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something of a cosmopolitan spirit. An article on “ English and American Monthlies” in Godey's Magazine, and one entitled “ Our English Visitors," in "The Columbian," have also been extensively read and admired. A valuable essay on The Tyranny of Public Opinion in the United States,” (published in “ The Columbian” for December, 1845,) demonstrates the truth of Jefferson's assertion, that in this country, which has set the world an example of physical liberty, the inquisition of popular sentiment overrules in practice the freedom asserted in theory by the laws. “ The West, the Paradise of the Poor," and "The United States' Census for 1830," the former in “The Democratic Review," the latter in “ Hunt's Merchants' Magazine," with sundry essays in the daily papers, complete the list of Mr. Kirkland's works. It will be seen that he has written little, but that little is entitled to respect for its simplicity, and the evidence which it affords of scholarship and diligent research. Whatever Mr. Kirkland does is done carefully. He is occasionally very caustic, but seldom without cause. His style is vigorous, precise, and, notwithstanding his foreign acquirements, free from idiomatic peculiarities.
Mr. Kirkland is beloved by all who know him ; in character mild, unassuming, benevolent, yet not without becoming energy at times; in person rather short and slight; features indistinctive; converses well and zealously, although his hearing is defective.
JOHN W. FRANCIS.
Doctor Francis, although by no means a litterateur, cannot well be omitted in an account of the New York literati. In his capacity of physician and medical lecturer, he is far too well known to need comment. He was the pupil, friend and partner of Hossack-the pupil of Abernethy-connected in some manner with everything that has been well said or done medicinally in America. As a medical essayist he has always commanded the highest respect and attention. Among the points he has made at various times, I may mention his Anatomy of Drunkenness, his views of the Asiatic Cholera, his analysis of the Avon waters of the state, his establishment of the comparative immunity of the constitution from a second attack of yellow fever, and his pathological propositions on the changes wrought in the system by specific poisons through their assimilation--propositions remarkably sustained and enforced by recent discoveries of Liebig.
In unprofessional letters Doctor Francis has also accomplished much, although necessarily in a discursive manner. His biography of Chancellor Livingston, his Horticultural Discourse, his Discourse at the opening of the new hall of the New York Lyceum of Natural History, are (each in its way) models of fine writing just sufficiently toned down by an indomitable common sense. I had nearly forgotten to mention his admirable sketch of the personal associations of Bishop Berkley, of Newport.
Doctor Francis is one of the old spirits of the New York Historical Society. His philanthropy, his active, untiring beneficence, will for ever render his name a household word among the truly Christian of heart. His professional services and his purse are always at the command of the needy ; few of our wealthiest men have ever contributed to the relief of distress so bountifully-none certainly with greater readiness or with warmer sympathy.
His person and manner are richly peculiar. He is short and stout, probably five feet eight in height, limbs of great muscularity and strength, the whole frame indicating prodigious vitality and energy—the latter is, in fact, the leading trait in his character. His head is large, massive-the features in keeping; complexion dark florid; eyes piercingly bright; mouth exceedingly mobile and expressive; hair gray, and worn in matted locks about the neck and shoulders—eyebrows to correspond, jagged and ponder
His age is about fifty-eight. His general appearance is such as to arrest attention.
His address is the most genial that can be conceived, its bonhommie irresistible. He speaks in a loud, clear, hearty tone, dogmatically, with his head thrown back and his chest out; never waits for an introduction to anybody; slaps a perfect stranger on the back and calls him “Doctor” or “Learned Theban;" pats every lady on the head, and (if she be pretty and petite) designates her by some such title as “My Pocket Edition of the Lives of the Saints.” His conversation proper is a sort of Roman punch made up of tragedy, comedy, and the broadest of all possible farce. He has a natural, felicitous flow of talk, always overswelling its boundaries and sweeping everything before it right and left. He is very earnest, intense, emphatic; thumps the table with his fist; shocks the nerves of the ladies. His forte, after all, is humor, the richest conceivable-a compound of Swift, Rabelais, and the clown in the pantomime. He is married.
ANNA CORA MOWATT.
Mrs. Mowatt is in some respects a remarkable woman, and has undoubtedly wrought a deeper impression upon the public than any one of her sex in America.
She became first known through her recitations. To these she drew large and discriminating audiences in Boston, New York, and elsewhere to the north and east. Her subjects were much in the usual way of these exhibitions, including comic as well as serious pieces, chiefly in verse. In her selections she evinced no very refined taste, but was probably influenced by the elocutionary rather than by the literary value of her programmes. She read well; her voice was melodious ; her youth and general appearance excited interest, but, upon the whole, she produced no great effect, and the enterprise may be termed unsuccessful, although the press, as is its wont, spoke in the most sonorous tone of her success.
It was during these recitations that her name, prefixed to occasional tales, sketches and brief poems in the magazines, first attracted an attention that, but for the recitations, it might not have attracted.
Her sketches and tales may be said to be cleverly written. They are lively, easy, conventional, scintillating with a species of sarcastic wit, which might be termed good were it in any respect original. In point of style—that is to say, of mere English, they are very respectable. One of the best of her prose papers is entitled “Ennui and its Antidote," published in "The Columbian Magazine" for June, 1845. The subject, however, is an exceedingly hackneyed on
In looking carefully over her poems, I find no one entitled to commendation as a whole; in very few of them do I observe even noticeable passages, and I confess that I am surprised and disappointed at this result of my inquiry; nor can I make up my mind that there is not much latent poetical power in Mrs. Mowatt. From some lines addressed to Isabel M— I copy the opening stanza as the most favorable specimen which I have seen of her
Forever vanished from thy cheek
Is life's unfolding rose-
That conscious beauty knows !
Which 'ne'er illumes the eye
And earth is fleeting by.”
In this there is much force, and the idea in the concluding qua train is so well put as to have the air of originality. Indeed, I an not sure that the thought of the last two lines is not original; all events it is exceedingly natural and impressive. I say “natural," because, in any imagined ascent from the orb we inhabit, when heaven should“ burst on the siglit”-in other words, when the attraction of the planet should be superseded by that of another sphere, then instantly would the “earth” have the appearance of "fleeting by." The versification, also, is much better here than is usual with the poetess. In general she is rough, through excess of harsh consonants. The whole poem is of higher merit that any which I can find with her name attached; but there is little of the spirit of poesy in anything she writes. She evinces more feeling than ideality.
Her first decided success was with her comedy, “ Fashion," although much of this success itself is referable to the interest felt in her as a beautiful woman and an authoress.
The play is not without merit. It may be commended especially for its simplicity of plot. What the Spanish playwrights mean by dramas of intrigue, are the worst acting dramas in the world; the intellect of an audience can never safely he fatigued by complexity. The necessity for verbose explanation, however, on the part of Trueman, at the close of the play, is in this regard a serious defect. A dénouement should in all cases be taken up with action—with nothing else. Whatever cannot be explained by such action should be communicated at the opening of the story.
In the plot, however estimable for simplicity, there is of course not a particle of originality of invention. Had it, indeed, been designed as a burlesque upon the arrant conventionality of stage incidents in general, it might have been received as a palpable hit. There is not an event, a character, a jest, which is not a well-understood thing, a matter of course, a stage-property time out of mind. The general tone is adopted from “The School for Scandal,” to which, indeed, the whole composition bears just such an affinity as the shell of a locust to the locust that tenants it—as the spectrum of a Congreve rocket to the Congreve rocket itself. In the management of her imitation, nevertheless, Mrs. Mowatt has, I think, evinced a sense of theatrical effect or point which may lead her, at no very distant day, to compose an exceedingly taking, although it can never much aid her in composing a very meritorious drama. “Fashion,” in a word, owes what it had of success to its being the work of a lovely woman who had already excited interest, and to the very commonplaceness or spirit of conventionality which rendered it readily comprehensible and appreciable by the public proper. It was much indebted, too, to the carpets, the ottomans, the chandeliers and the conservatories, which gained so decided a popularity for that despicable mass of inanity, the " London Assurance” of Bourcicault.
Since“ Fashion,” Mrs. Mowatt has published one or two brief novels in pamphlet form, but they have no particular merit, although they afford glimpses (I cannot help thinking) of a genius as yet unrevealed, except in her capacity of actress.
In this capacity, if she be but true to herself, she will assuredly win a very enviable distinction. She has done well, wonderfully well, both in tragedy and comedy; but if she knew her own strength, she would confine herself nearly altogether to the depicting in letters not less than on the stage) the more gentle sentiments and the most profound passions. Her sympathy with the latter is evidently intense. In the utterance of the truly generous, of the really noble, of the unaffectedly passionate, we see her bosom heave, her cheek grow pale, her limbs tremble, her lip quiver, and nature's own tear' rush impetuously to the eye. It is this freshness of the heart which will provide for her the greenest laurels. It is this enthusiasm, this well of deep feeling,