. Hemans" are obtained, in advance, from their publishers and are succeeded by Garnett's concluding Lecture and divers worthy associates. One commanding article is a defence of the Right of Instruction, by Roane, in reply to Judge Hopkinson. Morna and Simms furnish most of the poetry. Mr. Poe does nothing but editorial work, and in ten pages reviews, without any harshness, "Philothea," a romance by Mrs. Child; "Sheppard Lee," written by himself, and the "Life and Literary Remains of Wm. Hazlitt," by his son, E. L. Bulwer and Sergeant Talfourd. This number ends with a sad item: "The illness of both publisher and editor will, we hope, prove a sufficient apology for the delay in the issue of the present number and for the omission of many promised notices of new books."
The critical notices are all that Mr. Poe contributes to the October number. He immolates "The Swiss Heiress; or the Bride of Destiny. A Baltimore Tale." "It should be read by all who have nothing better to do. We are patient and having gone through the whole book with the most dogged determination, are enabled to pronounce it one of the most solemn of farces. Let us see if it be not possible to give some idea of the plot." Having given that, he concludes: "Humph! And this is the Swiss Heiress; to say nothing of the Bride of Destiny. However—it is a valuable 'work'—and now in the name of 'fate, foreknowledge and free will.' we solemnly consign it to the fire." Prof. Roszel's Address at the Commencement of the Dickinson College; Wraxall's Memoirs, posthumous; American Almanac; Cooper's "Switzerland, of 1832," and President Dew's Address are all treated in a more friendly manner and old William and Mary is held up very high. Chorley's Memorials of Mrs. Hernans are beautifully presented. Dr. Robert W. Haxall, of Richmond, had been fortunate enough to give a good dissertation on the "Physical Signs of Diseases of the Abdomen and Thorax." In the review of Capt. Basil Hall's "Skimmings at Schloss Hainfleld," a singular thing is quoted: The Countess of Purgstall placed in his hands, in such a way as to intimate that she was the author, R. H. Wilde's "My Life is Like the Summer Rose." This happened in Lower Styria; but she was a Scotch lady and had travelled. Then come very just critiques of G. P. R. James; Bland's "Maryland Chancery Reports;" Lucien Bonaparte's "Memoirs;" and "Madrid in 1836," by a resident officer.
Among the prose writers for this number (November) besides Greenhow, are Roane again; E. W. S. of S. C. College on "Classical Bibliography" and Mrs. E. F. Ellett on "Alfieri and Schiller." There is also a long and ambitious poem, "Moses Pleading before Pharaoh," in the form of a dialogue between them. The Muse of Mrs. Ellett leads off the last number of the second volume and further on she has a long review of the "Tragedies of Silvio Pellico." There is the Address of President Dew, at the opening of William and Mary, and a number of other good things. A Mr. Edwin Saunders contributes a poem, "Universal Sympathy, a Winter's Night Thought," dated London, January, 1836. The critical notices dwindled to four pages, including some extracts from the books examined, which were the American edition of the British and Foreign Review; Mr. Z. Collins Lee's Address before several Literary Societies of Baltimore; and the "Papers of the Pickwick Club," of which it is now known that Mr. Dickens was the author, and he receives a far higher estimate than that which the Messenger first gave him.
Then it is said: "A press of business, connected with some necessary arrangements for the third volume, has prevented us from paying the usual attention to our critical department. We have many books lying by us which we propose to notice fully in our next."
This was in November and "our next" was dated January, 1837. So that there was a hiatus of a whole month during which the Messenger's force, editorial and other, had to withstand, in the capital of Virginia, the festivities of Christmas and New Year's Day.
The facts just above stated, plainly show that trouble was brewing somewhere.
- A very well-informed and warm friend of the Messenger, Mr. J. H. Whitty, says that Mr. E. V. Sparhawk, a literary gentleman of high ability, was this second editor. He was employed in one of the State offices and died suddenly in the Capitol Building about 1850. He left a wife, who was a Miss Warrell, but no children. Mr. Fergusson says he carried MSS. and proof-sheets to Mr. Sparhawk's residence, out near Gamble's Hill.