« PreviousContinue »
citement to impress it with life and dignity. She is of that order of beings who are themselves only on "great occasions." Her husband is still living. She has no children. I need scarcely add that she has always been distinguished for her energetic and active philanthropy.
THOMAS DUNN BROWN.
I HAVE seen one or two scraps of verse with this gentleman's nom de plume* appended, which had considerable merit. For example :
A sound melodious shook the breeze
When thy beloved name was heard:
Its dainty rhythm the pulses stirred
And thickening gloom:
I strove among the sons of men,
Just sorcery-walked the lion's den
And all for thee! For thee I-alas,
So baseless seems,
Azthene, all my early dreams. I must confess, however, that I do not appreciate the “ dainty rhythm” of such a word as “ Azthene,” and, perhaps, there is some taint of egotism in the passage about “ the magie” of Mr. Brown's pen. Let us be charitable, however, and set all this down under the head of the pure imagination or inventionthe first of poetical requisites. The inexcusable sin of Mr. Brown is imitation—if this be not too mild a term. When Barry Corn. wall, for example, sings about a “ dainty rhythm,” Mr. Brown forthwith, in B flat, hoots about it too. He has taken, however, his most unwarrantable liberties in the way of plagiarism, with Mr
* Thomas Dunn English.
Henry B. Hirst, of Philadelphia—a poet whose merits have not yet been properly estimated.
I place Mr. Brown, to be sure, on my list of literary people not on account of his poetry, (which I presume he himself is not weak enough to estimate very highly,) but on the score of his having edited, for several months, “ with the aid of numerous collaborators,” a magazine called “ The Aristidean.” This work, although professedly a “monthly," was issued at irregular intervals, and was unfortunate, I fear, in not attaining at any period more than about fifty subscribers.
Mr. Brown has at least that amount of talent which would enable him to succeed in his father's profession-that of a ferryman on the Schuylkill—but the fate of “The Aristidean" should indicate to him that, to prosper in any higher walk of life, he must apply himself to study. No spectacle can be more ludicrous than that of a man without the commonest school education, busying himself in attempts to instruct mankind on topics of polite literature. The absurdity, in such cases, does not lie merely in the ignorance displayed by the would-be instructor, but in the transpa*rency of the shifts by which he endeavors to keep this ignorance concealed. The "editor of the Aristidean,” for example, was not the public laughing-stock throughout the five months of his magazine's existence, so much on account of writing “lay” for “lie,” “ went” for “ gone,” set” for “sit,” etc. etc., or for coupling nouns in the plural with verbs in the singular—as when he writes, above,
so baseless seems, Azthene, all my earthly dreams
he was not, I say, laughed at so much on account of his excusable deficiencies in English grammar (although an editor should undoubtedly be able to write his own name) as on account of the pertinacity with which he exposed his weakness, in lamenting the “ typographical blunders” which so unluckily would creep into his work. He should have reflected that there is not in all America a proof-reader so blind as to permit such errors to escape bim. The rhyme, for instance, in the matter of the “dreams” that “ seems," would have distinctly shown even the most uneducated printers' devil
that he, the devil, had no right to meddle with so obviously an intentional peculiarity.
Were I writing merely for American readers, I should not, of course, have introduced Mr. Brown's name in this book. With us, grotesqueries such as “ The Aristidean” and its editor, are not altogether unparalleled, and are sufficiently well understood—but my purpose is to convey to foreigners some idea of a condition of literary affairs among us, which otherwise they might find it difficult to comprehend or to conceive. That Mr. Brown's blunders are really such as I have described them—that I have not distorted their character or exaggerated their grossness in any respect—that there existed in New York, for some months, as conductor of a magazine that called itself the organ of the Tyler party, and was even mentioned, at times, by respectable papers, a man who obviously never went to school, and was so profoundly ignorant as not to know that he could not spell—are serious and positive facts-uncolored in the slightest degree-demonstrable, in a
the spot, by reference to almost any editorial sentence upon any page of the magazine in question. But a single instance will suffice :-Mr. Hirst, in one of his poems, has the lines,
Oh Odin ! 'twas pleasure—'twas passion to see
Her serfs sweep like wolves on a lambkin like me. At page 200 of “The Aristidean” for September, 1845, Mr. Brown, commenting on the English of the passage, says :-“This lambkin might have used better language than 'like me'-unless he intended it for a specimen of choice Choctaw, when it may, for all we know to the contrary, pass muster.” It is needless, I presume, to proceed farther in a search for the most direct proof possible or conceivable, of the ignorance of Mr. Brown-who, in similar cases, invariably writes-"like I."
In an editorial announcement on page 242 of the same “number,” he says :-“ This and the three succeeding numbers brings the work up to January and with the two numbers previously published makes up a volume or half year of numbers.” But enough of this absurdity :-Mr. Brown had, for the motto on his magazine cover, the words of Richelieu,
Men call me cruel;
Here the two monosyllables “ an ass” should have been appended. They were no doubt omitted through one of those
- typographical blunders" which, through life, have been at once the bane and the antidote of Mr. Brown.
I make these remarks in no spirit of unkindness. Mr. B. is yet young---certainly not more than thirty-eight or nine---and might readily improve himself at points where he is most defective. No one of any generosity would think the worse of him for getting private instruction.
I do not personally know him. About his appearance there is nothing very remarkable-except that he exists in a perpetual state of vacillation between mustachio and goatee. In character, a windbeutel.
Miss Bogart has been for many years before the public as a writer of poems and tales (principally the former) for the periodicals, having made her debût as a contributor to the original "New York Mirror.” Doctor Griswold, in a foot-note appended to one of her poems quoted in his “Poets and Poetry," speaks of the "volume" from which he quotes; but Miss Bogart has not yet collected her writings in volume form. Her fugitive pieces have usually been signed “Estelle.” They are noticeable for nerve, dignity and finish. Perhaps the four stanzas entitled “He came too Late," and introduced into Dr. Griswold's volume are the most favorable specimen of her manner. Had he not quoted them I should have copied them here.
Miss Bogart is a member of one of the oldest families in the State. An interesting sketch of her progenitors is to be found in Thompson's “ History of Long Island.” She is about the medium height, straight and slender ; black hair and eyes; countenance full of vivacity and intelligence. She converses with fluency and spirit, enunciates distinctly, and exhibits interest in whatever is addressed to her—a rare quality in good talkers; has a keen appreciation of genius and of natural scenery ; is cheerful and fond of society.
CATHERINE M. SEDGWICK.
Miss SEDGWICK is not only one of our most celebrated and most meritorious writers, but attained reputation at a period when American reputation in letters was regarded as a phenomenon; and thus, like Irving, Cooper, Paulding, Bryant, Halleck, and one or two others, she is indebted, certainly, for some portion of the esteem in which she was and is held, to that patriotic pride and gratitude to which I have already alluded, and for which we must make reasonable allowance in estimating the absolute merit of our literary pioneers.
Her earliest published work of any length was “A New England Tale,” designed in the first place as a religious tract, but ex panding itself into a volume of considerable size. Its successpartially owing, perhaps, to the influence of the parties for whom or at whose instigation it was written-encouraged the author to attempt a novel of somewhat greater elaborateness as well as length, and “ Redwood” was soon announced, establishing her at once as the first female prose writer of her country. It was reprinted in England, and translated, I believe, into French and Italian. “ Hope Leslie” next appeared—also a novel—and was more favorably received even than its predecessors. Afterwards came “Clarence," not quite so successful, and then “The Linwoods,” which took rank in the public esteem with “ Hope Leslie.” These are all of her longer prose fictions, but sho has written numerous shorter ones of great merit-such as “The Rich Poor Man and the Poor Rich Man," " Live and let Live,” (both in volume form,) with various articles for the magazines and annuals, to which she is still an industrious contributor. About ten years since she published a compilation of several of her fugitive prose pieces, under the title “Tales and Sketches,” and a short time ago a series of “ Letters from Abroad”—not the least popular or least meritorious of her compositions.
Miss Sedgwick has now and then been nicknamed “the Miss Edgeworth of America;" but she has done nothing to bring down upon her the vengeance of so equivocal a title. That she has