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it is much such a MS. as David Crockett wrote, and
precisely such a one as we might imagine would be
written by a veritable Jack Downing by Jack Down
ing himself, had this creature of Mr. Smith's fancy
been endowed with a real entity. The fact is that
the " Major " is not all a creation ; at least one half
of his character actually exists in the bosom of his
originator. It was the Jack Downing half that com
posed Powhatan,



Lieutenant Slidell some years ago took the addi
tional name of Mackenzie. His reputation at one
period was extravagantly high, a circumstance owing,
in some measure, to the esprit de corps of the navy, of
which he is a member, and to his private influence,
through his family, with the review cliques. Yet his
fame was not altogether undeserved ; although it can
not be denied that his first book, A Year in Spain t was

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A Chapter on Autography

in some danger of being overlooked by his country
men, until a benignant star directed the attention of
the London bookseller, Murray, to its merits. Cock
ney octavos prevailed; and the clever young writer,
who was cut dead in his Yankee habiliments, met with
bows innumerable in the gala dress of an English im*
primatur. The work now ran through several edi
tions, and prepared the public for the kind reception of
The American in. England which exalted his reputa
tion to its highest pinnacle. Both these books abound
in racy descriptions, but are chiefly remarkable for
their gross deficiencies in grammatical construction.

Lieutenant Slidell's MS. is peculiarly neat and even
quite legible, but altogether too petite and effeminate.
Few tokens of his literary character are to be found
beyond the petiteness f which is exactly analogous with
the minute detail of his descriptions.




Francis Lieber is Professor of History and Politi
cal Economy hi the College of South Carolina, and has
published many works distinguished by acumen and
erudition. Among these we may notice a Journal of
a Residence in Greece, written at the instigation of the
historian Niebuhr ; The Stranger in America, a piquant
book abounding in various information relative to the
United States ; a treatise on Education / Reminist

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A Chapter on Autography

cences of an Intercourse with Niebuhr ; and an Essay
on International Copyright, this last a valuable work.
Professor Lieber's personal character is that of the
frankest and most unpretending bonhomie, while his
erudition is rather massive than minute. We may
therefore expect his MS. to differ widely from that of
his brother scholar, Professor Anthon ; and so in truth
it does. His chirography is careless, heavy, black, and
forcible, without the slightest attempt at ornament,
very similar, upon the whole, to the well-known chirog
raphy of Chief- Justice Marshall. His letters have the
peculiarity of a wide margin left at the top of each
page.




Mrs. Hale is well known for her masculine style of
thought. This is clearly expressed in her chirography,
which is far larger, heavier, and altogether bolder than
that of her sex generally. It resembles in a great
degree that of Professor Lieber, and is not easily
deciphered.





Mr. Everett's MS. is a noble one. It has about it
an air of deliberate precision emblematic of the states
man and a mingled grace and solidity betokening the

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A Chapter on Autography

scholar. Nothing can be more legible, and nothing
need be more uniform. The man who writes thus will
never grossly err in judgment or otherwise; but we
may also venture to say that he will never attain the
loftiest pinnacle of renown. The letters before us have
a seal of red wax, with an oval device bearing the
initials E. . and surrounded with a scroll, inscribed
with some Latin words which are illegible.



Dr. Bird is well known as the author of The Gladi*
atof f Calavar, The Infidel t Nick of the Woods, and
some other works, Calavar being, we think, by far
the best of them, and beyond doubt one of the best of
American novels.

His chirography resembles that of Mr. Benjamin
very closely, the chief difference being in a curl of the
final letters in Dr. B.'s. The characters, too, have the
air of not being able to keep pace with the thought,
and an uneasy want of finish seems to have been the
consequence. A vivid imagination might easily be
deduced from such a MS.




Mr. John Neal's MS. is exceedingly illegible and
careless. Many of his epistles are perfect enigmas,

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A Chapter on Autography



flothing can be more legible, and nothing
be more uniform. The man who writes thus will
mnrer grossly err in judgment or otherwise; but we
My also venture to say that he will never attain the
loftiest pinnacle of renown. The letters before us have
a seal of red wax, with an oval device bearing the
initials . . and surrounded with a scroll, inscribed
with some Latin words which are illegible.



Dr. Bird is well known as the author of The
ator. C*/*w, 7l<tall& RHFSPtte Woods, and
some ater workFrom a steel engreyiuge think, by far




the best of them,
American

very closl v . tfcr
final letters m 0r.
air of not MM a
and an uneasy VM
consequence. A ->
deduced from



one of the best of



ki aid of the
e ifcarauli in, too, have the

t? IMM nM ttM thought,
** HMHHI to have been the
^ptuition might easily be




Mr. John Weal's MS. is exceedingly illegible and
Many of Mi epistles are perfect enigmas,



A Chapter on Autography

and we doubt whether he could read them himself in
half an hour after they are penned. Sometimes four
or five words are run together. Any one, from Mr.
Neal's penmanship, might suppose his mind to be what
it really is excessively flighty and irregular, but active
and energetic.



The penmanship of Miss Sedgwick is excellent. The
characters are well-sized, distinct, elegantly but not
ostentatiously formed, and, with perfect freedom of
manner, are still sufficiently feminine. The hair-
strokes differ little from the downward ones, and the
MSS. have thus a uniformity they might not otherwise
have. The paper she generally uses is good, blue, and
machine-ruled. Miss Sedgwick's handwriting points
unequivocally to the traits of her literary style, which
are strong common sense and a masculine disdain of
mere ornament. The signature conveys the general
chirography.



Mr. Cooper's MS. is very bad unformed, with little
of distinctive character about it, and varying greatly
in different epistles. In most of those before us a
steel pen has been employed, the lines are crooked, and

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A Chapter on Autography

the whole chirography has a constrained and school-
boyish air. The paper is fine and of a bluish tint. A
wafer is always used. Without appearing ill-natured
we could scarcely draw any inferences from such a
MS. Mr. Cooper has seen many vicissitudes, and it
is probable that he has not always written thus. What
ever are his faults, his genius cannot be doubted.



Dr. Hawks is one of the originators of the New York
Review, to which journal he has furnished many ar
ticles. He is also known as the author of The ///$/
tory of the Episcopal Church of Virginia and one or
two minor works. He now edits the Church Record,
His style, both as a writer and as a preacher, is charac
terized rather by a perfect fluency than by any more
lofty quality, and this trait is strikingly indicated in
his chirography, of which the signature is a fair spe
cimen.




This gentleman is the author of Cromwell, The
Brothers, Ringwood the Rover, and some other minor
productions. He at one time edited the American
Monthly Magazine in connection with Mr. Hoffman.
In his compositions for the magazines, Mr. Herbert

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A Chapter on Autography

is in the habit of doing both them and himself gross
injustice by neglect and hurry. His longer works
evince much ability, although he is rarely entitled to
be called original. His MS. is exceedingly neat, clear,
and forcible, the signature affording a just idea of it.
It resembles that of Mr. Kennedy very nearly, but has
more slope and uniformity, with, of course, less spirit,
and less of the picturesque. He who writes as Mr.
Herbert will be found always to depend chiefly upon
his merits of style for a literary reputation and will
not be unapt to fall into a pompous grandiloquence.
The author of Cromwell is sometimes wofully turgid.




Professor Palfrey is known to the public principally
through his editorship of the North American Review.
He has a reputation for scholarship ; and many of the
articles which are attributed to his pen evince that this
reputation is well based, so far as the common notion
of scholarship extends. For the rest, he seems to
dwell altogether within the narrow world of his own
conceptions, imprisoning them by the very barrier
which he has erected against the conceptions of others.

His MS. shows a total deficiency in the sense of the
in



A Chapter on Autography

beautiful. It has great pretension, great straining
after effect, but is altogether one of the most miserable
MSS. in the world, forceless, graceless, tawdry, vacil
lating, and unpicturesque. The signature conveys but
a faint idea of its extravagance. However much we
may admire the mere knowledge of the man who
writes thus, it will not do to place any dependence upon
his wisdom or upon his taste.




F. W. Thomas, who began his literary career at
the early age of seventeen, by a poetical lampoon upon
certain Baltimore fops, has since more particularly
distinguished himself as a novelist. His Clinton Brad*
shawe is perhaps better known than any of his later
fictions. It is remarkable for a frank, unscrupulous
portraiture of men and things, in high life and low,
and by unusual discrimination and observation in re
spect to character. Since its publication he has pro
duced East and West and Howard Pinckney f neither
of which seems to have been so popular as his first
essay, although both have merit.

East and West, published in 1836, was an attempt
to portray the every-day events occurring to a fallen
family emigrating from the East to the West. In it,
as in Clinton Bradshawe f most of the characters are

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A Chapter on Autography

drawn from life. Howard Pinckney was published in
1840.

Mr. Thomas was at one period the editor of the Cin
cinnati Commercial Advertiser. He is also well known
as a public lecturer on a variety of topics. His con
versational powers are very great. As a poet, he has
also distinguished himself. His Emigrant will be read
with pleasure by every person of taste.

His MS. is more like that of Mr. Benjamin than that
of any other literary person of our acquaintance. It
has even more than the occasional nervousness of
Mr. B.'s, and, as in the case of the editor of the New
World/ indicates the passionate sensibility of the man.




Mr. Morris ranks, we believe, as the first of our
Philadelphia poets since the death of Willis Gaylord
Clark. His compositions, like those of his late la
mented friend, are characterized by sweetness rather
than strength of versification, and by tenderness and
delicacy rather than by vigor or originality of thought.
A late notice of him in the Boston Notion, from the
pen of Rufus W. Griswold, did his high qualities no

VOL. X. 8.



A Chapter on Autography

more than justice. As a prose writer, he is chiefly
known by his editorial contributions to the Philadel
phia Inquirer, and by occasional essays for the maga
zines.

His chirography is usually very illegible, although at
times sufficiently distinct. It has no marked charac
teristics, and, like that of almost every editor in the
country, has been so modified by the circumstances of
his position as to afford no certain indication of the
mental features.




Ezra Holden has written much, not only for his
paper, the Saturday Courier, but for our periodicals
generally, and stands high in the public estimation as
a sound thinker, and still more particularly as a fear
less expresser of his thoughts.

His MS. (which we are constrained to say is a shock
ingly bad one, and whose general features may be
seen in his signature) indicates the frank and naive
manner of his literary style, a style which not unfre-
quently flies off into whimsicalities.

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A Chapter on Autography




Mr. Graham is known to the literary world as the
editor and proprietor of Graham's Magazine, the most
popular periodical hi America, and also of the Satuf
day Evening Post of Philadelphia. For both of these
journals he has written much and well.

His MS. generally is very bad, or at least very illeg
ible. At times it is sufficiently distinct, and has force
and picturesqueness, speaking plainly of the energy
which particularly distinguishes him as a man. The
signature above is more scratchy than usual.




Colonel Stone, the editor of the New York Com*
mercial Advertiser, is remarkable for the great differ
ence which exists between the apparent public opinion
respecting his abilities and the real estimation in which
he is privately held. Through his paper, and the
bustling activity always prone to thrust itself forward,
he has attained an unusual degree of influence in New
York, and, not only this, but what appears to be a
reputation for talent. But this talent we do not re
member ever to have heard assigned him by any hon
est man's private opinion. We place him among our

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A Chapter on Autography

literati because he has published certain books. Per
haps the best of these are his Life of Brandt and Life
and Times of Red Jacket Of the rest, his story called
Ups and Downs, his defence of animal magnetism, and
his pamphlets concerning Maria Monk are scarcely
the most absurd. His MS. is heavy and sprawling, re
sembling his mental character in a species of utter
unmeaningness, which lies, like the nightmare, upon
his autograph.




The labors of Mr. Sparks, Professor of History at
Harvard, are well known and justly appreciated. His
MS. has an unusually odd appearance. The characters
are large, round, black, irregular, and perpendicular,
the signature, as above, being an excellent specimen
of his chirography in general. In all his letters now
before us, the lines are as close together as possible,
giving the idea of irretrievable confusion; still, none
of them are illegible upon close inspection. We can
form no guess in regard to any mental peculiarities
from Mr. Sparks's MS., which has been, no doubt,
modified by the hurrying and intricate nature of his
researches. We might imagine such epistles as these
to have been written in extreme haste, by a man ex
ceedingly busy, among great piles of books and papers

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A Chapter on Autography

huddled up around him, like the chaotic tomes of
Magliabecchi. The paper used in all our epistles is
uncommonly fine.





The name of H. S. Legare is written without an
accent on the final " e," yet is pronounced as if this
letter were accented Legaray. He contributed many
articles of merit to the Southern Review, and has a
wide reputation for scholarship and talent. His MS.
resembles that of Mr. Palfrey of the North American
Review, and their mental features appear to us nearly
identical. What we have said in regard to the chirog-
raphy of Mr. Palfrey will apply with equal force to
that of the present secretary.




Mr. George Lunt, of Newburyport, Massachusetts,
is known as a poet of much vigor of style and massive-
ness of thought. He delights in the grand rather than
hi the beautiful, and is not unfrequently turgid, but
never feeble. The traits here described impress them-

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A Chapter on Autography

selves with remarkable distinctness upon his chirog-
raphy, of which the signature gives a perfect idea.




Mr. Chandler's reputation as the editor of one of
the best daily papers in the country, and as one of our
finest belles-lettres scholars, is deservedly high. He is
well known through his numerous addresses, essays,
miscellaneous sketches, and prose tales. Some of
these latter evince imaginative powers of a superior
order.

His MS. is not fairly shown in his signature, the lat
ter being much more open and bold than his general
chirography. His handwriting must be included in
the editorial category; it seems to have been ruined
by habitual hurry.





H. T. Tuckerman has written one or two books
consisting of Sketches of Travels, His Isabel is, per
haps, better known than any of his other productions,
but was never a popular work. He is a correct writer
so far as mere English is concerned, but an insuffer
ably tedious and dull one. He has contributed much
of late days to the Southern Literary Messenger, with

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A Chapter on Autography

which journal, perhaps, the legibility of his MS. has
been an important, if not the principal, recommenda
tion. His chirography is neat and distinct, and has
some grace, but no force, evincing, in a remarkable
degree, the idiosyncrasies of the writer.




Mr. Godey is only known to the literary world as
editor and publisher of The Lady's Book, but his celeb
rity in this regard entitles him to a place in this collec
tion. His MS. is remarkably distinct and graceful,
the signature affording an excellent idea of it. The
man who invariably writes so well as Mr. G. invariably
does, gives evidence of a fine taste, combined with an
indef atigability which will insure his permanent success
in the world's affairs. No man has warmer friends or
fewer enemies.




Mr. Du Solle is well known through his connection
with the Spirit of the Times, His prose is forcible, and

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A Chapter on Autography

often excellent in other respects. As a poet he is en
titled to higher consideration. Some of his Pindaric
pieces are unusually good, and it may be doubted if
we have a better versifier in America.

Accustomed to the daily toil of an editor, he has
contracted a habit of writing hurriedly, and his MS.
varies with the occasion. It is impossible to deduce
any inferences from it as regards the mental character.
The signature shows rather how he can write than
how he does.




Mr. French is the author of a life of David Crockett
and also of a novel called Elkswattawa, a denun
ciatory review of which, in the Southern Messenger
some years ago, deterred him from further literary
attempts. Should he write again, he will probably
distinguish himself, for he is unquestionably a man of
talent. We need no better evidence of this than his
MS., which speaks of force, boldness, and originality.
The flourish, however, betrays a certain floridity of
taste.

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A Chapter on Autography




3^*



The author of Norman Leslie and The Countess Ida
has been more successful as an essayist about small
matters than as a novelist. Norman Leslie is more
familiarly remembered as The Great Used Up f while
The Countess made no definite impression whatever.
Of course we are not to expect remarkable features hi
Mr. Fay's MS. It has a wavering, finicky, and over-
delicate air, without pretension to either grace or force ;
and the description of the chirography would answer,
without alteration, for that of the literary character.
Mr. F. frequently employs an amanuensis, who writes
a beautiful French hand. The one must not be con
founded with the other.



Dr. Mitchell has published several pretty songs
which have been set to music and become popular.
He has also given to the world a volume of poems, of
which the longest was remarkable for an old-fashioned
polish and vigor of versification. His MS. is rather
graceful than picturesque or forcible, and these words
apply equally well to his poetry in general. The sig
nature indicates the hand.

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A Chapter on Autography




General Morris has composed many songs which
have taken fast hold upon the popular taste, and which
are deservedly celebrated. He has caught the true
tone for these things and hence his popularity a pop
ularity which his enemies would fain make us believe
is altogether attributable to his editorial influence.
The charge is true only hi a measure. The tone of
which we speak is that kind of frank, free, hearty sen
timent (rather than philosophy) which distinguishes
Be*ranger, and which the critics, for want of a better
term, call " nationality."

His MS. is a simple unornamented hand, rather ro
tund than angular, very legible, forcible, and altogether
in keeping with his style.




Mr. Calvert was at one time principal editor of the
Baltimore American, and wrote for that journal some
good paragraphs on the common topics of the day.
He has also published many translations from the
German and one or two original poems, among others
an imitation of Don Juan called Pelayo, which did him
no credit. He is essentially a feeble and common-

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place writer of poetry, although his prose composi
tions have a certain degree of merit. His chirography
indicates the " commonplace " upon which we have
commented. It is a very usual, scratchy, and taper
ing clerk's hand a hand which no man of talent ever
did or could indite, unless compelled by circumstances
of more than ordinary force. The signature is far
better than the general manuscript of his epistles.




Mr. Mcjilton is better known from his contributions
to the journals of the day than from any book-publi
cations. He has much talent, and it is not improb
able that he will hereafter distinguish himself, although
as yet he has not composed anything of length which,
as a whole, can be styled good. His MS. is not unlike
that of Dr. Snodgrass, but it is somewhat clearer and
better. We can predicate little respecting it beyond
a love of exaggeration and bizarrerie.




Mr. Gallagher is chiefly known as a poet. He is
the author of some of our most popular songs, and has

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A Chapter on Autography

written many long pieces of high but unequal merit.
He has the true spirit, and will rise into a just dis
tinction hereafter. His manuscript tallies well with
our opinion. It is a very fine one clear, bold, de
cided, and picturesque. The signature above does not
convey, in full force, the general character of his
chirography, which is more rotund, and more decidedly
placed upon the paper.





Mr. Dana ranks among our most eminent poets,
and he has been the frequent subject of comment hi
our reviews. He has high qualities, undoubtedly, but
his defects are many and great.

His MS. resembles that of Mr. Gallagher very nearly,
but is somewhat more rolling, and has less boldness
and decision. The literary traits of the two gentle
men are very similar, although Mr. Dana is by far the
more polished writer and has a scholarship which Mr.
Gallagher wants.



Mr. McMichael is well known to the Philadelphia
public by the number and force of his prose com
positions, but he has seldom been tempted into
book-publication. As a poet, he has produced some

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A Chapter on Autography

remarkably vigorous things. We have seldom seen
a finer composition than a certain celebrated Monody
of his.

His MS., when not hurried, is graceful and flowing,
without picturesqueness. At times it is totally illeg
ible. His chirography is one of those which have been
so strongly modified by circumstances that it is nearly
impossible to predicate anything with certainty re
specting them.




Mr. N. C. Brooks has acquired some reputation as
a magazine writer. His serious prose is often very
good, is always well worded ; but in his comic attempts
he fails, without appearing to be aware of his failure.
As a poet he has succeeded far better. In a work
which he entitled Scriptural Anthology, among many
inferior compositions of length there were several
shorter pieces of great merit; for example, Shelley's
Obsequies and The Nicthanthes, Of late days we have
seen little from his pen.

His MS. has much resemblance to that of Mr. Bry
ant, although altogether it is a better hand, with much
more freedom and grace. With care Mr. Brooks can
write a fine MS., just as, with care, he can compose a
fine poem.

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The Rev. Thomas H. Stockton has written many
pieces of fine poetry, and has lately distinguished him
self as the editor of the Christian World.

His MS. is fairly represented by his signature, and
bears much resemblance to that of Mr. N. C. Brooks
of Baltimore. Between these two gentlemen there
exists also a remarkable similarity, not only of thought
but of personal bearing and character. We have
already spoken of the peculiarities of Mr. B.'s chirog-
raphy.




Mr. Thomson has written many short poems, and
some of them possess merit. They are characterized
by tenderness and grace. His MS. has some resem


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Online LibraryEdgar Allan PoeThe complete works of Edgar Allan Poe (Volume 10) → online text (page 7 of 21)