[To “Voices from 19th-Century America”]

Reviews of The Legendary, edited by N. P. Willis (1828)

Reviews can make a work. They also can—as Samuel Goodrich wryly noted—break a work. Intent on promoting American writers and subjects, he published The Legendary, a collection of poetry and prose edited by N. P. Willis. “It was kindly treated by the press,” Goodrich noted in his Recollections of a Lifetime, “which generously published without charge, the best pieces in full, saving the reading million the trouble of buying the book and paying for the chaff, which was naturally found with the wheat. … [T]he work proved a miserable failure.” (II, 257-258) The publication lasted two volumes.

Ironically, one of the most “generous” editors was a contributor to the Legendary, Sarah Joespha Hale, who filled the pages of her Ladies’ Magazine with extracts. Running neck-and-neck with her was William Leggett, clocking in at five pages of poetry and prose; in fact, he admits that “[t]he length of our extracts … forbid us to occupy much space with critical comments.” Even the Ariel’s “limited notice” is two pages of criticism—and an entire story.

Notices and reviews are organized here chronologically (with their accompanying extracts!).


Notice of The Legendary, for 1828. Boston Recorder & Telegraph 12 (December 14, 1827): 199. Ed. Nathaniel Willis & Asa Rand

“TOKEN,” and “LEGENDARY.”

Mr. S. G. Goodrich, a Bookseller of this city, proposes to publish two periodical works bearing the above titles.

The Token, is an annual work, of which the second number has just appeared, furnishing a volume at the opening of the year, in the department of elegant literature. Among the notices of the volume just published, which have appeared in the newspapers, we select the following from the Commercial Gazette:

“The Token,” just published by Mr. Goodrich, of this city, is a beautiful volume. The epithet may as well be applied to the contents as to the exterior. It will rank high among similar productions of our country, designed for Christmas and New Year presents. We have had time to read several articles, both in prose and poetry; and consider the selection creditable to the taste and moral feelings of the Editor. They are chaste and interesting. Several of them are written in a neat, classical style: and the sentiments are such as must improve the youthful mind. They relate chiefly to our own country and countrymen. If there is an air of romance about some, probability is not outraged; and of several, that are in part sketched by fancy, the outlines are furnished by facts. The volume is well worthy of being offered as a Token of friendship and regard.

The same paper says:—The prizes offered by the publisher of this work are awarded as follows:—the prize for the best prose piece is given to the article entitled “Some passages in the Life of an Old Maid.” The Committee had some hesitation in deciding between two pieces of poetry, “The Soldier’s widow” & “Connecticut River;” and accordingly recommended a division of the Prize of one hundred dollars, which was agreed to by the authors, the former having been written by Mr. N. P. Willis, of this city—the latter by Mrs. Sigourney, of Hartford.

The Legendary is to be a duodecimo volume of about 250 pages, issued once in three or four months. It is to consist of original pieces in prose and verse, principally illustrative of American history, scenery and manners. The style of execution will be similar to that of the Token.

Mr. N. P. Willis, a recent graduate of Yale College, is now engaged by Mr. Goodrich, to take the editorial direction of both the above works.


Notice. Ladies’ Magazine, 1 (April 1828): 192. Ed. Sarah Josepha Hale. [Hale had a piece in volume one of this work.]

The Legendary.—The public have been sometime looking forward to the appearance of the first volume of this work, with great interest. We are happy to be able to state that it is in press, and will be published about the first of May next. We have seen some of the proof sheets, and have no hesitation in pronouncing it, so far as we have perused it, to be a work of very high order. Among the contributors we notice the authors of Hope Leslie, and Hobomok; Mrs. Sigourney, H. Pickering, I. McLellan, J. H. Nichols, J. Pierpont, Grenville Mellen, E. C. Manley, the editor, Mr. Willis, and several others. Some of the pieces are among the happiest efforts of these authors; and in the anonymous articles, we imagine that we discover traces of genius not less distinguished than the most gifted of those we have named. We shall have another opportunity to notice this work, and therefore content ourselves with expressing a lively interest in the same, and a conviction that it must prove one of the most acceptable productions which the American press has given to the public.


Ladies’ Magazine, 1 (June 1828): 285-287. Ed. Sarah Josepha Hale. [Hale had a piece in volume one of this work.]

The Legendary.—May, 1828. S. G. Goodrich.”—The first number of this work has just been published. The Legendary will be continued quarterly or half yearly, and its design is finely described in the preface to the present volume:—“It is intended as a vehicle for detached passages of history, romance, and vivid description of scenery and manners, materials for which exist so abundantly in our country.” If this plan is well executed, the publication cannot fail of becoming very popular in America. The progress of events which, in the space of two centuries, have converted this fast country from a wilderness, where savages roamed unsheltered, into a land of pleasantness and the abode of a free and civilized nation, has been too rapid to admit of those minute descriptions which are now demanded by patriotism as well as curiosity. American talents cannot be so suitably employed as in collecting, or elucidating the records and traditions of our own eventful history, nor will American taste fail to patronise the effort to exalt our national character by entwining the majestic temple of our Freedom with the wreaths of genius.

The articles in the volume before us, are, with few exceptions, well written, and interesting, and there are some pieces of exquisite beauty. The poetry is mostly of that high order which we should expect in a work edited by one of our most gifted Bards. His own productions are, however, the “charmed things,” which will attract the reader at once—they need no recommendation. Among the other poems, “The Valley of Silence”—“The Clouds”—“The Notes of our Birds,” and “Columbus,” are too excellent to be passed over without naming, though that notice is all the praise we have time or space to allow at present. But the reader of those pieces will doubtless find leisure for a more lengthened panegyric.

In the prose articles, especially those which delineate the scenes and manners of our own country, there is much to praise.

“New Oxford,” by Mrs. Sigourney, is full of glowing description and those sentiments of tender and exalted piety, which harmonize so well with the character and situation of the Huguenot exiles, who, “though they had been accustomed to the comforts of a luxurious clime, went forth to their daily labour amid tangled thickets, and retired to their rude cabins, an everlasting hymn within their souls”—contented to dwell “where God might be worshipped free from the tyranny of man.”

“Romance in Real Life,” written by the deservedly popular author of “Redwood,” is an excellent story. The sketch of Yankee manners, especially the delineation of the innkeeper and his spouse, is exquisite. The only fault in the story, if fault it have, is that the heroine, though born and bred in our country, is not truly American. She is such a sweet being, it seems wholly unnecessary to invest her with any superiority, save that imparted by nature and education. Indeed to us she would have been more interesting as the real daughter of the good hostess, than

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as “an ornament to her noble family.” We admire those who are, like young Ellison, “thorough republicans.”

“The Indian Wife,” by Miss Francis, is beautiful—written with the skill of true genius. The interest, awakened at the opening of the legend, never for a moment flags till we weep over the fate of the “Startled Fawn,” and her beloved boy, when “they went to the Spirit Land together.” It is stories told like this, with power and pathos, without circumlocution or intricacy, or the introduction of unnecessary characters to divert the interest from the principal actors, which appear best calculated for a work like the Legendary.

There are several other prose articles exceedingly well written, but we are not sufficiently skilled in the art of criticism to hazard a decided opinion on the particular merits of any, excepting those written by ladies. The authors of “The Palisadoes”—“Unwritten Poetry”—“The Rapids,” &c. will doubtless be satisfied to know we have read and admired their productions, without attempting to analyze or describe the reasons why they imparted pleasure.

And here we should finish our remarks on the prose, were it not, that, in some of the anonymous pieces, there is a fault which deserves to be remarked and censured, especially in a work issued with the ostensible design of the Legendary, namely, “to illustrate American history, scenery and manners.”

It is expected that descriptions of “lords and ladies” will form a prominent feature in the European works of fiction, but for our republican writers to imitate such example, is preposterous. It is a reflection on our own state of society, our institutions, our national character, to introduce, rank, that pageantry of corrupt governments from whose oppressions our ancestors fled, and from whose thraldom it was their pride and is ours to have broken, as imparting true greatness or dignity of mind to individuals who happen to be distinguished by what is called “high birth.” And yet we have a class of writers, who, to judge from their productions, seem to imagine a story cannot be elegant, or interesting, without at least, one titled personage. “The Sisters,” is a good illustration of this nobility mania. Had the author, instead of the “young Marquis,” introduced a young farmer; and for the vain, arrogant Theresa, and the lunatic nun, given us descriptions of our own lovely and intelligent young women, there is no doubt his or her taste and talents would have produced a sketch of which we should have been proud.

The splendor of the throne gives lustre to a monarchy, but it is the chracter of the people that must impart glory to a Republic; and no nation on earth was ever richer in those men whose minds and deeds, and virtues are an inheritance to their country, than America. It is the portraiture of these that should employ the talents and genius of Americans. We need no titles conferred by kings, to make our illustrious citizens eminent—they hold their patents of nobility from a higher and purer source.

“A king can make a belted knight,

A marquis, duke, and a’ that—

But an honest man’s aboon his might”—

These remarks may be thought tedious, but they will not be deemed irrelevant, when it is considered how much influence the ladies are reported to possess, and how often it is urged that they use their influence to encourage pretension, rather than

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true merit. But when it is known that the ladies of America are enthusiastic in their admiration of a republican simplicity of address, and prefer Mr. before the title of a duke, as their cordial approval of the sentiments contained in this article will doubtless demonstrate, there will be little danger that our gentlemen will ever “sigh for ribbands,” or wish to be “stuck o’er with titles.”

We cannot forbear making one selection from the poetry—an article from the pen of a lady, whose chaste and elegant productions have frequently graced the pages of the Ladies’ Magazine. The beauty of the poem will justify our taste and choice; yet we may be pardoned for adding, that the scene so admirably described is one familiar to us, and therefore peculiarly interesting.

ASCUTNEY.
BY MRS. A. M. WELLS.

In a low white-washed cottage, overrun

With mantling vines, and sheltered from the sun

By rows of maple trees, that gently moved

Their graceful limbs to the mild breeze they loved,

Oft have I lingered; idle, it might seem,

But that the mind was busy; and I deem

Those moments not misspent, when, silently,

The soul communes with Nature, and is free.

O’erlooking this low cottage, stately stood

The huge Ascutney. There, in thoughtful mood,

I loved to hold with her gigantic form

Deep converse; not articulate, but warm

With the heart’s noiseless eloquence, and fit

The soul of Nature with man’s soul to knit.

In various aspect, frowning on the day,

Or touched with morning twilight’s silvery gray,

Or darkly mantled in the dusky night,

Or by the moonbeams bathed in showers of light—

In each, in all, a glory still was there,

A spirit of sublimity; but ne’er

Had such a might of loveliness and power,

The mountain wrapt, as when, at midnight hour,

I saw the tempest gather round her head.

It was an hour of joy, yet tinged with dread.

As the deep thunder rolled from cloud to cloud,

From all her hidden caves she cried aloud;

Wood, cliff, and valley, with the echo rung;

From rock and crag, darting, with forked tongue,

The lightning glanced, a moment laying bare

Her naked brow, then, silence—darkness there!

And straight again the tumult, as if rocks

Had split, and headlong rolled.

But Nature mocks

At language. These are scenes I ne’er again

May look upon; yet precious thoughts remain

In memory’s silent story; and in my heart

Still, mid all other claims, that mountain hath its part.


Ladies’ Magazine, December 1828: 569-571. Ed. Sarah Josepha Hale. [Hale had a piece in volume one of this work.]

The Legendary”—Vol. 2.—S. G. Goodrich. The appearance of this book, so quaker-like, so devoid of all ornament to attract attention from external show, when contrasted with the purple and scarlet, green and gold, pictures of goddesses, and what is more grand, of godlike men, which our thousand and one annuals display, forcibly reminded us of the republican simplicity of Dr. Franklin amid the gorgeousness of the French court. Certainly, thought we, the publisher must be confident in the merits of his work, or he would not send it forth at this time, when it must encounter so fearful a comparison in point of decorations—by the way, a comparison that often decides the fate of ladies, if it does not of literature. Perhaps the decision is as wrong in the one case, as it certainly would have been in the other, had we, disgusted with the plain dress of the Legendary, pronounced it unworthy our acquaintance, and thrown it aside for the Token or Souvenir. But we have more patience, if not penetration. In the latter quality, we do indeed exceedingly doubt, whether we shall ever excel; especially in that critical acumen which can decide on a book by merely glancing at the cover. We read the book before deciding. And when the perusal gives us as much pleasure as the one before us has done, we pronounce it good.

The Legendary, in point of literary excellence, need not fear a comparison with its predecessor or our annuals. The prose, as a whole, is exceedingly well executed. We cannot speak in so unqualified a manner of the poetry. There are some beautiful poems, and beautiful passages in poems not so excellent, but still there is nothing that would insure an immortality for the authors.

We have not space to make a single poetic extract, though many fine passages might be selected, and will be by those who have time to spare, as well as a taste to discriminate. The prose we will mention more particularly.

“The Stepmother,”—The first, and the longest article in the book, possesses all the requisites of a connected and finished piece. The development of the character of Lucius Lloyd is finely executed; the character of Mrs. Lloyd, so womanly in her virtues, so feeling yet self-denying, is a picture which none but a misanthrope can contemplate with indifference. The denoument of the story did not exactly agree with our—prejudices, shall we say? No—we do not think that exactly a proper definition of the disgust which arises in the civilized christian’s mind, at the thought of a union between persons who appeared in every thing, but a tinge of blood,

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to be fitted for each other. We intended to have given the reason of our objections, but cannot at this time—however, if the public generally, approve the catastrophe, we may perhaps be convinced, and acknowledge hereafter, that our objections were prejudices.

“The Murderer’s Grave”—is merely a plain narrative, of a horrible revenge and execution. A pretty good newspaper extract it will form for those editors, who are compelled to treat their readers with such appalling articles.

“Leaves from a Colleger’s Album”—confirms us in our opinion, that neither wit nor wisdom can be infused into an Album. Never should the ladies be censured for the trifling character of their Albums, since that of a “Colleger’s” is quite as trifling. It is unworthy the book, and the genius of N. P. Willis.

The five following stories, entitled—“The Camp Meeting,”—“The Schoolmaster,”—“Extracts from a Sea Book,”—“The Witch”—and “The Siege of Soleure,” are all excellent. We do not praise them in gross. They have each their separate, particular and characteristic beauties. And though we may not pause to discriminate, the reader will. They do honor to their authors, and we regret they are all anonymous, except the third named. Samuel Hazzard has an entertaining “Sea Book;” if it contains more “extract” like that he has transcribed, we wish he would furnish one for the Ladies’ magazine.

Of the three remaining stories Mr. Willis acknowledges “Unwritten Philosophy,” and he also wrote “The Painter’s Revelation.” If the former bears his name, the latter has his characteristic impressions. Unwritten Philosophy is much the best, indeed, considered only as a description of the Utopia of mind it is one of the most beautiful things we ever read. The author is a poet; not one made by study, not a versifier, a mere measurer of rhymes, but the poet of nature and feeling.—He has written many beautiful things, and he will yet write more excellently if he will only aim at something besides mere prettiness. The hand that strews flowers so abundantly should sometimes distribute fruits. The first is only the amusements of intellect; the other, nourishment. The fault then, with “Unwrit[t]en Philosophy” is, that as a picture or sketch of human life it is all ideal. What young student would retire to his chamber and spend years over his books, with no object in view beyond mere abstract speculations, or the teaching a girl of twelve, who “was not beautiful,” “Unwritten Philosophy!” And then after they are married, think of their domestic life, with only one chamber, where with the “window half closed” “they pass their time, he reading, or looking at her, and she “sitting hour after hour in the same chair.” Ah! it is all ideal—such a picture of life as might have been realized, had the fruit of the tree of knowledge been only good. Yet the article is charming, and we recommend the closing remarks to the attention of all young ladies.

There is yet one more story, “Elizabeth Latimer.” The author has chosen to be anonymous—delighting no doubt to do good in secret. It can hardly be possible that such a story, so powerfully and pathetically told, can fail of doing good. We would rather have written that article than any one in the Legendary. There is so much truth in the painting, the character of Elizabeth so finely conceived, so faithfully executed! Genius and intelligence when struggling with misfortune, have much to

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endure which the world knows not of; which the cold and ignorant never can understand, and which the prosperous, even when warm-hearted and refined, never will comprehend, unless brought vividly before them by such sketches as Elizabeth Latimer.

On the whole, we think, that if merit can secure patronage, the Legendary will not be abandoned.


The Critic. December 27, 1828: 129-133. Ed. William Leggett.

The Legendary, consisting of Original Pieces, principally Illustrative of American History, Scenery and Manners. Edited by N. P. Willis. Vol. 2. 12mo. Boston, 1828. Samuel T. [sic] Goodrich.

The first volume of the Legendary did not equal public expectation. There were several excellent articles in it, and perhaps the greater portion was of such a character as reflected credit on the different contributors. But several very poor effusions were also admitted, in order to make out the requisite number of pages; and as men are always more inclined to censure than to praise, it is no wonder that the work was judged by the inferior half, and that consequently it did not obtain that degree of approbation which an impartial decision would have bestowed on it. The second volume comes before the public with higher claims; and although we consider that the editor has not exercised sufficient rigor of judgment—in two or three instances, having admitted articles which might much better have been excluded—yet, on the whole, both as editor and contributor, he is entitled to much praise. One entire article from his pen, Leaves from a Colleger’s Album, we transfer to our columns, sure that our readers will excuse the length of the selection, on account of its excellence. The poem by Halleck, The Field of the Grounded Arms, we also copy entire; but to own a truth, much as we admire the energy of its thoughts and the force and polish of the language, we should never have suspected it of being a poem, had it not been printed “in measured file and metrical array.”

The length of our extracts, as well as severe indisposition, forbid us to occupy much space with critical comments on the different articles of this work; and we shall barely say, in conclusion, that we wonder how the accomplished editor of the Legendary could consent to the admission of such trash as “Hope, by William Grigg, M. D.” “The Interview between Cleaveland and Minna,” and one or two other equally flimsy effusions. We copy one stanza of the first named contribution, (we cannot call it poem) to justify our censure, and follow it with the two selections which we make from this volume.

“The soldier’s hope is the down that’s borne

On the breeze from spray to spray,

Though wooing the hand and eluding the grasp,

Still taking its flight away,

Till the soldier sees the brittle thread

Connecting success with power,

When the monarch resolves that the freeborn soul

At his footstool’s base shall cower;

But the down will sport on freedom’s breeze,

And float o’er liberty’s shore,

Until, wet with the gush of the hireling’s blood,

It can skim the breeze no more;

And when on the earth it quiet lies,

Where slumber the freeborn brave,

It is dearer by far to the soldier’s eye,

Than the gem that decks the slave.”

What, in the name of common sense, does all this mean? After this trashy stuff, the reader will turn with pleasure to the following animated sketches, from the cultivated and vivacious mind of the editor.

Leaves from a Colleger’s Album.

“Horace Fritz! thou inimitable dandy! thou strange compound of quiz, mimic and cavalier! with thy nice honor, thy racy humor, and thine exquisite quizzery so mingled, that no one could tell whether it was likelier that thou wouldst die harlequin or hero—master of the art of elegant idleness; pet of the gentler sex, and thy tailor’s oracle! accomplished in every thing but that for which thou wast sent, and envied for every thing but thy noblest element—the mind thou didst neglect- -Horace Fitz! I say—did it ever enter that beautiful head of thine, whose hyacinthine curls and perfect contour are before me, this moment, to the very life, that, Proteus as thou art, thou wouldst ever figure in a veracious and consistent history?

“Charles Wimbledon! thou prince of college good-fellows! didst thou ever dream of being the hero of a story? Who that had seen thee, in thy faded brocade and slippers, shuffling to a recitation from thine unopened Euler—who that had witnessed thine imperturbable gravity while dazzling the simple intellects of thy tutor with extempore and audacious hypothesis as a cover for thine ignorance—who that had seen thee, in thy moods of philosophy, posed upon an abstract principle, with thy chin resting on thy two palms, and thy hair like an ill painted Medusa—thy legs thrust from under the table and resting on thy heels, and thine eyes, beautiful with intellectual light, fixed on the large nail in the wall which served thee as a tether for thine imagination—in a word, who that had not eaten with thee, and drunk with thee, and slept with thee, night after night and term after term, yawned with thee in thy gravities and been convulsed with thee in thy gayeties, would have dreamed that thou couldst, by any hyperbole, be made the hero of a story?

“Job Clark! thou curiosity in human nature! thou great, unsightly, romantic, true hearted, delightful fellow! with a spirit ‘so tall’ that thou walkest ever in the stars, and a person so awkward that none but thine own sex could ever look tenderly on thee—thou gorgeous enthusiast, who, in a chrysalis of eighteen years, wert insensible to the very sunshine of thy present existence—nature, poetry, and woman! thou lunatic by night! thou sun worshipper by day, and thou poet in every season! susceptible, chivalrous, diffident, uncouth, generous Job! I am about to tell the world of thee. Behemoth as thou art, thou wilt blush like a shy girl if I praise thee, and if, in letting in the light upon thy virtues, I expose aught at which the naughty will smile, I am sure, my dear Job, thou wilt forgive me!

“The Senior vacation had come. We had been examined successfully for degrees and were separating, with six summer weeks before us, to meet once more at Commencement. Charles Wimbledon, Horace Fritz, and Job, were going together to Niagara.

“ ‘Will you go, Tom?’

“I passed a long sigh down the catalogue of my available wealth. It come back to my heart like a leaden bullet.

“Seven o’clock, and a brilliant July morning. The entries were crowded with porters; stage-horns were blowing at the gates; Seniors in boots and black cravats, an umbrella in one hand and a cloak in the other, were hurrying across the yard; trunks and travelling bags were scattered round under the trees; three legged and battered furniture, whose ‘occupation was gone,’ was laid up against the fence, the property of rapacious brokers; farewells were hastily exchanged; the smothered ‘God bless you!’ of friends, whose hearts had beaten pulse for pulse during the years that had come to a close, and who, after one more brief meeting, would part forever, was here and there just audible; and melancholy faces and elastic steps, the merry good-bye to duty and the sad goodbye to mates, the gay notes of departure and the evident clinging; of fond associations as the last look was taken, all mingled together in the strange and trying contrasts of a final vacation.

“Again! the horn sounds a prolonged note. One more grasp! another deep ‘God bless you!’ and with a crack of the whip are divided ties which can never in this world be matched or reunited.

“I turned awny from the gate. Three or four poor students in their threadbare coals were leaning over the fence, gazing with melancholy earnestness after.

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their happier classmates, and one, who had been confined to his bed till he was childish with sickness, and whom they had bolstered up to the window that he might see them go, had just put aside impatiently the cup which the nurse was pressing upon him, and was sobbing In a passion of tears.

“I could not bear the stillness of the deserted entry. I shut my door violently, and when the reverberations died away, I felt alone In the world.

“The next week I received a joint letter from my chum and his company. What follows is an extract from the part written by Fritz.

“ ‘The pretty quaker sat in a corner of the cabin when I first went below, talking to an old woman through an ear-trumpet. She was the prettiest, simplest looking creature I ever saw. Her plain drab silk frock was fitted closely to a most bewitching figure; her cheek and lip looked as if she lived upon roses, and her brown hair was smoothed away behind the funniest little ear in the world. Her foot was not so small as one we wot of, but it had never worn a tight shoe, and had the perfect lines of statuary; and the ancle!—hang me, Tom, if I didn’t long to be a little cotton stocking!

“ ‘How should I get acquainted with her? Impudent as I am, I never could be nonchalant with a country girl. My art forsakes me when there is no suspicion of it. I could make love to a belle with less embarrassment than I could make a bow to a rural. While I sat wasting my brains on expedients, Job started suddenly, and broke out with one of his Latin apostrophes to something which delighted him in the scenery. The little Quaker looked earnestly at him, and then whispered to her companion. It was evident that she thought him crazy. I had my cue. I went up and patted him soothingly on the shoulder, and whispered some nonsense or other into his ear, and then crossed over to the lady.

“ ‘I beg you will not be alarmed, Miss,’ said I, ‘he’s not at all dangerous. He’s very gentle to ladies.’

“ ‘Then he is out of his head, poor man,’ said she, looking at him compassionately. ‘Are you his keeper, Sir?’

“ ‘What a question, Tom, to a buck of my water! I looked in the glass opposite me, to see if it was indeed Horace Fritz, or no, who was so insulted. No—oh! no, that gentleman and I are taking him home to his friends—can do nothing for him at the hospital, poor fellow!’

“ ‘How long has he been so, Sir?’

“ ‘Ever since he was eighteen years old, Miss.’

“ ‘Dear me! so long! what made him so?’

“ ‘Love, Miss—love!’ said I—I thought to be facetious, Tom—‘he got in love with a Miss Moonlight when he was only sixteen—Miss Diana Moonlight—charming girl!’

“ ‘Did she refuse him, Sir?’

“Tom, it was too much! to take my beautiful allegory for earnest! I had no conception simplicity could be so simple. ‘Miss Diana Moonlight!’ Heavens, what a goslin!

“ ‘Why, no—no—not right out; he went to see her very often, and would sit and look at her without speaking a word for whole evenings together.’

“ ‘How tired; she must have been!’ said Simplicity.

“ ‘She never showed it in her manner, Miss—and though he’s not handsome—[’]

“ ‘Oh! very ugly!’

“ ‘There was but one gentleman whom she was ever known to prefer.’

“ ‘Was he handsome, Sir?’

“ ‘A splendid fellow! His name was Apollo. He kept a carriage and four, and used to drive by the windows every day.’

“ ‘Did the crazy gentleman know that she liked him, Sir?’

“ ‘Oh! yes, Miss. He was with her frequently when Apollo drove by, and the moment he came to light, she turned as pale as ashes.’

“ ‘Dear me!’

“ ‘And by the time he got opposite the window, he blushed violently, and she fainted away.’

“ ‘Bless me! how very singular! Are they married now, Sir?’

“ ‘Nobody knows. She’s very inconstant, and he’s so hot headed that nobody can live near him—but they go off together frequently.’

“ ‘Alone, Sir?’

“ ‘Yes, indeed, and that’s what crazed my poor friend here.’

“ ‘Splendidisseme!’ exclaimed Job—the sun was setting—‘milidisseme! fulgentissime!’ and he threw his arms up and down in his peculiar pump handle style—you know.’

“ ‘Poor man!’ exclaimed the drab bonnet in great alarm. ‘Go to him, Sir! go to him, Sir!’

“ ‘Hush! hang you, Job![’] said I, punching him at the same time with a bit of my science; but in the mean time the drab bonnet was carried off by her deaf aunt, and I just caught a glimpse of her as she vanished into the ladies’ cabin.

“The evening was delicious. It was bright moonlight, and after supper the passengers all came upon deck. There were no seats, as the canal bridges are so low that you must lie down in order to pass under, and my pretty friend, wrapped in a large cloak, and flanked by the old lady, who, she told me, was a methodist aunt of hers, was leaning, in a half reclined position, upon a travelling bag, with that bewitching little ancle just peeping out into the moonlight.

“ ‘I am glad you have come,’ said she, as I dropped upon my elbow at a little distance; [‘]I want you to tell me the rest of the crazy man’s story.’

“She turned her face towards me as she spoke, and threw back her bonnet so that the moonlight just fell upon her lips and left her eyes in shadow. I was ashamed of having quizzed such a beautiful creature, Tom. If I could have done it without mortifying her I would have confessed it all—but it was impossible, and feeling sufficiently punished for my folly by the necessity of continuing it when not in the vein, I proceeded.

“ ‘There is little more that would interest you, Miss—’

“ ‘My name is Rachel, Sir.’—Oh! Tom, if you had seen that smile!

“ ‘Thank you! mine is Horace. There is little more that would interest you, Miss Rachel. My poor friend was sent to the hospital’—Yale College—you ‘take,’ Tom—‘as soon as his symptoms became alarming. He has been there four years, and is no better: He is gentler now, it is true, and sometimes writes poetry—very, like a sane person, but there’s no hope of his ever being as He used to be.’

“ ‘Poor creature!’ said Rachel, with a sigh that made me wish my quizzery to the devil.

“She dropped her eyes as she spoke, and began to trace the plaid of her tartan cloak with her dimpled forefinger, evidently musing on Job’s melancholy situation. Her innocent confidence and sensibility touched me. Upon my word I felt as tender as a Freshman.

“ ‘Rachel!’ said I, ‘I beg pardon—Miss Rachel—’

“ ‘You may call me Rachel if you will,’ said she, raising her soft lashes and looking at me with an expression of almost sisterly fondness.

“I took up the little dimpled hand, and half raised it to my lips—Rap came the ear-trumpet of our Methodist aunt down upon the fingers;

“ ‘Come to the cabin, you slut, you! come along to the cabin! sparking here with a strange gentleman!—Ar’n’t you ashamed of yourself?—Kissing your hand, indeed!—Go along to the cabin, you tyke, you—go!’

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p. 131

“ ‘Tom, you might have heard her a mile.”

“The extract to follow is from Job’s letter. I must make an apology for my queer friend. To those who know him it will be unnecessary, of course; but to those who do not, I will just say that Job Clark is a pure, unsophisticated Vermont boy, with not one particle of knowledge of the world, and a mind of an overrunning and most luxuriant enthusiasm. At the time we speak of he was just at that state of existence when the ideal world touches without mingling with the real—when, as every sometime enthusiast will remember, the glory of a beautiful creation is extended to every thing that moves upon it, and there is no eye for deformity, because in nature there is none visible; and bis own heart, kept, even yet, apart from the collision which developes it, has not yet taught him the chilling secret of its depravity. It is at this period, if ever, that the generous impulses have their perfect way—that every thing about us takes the color of our own mind, and every impression is a sensation of pleasure. It is then that the beautiful but frail philosophies of the ancients are drunk in, with nn unquestioning eagerness, and believed because felt to be worthy of an ennobling consciousness; and it is after this that infidelity—not only of revelation, but of ourselves and our immortal but much clouded destiny, come on with the terrible reaction of deluded enthusiasm and the first discovered had passions of the world.

“But here is a part of his letter.

“ ‘Have you ever read Undine, Tom? Did you conceive of a river of wondrous and perfect beauty? Was it fringed with all manner of stooping trees, and kissed to the very lip by clover? Did it wind constantly in and out, as if both banks wore enamoured of its flow, and enticing it from each other’s bosoms? Was it hidden sometimes by thick mnsscs of leaves meeting over it, and sometimes by the swelling of a velvet slope that sent it rippling into shadow? and did it steal out again like a happy child from a hiding place, and flash up to your eye till you would have sworn it was living and intelligent? Did the banks lean away in a rich, deep verdure, and were the meadows sleeping beneath the light, like a bosom in a silk mantle? and when your ear had drank in the music of the running water, and the loveliness of color and form had unsettled the earthliness within you, did you believe in your heart that a strip of Eden had been left unmarred by the angel?

“ ‘We have been on the edge of such a river for eighty miles. The motion of the boat is imperceptible, and tbe scenery glides by like a dream. Everything has been beautiful—beautiful! The sun set gloriously last night, and soon after, the moon rose full and perfect from the bosom of a white cloud. Never was there a more magnificent night. Do you recollect in the Epicurean, Tom, the ‘night upon the Nile,’ which, Alciphron says, was ‘like that which shines upon the sleep of the spirits who rest in the valley of the moon on their way to Heaven?’

“ ‘I do believe that I have seen this river before. It satisfies something in my heart like a recollection. Every feature in its Elysium of a valley—rock and tree, bank and water—has moved my memory like something I imperfectly recollect. One of two things is certain—I have seen all this before, or there is a degree of beauty which stirs the spirit by its approximation to something with which it has been familiar. How many—many feelings of this kind have we which we never define, but which, without a theory of previous existence, are perfectly unaccountable! How often do whole trains of thought—wild and unutterable thought—pass through the mind, every shade of which is familiar, while we know, perfectly, from the very nature and cause of suggestion, that never before in this world could they have been felt or engendered. Is it true, after all, that this is not the beginning of our existence? Is it true, that the magnificent idea of a series of existences, ascending, and innumerable as the stars in heaven, is not visionary and idle? that, as the great Wordsworth says,

‘Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;

The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar.

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God who is our home.’

“ ‘How much more sublime than ever, if this is true, is his address to a child!

‘Thou whose exterior semblance doth belie

Thy soul’s immensity!

Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep

Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind!

That, deep and silent, rodest the eternal deep;

Haunted forever by the eternal mind!

Mighty prophet! Seer blest!

On whom those truths do rest

Which we are toiling all our lives to find,

In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;

Thou, over whom thy immortality

Broods like the day, a master o’er a slave,

A presence which is not to be put by;

Thou little child, yet glorious in the night

Of heaven-born freedom, on thy being’s height,

Why with such earnest paius dost thou provoke

The years to bring the inevitable yoke,

Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?

Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight

And custom lie upon thee with a weight

Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!’

“ ‘Dear Tom, I have bored you with my Pythagoreanism, but it has brooded on me all day, and I must tell somebody. Fritz would laugh at it, and Charles is an unbeliever, and what could I do?

“ ‘This morning we had one of those thin, watery atmospheres which are peculiar to the rivers. Apart from the pleasure of breathing it—for to me its rarity is like exhilarating gas—it threw me into a mood of delicious mysticism. The decided outlines of the scenery were lost or softened away, and, with the quiet motion of the boat, it was not difficult to believe every rock a gray ruin, and the apparent gliding by of the tall trees the stalking of giant phantasms. It was an atmosphere in which Ossian would have seen ‘Eemora like a spirit of heaven, half folded in the skirt of a cloud,’ or have sung, ‘Rest in thy shadowy cave, O Sun! Thou shalt sleep in the clouds, careless of the voice.’

“ ‘Tom! did you never wish you were the Wandering Jew, and could live forever?’

“The remaining part of the letter was written by my chum. It is principally a description of one Horace’s practical jokes—an amusement of which he was sadly fond. I do not approve of telling idle stories, but it brings out a trait or two of Job’s character, and is, literally, and without embellishment, true. The captain of the canal packet —— has since gravely told me the story as he understood it—of course with some slight variations. Charles thus describes it:

“ ‘Yesterday you know was Sunday. It was one of those hushed, breathless mornings, that seem peculiar to the Sabbath. Job had put on his black coat and a white cravat, out of respect to the day, and was sitting alone on the forecastle in a brown study. The passengers were all reading or asleep; the pretty Quaker looked serious, and Fritz was horribly ennuied.

“ ‘Egad, Charles,’ said he, thrusting his hands into his pockets after a long yawn, and eying Job with that quizzical expression of his; ‘doesn’t he look like a parson?’

“ ‘Presently he gave, one of bis portentous laughs, and turned suddenly on his heel.

“ ‘Captain,’ said he, addressing him gravely as he stepped upon deck, ‘that gentleman yonder in a black

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p. 132

coat is a Methodist clergyman. You see how he sits and thinks. His mind is very uneasy about travelling on Sunday. He says it would be a relief to him if ha could preach to the passengers, and he wanted me to ask your permission. Now if you have any objection—’

“ ‘Not the least,’ said the captain, bowing politely; ‘I’ll propose it to the passengers.’

“He went below and stated the request. No objection was made, and after moving the table to the other end of the cabin, and placing the desk upon it for an extempore pulpit, he came again upon deck. Fritz stood by with a look of immovable gravity.

“ ‘All’s ready below, Sir,’ said the captain, coming up to Job, and touching his hat respectfully.

“ ‘Sir?’ said Job.

“ ‘All’s ready for the sermon, Sir.’

“ ‘Sermon?’ said Job.

“ ‘Yes, Sir, the passengers will be happy to hear you.’

“ ‘Hear me! a sermon! why I’m not a clergy man!’

“The captain turned to Fritz. He met him with a look of profound astonishment. The captain was staggered. Fritz touched his forehead significantly and shook his head.

“ ‘Aha!’ said the captain, comprehending; and he went below to announce that there would be no service, as the preacher was taken suddenly ill.

“ ‘Now Job,’ said Fritz, as soon as the captain was gone, ‘I’ve told him you’re a preacher.’

“ ‘Why Fritz!’

“ ‘No matter now—he’s in a devil of a passion and has gone down for his pistols. If you don’t read a sermon, I must fight him—that’s poz.’

“Job was in a cold sweat. The idea of a duel was too horrible! But then to read a sermon to forty people in a canal boat! and perhaps they would ask hin to pray! He hesitated—it was a dreadful alternative!

“ ‘So,’ said Fritz, buttoning up his coat and looking determined, ‘I must fight, I see.’

“ ‘Oh no, Fritz—no! I’ll—I’ll—I’ll read the sermon—come, Fritz—I’ll read it—but—but—don’t fight, don’t fight!’

“ ‘Thank you—thank you!’ exclaimed Fritz, with warmth; and pulling out a rank Universalist sermon which he had found in the cabin, he gave it Job, and went in search of the captain.

“After explaining to him that the minister was now in a lucid interval, and again expressed a wis to preach, the proper arrangements were made, and Job, trembling like a leaf, went down with the sermon in his hand.

“It looked very appalling. The passengers were seated on each side of the cabin, in two long row. A large bible lay on the desk, and a glass of water had been let beside it by the captain, who was fearful of a return of the malady.

“Job’s knees knocked together as he rose. He opened the sermon, and read the text in a tremulous voice.

“ ‘He has forgot the prayer!’ whispered the captain—‘poor fellow!’

“Job went on. The sentiments grew bold. The old woman with the ear-trumpet, who sat at a little distance, moved nearer. It grew worse and worse. There was no obstruction. She moved close up him. There came a flat assertion; that hell was mere bugbear. Up jumped the old lady—

“ ‘You a Methodist minister! You a Methodist minister! How dare you call yourself a Methodist Minister, you Universalist, you!’

“ ‘Job turned to the titlepage. He had not understood a word of what he had read. Sure enough, it was a Universalist sermon. He gave Fritz a look of indescribable distress, hurled the sermon indignantly out of the cabin window, and rushed upon deck.

“ ‘Crazy!—crazy as a loon!’ exclaimed the captain, as he stepped into the middle of the cabin to apologize. But we are at Rochester, so

Yours, my dear Tom,

Charles.’ ”

We now give place to Halleck’s contribution, which occupies the first place in the volume, and to which place we should consider it fully entitled, had not the harmony of the effusion been marred by such an injurious selection of measure. Though poetry does not consist entirely in the

“—— union of returning sounds,

Nor all the pleasing artifice of rhyme;”

yet, however replete with thoughts that breathe and words that burn, the outpourings of even Halleck’s mind are not entitled to that name without them; they may satisfy the understanding, but will not charm the ear, nor warm the heart; they may poison all the spirit, but want the form; and in poetry, as in human nature, a rich soul, and a body of fair proportions, are both requisite to constitute a perfect creature.

The Field of the Grounded Arms.

Strangers! your eyes are on that valley fixed

Intently, as we gaze on vacancy,

When the mind’s wings o’erspread

The spirit-world of dreams.

True, ’tis a scene of loveliness—the bright,

Green dwelling of the Summer’s first born hours,

Smiling, through tears of dew,

A welcome to the morn.

And morn returns their welcome. Sun and cloud

Smile on the green earth from their home in heaven,

Even as the mother smiles

Above her cradled boy—

And wreathes their light and shade o’er plain and mountain,

O’er sleepless seas of grass whose waves are flowers,

The river’s golden shores,

The forests of dark pines.

The song of the wild bird is on the wind,

The hum of the wild bee, the music wild

Of waves upon the bank,

Of leaves upon the bough.

But all is song and beauty in the land,

In these her Eden days—then journey on!

A thousand scenes like this

Will greet you ere the eve.

Ye linger yet. Ye see not, hear not now

The sunny smile, the music of to-day—

Your thoughts are wandering up,

Far up the stream of time;

And long slept recollections of old tales

Are rushing on your memories, as ye breathe

That valley’s storied name,

Field of the grounded arms!

Gazers! it is your home—American

Is your lip’s haughty smile of triumph here;

American your step—

Ye tread your native land.

And your high thoughts are on her glory’s day,

The solemn sabbath of the week of battle,

When Fortune bowed to earth

The banner of Burgoyne.

The forest leaves lay scattered, cold and dead,

Upon the withered grass that autumn morn,

When with as withered hearts,

And hopes as dead and cold,

His gallant army formed their last array

Upon that field, in silence and deep gloom,

And, at their conqueror’s feet,

Laid their war weapons down.

Sullen and stern, disarmed, but not dishonored,

Brave men, but brave in vain, they yielded there—

The soldier’s trial task

Is not alone to die.

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p. 133

Honor to chivalry! the conqueror’s breath

Stains not the ermine of his foeman’s fame,

Nor mocks his captive’s doom—

The bitterest cup of war.

But be that bitterest cup the doom of all

Whose swords are lightning-flashes in the cloud

Of the invader’s wrath,

Threatening a gallant land!

His army’s trumpet-tones wake not alone

Her slumbering echoes—from a thousand hills

Her answering voices shout,

And her bells ring—"To arms!”

Then Danger hovers o’er the invader’s march,

On raven’s wings; hushing the song of Fame,

And Glory’s hues of beauty

Fade from the cheek of Death.

A foe is heard in every rustling leaf,

A fortress seen in every rock and tree;

The veteran eye of art

Is dim and powerless then,

And War becomes the peasant’s joy; her drum

His merriest music, and her field of death

His couch of happy dreams,

After Life’s harvest-home.

He battles, heart and arm, his own blue sky

Above him, and his own green land around,

Land of his father’s grave,

His blessing and his prayers!

Land where he learnt to lisp a mother’s name,

The first beloved on earth, the last forgot,

Land of his frolic youth,

Land of his bridal eve!

Land of his children! vain your columned strength,

Invaders! vain your battle’s steel and fire!

Choose ye the morrow’s doom,

A prison or a grave!

And such were Saratoga’s victors—such

The peasants brave, whose deeds and death have given

A glory to her skies,

A music to her name.

In honorable life her fields they trod,

In honorable death they sleep below,

Their sons’ proud feelings here

Their noblest monuments.

Feelings, as proud as were the Greek’s of old,

When, in his country’s hour of fame, he stood,

Happy, and young, and free,

Gazing on Marathon!


Ariel (10 January 1829): 150-151.

The Legendary.—We have only room for a limited notice of this work, which we have but hastily read. It is edited by N. P. Willis, Esq.—published once in three months, at Boston, and its professed object is to embody the best literature of our country, and give it a “local habitation—and a name.” The enterprising and spirited publisher, Mr. S. G. Goodrich, deserves the thanks of every lover of his country’s fame, for the efforts he has made to open a new era in American Literature, by giving, as is done in England, a liberal compensation for well written articles. The work is got up in the best manner, and we wish the publisher every success in his undertaking. We shall notice separately some of the most conpicuous articles: and first:

The field of the Grounded Arms. By F. G. Halleck.. Those who have read, and justly admired that most excellent poem “Mareo Bozzaris,” by this beautiful writer, will be equally reluctant with us to believe, that this article, written neither in blank versen [sic] or rhyme, is from the same pen. There are lofty sentiments expressed in it, yet the contrast is so great between this and “Gozzarris,” that it may be we overlook, in our disappointment, the numerous beauties it is said to contain.

The Stepmother. By Mr. Nobody. A better person than whom to write a long story about nothing could not be found. He will probably, however, escape being condemned in toto—as very few will be sufficiently stupid to trespass far upon his infliction.

Lionel. [B]y Robert Morris. There has been a deal of suggestion among the corps editorial, that this article was an imitation of the style of N. P. Willis, Esq. We see no reason for such an opinion, in Lionel, at least. It is, with the exception of a piece in the Philadelphia Monthly Magazine, as creditable as most of the author’s writings, and bears no resemblance to Idleness, written by the gentleman [h]e is said to imitate.

The Murderer’s Grave. Anonymous. A fine comment upon the Stepmother—being both short and good.

Musings. To Rosabelle. By Willis G. Clark. Beautiful poetry, (says the Boston Statesman,) full of music and sweet thoughts. The writer is Assistant Editor of the Ladies’ Literary Port Folio, of this city.

Leaves from a Colleger’s Album. By N. P. Willis. A playful tale—abounding with good humor, and entertaining some slight errors.

Autumn Musings. By George Lunt. Much in the style of Bryant—and one rises from its perusal, with its lingering beauties impressed upon his mind.

The Camp Meeting. Anonymous. A good prose article, with some striking passages.

The Hudson. By H. Pickering. Perhaps we are wrong, but we cannot see a reason for the extravanant praise which this article has elicited from one or two editors. It is very good, however. The following from “The Hudson,” is highly original and poetic.

—— Mountains that beneath

Thy undiscoverable depths extend

Their giant feet, then far in the blue heavens

Precipitous rose, with their incumbent woods.

Bennet’s Bridge. By J. H. Nichols. There is a melody in this piece, similar to the “tinkling tone” of the foaming waters, of which he makes mention.

To the Ice Mountain. By James O. Rockwell. These lines to a

“Wandering monument of rain,

Prisoned by the sullen north,”

bating [sic] a little indistinctness, and a lack of perspicuity, are good—and the writer bids fair to become a poet.

First Meeting of the Old and New World. By Mrs. Sigourney. Though tolerably good, yet inferior to many other things from her pen.

Extracts from a Sea Book. By Samuel Hazzard. Some few expressions taken entire from “the Voyage” in the commencement of the first volume of Irving’s Sketch Book, evince the author’s familiarity with popular writers—his describing the vessel as “flying on her snowy wing,” betokens his having read Byron—and his omitting to quote, smacks of plagiarism.

Idleness. By N. P. Willis. Easy, smooth, and beautiful poetry—touching the heart of the reader with its natural description, and its beauty of simile.

Hope, and the Mother’s Grave, by William Grigg, are passing good—but we should think the writer was rather inexperienced in the world of letters.

The Burial at Sea. By S. G. Goodrich, the publisher, is a very good thing—and with an article of his in the Token, bespeaks him a man of genius.

Unwritten Philosophy.—N. P. Willis. Just such an article as might be expected from his pen. It is a tale—and unlike many of the present day, it is interesing.

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p. 151

Stanzas to the memory of John G. C. Brainard. By Willis G. Clark. Beautiful language, (says a Boston paper,) feelingly and eloquently expressed. None who have read Autumn Leaves, and Lines to Niagara, but will recognize the subject of these stanzas.

“Peace to the sleeper! o’er his silent lyre,

The autumnal gale at evening-tide goes by;—

Where rests the hand that swept its strings of fire,

And with its murmurs raised the smile or sigh?”

There are many articles in the Legendary which we have not noticed, and which our limits will not permit. It is much superior to the first volume—and we wish the editor and enterprising publisher the success which their laudable efforts deserve.

[Reprints “The Murderer’s Grave.”]


The Museum of Foreign Literature (May 1829): 391-394. Ed. Eliakim Littell.

From the Literary Gazette.

THE LEGENDARY, consisting of Original Pieces, principally illustrative of American History, scenery, and Manners. Edited by N. P. Willis. 12mo. pp.. 286. Boston. 1828. S. G. Goodrich.

This is a very agreeable specimen of American periodical tales of forests, lakes, valleys, &c.; many as picturesque as the originals. Nothing like native resources: the superiority of those legends founded on incidents, and embellished with transatlantic scenery, are as superior to those cast in the common mould of fiction as it is possible to be. We quote the following, to us, very beautiful story. [Transcriber’s note: Reprints “The Indian Wife,” by Lydia Maria Child, in one huge, amazingly unreadable paragraph which extends to page 394.]

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p. 394

We do not think very highly of the poetry: though many of the pieces are pretty, none are striking, and they want originality. But, altogether, we consider the Legendary to be a volume of a very superior class. It is, we see announced, the first of a series, and consists of forty miscellaneous productions; those belonging to the country, and adhering to the original plan (when some variations have, of necessity, it seems, been made in the hurry of earlier arrangements,) are decidedly the most attractive. As a sample of American literary prices, we may notice, that the Editor, Mr. Willis, advertises for each page of contributions in prose one dollar, and a higher rate for poetry.

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