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

Reviews of The Token for 1840

The Corsair, September 7, 1839

The Hesperian, October 1839

North American Review, October 1839



Reviewers of The Token for 1840 found something to criticize and something to praise; “Ancient Reminiscences” was the most popular piece in the annual.



Review of The Token, for 1840 (from The Hesperian, October 1839; pp. 399-402)

The “Token and Atlantic Souvenir,” for 1840, has been issued at Boston, and may soon be looked for upon the shelves of our western booksellers. For several years past, till the last, this annual had been depreciating in excellence. The number for 1839 contained several very fine contributions, and one or two good embellishments; and that for the coming holydays is said to be a still further improvement upon the volumes published two, three and four years back. The Token was once a creditable representative of the state of literature and the fine arts in this country, and we hope these recent improvements are indications that it is soon to be so again. The papers of the Atlantic cities contain a number of selections from the present volume. None of these are very remarkable. The best that we have read, is a prose sketch from the author of the “Three Experiments of Living,” and a few verses, entitled “The Widow’s Hope,” by Miss Gould. Both of these we subjoin.—Hesperian.

——

THE WIDOW’S HOPE.

Sleep on, my babe, and in thy dream

Thy father’s face behold,

That love again may warmly beam

From eyes now dark and cold.

His wonted food embrace to give,

To smile as once he smiled,

Again let all the father live,

To bless his orphan child.

Thy mother sits these heavy hours

To measure off with sighs;

And over Life’s quick-withered flowers

To droop with streaming eyes.

For, ah, our waking dreams, how fast

Their dearest visions fade,

Or flee, and leave their glory cast

For ever into shade!

Still, the doating, stricken heart,

In every bleeding string

That grief has snapped or worn apart,

Finds yet wherewith to cling;

And yet whereon its hold to take

With stronger, double grasp,

Because of joys it held to break

Or melt within its clasp.

A blast has proved that in the sand

I based my fair, high tower;

Pale Death has laid his rending hand

On my new Eden bower!

And now, my tender orphan boy,

Sweet bud of hope, I see

My spice of life, my future joy,

My all, wrapped up in thee.

I fear to murmur in the ear

Of Him who willed the blow,

And sent the King of Terrors here

To lay thy father low.

I ask His aid my griefs to bear—

To say, “Thy will be done;”

That Heaven will still in pity spare

The widow’s only son.

——
ANCIENT REMINISCENCES.

In King’s Chapel, in Tremont stree Boston, is a monument to the memory of Frances Shirley, wife of Governor Shirley. There are none of the contemporaries of this lady remaining. We know but little of her except from this monument, and the visionary sketches that become more and more indistinct, as they pass through successlve generations. After a panegyric on her virtues, this record fellows:

“Near this excellent mother, lie the mortal remains of her second daughter, Frances Bullen, late wife of William Bullen, Esq., the King’s Advocate in the Vice-Admiralty Court of the province of Massachusetts, whose virtue and great beauty, prudence, piety, cultivated understanding, and gentle manners, were the delight of all while she lived.

“The too brief space of her life was passed ere she had attained her twenty-fourth year, and she died on the twelfth of March, 1744, deeply lamented by her husband, parents, and friends.”

It is truly said we live a second time in our children. Of the daughter of this lady and granddaughter of Governor Shirley, Frances Shirley Bollen, there is much known that is interesting. A friend of her’s [sic] is still living at an advanced age.

Her mother died while she was very young, and her father, being appointed agent for Massachusetts to the court of St. James, went to England, and left her to be educated in this country. The property which she was to inherit made it proper to appoint guardians of distinguished respectability. These were Judge Trowbridge, Judge Russel, and her uncle, Mr. Temple.

With Judge Trowbridge, at Cambridge, she principally resided. Her wealth and beauty attracted admirers at an early age;

-----
p. 400

but it was well understood, that her father was averse to her forming any matrimonial connection in America, and that he looked forward to her making a splendid alliance in England.

The early part of her life was passed in innocent gayety, unclouded by thought of the future. She formed those associations with friends of her own sex, to which the youthful mind so naturally turns, and felt as if her world of happiness existed on this side of the Atlantic. At the age of eighteen, she received a summon from her father to come to him; and, with deep sensibility, she parted from Mrs. Trowbridge, who had supplied to her the place of her own mother. There was no mother to welcome her to the strange land to which she was going; of her father she had but a slight remembrance; and, if friends were in store, they must be new ones. She made a thousand promises to write constantly; and said, “that to lay open her whole heart” to those she had left behind “would be her greatest solace.”

Soon after her arrival in England, letters came; but they were not the transcripts of her warm and affectionate heart; it was evident to her friends, that they were written in a depressed and constrained manner. At length, all correspondence ceased, and they heard of her only by report. It was soon understood, that her father did not wish her to continue her intercourse with her American friends, and was continually haunted by fears that she might defeat his ambitious projects by forming some alliance beneath her. This led him to keep a constant guard upon her movements, and to prohibit her from general society. One solace, however, he allowed her, and that was the privilege of passing a few days with Mrs. Western, a female friend of great respectability and influence. This lady became fondly attached to Frances, who acquired, from her elegant and cultivated manners, a polish that she’could not have gained in her father’s family.

Mrs. Western resided a few miles from the city, and it was happiness to her young friend to quit its noise and dust and enjoy those scenes in the country, that reminded her of her early walks in Cambridge, and the winding course of Charles river. Mrs. Western had sons, but they were absent from home, and the father’s apprehensions, with regard to them, seem not to have been awakened. One of them returned home on a visit to his mother, while Frances was staying with her. Mrs. Western immediately made arrangements to restore the young lady to her father’s residence the next day, knowing his extreme anxiety on the subject.

The breakfast hour, with her, was one of cheerful meeting. She took her seat as usual at the table, and, after waiting some time in vain for the appearance of her guest, sent a summons to her room. The messenger returned with the intelligence, that she was not there, and that the room did not appear to have been occupied during the night. She sent to her son’s room; the young student was not to be found; the truth flashed upon her mind,—they had eloped together! Nothing remained but to send a despatch to the father, acquainting him with her suspicions.

He lost no time in repairing to her mansion, and loaded her with reproaches. His accusations were violent and unfounded, and he more than hinted, that she was accessory to the elopement. Mrs. Western preserved a calm and dignified deportment, and replied, “that the measure was as unpleasant to herself as to him; that her son had not yet finished his education, and a matrimonial connection might prove a blight to his future prospects and exertions.” She also observed, “he was not of age, and could not, for some time, come into possession of his own property. That, as now the thing was irremediable, they had better submit to it with magnanimity.”

Necessity is a never-failing counsellor. The father contented himself with solemnly protesting he never would forgive, or see, his daughter. Mrs. Western, on the contrary, received the young couple with gentleness when they returned, which they did after a few days’ absence, and endeavored, by maternal counsel, to obviate the evils of this rash and disobedient step.

Years passed on, and they had several children. Though the father still adhered to his determination of not forgiving his daughter, in the tenderness of her husband and his mother, and surrounded by blooming and healthy children, her life was tranquil and happy.

Some months after the birth of the youngest child, Mr. and Mrs. Western set out on a journey, taking the infant with them. At an inn, where they stopped, Mr. Western got out of the phæton. At that moment

-----
p. 401

the horses, which were usually perfectly gentle, took fright, and ran with his wife and child, notwithstanding all his own and his servant’s attempts to stop them.

The mother’s first thought was for her infant, and seizing an opportunity when the speed of the horses was a little checked, by a hill, she threw it upon a hedge of foliage. A mother’s ears are quick, she distin[g]uished the cry of the child; it was not one of distress, and she felt new courage, and, springing herself from the carriage with but slight injury, was able to hasten immediately back to recover the child. She found it safe and unhurt, and it recognized its mother with the joyous welcome of infant affection. With a heart filled with gratitude for their preservation, she walked on to meet her husband, knowing he must be enduring dreadful anxiety.

The first person she met was her own servant[.] “We are safe and uninjured,” she exclaimed, “hasten back and tell your master.”

He neither moved nor spoke, and as she looked in his face she perceived signs of deep distress. “What has happened? what have you to tell?” she exclaimed. He was unable to evade her eager inquiries, and the information he gave her was abrupt and overwhelming. Mr. Western, in endeavoring to stop the horses, as they rushed furiously forward, received a violent blow on his breast, from the pole of the carriage, and fell dead on the spot. His wretched wife fainted at the intelligence, and so dreadful was the shock, that for many months her reason was partially estranged. Her father could not resist this accumulation of distress. He went immediately to see her and continued the intercourse, soothing her grief by parental tenderness.

After these melancholy events took place, she resided wholly in the country, devoting herself to the education of her children. She died many years since; and only one of her American friends still survives her., We hope this little narrative; is sufficiently interesting to make one of her early letters acceptable. It was addressed to the friend just alluded to, after returning from a visit she had been making her. The contrast it forms between the thoughtless gaiety of a girl, and the heart-rending events of after-life, is very striking. The local allusions it contains to people who existed before the revolution, as well as the mode of traveling it describes, making a journey, from Newburyport to Boston occupy nearly a day and a half, have something of a picturesque effect in contrast with the present times, and modes of traveling by railroad and steam.

“Cambridge, 1762.

Dear Sibby—Last evening I heard of an opportunity to send to you, and I cannot omit writing; but must give a short account of my journey back, which was not very agreeable, on account of the roads. You cannot imagine how bad the traveling was—we could only walk the horses for several miles, and just as we got to Parker’s river, one of the wheels of the chaise came off. It took some time to get it on again, the time we entered Rowley heartily tired. They looked dark and dismal, and I thought of nothing and determined, if we were attacked, to surrender even my N. P. ear-rings to save my life. Well, all at once I saw a man on horseback, coming towards us. _I began to tremble, but who do you think it proved? why, Mr. Jonathan Jackson! of all persons in the world, the least like a robber! We had a little pleasant conversation, and then proceeded; but did not get to Beverly till quite dark. The next morning we left early, found the roads much better, and arrived at Cambridge about one o’clock.

“Today is Sunday, and we have had a sermon upon dress, from Mr. Appleton. Upon my word, I think he made it out very well; for he told us people should dress according to their rank, and not go beyond their circumstances. He touched a little upon the propriety of our being subject to the other sex, and gave us a hint upon silence. I suppose, my dear, you will think I could not help taking this to myself. I confess it touched me a little, but I shall soon recover from it; for it is so natural to my tongue to go, that I cannot easily stop its motion.

“Here am I, sighing and moaning that we had not some of this good weather while I was with you at N. P. I liked the place so well that I had quite a curiosity to see how it looked when the sun was out.

“I had almost forgot to tell you how much my N. P. ear-rings were admired. I thought of them during the sermon, and ventured to wear them again in the afternoon. How I want to take a serious walk with your ladyship through those long rope-walks—a walk? no, I think the weather is cool enough for a

-----
p. 402

run. I don’t believe you have had any knots tied in your handkerchief since I came away. Only think of my forgetting to deliver a message from Mr. M. while I was at N. P. I am positively afraid to walk out lest I should pop upon him, and he should ask me about it. I must beg the favor of you to do it for me. It was to ask your father if he received a letter by oe Mr. Whitefield? He is a great preacher, and quite the fashion; they say he makes people cry and laugh in the same moment; pray go and hear him, and write me word, which you do most heartily, cry or laugh?

“The spring is delightful, the trees are coming out in blossom, and Charles river really looks majestic. How I wish you were here! Write soon, and don’t forget the message about Mr. Whitefield. Your sincere friend,

Frances Shirley Bollen.”


Review of The Token, for 1840 (from The Corsair, September 7, 1839; p. 409)

The Token, for 1840. Published by Otis, Broaders, and Company, Boston.—This is the earliest gift book of the season, and judging from the character of the Authors who seem to have mainly contributed to its pages, it can scarcely fail to prove somewhat more substantial in its intrinsic merits than we usually find in these annual emanations from the press. We have become sick with looking over the trash that is yearly bound up in gold and calf, and made a token of friendship and love. How much better would it be to get up in their stead, standard works of real value, with whatever embellishments art could supply. We do not mean Young’s Night Thoughts, nor Goldsmith’s Poems—they have been so “done up” from year to year in every possible shape and style, that they are quite “done brown,” but we mean such a work as Irving’s Knickerbocker, or Wilson’s Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life—something popular—readable with the multitude, and then “job out” the illustrations to native artists, giving an original print to each story—not a mutilated—inferior copy of some head or hands stolen from the illustrations of some foreign work.

But to go back to The Token. It is splendidly bound, and in the main we like the engravings which embellish it. “The Nibble,” and “The Velvet Hat,” are our favourites, the first from a painting by Chapman, the second from a design by Inskipp. On the whole, we congratulate the Boston Publishers on the early appearance of their handsome annual, and the creditable character of its contents.


Review of The Token, for 1840 (from North American Review, October, 1839; pp. 490-491)

The Token and Atlantic Souvenir; a Christmas and New Year’s Present. Edited by S. G. Goodrich. Boston: Otis, Broaders, & Co. 1840. 16mo. pp. 304.

The Token comes out this year in handsomer style than usual. The engravings are generally excellent, the paper is clear and strong; and the literary merits of the book are greater than those of some of its predecessors. Among the prose sketches, is a very interesting piece, called “Ancient Reminiscences,” by the Author of the “Three Experiments.” It is a brief biography of Francis Shirley Bollen, granddaughter

-----
p. 491

of Governor Shirley, who passed the early part of her life in Cambridge, in the family of Judge Trowbridge. The subsequent years of this young lady’s life were spent in England, and were marked by romantic and melancholy incidents, enough to form the substance of a very respectable novel. The piece concludes with a very lively and well-written letter, dated 1762, which we would have quoted but for the cause which so often embarrasses us at this stage of a Number.

Most of the poetry in the volume is not remarkably good. The “Sibyl,” by Miss Browne, is one of the best pieces; those by Mr. Mellen, with the exception of two or three brilliant thoughts, disguised under the most affected phraseology, are the worst. Miss Gould and the Author of “Miriam” appear with their accustomed excellence.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.