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etry, by chance-but he will never be able to do poetry, now, as he might have done it, before this, if he had been worthily tempered, year after year, by wind, or fire-rain-or storm. He, who has grown up in the courtly tournament: He, whose warlike discipline has come only of the tiltingground-blunted weapons-or silken armour-may have the heart of a true knight-may feel bravely-may think chivalry-but will he be able to do chivalry, for more than a little time, together?
The passage, to which we allude, is not, as he might suppose, that, where he goes out of his way, tries, labours to be a poet; by saying, that-while the dying men lay about, upon deck -their eyes were all turned up to the face of Perry: no-the passage to which we allude, is unpremeditatedIt is not a picture, like that, which he, himself, declares to be" above prose -poetry"-it is only one thought, happily uttered-said, as none but a poet ever could have said it. He has been talking about Lake Erie-that solitude of waters-where no battle had ever been heard before: over which no warrior ship had ever gone. He speaks of the barbarian-we do not give the words-looking out from the wood-startled by the "apparition of a sea-fight" upon the waters of a solitary lake, whereon, till that hour, he had never seen a vessel, perhaps, larger than his own birch canoe.
That, we say, is enough. That very phrase the apparition of a sea-fight is enough to prove that Irving is, by nature, a great poet.-We shall say more of this, by and by.
5. INTRODUCTION to Mr Campbell's poetry. A well-written article: but Irving was never made for a critic. He is, to a critic, what a cupper and bleeder is to a resolute surgeon.-If he let out any blood-black, or natural-healthy, or pestilential it is by coaxing it out of timid, small punctures-not by draining arteries, with a fearless cut, into the very region of the heart, perhaps-if the case require it. One thought, only, do we remember. He charges Mr C. with having been frightened, by the Edinburgh people, during the time of gestation or delivery:-or, to come nearer what he says-he charges Mr C. with having been too much afraid
of the Edinburgh critics.-He was right.
6. SKETCH-BOOK-Irving had now come to be regarded as a professional author: to think of his pen for a livelihood. His mercantile speculations were disastrous. We are glad of it. It is all the better for him-his countryour literature-us. But for that lucky misfortune, he would never have been half what he now is: But for his present humiliation, he would never be half what he will now be, if we rightly understand his character.
Strange-but so it was. The accidental association-the fortuitous conjunction, of two or three young men, for the purpose of amusing the town, with a few pages a-month, in Salamagundi, led, straightway, to a total change of all their views in life. Two of them, certainly; perhaps all three, became professional authors, in a country, where only one (poor BROWN) had ever appeared before. Two of them have become greatly distinguished, as writers: the third (Verplanck) somewhat so, by the little that he has writ
Thus it is. A single star, worthy of attention, has hardly ever appeared in the skies of literature. So, in learning: so in science-age after age. It is a constellation-a cluster-a galaxy
-or darkness. But for a similar conjunction, we do believe that most of the leading writers in our sturdy old English literature, would never have been greatly distinguished. A man should have a body of iron-a soul of iron-to outlive a long course of solitary trial.-But for strong rivalrycontention-social criticism-jealousy -fear-perpetual effort, no great man would ever have known a tythe of his own power: Nay, but for such a state of intellectual warfare, he would never have had a tythe of that power, which he may have put forth, in his full maturity. Hence, the policy of confederating for mutual improvement, everywhere-among every class of people. The mass of their knowledge becomes a property in common. Trial, exercise, power, self-assurance come of it.-Every year, a man, who is thus urged onward, will do that, which, a year before, he would have thought impossible: see that-as the horizon grows larger about him, at every step of his upward course-which, a year
before, he had never heard of. He may not be so sensible of his progress, after a time, as he was, when he went up, first, from the level of his companions; but his progress will be, nevertheless, real. He, who has had an opportunity of measuring himself, thus, day after day, with men like himself, will come, in a single twelvemonth, to look upon that, of which he was proud, with feeling of shame, astonishment, or sincere sorrow. Not so, if he hold himself aloof, or be held aloof, by circumstances. He may go into his grave, without advantage to himself, or the world; linger his fourscore years; or die of old age, with a feeling of complacency toward all the labour of his hands. God help such a man! God help him, who does not see, whatever he may have done-however proud he may be of it-however honest, or, the world say, however boastful, he may be of it-God help him, if he do not see, before the fever of his blood is down, that he might have done it much better.-Let a man be proud of his doing; let him, if he speak at all-speak the truth of his own workmanship-whatever the world may say-but let him never be satisfied with himself or his work-never
The American cities are townsthe largest, only towns; the smallest, villages. Altogether they do not contain one half so great a population as that of London.-There was no opportunity, for Irving, in America: no chance of association. Therefore, he came here.
The SKETCH-BOOK was written for America. It was refused here by two or three booksellers-Mr Murray among the number, we believe: was published, on Irving's account, we also believe, by Mr Millar.-It met with unexpected favour: Millar was "unfortunate:" wherefore Mr Murray, whose "enterprize," where there is no sort of risk-we would never question -made a proposal for the SKETCHBook; following it up, with a "munificent" 1000 guineas for BRACEBRIDGE HALL and a L.1500 for the TALES -(Irving had learnt how to deal, in the meantime.)-These" enterprizing publishers," by the way, are a pleasant kind of adventurers, to be surevery desperate-very. They lie by, till a man's reputation is up; till some less "enterprizing," wealthy, or exten
sive publisher has had all the risk— when, making a bow, perhaps, they step in, with a superb, generous air; overbid all their "less enterprizing brethren;" subscribe off the book, before they publish it; and pass for liberal, adventurous encouragers of literature. -Let authors treat such people, as they deserve: stand by those, who stood by them, in spite of temptation
if they would make themselves or their brethren respectable.—We could point out one of these " patrons"one of these "enterprizing publishers" who has rejected manuscripts probably, without reading them-certainly without behaving like a gentleman to the authors—and yet, when these very authors came to be known; he has gone out of his way, to pay them unworthy compliments: to coax and wheedle them-into a new negotiation. We could name one, who, some years ago, thought proper, to refuse the manuscript of a young author-a man of singular talent-with a sort of compassionate-pitying-supercilious air
infinitely provoking, though not enough so to furnish a plausible excuse for knocking him down.-That author has now become one of our authorities he is a statesman-has great power, and great reputation.-Lately -not long ago-the publisher was lucky enough to meet him, for a few minutes, in a large company.-He went up to him; spoke to him; said a great many delightful things: reminded him of the time, when he was in such, or such an obscure situation, overlooked of all the world; begging him to believe, by the way, that he had not overlooked him: that he had seen his talents-of which, bowing, the world had now such abundant proof-&c. &c. &c.-"Yes"-was the reply-" Yes, Mr:-so and so-You certainly did shew your estimation of my talents-bowing-once."- This very publisher too, refused Hunter's Narrative. It was published on account of the author. It succeeded. He--the publisher, who had refused it, was cunning enough to give Hunter a hint or two-immediately-concerning his future publications.-A curse on such "enterprize!"
The SKETCH-BOOK-is a timid, beautiful work; with some childish pathos in it; some rich, pure, bold poetry: a little squeamish, puling, lady-like sentimentality: some courage
ous writing-some wit-and a world of humour, so happy, so natural-so altogether unlike that of any other man-dead or alive, that we would rather have been the writer of it, fifty times over, than of everything else, that he has ever written.
The touches of poetry are everywhere; but never where one would look for them. Irving has no passion: he fails utterly, in true pathos-cannot speak, as if he were carried away, by anything. He is always thoughtful; and, save when he tries to be fine, or sentimental, always at home, always natural.-The “dusty splendour" of Westminster Abbey-the " ship staggering" over the precipices of the ocean the shark" darting, like a spectre, through the blue waters.”—All these things are poetry-such poetry as never was-never will be surpassed. We could mention fifty more passages-epithets-words of power, which no mere prose writer would have dared, under any circumstances, to use. They are like the "invincible locks" of Milton-revealing the God, in spite of every disguise.-They remind us of Leigh Hunt, who, to do him justice-notwithstanding all his "tricksey" prettinesses, does talk more genuine poetry, in his epithets, than any other man, that ever lived. We know well what we say we except nobody. We hate his affectation; despise-pity his daintiness, trick and foppery, but cannot refuse to say, that in his delicate, fine, exquisite adaptation of descriptive words, to the things described, in his poetry he has no equal.-The "loosened silver" of the fountain; the "golden ferment” of the sunshine, upon the wet grass; the large rain-drops, that fall upon the dry leaves, like "twangling pearl" —all these, with a thousand others, are in proof.
The epithets of Hunt are pictures— portraits-likenesses: those of Geoffrey, shadows. Those of the former frequently take off your attention from the principal object: outshine, overtop, that, of which they should be only the auxiliaries: Those of the latter never do this-they only help the chief thought. The associations of Hunt startle us, like Moore's "unexpected light;" in the cool grass-the trodden velvet of his poetry: those of Irving never startle us; never thrill VOL. XVII.
us; never “go, a-rippling to our finger-ends;" but are always agreeable affecting us, like the sweet quiet lustre of the stars, or moon. When we come upon the epithets of Hunt, we feel as if we had caught something—a butterfly, or a bug, perhaps, while running with our mouth open; or detected some hidden relationship of things: But when we come upon the epithets of Geoffrey, we feel as if we had found, accidentally, after we had given up all hope-some part or parcel, which had always been missing (as everybody could see, though nobody knew where to look for it), of the very thoughts or words, with which he has now coupled it for ever.-Let us give an illustration.
Who has not felt, as he stood in the solemn, strange light of a great wilderness; of some old, awful ruin—a world of shafts and arches about him, like a druidical wood-illuminated by the sunset-a visible bright atmosphere, coming through coloured glass -who has not felt, as if he would give his right hand for a few simple words -the fewer the better-to describe the appearance of the air about him?— Would he call it splendour ?—It isn't splendour: dusty?—It would be ridiculous.-But what if he say, like Irving, “ dusty splendour?"-Will he not have said all that can be said ?Who ever saw those two words associated before? who would ever wish to see them separated again ?
The bravest article that Irving ever wrote, is that about our ENGLISH WRITERS on AMERICA. There is more manhood: : more sincerity: more straight-forward, generous plain-dealing in that one paper, than, perhaps, in all his other works. He felt what he said; every word of it: had nothing to lose; and, of course, wrote intrepidly.-Did we like him the worse for it? No, indeed. It was that very paper, which made him respectable, in this country.
RIP VAN WINKLE is well done; but we have no patience with such a man, as Washington Irving. - We cannot keep our temper, when we catch him pilfering the materials of other men; working up old stories. We had as lief see him before the public, for some Bow-street offence.
The WIFE is ridiculous, with some beautiful description: but Irving, as
we said before, has no idea of true passion-suffering or deep, desolating fervour.
The MUTABILITY of LITERATURE -the art of BooK MAKING, &c.-are only parts of the same essay: it has no superior in our language.
The SPECTRE BRIDEGROOM, is only worth mentioning, because, we attribute our TRAVELLER'S TALES, entirely to the success which that paper, and the STOUT GENTLEMAN, met with.
VOL. II.-Irving, though he is continually at work, never gives one a good solid notion of the English character. All his pictures want breadth -a sort of bold, bluff humour-without which a man of this country is like the man of every other country. The Stage-Coachman, for example what is it, as a whole?-parts are fine -touches are fine-but, as a whole, it is anything but one of our good-natured, lubberly, powerful coachmen : one of those fellows, who fight without losing their temper: who love their horses more heartily than their wives: touch their own hats, or knock off those of other people, with precisely the same good-humoured air: say "Coach, your honour ?"-And"Go to the devil!" in the same drowsy, hoarse, peculiar voice.
One of the best papers that Irving ever wrote-if not, in reality, the very best, is JOHN BULL. Yet is it, nevertheless a coloured shadow only-an imaginary portrait; not our John Bull -not he the real, downright John Bull, whom we see every day in the
TRAITS OF INDIAN CHARACTER. Very good-very-so far as they go: Historically true: Irving has done himself immortal honour, by twice taking the field in favour of the North American savages. He has made it fashionable.
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON.-This brings to our mind a piece of poetryfour lines-by Irving, which he left as an impromptu, on his last visit, a few months ago, we believe, to Shakspeare's room. They are very good; and being, we have a notion, the only poetry of his, actually counted off, to be found, are worth preserving.
We know not if these be his; but we have good reason to believe them At any rate-we shall pass them to his credit, for the present, adding two lines by a countryman of his, (Neal) which really were impromptu→ the only impromptu, that he ever wrote in his life. They were written, after he had forsworn poetry-(on going into the room, where Shakspeare was born)-because, if we are to believe him," he couldn't help himself."
"The ground is holy, here!-the very air!
Ye breathe what Shakspeare breathed -rash men, forbear!"
STOUT GENTLEMAN-very good ; and a pretty fair account of a real occurrence STUDENT OF SALAMANCA: beneath contempt: Irving has no idea of genuine romance; or love-or anything else, we believe, that ever seriously troubles the blood of men:-ROOKERY -struck off in a few hours; contrary to what has been said: Irving does not labour as people suppose-he is too indolent-given, too much, we know, to revery DOLPH HEYLIGER; THE HAUNTED HOUSE; STORM SHIP—all in the fashion of his early time: perhaps we are greatly inclined so to believe-perhaps the remains of what was meant for Salamagundi, or Knickerbocker :-the rest of the two volumes quite unworthy of Irving's reputation.
8. TALES OF A TRAVELLER. We hardly know how to speak of this sad affair-when we think of what Irving might have done-without losing our temper. It is bad enoughbase enough to steal that, which would make us wealthy for ever: but-like the plundering Arab-to steal rubbish anything from anybodyeverybody-would indicate a hopeless moral temperament a standard of self-estimation beneath everything.No wonder that people have begun to
But, oddly enough, there seems to be another original account of the same occurrence. Look into the HERMIT IN LONDON. We have a mysterious character, and a rainy day, there, too.
question his originality-when they find him recoining the paltry material newspapers-letters-romances.In the early part of these two volumes we should never see any merit, knowing as we do, the sources of what he is there serving up, however admirable were his new arrangement of the dishes; however great his improvement.
A part of the book-a few scenes — a few pages are quite equal to anything, that he ever wrote. But we cannot agree with anybody, concerning those parts. Irving is greatly to blame quite unpardonable, for two or three droll indecencies, which everybody, of course, remembers, in these TALES :-not so much because they are so unpardonable, in themselves-not so much on that account -as because the critics had set him up, in spite of Knickerbocker; in spite of Salamagundi ; in spite of the Stout Gentleman as an immaculate creature for this profligate age.--He knew this. He knew that any book, with his name to it, would be permitted by fathers, husbands, brothers, to pass without examination: that it would be read aloud, in family circles, all over our country. We shall not readily pardon him, therefore, much as we love him, for having written several passages, which are so equivocal, that no woman could bear to read any one of them aloud-or, to remember that she had-by reason of her great confidence in the author, been upon the point of reading one aloud. Irving has a good, pure heart. How could he bear to see a woman faltering over a passage of his-at her own fire-side-while she was reading to her husband; her children-daughters, perhaps or to the newly married? We hate squeamishness. Great mischief comes of it. We love humour, though it be not altogether so chaste. But we cannot applaud anybody's courage or morals-who under a look of great modesty-with an over-righteous reputation-ventures to smuggle impurity into our dwellings to cheat our very household gods.
The latter part of these TALES, we firmly believe, were old papers lying by. New cloth has been wrought into old garments-New wine, put into old bottles. The money-diggers'
have a good foundation. It is literally true, that people are now digginghave been, for years-upon desolate islands, in America, for money, which the traditions of the country declare to have been buried, with formalities, which are terrible enough, to be sure. Irving is not indebted, as people suppose, therefore, to a German storybook, for this part of his late work.— The pirate-who goes off in a boat--which one may see rocking, under the land-is decidedly the finest bit of Geoffrey, that we know of.-But he is only one of several characters wrought into old, moth-eaten tapestry, the weaving of his youth-which was not worth patching up.
One word of advice to him, before we part-in all probability, for ever.No man gets credit by repeating the story of another: It is like dramatizing a poet. If you succeed, he gets all the praise: if you fail, you get all the disgrace.-You-Geoffrey Crayon
have great power-original power. -We rejoice in your failure, now, because we believe that it will drive you into a style of original composition, far more worthy of yourself.→ Go to work. Lose no time. Your foundations, will be the stronger for this uproar. You cannot write a novel; a poem ; a love tale; or a tragedy. But you can write another SKETCH-BOOK-worth all that you have ever written: if you will draw only from yourself. You have some qualities, that no other living writer has -a bold, quiet humour-a rich beautiful mode of painting, without caricature-a delightful, free, happy spirit-make use of them.-We look to sce you all the better for this trouncing. God bless you! Farewell.
JAY-JUDGE. One of the men who wrote the FEDERALIST. See HAMILTON: p. 56; a Judge of whom Lord Mansfield spoke, like a brother(while Judge Jay was minister to St James's)-after having had a consultation with him. His correspondence with our cabinet was able, and sharp. It may be found in the AMERICAN STATE-PAPers.
JEFFERSON-THOMAS. Late President of the United States: now upwards of 80: the ablest man, we believe, in America: author of many celebrated STATE-PAPERS: of the NOTES ON VIRGINIA, (a small duodecimo vo