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blance to that of Professor Longfellow, and by many
persons would be thought a finer hand. It is clear,
legible, and open what is called a rolling hand. It
has too much tapering and too much variation between
the weight of the hair-strokes and the downward ones
to be forcible or picturesque. In all those qualities
which we have pointed out as especially distinctive of
Professor Longfellow's MS. it is remarkably deficient;

126



A Chapter on Autography

and, in fact, the literary character of no two individ
uals could be more radically different.




The Reverend W. E. Channing is at the head of
our moral and didactic writers. His reputation both
at home and abroad is deservedly high, and in regard
to the matters of purity, polish, and modulation of
style he may be said to have attained the dignity of a
standard and a classic. He has, it is true, been se
verely criticised, even in respect to these very points,
by the Edinburgh Review, The critic, however, made
out his case but lamely, and proved nothing beyond
his own incompetence. To detect occasional or even
frequent inadvertences in the way of bad grammar,
faulty construction, or misusage of language, is not to
prove impurity of style, a word which happily has a
bolder signification than any dreamed of by the Zoilus
of the review in question. Style regards, more than
anything else, the tone of a composition. All the rest
is not unimportant, to be sure, but appertains to the
minor morals of literature and can be learned by rote
by the meanest simpletons in letters; can be carried
to its highest excellence by dolts, who, upon the whole,

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A Chapter on Autography

are despicable as stylists. Irving's style is inimitable
in its grace and delicacy, yet few of our practised
writers are guilty of more frequent inadvertences of
language. In what may be termed his mere English,
he is surpassed by fifty whom we could name. Mr.
Tuckerman's English, on the contrary, is sufficiently
pure, but a more lamentable style than that of his
Sicily it would be difficult to point out.

Besides those peculiarities which we have already
mentioned as belonging to Dr. Channing's style, we
must not fail to mention a certain calm, broad delib-
erateness, which constitutes force in its highest char
acter and approaches to majesty. All these traits will
be found to exist plainly in his chirography, the charac
ter of which is exemplified by the signature, although
this is somewhat larger than the general manuscript.




Mr. Wilmer has written and published much; but
he has reaped the usual fruits of a spirit of indepen
dence, and has thus failed to make that impression on
the popular mind which his talents, under other cir
cumstances, would have effected. But better days are
in store for him, and for all who " hold to the right
way," despising the yelpings of the small dogs of our

128



after wi Autography

tt* at stytitte. Inriaf** atyii ts tmitable
e and delicacy, yet few of our practised
guilty of more frequent inadvertences of
In what may be termed his mere English,
be is surpassed by fifty whom we could name. Mr.
Tuckerman's English, on the contrary, is sufficiently
pure, but a more lamentable style than that of his
Sicily it would be difficult to point out.

Besides those peculiarities which we have already
mentioned as belonging to Dr. Channing's style, we
must not fail to mention a certain calm, broad delib-
erateness, whWiltiantitfinkf^c^toiteiiighest char
acter and approaches to majesty. All these traits will
be found to tiiat plainly in his chirography, the charac
ter of wbkfe It MWMfiified by the stftatare, although
this it soawrhat tnpt flMsB tbt fHHMl niMMMfipt




Mr. Wilmer IMS iiiiUMi and published much; but
he has reaped the usual fruits of a spirit of indepen
dence, and has thus failed to make that impression on
the popular mind which his talents, under other cir
cumstances, would have effected. But better days are
in store for him, and for all who " hold to the right
way," despising the yelpings of the small dogs of our

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A Chapter on Autography

literature. His prose writings have all merit, always
the merit of a chastened style. But he is more favor
ably known by his poetry, in which the student of the
British classics will find much for warm admiration.
We have few better versifiers than Mr. Wilmer.

His chirography plainly indicates the cautious polish
and terseness of his style, but the signature does not
convey the print-like appearance of the MS.




Mr. Dow is distinguished as the author of many fine
sea-pieces, among which will be remembered a series
of papers called The Log of" Old Ironsides" His land
sketches are not generally so good. He has a fine
imagination, which as yet is undisciplined, and leads
him into occasional bombast. As a poet he has done
better things than as a writer of prose.

His MS., which has been strongly modified by cir
cumstances, gives no indication of his true character,
literary or moral.




Mr. Weld is well known as the present working
editor of the New York Tattler and Brother Jonathan.
His attention was accidentally directed to literature

VOL.X. Q. I2



A Chapter on Autography

about ten years ago, after a minority, to use his own
words, " spent at sea, in a store, in a machine-shop,
and in a printing-office." He is now, we believe,
about thirty-one years of age. His deficiency of what
is termed regular education would scarcely be gleaned
from his editorials, which, in general, are usually well
written. His Corrected Proofs is a work which does
him high credit, and which has been extensively cir
culated, although " printed at odd times by himself,
when he had nothing else to do."

His MS. resembles that of Mr. Joseph C. Neal in
many respects, but is less open and less legible. His
signature is altogether much better than his general
chirography.



Mrs. M. St. Leon Loud is one of the finest poets of
this country, possessing, we think, more of the true
divine afflatus than any of her female contemporaries.
She has, hi especial, imagination of no common order,
and, unlike many of her sex whom we could mention,
is not

Content to dwell in decencies forever.

While she can, upon occasion, compose the ordinary
metrical sing-song with all the decorous proprieties
which are in fashion, she yet ventures very frequently
into a more ethereal region. We refer our readers to

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A Chapter on Autography

a truly beautiful little poem entitled the Dream of the
Lonely Isle, lately published in this magazine.

Mrs. Loud's MS. is exceedingly clear, neat, and for
cible, with just sufficient effeminacy and no more.




Dr. Pliny Earle, of Frankfort, Pa., has not only
distinguished himself by several works on medical and
general science, but has become well known to the
literary world of late by a volume of very fine poems,
the longest, but by no means the best, of which was
entitled Marathon, This latter is not greatly inferior
to the Marco Bozzarls of Halleck, while some of the
minor pieces equal any American poems. His chirog-
raphy is peculiarly neat and beautiful, giving indication
of the elaborate finish which characterizes his com
positions. The signature conveys the general hand.




David Hoffman, of Baltimore, has not only con
tributed much and well to monthly magazines and
reviews, but has given to the world several valuable
publications in book form. His style is terse, pun
gent, and otherwise excellent, although disfigured by
a half -comic, half -serious pedantry.



A Chapter on Autography

His MS. has about it nothing strongly indicative of
character*




S. D. Langtree has been long and favorably known
to the public as editor of the Georgetown Metropolitan,
and more lately of the Democratic Review, both of
which journals he has conducted with distinguished
success. As a critic he has proved himself just, bold,
and acute, while his prose compositions generally
evince the man of talent and taste.

His MS. is not remarkably good, being somewhat
too scratchy and tapering. We include him, of course,
in the editorial category.




Judge Conrad occupies, perhaps, the first place
among our Philadelphia literati He has distinguished
himself both as a prose writer and a poet, not to speak
of his high legal reputation. He has been a frequent
contributor to the periodicals of this city, and we be
lieve to one at least of the Eastern reviews. His first
production which attracted general notice was a
tragedy entitled Conrad, King of Naples. It was

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A Chapter on Autography

performed at the Arch Street Theatre, and elicited ap
plause from the more judicious. This play was suc
ceeded by Jack Cade, performed at the Walnut Street
Theatre, and lately modified and reproduced under the
title of Aylmere, In its new dress, this drama has
been one of the most successful ever written by an
American, not only attracting crowded houses, but
extorting the good word of our best critics. In occa
sional poetry, Judge Conrad has also done well. His
lines, On a Blind Boy Soliciting Charity, have been
greatly admired, and many of his other pieces evince
ability of a high order. His political fame is scarcely
a topic for these pages, and is, moreover, too much a
matter of common observation to need comment from
us.

His MS. is neat, legible, and forcible, evincing com
bined caution and spirit in a very remarkable degree.



The chirography of ex-President Adams (whose
poem, The Wants of Man, has of late attracted so
much attention) is remarkable for a certain steadiness
of purpose pervading the whole, and overcoming even
the constitutional tremulousness of the writer's hand.
Wavering in every letter, the entire MS. has yet a
firm, regular, and decisive appearance. It is also very
legible.



A Chapter on Autography




P. P. Cooke, of Winchester, Virginia, is well known,
especially in the South, as the author of numerous
excellent contributions to the Southern Literary Mess
senger. He has written some of the finest poetry of
which America can boast. A little piece of his, en
titled Florence Vane t and contributed to the Gentle*
man's Magazine of this city, during our editorship of
that journal, was remarkable for the high ideality it
evinced and for the great delicacy and melody of its
rhythm. It was universally admired and copied, as
well here as hi England. We saw it not long ago, as
original, in Bentley's Miscellany, Mr. Cooke has, we
believe, nearly ready for press a novel called Maurice
Werterbern, whose success we predict with confidence.
His MS. is clear, forcible, and legible, but disfigured by
some of that affectation which is scarcely a blemish in
his literary style.



Mr. J. Beauchamp Jones has been, we believe,
connected for many years past with the lighter litera
ture of Baltimore, and at present edits the Baltimore
Saturday Visitor with much judgment and general
ability. He is the author of a series of papers of high



A Chapter on Autography

merit now in course of publication in the Visitor t and
entitled Wild Western Scenes,

His MS. is distinct, and might be termed a fine one ;
but is somewhat too much in consonance with the
ordinary clerk style to be either graceful or forcible.




Mr. Burton is better known as a comedian than as a
literary man, but he has written many short prose
articles of merit, and his quondam editorship of the
Gentleman's Magazine would, at all events, entitle him
to a place in this collection. He has, moreover, pub
lished one or two books. An annual issued by Carey
& Hart in 1840 consisted entirely of prose contribu
tions from himself, with poetical ones from Charles
West Thomson, Esq. In this work many of the tales
were good.

Mr. Burton's MS. is scratchy and petite t betokening
indecision and care or caution.




Richard Henry Wilde of Georgia has acquired
much reputation as a poet, and especially as the



A Chapter on Autography

author of a little piece entitled My Life Is Like the Sum*
mer Rose f whose claim to originality has been made
the subject of repeated and reiterated attack and de
fence. Upon the whole it is hardly worth quarrelling
about. Far better verses are to be found in every
second newspaper we take up. Mr. Wilde has also
lately published, or is about to publish, a life of Tasso,
for which he has been long collecting material.

His MS. has all the peculiar sprawling and elaborate
tastelessness of Mr. Palfrey's, to which altogether it
bears a marked resemblance. The love of effect, how
ever, is more perceptible in Mr. Wilde's than even in
Mr. Palfrey's.




Lewis Cass, the ex-Secretary of War, has distin
guished himself as one of the finest belles-lettres
scholars of America. At one period he was a very reg
ular contributor to the Southern Literary Messenger.
and even lately he has furnished that journal with one
or two very excellent papers.

His MS. is clear, deliberate, and statesmanlike, re
sembling that of Edward Everett very closely. It is
not often that we see a letter written altogether by him
self. He generally employs an amanuensis, whose
chirography does not differ materially from his own,
but is somewhat more regular.

136



A Chapter on Autography




Mr. James Brooks enjoys rather a private than a
public literary reputation; but his talents are un
questionably great, and his productions have been
numerous and excellent. As the author of many of
the celebrated " Jack Downing " letters, and as the
reputed author of the whole of them, he would at all
events be entitled to a place among our literati

His chirography is simple, clear, and legible, with
little grace and less boldness. These traits are pre
cisely those of his literary style.



As the authorship of the " Jack Downing " letters is
even still considered by many a moot point (although,
in fact, there should be no question about it), and as
we have already given the signature of Mr. Seba Smith
and (just above) of Mr. Brooks, we now present our
readers with a facsimile signature of the " veritable
Jack " himself, written by him individually in our
own bodily presence. Here, then, is an opportunity
of comparison.

The chirography of the " veritable Jack " is a very
good, honest, sensible hand, and not very dissimilar
to that of ex-President Adams.



A Chapter on Autography




Mr. J. R. Lowell, of Massachusetts, is entitled, in
our opinion, to at least the second or third place among
the poets of America. We say this on account of the
vigor of his imagination, a faculty to be first considered
in all criticism upon poetry. In this respect he sur
passes, we think, any of our writers (at least any of
those who have put themselves prominently forth as
poets) with the exception of Longfellow, and perhaps
one other. His ear for rhythm, nevertheless, is imper
fect, and he is very far from possessing the artistic
ability of either Longfellow, Bryant, Halleck, Sprague,
or Pierpont. The reader desirous of properly estimat
ing the powers of Mr. Lowell will find a very beautiful
little poem from his pen in the October number of this
magazine. There is one also (not quite so fine) in the
number for last month. He will contribute regularly.

His MS. is strongly indicative of the vigor and pre
cision of his poetical thought. The man who writes
thus, for example, will never be guilty of metaphorical
extravagance, and there will be found terseness as well
as strength in all that he does.




Mr. L. J. Cist, of Cincinnati, has not written much

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A Chapter on Autography

prose, and is known especially by his poetical com
positions, many of which have been very popular, al
though they are at times disfigured by false metaphor,
and by a meretricious straining after effect. This lat
ter foible makes itself clearly apparent in his chirog-
raphy, which abounds in ornamental flourishes, not ill
executed, to be sure, but in very bad taste.




Mr. Arthur is not without a rich talent for descrip
tion of scenes in low life, but is uneducated and too
fond of mere vulgarities to please a refined taste. He
has published The Subordinate and Insubordination
two tales distinguished by the peculiarities above men
tioned. He has also written much for our weekly
papers and The Lady's Book.

His hand is a commonplace clerk's hand, such as we
might expect him to write. The signature is much
better than the general MS.





Mr. Heath is almost the only person of any literary
distinction residing in the chief city of the Old Do
minion. He edited the Southern Literary Messenger



A Chapter on Autography

in the five or six first months of its existence; and,
since the secession of the writer of this article, has fre
quently aided in its editorial conduct. He is the author
of Edge'Hillt a well-written novel, which, owing to the
circumstances of its publication, did not meet with the
reception it deserved. His writings are rather polished
and graceful than forcible or original, and these pe
culiarities can be traced in his chirography.



Dr. Thomas Holley Chivers, of New York, is at
the same time one of the best and one of the worst
poets in America. His productions affect one as a
wild dream strange, incongruous, full of images of
more than arabesque monstrosity and snatches of
sweet, unsustained song. Even his worst nonsense (and
some of it is horrible) has an indefinite charm of sen
timent and melody. We can never be sure that there
is any meaning in his words, neither is there any mean
ing in many of our finest musical airs, but the effect is
very similar in both. His figures of speech are meta
phor run mad, and his grammar is often none at all.
Yet there are as fine individual passages to be found
in the poems of Dr. Chivers as in those of any poet
whatsoever.

His MS. resembles that of P. P. Cooke very nearly,
and in poetical character the two gentlemen are closely

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A Chapter on Autography

in the five or six first months of its existence; and,
since the secession of the writer of this article, has fre
quently aided in its editorial conduct. He is the author
of Edge'Hillt a. well-written novel, which, owing to the
circumstances of its publication, did not meet with the
reception it deserved. His writings are rather polished
and graceful than forcible or original, and these pe
culiarities can be traced in his chirography.



Dr. ThomaHbaes^fc. York, is at
the same time one of th^J^est and one of the worst
poets in America. His productions affect one as a
wild dream *tr*aft, tMjSjBjgruous, full of images of
more than araWaqi* SMMtrot&y and snatches of
sweet, unsustia4 song* * fell <wmt *MWMe i and
some of it is horrible) fcp 4* MMMfe *fc*rm if sen
timent and melody. Wt can never be tore that there
is any meaning in his words, neither is there any mean
ing in many of our finest musical airs, but the effect is
very similar in both. His figures of speech are meta
phor run mad, and his grammar is often none at all.
Yet there are as fine individual passages to be found
in the poems of Dr. Olivers as in those of any poet
whatsoever.

His MS. resembles that of P. P. Cooke very nearly,
and in poetical character the two gentlemen are closely
*



A Chapter on Autography

akin. Mr. Cooke is, by much, the more correct, while
Dr. Chivers is sometimes the more poetic.
Mr. C. always sustains himself; Dr. C. never.




Judge Story and his various literary and political
labors are too well known to require comment.

His chirography is a noble one bold, clear, mas
sive, and deliberate, betokening in the most unequivo
cal manner all the characteristics of his intellect. The
plain, unornamented style of his compositions is im
pressed with accuracy upon his handwriting, the whole
air of which is well conveyed in the signature.




Mr. John Frost, Professor of Belles-Lettres in the
High School of Philadelphia, and at present editor of
The Young People's Book f has distinguished himself
by numerous literary compositions for the periodicals
of the day, and by a great number of published works
which come under the head of the utile rather than
that of the dulce t at least in the estimation of the
young. He is a gentleman of fine taste, sound scholar
ship, and great general ability.

His chirography denotes his mental idiosyncrasy
141



A Chapter on Autography

with great precision. Its careful neatness, legibility,
and finish are but a part of that turn of mind which
leads him so frequently into compilation. The signa
ture here given is more diminutive than usual.




Mr. J. F. Otis is well known as a writer for the
magazines ; and has, at various times, been connected
with many of the leading newspapers of the day, espe
cially with those in New York and Washington. His
prose and poetry are equally good; but he writes too
much and too hurriedly to write invariably well. His
taste is fine, and his judgment in literary matters is to
be depended upon at all times when not interfered with
by his personal antipathies or predilections.

His chirography is exceedingly illegible, and, like his
style, has every possible fault except that of the com
monplace.




Mr. Reynolds occupied at one time a distinguished
position in the eye of the public, on account of his
great and laudable exertions to get up the American
South Polar expedition, from a personal participation
in which he was most shamefully excluded. He has

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A Chapter on Autography

written much and well. Among other works, the pub
lic are indebted to him for a graphic account of the
noted voyage of the frigate Potomac to Madagascar.

His MS. is an ordinary clerk's hand, giving no in
dication of character.




David Paul Brown is scarcely more distinguished
in his legal capacity than by his literary compositions.
As a dramatic writer he has met with much success.
His Sertorius has been particularly well received both
upon the stage and in the closet. His fugitive produc
tions, both in prose and verse, have also been nu
merous, diversified, and excellent.

His chirography has no doubt been strongly modi
fied by the circumstances of his position. No one can
expect a lawyer in full practice to give in his MS. any
true indication of his intellect or character.



Mrs. E. Clementine Stedman has lately attracted
much attention by the delicacy and grace of her poeti
cal compositions, as well as by the piquancy and spirit
of her prose. For some months past we have been
proud to rank her among the best of the contributors to
Graham's Magazine,



A Chapter on Autography

Her chirography differs as materially from that of
her sex in general as does her literary manner from
the usual namby-pamby of our blue-stockings. It is
indeed a beautiful MS., very closely resembling that of
Professor Longfellow, but somewhat more diminutive
and far more full of grace.




J. Greenleaf Whittier is placed by his particular
admirers in the very front rank of American poets.
We are not disposed, however, to agree with their de
cision in every respect. Mr. Whittier is a fine versifier,
so far as strength is regarded independently of modu
lation. His subjects, too, are usually chosen with the
view of affording scope to a certain vivida vis of ex
pression which seems to be his forte ; but in taste, and
especially in imagination, which Coleridge has justly
styled the soul of all poetry, he is ever remarkably
deficient. His themes are never to our liking.

His chirography is an ordinary clerk's hand, afford
ing little indication of character.




Mrs. Ann S. Stephens was at one period the editor
of the Portland Magazine t a periodical of which we

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A Chapter on Autography

have not heard for some time, and which, we presume,
has been discontinued. More lately her name has been
placed upon the title-page of the Lady's Companion
of New York as one of the conductors of that journal,
to which she has contributed many articles of merit and
popularity. She has also written much and well for
various other periodicals, and will hereafter enrich
this magazine with her compositions, and act as one
of its editors.

Her MS. is a very excellent one and differs from that
of her sex in general by an air of more than usual force
and freedom.



Note. The foregoing Chapter on Autography, as will be seen from a
reference in the following appendix, originally appeared in two parts. Ed.



APPENDIX

In the foregoing facsimile signatures of the most
distinguished American literati our design was to fur
nish a complete series of autographs, embracing a
specimen of the MS. of each of the most noted among
our living male and female writers. For obvious


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Online LibraryEdgar Allan PoeThe complete works of Edgar Allan Poe (Volume 10) → online text (page 8 of 21)